"How to" Guideline series is coordinated by Helen Mongan-Rallis of the Education Department at the University of Minnesota Duluth. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions to improve these guidelines please me at e-mail hrallis@d.umn.edu.

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Importing Video Clips Into iMovie Using Sony Digital8 Video Camera

by Helen Rallis

To import video into iMovie you must use a digital video camcorder (DVC) and not an analog one. If you do not have access to a DVC for the filming portion of your video making, you can use a regular analog camcorder and then later copy your video onto a digital video tape. You then import the video onto your computer using the iMovie video editing application.

What you will need:

  1. Digital video tape that fits your digital camera (for the Sony Digital8 DVC I use Fuji Hi8 tapes). Before purchasing a tape, check what kind you need for the camcorder that you will be using.
  2. Digital video camera (this can be checked out from UMD audio visual services.).
  3. Power cord (to plug in the DVC so you don't down the batter while you are importing video)
  4. A/V connecting cable (only if if you are going to copy video from an analog player to the DVC)
  5. DV firewire cable (to transfer the video from the DVC to the computer).
  6. Computer with firewire connection and iMovie software.
  7. At least 1-2 gigabytes of free space on the computer (as video takes up a LOT of space!).

Copying video from analog video tape to digital video tape

  1. Insert VHS video tape into a VCR or into an analog camcorder. Cue it to a few seconds before the place where you want to start copying.
  2. Connect the DVC power cable to a power outlet (so you don't run down the battery). The power cord plugs into the Digital8 camcorder in a very small socket at the back of the camcorder just below the battery (this socket is covered by a rubber cap when not in use so it may be hard to find the first time).
  3. Insert a digital video tape into the digital video camcorder (DVC). DO THIS VERY CAREFULLY as the mechanism for inserting and ejecting a tape on the camcorder is very fragile.
  4. On the Digital8 camcorder the button to open the tape "hatch" is on the underside of the camcorder (it is labeled "open/eject"). Slide this button in the direction of the arrow and then pull gently to the left to open the hatch.
  5. There is a delay of a couple of seconds and then there is a "ding-dong" sound and hatch opens.
  6. Insert the tape with the label side facing out (so the exposed tape reels face inwards).
  7. VERY IMPORTANT: Do not push down on the tape (see warning label). Place your thumb of the outside of the tape hatch (where the word PUSH is engraved on the hatch door). Push this firmly but without too much pressure until you hear and feel a small "click" and the hatch stays closed. There will be a slight delay and the the tape hatch will be drawn into the camera. When everything has stopped moving, close the outside plastic door by pressing it gently into place until it clicks closed.
  8. Connect the two camcorders using the A/V connecting cable that has the 3 colored connectors (red, yellow, and white). Usually you can only connect the white and yellow plugs (just leave the red one unconnected). The colored plugs go into the VCR/analog camcorder, and the single black plug into the DVC.
  9. Press the little green button on the DVC power switch and turn the switch to the VCR position.
  10. Open the little monitor screen on the DVC.
  11. On the DVC simultaneously press the red record button and the button to the right of this red button. This starts recording (you know it is recording because a little red dot appears on the screen). Immediately press the pause button. The red dot will turn to a green dot with two green stripes, indicating that you have paused the recording.
  12. Press the play button on the analog VCR/camcorder (to start the tape).
  13. Press the pause button on the DVC to cancel the pause and to start recording again. You are now recording from the analog VCR/camcorder to the DVC.
  14. To pause recording, press the pause button on the DVC. Allow the analog tape to play until the next segment that you wish to record, or else fast forward. When you are ready to tape again, release the pause button on the DVC.

Importing video from the DVC to your computer using iMovie/

[To see more detailed directions on how to do this you can go to iMovie Lesson One: Importing Video and Sound http://macworld.zdnet.com/2000/09/04/imovie.html]

Side view of Sony Digital8 camcorder power plug slot for Sony
Power plug located at back of DVC below the battery
  1. Connect the DVC power cable to a power outlet (so you don't run down the battery). The power cord plugs into the Digital8 camcorder in a very small socket at the back of the camcorder just below the battery (this socket is covered by a rubber cap when not in use so it may be hard to find the first time).
  2. Connect the DVC to the computer using a firewire cable. The firewire connects to the Digital8 camcorder in the little socket labeled"DV" on the left bottom side of the camera (as with the power socket, this one is also covered by a rubber cap when not in use so it may be hard to find the first time).
  3. Launch iMovie. If the default menu appears asking you what you want to do, select new project. If the program opens without prompting you to do anything, then from the File menu select New Project. Navigate to where you want to save the project on your computer, give it a name, and click Save.
  4. Slide the blue toggle to switch from Edit mode to Camera mode by sliding the button to the left. The toggle switch is below the Monitor window and to the left of the playback controls:
    This will cause the monitor screen to turn blue. If you DVC is connected correctly, the words "camera connected" will appear on the screen.

    picture of camera switch
  5. You can now use the playback controls on the screen to rewind, play, pause, or fast forward the video tape that is in the DVC. Experiment with using these. They work in very much the same way as the controls on most VCRs.

    button controls

  6. When you have become familiar with how these controls work, locate the place on the video tape from where you want to start importing a video clip. It's a good idea to have the tape start a few seconds before the place where you actually want to begin (you can cut the extra footage out later).
  7. Click on the play button to start the video playing. It will be displayed on computer movie screen. Then click on the Import button. As soon as you click the Import button it starts recording (importing) the video.
  8. When you want to stop importing, click the Import button again. This stops the recording, but the tape continues to play on the screen. You can let it play until the next scene that you want to import begins, or you can fast forward to the next scene.
  9. As soon as you stop recording an image (like a slide) appears on the clip shelf. It will show the first frame of the scene you imported. If you want to you can give the clip a name rather than the default name (usually this isn't necessary as you can see from the first frame what it is, but if you have many similar clips then it's a good idea to name them). You can name the clips while they are on the Clip Shelf or later on, once you have dragged your clips to the Clip Viewer. To select a clip to rename it click on the clip name.
  10. To begin recording again, press the import button again. When you finish recording this next segment, another clip will appear on the clip shelf.
  11. Keep importing clips until you have all the ones you want. [Caution: Bear in mind that video takes up a LOT of space on the computer. To edit even a short video you will need at least a gigabyte or more of free disk space on the computer].

Editing Your Clips

To learn how to edit your movie clips, see the different guidelines at the Macworld sites shown below:

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