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Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

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Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby rtk1958 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:07 pm

Hi All,

Just finished taking a few gigabytes worth of 1080Px1920 full-HD video encoded as .MP4 files and am in the process of coverting all the files to AVI using Streamclip as recommended in the Muvipix guide to Premiere Elements 7. Had a couple questions though as this is my first time through this process:

1. I assume the Streamclip AVI conversion setting of "Interlaced" pertains to the encoded AVI output, not the progressive 1080P input MP4 file, so the "Interlaced" setting for AVI conversion is correct?

2. Have set the compression to DV/DVCPRO_NTSC as directed in the Muvipix guide. The resolution Streamclip shows for this compression setting is 720x480, the input MP4 resolution is 1080x1920. Despite being downsampled considerably to a lower resolution, the AVI files being generated are about 50% larger than their corresponding 1080P MP4 input files. Is this normal/expected?

3. Lastly, as I mentioned I have gigabytes of footage and there are some AVI files in the 2-3GB size range. Will Premier El 7 have problems with importing and handling such large files?

Thanks in advance,
Todd
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby Steve Grisetti » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:14 pm

I'm not sure the old rules apply when you're working with MP4 video from a smartphone or other portable device, Todd. I'm not sure we've yet found a solution for converting the video to make it editable in Premiere Elements. Converting it to 720x480 DV might make it work -- but it might also bring in a whole bunch of other issues.

What make and model and type of device is this video from?

Until Premiere Elements is designed to work with this type of video, your best solution might be to edit it in Quicktime Pro, a $29 download from Apple.com. Since MP4s we designed using a lot of Quicktime technology, they'll likely edit very nice in there. And it also may well be able to output it in a format Premiere Elements can work with. (Which format you convert it to depends on how you plan to use the video: On YouTube? On DVD? On BluRay? For viewing on a iPad? etc.)
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby rtk1958 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:07 pm

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the info and quick response.

The MP4 files are generated by my new GoPro Hero2 action camera commonly seen these days mounted on surfboards, airplanes, automobiles, offroad vehicles, underwater gear, on people's chests, and helmets. In my case, mounted on my helmet as I was taking footage while riding my motorcycle. I will be very disappointed if it turns out that for all of PrEl's capabilities that I won't be able to use it to edit footage from the GoPro.

Streamclip is converting the MP4 files to AVI ok, although with some impact to quality since they are being downsampled so much in resolution, but still decent and watchable as AVI's. Do you think PrEl will handle the converted AVI files ok? As I mentioned, some of them are 2-3GB in size. The Muvipix guide made it very clear that AVI is the best format for use in PrEl. Since I have the footage in AVI now, it should work, right?

When you suggested using Quicktime Pro to "edit" the MP4 file, did you mean to use it to edit/create my production video instead of PrEl, or just to use it to convert the MP4 to PrEl compatible files. I really really want to use PrEl. When you mentioned that Quicktime Pro might be able to output MP4 to a format PrEl can work with, I thought that that format was AVI. So, since Streamclip is converting the MP4 files to AVI files, which are the recommended PrEl friendly format, shouldn't that do the trick?

From page 23 in the "Muvipix Guide to Adobe Premiere Elements 7", paragraph in the middle of the page it states:

"The newest type of high definition video is an even more highly compressed format called AVCHD, which stores video data as MPEG4s. Version 7 is the first version of Premiere Elements designed to work with these files."

Based on this it sounds like maybe I don't need the AVI's at all and can import and edit directly form the MP4 files?

The book does go on to mention that extra horsepower is needed to work with MPEG4 files and states in the appendix that one would need an Intel duo-core platform running at 2.0GHz, 4GB of RAM, and 128MB video card. That pretty much describes what's in my PC (laptop) so should have the horsepower needed although bit of an undersized monitor. You think I should just try to work with the MP4 files directly in PrEl 7?

