10 Replies Latest reply: Feb 2, 2013 1:25 PM by blause
skokaliaris Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I have a Sony mini dv camcorder dcr-trv25, purchased in 2002.  Although iMovie '11 imports the video, the quality is not that great.  There do not appear to be any settings in iMovie for this....it just proceeds to import the video.  Exporting to iDVD also was not very good. Playing back the tape on my TV is much better, as was burning to a DVD on a stand alone DVD Recorder connected to my TV.  Very little quality loss, if any, on the stand alone DVD recorder.


I would love to start using iMovie, but, the quality of the imported mini dv video isn't good enough to invest the time to make a project. 


I'm very new to this...any help would be appreciated. 

iMovie '11, Mac OS X (10.6.8)
  • skokaliaris Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Somewhat disappointed that nobody has replied as yet. 


    I can report that I downloaded the trial version of Final Cut Pro X.  The quality of the imported video looked the same, but, the quality of the export to DVD was very good.  I think Apple knows what it's doing here...i.e. making you pay the extra $300 for Final Cut Pro X.  There are plenty of people who still have mini dv camcorders, so, why iMovie '11 would have lousy export quality for dv files is a little curious. 


    I have read on other blogs that iMovie '06 is much better for mini dv work.  Regardless, I have purchased Final Cut Pro X.

  • Bengt Wärleby Level 6 Level 6 (19,450 points)



    Didn't see Your post unti now.


    Yes if I understands it right - iMovie'08 or 09 or 11 - uses progressive material (all lines in the picture from 1 to end) and iMovie HD6 and Your Camera use interlaced video - it shows line 1, 3 , 5, etc then start over with line 2, 4, 6, etc. So when iMovie'08 to 11 get such material it copies the line above - resulting in a loss of definition.


    And as I get it - ther is no way around to get it to export interlaced SD-video over to iDVD but this 50% reduced quality. And this is fully visible.


    So I use

    • iMovie HD6 - or -

    • FinalCut any version

    to get as good DVDs possibly.


    Yours Bengt W

  • skokaliaris Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you, Bengt.  I wish I had known this when I started to work with iMovie.  I wasted a lot of time, not to mention the frustration of not knowing whether it was the software, my camcorder, or perhaps the computer itself.  It is interesting to note that nobody at the Apple store was aware of this.


    One other thing that I have discovered..........although the Final Cut Pro X trial version on the web (10.0.1) worked just fine with my mini dv camera, the version that I bought (10.0.2) crashed upon trying to import my mini dv footage.  I called Apple support and found that any video where the sound setting was 12-bit would crash.  Video shot in 16-bit was ok.


    Since most of my video has been shot in 12-bit, a good work around is to import using iMovie 11 -- which does not crash -- and then import the iMovie event library into Final Cut Pro X.

  • anderskam Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Are you happy with the results you are getting now? I also imported a couple of mini-dv tapes (from a Sony TRV-18 Camcorder) and just viewing the video in the events I can tell the quality is below expectations from connecting the camcorder to a television. I have made some projects and shared to media browser, itunes, and exported via quicktime. It does seems to retain that quality that I initially saw in the events, but again, that's not that good. It's less sharp and it seems the dynamic range is worse.


    In your message above you say the imported quality is the same in Final Cut Pro but the DVD is good. Have you shared with itunes or quicktime? Do you get the quality that you expected?


    I got off a call with Apple this morning and the support person basically just said there will be some change to quality when you import and he did not suggest Final Cut Pro X would import at higher quality.


    It seems I got better results with Windows MovieMaker.

  • Bengt Wärleby Level 6 Level 6 (19,450 points)

    Yes 12-bit audio in Camera should be avoided in all cases !


    FinalCut Pro-X - I don't knoiw


    But best result I would get with FinalCut Express or Pro (old - v.6) and set a project as PAL 32kHz if 12-bit. But my Cameras are set to 16-Bit = 48kHz. (PAL = 25fps = EU) (NTSC=29.97fps=US)


    Yours Bengt W

  • skokaliaris Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    Yes, I'm very happy with the results I am getting now with Final Cut Pro X.  The quality of the video is not great in the viewer when editing. However, the burned DVD looks really good.  When burning, make sure the project is set to Apple Pro Res 422 HQ or Apple Pro Res 422.


    I would recommend downloading the Trial Version of Final Cut Pro X and trying it for yourself.


    I have done 1 Quicktime movie.  The result was very good, although the file size was huge.  My output selection was Apple Pro Res 422 HQ....I'm not sure what the file size/quality trade-off would be by selecting Apple Pro Res 422.  Nevertheless, I copied onto a flash memory stick and played it on my friend's HDTV.  The quality was great.


    I don't have Compressor installed and don't know whether this would make a difference.  I don't have a lot of experience working with Quicktime or sharing via YouTube.

  • anderskam Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the response.

    So you see a big quality difference between using iMovie and Final Cut Pro X. (It's disappointing that one should have to spend $299 to get good quality SD video from a minidv camcorder on a brand new Mac.)

    Are you exclusively using Final Cut Pro X now or are you mixing it with using iMovie 11?

    Finally, have you tried sharing on itunes or youtube? I'm curious about that quality since that's what I would be doing. Thanks

  • skokaliaris Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Yes, I see a big difference between iMovie '11 and Final Cut Pro X when dealing with mini dv tapes.  I think you can download iMovie '06 or iMovie '06 HD, which apparently delivers high quality results for mini dv tapes.  This ability was apparently dropped from the '08, '09 and '11 versions of iMovie.  


    I myself decided to spend the money for Final Cut Pro X rather than experiment with iMovie '06.  After playing around with iMovie '11, I became rather frustrated and I just wanted something that worked.  I agree with you, though, it's disappointing that you can't get good results with mini dv tapes in iMovie '11 after spending all that money on a brand new Mac.  It was also disappointing that nobody I dealt with at Apple was aware of this.  I asked a few people at an Apple Store and 1 person through Apple Care over the phone.  Nobody was aware of it.


    I haven't tried sharing on iTunes or youtube.  If I do, I will be sure to let you know.

  • skokaliaris Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    Quality on iTunes looks good.  I also uploaded a 5 1/2 minute video to YouTube which looks excellent.  The file size was really big...about 170 mb, but, the quality is great.  I'm not sure if Compressor would reduce this or not. Compressor is an extra $50.


    Also, there doesn't appear to be much of a difference in quality between Apple Pro Res 422 and Apple Pro Res 422 HQ. 

  • blause Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    This thread is really helpful given I just started backing up my DV tapes as well.  In the middle of working with Imovie when I saw your thread, thanks for the insights.


    I have a question about using FCPX and the exporting settings.  I hear that exporting the video with H.264 is great for Youtube, but am wondering how large my file will be if I use Apple Pro Res 422 on a 55min video. I have heard it will be close to 13GB, can anyone confirm this or provide additional details?  I want to export my tapes with good quality (13GB per tape is not an issue) but just want to understand what my optoins are, or some best practices.  I will want to edit this footage at some point, so quality is important.


    Appreciate any help.