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Frequently Asked Questions

There is a known issue with Canon camcorders and LifeFlix with macOS Catalina. The audio will not be imported if you simply click "Import".

To workaround this do the following:

  • 1. Click Import in the main interface.
  • 2. Enter the Tape Information in the Import window.
  • 3. Press Play on your Canon camcorder.
  • 4. Immediately click the Import button in the Import window.

You can also do the following:

  • 1. Create a new tape in the main interface by clicking the plus sign where it says "Click or drag scenes here to make a new tape".
  • 2. Enter in the Tape Information.
  • 3. Press Play on your Canon camcorder.
  • 4. Immediately click the Resume button in the main interface.

It increases the aspect ratio from 640 x 480 to 1920 x 1080. We are scaling using Apple's Core Image which uses interpolation to create new pixels. We also spent some time tweaking the results in order to get the best quality we could by including some amount of sharpening during the scaling process. By default HD imports or conversions are automatically compressed in order to prevent huge file sizes.

 

Give it a try by importing in SD and then converting to HD to see how you like it. If you don't, you can immediately perform the "Undo" function (Command +Z) on your keyboard to restore the conversion to its original state.

Do you experience this issue regardless of which tape you attempt to import or is this issue isolated to a single tape? The fact that your scenes are being broken into such small scenes indicates that LifeFlix is likely experiencing an issue communicating with the camcorder or with reading the metadata associated with your tape. Unfortunately, this is sometimes simply the case with certain camera/tape combinations.

As a work-around for tapes that exhibit this behavior you can try to import the tapes in segments. Import between 200-300 scenes from the tape and click the "Stop" button. Once the imports have processed use the "Combine" function to combine the clips as desired. Once you have combined your scenes, click the "Resume" button to have the import pick up from the point it left off.

Continue this process until the full tape has been imported. While this process can be tedious it can be an effective way of getting a problem tape imported.

Another option, while not ideal, is if you are able to attempt import from an alternate camcorder, it often corrects the issue.

First you may want to ask a friend or neighbor if they have one you can borrow. Or, you could buy a used camcorder on eBay or Craigslist. They range from $50-120. Just search for "MiniDV camera".

Take a look at our Troubleshooting Guide.

The short answer is we have two options, compressed and uncompressed, or we leave the file in its original DV format (uncompressed), or compress it during import (compressed). This is a decision you make before Importing in the Import window that pops up.

We recommend keeping the "Compress Video on Import" checked, this deinterlaces and compresses the incoming files using MP4 or H.264, which is very high quality and creates a smaller file. If you uncheck the box, if leaves the files in their original DV format. Learn more here.

You can either create a single file or multiple files (or video clips) based on the starting and stopping of the original camera recording.  

In both cases you import the tapes the same way.  LifeFlix imports all videos as multiple files

Creating a single file

To create a single file, select a scene from the Scenes column, and then from the LifeFlix DV Importer menu bar choose the Select All option from the Edit drop-down menu.  Once you have done this the Combine button will become activated. Click the button to combine all of the scenes into a single file.

This is useful if your intend is to archive all tapes and all videos to a hard drive or DVD.

Making a movie

Another option is to use the "Combine" button to assemble any combination of files by holding down the Apple Command key and selecting the individual Scenes or files you'd like to put together into a single Scene or file.  We recommend trimming each file before combining them to make a better more concise movie.

We are going to officially say, no. Some customers have used LifeFlix to import or capture VHS tapes, but we don't recommend it as a solution for this because it works just ok and has hiccups because of all the tethering of devices. If you already have LifeFlix for your DV or HDV tapes and want to try using it for VHS tapes, here is the workflow

  • If you have a MiniDV camera you can connect the camera to your VHS machine, then connect the camera to your computer via firewire. Then you can use LifeFlix to import the VHS tape.

We recommending using the Elgato capture tool, which includes a hardware connection device. This has been the industry standard to rescue VHS memories, and is what I personally use.

