Ubuntu and video editing

I wanted to post the Paul Crouch Jr interview with Ben Stein onto YouTube, but ran into a few difficulties. Ubuntu Linux came to my rescue, and I’d like to share how I did it.

Crouch has a program on Trinity Broadcast Network, which archives its programs once they air on its website. These are video streams; there is no download option. So I needed a way to capture the stream for later editing.

VLC Media Player allows you capture streaming media to a file. You specify the type of file, the appropriate codecs and the file name. VLC takes care of the rest. After some false starts, choosing the Microsoft (eww!) asf video format gave the best results. I captured the broadband (300K) version of the program, which aired April 21.

YouTube accepts several kinds of video formats, but not asf. The available video editors for Ubuntu (Kino and PiTiVi) also don’t work with asf files, so I had to convert my captured file to either avi or mpg format.

I did both, for kicks, to see what differences there would be in quality. There were virtually none.

I learned that Tovid was the best GUI solution for video conversion. Tovid can also format and burn videos to DVD format, a tool that was not available for Linux until just recently. I used Tovid to convert my asf file to mpeg.

A command-line tool, ffmpeg, did the conversion from mpeg to avi. The avi file was about twice a large as the mpeg, but the quality was pretty close to the same.

I used Kino to edit the avi file. It does its own conversion, into dv format, which creates a huge file. (400 MB to 6 GB in my case). Kino automatically divides a video clip into scenes, which you can then edit and add to the storyboard. It’s pretty powerful, but I limited myself to cutting out material from the program I didn’t want. Since I’ve never used a video editor before, it took me a while to figure out how to use it, but the process is surprisingly intuitive.

Once you’re done editing, Kino allows you to export to DVD, DV, mpeg or other formats. Of course, I chose mpeg for YouTube purposes.

My platform was an Acer laptop, with a P4 1.7 GHz processor and 512 MB. The conversions I did over the weekend, while I slept, so I’m not sure how long they took. The editing with Kino took, in all, about four hours. The rendering process took about 15 minutes for a 30-40 MB per clip.

I have converted video files before, and the final products were generally abysmally bad. These programs, however, gave me files that were acceptable for YouTube sharing. In fact, considering how many conversions each file went through, I was really impressed that the video and audio were still in synch and the video quality did not get degraded.

In a weak moment, I tried to perform the same conversion/editing using Microsoft Movie Maker. It crashed. Need I see more?

1 thought on “Ubuntu and video editing”

  1. To learn more about toVid and toVid gui follow http://www.tovid.org/

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