Tuesday, 25 November 2008

iMovie 08 - the good and the bad

I'm working on a 5 week project for church where we are recording a 25-35 minute teaching sermon per week for the purpose of creating a DVD resource. We have three cameras that are mixed by a Datavideo SE-500 video mixer. This outputs to a DVD-RAM recorder with a separate hard disk recorder for backup.

As we shoot and mix the whole thing live, I've been editing minor glitches in iMovie 08. This is the workflow:

1) Insert DVD-RAM disc in the Mac Mini and copy the VR_MOVIE.VRO file onto the disk.
2) Copy this across to my Linux workstation and re-encode it into DV using ffmpeg-kino.
3) Import the resulting (large) DV file into iMovie.

This works very well and I've been able to edit out the odd glitch very quickly. A minor error (where the speaker then repeats the offending line) can be tidied up in about 2 minutes. It's been taking me no more than 15 minutes to edit the source video. This is the good.

The bad occurs when I want to insert graphic shots from PowerPoint over the video (without interrupting the audio). To do this, import the graphics into iPhoto and then in iMovie, drag and drop the graphic over the video and set the duration. iMovie will then create a smooth cross fade into the graphic and back while the audio continues.

Very smooth.

Until you want to put more than about three graphics into the movie in this way. At this point, the live preview stops working (so you can't skim over the video and see the transition render). It gets worse when I export the "completed" video file; the inserted graphics are rendered in and fade correctly, but the order of the graphics is messed up.

I've tried to split the source video into smaller clips but this has not helped. I've logged it as a bug with Apple, but iMovie is too buggy to use for anything beyond basic clip editing in its current state. Shame really as when it works, it works very well. Apple - please fix!