Video Editors for Win7

Discuss about generic usage of MediaCoder.

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meRobs
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Video Editors for Win7

Postby meRobs » Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:41 pm

[Updated: 14 Oct 2013]

We use MediaCoder to convert files into a format and resolution that suits our applications, whether that be a software player, a portable player or device, a DVD or whatever. Some of these files would have been downloaded or captured from TV or a Camera, and it would be great if we could cut out unwanted segments, such as TV commercials, or tidy up home movies.
This is where a Video Editor comes in. It may also be useful to add special video effects, and transitions at any joins, to make the ‘movie’ more interesting. Maybe even join different clips together. However, even professional editors are limited in the supported input formats, so, a further conversion in MediaCoder may be needed (see Section 3, below).

After a reasonably thorough search in Google during Feb 2012, I have described below all those Video Editors that were then available, are truly free, rather than just free to try, and that worked in Win7, my current system. They will most likely work in Windows XP as well -- see an earlier Guide at viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8741&start=0. I did not try online services.

This Guide has the following Sections.
Section 1. General Comment
Section 2. Where to Cut
Section 3. Need for Conversion
Section 4. Lossless Editors
Section 5. Full Editors
Section 6. Others
Section 7. Shift or Change Audio Tempo
Section 8. Audacity (audio editor)

1. General Comment
This Guide covers those free video editors that are capable of simple editing, such as, trimming the ends of a file, the removal of unwanted, intermediate segments (advertising, etc) and the joining of files/clips. Some are capable of more, such as adding effects and transitions and doing picture-in picture.
I was also hopeful of finding an Editor that could correct audio/video sync problems by shifting the audio stream relative to the video and/or stretch or shrink the audio track to change its duration (tempo) relative to the video. See Section 7.

There are also a number of commercial editors for the non-professional, even for as little as $50 to $100, such as those from Zilisoft, VideoPad (Pro version), Nero and Coral, listed from cheapest to dearest. However, these offer little more than the best of the freebies other than extra effects and transitions. Of course, top of the line professional editors like Adobe Premiere Pro can do far more than mentioned above. But they are expensive.

However, if your need for editing is limited or infrequent, a free Video Editor would be ideal, having more than enough features for most users.

2. Where to Cut
When cutting a file at other than an I-frame (Keyframe), there may be a local loss in video quality and problems with audio-video sync. This arises because the frames between the Keyframes, such as B- and P-frames (see viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8599&start=0), have reduced information and rely on the adjacent I-frames to calculate the missing video data. The number of frames between each Keyframe is the GOP, which is small in the MPEG2 (VOB) files from a DVD (typically 12 for PAL). On the other hand, a GOP of 250 is a more common and 300 or more may easily arise, which represents at least 12 sec for a file at 25 fps.

Thus, a large GOP may cause problems. The Pgm may choose to cut at the nearest I-frame, rather than at the chosen frame, or if it accepts the cut at the chosen site, there may be loss in quality in the vicinity of the cut. On the other hand, cutting only at I-frames may be too insensitive (12 sec jumps, say).

Since MediaCoder build 5120, the tabs for FFmpeg and x264, opposite the Video tab, offer an easy means of setting the GOP and, if required, the number of B-frames. Alternatively, these settings may be accessed by clicking either the Encoder button on the Video tab or the ‘Advanced’ button on the R hand tab.

3. Need for Conversion
More often than not, conversion (re-encoding) is needed a number of times: before using a Video Editor, on exporting from the editor and afterwards.
There are two good reasons why conversion may be useful or necessary before feeding the source/original file to a Video Editor:
(1) The format of the source file may not be supported by the Editing Pgm (see below)
(2) The GOP is too large for precise or reliable cutting (see Section 2).
Simple video editors, such as those in section 4, allow editing without re-encoding, whereas, those offering more elaborate editing, in Section 4, do require re-encoding. This is fine if their output format suits the final application, otherwise, it’s a step that has the potential to degrade the video. To minimise this, use the best export format and highest bitrates available.
Finally, the output from the video editor may well need a further conversion – to a format and resolution that suits the intended player or application. The best choice here would be to convert in MediaCoder.

4. Lossless Editors
I found three editors that are intended for simple trimming and cutting, all of which can do lossless editing (no re-encoding). They are: (1) SolveigMM AVI Trimmer 2.0.1201, (2) Free Video Dub 2.0.3 and (3) AVIdemux 2.5.6. The first two have no options to encode.
Each has limitations. For example, SolveigMM accepted only AVI and MKV, although, I found that MKV files were difficult to edit. Also, the program was more cumbersome than the others.

Free Video Dub worked with many formats. For example, I tried small clips created by MediaCoder with Presets defined in the Encoding Guide (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9643) for MPEG4/AVI, Xvid/AVI, MKV, MP4, FLV and MPEG2 as well as MOV and WMV. The edits were easily done and they all worked, but the audio in the edited output for both AVIs and the MPEG2 failed to play in VLC.

