Saturday, May 31, 2008

Using a DVD camcorder with iMovie '08

I have no spare cash! School fees mean that where I used to be able to spend a decent amount on something I now have to bide my time and go economy! A few years ago (2001 IIRC) my old JVC S-VHS camcorder died a death when it fell out of the car - the lacing ring was distorted and you couldn't get replacements. So, a couple of weeks ago I bought a Samsung camcorder - little thing that records onto mini-DVDs and produces standard MPEG-2 VOBs in a Video_TS folder (it'll play on a set-top DVD player - unless it has a slot-loading drive like my MacBook Pro!). The MPEG is CBR at 9 Mbits on it's best setting. You get half an hour on one of those dual-layer mini disks. It's so small that it really does fit in your coat pocket which is ideal for a day out with the kids. If I'd have had the cash for a Z1 I'd never take it out! Anyhow - the criticisms online about these kind of camcorders is that they record long-GOP MPEG2 and as such once you've got the video into any editing app and out again you've gone through two decompress/re-compress cycles. I think the biggest problem is the 1/3" single-chip sensor!
Anyhow - iMovie under Leopard doesn't import VOBs (even from non-encrypted DVDs) but it will import media from some of the JVC HD-type camcorders. When you connect them over USB they look like external drives with a DVD file-structure. So - here are my instructions for getting iMovie to import DVD-camcorder footage without resorting to transcoding to another codec;

1) Insert DVD.
2) Open Disk Utility.
3) Select the disk and then select "New Image". Save the disk image wherever is convenient, such as the desktop.
4) Once the disk image is written, open iMovie 08.
5) Mount the new disk image. A "Camera Detected, Scanning Contents" window will appear in iMovie 08, followed by an import window. You can now import the DVD contents and start editing away.

1 comment:

Rupert said...

First Mail; now iMovie? What next? A black turtleneck tucked into the jeans?