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Video Essay – my first problem!

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I started on the ds106 video assignment today and ran into an issue right away. After ripping a DVD to my hard drive, I wanted to create a few short clips using MPEG Streamclip to test out Windows Movie Maker. Unfortunately, I was getting no picture or sound when trying to play back the VOB file, except when I hit the pause button. This was after installing the quicktime alternative software they recommended. It worked fine for other video files, though, so methinks there is some issue with the codec even though I installed the version they linked to.

Was not interested in spending the afternoon figuring out that one, so instead I reencoded my movie using Handbrake, and now MPEG Streamclip works fine. Yay. I had to fiddle with the settings a little to get something that looked good; what I settled on was the AppleTV Legacy preset using the MPEG-4 codec instead of H.264. The video looks great, and the transcode was fast – it only took about 10 minutes altogether.

Onward and upward.

Update: It turns out that this works way better than MPEG Streamclip for cutting segments out of a video file. Just remember to try Audio->Build VBR Timemap if the audio is out of sync when you play it.

Update 2: Okay, I finally got everything working. Windows Movie Maker is a terrible, terrible program. Sadly, in its most recent incarnation they removed the voiceover feature. There was no way I was going to record the audio in Audacity and import it in… After a little googling, I found Vegas, which is pretty much the bee’s knee’s. Apart from doing way more than I would ever want, it has two crucial features: (1) a super easy voiceover feature, where I can record on a separate track while the movie is playing. It also integrates nicely with Audacity, for noise removal and such. (2) It supports volume envelopes. This makes it trivial to adjust the volume level of the main soundtrack, so I can bring it down for my voiceovers and bring it back up after.

I’m using the free trial right now. But even if it expires, it’s totally worth the $45 to avoid the hassle of having to live in the Mac lab between now and Thursday (I commute). For other windows users in a similar situation, I’d recommend trying it out.

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