Regarding your last comment about how I plan to use the video, isn't that a choice that's made after editing the video in PrEl and the final production is ready for sharing in one of the PrEl supported output formats? I would want to post to Youtube and burn to DVD using the appropriate output format for each, both of which I did with my slideshow productions. Would just create two output files, one for DVD and the other for Youtube.

Anyway, sorry for all the questions. Trying to figure all this out. :???: I'm very motivated to edit my GoPro footage in PrEl if at all possible.

Thanks for all your good advice and help, it's greatly appreciated.
Todd
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby Steve Grisetti » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:53 pm

Premiere Elements 9 and 10 work very well with AVCHD. And, as the book says, AVCHDs are H.264/MP4s. But not all MP4 files are AVCHD -- and that's the case with Go Pro footage, which uses some specific codecs that give most people a lot of trouble. Bill Hunt has some great suggestions for working this video in his discussion.
http://forums.adobe.com/thread/668369?tstart=0

Meantime, I do consider the decision of how you plan to distribute the video one that needs to be made pretty early in the production process, since everything that happens in the editing room depends on it. The things you need to consider if you plan to post this video to YouTube are very different than the things you need to consider if you're going to make DVDs -- and those are very different than the things you need to consider if you're making a BluRay.
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby RJ Johnston » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:07 am

Have you tried converting your GoPro videos to AVI or MOV using GoPro's Cineform Studio, available for free from : http://gopro.com/3d-cineform-studio-software-download/

While Cineform Studio is intended for GoPro's 3D video, you can still use it to convert batches of your GoPro video to AVI or MOV files coded with the Cineform codec. Those load right in to Premiere Elements and other editors, and are excellent quality.

These are the simple steps:
1. Import new files into Cineform Studio.
2. Click on "Advanced Settings" and select the format you want to convert to, either MOV or AVI, frame size, frames per second, and some other settings.
3. Select the files you have imported on the left side, then over on the right side, click the "Add Selected to Conversion List" button.
4. Finally click the "Convert All" button.

Those files should load into Premiere Elements. They work in the DSLR project templates and don't generate red lines when you add them to the timeline.

If you uninstall Cineform Studio, you won't be able to edit the converted files because the Cineform codec is uninstalled.
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby rtk1958 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:52 pm

Hi RJ,

Thanks for the response. Actually, just today I started using GoPro's Cineform Studio to convert the GoPro 1080P MP4 files to various resolutions of AVI. Wanted to see how much quality would suffer at lower resolutions since at the higher resolutions the output AVI files are much bigger than the MP4 files and the MP4 files are big enough. Used Cineform to convert all the way down to NTSC 884x480. All resolutions looked pretty good, even the 884x480. May be imagining things, but for some reason the NTSC 884x480 didn't seem quite as sharp or had quite as much contrast as the higher-res AVI conversions. Not sure why Cineform converts to 884x480 NTSC, all resolutions closest to that in PrEl are 720x480. Not sure if that's going to be a problem as there are no presets in PrEl for 884x480. Not sure which PrEl 7 preset would be best if I decide to go with the NTSC 884x480 AVI files converted by Cineform. Maybe I could customize a preset using the info from the Adobe forum Steve pointed me to yesterday to support 884x480. Have no idea, but worth a try I suppose.

What were you referring to when you mentioned the "DSLR project templates". Not sure exactly what those are. Are they pre-configured PrEl project templates? Where do I find them?

Thanks again for your advice, didn't realize it'd be so hard getting my first video project off the ground. :???:

Todd
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby RJ Johnston » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:11 am

I probably should have said "project presets" instead of "project templates." Anyway, here are the DSLR project presets you can select in Premiere Elements 10.