On the other hand, AVIdemux is more powerful (see Fig. 1). It can join files with the same video resolution, copy without re-encoding or, if required, convert to other formats and shift the audio in time relative to the video. In my opinion, it has a more user-friendly and useful interface than the other two.

Image

To trim/edit without re-encoding, set “Copy” for the Video and Audio output and ‘Output Format’ set to match the source file. I tried files in MPEG4/AVI, Xvid/AVI, MKV, MP4 and MPEG2 (set Format = MPEG-PS) as well as FLV; and they all worked except for FLV files based on AVC/AAC. Also, version 2.5.6 of AVIdemux had issues when detecting H.264 and B-frames. This was overcome in later versions. For example, version 2.6.5, released in Aug 2013, accepted FLV and MP4 files containing AVC (H.264). So, I tried a variety of FLV and MP4 files by editing at Keyframes and exporting each to MP4, FLV and AVI. The MP4 Muxer and FLV Muxer worked in every case, except that (1) the MP4 Muxer failed for files containing VP6 video (FLV files) with the message: “Only MP4 video and H.264 is supported for MP4” and (2) the FLV Muxer failed to work for files containing AVC video (“Only FLV1 and VP6 is supported for FLV”). On the other hand, the AVI Muxer worked in all cases and every result played in VLC. However, since all files output as MP4 in this version failed to play in VLC I suggest using the AVI Muxer, which will accept the streams from MP4 and the output will play in VLC.

5. Full Editors
I found two freebies that are capable of more than just simple editing. In addition to trimming and cutting-out, they can add video Effects and Transitions, add extra audio tracks as well as join files together, even with different specs. However, neither Pgm can do lossless editing. All exports require conversion!

The more basic of the two is Windows Movie Maker version 2.6, designed for Windows Vista, yet also works in Win7. It is easy to use, but is limited in its input and output options. It accepts DV-AVI, MPEG4-AVI and WMV files for input via Tasks panel > Import Video; and the source file appears in the Collection panel as a number of smaller clips, probably cut at scene changes. If you wish to re-combine them into one file, as I would, R-click > Select All then R-click > Combine. Apart from a number of low-quality options, it outputs to either AVI (DV video with PCM audio) or to WMV at 2.1 Mbps, based on WMV9 with WMA9.2. You may also take frame captures using the Take Picture button on the Preview panel.
Its method of use is similar to that of the XP version as described in viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8429.

On the other hand, VideoPad 2.41 has more features, accepts a larger range of input formats and has more export options. Its GUI is shown in Fig. 2.
There are two versions of VideoPad: the free and the pro. If you get the free version from: http://www.nchsoftware.com/videopad/vpsetup.exe, it will behave as a trial version of the Pro and after 14 days will revert to the free version if not purchased. The free version differs only in the limited output options (see below). On the other hand, if you install the Pro version, it will close down if not purchased. However, uninstalling it via Control Panel (Win7) will offer: “downgrade to the free version”!

Image
It will import AVI (MPEG4 or Xvid, etc), MPEG2, MKV, WMV, FLV, MOV, 3GP, TS and MP4, etc, as well as audio-only files in WAV, MP3, FLAC, etc, but not AC3.
Once a file is loaded into the ‘media List’ panel, a click on it opens it in the Preview where it may have a segment selected via the Red- and Blue-flag buttons (In/Out) and exported to the Timeline (green arrow). Alternatively, the file may be drag/dropped to the Timeline for cutting with the ‘Split’ button and unwanted bits deleted (R click). At the left (right) of each cut there is a green star (white bands), which opens the Effects (Transitions) window. The audio may be unlinked from the video (R-click), moved and have its volume changed. Other audio files may be drag/dropped to parallel tracks. You may also take frame captures using the ‘camera’ button on the Preview panel.

There are 24 video effects available, such as Crop, Rotate, Hue, B&W, Sepia, Old Film, Speed, etc, and 35 Transitions. For example, you can speed up, slow down or reverse the video via ‘Speed’ on the Effects tab (see Fig. 2), beside the Media List tab. On sliding the required percentage, the clip duration adjusts on the Timeline. This will include the audio unless R-click > Unlink Sound Clip is selected. Then, wait for rendering to complete (green render bar) and on “Save Movie” you can make changes to the frame rate. Picture-in-picture effects are easily done by dropping a second clip to the ‘Overlay Track’ (or add text or an image as a logo). Then select it on the Track and in the Preview trim its ends and adjust its Size, Opacity, Fading and position.

The export options for the free version are limited to AVI, WMV, ASF and DVD, which is more than enough. On clicking the Save Movie button, there are 6 groups, including ‘DVD’ and ‘Computer/Disc’. The latter offers a large range from 320x240 pixels to 1920x1080 HD. The highest quality options for AVI have video in H.264, MPEG4, etc, at up to 8192 kbps and audio in MP3 (up to 320 kbps) or PCM, etc. The best WMV options use WMV9 with WMA9.2. For output to DVD, you may add chapters at desired points with a R-click > Set Bookmark.

