7 Replies Latest reply: Nov 8, 2012 7:17 AM by lipwak
lipwak Level 1 (105 points)



I want to keep on using iMovie HD (6.0.4) with whatever new camcorder I am getting. iMovie HD accepts mpeg-4 video so any camcorder that uses that format should work, shouldn't it? I will (probably) be bringing the video in via USB, as I don't think any new camcorders have Firewire ports anymore but I'd love to know about any that do. The plan is to find the files on the camcorder and drag and drop or otherwise transfer them into my MacBook Pro. (See my last question for the Thunderbolt/Firewire adapter problem.)


I've read that some?/all? Canon camcorders can record in both AVCHD and mpeg-4 so I'm looking into them. Any other brands I should check out? Using AVCHD looks like it will be too much trouble so I'm ruling those out, unless you have better ideas.


I've heard that Sony uses their own proprietary "wrapper" for mpeg-4 files their camcorders create. I think there is software out there, possibly for free, that will simply "re-wrap" them, not re-ecode them, so that they may be more easily used. Will Sony camcorders be a problem?


Will file sizes be a problem? I've read so much on AVCHD and other formats that maybe this doesn't apply but I've read that one hour of video can be 60 gb? I don't remember what context that was in.


Can I use mpeg-2 files? From what I have read, I don't think I can. If converting them would make them work, would it take a long time to do that and would file sizes be huge?


I have been using a 21 year old Sony DCR-TRV 9 mini DV cam. This past weekend the LCD screen died. I can still use the viewfinder but that's going to be challenging, so I am shopping for an inexpensive new camcorder. Less than $500, somewhere in the $100-$300 range is preferred but no toys.... HD seems to be out of reach with most starting around $500 but if you recommend any under $500, I'd love to know about them. SD should be fine otherwise. I prefer some sort of card for storage storage rather than a DVD or hard drive. The more popular format, the better.


Any advice is welcome. I do want to stay with iMovie HD though. I have tried iMovie 11 and don't like it. HD suits me fine.


One last question: Since my MacBook Pro doesn't have a Firewire port, I have found it simpler to use my old Powerbook that does.  I then transfer the files over to the MacBook Pro to edit them. I have tried using a Thunderbolt/Firewire adapter so I could use the MBP but it didn't work well with video. The question is: is there a better way to transfer the video files onto the MBP from whatever new camcorder I get than USB? Are there good Thunderbolt connectors that will work well with camcorders?


Many thanks.




John L

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.8), 15" Quad core, 2.0/500/8
  • Klaus1 Level 8 (47,755 points)

    I heartily support your decision to continue to use iMovie 6! I use nothing else!


    imovie 6 was originally designed to import DV video streams from tape via firewire. However, in practise it can do much more. Useful sources of information:


    iMovie 6 Help:




    from which this is excerpt:


    iMovie HD can transfer, or import,

    video in many video formats and from many different

    types of camcorders, including DV camcorders (including those that support

    widescreen) and high definition (HDV) camcorders. In most cases, iMovie HD can

    automatically recognize and import the video you’re using, so you don’t have to pay

    attention to video formats.

    In this step, you will import your own video into your iMovie project. If you have a

    camcorder with a FireWire connection, follow the instructions to connect your

    camcorder and import the video using the capture controls in iMovie HD. If you have

    another type of digital video device or have footage in a file on your computer, see the

    instructions on page 13.

    To import video from a camcorder:


    Set the camcorder to VTR mode (some camcorders call this Play or VCR) and turn it on,

    if necessary.


    Connect your camcorder to your computer using a FireWire cable.



    This MaciLife PDF is also good:




    There is also a video tutorial here (with links to others):




    The excerpt I quoted from the Apple link is less informative than it could be. It also succesfully imports video from my Fuji FinePix S4500 (actually a digital still camera) via USB2, as well from my Sony video camera via firewire!


    Can I use mpeg-2 files? From what I have read, I don't think I can. If converting them would make them work, would it take a long time to do that and would file sizes be huge?


    No. mpeg2 is the final compressed standard format of a DVD (and will be created by iDVD). To use that in iMovie 6 requires you 'reverse engineer' the file back to a DV stream, with commensurate loss of quality. If you really want to do that, post back for instructions.


