Enable time-lapse date stamps with DV cameras

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I recently wrote about iMovie 6’s new Time Lapse mode. I also explained how to enable the date/time embedding option in Time Lapse mode. Or at least, I thought I did. After posting that article, I tested things with my DV camera (instead of the iSight), and I still couldn’t get the date/time options to appear.

Frustrated, I started digging around in iMovie’s application bundle, not really sure what I was looking for—ideally, some way to force iMovie to let my DV camera record time/date stamps in Time Lapse mode. Lo and behold, buried deep within the bundle, I found the following entry in the LocalizableStrings.plist file (which is in iMovie’s Contents -> Resources -> English.lproj folder):

/* hidden, unsupported defaults for capture:

defaults write com.apple.iMovie allowDVwithSG -bool yes

Will cause DV devices to also show up as SequenceGrabber devices, which will make them available in iSight projects. All SG devices will have (SG) after their name. The main reason someone might want to use this is to do timelapse capture with embedded graphical timestamps using a DV camera as input.

Bingo! This hidden feature will let you put time and date stamps on iMovie time lapse projects created with DV cameras. Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Quit iMovie if it’s running.
  2. Launch Terminal, in /Applications -> Utilities, and enter the command:
    defaults write com.apple.iMovie allowDVwithSG -bool yes
    You only need to do this one time.
  3. Launch iMovie with your DV camera connected. Click the triangle next to the camera icon and choose Time Lapse.

As noted in the previous article, you still might not see the date and time options. If you don’t, just go ahead and record a brief time lapse movie and then re-open the Time Lapse dialog. You should now have the date/time embedding options available for use with your DV camera in time lapse movies.

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