I suggest that files edited in VideoPad be exported to WMV with video at 8192 kbps and then, to get the desired format, etc, convert the result in MediaCoder, which would give a better quality to size ratio and is far more versatile. This extra step is the price you pay for using a free video editor!

6. Others
There were three editors that I gave up on: (1) Moyea FLV Editor Lite, which was able to cut and trim FLV files, but the output failed to behave properly in VLC; (2) Jahshaka 2.0, which I found cumbersome to use, it often crashed and its monitor misbehaved when scrubbed backwards; (3) ZS4 Video Editor/compositor (and the older version, Zwei-Stein) was counter-intuitive to use and could do little more than minimal editing.

Finally, there was VirtualDubMod (and VirtualDub) which will handle only AVI and MKV, has limited features and would not work ‘out of the box’ on my Win7 system. For example, VDM failed to accept DV-AVI files, captured by Adobe Premiere Pro, and gave the message “cannot locate decompressor for format ‘dvsd’ … requires a Video for Windows (VFW) compatible codec …”! I did not pursue this further because the other editors described here are friendlier.
However, with VDM and VD the video frame rate may be adjusted using. This is equivalent to changing the audio tempo (below) but not as good.

7. Shift or Change Audio Tempo
A simple shift in the entire audio stream earlier or later, relative to the video, is easily done in MediaCoder (Sound tab > Audio Delay), AVIdemux (check ‘Shift’) and VideoPad (move along TimeLine).

However, this may not be enough to fully correct for poor sync, since the degree of lag between the streams may change throughout the clip. In which case, the error should be corrected by a change in audio tempo (speed and duration). The alternative, a relative change in the tempo of the video, can be done in VideoPad (in 1% increments) or in VirtualDubMod and VirtualDub (Video > Frame Rate and then checking “Change so video and audio durations match”), but this is less advisable since it will degrade the video.

If you don’t have a professional Video Editor like Adobe Premiere, one solution would be to access the audio by loading the original video file in Audacity (see below), modify its tempo to the nearest 0.001% and save it as a WMV file, i.e. WMA2, or in a format of your choice.
It would not be practical to load this audio file with the original video file in one of the above editors if you wish to trim or cut because it is not possible to link the audio with the video and, hence, cutting would be cumbersome. The audio needs to be combined with the video first. For example, to use VideoPad: load the original video file, unlink its video, delete the audio track, load the modified audio, place it on a parallel track and export. Then, load the export back into VideoPad for final editing. Too many steps!

It would be better to create the combined file in MediaCoder. Simply load the original video file into MediaCoder, choose your conversion settings and on the Audio tab, click on ‘External File’ to browse to the audio file as modified by Audacity. The output will then contain the modified audio in place of the original.

8. Audacity (audio editor)
Natively, Audacity (a freebie) supports: WAV, AIFF and PCM, as well as Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, MP2 and MP3. To accept the audio from other formats including the audio stream from a video file, install the FFmpeg library. This is done by trying to open/load a video file, click ‘Help’ on the warning message and follow the instructions.

To change the tempo of a clip (change duration while keeping pitch), select the entire clip via Edit > Select > All, then, adjust the tempo via Effect > Change Tempo. In this window change either the percentage change, to the nearest 0.001% or the Length in sec to the nearest 0.01 sec. The original duration is also present for comparison.

To save the result, click File > Export and choose WAV (PCM), OGG, MP2, FLAC, AC3, M4A (AAC) or WMA. For MP3 you would need to use the link to download & install the LAME library.
Have you checked out the Tips & Guides for MediaCoder? Try: http://forum.mediacoderhq.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8061
Also, get older builds at: http://www.videohelp.com/tools/MediaCoder/old-versions#download
meRobs
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Re: Video Editors for Win7

Postby meRobs » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:04 pm

The above Topic has been included as a Guide, listed under Tips & Guides.
If you have any constructive comments or find any faults with what is written, please make these comments known by adding a topic under Basic Discussions.
Thanks
Have you checked out the Tips & Guides for MediaCoder? Try: http://forum.mediacoderhq.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8061
Also, get older builds at: http://www.videohelp.com/tools/MediaCoder/old-versions#download
meRobs
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Re: Video Editors for Win7

Postby meRobs » Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:10 pm

Previously, I had uninstalled the Free version of VideoPad and then, today, I installed the Pro version, to see if it would revert to the Free, if given the chance. It didn't!
The warning Popup offered only Buy or Close down. I chose the latter.
Then, when uninstalling via Control Panel in Win7, there was the option to Downgrade to the Free version.
This worked. So, I modified the above Guide.
Have you checked out the Tips & Guides for MediaCoder? Try: http://forum.mediacoderhq.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8061
Also, get older builds at: http://www.videohelp.com/tools/MediaCoder/old-versions#download

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