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serious quality loss with MTS files and iMovie '11

18009 Views 61 Replies Latest reply: Mar 18, 2013 4:17 AM by John Cogdell RSS
  • John Cogdell Level 5 Level 5 (4,595 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 25, 2011 8:50 PM (in response to Egil-H)
    I had a look at the two pictures. When enlarged, the one on the right (presumably from iMovie) does appear very blocky around the temple area of your subject. Also, some blockiness/discolouration is apparent in the hair - not a good look!

    You mentioned that you transcoded the AVCHD clips to AIC on import (the automatic method with iMovie). Are you using iMovie '09 or iMovie'11? This thread is in the '09 forum but the original poster was using iMovie '11 - very confusing! What resolution did you import at - Large or Full?

    I haven't noticed this problem with my videos - either with AVCHD or DV clips. However, I try to avoid shooting scenes with strong backlighting. Unless you use the backlight setting (button) on the camera, all you will generally see is silhouettes in the imported footage. Unless you have a specific reason to shoot in this way (ie, for an effect), I would avoid it. Lighting plays a very important part with video. In dimly lit scenes, such as at wedding receptions, the video can look very grainy unless video lights are used. Of course, some cameras handle indifferent lighting better than others.

    John
    MacBook Pro 15" (early '09) 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB HD, Mac OS X (10.6.6), LaCie 120GB; Maxtor 250GB, 300GB and 1TB FW drives; Sony DCR-TRV20E and HDR-SR7
  • Egil-H Calculating status...
    Using iMovie '11

    Imported using Full Size 1080.

    Trying to avoid the cause of this problem is kind of besides the point. I try to avoid it as well, but that does not mean that the result should turn out like this? Playing the file that iMovie '11 transcoded through QT Player show that the file is fine, the quality is great. Its just the way iMovie READS it that reduces quality a lot.

    I'm no longer searching for an answer to this problem, because I already know the answer: Apple deliberatly reduces quality to make people buy Final Cut Express.
    iMac i7 2,93 - MBP 2,33, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • John Cogdell Level 5 Level 5 (4,595 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 25, 2011 10:02 PM (in response to Egil-H)
    Trying to avoid the cause of this problem is kind of besides the point.

    Fair enough - can't argue with that. Personally, I'm not seeing this problem with my clips (unless I'm not looking hard enough). How does the video look after exporting - does it exhibit the same blockiness? It might just be iMovie's preview that shows the problem.

    I'm no longer searching for an answer to this problem, because I already know the answer: Apple deliberatly reduces quality to make people buy Final Cut Express.

    Sorry, but I don't subscribe to that theory. Final Cut Express is an entirely different editing tool - far more complex than iMovie '11, which is geared for use by the average consumer. I get great results with iMovie and love using it. I view my exports mainly through a Western Digital TV Live Media Player connected to a LCD HD TV and see excellent results. Sorry I can't help you with your problem - perhaps there is some other issue with your set-up.

    John
    MacBook Pro 15" (early '09) 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB HD, Mac OS X (10.6.6), LaCie 120GB; Maxtor 250GB, 300GB and 1TB FW drives; Sony DCR-TRV20E and HDR-SR7
  • Egil-H Level 1 Level 1 (95 points)
    My point here is that I have great quality source video, that I import into iMovie '11 using the best settings available through iMovie. When I view and export that video, I get the blocky results. iMovie is also great in that there are no settings to mess up, the set-up is what it is, and Final Cut gives me great previews and great output.

    For the most part, I have no problems with the quality, its great. Its when i get those dark areas the problems appear.

    I have both an AppleTV 2 and a WD TV Live box, and again: they both give blocky results from iMovie and smooth results from FCE. On my Pioneer plasma, the blocks jump in my face!

