Digitizing DV tapes in iMovie

Equipment and Reservations

If you are digitizing DV, miniDV, or HDV tapes, the only resource you need to reserve is our Digitization Station in DPL1.(DPL1 station 15) This computer is connect to an HDV deck via firewire. 

Why would we use iMovie?

If your computer is running Mac OS Catalina or Big Sur, you may find that the DV format is not compatible in programs like Adobe Premiere. Instead, we can use Elgato Video Capture or iMovie, which support this legacy format. 

Capturing DV tapes using iMovie

Turn on the DV deck and the preview monitor.

Insert your tape.

Open iMovie on the computer.

If prompted to start a new project, select “Movie” as your project type


Once you have a project open, navigate to File/Import Media


The import window will open. In the left panel of this window, you should see a list of devices including any hard drives that are mounted and devices available for capture. If you do not see your device, it may be off or unplugged.

Select the device you are capturing from - for our DV transfer stations this will be “Sony HDV-VCR”


Now you should see a frame of your tape displayed in iMovie’s import window. 


Be sure to rewind your tape to the beginning, if necessary.

Click “import” - your tape will automatically start playing and importing to your project. In the top left corner of your image, iMovie will tell you how long you have been recording.

Once you have finished playing through the tape (or the portion of the tape you wanted to transfer) click “Stop Import” - iMovie will stop recording and you can close this window. 


Now we have the media in your project, but we still need to export these clips as a file in order for you to properly save this captured media.

You may also notice that iMovie chopped your tape up into multiple clips. This happens because it is trying to automatically detect new scenes. We can save these clips individually or you can export them all as one clip. 


Drag your clips into the timeline (if you want individual clips saved as unique files, you will need to repeat the following steps for each clip separately - our screenshots will show how to export one long file using all of the captured clips)


Navigate to the share button in the top right corner of the window.


Select “Export File”

This will open your export settings window. Be sure to name your file properly. The settings below will give you the best results when capturing from DV.


Click “next” and you can choose where to save this new file. Be sure to save it somewhere safe like an external hard drive or your Isilon Students drive. 


Click Save and iMovie will begin creating your new file in the background. Do not close iMovie until it finishes your export. A progress wheel can be found next to the Share button. You will know your export is finished when you see the following notification.


If you click “Show” a finder window will open to reveal the location of your file.


Now you’re all done capturing in iMovie and you can import this file to your preferred editing software. 


Don’t forget to eject your tape before you leave! 

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