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Importing Videos into iMovie'11

It's easy to gets your video clips and home movies into iMovie '11. You can capture directly from a Firewire video camera, an iSight camera, a tapeless video camera, or even import video files and old iMovie HD projects from your Mac.

Which ever way you choose to import movies clips into iMovie you'll be asked whether you wish to add these to an existing Event or create a new Event. Think of Events as folders used to store and organize your clips. Once you become familiar with Events you'll find they are a very flexible way to easily manage your digital video clips.

For now, let's focus on getting your footage into iMovie!

Importing from a FireWire tape-based Camera

Connect the camera and iMovie will automatically recognize it. The Import window will appear. You can use the transport controls to rewind, fast forward, stop and play the contents of the camera. Click on Automatic to rewind the tape and capture the whole tape's contents into iMovie. Choosing Manual will allow you to select and record just the parts of video that you wish.

If you connected the camera before iMovie was open, you may need to tell iMovie which camera to use. check that the correct camera is selected in the Import window:

If the Import window does not open automatically, click on the Camera Import button as shown below 

or choose File > Import from Camera...

Importing from your Mac's built-in iSight

Most recent Mac's have a built in iSight camera. In fact, to date, only the Mac Pro and Mac Mini do not include an iSght camera (also called "FaceTime camera" on a MacBook Air). You can use this to easily record live video into iMovie.

  • Click on the Camera Import Button and select the Built-in iSight camera.
  • Click on the Capture button to begin recording and click Done when finished.
  • The clips appear in the iMovie Event area.

No Cuddly Toys or Animals were harmed in the making of this tutorial...

Importing Movie Files from your Computer

If you have already transferred movie files from a USB Camcorder to your Mac or you're working on movie files you didn't shoot, you can import Quicktime movie files into iMovie directly:
File > Import movies...

You can decide where to save the movie project to, whether to add it to an existing Event (similar to iPhoto's Events) or create a new Event.

Also, you can choose whether the movie files are imported at their original size or are optimized for smoother playback and better performance by importing them at a lower resolution of 960x540. You can choose to copy the movie or move the movie files to the iMovie project location.

Importing iMovie HD Archives into iMovie'11

For those of you jumping over to the world of iMovie'11 from an iMovie HD version (e.g. iMovie '06 HD), you can import your old projects! Simply choose: File > Import > iMovie HD Project...

Be aware that while this will allow you to continue working on your iMovie HD projects there are some elements of your legacy project that will not import:

  • Custom transitions will be replaced by Cross Dissolves
  • No Titles or Music will be imported
  • No Video effects will be imported

Fortunately, iMovie'11 makes working with effects, transitions and titles a breeze. All of these are applied in real-time, so there's no waiting for a rendering progress bar to finish before continuing to edit your movie! This should make editing your iMovie HD project in iMovie'11 a much quicker process than you're used to. Remember to make a backup of your old legacy projects regardless!

And that's all there is to it! Check out these iMovie 101 tutorials to get the know-how on all that iMovie'11 has to offer.

Rounik Sethi

Rounik Sethi | Articles by this author

Rounik is the Executive Editor for Ask.Audio & macProVideo. He's built a crack team of professional musicians and writers to create one of the most visited online resources for news, review, tutorials and interviews for modern musician and producer. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic Pro Rounik has taught teachers, professional musicians and hobbyists how to get the best out of Apple's creative software. He has been a visiting lecturer at Bath Spa University's Teacher training program, facilitating workshops on using music and digital media tools in the classroom. If you're looking for Rounik, you'll most likely find him (and his articles) on Ask.Audio & macProVideo.com.


Mar 23, 2011
Mac user
You haven't mentioned how to import videos that are in iPhoto, into iMovie '11. It will import the still photos, but won't import the movies.
Mar 24, 2011
Hi Mac User. You can either directly import videos from your still camera into iMovie (by connecting the camera - if it's compatible)... or...
In iMovie 11's Event Library you should see a heading called "iPhoto Videos". This is where your videos imported into iPhoto can be accessed - so there's no need to directly import them as they'll appear in the Event Browser area.

Hope that helps
Apr 29, 2011
S S Dhar
I have a macbook air software version 10.6.4 and I cannot connect to Sony GV-HD700/1 video recorder. The videos are on small magnetic video tape and I wish to import them to imovies.
Apr 29, 2011
Sure. You need to turn your camera on in play mode, connect it to your Mac (via Firewire) and then launch iMovie.

Click on the Import button and you should be able to control your camera from the iMovie interface and choose what footage to capture in real-time.
Apr 29, 2011
S S Dhar
But does Macbook Air have a firewire port.
Apr 29, 2011
No. The current macBook Air models only have USB 2.0 connectivity. There are rumors that the next MacBook Air will feature the new Thunderbolt connection which will hopefully be able to convert from Firewire to Thunderbolt - when manufacturers create and release the connections to market.

What connection does your Sony GV-HD700/1 have?
Apr 29, 2011
S S Dhar
S video jack,mini USB and firewire
Nov 13, 2016
How about the best settings for loading 4K video to iMovie?
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