How do I transfer/import Canon vixia footage to Mac?

This post includes two parts. The first part details the exact step-by-step order to load Canon Vixia footage to Mac iMovie. The second part explains a workaround to transcode Canon Vixia videos to QuickTime MOV files for editing in Mac iMovie, FCE and FCP (X).
transfer Canon Vixia video to Mac
User Question: Couldn’t get iMovie to recognize my Canon Vixia HF G20 footage, please help!
“I just bought a new canon Vixia HF G20 camcorder because I read that it would be compatible with my Mac and iMovie. I simply connect the camcorder with the USB cord, my Mac recognizes the drive, but I just can’t get iMovie to recognize any video files or anything. I’m in a hurry to figure this out for work. Someone PLEASE help!!! Thanks a lot.”

Part 1: The correct order to import Canon Vixia video to Mac iMovie

To be able to load Canon Vixia recordings to Mac iMovie for editing, you will need to follow the step by step order below. If you don’t do it in this exact order, it may not work.

We use Canon Vixia HF R20 as an example.
1. Turn on your camcorder.
2. Plug the camcorder into a power source.
3. Click the “video mode” button on your camcorder. It looks like a little video camera and has some arrows.
4. Use the USB cord to plug the camcorder into your Mac.
5. When the screen on the camcorder asks what memory to use, click “Select ALL”
6. Open iMovie.
7. In the middle of the iMovie screen, there is a small gray videocamera icon. Click on that.
8. Your videos will come up and you have the option to load all of them or any of them to iMovie.

Part 2: Convert Canon Vixia video to .MOV with AIC/ProRes codec for editing on Mac iMovie, or FCP X/7

iMovie and FCP are designed to work with Canon Vixia footage in the entire AVCHD folder structure. However, many try to dig into the AVCHD folder structure and import the .mts/.m2ts streams into iMovie (or FCP for that matter) and don’t realize these editors will not recognize the footage like that. If you’ve moved out the individual .mts files from the AVCHD folder structure and deleted the folder structure, you will end up with un-usable files that need to be transcoded prior to importing into iMovie, or FCP (X). This requires third party software like HD Video Converter for Mac.
transcode Canon Vixia videos to QuickTime MOV

Process for using HD Converter to convert your Canon Vixia AVCHD files for Mac iMovie, and FCP (X)
Step 1: Open up HD Video Converter for Mac as a Vixia MTS Converter for Mac. When its main interface comes up, click ‘Add File’ to load your source media.
import Canon Vixia video to Mac iMovie

Step 2: Select output format for your editing program
To convert Canon Vixia video for iMovie and FCE, from ‘Profile’ list, choose ‘Apple InterMediate Codec (AIC)(*.mov)’ as output format under ‘iMovie and Final Cut Express’ column.
convert Canon Vixia video to .MOV with AIC/ProRes codec

To transcode Canon Vixia video files for FCP 6/7/X, select ‘Apple ProRes 422 (*.mov)’ as output format under ‘Final Cut Pro’ column. The ProRes codec is FCP’s favorite editing codec, which FCP will recognize and handle well without rendering.
Vixia MTS Converter for Mac

Important: If you’ve loaded a number of video clips to do batch conversion, please do remember ticking off ‘Apply to All’ option before you start.

Step 3: Custom video and audio settings (optional)
If necessary, you can click ‘Settings’ button and go to ‘Profiles Settings’ panel to modify video and audio settings like video encoder, resolution, video bit rate, frame rate, aspect ratio, audio encoder, sample rate, audio bit rate, and audio channels. 3D settings are also available.

Step 4: Begin Canon Vixia video Conversion on Mac
When ready, click ‘Convert’ to start format conversion. Once the conversion process is complete, you can click ‘Open Folder’ button to get the generated AIC MOV files or ProRes MOV files for editing in iMovie, FCE or FCP (X) with optimum performance.
If you don’t want to wait for the entire conversion process, you can tick off ‘Shutdown computer when conversion completed’ and go away to do other things.

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