View Single Post
Old Dec 15, 2011, 07:12 PM
Tom Frank is offline
Find More Posts by Tom Frank
Dance the skies...
Tom Frank's Avatar
United States, MA, Walpole
Joined Dec 2003
19,008 Posts
#16 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQs are kept updated as new frequent questions come up.

General Camera QuestionsVideo QuestionsAudio QuestionsEditing Issues

The #16 HD key cam outputs files with H.264 video codec, with two different firmware versions for the output container format. The standard firmware uses .MOV format, an Apple implementation, which unfortunately makes it more problematic for editing since some editors will not import this format. Also available is an .AVI firmware, but the implementation has editing issues of it's own due a non-standard .AVI format. But you can re-encode (with slight quality loss) the native non-standard AVI file to a standard AVI format with most any file converter program or editor such as the VirtualDUb or AviDemux editors. The AVI format does offer one advantage over the MOV version, and that is the continuous recorded clips have a one second overlap, so they can be stitched together with an editor to make one long continuous video. This does require overlapping each clip manually with the exact 1 second overlap, though, to eliminate duplicated or dropped frames. If you don't need that overlap, but do need AVI files for editing, the best solution is to shoot in MOV format and convert to AVI with no quality loss using the following conversion tool.

MP4cam2AVI Conversion tool

If you cannot import .MOV format files in your editor, the best way to convert the file is to use the MP4cam2AVI utility available here. It will do a direct stream copy (no recompression) of the source audio and video streams and simply repackage them in an .AVI container which most editors can load. The advantage of this is both speed and quality. Since it is just copying the video and audio streams verbatim without doing any re-encoding, it is very fast... approximately 1 second for each minute of video. And because it does not re-encode, you don't lose any quality.

Some players/editors will not properly decode the direct copied audio, so I usually do re-encode it or turn it off. Selecting one of the .MP3 codecs will produce slightly smaller files.

You'll still need to have the video codec (H.264) on the computer to decode the video, though. The ffdshow codec package mentioned below will provide the codecs if needed. Other tips for using this tool are in this post.

This program can also do some limited re-encoding of the video using the less efficient X-vid video codec, join clips together into one, and trim unwanted beginning and ending sections from videos.

Windows Movie Maker 2012

This latest update to the former Windows Live Movie Maker was released with Windows 8. One significant improvement is it can now output in MP4/h.264 format as well as it's own WMV format. Another significant upgrade is a built-in image stabilization function, however it only functions when running under Windows 8. Other than that one feature, it runs OK under Windows 7. WMM 2012 can be downloaded for free from Microsoft's web site.

If you prefer the look/feel of the old XP WMM with the better capability of the Vista version (v6.0) of WMM, you can also download the latter. Details here.

VideoPad

This is a commercial product, but can be download a free version with most functions activated. It is an easy to use editor similar to the older Windows Movie Maker (before WLMM was released), but it can import/export most common file formats and has a few more bells and whistles, like more than one timeline for videos and overlays which not only work for text, sound tracks, and pictures, but also a second video (i.e. picture-in-picture capability). It will still import most video formats, but will only output in WMV and AVI formats. And you can't use add-ons, like Vdub filters. But for basic editing, it's a good alternative, even in the freeware version. It can be downloaded here.

AviDemux

A decent basic freeware editor that can import and edit the .MOV files directly is AviDemux. It is available in version for Windows, Linux, and Mac. It has similar functionality to VirtualDub, but Vdub can only directly import .AVI files and the H.264 video codec must be added separately.

The latest version of AviDemux can be downloaded from the author's web site here.

An AviDemux user guide is available here.

While this editor does not have the fancy transitions and text tools of WLMM, it has some very powerful filters for visibly improving the color and clarity of the HD key cam video that WLMM cannot do.

Tips and Tricks for editing HD key cam videos with AviDemux

Freemaker Video Converter

This tool can efficiently convert clips from the .MOV format to other formats with other codecs, but unlike the MP4cam2AVI tool, it will re-encode the video, which takes a lot more time and can add a tiny bit of quality loss. But, it adds the ability to also trim out un-wanted sections, rotate/resize videos, join video clips and pictures together. and add a sound track into one final video. While it lacks fancy transitions, video effects, and text titling tools, this may be all that's needed for many people. Buttons to click for direct uploads to YouTube and other hosting sites are also built in. Some tips for using this tool are listed in this post, and the program can be download from here.


Video and Audio Codecs - ffdshow

If your video editor/player does not support the codecs used in the camera's native .MOV file, you will need to add them to your system. The code pack I use and would recommend is ffdshow. This tool is regularly updated to keep it current and/or squash any bugs that might be found.

The latest version of ffdshow can be downloaded here.

Note: The latest revision of ffdshow no longer supports the H.264 video codec for encoding files, but does have the codec for decoding files. If you want to encode with the H.264 video codec, download and install the open source version, x.264vfw, for MS Windows from this source. This gives some info on using the x.264vfw codec with VirtualDub editor, and codec configuration settings that provide good results with #16 video.

Many video players/editors do not support the Apple Quicktime .MOV file format that the HD key cam records. You will need to convert the file from .MOV to a format your software will load. Standard .AVI is usually a universal format for this.

Editing Tips

1. If you are not doing any editing, it's always best to just upload the original from the camera. But if it's a long video (more than 2-3 minutes), it's always best for your viewers to at least trim out redundant or less interesting parts to keep the duration within that guideline.

2. If you are ONLY TRIMMING unwanted sections, you do NOT need to re-encode the video if you use the MOV firmware. You can use free utility software to do trimming with a "direct copy" mode for the video. The file output will go extremely fast since there's no re-encoding, but some formats do not like the native audio from the camera, so I always set audio to re-encode with .mp3 compression for compatibility reasons. The output speed is still much faster than when re-encoding the video.

If you use the camera's .AVI firmware, you can NOT do direct copy video trimming because the camera uses a non-standard AVI format. You will always need to re-encode the video. If you use the MOV firmware, you can do direct copy video trimming using AviDemux editor, or you can "re-package" it first into a standard AVI format (with no quality loss!) using the MP4cam2AVI utility, and then use the Virtual Dub and AviDemux editors, or the Avi Trimmer utility (all are free downloads).

3. If you need to do anything other than trimming, such as adding titles, using special video effects, etc., you will have to re-encode the video. For best quality and smallest file size, keep the h.264 video codec (aka AVC, x.264) and set the data rate to be roughly the same as your original recording. You can easily determine what that was by looking at the file properties (with Windows, right click on the file icon, and select Properties/Details tab).

Alternatively, if using Windows Movie Maker, outputting into .WMV format using the program's "best for this video" choice when selecting the profile to use for outputting the file will give virtually the same video quality (to my eye) with only slightly larger file size. In some case, the motion appears smoother to my eye as well.
Tom Frank is offline Find More Posts by Tom Frank
Last edited by Tom Frank; Today at 03:12 PM. Reason: Added FAQ on toggling on DVR mode for recorded video playback
Reply With Quote