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Quicktime and Imovie Sync - Looking for small business help!

563 Views 2 Replies Latest reply: Jul 1, 2013 6:29 PM by jaifresh RSS
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Jun 26, 2013 11:51 PM

Hey everyone,

 

I run a shop where I convert Videos to DVD etc.

 

I know this question has been asked a million times in several different ways, but I need a technical and accurate answer without downloading new software ( I already have a range of converters )

 

My problem is whenever I have a customer come in with a mac, they want a file format that plays both on Quicktime and in Imovie.

 

Usually I put it into an mpeg format because it is universal, so they can use it on their mac or on a pc if need be and Imovie can import it. The problem there is quicktime will play the video but no audio. So I will normally get the customer to download VLC player and all is good in the world again.

 

Lately I have had customers who dont want to download new software and just want to use the basic mac programs. ( fair enough really )

 

I by chance came across the M4V file format which seems to play fine both in Quicktime and imports into Imovie.

 

Is this the best format?

 

I feel like there are better formats that will do the job and be more universal?

 

I also really need to know the container and the exact codec as there are so many variations.

 

Thank you very much.

 

Regards,

 

Jai

Quicktime and Imovie
  • Jon Walker Level 6 Level 6 (17,520 points)

    My problem is whenever I have a customer come in with a mac, they want a file format that plays both on Quicktime and in Imovie.

    H.264/AAC in MOV, MP4, or M4V file container is the default Apple standard. These compression formats should normally be fully "edit compatible" with all QT based applications. (This means they can be played, converted, and/or edited in any player, converter, or video editor available on a current Mac OS X or IOS device as long as it is operating properly and the file was encoded properly.)

     

    As to file formats, the MP4 file container is the generic MPEG-4 and MPEG-4/AVC video with AAC audio file container. It is, however, normally limited audio and video track content and, by default, is keyed to automatically open in a QT player app when double-clicked at the Finder level. When additional content such as a DD5.1 AC3 sourround audio track or text chapter track is to be included in the track content, the data is normally wrapped in an M4V file container with H.264 video. The container has the same general properties as the MP4 container but allows the use of the aditional data tracks mentioned, as well as, being defaulted to automatically open and load the file to the iTunes app when double-clicked at the Finder level. The MOV file container is an older, generic file container which may hold any compressed data compatible with the on which the file was originally created. Like the M4V file container, it may contain compressed data not normally compatible with the MP4 file container and is normally the "catch all" container used when combining MP4 file data with non-MP4 file data. It is also a handy container for use on older (antiquated) server software which may not like MP4 or M4V file containers.

     

     

    Usually I put it into an mpeg format because it is universal, so they can use it on their mac or on a pc if need be and Imovie can import it. The problem there is quicktime will play the video but no audio. So I will normally get the customer to download VLC player and all is good in the world again.

    Please be more specific here with regard to the compression formats to which you are referring. An MPEG file container historically refers to MPEG-2 video content which is "muxed" with PCM, AC3, or MPEG-1 layered audio. The data must be stored as a "program stream" for the QT 7 player app use but may be stored as either a "transport stream" or "program stream" for the QT X player app. Files with "muxed" MPEG-1 layer 1 or layer 2 audio will play correctly with audio in the QT 7 player if the Apple QT MPEG-2 Playvacl Component is installed. Some "muxed" PCM content may be problematic in QT 7 under Lion and later operating systems. "Muxed" AC3 audio will not play in the QT 7 player even with addition AC3 support installed that handles non-muxed audio streams. The MPEG file container is limted to 4 MBs of data on a Mac.

     

    The MPG file container is normally associated with MPEG-1 video data muxed with MPEG-1 layered audio. Same comments reguarding playback and program/transport stream storage apply here. The QT 7/7 Pro player considers MPG and MPEG files to be "playback" compatible only. Files can, however, be properly converted and/or using the free MPEG Streamclip app which is QT 7 based and access the same Mac system configuration of code components as the QT 7 Pro app. Neither "muxed" format described above are natively compatible with current versions of iMovie. MPEG-2 content stored in a manner which iMovie thinks is still on a compatible camcorder will allow iMovie to envoke a special import routine turning the long GOP MPEG-2 video into editable I-frame only MPEG-2 video and convert the AC3 audio to editable PCM audio.

     

    If by "MPEG" you are referring to MPEG-4 chapter 2 content as opposed to MPEG-4/AVC chapter 10 (H.264 or X.264) content, then yes, it is fully QT compatible as long as it was not encoded using "standard" non-proprietary settings/codecs.

     

     

    I by chance came across the M4V file format which seems to play fine both in Quicktime and imports into Imovie.

     

    Is this the best format?

     

    I feel like there are better formats that will do the job and be more universal?

    As already stated above, H.264/AAC compressed data in the M4V file container is the default "Standard" used on all Mac systems and for all Apple devices. This transition has been taking place since the introduction of QT 7 and has become even more rigidly enforced under QT X development and evlolution. As to what is the "best" compression format and file type combination, that depends on what the user plans to do with the content. For general playback and final distribution, M4V H.264/AAC is probably the best solution in terms of file size. It is roughly 2.0-2.5 times as efficient as MPEG-4 chapter 2 and is universally compatible with all QT applications when encoded/transferred properly. It may not, however, be, the best compression format for video editing in iMovie. While H.264 is compatible with iMovie, it is normally a moderately to highlly compressed format. Since compression implies the throwing away of data, very low compression format like DV or the Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) might be better for iMovie editing purposes—I prefer AIC myself but DV is more universally standardized across all platforms where AIC is limited to Mac platforms. (Pro video editing codecs would be even better if available for use and you can afford the use of large, raw editing files.) So the term "best" changes with each user's work flow and goals.

     

     

    I also really need to know the container and the exact codec as there are so many variations.

    With regard to MPEG-4/AVC (H.264) video, see comments above for MP4, M4V, and MOV containers. The audio and video content is the same in each of the file containers, should play back the same in each of the file containers, and compatible data can be moved back and forth between containers with the AC3 and text chapter expection mentioned above. As to DV-25 (DV/DV content), it is normally stored in a DV container. DVCPRO-25/50 (DV/PCM), it is usually stored as DV video with AIFF (big or little Endian Integer PCM) in an MOV file container. The same for AIC or "Pro" video formats with AIFF or uncompressed audio. In many cases the specifics depend on the convertersion app and/or export option used to generate the file. I wouldn't advise using an AVI or similar "legacy" file container on a Mac since it will usually limit workflow options.

     

    Unfortunately, more specific answers here would require more specific information about how the files are to be used by each user.

     

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