Combining iMovie HD Projects

Graham from Sydney, Australia asks:

iMovieHD/iDVD5 VQS Pge 221 sidebar.

I work in PAL HDV 1080i and tried dragging one of my 5 10 minute movies to a new imovieHD project and got message ‘the file could not be imported. QuickTime couldn’t parse it”. My workaround to get a combo movie was to first convert each separate movie to QuickTime but this took 50 minutes and another 13 to import it to combo timeline.

You used the adjective ‘reference’ in last para. Am I missing something?

Without knowing what exactly Graham is dragging, it sounds as if he’s dragging the iMovie project file, which gives me the error he mentioned.

The “reference movie” in the sidebar on page 221 is actually something held over from the previous edition that I should have corrected. In iMovie 4, a separate QuickTime movie was created in the project folder that represented what was on the timeline; it’s a “reference” because that file just points to the content in the Media folder, rather than including all the footage.

iMovie HD 5 switched things around a bit: the reference movie still exists, but now it’s located within the iMovie project file (which is now a Mac OS X package file; Control-click and choose Show Package Contents to get inside). You’ll find a QuickTime file called “Timeline Movie.mov” in the Cache folder. If you drag that file to the new project, iMovie HD imports it as its own new clip, just as you edited it in the old project. After you bring in several movies movies, you can drag them to the timeline in the new project file, then output that to iDVD or whatever.

iMovie HD 6 has another option that doesn’t involve digging around inside the project file itself: you can have two (or more) projects open at the same time, and drag clips directly from one project to another. That also includes clips on the timeline, including transitions. However, that doesn’t include content on audio tracks: you can copy those over, but you’ll have to do it in a separate action.

And, as Graham discovered, you can export the movies to QuickTime files, but especially with HDV footage, that’s time consuming and annoying.

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