Need help with an old-ish iMac and iMovie
June 21, 2008 3:58 PM   Subscribe

Help me with my outdated iMac and editing HD digital video - it doesn't recognize HD, so what do I need to do?

I'm using an early "dome" iMac (you know, the one with the roundy bottom). It runs OS X 10.2.8 and has the 800 MHz PowerPC G4 processor. The thing was probably obsolete a few months after I bought it, but that's never been a concern before now. Recently, however, I purchased a camcorder that records in HD. The iMac doesn't recognize the HD. It recognizes video shot in "normal" digital tape, just not the HD ones.

I know I probably have to upgrade the OS, and possibly iMovie too - I'm running iMovie 3.0.3

Any help greatly appreciated.
posted by Nick Verstayne to Technology (10 answers total)
Best answer: Hm. Well, iMovie HD (which deployed as part of iLife '05) requires a 1ghz processor to work with HD content, and a minimum of 512 MB RAM. It also requires 10.3.6, but that's a moot point if you're only packing an 800MHz G4. Hopefully someone can come by in a moment and point out how I'm wrong, but based on, I'm pretty sure you're SOL. (As a related note, even if the software would run, I'm not sure trying to edit HD content on such a slow machine would even be reasonable.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:08 PM on June 21, 2008

There's an ">open firmware trick to get pre 1GHz Macs to install all the way up to Leopard.

However, as Tomorrowful says, even if you do get iMovie HD installed, it's probably going to be like wading through soup.

I have edited HDV on a 1Ghz G4, and it wasn't horrible, but I wouldn't want to do it for very long.

What make and model camcorder is it?

If it's a Sony, I know they have a downconverter built in that will make the camera output DV-25 across the Firewire.
posted by tomierna at 4:21 PM on June 21, 2008

Gah. What did I do to that link?

open firmware trick
posted by tomierna at 4:22 PM on June 21, 2008

Response by poster: It's a Canon - thanks for the help folks, looks like I am SOL, but I'll look into your suggestions in any case.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 4:30 PM on June 21, 2008

Some HD cams can downconvert (is there a more specific term?) and playback their tapes as SD. I'm pretty sure I've worked with a Canon HD cam that could do this. You'll of course lose quality, but you'll be able to get the content if you don't absolutely need it to be HD.
posted by katieinshoes at 4:50 PM on June 21, 2008

I had iMovie HD on my iMac, the same model as yours. I recently upgraded to a new Intel Mac, but up until then I had taken my old iMac all the way up to 10.4.11 and upgraded the RAM to 512 MB.
posted by emelenjr at 5:00 PM on June 21, 2008

The tricks won't work for imovie - it requires the 1ghz processor to transcode to AIC (Apple's Intermediary Codec) in Real time - any delay...well, that's the end of your capture.
posted by filmgeek at 5:43 PM on June 21, 2008

Isn't there a way to work with a lofi version of the video in editing, but using the original hifi version for the final render?
posted by Pronoiac at 9:21 AM on June 22, 2008

Yeah, Pronolac, it's called an offline/online workflow, but you still have to be able to handle the footage in RT; and HDV won't work that way (too much RT compression/decompression.)
posted by filmgeek at 6:50 PM on June 24, 2008

Creating the lofi files wouldn't be done in realtime, or else they're not necessary. You meant to make lofi at capture time? I'm thinking of somethng like 21.12 here, using transcoding software like HDVxDV or (now defunct?) LumiereHD.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:44 PM on June 24, 2008

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