By default we save the files in the "username"/Movie/lifeflix/tapes folder. All files are saved in the standard Quicktime format and can be played with Quicktime (outside of LifeFlix) or imported into any editor, like iMovie, Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere.

Alternatively you can change the destination or save folder using the "Change Video Folder" option under the File menu. For example, you can choose an external hard drive.

Also, once imported you can export any of the individual scenes using the "Choose" button below the play or view window.

Depending on whether you purchased LifeFlix from the Mac App store or our website (lifeflix.com), you'll use an "auto-updater" to get the latest version.  The product from both stores is exactly the same.

If you PURCHASED from www.lifeflix.com follow these steps

  1. Launch LifeFlix from your Applications folder.
  2. Select the "LifeFlix DV Importer" menu and choose "Check for Updates".  (The Auto-Updater requires LifeFlix version 1.5.7 or later).
  3. If you have a version earlier than 1.5.7 please search your email for a message from "lifeflix" that will include a link to the latest version.  If that doesn't work, please contact us to request the latest and greatest.

Screenshot_2017-03-27_08.53.55.png

If you PURCHASED from the Mac App store follow these steps

  • Launch the App Store application.
  • Click Updates from the top icon bar and find LifeFlix in the Update Available list.
  • If LifeFlix doesn't appear, please contact us and we will help you directly, contact us.

Screenshot_2017-03-27_08.57.57.png

Do you experience this issue regardless of which tape you attempt to import or is this issue isolated to a single tape?

The fact that scenes are being broken into such small scenes indicates that LifeFlix is likely experiencing an issue communicating with the camcorder or with reading the metadata associated with your tape. Unfortunately, this is sometimes simply the case with certain camera/tape combinations. We continue to research the issue.

As a work-around for tapes that exhibit this behavior, you can try to import the tapes in segments. Try importing between 200-300 scenes from the tape and then click the "Stop" button. Once the imports have processed use the "Combine" function to combine the clips as desired. Click the "Resume" button to have the import pick up from the point it left off. Continue this process until the full tape has been imported. While this process can be tedious it can be an effective way of getting a problem tape imported.

Another option, while not ideal, is if you are able to attempt import from an alternate camcorder, it will often corrects the issue.

If these solutions don't work contact support and we would be happy to help you out or give you a refund.  Contact us

It's important that you delete files from inside LifeFlix not from your computer or the files in directly in your Finder.  If you delete files directly, or move files or folders LifeFlix may loose connection to those files and folders and no longer be able to display and play the videos.

DELETING FILES

From inside of LifeFlix, you may select a single Tape or Scene, or any combination of Tapes/Scenes and hit the Delete key using your mouse, the Shift or Command keys.  (You may Undo this action any time). When deleting files from LifeFlix, they will also be removed from your computer or Finder.

The short answer is no, not directly with LifeFlix.  

After importing your video tapes into LifeFlix you have four options for your videos.  

  1. Keep them in LifeFlix and watch them from the play window
  2. Share individual or combined clips to Facebook or YouTube
  3. Move clips into your iPhoto library
  4. Export clips to another location on your computer or an external hard drive.

If you want to create a DVD to play in your DVD player, we recommend using iMovie and iDVD.

For LifeFlix to recognize your camera it must have a firewire port, which looks like this (for some reason camera companies hide this connection really well, you usually flick open a little flap somewhere with a fingernail).  For more details on connecting to you Mac, click here.

We have successfully tested cameras from all major camera manufactures, including, Sony, Canon, JVC and Panasonic but because there are so many different model variations we don't have a specific list.

To test your camera, download the Free version of LifeFlix and give it a try (free trial here).  We also have a money back guarantee if you just want buy LifeFlix (Buy Now). Memories are waiting....

You can easily edit together a movie with your favorite clips.  To learn more, click here.

Connect your camera

First you have to get your camera connected to your computer.  This can be a little challenging because the ports or connectors have changed.  Use this Mac & Camera Connection Guide to see your options.  Click here.   

