Why is iMovie running slow on my high-end iMac?
November 22, 2007 8:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm the proud owner of a new Intel iMac, a 2.4 Ghz with 2 gigs of RAM, and I'm having a dickens of a time trying to edit my 26 minute wedding video in iMovie '08--namely it's as slow as the molasses in January. I'm not making a feature film here...what gives?

What I want to do is cut out some extraneous footage, change some of the soundtrack songs, and add some wedding photos.

I ripped the wedding DVD onto my harddrive with Handbrake, and have ripped a few different sizes: one's about 300 megabites and the other I made about 100 megabites, mp4 format. I import that into iMovie, which is a very long process, about 30 minutes or so for it to "make thumbnails" of the video, and it doesn't seem to matter what size it is. I also made a .mov file, which was very large, about 1 gig, but actually imported quickly. But with all sizes and formats, the video seems to be too long for iMovie to deal with.

Once it's in iMovie, the software is more or less unworkable; the thumbnails never actually show up, I suppose because for 26 minutes worth it's a lot of thumbnails. But ultimately I just can't do anything--any button I click or action I do brings up the color spinny thing for 10 seconds.

What's the deal? What am I doing wrong? I've got Final Cut Pro installed as well but haven't played around with it much, as it's mostly baffling. I figure iMovie is the way to go for a relative amateur at this, but...2 Gigs of RAM should be enough to tackle 26 minutes of footage, but I guess not.
posted by zardoz to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Import into Handbrake to DV, which is the "native" format for iMovie. Anything else will get reencoded into DV.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:42 PM on November 22, 2007

Sounds like you're not the only one with this problem. Can you get your hands on iMovie 6.0? I've used that, and it works great.
posted by alms at 8:50 PM on November 22, 2007

Rip the movie using Squared5's MPEG Streamclip.

Rip it to a DV movie (or QT, DV NTSC codec, audio @ 16bit stereo 48khz.)

This will make the video much closer to the original vs. mp4 and probably will get imovie much smoother. It shouldn't have problems with the footage (as it's converted to DV files on import, hence the large files.), and shouldn't be running like that.
posted by filmgeek at 9:19 PM on November 22, 2007

Trying to edit compressed h.264 video can be a bear on any machine. Especially because when you import a non DV stream, it will start background encoding each video into a DV stream, which is why imovie is pretty much useless right now, as it is doing the conversion in the background.

So use handbrake to rip the DVDs into NTSC DV (they will get a lot bigger, probably around 8-10 gigs total), and then import them into iMovie.

Also, if you want to give imove 06 a whirl, which is a little more minimal in the wiz bang, but has a lot of going for in terms of linear timeline editing, you can download it here. (imovie 08 is more like itunes in that it manages your files, but they pulled out some editing abilities).
posted by mrzarquon at 9:22 PM on November 22, 2007

I suggest editing your film in sections in Quicktime Pro. Then convert to DV format in VisualHub, before sending over to IMovie for a fine edit. I would do this one section at a time, rather than transferring the full 26 minutes into IMovie. The whole process should go faster...
posted by DudeAsInCool at 11:54 PM on November 22, 2007

Thanks all for your suggestions, I actually got Toast to import a DV version, and I've also switched to iMovie 06, which is a LOT more intuitive than iMovie 08. Thanks again!
posted by zardoz at 12:29 AM on November 23, 2007

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