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How to Convert Your Camera’s Videos for Use with iMovie App on iPad

If you have a blog or want to boost engagement with your audience, you have to think about incorporating video into your content strategy. This step may be intimidating for some. I know it has been for me, as I’ve yet to step in front of the camera. That hasn’t stopped me from trying my hand at video. Maybe you have a travel blog or are ready to start creating videos. If so, a little practice now goes a long way towards creating great video.


There are a multitude of options for editing video. In the past, I’ve used Jing (free!) for recording training videos for outsourced tasks. Jing is great for recording screencasts, though you’re limited to only five minutes of video. If you need to record screencasts longer than five minutes, then you need to use SnagIt. To edit video, Camtasia Studio works well, though it may be a little too much in the way of options for some to get a good handle on right away.


While I’ve used Camtasia Studio to edit larger pieces of video, I prefer to use iMovie (available on the iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch) to edit short videos. In fact, all the videos I’ve uploaded to my YouTube Channel, UnwireMe TV, have been edited in using iMovie. At $4.99 is the cheapest, most polished tool you can use to make quick work of travel videos.


I’m not going to rehash how to use iMovie for iPad, since it’s fairly easy to use. The problems I’ve run into is when I try to use video that has been recorded in other devices, such as an HD video camera for example, and move them to the iPad to edit. I like to record video with my Canon T3 camera and have spent good chunks of time trying to figure out how to do this. Turns out it’s not that difficult when you know the right steps. I have to credit iSmashPhone for pointing me in the right direction and thought I’d clear up the instructions for readers here.


How to Convert Video for Editing with iMovie


iMovie iPad 2


It took me awhile to figure out, but the trick to editing video from outside sources into iMovie is to make your videos appear on your iPad/iPhone’s Camera Roll. You can import video through other means, but unless they show up on your Camera Roll, they won’t show up in iMovie. Here’s how to do it:


First, you’ll need to download and install HandBrake (free!) a useful video converting tool. It’s available for Macs and PCs (yipee!). You’ll also need to have iTunes installed on your computer. I have iTunes 11 on my system.


Move your video file from your camera to a folder of your choosing in your computer. This will speed up the conversion process. In my case, my camera records in .MOV format. I created a folder and placed the copied the video there.


Open Handbrake. When you do, you’ll be greeted with the screen below.




  1. Select the iPad Preset.
  2. Check “Web Optimized” if planning to upload to YouTube.
  3. Click “Source” and select the video file you want to convert for iMovie.
  4. Select the folder destination you’d like to save the converted video to. The “.mp4” extension is fine.


Next, we need to adjust the video settings.




  1. Click the “Video” options tab.
  2. Select  Video Codec H.264. For Framerate, click “Constant Framerate” and set to “30”.
  3. Click “Average Bitrate” and type in 10730.

Last, we need to adjust audio settings.




  1. Click the “Audio” options tab.
  2. Select AAC (faac) from the options menu.
  3. Select “Stereo” option.
  4. Select “44.1”.
  5. Select “128”.
  6. With all options set, it’s time to begin encoding. Click the green “Start” button to begin encoding.
  7. Encoding can take a while depending on the size of your video. You’ll get an approximate time the encoding will finish on a timer that will show on the lower left. When video has finished encoding, it’ll be shown on the lower left hand corner as well.


Once encoding is finish, head over to the folder you selected as the destination in Handbrake. Keep that window open, as we have to head over to iTunes to check our settings first.


iTunes #1


  1. Plug in the device (iPad/iPhone/Ipod Touch) that has iMovie and that you will use to edit your video. Once your device finishes syncing, click on the “Photos” tab.
  2. Make sure “Sync Photos” is checked. From here, you can select any folder to sync photos and videos from. You can go two ways with this. Either select the folder containing your newly encoded video, or move the newly encoded video to the folder you regularly sync photos to. Since I don’t like to mess with iTunes settings, I move newly encoded videos to the same folder I always sync from. If you’ve never set a “Photos” folder to sync from, select the folder containing your new video. Either way, don’t forget this next step.
  3. Click “Include videos”. That way the video will be synced and added to your device. Don’t forget to “Apply” changes.

If you didn’t change your “Photos” sync folder on the previous step, just copy the newly encoded video to your current iPhone/iPad Photos folder.




Notice that the extension for my Test-Video is .mp4, while the extension for the other videos is .m4v. Either will work.


Perform an iTunes sync with your device. When sync is completed, with iTunes, your video should be ready for editing. To verify, fire up iMovie on your iOS device.


iMovie 2


As the prompt says, tap the + sign to start a new project.


iMovie 3


Click on “New Project” to start a new one.


iMovie 1


If all has gone smoothly, you should now see the video you’ve just added at the top of the queue. Click on the blue arrow to add your new video to the editing board.


iMovie 4


And that’s it! You’re now ready to slice and dice your video any way you want. From iMovie, you can upload your video straight to your YouTube channel.


Use iMovie to edit videos and have a YouTube channel?

Share the link of your channel below!

Cover photo: Flickr @ Robert Scoble

About Rich Polanco

Fan of dogs + all things tech. Love a great pizza. My goal is not to travel to every country in the world. I only want to get to know my favorite ones REALLY well. Check out the big bio here. Follow @RichPolanco and connect on Facebook.
Currently exploring: Guatemala.


  1. I am really glad I found this blog post. Thanks for the write up.

  2. Excellent advise! Now I know how to convert and move video files to my iPad and can from it edit the files into a presentation with iMovie.

    Thank you!

  3. Wow,just what I needed. Big thanks. Can I make a DVD of the finished project?

    • Rich Polanco says:

      Hi Stewart. Sure you can make a DVD. As long as you have the right software, don’t see why not.


  4. Miquel says:

    Tengo un video Mp4 le he sincronizado, lo puedo ver con la app de Videos, pero cuando la quiero incluir en un proyecto, no me aparece en el explorador. No se que puedo hacer.

    Una ayuda

    • Rich Polanco says:

      Hola! Tienes que convertir tus vídeos a un formato que sea aceptado como valido. El programa que necesitas es Handbrake y las instrucciones están en el post.


  5. Where have you been all my life? Thank you so so much. Very helpful.

  6. Maaaaaaaaaaaany many thanks for this wonderful informations.This f..ing problem f.. me until 2 days.I couldn’t find any solution since read your page, Rich Polanco.Now, i’m seeing my videos in my iMovie on iPad Air.Thank youuuuuuuu :)

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