How to Import DV Clips into iMovie ’09, Preserving the Recording Dates

I recently started using iMovie ’09 on my new MacBook Pro. Since I had a few unfinished projects in my old iMovie HD (iMovie ’06) on my old iMac, I decided to import them to iMovie ’09 so I could edit them there.

Unfortunately, when you import a DV clip into iMovie ’09 – whether from iMovie HD, or just a raw .dv clip – iMovie ’09 uses the clip’s file creation time as the recording (capture) date/time, not the actual time that the clip was recorded! Very annoying. (I assume that iMovie ’09 uses the correct time if you actually import from a camera, but I haven’t tested that.)

After much digging around, I found a solution to this problem. It’s a bit of a hack, but it works well. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Download a little Java program called DVRecordingDate by Jameel Syed. Unfortunately that download page no longer exists, but I was able to grab a copy via this blog post. (If that blog post and download link should in turn expire, I’ve mirrored it here.)
  2. Unzip the file – you should have a DVRecordingDate-1.0 folder.
  3. Import your .dv clips into iMovie ’09, if you haven’t already. Or, if you already have your .dv clips that were imported by another app, such as iMovie HD, you can use these clips instead.
  4. Copy these imported clips to a new folder somewhere. (In iMovie ’09, your imported clips will be in ~/Movies/iMovie Events/(Event Name).)
  5. Open up a Terminal window and change to your unzipped DVRecordingDate-1.0 folder, eg:

    cd ~/Downloads/DVRecordingDate-1.0

  6. Run DVRecordingDate by typing the following:

    java DVRecordingDate -rename path/to/your/.dv/clips/folder/*.dv

    This runs really quickly. It reads the .dv files, extracts the capture dates, and renames each file according to the capture date, eg: “clip-2007-02-06 16;26;15.dv”. (iMovie ’09 recognizes filenames in this format as representing the capture date, and then correctly preserves the capture dates in the imported clips.)

  7. Open iMovie ’09 again, and import these new clips (File > Import > Movies).
  8. You should see the new clips appear in your Events window, all with the correct recording dates. (You can check this by right/control-clicking a clip and choosing “Adjust Clip Date and Time…”.)
  9. All done! If you’re happy with the new clips then you can move your old clips to the trash in iMovie.

As it happens, I’ve since abandoned iMovie ’09 for editing my old standard-def DV clips, as it completely ruins them, producing worse-than-VHS-quality results! But that’s another story. However, if you are using iMovie ’09 for DV editing, and it’s working OK for you, then hopefully this tip will help you out with your capture times.

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One Response to “How to Import DV Clips into iMovie ’09, Preserving the Recording Dates”

  1. Allen Huffman Says:

    I am amazed that this problem lives on without a better solution. I never completed my hacks to the Java code to make it scan further in to the DV files, and so many of mine seem to have glitches that cause the clips to be skipped. I wonder if the current iLife does it any better? I still haven’t bothered to check it out.