Should I replace imovie with Premiere Elements or FCP?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by tekriter, Sep 22, 2012.

  1. tekriter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2004
    I have read countless threads on this site regarding importing AVCHD into iMovie and have done so several times with mixed results.

    I have a pair of Canon Vixia M40 cameras, and record video at 30fps full HD 1920x1080 17mb per second 60i.

    The video looks great on the screen but I have been disappointed with the results when shared to a standard def DVD.

    I am ready to try different software but I'm not sure where to go next. Premiere Elements looks OK from the online specs, and I tried to use the trial version but when I installed it, it said my free trial time was up. Same day I downloaded it, even. So no luck trying the trial version.

    I have no experience with Final Cut Pro, and I wish I didnt have to spend another $300, but if that's what it takes I'll do it.

    Premier Elements says it can export DVDs with HD quality on a regular DVD - would that be on a regular DVD burner, not BluRay?

    Currently I'm using iMovie 9 (iMovie '11) and have followed the directions posted in various threads for importing AVCHD. In the online reviews in the Mac App store, there are a couple of comments about problems importing AVCHD into the current version 10.0.5.

    I am amazed at the knowledge and advice given on this forum, so I as if anyone could help me decide what my next move should be.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Zeke D macrumors 6502a

    Zeke D

    Nov 18, 2011
    I believe there is a trial version of FC at

    I like FC, especially since I came from the windows side using pinnacle studios - they are very similar.
  3. macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    I wouldn't consider Premier Elements much of an upgrade from iMovie. If anything it's about the same. Working with AVCHD is a mixed bag with any editor because it is very processor intensive. Depending on your machine you may or may not experience any of these issues. It's best to convert it to an intermediate codec rather the edit it natively. I can't remember if iMovie can do that for you, but you can always pick up Compressor for $50 to do that for you. Hope this helps.
  4. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Mar 19, 2008
    Warrington, UK
  5. tekriter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2004
    Thanks for the responses!

    I should give a bit more detail about the disappointment I had with a DVD originally edited in iMovie:

    It was a basketball highlight video I shot for a high school friend of the family. The original video was great; sharp and artifact-free even in fast motion scenes. The DVD on the other hand, burned in iDVD wasn't nearly as smooth as the original. Fast motion scenes tended to blur. My iDVD settings were for best quality and original frame rate if I recall correctly. I got much better results burning the DVD in Toast Titanium. Less blurring and faster burning besides. By the way, it was the family's request for a standard DVD; they were sending it to coaches a various schools and didn't want to send a blu-ray if the coach couldn't watch it.

    Good thing since I don't have a blu-ray burner!

    Anyway, I have read some reviews of Premiere Elements on Amazon and it looks like a failure for the Mac side. Lots of bad reviews, lots of crashes and failed projects. So no Elements for me

    I want to be able to do these things right; but my knowledge of codecs, formats and so on is limited.

    Can anyone point to a good primer on video codecs?
  6. tekriter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2004
    One more question - the system requirements for FCP X say I need an OpenCL-capable graphics card or Intel HD Graphics 3000 or later.

    My iMac has ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT:

    Chipset Model: ATI Radeon HD 2400
    Type: GPU
    Bus: PCIe
    PCIe Lane Width: x16
    VRAM (Total): 128 MB

    Am I out of luck using FCP X?
  7. matteusclement macrumors 65816


    Jan 26, 2008
    Can't you get compressor as a stand alone and do all the transcoding into prores from that? then just continue to use imovie?
  8. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Video Compression
    Why It Matters & How To Make The Most Of It

    ProRes will not work with iMovie, as iMovie uses the Apple Intermediate Codec.

    One could also use MPEG Streamclip and its Batch List (CMD+B) to transcode lots of clips to the proper format, though it will probably not work with .mts files.

    Transcoding .MTS files (AVCHD footage) to an editable format (.MOV)
  9. B. Hunter macrumors regular

    Dec 20, 2005
    Pacific Northwest
    I have no problems using Premiere Elements. Like the import options and AVCHD. Like it better than iMovie. I'm just not ready for the newest version of FCP yet after using FCE for so many years.
  10. jpine macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2007
    Just transcode the video into a format your computer can handle using the free transcoder, Handbreak. Yes, this takes a little time, but if you make an effort to schedule the transcode at night as you head to bed it should be of little trouble. This practice was SOP for FCP 6 and 7 users not long ago.
  11. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    HandBrake (as in "braking") does not offer editable codecs and editable containers, it only offers highly compressed Long-GOP codecs (H.264, MPEG-4 and MPEG-2, VP3) and non-usable containers (.mkv, .m4v and .mp4).
    MPEG Streamclip is the application to use for such tasks (transcoding highly compressive Long-GOP video into Interframe video suitable for video editing).
  12. noshjewman macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2008
    I think that the real issue here isn't the editing programme you have - if you're happy with iMovie, great! - the problem is in downconverting the final product from HD to SD to burn on a DVD.

    There is no perfect way to do this, and you might have to experiment. Getting compressor is a good first step, although actually MPEG Streamclip is very powerful (and sometimes faster!)

    You might want to consider shooting 720p for these things, as a good balance between having an HD version and being able to output to SD - there is a school of thought that that is a better looking conversion. I'm not sure myself.

    Good luck!

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