Changing iMovie '08 movie dates

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Reader Simon Tanner would like some assistance in going back in time—or, at least, finding a way for his recently imported movies to go back in time. He writes:

I have home movies recorded from 1996 - 2005 that I’ve recently imported into iMovie ’08. Unfortunately, they appear in the order in which I digitized the original tapes. Is there any way I can redefine/rearrange these calendar folders and their contents so they reflect the time when they were originally shot?

Sure. But it might help to understand why this is happening. iMovie sorts those movies by creation date. And that’s why you see them in the order you do. As far as iMovie is concerned, these movies didn't exist prior to the time you imported them to your Mac. In order for them to appear by the date you originally shot them, you need to change that creation date.

I’ve stumbled across numerous suggestions for ways to make this happen—from diving into Terminal to resetting your Mac’s date and time and creating copies of the movies. But the easiest solution I’ve found is Frank Reiff’s $15 A Better Finder Attributes. With it you can batch-change the creation date of any files you throw at it. (And yes, this is also helpful for photographers who’d like to catalog images that don’t include the correct creation date in their EXIF data—as would be the case with scanned slides.)

In the case of iMovie you’d use it this way:

In iMovie ’08, right-click on the movie you want to work with and choose Reveal in Finder from the contextual menu. In the Finder a folder will open that contains your movie clip along with iMovie Cache and iMovie Thumbnails folders. If you like, change the name of the clip to reflect the original creation date—something like clip-2004-09-26 15;12;07.dv, for example.

Quit iMovie, launch A Better Finder Attributes, select all the items in the folder that contains your movie, and drag them into ABFA’s queue panel. From the Action popup menu choose Change Creation Date and in the area below, use the calendar and clock to change the creation date to one that more accurately reflects when the movie was shot, and click Change. The creation date for all those items will now change.

Launch iMovie ’08 and you’ll find that it’s created a new heading for the year you chose and filed your movie under that heading. When you change the creation dates of additional movies they should appear under the year-appropriate headings and in the chronological order you designated.

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