Importing videos into iMovie for iPad


Q: I really like your articles, particularly The Complete Guide to iPod, Apple TV and iPhone Video Formats.  I have a few questions, however. Firstly, I’m wondering if the iPad specs are identical to the iPhone? If not, what’s different?

I’m looking for a capture device OTHER THAN the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad itself to capture video that will transfer to an untethered iPad and be recognized in iPhoto so that it can be opened and edited with iPad’s iMovie. Do you know of any? So far, the only way I’ve found to come close is to use a Sanyo VPC-PD2BK Dual Camera. It shoots good video and will export to an iPad’s camera roll. However, it seems that it will not, without an extra step, be seen in iMovie. To get it to iMovie I have to send it to myself in a email, which when received will allow me to ‘Save Video’: this step clearly goes thru a conversion process on the iPad—you can see the progress bar!  When finished, the ‘converted’ movie now shows up in iMovie on the iPad and can be edited. 3) Since there is a ‘build-in’ video conversion process in the iPad’s Mail, e.g. the iOS it would be neat if Apple or some App guy would make that a feature of the iPad’s iPhoto or iMovie, or even an app.  Any idea where to offer such a suggestion?

– Hal

A: Although the screen resolutions are obviously different, the actual support video formats the iPad and the iPhone 4 are identical. Specifically, from Apple’s iPad Specifications page:

“H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format.”

Unfortunately, iMovie for the iPad is considerably more limited in the video formats that it supports. As Apple notes in a knowledgebase article:

“iMovie for iOS is designed to work with video recorded with iPad 2, iPhone 4, and iPod touch (4th generation). To ensure optimal performance, the app filters out certain non-Apple video clips from the Video browser. These incompatible clips cannot be added to your iMovie project.”

Apple unfortunately does not provide any specific information beyond this on what video formats are supported by iMovie on the iPad. Some users have reported success with certain cameras such as the Flip Mino, however since Apple doesn’t specifically support these, it’s possible for this to break in future updates. 

While not ideal, the method of converting videos yourself seems to be the best approach to take at this point. There are a number of inexpensive and/or free tools on the App Store such as Splice that can be used to do this more efficiently than having to e-mail videos to yourself. Note that in many cases the free or lower-cost versions of these apps will be more than adequate if all you need is pre-processing for iMovie.


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Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.