I'm having an inconsistent problem when importing MPEG-2 footage from a range of Sony HDD recorders into iMovie 11 on 10.6.8-based Macs.

When connected, the removable drive in the camera mounts on the desktop, which appears in System Profiler with the appropriate make and model shown, and is browsable through Finder and can be used to directly copy content from. When loading iMovie's Import from Camera window, it spends a minute or two 'looking for cameras and devices' with the camera's model (Sony DCR-SR58E) noted underneath. Once this dialog box disappears, where you would normally expect it to be followed by the 'Generating poster images' progress bar, nothing happens and the import process stops. When starting the 'Import from Camera' process again, iMovie will instantly tell you no camera is connected, despite the mounted drive still being available on the desktop.

This is happening across a range of hardware, with a range of similar cameras, including:
  • Sony DCR-SR57E
  • Sony DCR-SR58E
  • Macbook Pro 3,1
  • MacMini 2,1
  • iMac 9,1
  • iMac 10,1
  • iMac 12,1

However, this is an inconsistent problem, as the cameras work properly on other hardware:
  • Macbook 5,1
  • MacMini 3,1

...and newer versions of the same cameras (DCR-SR58EX) still work perfectly and are recognised by iMovie straight away on all Macs.

All Macs tested (both working and not working) are running the same version of OS X (10.6.8 10K549 / Darwin 10.8.0) and are all up to date with current Software Updates.

I have tried as much as I can think of to resolve this:

  • Removing 'com.apple.iMovieApp.plist' from '~/Library/Preferences'
  • Removing 'Cache.db' from '~/Library/Caches/com.apple.iMovieApp'
  • Removing 'captureHistory.db' from '~/Library/Application Support/iMovie'
  • Removing 'captureHistory.db-journal' from '~/Library/Application Support/iMovie'
  • Restarting all hardware
  • Resetting system PRAM
  • Creating a brand new user account
  • Connecting the camera before booting the computer
  • Connecting the camera after booting the computer
  • Connecting the camera before loading iMovie
  • Connecting the camera after loading iMovie
  • Ensuring all available updates are installed
  • Repaired permissions on OS disks
  • Checked Console.app for errors (I could find surprisingly little logged regarding USB/iMovie actions)

...but have yet to have any success or identify any patterns as to what works and what does not.
Can anybody shed some light?