Importing your tapes

Once your camera is connected to your computer launch LifeFlix (or move to the application).  Next steps are shown here.

LifeFlix is an application made to import tapes easily, and there is purposefully few choices to make when importing.  Here are few things that will be helpful when importing with LifeFlix.

  • Use the Auto-Rewind feature when importing a new tape.  
  • Disable the Auto-Rewind feature when you want to start a import from the middle of a tape.

 (see Import dialog below)

  • Should you Compress or Not Compress your videos when importing?

The developers of LifeFlix are all from the professional video market and know the trade-offs between good compression and no compression.  We use the highest quality compression techniques and recommend you leave the box checked, or compress the videos.  We use H.264, the same technique YouTube uses.  To learn more, click here.

Consider using an external hard drive if....

  • You are importing your files uncompressed, they are huge and can be nearly 13GB per tape (vs 1.3 GB for a compressed tape)
  • You importing using our compression but have more than 20 tapes, this will be more than 25GB of storage.

NOTE:  If you "move" the files from your computer to a external hard drive after import, LifeFlix will lose connection to the files and not be able to play them.  The files will not be lost and can be played using Quicktime but they won't appear inside the LifeFlix catalog.

Watch video

By default, LifeFlix saves all video files to your computer's hard drive, or specifically in your Username/Movies/LifeFlix folder. If you'd prefer to save to an external hard drive, or change the computer destination folder, use the option called "Change Video Folder" under the LifeFlix menu. 

Then click "Choose." 

After changing the file destination, click the blue Import button and see the memories pour in!

Here several tips to get the most out of LifeFlix.

  • DELETE - Select any Tape or Scene and click the Delete key to remove unwanted videos.  (note: this will delete the file from LifeFlix and your computer)
  • UNDO - Use the standard Mac Undo command (Command Z) to undo edits, deletes or other actions.
  • TRIM - Set Start and End points under the video play window and click the blue Trim button to shorten videos.
  • RESUME - If you're video stops importing before it's done, click the blue Resume button in the upper left hand corner to start importing again.
  • FILES ON YOUR COMPUTER - All imported video files can be found at username"/Movie/lifeflix/tapes folder.

Connecting Your Camera to Your Mac

In the spirit of innovation and evolution, Apple continues to change the connectors used for our MiniDV cameras. Most importantly, LifeFlix requires a connection to the FireWire, or IEEE 1394 port on your camera (not USB). But newer Macs use Thunderbolt, so you'll need a FireWire to Thunderbolt to connect your Mini DV camera to your computer.

This is a FireWire cable (9 pin to 4 pin):

 

 

If you don't have this cable, they are easily found at your local electronics retailer such as Best Buy, Walgreens, or online at Buy at Amazon

Your camera's FireWire connector looks like this:

There are two different connector types on your Mac (depending on how old it is) -

Older Macs:  Look for the port on your Mac stamped with a "Y"-like icon (see below). That's a FireWire port. Below is an example of the two different types of FireWire ports. Next to that example is another image showing what their respective connection cables would look like.

In the left image below, the squarer port on the right is the newer type of FireWire port. The image on the right shows the newer type of FireWire cable, also with the squarer end.

 

 

Newer Macs: Newer Macs do not have a FireWire connection port, instead they have a Thunderbolt port. If you own one of these newer Macs (first, congratulations!), you'll need a Thunderbolt (your computer connector) to FireWire (your camera connector) adaptor which is shown below.  Buy on Apple.com here

 

Long story short, we recommend importing using the compression option. This results in a much smaller file size and the quality is great!

If you would like some more technical information feel free to read the following:

Before your import, LifeFlix provides a dialog box that allows you to use our default (Compress Video On Import) MP4 compression or to import using no compression (by unchecking the Compress Video On Import box) and leaving it in its original DV source format, or a third of option is to Convert To HD On Import.  All options use the QuickTime .mov "wrapper" technology that allows you to play the videos with QuickTime.  Files will have the file name, "name.mov".

