Anyone Know Anything About Video Editing?

So I’m starting this new video show called Phototalking where I interview photographers and then put the interviews up online. I’m doing it with Podtech. I bought a JVC GZ-HD7U high definition hard drive based video recorder (this is the one that Steve Gillmor over at Podtech suggested).

I’ve been able to shoot video and transfer the files over to my Mac’s hard drive. What transferred across are a bunch of files that end in .moi and .tod. The problem is that iMovieHD which came with my Mac doesn’t recognize these files.

Does anyone know of an application that I can use to convert these files to something that can be used by iMovieHD? And what I should convert them into in order to start editing the videos on my Mac?

I have absolutely zero experience with editing video and any help would be appreciated.


Update: Well I think I’ve found something that works. I’m not 100% sure yet, but Trevor Carpenter turned me on to ffmpegX in the comments, it’s a GUI’ed version of the opensource ffmpeg and I just converted one of the .TOD files into a MP4 H.264 file that could be imported into iMovieHD. It does take a bit of time to convert and I did have to go find three additional files on the internet in order to get ffmpegX to work, but so far so good. I’ll keep you posted as to how the progress goes and hopefully we’ll have Phototalking Episode 1 up soon. I’m going to do a whole other post on the new show once I get our first episode up.

Thanks again Trevor!

42 Replies to “Anyone Know Anything About Video Editing?”

  1. thomas, the moi files should just be avi files. imovie should be able to see them — that camcorder also should have come with software — have you tried that? i have the everio (non-HD) version and my tools work fine with recognizing the moi files as avi files.

  2. that camcorder also should have come with software — have you tried that?

    Tim, the software that came with it is only for the PC. Not Mac. When I open up iMovie and try to open the .moi files they are grayed out and can’t be opened.

    I’ll try some of these other solutions as well. Thanks anonymous and Dana!

  3. Anonymous. I just tried renaming one of the TOD files to MPG and got the following error when I tried to import it into iMovie.

    “The file could not be imported: The file “Macintosh HD/Phototalking/MOV007.MPG” can’t be imported; QuickTime couldn’t parse it: -2048”

  4. Dana, I tried opening the file with quicktime (I only have quicktime player) and got the following error message:

    “Error opening movie, The movie could not be opened.”

  5. Do you have a small source file you could stuff/zip and send. I can do a quick test for you. Send to dana at fogworks dot com.

  6. That’s the problem with a lot of HDD recorders and why I’m sticking with tape for the time being. Not only is it nice to have the raw footage on tape NOT taking up hard drive space–the file formats on the new HDD all have to be converted before they can be edited–which makes the workflow just as cumbersome as editing on tape.

    Anyway your files need to be converted. You’ll need to get QT pro and a plug-in for it from the manufacturer of the camera here is a link to their faq:

    Pain it the ass. But really if you are going to be editing a lot of video–go a head and get QTpro anyway, it’s well worth it.

    Feel free to email me if you have any other questions.

  7. Ok, trying a few more things.

    Dana, I tried that link that you sent me.

    But even though in the illustration it works, TOD files are still grayed out when selecting import.

    Bill, it looks like I may have to upgrade to quicktime Pro. I wish I could find some sort of opensource converter of course but this may be the course I have to take. I’m still not excited about having to pay and upgrade first without being assured that it will work.

    Amos, I saw DropDV, but again wasn’t sure that it would work and they watermark on the trial version.

    I wish editing video wasn’t so hard. I’ll try that FAQ Bill and see if I can figure anything out from there.

    Thanks to everyone for the help so far.


  8. I had to do some fairly unconventional conversion a while back (from a flash FLV file to any usable format with as minimal quality loss possible) and used a program called Total Video Converter from these folks: . It worked pretty well. It also claims to support many mobile formats, but I haven’t tried them.

    Still, it was the best I found for what I was doing – the only other advice I received was using a hi def camcorder to shoot my computer screen…so this was at least better than that.

    Good luck.

  9. Ok, I tried DropDV and it doesn’t seem to be working very well. It tells me to drop my TOD file into a window and when it does it looks like it’s converting it but it converts it to about a 4kb file which is obviously not my footage.

    I also get the following error message when I try to import the converted DropDV file:

    “The project “imovie project” was saved with an older version of iMovie HD. Opening it in this version will cause it to be upgraded, which will make it unreadable by older versions. Are you sure you want to open it?”

