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Editing video AVI for web clips

Posted on 2003-11-12
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Can someone recommend the best software to edit video files (AVI) into highly compressed web clips? We have a digital camera which takes several minutes of video but even at the lowest pixel resolution it gives files of several MB per minute. The camera came with a software package called Video Impression but even with tiny frame size and minimum audio quality we are still averaging 1MB per minute.

Alternatively, can someone direct me to an online resource with a good briefing on this issue? We are working in Windows, Windows Video format is OK - we want the format used by the most commonly used media players. I am not convinced that QuickTime is the one we want to aim at.
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Question by:dleeming
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by:CharlesBukowski
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You may do better with a DivX encoder, but the file wouldn't be very accessable. The downloader would need the DivX codec. I suppose you could give a link, the codec is free. The encoder costs either money or adware, your choice.

www.divx.com

WMV is a good choice, but once again the downloader may require a codec update.

WMV codec
www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/format/codecdownload.aspx

WMV encoder
www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/9series/encoder/default.aspx

ASF (advanced steaming format) has been around for sometime and is playable in windows media player 6.4 and later versions. The ASF format does not compress as well as WMV.  

wmtools.exe is the ASF encoder
http://on.msnbc.com/home/technical/streamingvideo.asp

This is a tutorial on using wmtools.exe to make an asf
www.dvdrhelp.com/toasf

Also, www.dvdrhelp.com is an excellent site for researching digital video.

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by:weed
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Please do NOT use DivX. It's about as non-standdard and problematic as you can get. Same for WMV or ASF. If youre going to do it right and present it on the web, stick to standards like MPEG-4 (which incidentally was based heavily on the QT file format) and is playable in any media player worth its salt. Even QT Pro will do a decent job compressing an MPEG-4 video down to a reasonable size.
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by:CharlesBukowski
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WMV and ASF are MPEG-4 http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;316992#34

WMV and ASF non-standard? Where does that come from? ASF can be played on over 90% of the computers in the world ( http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=4632 ). If thats not standard, that I'd like to know what is. WMV can be played on any computer that has a windows media player (Once again, over 90% of the world). Yes, the player may take a moment to download the codec needed, but it does it automatically. Nobody has to search it down.




   
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by:weed
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Absolutely not. WMV and ASF are definitely NOT MPEG-4. Even MS MPEG-4 isnt ISO standard MPEG-4. Nor is DivX, or any of its variants. They all descended from VERY early pre-release versions of MPEG-4 well before the standard went through its transition from an AVI base to a Mov base. Believe it or not, WMP does a terrible job of downloading the proper codec. Only have to watch the Experts Exchange threads for any amount of time to see how many people have problems playing videos with non-standard encoding.
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by:CharlesBukowski
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I know you own an apple and seem to favour anything that has to do with apple. Regretfully, your answer doesn't seem to mesh with his request for information.

From dleeming,
> we want the format used by the most commonly used media players. <

The most common media player is Windows Media Player. Windows Media Player does not have problems downloading the WMV codec. . There are formats like AVI and MPEG-2, where people will have a problem with Windows Media Player and downloading codecs because the codecs either cost money or they are proprietary and Microsoft doesn't have permission to distribute the codec. The WMV codec is free and is microsoft's "STANDARD" and to say that WMP has a problem downloading the WMV codec is a complete mistruth.

PS. The recent WMPs won't play mov or mp4.

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by:weed
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No, WMP has a problem with most if not all the DiivX codecs. I dont think theyre even in the WMP codec library TO download.

Again, if youre going to distribute video on the web, use ISO standard formats. Not "standards" as deemed by one company. MPEG-1, or 4 are best. They are ISO standard, most players will play them, and you dont HAVE to have WMP to play them. By using WMV youre restricted to a single player. NEVER a good idea when trying to reach the masses.
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by:CharlesBukowski
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< There are formats like AVI and MPEG-2, where people will have a problem with Windows Media Player and downloading codecs because the codecs either cost money or they are proprietary and Microsoft doesn't have permission to distribute the codec. >

DivX is AVI, I don't remember mentioning that DivX AVI was not a problem with WMP.

A 10MB WMV would be around 55+MB if encoded in MPEG-1. Again, this suggestion is not meshing with the original question.

Considering the large majority of the people on the internet have a WMP, to distribute the video with MOV or MP4 would be alienating the majority of the audience. Remember, WMP doesn't play MOV or MP4.

