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Matt Rosenthal1 Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
I know this question has been asked, but here is my situation:

I have an HD camcorder that records in AVCHD. I wanted to know if there are specific import settings in IMovie that retain the maximum quality of the imported video. My ultimate intention is to burn to standard DVD. I want to export from Imovie to IDVD after edits are mae. What export settings are optimal for sending to IDVD? Again my goal is to have something on DVD that retains the maxium quality from the original HD camera. I know that DVD is not HD, but I do know that HD to DVD should still be able to produce crisp output. Can anyone paste in some settings to what works for them?


IMAC, Mac OS X (10.6.5)
  • Coolmax Level 2 Level 2 (195 points)
    There are no effective settings to make DVD look HD -- that's impossible. HD and FULL HD are 1280x720p and 1920x1080p resolution and progressive, whereas DVD is about 720x480 or 704x480 and interlaced. Now, there are Blu-ray and DVD players that can up-convert DVD to 1080p and they do a great job, but in expense of more noise and artifacts. Still you do not get Full HD. If you want to product crisp FULL HD output from your iMovie footage, you need to finalize it in Full HD (that's 1920x1080p) with say a H.264 compression and a decent bitrate for Blu-Ray burning or for players like the WD TV / Asus O Play etc... That's the only way you can do this. Besides, players like WD TV or Asus O Play are in the same price range as Blu-Ray players anyhow, so I don't understand why people are reluctant to buy it?
  • Matt Rosenthal1 Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
    This is not correct. I was told be Apple that you could burn HD to DVD. I am not looking for HD quality on DVD. I said that in my post. I am looking for the best settings to take AVCHD and eventually get it in its best possible format on DVD. I have seen this output from others. I am very happy with the quality of standard MiniDV tapes. This is the quality I am looking for on DVD. I have to believe that if you start with AVCHD, you can eventually end up with at least a DVD quality DVD. That is what I am looking for.
  • Coolmax Level 2 Level 2 (195 points)
    Perhaps, the Apple people is basing this assumption that you have a DVD or Blu-ray player that can "up convert" SD DVD footage to 1080p. Up converting is not true Full HD. Another method is to burn a short Blu-ray footage onto as DVD disc as data that BD players can read, but I have not tried this method. People here can chime in.

    But in technical terms, you can not burn 1080p 24p material directly to DVD and expect a normal DVD player to all of the sudden play HD material. Otherwise, why would you need Blu-ray players?!?

    I think you are confusing AVCHD 1080p or 720p with miniDV which records in like 720x480 SD. They are 2 different resolutions and compression format plus bit rate.
    MiniDV records in just 1 standard loseless format which holds quality while editing or even dubbing the material back to tape. iMovie has a native DV codec.
    Unfortunately, AVCHD material is not treated the same way ad DV sream files in iMovie and as with most other editing software. The reason why you are happy with the quality of MiniDV to DVD edit and conversion is because the DV technology has matured and the cameras used to capture footage usually capture good footage with quality (sharp lens , faster lens and reasonable compression) cause the technology used to make these camcorders have long been amortized (R&D paid for in full). Whereas, HD is still an evolving technology == now we have 1080p 60p to deal with. If you want to make good HD quality on DVD like you get from a good miniDV camcorder, "START" with a good quality HD camcorder (the Panasonic TM700 is a good example). Sadly, there are quite a bit of the $400 HD camcorders that produce results that are far less superior than the miniDV camcorders they are to replace if you watch the finalized footage on DVD. If you simply watch the unedited footage from these HD cameras, the quality is great. As soon as you start to edit them, then the best way to see them better than what you had seen on miniDV is by finalizing them and watching them on a computer or media player. Remember that when you actually burn HD material to DVD (SD resolution), you have to blow it up again on your big screen TV. A good miniDV camera with a 3CCD sensor, sharp lens and fast lens (like 2.8 and under) is going to show less imperfection when blown up, compared to the cheaper HD camera which captured first the imperfection of the cheaper lens, slower lens which yield more motion blur recorded on its higher resolution sensor. Then you downgrade it to SD and then blow it again, but this time more imperfection will show up. If you were to finalize it on the same resolution and view it on a media player capable of playing HD, then you don't need to up convert it to 1080p.

    Not every HD camera are built the same you know.
  • Matt Rosenthal1 Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
    I have a Panasonic HD Camcorder, but you are missing my point. I am not trying to get HD quality. I am simply asking how to get the best possible quality onto DVD without sacrificing more quality than I need to. That is all.
  • Coolmax Level 2 Level 2 (195 points)
    You were asking the settings how to retain maximum quality from your HD cam and that it should have the crisp output and what not.

    Sorry for the bearer of bad news, but you are using the wrong computer and software setup for the job. If you want the best quality out of your HD cam, PC software and hardware are more adept for this to maintain quality with little loss during the conversion process. I know as I have a fast Quad Core RAID setup just to deal with high quality AVCHD streams in real time. When you are expecting to look like your friend's miniDV on DVD, you are not realizing the fact that his camera is capturing in DV format, which is interlaced and at the same resolution as the DVD output resolution, so there is little loss and conversion. The upconvert on the BD player or latest gen DVD players "make it" look good on your HDTV. Your thinking is this, I have a high resolution HD cam, I should get the same quality. But that's not as simple as you think and iMovie is very limited on this. You can go FCE, but the importing of AVCHD is the same as iMovie. Which is why I don't do AVCHD editing on the Mac at all and finalizing on DVD.
    If you accept a certain level of image degradation (again is not bad as a consumer level editor but definitely not the max you can get from your HD cam), then use share to media browser and expect to wait for a very long time to render your complete project for DVD burning.


