iMovie 09 and Flip Ultra HD

There seem to be a few questions as to the compatibility of the Flip Ultra HD and iMovie 09.  The Flip Ultra HD and iMovie work great together! The latest version of iMovie 8.0.3 added the ability to optimize video. I started with 8.0.3, so I’m unsure on what I couldn’t do before .0.3 was released. A couple of quick points:

1) The Flip Ultra HD comes bundled with FlipShare. It seems to work well enough for trimming and emailing videos but when you have iMovie at your fingertips, FlipShare is a bit lacking. FlipShare requires the 3ivx MPEG decoder. This decoder is included in the FlipShare software. If it isn’t installed, FlipShare will ask to install it.

FlipShare can trim video and “create a movie” by linking videos together, adding a title and credits, and a music clip. No great shakes but its free and is easy to use AND it comes on the camera so you can use it anywhere.

2) iMovie 09 (version 8.0.3) is able to import directly from the Ultra HD. iMovie will convert (“optimize option”) the file into the Apple Intermediate Codec format which allows one to edit in either iMovie or in Final Cut Pro. This does make the file much larger (4-6 times) but it ensures that the file is in a format that is easily used by all of Apple’s video editing tools.

3) Quicktime Pro can also edit the Ultra HD video. In fact, as a video editor while not as easy, it is much more powerful than the FlipShare software. It can convert it into just about whatever format your heart desires as well.

Based on a fair amount of discussion, it seems the best thing to do is to follow iMovie’s example and convert the video into the AIC format. The quality won’t get any better but it won’t degrade. If  one were to edit and export the H.264 compressed video from the Flip, the video could degrade through the different applications that would decode and encode it.

A great source of information is this book: “Ins and Outs of iMovie 09”. If you are doing any editing of the Flip video, it is well worth it.


I did find this very contrarian post as well, that stated AIC was a blight on the universe and run very far and very fast from it. I’m not sure how to take the advice. I did my own tests comparing the H.264 video, AIC and ProRes video and couldn’t see any difference. No gamma shifts, no ghosting, no perceptible differences of any kind. Not sure what I else I can say.

iMovie 09


When iMovie 08 came out there was a tremendous uproar from the fans of the prior iMovie versions. This new version was dramatically different than prior versions and frankly, wasn’t finished.

In January, iMovie 09 was introduced at MacWorld and what a difference the new version is! Many of the disparagers now agree that while different, iMovie is no longer incomplete. It is just different.

I’ve made films with iMovie (both types), Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro/Studio. The pre-iMovie 08 version, Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro were all the same type of film-editing application. Typically referred to as  a non-linear editing tool, the concept is to roughly approximate the work flow one performs in editing movies using the older tape-based process. Much of the terms –bins and clips — used in Final Cut, are the same used for years in the film industry.

Though, iMovie 09 came from the same mind that created previous NLE’s such as Premiere and Final Cut, Randy Ubillos, this one came out different.  iMovie 09 isn’t a reduced feature set (dumbed down) NLE, it is a new way of editing. That is going to create some unhappy experienced film-makers. That said, iMovie 09 could get a lot of people that were not editing videos, editing.

Why? NLE takes time and its not intuitive to the novice. I remember reading a review of iMovie, probably around 2004, that complained how difficult and time-consuming creating a video took. I was a bit taken back since I do believe “anything that is worth while doing takes time”. I also had my own issues with iMovie, quickly moving to Final Cut Express due to the limitations of iMovie. Ultimately, I moved to Final Cut Studio, with which I struggle, but have the ultimate in flexibility and power.

Over the next few days, I’ll detail the differences and value of iMovie 09, particularly in how its a great film editor to pair with the Flip Ultra HD.

In the meantime, Ken Stone has an outstanding and detailed review of iMovie, I suggest reading it.

iMovie 09 – Source clip is missing

OK, so Apple messed this one up. In Final Cut, when a clip is missing FCS has a sufficiently sophisticated method of finding the files. iMovie? Not so much. In fact, it doesn’t even ask for help!

Background: I don’t like using iPhoto Library for my video files so I moved them out of iPhoto (using Finder, not iMovie) and into a separate iMovie Events folder. iMovie found these files no problem and can even help me maintain them (moves, adds, changes). BUT, it wouldn’t scan this folder for missing clips!

What to do?

On the Apple forum, there is a LONG thread about this problem:

It points out two things:

  1. The Project file in the iMovie project, contains the path to the links to the media. Fix the path and the iMovie project will be fine.
  2. It also notes that the iMovie Events folder is actually called iMovie Events.localized so if you are using this folder, include the “.localized”

That didn’t work for me. When I made those two changes, my iMovie project wouldn’t open. Things were getting worse!

This link provides the missing link (couldn’t resist!):

It points to another link, that describes the Project file as a binary file and it must remain binary for iMovie to work . THANK YOU, CHRIS!

Finally, for extra credit, I found this link, that helped me believe, I was on the right track:

There is a utility that changes property list files (iMovie Project file) from binary to XML and back again.

So what does all this mean?

If you decide to move your iMovie clips outside of iMovie’s way of doing things:

Then you must do three things:

1) Change the path in the Project file to point to the proper location

2) Ensure the Project file remains binary

3) Include “.localized” on the iMovie Events folder

If you’re clever enough to understand how to do this from the links above and the three clues, great! If not, I put a lengthy tutorial together so I would remember how to do it. Have fun.


Based on the OS X Hint above about creating a function called pledit that would convert to XML then back to binary with a edit sandwiched in the middle, I decided to do just that. It works great! Be sure to use the -w flag so that the Terminal waits until the file is written before continuing.

Last thing… I also added Open Terminal Here from Marc Liyanage’s excellent site to my Finder toolbar.

iMovie 09 and Ken Stone

iMovie 08 was a bit controversial on introduction last year. It was substantially different than the previous versions of iMovie, so much so it angered most heavy users. It was clearly a version 1.0 release and Apple was atleast kind enough to keep the old version iMovie HD around so we could still use it.

This January, iMovie 09 was released and this new version has made all the difference in the world. Many of the missing or incomplete features were fixed and some significant additions were made, most notably “precision editing”.

I’ve used all of the previous versions of iMovie, Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro. I must say this new version is a lot of fun to use.

So where does Ken Stone come into this picture?

Ken Stone has a great video website called On it he has great articles, reviews and tutorials on all things video. His focus is pro video and I’ve learned a great deal from his site.

Ken has published a significant review of iMovie 09. He recognizes the application for what it is. He states; “[iMovie] ’09’ is truly an amazing application, much more able and sophisticated than it would first appear. Automated video import process, browser organization, clip skimming and editing, text and animated titles, transitions, video effects, backgrounds, sound effects, audio control, voiceover, green screen, background music, speed control and direction, photo manipulation (Ken Burns effect), markers and chapter markers, color correction, waveforms, themes, animated maps, video stabilization, picture-in-picture, L-cuts, Precision Editor, full screen playback, the list goes on. iMovie is a full fledged editor, I think that you are going to be surprised at what it can do and how intuitive it is.

If you are interested in video and you use a Mac, I strongly recommend two things; take a look at iMovie 09 and read Ken’s review. As he said, it won’t replace FCP but it might make some projects a whole lot easier!