    I think the app has been deliberately dumbed down, but I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on that one

    Sure hope an update comes along that will take care of the issues I'm seeing
    iMac i7 2,93 - MBP 2,33, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • BoBlatanche Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 27, 2011 12:35 AM (in response to Egil-H)
    Morning guys,

    (Morning in France, shiny 4°c)
    I share your feeling Hegil-H. It's too big to be just a mistake. Espacially when you can see that the rendering tool is the same between them two... quicktime.
    MBP2010, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • Egil-H Level 1 Level 1 (95 points)
    PLEASE leave feedback here: http://www.apple.com/feedback/imovie.html

    Apple needs to hear that this is not OK
    iMac i7 2,93 - MBP 2,33, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • McQueen85 Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 5, 2011 7:19 AM (in response to Egil-H)
    Apple clearly don't view this as big enough of an issue to do anything about it, considering going back to PC...
    Mac Mini, Mac OS X (10.6.5)
  • coxorange Level 1 Level 1 (40 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 20, 2011 6:00 AM (in response to Coolmax)
    The problem I see with your finalized video is the same as I'm seeing with my DV footage, like in the shadow area you see blocky artifacts (very noticeable); sign that the video had been through the single field processing cause it probably assumes an interlaced footage (either interlaced or progressive segment formatted). The only way I find to bypass this is to use Quicktime X and save whatever converted footage into 1080p. Then when you import, you'll see full resolution and little noise artifacts. Then, just work in progressive mode and the results will be whatever iMovie 11 is designed to do.


    Interesting!

    I started a new thread about that quality / sharpness problem in
    iMovie '11 (Canon HF S20 camera) incl. some sample screenshots:

    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2759331

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    iMac 27" 3.2GHz; 2x iMacs 21.5" 3.06 GHz;, Mac OS X (10.6.6), Kensington Expert Trackballs
  • themightygoose Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 11, 2011 7:12 AM (in response to coxorange)

    I wasted countless hours trying to find the right codec but kept having the same quality issue you are all having.  Apple Support had me trying all kinds of crazy things, including reinstalling Lion.  Eventually I got through to a senior iMovie technician who told me I was expecting too much from a $15 program I got for free.  He said if I wanted good video I would need to step up to Final Cut.  I don't understand why Apple would even bother putting out a program that is so much of a half-effort.  I am a new Apple user from PC.  I made the switch because of all the hype about how great Apple is for video editing.  So far I'm not a believer...

  • aellul Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 20, 2012 5:36 AM (in response to Filmpje)

    hi all,

     

    i have the same issue her but didn't manage to find a solution.

     

    my camcorder is a jvc everio gz-hm1 and it shoot full hd.  i basically use imovie to stich the various clips together and export them as one single movie.  i am using the full quality when importing and the hd mode when exporting.  the final finished movie is of a much lesser quality and to be honest it not do justice to the camcorder as i know that it can produce betetr results.  don't know it if me doing something wrong or imovie not able to produce the desired results.  has anyone found a solution?

     

    i am now thinking of getting adobe premiere elements 10.  has anyone compared it with imovie?

     

    thanks

    aldo

  • johnday Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 5, 2012 12:39 PM (in response to aellul)

    Hi aellul

    I have had ALL these same problems and it has been a personal crusade of mine for some time now....moved from PC to edit/produce home HD movies (from a Sony HD camera, now Canon) and play through to a WD Media Player, but, as all these posts are saying and I whole heartedly agree, the results are very very very poor.  I bought and installed Premier Elements 10 and it has a slight improvement, but the UI is not as good as iMovie, for example, I like the ability to insert the date, etc.

     

    In short, I have not been able to produce anything worth showing in HD. I have even tried Final Cut Express and the iMovie Apple Tec man said it uses the same codec, namely AIC. Only stepping up to Final Cut Pro (not really aimed at the keen home user) will produce the results we all want. Come on Apple, I hope you are listening, this is epidemic in terms of dissatisfaction.  I don't agree with the comment about "I was expecting too much from a $15 program I got for free", as the iMac I bought was half the reason for purchasing. I am very close to dumping this and going back to a PC.

  • johnday Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 20, 2012 1:27 PM (in response to Filmpje)

    Eureka! I have FINALLY managed to get HD edited footage on my TV (no thanks to Apple!).

    This is how I did it:

    1. Using Boot Camp, create a Windows 7 install

    2. Install Cyberlink PowerDirector 10 Ultra (in Windows)

    3. Import AVCHD footage either direct from HD camera or from an archive stored on an external drive

    4. Edit, create titles, transitions, etc

    5. Output (from a range of various options) using H.264 which will save the edited project as a .M2TS file which now plays seemlessly HD on a WD HD Media Player including Dolby Surround Sound.

