Video editing woes

Google Test Automation Conference. In India. Sounds great, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought too, so I applied. For that, though, I had to shoot not only one, but two videos: one explaining the full-length talk I wanted to present, and a video of a lightning talk. As both of them were related to talks, I figured they’d be much better off having the slides on the video when they were referenced. That way the videos would be easier to follow and wouldn’t be just a boring static shot.

But that meant I had to edit video. Which I had never done before. And I figured it wouldn’t be trivial if I only wanted to use Free Software tools under Linux. I was partly wrong, because after looking around a bit I found OpenShot, which I found pleasant enough to use (at least for my very basic, very limited needs). However, the final footage I used made OpenShot export corrupted videos. I know it was something specific to that source video (a MOV format, H.264 codec, EPICly HD resolution (1920x1080) video) because I had tried to do exactly the same things with earlier, lower-resolution, MPEG-format takes, and it had worked like a charm.

In any case, I was sort of fucked because I couldn’t get the final edited video out, so I had to resize it and change the format somehow. I won’t list here everything I tried (that includes trying to download and use several programs on Windows, as well as using mencoder on Linux), but after a very long and frustrating process, only ffmpeg did the trick for me. My first attempt with ffmpeg did export the video, but with awful quality. After looking around a bit, I found what worked for me:

ffmpeg -i original.mov -s hd720 -b 3200k resized.mpeg

The trick to get a decent result was forcing the bitrate (“-b” option), which will hopefully help someone in need. Meanwhile, I’m going to stop typing so I can go back to crossing my fingers to get picked for GTAC ;-)