Open Video Workbook

Case Study: Preparing Mobile Video for Editing

There is a fantastic opportunity to use video shot my mobile video devices, low cost HD cameras and mobile phones for all sorts of contexts from citizen journalism, to home movies. However, because of the many different devices and the huge numbers of video and audio codecs and containers used it can be very tricky to get these formats to work with different editing programmes.

Case Study by Mick Fuzz. Part of my freelance work involves community based video editing. I find that I have to take a flexible approach to the tools I use based on what is available. One community media client wanted me to edit footage using a relatively old version of Premiere (cs3) on their machines and to incorporate footage from DV cameras, Kodak z18 cameras and a couple of DVDs

The real challenge was how to get the zi8 camera footage into a format that could be use Many Internet searches later I found I was not alone with this problem. 1

I've used many applications to convert video files from one format to another so I went to work. I evaluated or tried, Avidemux, Mpeg streamclip, Handbrake, Virtual Dub, Media Encoder, Super media converter.  None of them were able to do the job. So I tried some work arounds.  I used Mpeg streamclip to create a dv compatible mov file and then tried to convert it to an avi file with Avidemux. My mood progressed from one of interest, to amazement to frustration as the afternoon went on. By the time my partner came back from work I was in a state of desperation.

I don't normally use command line tools as I am primarily a teacher and there are a lot of barriers from students to using them. However after taking part in a couple of Open Video events and reading the manual Introduction to the Command Line, I decided I was going about solving this problem in the wrong way.

With graphical programs, you sometimes hit a limit; you just can't do what you want or you need to find cumbersome work-arounds to program limits. With the command line, you can combine commands to yield a virtually infinite range of new and interesting functions. By combining commands creatively, you can make the command line do exactly what you want; it puts you in control of your computer. 2

The applications that I used and failed with mostly used a command line application called ffmpeg in the background. I decided I wanted to spend a little bit of time to take back control of my computer. After setting myself this challenge I was able to find a two line command that made a successful conversion and did it for every file in the directory. This allowed me to get on with the job and has helped my relationship greatly.

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