Transcoding Video

I’m frustrated at trying to make use of my stupid camera. On the one hand, it is way cool to have a camera that is effectively a real-time MPEG-2 encoder. On the other hand, working with the Mac is getting frustrating. I need to find an easier way to go from MPEG-2 videos that my camera produces to DV formats that iMovie or iDVD will work with.

Update: I have a real, worthwhile solution. I use MPEG2 Works. Read about it in my other article.

Here’s what I think is true

  1. Most Apple packages (QuickTime itself, iDVD, iMovie) rely on Quicktime to do video and audio transcoding. (translating from one format to another).
  2. You must transcode from your MPEG files to some other variation on MPEG to make a DVD.
  3. Even if you buy Quicktime Pro and the Quicktime MPEG-2 playback component (which I have done), you still cannot transcode the audio. That is, when you try to convert from your MPEG file with audio to some other format, you will lose your audio. There’s NOTHING you can do about this as far as I can tell. Apple’s QuickTime FAQ is pretty definitive on this.

I thought perhaps Final Cut express would answer my problems, but this post over at tells me it doesn’t. Thanks for saving me $299.

My solution

  1. I take my MPEG files and use a Windows program (under VirtualPC) to convert them to AVI files.
  2. The Windows program (Ulead DVD Studio or some such thing) preserves the audio when converting to AVI, but it is dog-slow doing this in Virtual PC.
  3. Then I can drag the AVI file into iMovie or iDVD and it will get converted and the audio is preserved.

This sucks because it takes so long, but it works.

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