Why won't iMovie 08 let me import avi movies? Or mpeg for that matter?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by WizardHunt, Oct 20, 2007.

  1. WizardHunt macrumors demi-god


    May 11, 2007
    Las Vegas, Nevada USA
    Why is it that imovie 08 will not let me import avi movies, or .mov movies, or even mpeg movies? It will only accept dv movies. Am I doing something wrong or do I have some setting set wrong? Please somebody help.
  2. DavidLeblond macrumors 68020


    Jan 6, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    You should be able to import .mov just fine. I've found mpeg movies are a no go.

    I suggest you take any movies you can't import into iMovie and run them through iSquint
  3. WizardHunt thread starter macrumors demi-god


    May 11, 2007
    Las Vegas, Nevada USA
    Ok, Thanks I will try that.
  4. spunner macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2010
    complete ********. Can't even import a friggin' AVI! isn't quicktime a friggin' MAC product/format! I can't get this damn thing to accept any movie. No .VOB , no .MPG, no AVI, no .MP4 no .WMV (though expected)... stop wasting my time.... What the hell DOES it import???

    Was almost converted to MAC, but this has thrown me back. Complete waste of my time... Screw MAC. I like my new Mac Book Pro. Runs Windows 7 like a champ!!!

    imovie blows ass...
  5. totoum macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2007
    DV footage,and also HDV and AVCHD footage by transcoding it to AIC

    Basicly,it's made to work best with footage shot with a camera,not random vob,avi,mpg files.

    It can import other stuff too but with your attitude i'm not sure I should really bother explaining.
  6. spunner macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2010
    Sorry about the attitude. It was late and I was extremely frustrated. So, I googled it and this was the first forum I found to complain in. I just said to hell with it all and used W7. My MAC is great for surfing the web. Like a really big iPhone. I suppose if I shot all my own video it would be good for that. But editing existing video? - I guess I just expected more with all the hype as I have heard about MAC and it's capabilities... They must have been talking about editing video of your kids birthday taken directly from their GoVideo.
  7. bigjnyc macrumors 603


    Apr 10, 2008
    iMovie is very entry level. I think you might be looking for Final cut express. Why don't you look into that. It's more advanced and you can import different formats I beleive.
  8. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    .avi files are not QuickTime related. They mostly use codecs like Divx/Xvid, variants of the MPEG-4 codec, which is not meant for editing.

    .vob files use the MPEG-2 codec, also not meant for editing. .mpg and .mp4 files use the H264 codec, also an MPEG-4 variant, and not meant for video editing. .wmv is short for Windows Media Video, and as the word Windows suggests, it is a creation of Microsoft. Thus it is not compliant with QuickTime unless you use Flip4Mac. Also .wmv files use the Windows Media 9 codec, which is again not meant for editing.


    It's Mac btw, not MAC. And what did you hear about it that made you BELIEVE that Mac OS X would take every goddamn video file you throw at it.
    You have to understand how video editing applications work first and how compression and all the different codec and formats work to see, that not everything can be done by anything.

    Use MPEG Streamclip to convert some of those files to something editable.

    FCE will not accept those files and codecs either, as FCE is an advanced editing application, which relies on proper formats and codecs and MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 are none of them.

    Spunner, the following is a copy of two posts I always use when someone does not bother to research. It is specifically written for DVD footage and iMovie but can also be applied to .avi and .mpg/4 files, but the QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component is not required for this (.avi, .mpg, .mp4) if you sorely use MPEG Streamclip.
    QuickTime (Pro) and Flipe4Mac is needed for .wmv footage, but maybe MPEG Streamclip + Flip4Mac is able to do it too.

    There is MacTheRipper, RipIt and Fairmount to rip (copy the DVD to your HDD while removing the copyright protection) the video DVD to your HDD.

