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Using FCE with 7500 iMovie DV Stream files: best approaches?

Time:October 11
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I have about 50 hours of irreplaceable DV footage, of the first 5+ years of my children's lives. I saved all this footage to hard disk over these past 5 years using whatever the latest version of iMovie was at the time, so I have around 7500 DV stream clips created in iMovie 2, 3, 4, and HD. There has been no editing, no titles, no transitions. Just 50 untouched iMovie projects sitting for years on several FireWire disks.
First question: Which format of digital video is currently more universally compatible and accessible by software: DV Stream (like iMovie uses) or DV-NTSC (like FCE uses)? I'd like my unedited video to be stored in a format that has a decent chance of being around for a while. (Which format is the Betamax, and which is VHS?)
Anyway, the time has finally come to start editing this monumental volume of material. I want to leave iMovie, and learn to use FCE because iMovie is still buggy, FCE is more powerful, and -- here are the key words -- because FCE has 'RT Extreme" and "seamless iMovie import."
The challenge, and the reason I need your advice, is now how to bring these 7500 iMovie DV stream files into FCE, in such a way so RT Extreme really works when editing these clips and the transition to FCE is really "seamless." Seamlessness is not the feeling I get when I've read several threads in this forum that address sticky problems arising when trying to work on iMovie projects using FCE.
My hope was I could avoid such problems by somehow "importing" each iMovie DV stream clip into FCE and "converting" them to FCE's DV-NTSC format. Then my intention was to save the new DV-NTSC clips to disk and delete the iMovie clips, so I could then work entirely in FCE without any difficulty. IMO, this would be "seamless." As I'm reading through this forum I'm getting the sinking feeling that this is not possible.
So, QUESTION 2: How best to proceed, when I have 50 iMovie projects, saved using iMovie 2, 3, 4, and HD, with around a total of 7500 DV Stream clips, so as to avoid glitches and delays in the transition, and to preserve features of FCE such as RT Extreme?
If there are no good options, I suppose one possibility is to re-capture all the video from the original camcorder tapes again, using FCE instead of iMovie. This would be worthwhile especially if the answer to my first question is DV-NTSC. What do you think?
Besides having to spend 50 hours re-capturing all the video I have on tape, there are other potential difficulties with this. First off, at least one of my original tapes has been "eaten" by my Canon camcorder when the rewind mechanism failed and I only have the DV stream data for that tape. Maybe I could record the affected clips back to tape, then capture them into FCE? Is this a plausible solution?
Second, these tapes have been sitting around for more than 5 years, without exercising them or doing anything special to keep the data in good shape. What if some of the tapes have drop-outs or other problems? I'd have to go back to my DV Stream data, and I'm back in the same boat.
I would appreciate any advice/feedback you can offer.
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Tom,
Thanks a lot for your valuable reply.
You wrote, "If the project does not import, you'll need to crack open the iMovie project, extract the clips from inside the project folder or package, and import them into FCE."
This may be a basic operation, but as I don't yet have any working knowledge of FCE, how do you import these clips once you've found them in the package? And if you do that, is a copy made of those clips, or does FCE just remember where they are? If copies are made, are they still in DV Stream format or DV-NTSC/QT?
For the clip that's been eaten, can I export that clip (using iMovie) to a new DV tape in my camcorder, then import that DV into FCE? If so, would that material then have clip timecode embedded in the QT file, or not? Is that a bad idea for any reason?
You mentioned some setups with the Canon cameras have been problematic. I have a Canon GL2. I doubt anyone outside of Apple knows yet if it will be a problem with my setup: a PowerMac G5 Quad, with FCE pre-installed. I don't think the Quads have shipped yet.
Thanks again, and I look forward to your reply to these questions.
BTW, have you written a book on FCE HD? I didn't see one on Amazon.

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