    I’m not sure that this has anything to do with anything but DropDV doesn’t seem to be working so far.

  10. fertanish, I just downloaded Total Video Converter, but it seems to be PC only. I’m on a Mac and so couldn’t execute the .exe set up file.

  11. This may be a silly suggestion, but you could try switching to camera mode in iMovie and do a transfer in real time. Maybe you’ve tried this or it’s just not feasible.

  12. Dude, I hate to say it, but I think you’re screwed. This is why I stay far, far away from hard drive based camcorders unless I know for sure they record in a format that’s going to be easy to edit. HDV tape is the way to go. Any conversion/reencoding you manage to do with Quicktime Pro or the stuff that people are suggesting here is going to be lossy, and add a time consuming step to your workflow every single time.

    If you can, take the camera back, and get one that uses the HDV format (supported by just about every software suite, including iMovie HD) and MiniDV tapes. You can get 60 minutes of HD videos on a $3 tape.

    I’ve been down this road, felt the pain, and learned the lesson. Hope this helps.

  13. Just went through a similar situation trying to be good samaritans. Our local elementary school video-tapes a 5-10 minute conversation with each kid every year. When the kids leave the school the parents get a videotape of their child from each year. Great concept ‘cept who wants a VCR tape? Barb took up a project to convert all tapes to DVD and then buy a new HD-based camcorder for the yearly recordings. Wouldn’t you know that I had to quickly find a way to convert the daily recordings from the HD on a Windows box for the same reason: non-standard AV file formats. If I had to do it all again, I’d opt NOT for the Sony that we bought on the school’s dime…terrible support for any format that’s usable. I ended up using two different apps to convert and burn….ugh…lesson learned (and Josh said it best): verify the file formats on the camera BEFORE buying and don’t rely on the included software to convert. Best solution is to not have to convert at all.

  14. Another short term solution is to get the matched DVD recorder from JVC and then grab the MPeg-2 files from the burned DVD’s.

    Added steps, and not a good long term solution. Sorry.

  15. It appears as though only one of the Enviro’s recording modes is natively supported by iMovieHD and that is the ‘FHD’ mode.

    Otherwise, upgrading to QTPro and exporting in native HDV format seems to be the only way to get files into iMHD.

    Assuming you can open the files in QT (if you can’t, run the installer included with the camera, which will install the required QT component), upgrading to QT Pro and following the directions here:

    will do the trick.

    Good luck.

  16. Thomas,

    According to JVC’s website(not sure if it’s correct or not), this camera has a DV (iLink) out port. This is the smaller type (4 pin) of Firewire connector, and you should be able to connect this to your Mac with a proper Firewire cable (4 pin to 6 pin). Without actually seeing the camera, I cannot verify this, but just going off the website.

  17. Disclaimer: I’m not a Mac user. You might try visiting Todd Cochrane’s site — . I know that he has HD equipment and a Mac and he’s pretty good about sharing what’s working for him. I know he’s talked about it in past podcasts, FWIW.

    Video is a giant PITA no matter what platform you’re on, I think. I’ve found the upgraded QTPro to be one of the best tools in my PC toolbox, so maybe it will also work well for the Mac.

  18. re: me recommending a PC-based program before, sorry…that did occur to me an hour or so later in the day.

    For what it is worth, TVC didn’t recognize .tod or .moi extensions. If you can change the extension of the .tod file to MPG (I realize you tried this, but this link seems to indicate it might be possible…perhaps the latest version of QT doesn’t like it but the file format is still valid in some form: ( , and if you have access to a PC, then perhaps you can still convert it to a .mov or .mpg format that can be edited.

    I feel like I’m causing you to spin your wheels…with a similar level of experience as you in these matters, I feel like I’m pushing you deeper into the mud. The last time I had success with my situation (flv –> mpg) it felt like holding an automobile together with duct tape. But, duct tape is pretty handy sometimes…

  19. Try ffmpegX, it’s a GUI’ed version of the opensource ffmpeg. Amazing tool.

    Trevor, this seems to be the best answer so far. I was just able to convert a .TOD file into a MP3 H.264 file with this converter that was able to be read by iMovieHD. I’m trying another one right now. Will keep you posted as to how it works. Thanks much man!

