iMovie HD -- importing HD video

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John Varela

I recently bought a Canon S100 camera that shoots HD video and took it on a vacation trip. This was my first experience with HD video.

The camera produces video in .mov format at 1080p. The clips have been culled and copied to files on the hard drive, where they play perfectly well at full size in Quicktime. When imported into iMovie HD 6.03, however, iMovie HD converts them to standard definition. I have gone over and over all the iMovie settings and can't find a reason why iMovie HD won't accept these as HD videos. The only thing I have thought of is that the camera is using a codec that didn't exist when iMovie HD was coded.

Using Toast 11 Titanium and a trial copy of iSkysoft Video Converter (whose web site claims to solve exactly this problem) I converted files to every 1080p format that seemed likely to work. In all cases, iMovie either didn't recognize the format or it imported and converted to standard definition.

iMovie '11 imports the videos properly at 1080p. However, I want access to the titles and transitions in iMovie HD.

Has anyone seen and solved a problem like this? I have put a sample of my video at
This may not fully answer your question, but did note that iMovie 11 does not support full HD--1080p. I did a quick search on this a LONG time ago when I noticed--we are talking about three years ago--when iMovie utterly failed to synch video with sound. Oddly enough, the older version did a better job. Anyways, this complaint:

I wasted countless hours trying to find the right codec but kept having the same quality issue you are all having. Apple Support had me trying all kinds of crazy things, including reinstalling Lion. Eventually I got through to a senior iMovie technician who told me I was expecting too much from a $15 program I got for free. He said if I wanted good video I would need to step up to Final Cut.


That thread is worth a read.

Anyways, the solution I have is, unfortunately, $$$. I have Premier Pro which will handle the video just fine. You can then export into HD quality that will play nicely with either "old" QuickTime--save that program!--or VLC. I have also made DVDs playable with HD quality.

I do not have Final Cut so I do not have a opinion on whether or not it ACTUALLY works.

Funnily enough . . . because I have iDVD--and I have a few threads one this!--I have used Adobe PP to render the video--do all of the primary editing--then convert it to HD then send it to iMovie . . . to then use the Media Export to create something to open in iDVD. I have a thread on it.

The bottom line is, despite advertisements, the native video rendering programs for Apple are scatological.

Now if you are not in a hurry, wait for a Guru who has used Final Cut. It may be fantastic. Direct conversions to iDVD with no loss of quality and various wood nymphs fly out of your hard drive to [CENSORED--Ed.] you while you wait. Until then, I would not waste the money.

Thanks. That was really helpful. I'm going to try some of the suggestions for getting quality export from iMovie and if I can't get that to work then I'll try FCPX, for which Apple now offers a free trial.
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