How to Import Video From a DVD Camcorder into Mac's iMovie '11

DVD, hard drive, and flash-memory camcorders typically use USB rather than FireWire to connect to a Mac. The biggest distinction of these camcorders compared with their tape cousins — and it's significant — is that you don't need to follow a linear structure when playing back a movie on such a camcorder.

Of course you also have to import entire clips and then trim off what you don't want rather than just importing a segment from the tape stream on the other models. Here's how to import video into iMovie from one of these cameras:

  1. Connect your camcorder to your Mac.

    The Import window opens, only this time, it displays all the clips stored on the device.

  2. Click Import All if you want to bring aboard the entire batch.

    To selectively import clips, cmd-click each clip that meets your requirements, and click Import Selected when you're done choosing clips.

    If you're selectively importing, you can preview clips similarly to the way you preview using a tape-based camcorder.

Patience is a virtue in the moviemaking business, so be mindful that it may take some time for iMovie to grab all the video and generate thumbnail images of each clip, especially if your footage goes on for a while. A progress indicator gauges how long your Mac will be at it. When all the clips have been imported, you can safely disconnect the device.

Plugging a DVD camcorder into the Mac may cause DVD Player to wake up. No big whoop. Just close it.

If such a DVD camcorder doesn't have USB or FireWire, you need to grab content from a MiniDVD. The process involves finalizing the disk in the camcorder and then using a DVD drive (if your Mac has one or if you have an external DVD drive) to import the content into the computer. Be aware that MiniDVD discs are not compatible with slot-loading drives, but rather only the tray-loading type.

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