New iMovie finally supports native AVCHD editing

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by CausticPuppy, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. CausticPuppy macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    I just downloaded the update today and saw that one bullet point was "native support for AVCHD".

    I've been testing it out with some of my camcorder videos and it's finally the real deal. I'm not a video expert by any means, but it's very easy now to edit AVCHD.

    The import process does NOT require transcoding, and so it imports as fast as it can copy off the SD card (or disk image in my case).

    De-interlacing looks good, so my 1080i movies are played back in deinterlaced 1080p. Even realtime color correction and video/audio effects.

    I haven't given iMovie much attention due to the effort involved in dealing with AVCHD but now I'm impressed... not bad for a free app!

    Next I'll try exporting a finished video, right now I've just been playing with the imported videos. On a quad-core Mac Mini (2011) with the HD3000 GPU it's surprisingly responsive, very little frame drop when playing back the realtime effects previews.
  2. CausticPuppy thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    OK, playback of movies in the event are smooth, but preview playback from the timeline (even if it's the same clip) is rather choppy. Guess I need a Mac Pro?
  3. pavelbure macrumors 6502a

    Feb 22, 2007
    I'm curious to see how your exported videos looked. In imovie 11 mine looked like total garbage.
  4. CausticPuppy thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    I was just checking on that.
    The movie renders in the background using a fraction of the total CPU power, and I didn't see a way to bump it up in priority so that it fully used all CPU cores.

    But then after 20 minutes I got an alert that I ran out of application memory. I have 16GB memory! :eek:
    I had to force quit iMovie.

    So, yeah, apparently there's a memory leak when exporting movies. Never trust a version that ends in ".0"
  5. dgalvan123 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2008
    This is fantastic! (assuming it works).

    I love iMovie but hate all the transcoding required. I had seen that other apps like Adobe Premiere Elements can handle native AVCHD editing, it sounds like iMovie has caught up! Looking forward to trying this out.

    (First I have to update to Mavericks from SNOW LEOPARD, then I can upgrade my iMovie.)
  6. Volkstaia macrumors regular


    Jul 5, 2012
    East Coast of the US
    Not for iMovie, no. iMovie is a weird thing, much like FCPX, it's really Style over Substance.
  7. CausticPuppy thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    The latest version is much better than iMovie '11 from what I can tell; cleaner interface, and probably a good fit for the very limited video editing that I'll need to do. It's a shame that a quad-core i7 with 16GB memory isn't enough to edit AVCHD - apparently a significant GPU bottleneck. Oh and the memory leak that makes it impossible to export!
  8. Volkstaia macrumors regular


    Jul 5, 2012
    East Coast of the US
    Clean interfaces suck if you have to dig through 2,000,00 piles of crap to find more advanced stuff.
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I've switched to FCPX. FCPX gives you option to transcode or not. There island import dialog box and you can set preferences. I wonder if iMovie gives you options too. Look in Preferences.

    It was not clear at first how FCPX handled transcoding and at first I'd war for a long time (hours) but now I mostly don't bother.

    One more thing "google "click wrap". It can convert AVCHD to MP4 without transcoding. It goes about as fast as a normal copy. So I have Clickwrap red direct from the SD card and wrote to a working folder on the Mac. So in effect Clickwrapr does the conversion in zero time.
  10. CausticPuppy thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    One thing I discovered is that Aperture essentially does that when it imports AVCHD. Ironically Aperture and iPhoto got native AVCHD support before iMovie...

    Anyway, it re-wraps the MTS files as MP4 so it's very quick. In fact iMovie may just be doing the same thing under the covers.

    BTW I tried iMovie on my rMBP-13 which has a (theoretically) faster GPU and playing the video from the timeline was horrible. Far worse than my quad-core mini. So I guess it likes multiple cores and isn't as GPU dependent as I thought.
  11. tekriter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2004
    I have an iMac, 2.4ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4gb RAM.

    Any chance the new iMovie is gonna work for me?
  12. pavelbure macrumors 6502a

    Feb 22, 2007
    If its from the mid 2007 models then no. The app store wont even let me download it because it says my video card is not good enough. Although I have read that others with my same card could download it. The app store has been weird these past few days.
  13. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    One of my iMac's is 2007 and same here. No go. Claims video card not good for upgrade.
  14. Byrnes3969 macrumors member

    Jan 23, 2009
    I like the new iMovie program for new projects but it won't see my old events or projects on external drives.