Additional information:

Here is a comparison of a compressed and uncompressed file to help you make the decision.  Our recommendation is to allow compression as it creates a much smaller file, deinterlaces the video, and is easier to upload to YouTube. Because MP4 compression is so good, most people cannot tell the difference.

Download these examples and play them next to each other. These examples are NTSC, but this applies to PAL also.

Compressed (MP4) Download example (1.3MB)

The data rate for compressed is 3.3 mbps, frame rate is 29.97 (same as original), and resolution is 640x480 (also same as original). As with uncompressed, it is also using a .mov QuickTime wrapper, but we reduce the file size using the QuickTime H.264 codec or MP4 for compression. This option also deinterlaces the video. 

  • Resolution:  640x480
  • 60 minutes requires (roughly) 1.3GB of hard disc space
  • File format is MP4 / MPEG-4 / H.264
  • Video is deinterlaced
  • Quicktime .mov wrapper added
  • Audio is compressed using AAC
  • Date rate is 3.3 Mbps
  • MP4 uploads to YouTube the fastest

No Compression (DV Format) Download example (12.7MB)

We are merely transcoding the original DV file, which does not change the format. It does not compress the original video, it only adds a .mov QuickTime wrapper to it. Choosing uncompressed also retains original resolution (640x480) and frame rate. Deinterlacing is not done with this option.

  • Resolution:  640x480
  • 60 minutes requires (roughly) 13GB of disc space
  • File format is DV
  • No deinterlacing
  • Quicktime .mov wrapper added
  • Audio is not touched remains 16-bit linear PCM
  • Date rate is 25 Mbps 

Convert To HD:

This feature can be applied to tapes that have been imported in SD (compressed or uncompressed) or you can choose to Convert To HD On Import from the get go.

Note: Doing so will increase the SD size from (640 x 480) to (1920 x 1080) while maintaining the (640 x 480) aspect ratio. To prevent the SD video from being distorted, you will notice that this will also place black letterbox margins on the left and right of the video.

By default HD imports or conversions are automatically compressed in order to prevent huge file sizes.

To scale we are using Apple's Core Image which uses interpolation to create new pixels. We also spent some time tweaking the results in order to get the best quality we could by including some amount of sharpening during the scaling process.

Give it a try by importing in SD and then converting to HD to see how you like it. If you don't, you can immediately perform the "Undo" function (Command +Z) on your keyboard to restore the conversion to its original state.

What is a MiniDV Head Cleaner and why should I use it?

A Mini DV Head Cleaner is DV tape designed to clean the heads of a camera. The heads of a camera can become dirty and clogged after years of use. This results in glitchy lines across your image.  They look like this.

Where do I get a Head Cleaner, and how much does it cost?

Either do a google search for "mind dv head cleaner" or just get one on Amazon.  They cost between $7-$35. (here is one on Amazon).

Once I get it, what do I do?

Some cleaners have different directions, but in general you just put the cleaner in just like you would any other tape. Then press play (or start) and let it run for about 10 seconds. After that, just press stop and remove the cleaner and you're good to go.

Can I do it more than once to be sure?

Yes, check the instructions on the specific Head Cleaner you have. Most say if you're still seeing the image glitch after about 4 times, it might be something else.

LifeFlix is a great import or capture companion for all editors.  Yes you can use your editor to bring in video but some don't support tape based cameras any more.  In addition LifeFlix is much easier to use, catalogs your videos for easy management, and allows you to only bring in the clips you want, not the entire tape.

Importing into iMovie

  1. Import videos into LIfeFlix, which creates Scenes under each Tape.
  2. Open iMovie.
  3. There are two options to importing videos from LifeFlix to iMovie

Option 1: Using iPhoto

1) From inside LifeFlix, from the Tape you wish to import, choose all or a few Scenes.

2) Click the iPhoto button under the viewer, this should launch iPhoto and export them inside

 

3) Go to iMovie, Create a project, then click on iPhoto in the upper left.  You should see your LifeFlix videos.

