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Archived - iMovie ’08: Import video from a camcorder or camera

The enhanced import feature in iMovie '08 allows for importing video footage to iMovie '08 from various types of camcorders, including FireWire camcorders and USB camcorders or cameras. You can import video from USB camcorders that record to DVD or hard disk drive (HDD) storage media, or from flash-based devices, including digital still cameras that record video (although you must first import the video to iPhoto for the video to become accessible by iMovie). 

Note: If you run into any issues importing your video, read Helpful Tips, Troubleshooting, and Additional Help in the Additional Information section at the end of this document.

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

The first step in importing video from a camcorder is to determine whether your camcorder connects to your computer with a USB or FireWire cable. Here’s how to determine which your camcorder uses:

FireWire

If your camcorder has a FireWire connection, also called IEEE 1394 or i.LINK, the cable and connector that plug into your camcorder will look like this:

The cable and connector that plug into your computer will look like this:

USB Connection

If your camcorder has a USB connection, the cable and connector that plug into your camcorder will look like this:

The cable and connector that plug into your computer will look like this:

Importing video from a FireWire camcorder

  1. Open iMovie '08.
  2. Connect your camcorder to your computer with a FireWire cable.
  3. Make sure your camcorder is in the proper mode:  PC, Computer or VTR.  (If you’re not sure which mode to use, refer to the manual that came with your camcorder.)
  4. iMovie will detect the camera and open the Import From window.

    If this window doesn’t appear, click the camcorder icon in the iMovie window.

  5. Click the Automatic switch (1) and then click Import All (2) to import all clips from the camcorder.

    Note:  If you want additional import options, select the Manual switch in the lower left of the Import From window. 

    The Import From window now shows the elapsed time and controls that allow you to rewind, fast forward, stop, and play your clip.

  6. From the Save to menu, choose a save location and an iMovie Event for your footage.

    • Choose the hard disk where you want to save your video (if you have more than one hard disk).
    • Select the option to add the imported footage to an existing iMovie Event or to create a new Event.

  7. Click OK.
  8. After clicking OK, your movie begins to import.
  9. Click Stop. You are returned to iMovie’s main window where you can see your imported video in iMovie’s Event Library.  In this example, it’s called “African Safari”.

Importing video from a USB camcorder

You can import video from USB camcorders that record to DVD or hard disk drive (HDD) storage media or from flash-based camcorders. 

Follow these steps to import video from a USB camcorder:

  1. Open iMovie '08.
  2. Connect your camcorder to your computer with a USB cable.
  3. Make sure your camcorder is in the proper mode:  PC, Computer or VTR.  (If you’re not sure which mode to use, refer to the manual that came with your camcorder.)
  4. If you are using a USB camcorder, iMovie will detect the camcorder and open the Import window.

    Note: If you’re connecting a DVD camcorder, plugging it into your computer may cause the DVD Player to open. If that happens, you can simply close DVD Player.

  5. Set the Automatic/Manual switch at the bottom-left of the import window to the Automatic position if you want all of your clips imported.

    To begin the import process, click Import All.

  6. If you want to choose which clips to import, set the Automatic/Manual switch to Manual.

  7. In Manual mode, you can select a video clip (1) and play that clip in the window by clicking the Play button (2).

    Note: This allows your clip to play. The clip is not imported.

  8. The checkbox under each video clip determines whether that clip will be imported.  If a checkbox is selected (1) the clip will be imported. If the checkbox is deselected (2) the clip will not be imported.

  9. Click the Import Checked button to import your video clips.

  10. From the Save to menu, you can choose a Save to location, add your clip to a new or existing iMovie Event, and select a size for your imported video clip.
    • Choose the hard disk where you want your video saved (if you have more than one hard disk).
    • Select the option to add your imported footage to an existing iMovie event or to create a new event.
    • Choose a size for your imported video.

  11. Click OK.

  12. iMovie lets you know when your import is complete.

    Click OK to exit the import mode.

    Your imported video appears in your Event Library.  In this example it is “San Francisco Bay”.

 

Additional Information

Helpful Tips

  • Make sure your camcorder is compatible with iMovie. For a list of compatible camcorders, see "iMovie '08 Camcorder Support."
  • Make sure your camcorder is connected properly to your computer.
  • Make sure your camcorder is in the correct output mode. On some camcorders, this is called VTR mode. On some camcorders you must set the output to DV mode or HDV mode, depending on whether the content is standard (DV) or high definition (HDV). Some camcorders may use different terminology. Check the documentation that came with your camcorder.
  • If you’re connecting a tape-based camcorder to your computer, make sure you’re using a FireWire cable, also called IEEE 1394, or i.LINK (not a USB cable).
  • If you’re connecting to a device that records to flash memory, Hard Drive (HDD), or DVD media, make sure you’re using a USB cable (not a FireWire cable).
  • If you’re importing video from a camera or other flash memory device, make sure the the file format of your video is compatible with iMovie: MPEG-2 or MPEG-4.
  • If you’re importing from an AVCHD camcorder, make sure you’re using a Mac computer with an Intel processor.
  • If you’re importing from an AVCHD DVD camcorder, make sure you’ve installed the latest version of Mac OS X.
  • DVD camcorders require that you "finalize" the DVD disk before importing content into iMovie (unless the "finalize"  function is not offered). Refer to the documentation that came with your DVD camcorder for details.
  • If you’ve enabled Fast User Switching, make sure no one else is trying to use the camcorder from a different account at the same time.

Troubleshooting

If you still can’t import video after checking the items above, try the following:

  • Turn the camcorder off and on again.
  • Disconnect the cable from both the camcorder and the computer, and then reconnect it.
  • Quit and reopen iMovie.
  • Restart your computer.
  • Try using a different cable.
  • Try using a different computer with iMovie '08 installed.

Additional Help

For additional information on importing video, open iMovie and choose iMovie Help from the Help menu.

You can also see some great iMovie ’08 video tutorials.

Last Modified: Jul 31, 2012
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  • Last Modified: Jul 31, 2012
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