Creative Vado HD and iMovie ‘09

I just recently bought Creative Vado HD, a 720p pocket video camera. It has very impressive video quality in comparison to Kodak and Flip Mino HD but a one big gripe: video files recorded with Vado HD are not compatible with the latest iMovie ‘09.

Video files are AVI type and the most common solution I found from the great internets was to transcode the video for example to MOV. Transcoding is just such a time consuming process and also degrades the video quality so I looked for some other solution.

Bit more googling and I found this instruction which used ffmpeg command line utility. This works great, there is no need to transcode and no degradation in video quality. I just found one issue with the instructions. If I converted the original AVI in to MOV as in the example, video became very choppy and pixelated in iMovie. Instead I used following ffmpeg command to convert the AVI to MP4:

$ ffmpeg -i VID00106.AVI -vcodec copy -acodec libfaac out.mp4

This worked pretty much flawlessly. A 20min video was converted in couple of minutes and great video quality was maintained.

Some of you might ask, well how do I install ffmpeg? I found only one way to get the necessary codec support to ffmpeg: MacPorts. Here is a quick three-step-guide to get ffmpeg running:

  1. Install latest Xcode, it is a free download from Apple.
  2. Install MacPorts.
  3. Install ffmpeg using MacPorts by running Terminal command:
$ sudo port install ffmpeg

That is it. Enjoy your camera and iMovie ‘09 :)