Monday, January 3, 2011

iMovie Camcorder Support and MP4 Videos

Oh yes, owning a Mac is a wonderful thing. Pain free they tell me. Functional out of the box and ready for love. For the record, I am a operating system agnostic. I respect all persuasions.

Mac folks have to be a little more cautious and resourceful when buying a camcorder. But what do you do when you have found the one? You might have to use other methods of getting video to play nice with iMovie or Final Cut Pro.

Why Is That - I Connect the Camcorder and I'm Make Magic Right?

No, not necessarily. Many of the point and share camcorders as well as the standard consumer camcorders do come with software to help you transfer the video from the camcorder to your computer.

Much of that software is Windows OS compatible only. You can't use it. You would not want to, it is at best pablum and at worse, crap.

Now if you are a savvy Mac user you sniff and say big whoop. I'll just use my camcorder as a drive and drag and drop the video onto my hard drive. I'll open up in iMovie and badda da bing show time.

Eh, not necessarily.

What Version of iMovie Do You Have?

Depending on what version of iMovie you have there might not be a show time. You have to have the version that matches your system but if you can't upgrade you can't open the newer video file formats. You'll need a work around.

What Version of MP4 does the Camcorder Use?

Or to be more precise, the many flavors of MP4 video. I wish I could tell you there is just one fixed version of MP4.

There isn't.
  • There is generic MP4 that any video editing program can open.
  • There is H.264 MP4 it should work in iMovie but ???
  • There is H.264 AVC MP4 it is dicey, could go either way.
  • There is H.264 AVCHD MP4 that sometimes records in a .AVI format. iMovie doesn't like it. At all.
To find out if your camcorder is compatible with iMovie you will want to visit the iMovie Camcorder Support page.

There Is Hope and a Work Around

You will have to convert the video to another format that is compatible with your version of iMovie. For newbies this is a simple video on how it works:

On the Apple site you can find a link to the Mac version of MPEG Streamclip. You can bring the video into the program and export it out as an .MOV or .AVI video.

Now it should be easier than this but to tell the truth the PC folks go through 2x as much hell as Mac folks face. Those poor souls are trying to download spammy freeware conversion software without knowing it.

So go forth and make your magic. Someday there will be a universal converter in every video editing program but for now we do what we can.

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