DV to iDVD via iMovie

in Mac Software edited January 2014
I am trying to convert a movie recorded with a Panasonic NV (PV) GS400 digital video camera onto a DVD and retain as much of the original ?quality? as possible. I guess my objective is to try and create broadcast quality (heck even movie quality) footage on the lowest possible budget. I am a novice in this arena ? this is my first real project ? bought all the gear about a year ago and have been experimenting up until now. Mind you this is a home movie and I have no intention of going commercial.

I have a dual-core iMac 1.8GHz , 1Gb RAM, 150Gb Hard drive? I am using Apple software namely iMovie06 and iDVD06 which ship as standard with iMac. Am also using the above camera, in pro.cine, wide-screen mode.

First tip: no point shooting in anything but bright sunlight. In this situation the shots look incredible (though forget about far away filming ? you need to be within about 20m of the subject). They are of genuine movie quality ? absolutely amazing. However? dim the lights a little bit and suddenly you feel as though you are in the cheap consumer end of the digital video camera market.

Once the footage was taken I first imported into iMovie using firewire cable ? no problem everything worked fine.

I then edit the clips, lay them out in a track, and add headings, photos, transitions, soundtracks. Here I run into my first problem ? once a transition is added, any changes to the clips (effects) often appear to render the associated transitions invalid and you end up with all these fragmented clips. My advice is to leave transitioning until very last (except for the soundtrack). Unknowingly I was adding and removing and adding away ? till some clips started to look rather scant. Throw it all away and start again.

Edit clips first then add to timeline. Then add any stills/animation etc. Then add effects to clips. Then add transitions ? undo immediately (while you still can) if you don?t like the transition, so as to preserve the original clip. Still, everything looking good.

Another point to note is the angle of your computer monitor. Unknowingly I had adjusted mine to give me the best picture ? not a good idea ? unless you plan on holding a tv set at a funny angle. Best idea is to have the monitor at a not-so-good angle so you can see what it will look like on a tv ? and make adjustments for things like too dark or high contrast etc.

I then attempt to export what is now an 11GB file into iDVD to burn onto a DVD. Here is where the problems really start.

The compression algorithms appear to remove too much detail. If I export from iMovie with no compression I get a 16GB file. After trying out many of the apple-supplied compression algorithms the quicktime .mov format at highest settings appeared to give the best result.

In iDVD I now add a Title and the compressed .mov file and throw some photos into the drop zones (forget chapters etc just want to get this thing up and running), and then burn to DVD. Nice and easy ? no problems. However, upon viewing I now find the picture is no longer widescreen and become quite dark. Further investigation leads me down the following path:

Copy the dvd files created by iDVD (onto the DVD) to a folder on my hard drive and change permissions on these files and folders so I can now write to them.

Download a program called: myDVDEdit and point it to the writable DVD folder/files. The program then allows me to effortlessly change the Video Aspect setting from 4:3 to 16:9 auto letterbox.

Once this is done I need to convert these files into an image file which can then be burnt onto a new DVD. For this I downloaded another product: DVD Imager which also effortlessly allows me to create a .img file, which Apple?s disk utility can then burn onto a DVD.

Now I find the picture is widescreen with no funny after effects - great. Still, the final product has turned out too dark and the size of the file on DVD is only 1Gb which leads me to suspect I could get a better quality end-product by using a different compression algorithm, and changing the contrast and/or brightness settings in my original iMovie project.

So, back to the drawing board. I lighten up some of the frames using the aperture control effect, which works great. I then ? just for something different - save my iMovie project, and drag the icon into an iDVD project ? voila it appears to have been imported ? and not only that, it has retained its 16:9 aspect. Also the quality appears no worse than any of the best results I have achieved using iMovies export function. What is going on?

End result ? I have created a 1Gig DVD ? and don?t appear to be able to create anything greater than this from my iMovie project (via iDVD). Still with the new effects the quality is much better to watch on the TV.

One of the tips I have learnt (besides everything else) is to use a tripod. It appears the compression algorithms are more effective if a number of pixels are going to be stationary ? and this is hardly ever the case unless you shoot with a tripod (or in complete darkness)

Am I missing something here - can someone please explain to me how I get a DVD greater than IGb from my current iMovie project?
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