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by:CharlesBukowski
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Just to clarify:

Global usage of operating systems

Microsoft 97%.
Apple's Macintosh 1.49%
Linux  0.51%
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by:weed
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No, DivX is NOT AVI. AVI is a container format and CAN be encoded with any number of encoders, including DivX.

A 10mb WMV would not be 55mb encoded as MPEG-1. The size of the video depends on the bitrate to quality ratio.

By encoding as WMV you're using a PROPRIETARY format. Period. You're alienating EVERYONE who doesnt have WMP. By using a standard video format youre not alienating anyone.

I think your numbers are a TAD skewed. Sounds like MS propaganda.
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by:CharlesBukowski
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No, (hehe)

#1 - I said < There are formats like AVI and MPEG-2, where people will have a problem with Windows Media Player and downloading codecs because the codecs either cost money or they are proprietary and Microsoft doesn't have permission to distribute the codec. > Clearly indicating that a format like AVI may have problems with the WMP

#2 - For some reason, you respond < No, WMP has a problem with most if not all the DiivX codecs. I dont think they're even in the WMP codec library TO download. > Clearly, you are trying to say that I said something incorrect.

#3 - Because I didn't say the DivX didn't have problems with WMP, I respond < DivX is AVI> See, that was to clarify, that I already mentioned there was a problem with AVI. Yes, I guess you could misunderstand that to mean that all AVI is DivX, but then that  means you would also have to assume that I was unware of the multiple other encoders for AVI, but doesn't my responce to the original question suggest otherwise? <Can someone recommend the best software to edit video files (AVI) into highly compressed web clips?> Wouldn't I have thought, "Well it's already AVI, so that means it DivX." But no, I didn't say that. What I said was  < You may do better with a DivX encoder >. Can you make the connection or do I have to explain it to you further?

< A 10mb WMV would not be 55mb encoded as MPEG-1. The size of the video depends on the bitrate to quality ratio. >

Sure, you could get it lower than 55MB, but the quality would be poor. The calculations I used were for good quality. The same quality that the 10MB WMV would have displayed.

Weed, exactly what format are you suggesting. You mentioned before either mpeg-1 or mepg-4. Mpeg-1 isn't a good option because of the file sizes and mpeg-4 (mov or mp4) is going to be worse than wmv because most people use the WMP and WMP doesn't play MOV or MP4.

 
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by:weed
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You can try to spin it any way you like, he said-she said, etc etc. Whatever. When you say something like "DivX is AVI" on a discussion board like this you better say what you mean and mean what you say.

"Quality" is highly subjective. An MPEG-1 and a WMV at the same bitrate will have different qualities. One may be better at higher bitrates, and another may be better at lower bitrates. One may be better with faster motion video, and one may be better with slower motion video. So to distill it down to "a 10mb WMV is the same as a 55mb MPEG-1 is misleading.

Regardless of file size you need to stick to standards. We have standards for a reason. So everyone can see it! Even if you have a slightly larger MPEG-1, it's worth it. A REALLY tiny WMV isnt worth a hill of beans if a chunk of your audience cant view it. I think Microsofts failure to adopt MPEG-4 (other than their own non-standard MS MPEG-4) is pretty lame. Don't fall victim to their weird spin.
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by:CharlesBukowski
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Sorry. Your right. I better make myself clearer. I should consider those people with a poor reading comprehension level.

The Mpeg-1 info I provided was an approx.. I was just trying to communciate what he/she would be encountering. Are you trying to suggest that an WMV wouldn't be substantially smaller in file size than the same file encoded with Mpeg-1? Are you suggesting WMV doesn't encode good quality video (because launch.yahoo.com would prove you wrong)?

My suggestion of using the WMV or ASF format was in responce to the original request.  < we want the format used by the most commonly used media players. > Windows Media Player, RealOne Player, Winamp and many others play WMV and ASF. Considering Windows Media Player is already installed and ready to be used on the vast majority of the computers in the world, I thought WMV was the appropriate answer.    

< Regardless of file size you need to stick to standards >

dleeming's question indicates he/she is concerned about the file size.
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by:weed
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Uh, nothing to do with poor reading comprehension. Everything to do with explaining something in a way that people can understand what you're trying to say.

WMV's encoding is fine, non-standard, but fine. So are LOTS of other encoding methods. Including methods that are STANDARD.

File size is meaningless if youre using non-standard media. You can still get small files, AND standard files. Get the cake, and eat it too.
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by:daluu
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Sigh, we're still quite a while away from achieving true web video standards regarding MPEG-4. So until we get that, it's still a matter of preference and target (media player / coverage) user base.