    Then there is Handbrake to convert the ripped DVD to a file like .mkv, .mp4 and .avi with MPEG-4 codecs like Xvid and H264, which are not meant for editing though, as they don't store every frame of the video (video DVDs use MPEG-2 as a codec, which also only stores every 15th frame and the frames in between are approximations).

    After that you can use MPEG-Streamclip to convert the compressed video file to a .mov file encoded with the DV codec (or AIC - Apple Intermediate Codec), a codec iMovie can read and is meant for editing, as it stores every frame and takes up approx. 220MB/min.

    You can also skip Handbrake and use MPEG-Streamclip for converting directly to a DV/AIC encoded .mov file from the ripped video DVD, but you need the QuickTime MPEG-2 component (19USD) to be able to access the MPEG-2 encoded video DVD footage via MPEG-Streamclip.

    But it would save one encoding process.


    In order for you to edit your videos stored on the video DVD, you need to rip it via MacTheRipper / RipIt / Fairmount, if the video DVD is copy protected (all commercial video DVDs are).
    If it is not copy protected, you might be just able to copy the Video_TS folder onto your HDD.

    Now there are two ways to convert the MPEG-2 compressed footage.

    1. Get Handbrake and convert the footage to either an .avi file with the Xvid codec (2-pass or Constant Quality of 100% and highest bitrate for video and audio) or an .mp4/.m4v file with the H264 codec (the same as with Xvid).
    Then use MPEG Streamclip to convert/export the .avi or .mp4/.m4v file to a QuickTime (.mov - CMD+E) file encoded with the DV codec or the Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) or to a DV file (CMD+OPTION/ALT+E).
    Both, .mov and .dv, can be read by iMovie.

    2. Get the QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component from the Apple Online Store for 20USD, open MPEG Streamclip, in there go to File > Open DVD and select your Video_TS folder on your HDD.
    Then either export it as QuickTime with the DV codec or AIC or as DV file as explained in step 1.

    This saves you one encoding process, therefore time and image quality loss.

    Btw, SD is short for Standard Definition, meaning the broadcast systems PAL and NTSC, which has a pixel resolution of 768/720/640 x 576/480.
    HD is short for High Definition, the new fancy high resolutions like 720p or 1080i/p.
    A video DVD stores its video in SD.

    Have fun.


    MPEG Streamclip export options

    Handbrake export as .mp4 - example

    The following is taken from the thread titled "How to maximise your MacRumors troubleshooting experience" created by mad jew in 2006. It contains more elaborate information on the short extracts I took from it and should help you in finding appropriate help. I also made some additions after finding that thread.

    1. Search for threads or guides containing similar problems.
      MRoogle is quite a good tool to search these forums.
    2. Start your thread in the appropriate forum or sub-forum.
      Here is the forum's main page with the list of all the sub-fora found here.
    3. Use a specific thread title.
      "Need help!!!!???? ASAP!!!" and its variants are not specific.
    4. Find and post machine hardware and software configurations.
      You can find out more about your Mac by going to the Menu Bar > :apple: > About This Mac > More Info ... (this button opens Applications / Utilities / System Profiler) > Hardware Overview.
    5. Tell us your problem, and be specific. What is happening to your machine?
    6. How long has this been happening? What changes were made just before this started?
    7. What have you already tried?
    8. Respond to all posted advice with details of what happened.
    9. Be wary of the (very) occasional bad advice.
    10. Be patient.
    11. Be courteous.
  9. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    Nope nope nope. Final Cut Express can only work with DV and Apple Intermediate Codec. Not to be rude but the problem here is Chinese Whispers and people passing on half-truths.

    I assume spunner heard something like "Macs are great for editing video". Well, a lot of professional editors work on Macs, but professionals don't edit VOBs and miscellaneous AVI files.

    On the consumer side, iMovie is liked because it's really simple. But it only manages to be so because it's limited. Supporting more formats would make it more complicated.