    I have no experience with Thunderbolt so can't help you there, but hopefully Karsten will see this thread and chime in with his usual excellent advice!

  • lipwak Level 1 (105 points)

    Thanks! I ran across all of the pdfs you mentioned when I looked today. I skimmed the one I hadn't seen before by Jim Heid and look forward to gleaning from it. They are VERY helpful. I've been using HD for years and thought I knew my way around it but they all have some great tips  I will look at the video too.


    I seem to remember a good website for iMovie HD but haven't run across it lately. Maybe it's gone...


    "In most cases, iMovie HD can automatically recognize and import the video you’re using, so you don’t have to pay attention to video formats." I should try feeding it some formats that go beyond mpeg-4 and DV. A list would be real helpful. I think Apple only lists those two (that apply to a camcorder. I know about iSight), don't they? I have run across some it doesn't like but don't remember what they are at this point.

  • Klaus1 Level 8 (47,755 points)

    Are you familiar with David Pogue's 'Missing Manual' covering iMovie 6 and iDVD? Whilst it does not cover iDVD 7, it provides lots of useful guidance on iMovie 6.


    Bear in mind though that it was published in 2006. Much has happened since then! Amazon or eBay probably have a second-hand version!


    iMovie 6 will handle mpeg4 but not AVCHD.

  • lipwak Level 1 (105 points)

    I've heard of it but don't have a copy. Is it online?


    This was the iMovie site I was thinking of - http://www.danslagle.com/mac/iMovie/

    I'll have to look throught it, both the old and new site. (http://unofficialimoviefaq.com/)

  • lipwak Level 1 (105 points)

    OK. I bought a Panasonic HCV100K (and have had it for week or so but needed a memory card which had to be back-ordered, and we are still getting over Hurricane Sandy...) I just got the memory card for it today and have tried some test recordings. It can record as iFrame files and those are simple to drag and drop from the cam to my desktop and then into the iMovie HD Media folder. (I prefer that to letting iMovie import them. It's much faster in my experience.) A 1/2 hr is 5.71 gb. Exporting it as if it was for a CD-ROM ends up with a 191-270 mb file which is very reasonable. Most of my editing will be short segments of much smaller size so I think I'm all set.


    I am also fooling around with the AVCHD files but don't think I'll need to record that way. It has three AVCHD modes: HA, HG and HX. So far I can't tell the difference. Media Converter (http://media-converter.sourceforge.net/index.html) is a nice, FREE, quick way to make iMovie-editable .mov files out of AVHCD files. They have a preset - "Re-wrap AVCHD for Quicktime - uncompressed Audio" that so far, seems ideal for that. AVCHD files will be much bigger so that's another reason I may not need to bother with it.


    I don't know if I am ending up with "full" HD or I am sacrificing anything but so far all seems well.


    What a releif. I still need to see how a sample short segment will look on YouTube as most of my short little segments will end up there (or Facebook.)






    John L

  • lipwak Level 1 (105 points)

    I do wonder if I should use 1080i or 720p, or for that matter MPEG-4, as the project format with iMovie HD (6.0.4)...


    Here's some info about the Panasonic:


    Recording Format[AVCHD] AVCHD / [iFame] MP4
    Compression MethodMPEG-4 AVC/ H.264
    Signal System1080/ 60i, 540/ 30p
    Recording/ Playback ModeHA (17Mbps / VBR) , (1920 x 1080) / HG (13Mbps / VBR) , (1920 x 1080) / HX (9Mbps / VBR) , (1920 x 1080) / iFrame (28Mbps / VBR) , (960 x 540)


    And I see that iFrame supports resolutions up to 720p (Article: HT3905, Apple Knowledgebase)


    Thanks for any advice here.

  • lipwak Level 1 (105 points)

    I also am wondering why iFrame splits things up as it does. I recorded a ~1/2 hour test movie yesterday. It ended up in three parts. The first part is 10 seconds long and 26.8 mb. The second segment is 24:42 long and 4.27 gb. The third segment is 7:54 and 1.41 gb. I don't see any rationale for how it is dividing things.


    Thanks for any help on this.