Too bad no one suggested Real Video. It may or may not be most common to whoever, but in my experience offers the best compression rates from 1/10 to 1/100 the size of original file. Best performance in low bandwidth streaming. Even streams over standard HTTP servers in real time.

Windows Media does a decent and sometimes better job than Real Player in high bandwidth streaming but needs the Windows Media Server.

Like weed, I think Quicktime isn't so bad. If file size can 1MB-50MB, Quicktime is good choice for quality video as why do you think the Movie Industry uses the format for movie trailers? Of course, you have to download the file to watch them. They don't really stream, but you get quality. Quality can be compromised a bit to compress the video.

Just offering my 2 cents. :-)
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by:dleeming
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My question, guys, was what is the best commonly available SOFTWARE to COMPRESS the files into web clips. The finished clips can be AVI or MPEG-4. Now how do I compress thpose large files?
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by:CharlesBukowski
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It's free. Requires OS Windows Xp or Windows 2000 to use.

www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/9series/encoder/default.aspx

If you have another version of windows, let me know and I'll hunt down the Version 8 encoder which runs on all windows systems.

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by:CharlesBukowski
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If you have an avi encoder. You can use virtualdub to to do the editing and begin the encoding.

www.virtualdub.org

You set the encoder by going into video > compression
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by:weed
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RealVideo was great a few years ago, but nowadays you get groans every time someone suggests it..heh. It's become the "flaming text" of the video world. Bit of a black sheep.

Quicktime does actually stream. That's what QuickTime Streaming Server is about. Lots of other ways to do it too but the means are definitely there. The Macworld keynote is streamed for example.

The QuickTime file format is just like AVI only somewhat more robust. The quality and size of the movie depends completely on the codec used to compress it. An uncompressed AVI and an uncompressed MOV are almost identical in size. The codec used to compress either format will really determine your compatibility.

As for compressing video, there are lots of tools. Remember that "commonly available" doesn't necessarily mean the best. You could use QT Pro or the windows media encoder, which are both readily available and used frequently, but for larger projects such as yours you probably want something a little more robust and professional. You dont need top of the line but something more than the "mom and pop" version of an encoder would be good. I know alot of the Windows folk like TMPGEnc.
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by:CharlesBukowski
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TMPGEnc is used for MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 encoding. Yes, you can output an avi file with TMPGEnc, but TMPGEnc is used  for preparing files for burning a VCD, SVCD or DVD. TMPGEnc is on the low end of the spectrum for encoding, and is popular because it's basic version is free and it's full version is fairly cheap at $60-$70.

You can find it here: www.tmpgenc.net

You can try out some of the mid end encoders.

Adobe Premier 30 day trial (requires xp or 2000)
www.adobe.com/products/tryadobe/main.jhtml

Ulead Media Studio Pro
www.ulead.com/msp/runme.htm

I use Video Studio Pro. You can encode to a variety of formats including WMV (windows), MOV (quicktime) and RM (realone). However, I noticed that the WMV is version 8, so I would guess both encoders for MOV and RAM may not be the most current releases.

It's not a very straight foward set up. Takes some playing around to figure things out. Basicly import your video at the bottom toolbar by pressing the filmstrip right below "Timeline". Export (encode) from the top toolbar by pressing the button that looks like a film strip drapped over a floppy disk with a little yellow star.

Also, after pressing the export button and choosing the encoding method, be sure to check options, because they seem to be set at the lowest levels by default.
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by:daluu
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Well, if you want to keep the format in AVI or have it be MPEG-4, then any software that supports those formats will do. Rather it's the codecs that matter then. And unfortunately, there are both standard and nonstandard codecs one can use.

An example of AVI compression: you open the file, re-save or export - selecting the codec you want, video & audio compression level, and other similar settings. To get MPEG-4, you will need to save as or export to that format. The quality and file size will depend on your compression settings and codec you use. You can further clean up the video & audio with a video editor to take out unnecessary stuff (but I'm not a expert there) before compressing to make the final product even smaller.

For codecs I think Divx is good, you can also try the host of MPEG-4's out there. But they are all non-standard and user will usually have to get the codec. Or go with the Quicktime MPEG-4 format, but only Quicktime has built-in support for it, so other players will need codec also, I think, or is it not? Weed would have more knowledge there.

For standard codecs, you will need to use the ones already on your system or from your video editor by default like Intel Indeo, Radius (or something like that), etc. But their compression may not be as efficient.

