I have been having issues with importing mini dv tapes into iMovie. The main problem was that it wasn't actually importing all of the clips, even though it appears to be working and says it imported all footage successfully when it reaches the end of the tape (I've since learned that this is not an entirely uncommon problem). Also had some issue with audio, a little static and the audio/video is very out of sync occasionally.
I'm not looking to do much editing at all, other than deleting some short clips here and there in their entirety. My only goal is just to import with the best quality I can, and store the footage long term and have it backed up, and so I don't have to keep the tapes around forever. It's about eight tapes of home movie stuff.
I've given up on using iMovie for this. I was going to try Quicktime, because someone said it would be better for the audio/video sync issue and wouldn't have the issue with not importing everything, but they also said it doesn't detect all the separate clips (most of my clips are quite short) so it just imports the entire tape as one long thing which would be annoying. Although I'm not sure if that is true.
Others have suggested Premiere (don't know anything about that) and Final Cut (probably don't need anything that fancy).
I was also going to try LifeFlix, but I think I may have read somewhere that someone who used that also had the same issue as iMovie with it not actually importing everything through to the end of the tape. But maybe it's worth a shot.
Any other suggestions?
Note: I am on a 2013 Macbook Pro, using a firewire to thunderbolt adapter, on Sierra 10.12.2 and iMovie 10.1.4, more than 150 GB of available storage, importing from a Panasonic PV-GS80. Thanks.
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From an archival perspective, capturing the tape in its entirety gives you the most accurate rendition of the source.
"Importing" or "capturing" DV tapes is actually simply a copy operation. The video you get should be absolutely identical to what is on the tape, with zero degradation or change. If that is not the case, then your capture setup needs to be changed.
Some software does a lousy job of copying DV tapes. If you had a PC, I'd recommend Scenalyzer. It is now free, and it was one of the best little utilities ever created.
So, do some research to see what Mac software is recommended for capturing DV. You should just be able to connect your camcorder to your computer via its Firewire cable (you do NOT want to use any capture operation that involves USB), and then start the capture. Most capture applications are designed so you can either get individual files for each time the camera started and stopped, or you can capture it as one big file.
I went on a mission to capture and preserve video from boxes full of old DV tapes. I tried Final Cut Pro, iMovie, and Quicktime for capturing videos, and all worked — up to a point. Older DV tapes were sometimes problematic in terms of a) capturing audio, and b) successfully completing individual scene captures. For roughly 70% of my tapes, iMovie worked just fine. For the other 30%, zip. So after agonizing for a day or two about spending the 70 bucks or so for yet another app, I took a free trial of Lifeflix (the trial allows you one tape capture). Bingo. A tape that I had gotten nowhere with was copied perfectly. Lifeflix gives you the option of saving your video either as scene-by-scene captures, or assembling the captures into a single file. There are a number of other capture options, but the app is utterly simple to use, virtually no learning curve. So I ponied up and bought the app. It had a 100% success rate in capturing tapes that had been problematic for me with iMovie and Quicktime. So I highly recommend taking the free trial.