Video Editing, pt. 2: A Tale of Two Systems

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I hate clocks and calendars, yet I am obsessed with them as the days, hours, minutes tick away and my DS106 experience comes to a close. As you may remember, I recently lost a week and a half due to my little one being very sick. Then I lost my mind with Windows Movie Maker failures and bought a Mac, hoping iMovie would come to the rescue. But as I attempted to make the migration from PC to Mac, I ran into some unforeseen problems. Here is the story of said learning experience.

Tutorial on how to migrate video files from a PC (Windows Movie Maker) to a Mac (iMovie):

Part one: Getting the files off PC and Android cell phone and into the Mac. There are several possible methods. I tried all of these below:

Option 1: Wifi Network

If you have both your Mac and your PC set to share files on your local wifi network, then you first go to Finder. Under Shared, you will see a list of devices with drives that are accessible to you. Click on the name of the device you want (Samirah’s PC, for example) to open. Select and copy desired files and drop them into desired folder on the left (video files go into Movies, for example). Depending on your file size and wifi strength, this may take some time. I did not use this method because my Windows laptop was being antisocial and didn’t want to share. Typical PC.

Option 2: Bluetooth Pairing

I wasn’t able to use this option for my windows laptop,  because my PC (which is suppose to have a built-in Bluetooth capability) wasn’t allowing me to change its settings to make it discoverable. I was able to use this option to share files with my HTC Android phone and my Mac. First, I clicked on the bluetooth icon in the top right corner of my Mac screen. I followed the prompts to make the two devices discover one another (aww, Droid & Mac had a moment). This was easy to set up but very slow for the larger HD video files. I opted to cancel once I saw it would take several hours to get all the data off my phone.

Option 3: USB cable Connection

I would have tried this with my PC, but I didn’t have the right size USB cord. I was able to use this option for my Android phone and my Mac as it was much faster than the bluetooth method and I had the right cord already. Yay! So I plugged in the micro side to the phone, and the wider side to the Mac. Then, my phone asked me how I wanted to use this connection, as just a charger, or as a disk drive. I chose to mount it as a disk drive. Then my Mac automatically detected my phone in Finder under Devices (left sidebar). I clicked on the device. Folders everywhere! I found the DCIM folder, and subfolders and sorted them by file type. I selected all the picture files and dragged them over to the left sidebar to the Pictures folder on my Mac. It copied them almost instantly. Then I selected all the video files and dragged them over to the Movies folder. Even these large files copied into the Mac in seconds. Once I confirmed they were all there safe and sound, I decided to delete the originals in the phone’s DCIM folder to free up my memory card (which had become full, thanks to DS106 & family snapshots). I did this simply be selecting them, and moving them into the trash.

Option 4: Flash drive (or any other external hard drive)

You probably know the drill here. Plug into PC, auto-detect menu pops up. You open with Windows Explorer, then drop desired files onto disk drive. Once they’re all on, you SAFELY remove by ejecting first. Then you insert into Mac. Under Finder, select device, select files on device, drag into desired folder to create a copy. NOTE: As there is no “cut” option, only “copy”, you will have to manually delete the files from the flash drive if you want to free up the memory again. Here’s where it gets tricky. If you delete the files when its plugged into the Mac, you have to empty the trash while the device is connected, otherwise the Windows PC will show the device as having no files, but it will say there is no available memory. Which is what happened to me, of course. A quick Google search later and I reconnected the flash to the Mac, emptied the trash, ejected it, plugged it back into the PC, and voila! Free (memory) at last!

Part Two: While all of the above options tell you how to get your files from PC to Mac, this may not be the end of your transition needs (as I soon found out). Sometimes Windows and Mac don’t play nicely with each other. Such was the case with 75% of my video files, which were in a format Mac didn’t recognize. Here is what I had to do.

  1. When I tried to open a video file the Mac didn’t recognize, a dialog box popped up asking if I would like to search the Mac App store to see if there’s an application which can open the file.
  2. Follow the prompts specific to your case. Different applications are available for different file formats, so be sure to read the app description to be sure it will convert the format you have into what you need.
  3. I discovered a free app which would convert my .MOD video files called iVI Video Converter  and downloaded it from the Mac App Store. It said it would convert my .MOD files into .m4v format (which is like .mp4,  but with the ability to add Apple’s DRM copyright protection, and details for importing into iTunes or iMovie).
  4. Installation of the app was instantaneous (much like a cell app). Once installed I opened the app.
  5. First thing I did was to change the settings to my liking for which files it kept, deleted, where it put the converted files, and what it named them. Then I closed Settings.
  6. Then I clicked on “Add Source” to add the folder I dropped the video files into (in my case, the Videos folder on the Mac).
  7. Then I clicked on “Check Sources”. It made a list of possible files to convert.
  8. Either select the files you want to convert individually or click “Convert All”.
  9. A queue pops up showing the status of the process for each file. Depending on the size and amount of the files will depend on how long this process takes. For me, it was at least an hour (but I had LOADS of files to convert all at once).
  10. Once all videos are converted, you can close the queue.

NOTE: After it has completed, I clicked “Check Sources” again and it kept wanting to convert the same files over and over, creating duplicates. I didn’t catch on until I had wasted far too much time chasing my tail in circles, which I then had to find and delete all the duplicates. I don’t know what that was about, but I just had to comb through the files until I was sure I had everything I converted into the right format. I chose not to delete the .MOD format as I may want to use the files later on a windows PC and don’t want to have to convert them back again. While I could have converted them into .mp4 (which would open in both Mac & PC) I chose the .m4v format so that it was be easily recognizable by iTunes and iMovie as I plan on making the Mac my primary computer once all my files are moved over and I have all the software on the Mac that I need.

The irony is that in the end, after all that time and effort I spent moving and converting the files, I had little time left to actually edit them in iMovie! But at least I’m able to – and I’ve learned that it isn’t as seamless a transition as Apple would have you think. I still think it will be worth it for me in general, but I’m not sure if it will be for this class in particular.

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