  20. I believe the problem is HD and DVD based video camcorders record in MPEG-2 format (DVD format) and the quality is not as good because of the compression used. They also need to be converted to another format (i.e. .MOV or H.264) before you can edit them.

    DV or Mini-DV camcorders generally provide the best quality of the video formats can be edited without conversion.

    I know this doesn’t help you now because you’ve already purchase the camcorder but hope it helps understand what is going on.

  21. Another option would be the Sanyo Xacti HD1 or HD2 flash-based (SD card) recorders. They encode to an H.264 MP4 file that’s pretty universally editable and shareable, and get decent amounts of video on card. Cheaper ($600) than the cheapest HDV tape-based cameras out there (like the Canon HV20, which is $1000+). is the best place I’ve found for info and reviews. Lots of great stuff there.

    Here’s a piece on tapeless camcorders from Macworld:

    A 3 part series on tapeless in pro applications from Audio Video Producer:;=true

  22. Why have a nice HD camera if you’re going to have to transcode at least twice? Not only will your quality be reduced, but it’s a time consuming PITA.

  23. If you can still return it, do so, and get the Canon HV20 instead. It is a standard HDV camcorder, so it will work with iMovie HD, and it has video quality superior to $5000 pro cameras.

  24. First mistake: listening to anything Steve Gillmor says, learn to nod and ignore, doing exact opposite. Second mistake: attempting to do any serious editing with iMovieHD — Avid and FCS2 are out, in all their glory, go use them. Thirdly, you are dealing with M2T files, not the TOD/MOD. Can’t you just change the TOD extension to M2T and import that way, or your NLEs not supporting M2T, FCP6 not doing M2T? Sometimes it sucks to be Mac, locked into Apple Quicktime hack-up jobs, as Avid/Liquid, Ulead, Canopus, Vegas, and others support M2T direct on the timeline. TOD to M2T and then Streamclipping, no work? Tapeless on Mac, oh boy.

    Hard-drive-based consumer cameras, are a mixed bag even in their best state, always hoop jumping and transcoding hell. Tons of fairly cheap prosumer HD MiniDV cameras out there, go return the JVC and get one. The ffmpeg route is a seriously bad practice, not to mention incredibly time-consuming.

    I wish editing video wasn’t so hard.”

    It’s actually not, no worries, you are just a novice and you got some real bad advice, right out the gate. You got a point and shooter, with proprietary wrapper problems, as others have said, go back and get a REAL MiniDV 3 chipper. Or find a Mac NLE that supports HDV material as a .M2T file set.

  25. We have a couple of those HD7 cameras. Good, small, low cost HD camera (compared to our Panasonic P2 cameras). Not the best for low-light, but it is to be expected with such a small lens.

    We do a lot of outdoor stuff (mainly trains and Punkin Chunkin) so the HD7 is nice to put on a tripod and leave in a “risky” situation (like next to the train tracks or under a chunker).

    We use PCs and even with the software they supply it is still a pain to convert the files. The “Power Director” software converts those .TOD files to .mpg files (just renaming doesn’t work).

    The .mpg files are really compressed and are a drag to edit. Most of the time we batch convert the .mpg files to SD DV files for editing to speed up the process. We usually output standard DVDs, but if we need to output HD we swap out the proxy files with the original .mpgs and re-render.

  26. Hey everyone. I stumbled across this post and I own the HD7. There is only one program that I have that works – Movie Edit Pro by Magix ($50). Drag n drop from camera’s hard drive to computer, rename from TOD to MPG and then drag n drop onto timeline of program. That’s it! No conversion of file either, uses original file! Program isn’t bad either. It’s no Final Cut Pro or even Express, but has lots of effects and detailed editing. I’ve had 5 of their programs, get version 11 if you can, 12 has too many bugs. Hope this helps!

  27. And by the way. You should convert into something like DV or Motion JPEG for editing. H.264 is not a video format designed for editing. It’s an end delivery format based on keyframes.

    Convert to a high quality I-frame only format and then export your finished work to H.264, Flash or whatever.

  28. A quick correction to what I said a few entries earlier. Movie Edit Pro, version 12, is the version that handles TOD files renamed to MPG’s without re-encoding them. Version 11 has less bugs but will NOT handle the renamed TOD’s!

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