How to Download Films from the Prelinger Archive on a Mac and Save Them on VCDs



This is my quirky method for downloading and making VCDs of Prelinger Archive films. It addresses the annoying problem Mac users have with losing the soundtrack of a movie when you import it to DV Stream. I offer it for educational purposes. It might not work for you, but it may give you some helpful bits and pieces of information that will help you to come up with your own method. This method requires that you have QuickTime Pro (download it from Apple's website), UltraRecorder (shareware), iMovie, a digital camcorder that is Firewire compatible, and a VCD recorder.

Silent Movies Less Than 10 Minutes Long


  1. Download the movie and save it in QuickTime as a "self-contained file."
  2. In QuickTime Pro, export the movie to DV Stream.
  3. Import the movie into iMovie. Drag and drop the resulting clip into the movie timeline.
  4. Hook up your camcorder with the Firewire cable and export the movie to the camcorder.
  5. Hook up the camcorder to the VCD recorder and dub it to VCD.

Silent Movies More Than 10 Minutes Long


  1. Download the movie and save it in QuickTime as a self-contained file.
  2. In QuickTime Pro, export the movie to a QuickTime Movie.
  3. Open up the QuickTime movie version of the film. Use the little triangles at the bottom of the timeline to select about half of the movie (doesn't have to be exact). Copy this into the clipboard, then open up a new player and paste it into it. Now you have a new movie that consists of half of your original movie. Save this as a self-contained file. Go back to the QuickTime version of your original movie and select the other half of the movie. Use the same copy-and-paste process to create another movie that consists of the second half of the original movie, and save it as a self-contained file.
  4. Export both of these new half-movies to DV Stream.
  5. Import both half-movies to iMovie, one after the other, and place them in the timeline, one after the other. Don't worry about the transition––as long as the clips are right next to each other in the timeline, iMovie will transition seamlessly from one to the other.
  6. Export the movie to your camcorder.
  7. Dub it to VCD.

Sound Movies Less Than 10 Minutes Long


  1. Download the movie and save it in QuickTime as a self-contained file.
  2. In QuickTime Pro, export the movie to DV Stream.
  3. Open the original movie (not the DV Stream version) in QuickTime. Leaving QuickTime running, open up Ultra Recorder. On the opening window of Ultra Recorder, press the big "Record" button. A Save dialogue box will come up. Choose to save the file as a "simple AIFF" file, name it, and choose its location. After pressing "save", the record window should come up. Go into the finder and close all windows except for the Ultra Recorder window and the QuickTime player with your movie on it. Go back into Ultra Recorder and press the "record" button, then immdiately click on your movie, which will bring you into QuickTime, and press the "play" button on the movie player. Let the movie play in its entirety--Ultra Recorder will record the soundtrack. After the movie is done playing, go back into Ultra Recorder and press the "stop" button to stop recording. Then press the "save" button to save the file. You now have an AIFF file of the movie's soundtrack.
  4. Go into iMovie and import the DV Stream of your movie. Drag and drop it into the movie timeline. Now import the AIFF file of the soundtrack––iMovie will automatically put it into the timeline.
  5. The soundtrack file will probably have a couple of seconds of dead air at the beginning and end, to account for the time it took you to switch back and forth between Ultra Recorder and QuickTime and press the buttons. Use the "crop" function in iMovie to get rid of these periods of dead air. Now play the movie and check to see if the sound is properly synchronized--check moments of dialogue in particular. If the sound is not synchronized, adjust the placement of the soundtrack in the timeline until it synchs up. This is not nearly as hard as it sounds. Just check a segment of the movie with dialogue and note whether the speech precedes or comes after the actors' moving their lips. This will tell you whether to move the soundtrack forwards or backwards in the time line. Eventually, you should find just the right spot in the timeline that makes the sound synch up.
  6. Export the movie to your camcorder.
  7. Dub it to VCD.

Sound Movies More Than 10 Minutes Long


  1. Download the movie and save it in QuickTime as a self-contained file.
  2. Export the movie to QuickTime Movie.
  3. Follow #3 in "Silent Movies More Than 10 Minutes Long" to split the QuickTime movie into two half-movies.
  4. Export both half-movies to DV Stream.
  5. Go back to your original movie (*not* the QuickTime version--it has no sound) and follow #3 in "Sound Movies Less Than 10 Minutes Long" to record its soundtrack to an AIFF file, using Ultra Recorder.
  6. Import the DV Stream files of both half-movies into iMovie. Put them in the timeline one after the other.
  7. Import the AIFF file of the movie's sountrack into iMovie, which will put it into the timeline automatically.
  8. Follow #5 in "Sound Movies Less Than 10 Minutes Long" to crop and synchronize the soundtrack.
  9. Export the movie to your camcorder.
  10. Dub it to VCD.

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