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Making Films & Videos/import and export project rendering and compression confusion


I have old high 8 video footage from the 90's that has been transferred to .mov files.  I am making simple edit deletions of footage that should not be there. This footage is documentary footage and is going to be archived at a University when my editing is done. What is the best way to do this?
So far, I am importing the video using iMovie 09  with "full size" settings and after editing exporting it back to a .mov file using h.264 compression and multi pass, highest quality settings and Apple Lossless for the audio. Is this the best correct way to do it? iMovie and Final cut Express both ask by default to make key frames ever 24 frames, and has Frame Reordering turned on. But since this is archival footage, if I turn frame re-ordering off, will it allow for any movie program in the future to access the raw files, or is frame re-ordering going to take up rendering time?
I am trying to not change the quality if the original footage at all. If I choose uncompressed 10 Bit 4.2.2 ratio, it says that the quality will only be medium no matter what, and if I chose h.264 it says quality is high. My reaction is to not compress the project at all since I want raw movie files for archival purposes, but I am kind of forced to do h.264 because it tells me it is high quality.
So you can see how confused I am. I guess I need to know exactly what you would do in this situation if you had to do it. I am using iMovie 09 because it is easier to use and it looks like the export options are the same as final cut. But I know nothing about compression and such things. additionally, to speed up time, I tried to move the files rather than copy them while importing, but it fails every time with an error message saying "cannot move files. " is this because my imovie09 program is on my computer and the source footage is on an external hard-drive? The final destination when exporting my project is to a second external hard drive. This whole thing has cause my movies to be rendered after only 12 hours, even if it is only a 1 hour movie. Please let me know asap and you will have my sincere gratitude!

H.264 is ok quality and is used mostly for internet and DVD files, but not really for editing.  Apple Pro Res 422 is the best quality you are going to get for file editing that won't fill up your hard drive.  This issue is really the quality of your original footage -- high 8 is fairly low quality to start with, so you don't want to "overdo it" with the compression (meaning don't select the most awesome lossless compression rate that will take hours to render and hundreds of extra gigabytes for something that won't look any better).  

I do not use iMovie, but I suggest exporting off the footage in whatever default setting iMovie picks. H.264 should be fine, especially if you are just going to archive it.  Put key frames to "automatic" or "current" and not 24.  I am not familiar with frame re-ordering, but I would leave it off.  Don't use the uncompressed 10-bit (back to what I said earlier about overkill).  High quality h.264 is lower "quality" (meaning the files are much smaller) than medium quality 10-bit, but you won't gain anything from using 10-bit, so don't use it.  In terms of your drives, make sure you use hard drives that are 7200rpm and NOT 5400rpm. In terms of copying files, the problem may be in the order that you have them hooked up, but I don't know about your set-up.

All in all, use the h.264, "current" key frames and no frame-reordering.  Don't worry about compressed footage - almost every file type is compressed, and since you are archiving non-HD footage, you shouldn't notice any quality change.  Hope this helps.

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Troy Smith


I am a professional filmmaker (since 1995) and a professional film instructor (since 2000). I am the co-owner of Imminent Entertainment LLC. I have worked on several low-budget feature films as well as hundreds of other projects including TV commercials, concert videos, live sports for TV, sports highlights, broadcast news, faith productions, large multi-media multi-camera productions, weddings, educational, corporate, promotional, short films, documentaries and more. I have written a book called "The New Filmmaker's Adventure" that will be more widely distributed in the near future. My expertise is in writing, shooting and editing. I can answer questions on Final Cut Pro, lighting, sound recording, scriptwriting, storytelling, directing, producing, editing, multi-camera productions, shooting sports, picture to video, using DTE hard drives, using video cameras. I am NOT an expert on how to sell scripts or movies, how to finance them, how to distribute them or how to get an agent. See my WEB PAGES: and


I have been a professional filmmaker since 1995 and a film teacher since 2000. I am publishing a textbook for beginning filmmakers called "the New Filmmaker's Adventure". I have experience in the area of low-budget feature filmmaking, I am the co-owner of the production company called Imminent Entertainment, I have worked on hundreds of videos, TV shows, multi-camera events and low budget, professional productions, corporate and consumer videos, Final Cut Pro, scriptwriting, directing, videography and cinematography, sound, lighting, editing, and some producing.

Independent Feature Project

I wrote "The New Filmmaker's Adventure" book that I use in my classes and will be publishing it abroad soon

Western Michigan University - Magna cum Laude BS in film/video/TV Maine Media Workshops ('02-'07)- Film Editor Master, Directing Actors for the Camera, Independent Filmmaking, Acting for the Camera, Camera in Motion, The Directors Craft

Awards and Honors
Audience Choice Runner-Up award for Best Picture at the Muskegon Film Festival in 2009 for Producer/editor on "Coffee Shop Kings." Excellence in Education Teaching award. Winner of 12 grants.

Past/Present Clients
Kellogg, Covance, Cytec, WWMT, Ralston, many, many more

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