Wednesday, March 31, 2010

VideoQ&A: Problems importing to iMovie

I have a Canon VIXIA HF M31 and I cannot transfer to iMovie or my MacBook What do I do? I have been to the Apple store and they had no idea.
There's a number of things that might be going wrong here, but I'll go through the most obvious ones. Feel free to write back if you have more information. Note that I'm assuming you're using the internal memory, though if you're using a card it doesn't make a lot of difference to the principles below.

  1. When you connect the camera to the MacBook (via USB) is it mounting as a drive?
    That's the first thing that needs to happen. If you can't do that, then you can't move on to the next problem!
    The internal memory (and/or the card) should appear as a "drive" in the Finder. If it doesn't, then something is probably wrong with the camera, or the cable.
    I'm not familiar with this particular camera, but some cameras have to be put into a particular mode before they will talk to the computer. Check your manual!
  2. What kind of MacBook is it?
    It must be an Intel model, since the video on the HF M31 is in H.264 format, and QuickTime only supports H.264 on the Mac. At least that's true for playback, and I think that's true for importing.
  3. What version of iMovie are you using?
    I couldn't find an import option that worked for iMovie HD (admittedly, I don't use iMovie very frequently, so I was just casting a quick glance through it.) On iMovie 09 there's an "Import from Camera" option under the File menu. When I open that, it opens an import dialog that shows me the clips on the camera, and lets me import all of them (under Automatic) or select the ones I want to import using Manual.
Note that iMovie 09 has an option called "Archive All" (at the bottom of the Import dialog) which will create a .dmg file that contains the unconverted video from the camera. Creating a .dmg saves a copy of the video files from the camera in a file on your computer. Double-clicking that file will open a virtual drive on the desktop containing the files that iMovie will be able to access if you want to import the video at a later date. This is a great way to archive what you have shot.

Other things that can go wrong:
This is a long shot, but have you modified the contents of the camera using the Finder (i.e. deleting files through the Finder rather than using the camera?) I have found with Final Cut Express and Pro, that manually deleting files on a camera through the Finder can confuse the directory structure, and then those programs will stop recognizing the contents of the camera.

I ended up having to copy the files from the camera onto my computer and use another utility to recompress the video. Reformatting the camera using the camera's format function will fix the problem for future imports (but not solve it for existing files.)


Mom's Blog said...

OK Thank you
Ill give it a try and let you know

Dr. Al said...

I have the same camera, Macbook Pro, and the same problem. The finder does not recognize the camera?? Any other possibilities to get the Mac to find the camera?

mchgtr said...

Are you putting the camera into Playback mode? Have you tried another cable? Can you try it on another computer? (figuring out whether it's the camera, the cable or the computer is what you have to do!)

Do you have a card reader? If worst comes to worst, you might try a card reader and see if you can "see" the contents of the card that way.