Or get commercial or free apps suggested above to encode in MPEG-1 or 2, as the final file size is about 1/3 the size of an AVI.

For smallest file size though, I personally, would go with Real Video, choosing the highest bit-rate setting but then not stream it and just make it available for download.

Some software I've used and would suggest: Virtualdub, Premiere, Personal AVI Editor, Quicktime Pro (quicktime also does AVI)

Last, if one has time, the best thing to do is fiddle around with the various software and codecs and see what's good and not. Firsthand experience!
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by:daluu
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and for you large source video problems. have you tried reducing the frame rate? normal is about 30fps I think but you can always go lower and see if it's still ok in quality. that could really shrink file size. though I don't know if your default video editor has that capability.

oh, and I forgot, another method: extract audio from video, edit (if needed) and compress with audio codecs, then import back into video (I'm not sure, that may require you to remove the original audio or split audio video then take the standalone video and recombine with compressed audio). That should give you smaller size. Then compress video file as a whole with a video codec. Try that, it may shrink your video file some amount.
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by:weed
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DivX, for all intents and purposes, is about equal to MPEG-4, (it was based off an early MPEG-4 afterall) but it's problem is that there are so many *ivx variants, and versions that finding the right codec to view a certain video is a nightmare. You just never know which variant was used to encode the thing.

There are several non-standard MPEG-4 variants floating around like 2 different versions of MS MPEG-4 based off the same code as DivX was based off. The REAL DEAL MPEG-4, or as close as you can get, is the one that comes with QuickTime. I don't know which other players for windows come with MPEG-4. If you encode an ISO MPEG-4 with all the "idiot proof" functions enabled it should play in WMP but that's like driving an automatic sportscar. Tears the guts right out of it and you might as well use something else...Like MPEG-1 which even the poorest players will deal with.
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by:daluu
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hey weed, would you be able to offer any pointers on how to encode a standard MPEG-4 using Quicktime or its codec? I've converted a simple AVI to MPEG-4 in QT 6 Pro (on Windows) and used the "Basic" setting which uses ISMA Profile 0 to play in the widest range of devices, according to Quicktime. Would that be it?

Too bad it wouldn't play in WM Player 6.4 or 7. It didn't even ask to search for codecs. Darn MS. I didn't get to test on WM Player 9 yet tho. A quick test on Real Player 8 required codec download which is OK but the download was too big (8MB) for me to go through the complete test. I would try some more later. Last quip for now, the resulting MPEG-4 was slightly bigger than the original, as the conversion made my 8bit audio to 16bit I could only change to Mono instead of Stereo but not the bit rate in QT 6 Pro.
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by:daluu
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oh, regarding the last quip, I forgot to mention the source AVI file was only 500kb, so that's probably why the MPEG-4 didn't actually shrink it, but larger files usually would end up smaller.
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by:weed
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It's been a while since I've used the QT Player to do an MPEG-4. Usually I use Compressor which is part of FinalCut Pro and I'm on the road right now away from my FCP machine so I cant check the settings. The last time I did it though it did manage to play on my master instructors WMP.

The size of your result was probably due to too high a bitrate. Use MPEG-4 audio, and drop your bitrate down to something reasonable. Also choose an appropriate framerate and bitrate for the video. Pretty hard to get a larger MPEG-4 than an uncompressed AVI.
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by:daluu
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guess, I may need a more sophisticated tool than QT 6 Pro for that then. Thanks for the tips. As for the AVI, it was already compressed with Cinepak at 70 or 80 percent quality beforehand, and yea the bitrate & framerate was less than the MPEG-4 output by QT which may attribute to the difference.
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by:weed
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QT Pro is pretty good but it does lack some of the more advanced features that can help make your files even higher quality and smaller size. You can control the framerate, bitrate etc though so you should have been able to get it smaller than the AVI.
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by:dleeming
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Which software is best for compressing an AVI file into MPEG 1,2 and 4 as options?
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by:weed
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There are so many. Media Cleaner, and Compressor (part of FCP) are both top of the line and provide the most options for tweaking.
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CharlesBukowski earned 50 total points
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What you should be looking for is a program that can do a double pass variable bitrate (VBR) compression. You'll have the lowest file size by compressing with this method.

www.tmpgenc.net will do Mpeg-1 and Mpeg-2 with double pass VBR. What minimum rate to choose will depend on the resolution and the amount of movement within the video.

I've used windows media encoder version 8, which offers double pass VBR. I would guess that version 9 has the same ability.

www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/9series/encoder/default.aspx
 
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