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iLife '04: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Chapter 13. Camcorder Meets Mac

You’ve captured some raw footage on your camcorder, you’ve assembled the ingredients you need, and you’re ready to enter the kitchen. Now it’s time for the heart of the matter: editing your footage on the Mac using iMovie.

This chapter introduces you to both iMovie and FireWire (the high-speed cable system that transfers footage from the camcorder to the Mac), gives you a tour of the iMovie window, and walks you through your first transfer.

Meet Digital Video

Technically speaking, you don’t need a camcorder to use iMovie. You can work with QuickTime movies you find on the Web, or use it to turn still photos into slideshows.

But to shoot your own video—and that is the real fun of iMovie—you need a digital camcorder. This is a relatively new camcorder format, one that’s utterly incompatible with the tapes you may have filled using earlier camcorder types like VHS, 8mm, and Hi-8. At this writing, MiniDV camcorders cost about $400 for a basic model—and prices continue to sink, month by month.

The size of a MiniDV cassette (tape cartridge) is tiny, so the camcorders are also tiny. Yet the quality is amazing; as you can see by this table, DV quality blows every previous tape format out of the water. (All camcorders, TVs, and VCRs have the same vertical resolution; this table measures lines of horizontal resolution, the number of tiny horizontal stripes of color the playback uses to fill your TV screen):

Table 13-1. 

Tape Format

Maximum Lines of Resolution ...

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