How do you get your video onto the iPad so you can edit it in iMovie? The iPhone 4S supports recording video at 1080p. Most DSLRs can record in iPad compatible video (as can be attested by downloading with the Camera Connection Kit) and as of iOS 5 you can edit 1080p in iMovie for the iPad, so the functionality is there.
But if you try to transfer 1080p video with iTunes, you get a wonderful little error saying “this video is incompatible with the iPad”. What’s worse, if you transfer video you already have on your iPad out of your photo library onto your computer, it won’t allow you to transfer it back.
That’s right: you can play, edit and export 1080p video in iMovie from your Photo Library on your iPad as much as you want, but the minute you sync it off your iPad you can’t get your video back onto it. Well, through conventional methods that is.
You can add it to your iTunes library as a movie and it still won’t transfer over. Even if you could do that, it won’t be editable by iMovie as its not in your Photo Library anyway. Great. So what’s the point of even having iMovie on the iPad then?
There are a few tricks to it. Until Apple updates the compatibility list on the iOS devices or whatever else is blocking the transfer back, you have to fool it into working or bind it with your footage you edit in iMovie. Both will allow transfer back in, but if you’re trying to preserve your iMovie edit, only binding the video with your iMovie project will work.
Binding to iMovie Projects
So how do you keep your video together when you’re editing? Apple planned for this and wanted to provide a method to transfer a complete project back to your mac for editing in iMovie on the Mac.
What you do is to save your iMovie project for iTunes, then the video will be saved with the project and you can recall it later from the iTunes save. It’s the official manner to maintain valid links to your resources in your iMovie project.
Now if you want to restore your video, you will have to restore the project, edit it and then in the video list, click on the edit button. The project-specific videos will be pickable and have two buttons available. Select the blue folder icon to save the video to your camera roll.
The only real down side to this technique is you end up having two copies of the video on your iPad: one in your Photo Library and another stored in the iTunes-accessible project stored in iMovie. Editing a lot of video means taking up twice as much space. Not a good proposition on such a limited-space device as the iPad.
Another downside is getting video from the computer to the iPad as an original file is impossible with this technique. It only works when you’ve already had it on your iPad to begin with. But it’s important for you to know about so you can properly archive off any projects you work on and to know how to bring something back once it’s been used.
Restore with the Camera Connection Kit
Another trick, not really sanctioned by Apple but I find works better and gets them onto the iPad in their native format, is to import them using the Camera Connection Kit.
They get loaded as original files and can be restored from the Camera any time you like. But here’s a real nice feature: if you have an SD card and an SD card reader on your computer, you can put any compatible video into your photo library. There’s a particular trick to making it work however. You have to fool the Camera Connection Kit into believing its new original footage from your camera.
To do this trick, you can either use the SD card from your camera with a picture taken on it or just create the directory structure used by your camera.
The format is pretty straightforward, so I’ll try to lay it out for you here. Start with your root folder and then in each one, create the next one:
Following the technique, you’ll end up with a folder structure looking something like this (in this case, assuming your SD card mounts on drive E):
If you copied movies straight off your SD card to your computer, you could take them straight over and put them in the 101VIDEO folder now. If not, you’ll have to rename them into the format:
AAAAare four alphabetical letters
####is a four digit number
EXTthe file extension (MOV or MP4)
With that format, you’ll end up with a file named something like
So just place your files into your 101VIDEO folder you created previously and you’re all set for the next step. (The detail of the spec is laid out quite well on Wikipedia here, so have a peek if you want more information.)
After all the videos have copied over, you can mount your SD card to the iPad with the Camera Connection Kit. After that, it’s just like importing your photos and videos directly from the camera.
The only downside of this technique is you have to be careful of your file naming and you might have to rename all your files to accommodate for this technique. There are a lot of great programs that will help in renaming, just search for file renaming tool to find one and use it. I’d recommend one, but I usually just batch the file renames. (The pluses of knowing batch file scripts and how to program).
Your choice of method is ultimately up to you, and in most cases, you should probably stick to editing on your main computer. But if you’re traveling only with your iPad and camera, you can still edit up some great video.
It just takes more effort.