Using analog/FireWire converter devices with iMovie

Learn how to use devices that convert analog video to or from DV over FireWire (IEEE 1394) with iMovie.
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You can convert video in 8 mm, Hi8, VHS, or SVHS format to digital video (DV) format, using a special converter box (sometimes referred to as AV adapters), such as the Sony DVMC-DA2 or the Synchrotech Formac Studio. Sony DVMC DA-2

If you use a converter to import non-DV video, you can't control your camera or deck with iMovie. However, you can manually control the camera to import video clips and use all of iMovie's editing features, then export your video through the converter back to your video recorder or camera.

A converter of this kind will generally have standard S-video and RCA input/output ports for video and audio, and a FireWire or iLink (IEEE 1394) input/output port. Make sure you have the appropriate cables for your configuration.

To ensure compatibility with third-party video devices, check the iLife Camcorder Compatibility page, the Apple Store, and/or vendor websites for compatibility information.

For more information, check the documentation that came with your converter.

Capturing Analog Video From a Converter Box Into iMovie

Follow these steps to import video from an analog-to-FireWire converter device. While this specific order may not be necessary with all converters, it will help ensure proper initialization between the hardware and software:


  1. Start up your computer, turn on the converter box, and connect the computer to the converter with a FireWire cable.
  2. Connect the video cable from the video output of the video source (for example, a VCR or video camera) to the analog video input of the converter box. A video camera should be in playback or VTR mode. Connect the audio source, too.
  3. The converter box will typically have a switch or button that tells the device which direction to convert the video, analog to DV or DV to analog. For capturing analog video, you will want to press the button labeled "Analog In" or something similar.
  4. Connect a 4-to-6 pin FireWire cable from the DV out port on the converter box (sometimes labeled FireWire, IEEE 1394, or iLink with Sony devices) to a FireWire port on the computer.
  5. Open the iMovie application program.
  6. Make sure the Mode Switch under the iMovie monitor is set to Camera Mode, as shown here.

  7. Some converter boxes have a green status light, to indicate a good connection. If this light is amber or red at this point, try turning the device off for several seconds and then back on again. You may also try quitting and opening iMovie again.
  8. Press play on the VCR or analog camera. You should see the video signal in the iMovie monitor. If you have speakers or headphones connected to the VCR you can monitor the audio.
  9. Use the controls on the video source to manually cue the video tape to the desired spot, and click Import in iMovie. iMovie will create a new clip for about every nine minutes of video. You can join all the clips later by dragging them into the timeline.


Sending Video From iMovie to the Converter Box

Follow these steps to export video to an analog-to-FireWire converter box. While this specific order may not be necessary with all converters, it will help ensure proper initialization between the hardware and software:

  1. Start up your computer, turn on the converter box, and connect the computer to the converter with a FireWire cable.
  2. Connect the video cable from the video output of the source (for example, a VCR or video camera) to the analog video input of the converter box. A video camera should be in playback or VTR mode. Connect the audio source, too.
  3. The converter box will typically have a switch or button which tells the device which direction to convert the video, analog to DV or DV to analog. For exporting analog video, you will want to press the button labeled "Analog In" or something similar.
  4. Connect a 4-to-6 pin FireWire cable from the DV out port on the converter box (sometimes labeled FireWire, IEEE 1394, or iLink with Sony devices) to a FireWire port on the computer.
  5. Open the iMovie application program.
  6. From the iMovie menu, choose Preferences (or File menu in Mac OS 9).
  7. Click the Advanced tab.
  8. Make sure the checkbox for "Video Play Through to Camera" is selected.
  9. Choose Export Movie from the File menu, or press Command-E on the keyboard.
  10. In the Export Movie window, select the pop-up menu for "Export to Camera", even if you're exporting to a VCR through the converter.
  11. Press record on the VCR and click Export in iMovie.
  12. When finished, press the stop button on the VCR and Stop in the iMovie monitor.

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Important: Information about products not manufactured by Apple is provided for information purposes only, and does not constitute Apple's recommendation or endorsement. Please contact the vendor for additional information.

Published Date: Oct 7, 2016