Mac DVD Creation for Sony DCR-SR100 Camcorder

Who knew that this would be so complicated. The new “iMovie ’08”:http://www.apple.com/ilife/imovie/ is supposed to do this directly, but the support is just awful if you are going to try it. Here are the list of bugs:

* If you are using the 16:9 anamorphic format. What is called widescreen on the camera, then when you try to import things, you get something that is low resolution. iMovie 08 appears to make this letterbox. So you go from 720×480 pixels to something that is 640×480 and you get black bars. This is a standard definition camera, so this additional shrink is just terrible.
* iMovie ’08 itself appears to be very buggy. It crashes quite a bit. And when you try to choose Share/Media Browser, it grinds forever, literally an hour on a 40 minute movie and then nothing actually appears in the Movie Browser. The only way that I found to do it was to do a Export as a Quicktime movie, but this creates something that is even worse, you get a 640×350 pixel or so movie, so you are again losing resolution.
* iMovie 08 dropped support for creating chapters, so you actually have to use a new application GarageBand to add chapter marks. Also, I couldn’t find a way to change volumes on individual clips so this has to be done in Garageband. Sigh.
* iMovie 08 itself is quite bizarre, you have to be very careful when selecting, since just mousing over a clip does a selection. I’ve never seen any application work this way, but that means that selection has to be careful indeed.

Net, net, this is just a terrible way and a long way backwards. I wouldn’t use iMovie 08, instead, you should get iMovie 06 which remarkably is a completely different application. There is a rumor that you can download iMovie 06 for free from Apple, but I have not been able to find it. So here is the process to make a high resolution as possible movie with iMovie 06. You do need VisualHub to do this:

# Download Visualhub and shell out the $23 for it. It is worth it
# Plug your Sony DCR-SR100 camera into the USB port. You should see it appear as a CAMCORDER disk icon. Open that up and in a magic direction, you’ll find a whole bunch of MPG files.
# To preview these files, download VLC for the Mac and then play the MPGs. The ones you don’t want you don’t have to copy. Sony by the way has this database issue. If you just deleted from the computer, then you get a bunch of broken links in your camcorder, so instead deleted directly from the camcorder rather than deleting the hard disk file.
# Copy the files you want for your movie into a directory. Personally, I like to sort it by date, so the files that were made 10 August 2007 would go into /Home Movies/2007/2007-08/2007-08-10. While this seems ridiculous, believe me with a bunch of MPG*.* files, you’ll get confused really quickly.
# Start VisualHub and drag the MPGs you want to use for your video into it. Now select the DV tab and click on Force 16:9. Assuming you’ve shot anamorphic. That is a widescreen is layered onto a standard, you should see a distored image in the resulting .dv files. These are going to be huge by the way, 40 minutes of a DVD can take 8GBs of space.
# Now start iMovie 06 and create a project like /Home Movies/2007/2007-08/2007-08-10/My Movie 2007-08-10 again this seems repetitive but helps later. Close iMovie 06
# Now you start Finder and go to that magic directly. Select “My Movie 2007-08-10” and right click and click on Show Package, this shows the files inside the movie project and you want to drag all the .dv files you just made into the Media folder.
# Now start iMovie again, iMovie now thinks that these .dv files are trash and asks if you should throw them away, you should just drag them all onto the palette at the right. By the way the reason to do this step is that if you just drag the .dv files onto iMovie then it actually makes a copy of all the .dv files and this is slow and uses lots of disk.
# Now drag the clips you want into the window at the bottom in the order you want
# Begin editing your movie, you can fix the volume, by clicking on the show time line and for each clip, at the very bottom you can select clip volume from 0% to 150% of what was recorded. Normally when I’m recording chorus or music, I turn it up some. Unlike many other editing applications you can’t see the waveform so you’ll have no idea if it is too loud and clipping or too quiet, so listen carefully.
# Now you need to remember to create titles with the title menu. The application is a bit wierd in that every time you add a title, it actually makes a new clip and adds the title rather than keeping the clips clean. This means you had really better be sure that you drop the title in the exact right place. Most of the other video editing packages I’ve used keep the title separate until render time, so beware.
# Now click on chapters and add them. You really want this for the DVD
# Finally save and you are ready to click Share/iDVD. Unlike iMovie 08, this doesn’t call a rerendering, literally the .dv files are stitched together so you don’t lose any resolution. This is going to take a long time. 40 minutes on my Macbook Pro took 60 minutes to stitch together a bunch of things into a single 8GB .dv
# iDVD will now start automatically, pick the theme you want and then drag the movie in. If you are using the magic location /User/USERNAME/Movies then it will appear in the browser on the right.
# iDVD has the concept of a drop zone so it takes a still or something out of the movie and adds it to the menu. Go to Auto Drop Zone and select that, it makes a pretty good choice. If you did this right, you should see a DVD menu with the words Movie and Chapter Selection on it.
# Now choose Burn to Image and this creates a .img file. You can mount this file to look at it and use the /Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility to burn it to a DVD. Save the .img file so you can burn as many copies as you want. The rendering by the way for this burn image also is very long as it is converting the .dv file into an MPEG-2 format file. There is no control over the encoding options (unlike TMPengc that I use on the PC), so a 40 minute video seems to take about 2GB so a single layer DVD stores about 80 minutes vs. 120 minutes if you use a specialized tool that does better encoding so beware.

As a complete aside, check out “Apple.com/downloads”:http://www.apple.com/downloads to get widgets and other junk although I couldn’t find iMovie 08. Some good things are Google Earth for the Mac, also in Widget land, check out the airline flight finder and also the

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