4) Choose your video, drag and drop to the timeline below the thumbnail images.

Option 2: Importing files

1) This is simple.  Click Import inside of iMovie and locate the LifeFlix files.  User/Movies/LifeFlix/Tapes/Scenes....

2) Done.

LifeFlix is a great import or capture companion for all editors.  Yes you can use your editor to bring in video but some don't support tape based cameras any more.  In addition LifeFlix is much easier to use, catalogs your videos for easy management, and allows you to only bring in the clips you want, not the entire tape.

Importing into iMovie

  1. Import videos into LIfeFlix, which creates Scenes under each Tape.
  2. Open iMovie.
  3. There are two options to importing videos from LifeFlix to iMovie

Option 1: Using iPhoto

1) From inside LifeFlix, from the Tape you wish to import, choose all or a few Scenes.

2) Click the iPhoto button under the viewer, this should launch iPhoto and export them inside

3) Go to iMovie, Create a project, then click on iPhoto in the upper left.  You should see your LifeFlix videos.

4) Choose your video, drag and drop to the timeline below the thumbnail images.

Option 2: Importing files

1) This is simple.  Click Import inside of iMovie and locate the LifeFlix files.  User/Movies/LifeFlix/Tapes/Scenes....

2) Done.

Yes.  LifeFlix has some basic but easy to use editing features.  You can Trim or Split individual scenes, then choose any combination and join them to make a single video using the Combine function. 

1) Trim.  Select a scene and then move the In and Out markers located at the bottom of the scene duration bar to set the points that you would like to have trimmed from the clip and then click the Trim button. (Note: this is a "destructive" process, or trims the original file, click Undo (Command +Z)  if you wish to redo the trim.) If you would like to maintain the original file you can drag the scene to the Tapes column in order to create a copy of it to edit.

3) Split.  Select a scene and then move the Split cursor located at the top of the scene duration bar to set the point that you would like the clip to be split and then click the Split button. (Note: this is a "destructive" process, or trims the original file, click Undo (Command +Z)  if you wish to redo the trim.) If you would like to maintain the original file you can drag the scene to the Tapes column in order to create a copy of it to edit.

3) Combine.  Select scenes by holding down the Command key, selecting the scenes you wish to combine, and then click the Combine button. If you wish to combine all scenes, select a scene and then from the LifeFlix menu bar select the "Select All" option from the Edit drop-down menu. After all scenes have been selected, click the Combine button.

For full blown editing, we recommend iMovie or Final Cut X.  Learn more here.

This answer is meant to be very basic, if you want more details there are a lot of great articles already written, like this one.

The two things that matter in this comparison, are the size of the files vs the quality of the viewing image and whether or not you'll be doing a lot of editing with the video files.

We use (and recommend) H.264 or MPEG4 compression of your DV video files because the compressed images and the original images are nearly identical visually, unless you have a very trained professional eye for video imagery.  Also, the files are much smaller and it's the best format to use when uploading to YouTube.

However, if you are going to do a lot of technical editing, color correction, titling and effects, a compression technology like ProRes is a better choice.  In this case, import the files as uncompressed using LifeFlix, then move them over to Final Cut Pro X.  Learn more.

This happens occasionally, mainly because LifeFlix is designed to stop when a tape is done or there's no more video on the tape.  If the gap is too long between recordings LifeFlix may think the tape is over.

For this issue we added a Resume feature.  If a tape stops before you think it's done, click the Resume button in the upper left hand corner, next to the blue Import button.

Not with LifeFlix.  We recommend using Handbrake, click here.

Video is imported in real time so it depends on how much video you have on each tape. If the entire tape contains video, then 60 minutes. LifeFlix has an auto-stop feature when the video ends.

Yes, absolutely!

All new iMacs and MacBook Air's do not have firewire ports, instead they use Thunderbolt.  But not to worry, you can send Apple $29 and they will solve your problem with this adapter.  Buy here

If you'd like to read more about connecting your Mac and camera, go here.