With AVCHD coming to the fore as the HD standard for full-size consumer camcorders, Apple has made greater efforts to ensure that the video AVCHD cameras shoot can be easily imported into iMovie and Final Cut Express (for more information, check out our HD camcorder buyer’s guide). But unlike with tape-based standard-definition and HDV camcorders, iMovie ’09 has to work a measure of magic to import video from AVCHD cameras (iMovie ’08 can also work with AVCHD).
The import process of tapeless camcorders differs from that of tape-based camcorders in that you needn’t scan through the tape, locate the video you want, and then import it. Instead, attach an AVCHD camcorder to your Mac, launch iMovie, and initiate access on the camcorder; then iMovie ’09 will open an Import window that displays the separate clips on the camera. Within this window, you can import all the camera’s clips or, by toggling a switch at the bottom of the window from Automatic to Manual, select only the clips you want: just select each clip and then click on the Import Checked button.
Exporting video imported at the 960 By 540 setting is easy. Choose the setting you want from iMovie ’09’s Share menu, and the video that pops out the other end will look as good as the encoder you choose can make it.
And the pocket camcorders? Easy. When you plug one into your Mac, iPhoto will launch by default and offer to import the videos from your camera. You can either click on Import All or select the videos you want and click on Import Selected. Within iMovie ’08 and ’09, you can access those videos by clicking on the iPhoto Videos entry in the Event Library pane.