Getting Motion JPEG video into iOS iMovie right on your device!


So you just got a new iPad 2, thrilled about being able to edit HD video in iMovie on the go.

Given that the iPad 2 cannot shoot HD video, you find yourself shooting on the iPhone 4, and then transferring the footage to the iPad for editing.

There are other options though…
Many point-and-shoot cameras can shoot HD video these days. And the quality is most often far far better than what you can achieve with the iPhone 4. Take my Panasonic TZ-20 (pictured) for instance. It has better optics than the iPhone, a whopping 16x optical zoom and stereo sound (dual mics).

The problem with many of these cameras is they shoot in a format called AVCHD. Despite being based on MPEG4/H.264 it is not compatible with iOS for the time being. If your camera however also supports recording in the Motion JPEG format (TZ-20 does, but is limited to 720p, not that it matters given that 720p is also the max for iMovie on the iPad 2) there is hope.

Now for the essense of this post:
For some time, I was annoyed that movies shot in Motion JPEG format will import and play back just fine on the iPad 2, but iMovie would not recognize the files.

The solution is quite simple: convert the file to regular MPEG4 format. Numerous apps let you add effects and such to your movies (including Motion JPEG) and then saves the result as MPEG4 to your library. If you just want your footage, untouched, into iMovie however, try Video Editor for FREE.

This app is free, works great on the iPad, and super quickly and easily lets you select a file and save it back in the same resolution as MPEG4. Yes the file will technically be recompressed, but I could personally see no difference to the naked eye. The app also lets you trim the file first, if desired.

So that is my recommendation. If you have an iPad, the camera connection kit and a point-and-shoot camera, you can actually shoot, edit and publish gorgeous HD movies, without the need for a computer. Do let me know in the comments if you find this helpful, or if you have other suggestions for the best way to get Motion JPEG or perhaps even AVCHD into iMovie on iOS without the need for a computer (or jailbreaking)!