How to Transfer Video Clips to Your MacBook - dummies

How to Transfer Video Clips to Your MacBook

By Mark L. Chambers

Your MacBook is already equipped with the large drive you need for editing digital video. In fact, because your MacBook has a FaceTime HD camera on-board, you’re a self-contained movie studio! Of course, you can also use clips filmed with a camcorder — depending on the MacBook model and camcorder you’re using, you may be using either a FireWire or a USB connection.

Note that MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air models do not have a FireWire port, and the FireWire 800 port on the MacBook Pro requires a special cable to connect to older FireWire 400 camcorders.

Here’s the drill if your clips are on your FireWire mini-DV camcorder or a mass-storage USB camcorder:

  1. Plug the proper cable into your laptop.

  2. Set the camcorder to VTR (or VCR) mode.

    Some camcorders call this Play mode.

  3. Click the Camera Import button.

    iMovie opens a new window.

  4. Click the Camera pop-up menu (at the bottom of the Import window) and select your DV camcorder, iSight camera (on older MacBooks), or FaceTime camera.

    If you’re using a tape-based camcorder, playback controls appear under the Camera Import window, mirroring the controls on your DV camcorder. This setup allows you to control the unit from iMovie. Keen! If you’re using a mass-storage camcorder connected by USB, you instead get Import All and Import Checked buttons below the thumbnails of available clips.

    To capture video from your iSight or FaceTime HD camera, open the Video Size pop-up menu to choose the dimensions of the clip; then click Capture. On the sheet that appears, choose the location where the video will be saved and also whether to add this video to an existing event or create a new event. Click Capture to start recording, and click Stop when your video is complete.

    iMovie can analyze your incoming video for one of three post-recording procedures. Select the After Import Analyze For check box, and then choose Stabilization, People or Stabilization and People. The Stabilization option is especially good if your camcorder doesn’t have a built-in stabilization function (and you weren’t shooting with a tripod), but beware: Any of these settings will add significant time to the import process!

  5. To import selected clips from your DV camcorder, set the Automatic/Manual switch to Manual and advance the video to a couple of seconds before the point where you want to start your capture, and then click Import.

    To import all clips, set the Automatic/Manual switch to Automatic and then click Import.

  6. (Optional) If you’re using a mass-storage USB camcorder, clear the check boxes next to the clips that you don’t want to import (to deselect them) and then click the Import Checked button.

  7. From the Save To pop-up menu, choose the drive that should store your clips.

    You can choose to add the new clips to an existing event or create a new event. Heck, if the event spanned more than one day, you can create a new event for each day. (How do they think up these things?)

  8. Click OK and admire your handiwork.

    iMovie begins transferring the footage to your MacBook and automatically adds the imported clips to your Event Library.

If your clips are already on your drive, rest assured that iMovie can import them, including those in high-definition video (HDV) format. iMovie also recognizes a number of other video formats.

File Type Description
DV Standard 4:3 digital video
DV Widescreen Widescreen 16:9 digital video
MOV QuickTime movies
HDV & AVCHD High-definition (popularly called widescreen) digital video, in
720p and 1080i
MPEG-2 Digital video format used for DVD movies and digital TV
MPEG-4 A popular format for streaming Internet and wireless digital
video, as well as handheld iOS devices such as iPad, iPhone, and
iPod touch

It’s easy to get lost in the morass of video formats and assorted standards in use today. Check out VideoHelp, which offers comprehensive information on video recording, optical hardware, and format-conversion software.

To import a movie file, follow this bouncing ball:

  1. Choose File→Import and then choose Movies from the submenu.

  2. Open the Optimize Video pop-up menu. If you’re importing 1080i video clips, choose the Full quality setting. Otherwise, use the default Large setting.

    The Large setting saves you a significant amount of drive space, but the Full setting preserves the original resolution and detail. (The Full setting demands a significant chunk of the CPU and RAM resources your MacBook can offer, so expect slower multitasking while importing.)

  3. Click OK.

  4. Click the drive that should store your clips in the File Open sheet sidebar, and then navigate to the desired location.

  5. Specify whether you want to add the imported video to an existing event or create a new event.

    If you choose to add the video to an existing event, click the pop-up menu and select an event.

  6. Specify whether you want to copy the video (leaving the original movie intact) or whether the original movie should be moved (the original deleted after a successful import).

  7. Click Import.

    Alternatively, you can also drag a video clip from a Finder window and drop it in the Project pane.