March 22, 2006

Raging Hair Power

Meet Pinky. A superhero with an unusual super-power.

You can see it larger on Google Video.

This weekend project was our family's first video experiment with our Panasonic GS 150 and iMovie.

Some tips on codecs and playing with the GS150 and iMovie after the link...

Taping the video was only half the fun. Anthony spent all day trying out all the video effects in iMovie with me. (Yes, the crazy raging hair video effects were made by a seven-year-old and his dad. Can you tell?)

Some tips and observations, from a newbie user:

  • A tripod is helpful.
  • The GS150 comes with USB and Firewire support. But I couldn't get USB do do anything with the Mac. Firewire worked flawlessly. You'll need a Firewire cable like this to do the job.
  • You import from your DV camera by just playing it with Firewire attached. iMovie will actually press the "play" button for you and it also seems to know where all the scene cuts are, so it can divide your video into clips. You just walk away and come back when it's done importing.
  • iMovie is pretty helpful with audio as well as video. Right-click to "Show clip volume levels" to edit fade-in and fade-out of the various audio tracks. Doing things like letting audio overlap between video scene cuts seems to improve continuity.
  • When exporting your movie, not all codecs are created equal. Although every format I tried exporting from iMovie worked great with Quicktime 7 on OSX, most of the codecs I tried would not display video on a Windows computer with Quicktime 6 installed - I found that MPEG-4 seemed to work best. To export from iMovie HD to MPEG-4 you need to select "Expert" options during the export.
  • I used Apple's built-in MPEG-4 encoder. The best way to produce MPEG-4 is apparently to use the 3ivx toolset instead for better compression and quality. However, 3ivx is not yet available on Intel Macs. (The folks at 3ivx were nice enough to refund my $20 after I discovered this the hard way. I will definitely buy it when the Intel version comes out.)

Encoded at a pretty high-quality MPEG-4 stream, my video was a humungous 60mb. The problem with posting a video that size is that it would probably cream the bandwidth limits from my ISP. I know I could have compressed it more aggressively to make it smaller. But I can't run 3ivx on my Mac mini, and besides, when scrunching down the compression in videos, the quality difference is noticable.

Google Video to the rescue! It only took a few minutes to upload the video last night. You then have to wait a while for it to be "approved" - the Google Video team apparently needs some time to make sure it's not porn or piracy. But the wait was not long for me. This morning our little home movie was already live.

When you go to the video page, it has a "Put on site" link that generates embedded HTML to use. You can edit the size of the <embed> tag to whatever you need - I shrunk it down to 320 x 267 (for a 320x240 image - it looks like the bottom controls are about 27 pixels high).

Yay, video! Not too hard.

Posted by David at March 22, 2006 05:39 AM
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