     

    It has taken a HUGE amount of research to finally end up with footage as good as the native MTS file the HD camera records in.

     

    Good luck..... Spread the word!!!

  • 7163 Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 8, 2012 1:36 AM (in response to johnday)

    I bought FCPX and Compressor.

    I use the free x.264 codec to export great quality from FCPX.

    The built in "share" presets for iDevices and Mac/PC uses Apples h.264 and gives you huge files with low quality, so you HAVE to use x.264 or something similar...

     

    I still think it's sad that Apple does seem to want to fix iMovie.

  • Gibbyice Calculating status...

    Thank you very much, after searching threads today you have answered my problem after importing footage on My Sony HDR CX 11E just recently purchased on ebay as an upgrade for my Sony TRV33E DV based camera.

    I tested out the camcorder today and was dissapointed with the grain on blacks after exporting from iMovie. It turns out it was due to the same stablizing preferences.

     

    I was just wondering what your thoughts are on keeping the original content on the memory stick duo pro cards they are recorded on. I have kept my 8m Canon and original tapes and Sony DV and Tapes and wondered what the life expectancy of footage stored on flash storage was. I will obviously edit and create a finished home video in addition to the original footage.  I plan to store the edited footage on a NAS and viewed on an Jailbroken Apple TV 2 using firecore media player.

     

    Any advice greatfully received

     

    Andrew

  • John Cogdell Level 5 Level 5 (4,595 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2013 3:02 AM (in response to Gibbyice)

    Gibbyice wrote:

     

    I was just wondering what your thoughts are on keeping the original content on the memory stick duo pro cards they are recorded on. I have kept my 8m Canon and original tapes and Sony DV and Tapes and wondered what the life expectancy of footage stored on flash storage was.

     

    Hi Andrew,

     

    You've resurrected an old thread here! I didn't receive a notification from Apple that you had posted here. This has happened a bit lately with older topics I had posted in. I had forgotten that I had contributed (fairly extensively) to this topic in its earlier stages and was just looking at it again out of interest and saw your post.

     

    Unfortunately, I can't answer your question about the life expectancy of flash storage, as I have no idea!

     

    An important step with camera footage is to create an archive. If you can afford it, keeping the memory cards with the original video is also an option. However, I would guess that most users archive their clips then erase the contents on the cards, due to the cost involved in purchasing new cards. In my case, I'm using a hard drive camcorder that records in the AVCHD format (60GB capacity) - it's the Sony HDR-SR7E, now getting long in the tooth! So I'm forced to delete clips from the camera as it fills up.

     

    Thankfully, iMovie has an archive feature that works very well. When you import clips to iMovie you will notice an "Archive All" item at the bottom of the import window. This allows you to archive all the AVCHD clips on your camera to an archive folder. The archive will be identical to the content on the camera's memory card (or hard drive in my case).

     

    The archiving is not selective, unlike importing to an Event which allows you to import selected clips or all clips. The archive function will always import the full contents. So, if you haven't erased clips since your last archive, some duplication will arise. For this reason, I use a 3rd party app as it allows selective archiving of clips (I'm in the habit of retaining as much as I can on the hard drive as space permits). If you want more information about this option, please post back here. It does have an annoying downside though.

     

    In iMovie Help (menu item "Help > iMovie Help") there is a topic "Make a backup copy (archive) of the contents of your camcorder". Another topic is "Import video from a camera archive into iMovie" - this provides instructions on importing your archived clips into an iMovie Event (as the name suggests). A good process is to firstly archive your clips, then import from the archive, rather than importing directly from the memory card. This provides assurance that the archive works correctly, allowing peace of mind when later erasing the contents from the memory card.

     

    Here are the links to Apple's online Help topics I mentioned:

     

    http://support.apple.com/kb/PH2145

     

    http://support.apple.com/kb/PH2150

     

    Glad to hear that removing stabilization fixed the problem you were seeing Andrew. Good luck with the archiving!

     

    John

    MacBook Pro (15-inch Late 2008), OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.3), Sony HDR-SR7 & DCR-TRV20E

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