Well, I’ve been using the hard disk based Sony SR-100 for a while now but never with the Mac. iMovie bundled on the Mac understands DV and also the high definition DV format called cleverly HDV out of the box. Just plug your camcorder in with firewire and you are ready to go. But, with the Sony SR100, it makes MPEG-2 .MPG files on a hard disk and iMovie doesn’t recognize it for import. Also, it appears you can’t play these MPG file either with stock Mac software. How sad, seems like they have a DVD Player that reads MPEG-2 from .VOB files in DVD format, but not a generic MPEG-2 player.

Here is what the internet folks have to say via a google query. “Jeff Carlson”:http://jeffcarlson.typepad.com/imovievqs/2006/01/sony_dcrsr100_h.html has a blog entry with lots of problems. Basically some folks are trying to use MPEG streamclip to convert and then you need the MPEG2 addon for Quicktime. There is lots of frustration with Quicktime Pro which has a generic MPEG-2 decoder.

It is possible as VLC an freeware product lets you look at things, so it is all about codecs. It took me years to figure out codecs on Windows (the short answer is get ffdshow if you are on Windows and it decodes just about everything and it is open source and free), but I’m starting afresh on the Mac.

Net, net it looks like:

1. Buy the $20 Quicktime add-on
2. Use MPEGStreamClip to convert MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 which iMovieHD can read

On alternatitve is to use freeware:

# my old friend “iSquint”:http://isquint.org which includes my old friend mmpeg which is a freeware utility or you may have to buy the upgrade called Visual Hub. You use Visual Hub to convert MPEG-2 to DV format and then it goes into iMovie. To retain video quailty, you either play with the advanced settings or just say “Go Nuts”
# Use VLC to view MPEG-2 videos (although I’ve found VLC to be quite unstable and hang my Mac
# Other hints are to use the AC3 decoder at “NAegelic”:http://n.ethz.ch/student/naegelic/ac3/index.php and to use the encoder “ffmpegx”:http://homepage.mac.com/major4/)

Finally solution is to just buy iLife 08 which was just announced, it apparently now supports the SR100. It surely supports the new AVCHD format so the high def Sony camcorder will now work, but no word on how it does with the older MPEG-2 based disk camcorders. The main comment is that the new Imovie HD is way different from the current iLife 06 version and some folks don’t like it much.

From “Apple Support”:http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=306171#2 it shows the DCR-SR100 is supported, but that there is a “bug”:http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=305911 that previews are incorrect.

For me, I’ll start with the freeware iSquint and take it from there.

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