    I searched the help section and clicked the update events and projects button but no luck. It imports the names of the events but the footage can't be accessed or located.
  15. dgalvan123 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2008
    So I played with the new iMovie a bit this morning. Some early observations:

    -It copy/upgraded my old iMovie library (non-destructively) to a new iMovie library so that it was compatible with the new iMovie 10. I let it do this overnight so I'm not sure how long it took. But it was a while. . . probably a couple hours? (I probably have over 100 "events", maybe a few dozen "projects")

    -The "iMovie Library" seems to be more like iPhoto Library now, in that the folder is now a package instead of a regular folder. (Have to right-click and choose "show package contents" to see what's inside.)

    -All my projects are also visible in the "Theater" tab, but they were NOT automatically uploaded to iCloud. Instead, when you click the Theater tab you see all your projects represented by a thumbnail (not unlike looking at a bunch of movies in iTunes), and there is a little "upload-to-icloud" icon in the upper right corner of each thumbnail. I uploaded a couple to my "iMovie Theater" on iCloud and they upload no problem (after a significant amount of time which is I'm sure dependent on your file size and bandwidth). But just thought it was interesting that the upgrade of my iMovie Library automatically grouped all my projects into iMovie Theater, but didn't automatically upload any of them to iCloud.

    -Instead of a Projects window up top and an Events window down below, now there is just a single side bar on the left that lists events, and folders containing multiple "projects". After the upgrading of my iMovie Library, I noticed that all the events were preserved as events, and the projects went into an item called "updated projects" (which itself was among the events on the lefthand sidebar). When you click an event, you see the clips in the lower right window as usual, with the ability to preview/scan them with your cursor. When you click "updated projects", you see multiple projects in the lower right window, represented as movie/film thumbnails. Double-click on one of those projects and you get a new window structure showing the clips contained within that project in the lower window. Haven't tried dragging clips to/from projects yet, so not sure if that is different now (since I don't think the project and event clip window are open at the same time?).

    -I tried importing some new AVCHD video from a camera archive. It imported just fine, but it wasn't "instantaneous". But I think it was less time than it used to take in iMovie version 9.x. (I guess I was expecting that the import would be near instantaneous since the update claimed native AVCHD support, implying to me there would be no transcoding.) I still haven't dived into the iMovie Library to see whether importing AVCHD means it is just copying in .mts files into the library package, or if it is converting/re-wrapping them as something else.

    -Importing successfully from a camera archive was a win in and of itself, as the last time I tried to do that in iMovie 9.x, the import failed after the first 5.5 seconds of footage was imported. . . even though the archive was created by iMovie itself! Never figured out why that was happening, but I'm pleased as punch that iMovie 10 doesn't have the same problem.

    -The default is for the iMovie Library to be stored in the "Movies" folder in your user account. As soon as I can I'm going to try and move that to my external HD. And learning from past mistakes, I'm going to make that move entirely inside of iMovie. Do NOT do that in the Finder. (Doing so with the previous version of iMovie somehow induced a bunch of visual artifacts in most of my iMovie Events clips; ie: corruption in the AIC movie files. Something I now will be able to correct by re-importing the original AVCHD from the camera archives.


    Regarding graphics card requirements:

    To run iMovie 10 your machine must have an "Open CL compatible graphics card".

    Here is a list of cards that are compatible. You can go to and (or just go to "About this mac. . ." on your machine's Apple menu) to see what card your mac has.

    I'll just mention that I have a 2009 17" Macbook Pro Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz and so far the skimming/scanning/previewing of video has not been choppy at all. I'm impressed because I was expecting it to be, but everything has been pretty smooth. Though I have gotten the spinning beachball a couple times when I moved from an event clips window to a project clips window.
  16. Ritsuka macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2006
    The new iMovie is a stripped down version of FCPX, it should be much more reliable than the pos it replace.
  17. Siderz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2012
    As much as I don't like iMovie, this is nice to hear. Also noticed that it's 64-bit as well which is pretty cool.

    The big problem I have with iMovie is the timeline; it's not accurate at all; video clips are measured in thumbnails...not frames...which is just pathetic, it gives you a poor representation of time.

    Sorry for the rant...if it works for people then that's fine, not my decision, it's just my problem with it.
  18. Hung2k macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2013
    I got the same problem exporting my existing project to Hd movie file. Not sure if there is any fix for this.

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