    Message was edited by: Coolmax
  • aubiem Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
    I completely understand what you are trying to achieve as I am doing the same thing. I have a Canon Vixia HV30. I record everything in 720p and import it via Firewire at full quality into iMovie '11. When I edit it I export it via the SHARE --> MEDIA BROWSER and choose 720P. Then drag that into my iDVD project. I have been happy with the result unlike in the past where I was choosing SHARE --> iDVD and that would compress it once and then send it to iDVD (unlike iMovie HD 6 where it would just send it to iDVD and not compress first), then iDVD would compress it again when burning to DVD. The quality was a disaster.

    I would try a version of that? Share, Media Browser, 1080p?
  • Lakers32 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    "When I edit it I export it via the SHARE --> MEDIA BROWSER and choose 720P. Then drag that into my iDVD project."

    After you do Media Browser and choose 720p or 1080P

    How do you do put it on iDVD? From the media browser on iDVD?
  • aubiem Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
    There may be an easier way but I go into the project file and copy it out. You can access it by having it create the movie in the media browser by doing the Share --> Media Browser. When the movie is complete you can find it by going into your home folder (usually called "Main" but whatever it's called it looks like a little house) and choosing "Movies", then open the "iMovie Projects". In there you should see the file called whatever you named your project. Right click on that project file and choose "Show Package Contents" and it will open up for you. When that happens there should be another "Movies" folder where your finished movie is and should be labeled the resolution you exported it as like "720p" etc. I copy that file into my main movies folder so iDVD can see it in the iDVD media browser and drag it in from there. I then, when I don't need the media browser copy anymore, go back into iMovie and do a "Share", "Remove from" and have iMovie delete the file I don't need anymore.

    I am probably making it more complicated than need be but that's how I do it. I hope that helps!
  • wrench75 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    USBoy, I am trying to achieve the exact same thing as you - get the best possible DVD with original HD source material. I am using a miniDV HD camcorder and capturing with iMovie 09, and am EXTREMELY disappointed with the resulting video file even before I burn the DVD. I have tried numerous settings in "Share", "Export Using Quicktime", to both MPEG-4 and Quicktime Movie. Going to MPEG-4 was horrid! Massive pixelization. The best I seemed to get was going to Quicktime Movie, with MPEG-4 compression on the highest quality setting. And still looks like crap!

    I did make the mistake of not capturing to video in the highest quality because I got a warning that my computer may not be able to handle the file (I have a 3 yr old Macbook). So, maybe the captured file got degraded?

    Anyway, I too would like to know the best settings to export from iMovie to get the best possible result when I make the DVD.

    On a side note, my Sony HD camcorder records in 1080i on miniDV, not 480 as was indicated in one of the posts. Not sure what other brands do.

    Any help much appreciated!!

    Message was edited by: wrench75
  • Tom Wolsky Level 10 Level 10 (113,845 points)
    If you captured using Large you've halved the quality of the media right there. You can't get that back without recapturing from tape. With the full video you need to export to QuickTime using the Apple Intermediate Codec at 1440x1080 29.97fps with AIFF 38k audio. You will still get some loss in quality because of the way iMovie handles project media, but that's the best you'll get with this application. Then you have to use iDVD, choosing the correct compression setting for the length of your video.
  • wrench75 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Thanks, Tom. I definitely screwed up on the capture. Will have to re-capture at a later date and try the whole process again. In the meantime, I will do the best I can with the current capture.

    One question - in the Settings, there is the also a "Size" option. What should that be set at? I noticed that even if I set the "Compressor" at 1080i in the "Settings" tab, the "Size" is still what I set it at, which can be much different. And, there are a on of options there. What should the Size be set at?
  • Tom Wolsky Level 10 Level 10 (113,845 points)
    If the original media is HDV captured at 1440x1080, then that's the size you should export.
  • Coolmax Level 2 Level 2 (195 points)

    I thought the size option under iMovie preference has no effect on DV captured footage -- it even said it in small letters under the option for Large (960) or full. Since HDV follows the DV standard (same bit rate of 25Mbits/s), while the differences are 12.8MB/s for data rate as opposed to normal DV of 3.2 MB/s, I do not see how you could half the media right there, except I know iMovie 11 does half video quality during capture.

    If he's capturing HDV at 1080i, the resolution is 1440x1080 according to HDV specifications, except if he has a SONY that employs the pixel shift technology, the true pixel capture density is 960 as opposed to 1440. Having said that, iMovie 11 seemed to half the quality of the media irregardless if you capture DV or HDV content. It just does it, whereas the freeware Vidi software does not.

    Do you have any recommendation on how to shut this feature down on iMovie 11?


    Message was edited by: Coolmax
  • Tom Wolsky Level 10 Level 10 (113,845 points)
    HDV is not DV, despite the fact that the data rates are the same. The frame resolutions are completely different of course.

    The best you can do in iMovie is to capture at full size. This of course won't impact whatever the application does to the media in the project.
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