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VideoPier HD

If I had VideoPier HD (59€, 37€ for the SD version) back in January 2007 when I reviewed the Sony DCR-SR70 I would not have got to know Mac so well and he would not have been over to visit me in Spain last October.

On the other hand choosing a camcorder would have been a lot easier, but I think I would still have ended up with the JVC Everio because although it isn’t clear on the label it does in fact import directly to iMovie.

The VideoPier family of products is aimed at videographers who own MPEG-2 or AVCHD camcorders and who struggle with these video formats on their Mac.

One of the few disappointments I have had since switching to the Mac in January 2006 is the fact that I have had to on occasion use a third party application to import movie clips. It wasn’t something that I was expecting as the ‘legendary’ Mac was meant to be the ultimate, easy to use, media machine! Somehow you just expect that any camcorder you plug in will just work with iMovie and import the files, but that just isn’t the case, even with some of the new models.

Now the sensible thing to do is to research up front and only buy a camcorder that will work with iMovie in my view, but gifts, budgets, unbeatable offers and laziness all play a part in life so it is inevitable that some one is going to end up with a MPEG2 camcorder, for example:

  • Panasonic SDR-S100, SDR-S150
  • JVC Everio models recording MPEG-2 on Hard drive
  • JVC HD7
  • Toshiba GigaShot cameras
  • Various Sony models recording on Hard-drive or card

As you would expect all of the above are supported by VideoPier with the exception of direct capture from HDV camcorders via Firewire

To state the obvious VideoPier isn’t a replacement for iMovie, so it will add another step into your workflow, but it does copy the file across without the need for any conversion and the files appear in date based events for easy search and retrieval.

The interface is nice enough:

It has a number of specific benefits, depending on whether you are using iMovie 06 or 08:

  • if you are still using iMovie 06, then VideoPier lets you work with camcorders that iMovie simply won’t recognize
  • if you are using iMovie 08, then VideoPier lets you move away from the imposed Apple Intermediate Codec when editing convert MPEG files in your desired format (H264 for example) for later editing in iMovie

For all users VideoPier lets you manage video files in their native format so will save you time and disk space as you no longer need to convert all the videos from their original format into something iMovie understands. Instead, copy the files in their native format, visualize and organize them with VideoPier. When you need to use some of the files for your editing work, convert those files only.
VideoPier is mainly targeted at users that have a standard definition camcorder (recording on SD cards, DVD, HardDrive), while VideoPier HD adds the ability to capture from tape based HDV camcorders. VideoPier HD ‘speaks’ with Final Cut and lets you export your HD clips in a format that is ready for editing. As you would expect the finished movies can be exported to any Quicktime format, to DV for iMovie 06, to the iPod/iPhone and Apple TV.

VideoPier is an application that you shouldn’t really need, as with the right Camcorder you only really need iMovie 08, but for those of you with a need for a ‘conduit application’ it as good as I have seen and you could do a lot worse than give it a go. I don’t have much use for it with my own set up, but from time to time I get asked to edit a third parties video and on those occasions it has been very useful indeed.

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