Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to open iMovie HD projects in Final Cut Pro

A good friend of mine was working on a project in iMovie HD (iMovie 6.0.3) and because of some hardware issues with his Mac was unable to keep working on it while the Mac was being repaired. So he asked me if I could help him in Final Cut Pro. I don't know iMovie at all. I've never even launched it.

iMovie saves it's projects in a file that looks like a single file but it's actually a folder or package. If you have iMovie installed you can second click on it and "Show Package Contents" where you'll find all the footage and music and so forth.

If you don't have iMovie installed you'll just see the file as a standard folder. Inside the folder you'll see two files ending with ".iMovieProj" and "~.iMovieProj". I think the one with a tilde is a backup or something, I'm not sure.

Anyways, if you drop the .iMovieProj into the terminal under the File command you'll see it's actually "XML 1.0 document text". But FCP can't import it even though it's an XML file. As far as I know iMovie HD doesn't have an option to export a project as a .xml file.

The trick? Make a copy of the .iMovieProj file and rename with .xml appended at the end. Then import it using Final Cut Pro's File > Import >XML... command. You'll have to choose "Show All Files" from the Import window, and then after it imports the .xml file you'll be prompted to save the project as a standard .fcp Project file.

You'll see it churn away for a moment or two, then your iMovie HD project will open as normal in Final Cut Pro. The only drawback is that it's very likely you'll have to render ALL of your audio. And if need be, you can Media Manage the project into a new more organized folder.

IMPORTANT: If using FCP's Import XML command doesn't work and you see an error like "Unable to Open Project File" or something about FCP needing a translation file there's another way to try and open the iMovie HD project's .xml file.

First you MUST keep the .xml file inside the iMovie HD's project folder (or package if you have iMovie HD installed, and by this I mean the iMovie HD's save file which is a hidden package/folder). If it's outside of this folder it will often fail to properly load into FCP.

Second, if importing the .xml file fails via FCP's Import .xml menu, and it's inside the iMovie folder/package, just try double-clicking the .xml file (the one you duplicated and renamed by appending .xml to the end) and it should load that way. Then save it out as a regular .fcp project save file.

Also, and I don't know how helpful this is, not having the .xml file extension hidden but un-ticking the Hide Extension checkbox in the file's Get Info window may help.

I don't know if this trick works with Final Cut Express, however.


Girish Menon said...

So, if I have to see this .iMovieProj, in the package/folder, iMovie shouldn't be installed, right?

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shishdim said...

That was extremely helpful - thank you so much!!

brittanielovessparky said...

It didn't work for me. It says "XML Translation aborted due to critical error." I saved the .iMovieProj file as an .XML project file and then did the FCP File > Import > XML > iMovie project folder.

I couldn't open or "show contents" of iMovie project file when I was trying to import. Is this what is messing me up?

I also tried double-clicking the XML file and that didn't work.

I don't think this is possible...

Tim said...

Dude! This worked! We were trying to import a iMovie HD project into iMovie 8 then into FCP. your method here allowed us to bypassed one of the steps and get right to editing the whole thing in FCP right away!

Thanks a million!

Lisa said...

Thanks! Extremely helpful.

It didn't work for me in FC Express, but I was able to use some pieces. I got to the point of your second tip about double just opened in iMovie HD. Selecting "Open with" and FCE didn't work either.

However, I was able to import all of the .mov files from the package for my still images, which brought over the Ken Burns effect for me on each one.