    You can convert your files to DV or Apple Intermediate Codec in a program like MPEG Streamclip (though you'll need the Quicktime MPEG-2 Component for VOBs). If your AVIs are actually mp4, you may be able to use Streamclip to "re-wrap" them to .mov files. Also look into Perian.
  10. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    And AVCHD.

    But let's be honest, if Apple wanted to allow it, iMovie could import anything QT could read and convert it to DV or AIC along the way. Add Perian, Xiph, Flip4Mac and other plugins to QT and QT could be a universal conduit. MPEG Streamclip is a great Swiss Army Knife but a lot of what it does is to expose existing QT functionality that is simply not made available to iMovie. Seen what Premiere Elements can import? It's quite a list.

    FWIW, I use FCP and MPEG Streamclip every weekday. I edit in DV and AIC and I haven't touched iMovie since '08 was released. I know the pro flow, but I think Apple is being too insular on this one. While spinnerlys' post is great at explaining what needs to be done, I think it's a shame iMovie can't take more formats directly even if we know they are delivery formats not editing ones.
  11. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    ... as AIC.

    But Apple's philosophy is to keep/make things simple. That's the very core (!) of the company. So they limit functionality so that what it does it does solidly and simply. The iPod doesn't play FLAC or Ogg Vorbis, but it's still pretty popular.
  12. totoum macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2007

    And guess what,imovie used to be able to!

    If you have imovie 06 and perian,imovie will recognise almost anything and transcode it to AIC for editing,same thing with final cut pro (not sure about express)!
    things like avi,mp4 and yes even mkv!

    But is that really a good idea?
    Transcoding an HD h.264/mkv file in imovie can take a REALLY long time (rendering it in FCP too).
    If you don't want to wait,right click your imovie project,and select "show package content",select media and put your mkv in there,then the next time you open imovie it will be there.

    Of course since it's not made for editing,the file will be hard to edit,your computer will have a hard time handling making cuts and seeking in the file,you'll get fustrated really quickly and give up.

    And native h.264 editing is just as fustrating on adobe premiere or FCP,so really,I'm not really holding a grudge against apple for "limiting" imovie
  13. theBB macrumors 68020


    Jan 3, 2006
    Actually that is what iMovie used to do before '08 version. I could easily import my MPEG4 .AVI files from my digital camera once I added the codec according to Casio's instructions (or later by using Perian.)

    Unfortunately, I now need to use MPEG Streamclip to convert before importing. It definitely does not fit the "just works" mantra. On the other hand, that camera broke after a fall and our new Canon uses .mov files, so the problem solved itself. :)
  14. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    I don't think your analogy is valid. I think that the video-editing public are looking for something that will edit all the weird formats they have, or even the not-so-weird like MPEG2. Transcoding to DV (Apple could limit imports to standard def in the DV codec to cut down import times) isn't that time-consuming and any iMac can handle it. Would it meet the standards of pro editing? Nope, but then we are talking about iMovie.

    Having said that, neither of us run Apple and are unlikely to have any influence :D
  15. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    My point was that Apple has an unmistakable philosophy of simplicity. It shouldn't come as a surprise that iMovie holds this facet above all others. Want to make a mash-up of dozens of downloaded DivX and MPEG-2 videos of varying resolutions? Okay, but consider an editor other than iMovie, because was not made with you in mind. It's like buying a Prius and then being upset with its bouncing ability.

    I don't see how that analogy is invalid.
  16. kernkraft macrumors 68020


    Jun 25, 2009
    No mpeg and avi in video?

    Apparently, it's not part of the so-called 'user experience'. Don't get upset, Apple knows better what you want to do and how. :eek:
  17. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    So you really want iMovie to read a wide variety of video formats and codecs?

    For example:

    .avi is only a container for many, many codecs. A lot is encoded with Xvid and Divx, but there are also many .avi files using different codecs.
    Apple has to implement more code into iMovie to make any import of .avi files happening, with that many codecs that is a recipe for disaster. Maybe even licensing fees apply on some of those codecs.

