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Convert video for iMovie

You need to include the argument -pix_fmt yuv420p to generate H.264 content for Apple software/devices, and a bunch of other decoders that don’t handle yuv444p.

Terminal window
ffmpeg -i input.avi -pix_fmt yuv420p output.mp4

Apple added ProRes support sometime in late 2014 since iMovie 10 you can use follow code:

Terminal window
ffmpeg -i input.avi -c:v prores -c:a pcm_s16le

Formats compatible with macOS Catalina:

Video formats:

  • Apple Animation Codec
  • Apple Intermediate Codec
  • Apple ProRes
  • AVCHD (including AVCCAM, AVCHD Lite, and NXCAM)
  • DV (including DVCAM, DVCPRO, and DVCPRO50)
  • H.264
  • HDV
  • HEVC
  • iFrame
  • Motion JPEG (OpenDML only)
  • MPEG-4 SP
  • Photo JPEG
  • XAVC-S

Container formats: 3GP, AVI, M4V, MOV (QuickTime) and MP4 Audio formats: AAC, AIFF, BWF, CAF, MP3, MP4, RF64 and WAV

More information about incompatible media in iMovie for macOS