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Movies and Video For people making movies and editing video with their Mac.

Sony HD and iMovie CODEC, HD quality downgrade


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daytrade

 
Member Since: Mar 12, 2010
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I hope someone can help me with this as I have come to a standstill and cannot find a solution.

Having recently bought the iMac 21.5 inch with the iMovie editing software, one of the main reasons for buying was to edit family HD video footage from my Sony HDR-SR12E video camera. All works well until I watch the result on my TV which disappointingly shows that the quality of the HD material is down by about 30% (probably SD video). I tried Final Cut Express but after speaking with Apple, I have found that the two programs use the same codec to convert the native Sony format losing the high HD quality. Herein lies the problem, the Apple codec 'downgrades' the .m2ts native file. Sony say that Mac's are not supported and Apple say that there is no other option (except to shell out 1000 on Final Cut Studio which has a higher transfer rate built into its upgraded codec).

Any ideas how I can keep the high grade HD format, i.e. is there a file transfer formatting program from a third party supplier which I can then use 'in between'???

Any offers would be very much appreciated.
John.
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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
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Actually, it is still HD, but it's not 1920x1080. Apple Intermediate Codec (which really isn't a downgrade from AVCHD (which is what the camera would be recording in), might be a downsize in terms of resolution, but AVCHD is a highly compressed format where AIC is not) AIC will do many HD resolutions, but the max pixel is 1440x1080 - and when they use that with 1920x1080, the image is scaled to the new resolution - if you're camera is recording in 1280x720 or 1440x1080 there would be no scaling. But it's usually very hard to see a significant difference from consumer camcorders. ProRES, which is what FCS supports, offers full 1920x1080 support, but honestly, for home movies, it shouldn't be necessary.

I do have a question for you tho - how are you outputting the video to watch on the TV? And with what are you watching (ie: computer hooked to the TV, DVD, streamed to a ps3 what)? Without more information, it may be a workflow problem in which you are downgrading the footage when you are exporting from iMovie...

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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daytrade

 
Member Since: Mar 12, 2010
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Hi,
Thanks for the fast reply!

The video is jittery and is worse during panning shots. The output I have watched on the iMac 21.5" screen, although I am exporting the file also to an external drive to play through a media player on my 42" TV. The native format is, naturally, outstanding but it seems that during this conversion with AIC is possibly where I have the 'downgrade' in data.

Thanks
John.
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xstep

 
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daytrade,

You haven't given enough details.

What version of iMovie are you using?

Are you sure you are recording full HD to the camera?

When you bring the video into iMovie, are you bringing in the full HD size, or the reduced 960x540 version?

Is the edit project widescreen or SD?

When you export the finished project, what size are you exporting to and what codec are you using? What datarate are you using? My iMovie Export Guide may help with this last one.

Does the media player handle full HD?

Those are the type of questions Nethfel was looking at being answered.

CameraTime - Time lapse photography for novice and advanced users.

When asking questions, post the version of your software. You'll receive better answers.

Please post your results to the thread as it is good feedback.
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daytrade

 
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Hi xstep,

Thank you for your reply.

I am using iMovie's latest version 09 (with HD and AVCHD built in). The upload is done at the full HD rate (as this is the setting on the Sony camera - playing direct to the tv is quite stunning in full HD), and the project is widescreen. The export codec is the tricky one, I am just experimenting using the QuickTime option and this asks for various settings, H.264, AIC, etc and I will probably require some help here please to get the best quality HD image settings.

The file is saved to an external hard drive and played through a media player capable of full HD 1080p (Western Digital TV) to my screen.

Thank you so much for your help.
John
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xstep

 
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Review the "Importing Video From Your Camera" tutorial at the iLife '09 Tutorials for iMovie. Notice at the 1:10 mark that the import 'Save To:' panel has a selection labeled 'Import 1080i video as:'. If you are not choosing the 'Full - 1920x1080' option, then you are only importing 1/4 size of what the camera recorded, regardless if the camera recorded 1080i.

Once you know that is correct, you need to export to 1080i. You might also playback you project in full screen on your Mac to see the quality at that stage.

I've never played with a media player, so can't be of much help with that. I see the WD has several formats it can play, but they don't all support 1080.

CameraTime - Time lapse photography for novice and advanced users.

When asking questions, post the version of your software. You'll receive better answers.

Please post your results to the thread as it is good feedback.
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daytrade

 
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xstep,

Thanks for your reply.

I have been doing some searching around for a solution to this and it would appear that I am by no means alone! I have the correct import setting at 1080 and have tried exporting in various settings and still end up with a very poor quality video image (watching the short movie on my new iMac). It would appear that this issue lies at Apple's door as there is not the correct HD codec installed in iMovie 09, something to do with interlacing (its all getting a bit technical!!) and it will never produce a true HD movie until Apple do something about it! This is a shame, the iMovie editing software is packed with features but, unfortunately, falls short in the finished product.

John.
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Nethfel

 
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But, if your camera is recording in 1080i, those lines are normal, as that is what interlacing looks like on a computer (or progressive scan) screen when exported without deinterlacing - if you want to get rid of interlacing, you'll need to run it thru a deinterlacer - you can also try the steps here:

http://www.maciverse.com/export-hd-v...imovie-09.html

Which describes how to export to 1080p (or 720p, you just have to adjust your values)

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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xstep

 
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daytrade,

The problem you refer to I thought only affects SD material. It's been awhile. Check out this Apple discussion which discusses how to get around the issue. The information is buried a bit.

CameraTime - Time lapse photography for novice and advanced users.

When asking questions, post the version of your software. You'll receive better answers.

Please post your results to the thread as it is good feedback.
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