    And what if Apple only allowed some codecs to be used? Then there will be a small outcry why some .avi files work and some don't, as many people don't even know what a codec is. They just see an .avi file, nothing more.

    Why Apple does not support .mp4 files, which probably use the H264 codec, I don't really know.

    But what is the problem with one additional software?
  18. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    • The iPod is a delivery device, not a creative piece of editing software.
    • FLAC and OggVorbis are pretty rare outside here and /. MPEG1, 2 and 4 and FLVs are very common video formats. If the iPod didn't play MP3s, that would be a valid comparison.
    That's why I think the analogy is invalid.

    Would be nice if iMovie could import (not edit natively, but import) anything QT can play. That's all it needs. As others have said, iMovie 06 and earlier could import more than 08 and beyond. If Perian can play it, QT should be able to transcode. Just sayin'...

    NuppelVideo? :confused:
  19. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    You're misinterpreting the analogy. I was not suggesting that FLAC and Vorbis are directly analogous to MPEG-2 and FLV. I was using the iPod to illustrate Apple's philosophy of robust simplicity.

    The iPod doesn't play as many codecs as many competing products, and it locks you into using iTunes and a particular workflow. But Apple, with the iTunes library system and autosync, made it so easy even my dad can rip a CD and put it on his iPod.

    I used the iPod as it's the most widely-known example, but I could've used any Apple product whose name starts with a lowercase "i" — iMac, iPad, iPhoto, iMovie, etc. Apple has clearly defined all of its "i" products as:
    • quick even for the non-enthusiast to pick up and start using
    • leaving little room for user-error
    • stable
    Adding support for things Apple does not have control over threatens each of these. So, as I've said, it shouldn't come as a surprise that iMovie is limited.

    I'm sure there's a market for an editor with greater functionality, but that's not what iMovie aspires to be.
  20. a cat *miaow* macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2007
    I feel your frustration...
    I was so confused the first time I used iMovie and discovered it only imports two file types!
    All the people who are saying you can use some other software to convert - yes of course you can but iMovie is sold as a simple App for people who don't know how to make movies... make movies! Therefore it's completely jarring when you find those movies from random cameras/stills cameras that shoot footage cant be used. Yes the quality will be bad but many users would surely forgo that to have a film of what they want (they can't go back and reshoot their old footage on a new camera)
  21. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    I agree. A bit. :)

  22. mjhtx macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2010
    From and educational perspective

    Students frequently need to create projects with short clips of information not shot with a camera. Many of those can be downloaded and used as is, but when the student wants 30 seconds of a three minute video, it would be nice if they could import a few formats without having to transform the video into some other format.

    We're not always in the business of teaching video-tech. Lots of teachers want to students to use their Macs to create informational projects. I'm currently converting a video about "The Use of Christianity in Plays" for a English III student so she can clip a piece she needs to use in a classroom discussion.

    Thanks to the person who gave Streamclip instructions. That's what I'm using and am hoping it works.

    Instructional Technologist
  23. carter11 macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2010
    Handbrake (free) will convert the avi's to DV, and then you can import them into iMovie.
  24. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    No, as Handbrake does not offer the DV codec or the .mov container as output.

    Further reading on Handbrake on transcodding video for iMovie

    MPEG Streamclip is what you use for this. Btw, nice resurrection. Hope to see more.
  25. bendegroot macrumors newbie

    Jan 12, 2011

    there's no reason iMovie couldn't import anything Apple wanted it to. My older version of iMovie (iMovie HD) could import the .avi files created by my Panasonic lumix camera just fine. iMovie '08 now treats the files as if they didn't exist. O.P. os right to be frustrated - Apple picks and chooses what they want to allow to be imported (and converted). Apple could easily allow iMovie to convert any video format and import it. They just make choices that sometimes leave consumers (like me and the O.P.) out in the cold.

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