As ever, non-Mac users look away. This is just a bit of technical bumf, but it took me ages to work it out and I haven’t seen quite this elsewhere, so here it is in case it helps anybody.
So, my family had jumped the gun by paying to have some old cine films converted to VHS video, and then throwing away the original films (groan). That resulted in a huge loss of quality and, worse still, the only way I had to convert the VHS to digital was via a very poor DVD recorder, resulting in further losses from re-encoding. I then copied the VOB files from the DVDs onto my Mac, so I was left with a bunch of VOB files in desperate need of editing.
FWSE it and you’ll find most people recommend converting the MPEG2 video (which is the underlying format for DVD/VOB) into DV for editing in iMovie. But converting means re-encoding, which means losing more quality, which I couldn’t afford to do with what had already become poor quality footage thanks to re-encoding.
For the past two years the VOB files have been sitting on a hard disk, and I’ve occasionally done a search for MPEG2 video editing solutions for the Mac. I had no luck until the much-maligned iMovie ’08 came out. This, apparently, can import MPEG2 for editing without re-encoding, as it’s intended to work with cameras that record to hard disks/DVD rather than just DV.
Trouble is, when I tried to trick iMovie into importing MPEG2 by using the create-a-disk-image-with-camera-like folder names mentioned in the above links, it just crashed. Then I discovered by accident that if you open iMovie when you have a non-commercial DVD in the computer, iMovie treats it like a camera and will offer to import it. This not-very-well-advertised feature came as a surprise to me, though of course many others are well aware of it.
So here’s the bit that I haven’t seen elsewhere: if you’ve just got video in VOB format, rather than as an actual DVD, you can get iMovie to import it by converting the VOBs back into a DVD image, using an application such as Toast. The trick, however, is to mount the disk image by control-clicking (right-clicking) and choosing Open with Diskimagemounter. I found that if the DVD disk image was mounted with Toast, it just crashes iMovie.
So that’s most of my problems solved, and I hope other people’s too.
The only remaining issue is that some of the VOB files seem to be corrupt, as there are some chunks that iMovie won’t import (thumbnails don’t load in the import dialogue panel and if you try to import them, iMovie crashes). Any solutions, anyone?