Premiere Elements 10 Project Presets.jpg


I don't have a GoPro camera, but I do have a few video clips I've downloaded. The one I was trying was 1280x720p60. There is a project preset for those dimensions and frame rate. There isn't one for 848x480, so I would select the 720p 60 preset to work with the 848x480 clips, which is widescreen and has square pixels and is progressive. If your frame rate is 30 or 29.97, then Premiere Elements will be creating duplicate frames to fill up 60 fps. I don't think this will be a problem when you share your video at 30 fps because Premiere Elements will just remove the duplicate frames it created for the editing environment. Just make sure to make a practice run with some short clips to make sure the workflow will work before investing a lot of time on the project. In Premiere Elements you won't be able to change to a different preset in midstream.
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby rtk1958 » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:17 pm

Wow, way too many options! #-o

Anyway, after some experimentation, this is what I think I'm going to do, need a sanity check:

1. Have PrEl 7 (not 10) so don't have the DSLR presets. Could upgrade to 10, but think 7 can work too. Below are the PrEl 7 presets:

[img]http:://C:\Todd3\Video%20Shows\Test%201\PrEl%207%20Presets.jpg[/img]

Recall that the GoPro creates 1080P MP4 files. I chose 1080P since it's the only setting where the narrow field of view option is available on the GoPro.

2. Use GoPro's Cineform editor to convert the 1080P MP4 files to 720x1280 AVI files.

Note: this creates AVI files 4x the size of the input MP4 file. I'm guessing/hoping this won't be a problem since PrEl doesn't import/store the entire file into memory, rather opens the file and reads a frame to use for a thumbnail, and reads the video content from disk when needed. Plan to use PrEl's clip editor to extract small clips out of all these very large files anyway. It's just the small clips that wind up on the PrEl timeline and thus must be stored in memory. At least that's what I'm thinking.

3. Choose the PrEl 7 project preset: "HDV 720p 30" which matches the AVI file's frame size and rate. With this preset, the AVI files played smoothly in PrEl's clip editor and preview pane, better than the previous 884x480 AVI files.

4. For output of the finished product for playback on a PC, chose MPEG format with the "HD 720P 30" output preset. This looked good on the PC. Could optionally use output preset "NTSC DVD Widescreen" for burning to DVD.

Sound good? Am I missing any "gotchas" here?

One last question, in my test project, I just created two clips, dragged them to the timeline end to end, and applied the Cross Dissolve transition to the clips. I noticed that during the dissolve, when you can see parts of both clips in the preview monitor, only one clip is actually moving. That is, until the CTI indicator has reached the first frame of the 2nd clip on the timeline, only the 1st clip is moving eventhough you can see the first frame of the 2nd clip in the monitor, but it's just a still image. Once the CTI reaches the 2nd clip, the first clip stops moving and the 2nd clip starts moving. I would have expected to see both clips moving simultaneously throughout the dissolve. Is this expected or a sign that something is still amiss?

Thanks for all your help,
Todd
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby Bob » Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:15 pm

I noticed that during the dissolve, when you can see parts of both clips in the preview monitor, only one clip is actually moving.


That's what happens if you don't trim the end of the first clip and the beginning of the second clip. The Transition uses that trimmed material to create the transition. If you don't have trimmed material, a single frame will be repeated and that clip will appear to be frozen. See the free tutorial ib-Premiere Elements 8 Basic Training, Adding Transitions (pt 4). It's located on this page: http://www.muvipix.com/products.php?subcat_id=44 Don't worry that it's for PrE 8, it still applies for PrE 7.
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby rtk1958 » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:05 pm

Ah, thanks Bob, I knew that. ;)

My ignorance is showing once again.
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby RJ Johnston » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:05 am

Your workflow worked for me, but there is a gotcha when going from 1280x720 to DVD 720x480 widescreen. The video will not fill the entire frame. There will be thin vertical black bars on the left and right hand sides. You can see this more clearly if you put a red color matte on video track 1, and put video clip on video track 2. Share to an MPEG file using the DVD 720x480 widescreen preset. Play that back in Windows Media Player. You will see red bars on the left and right sides. To get around this, turn off the "scale to frame size" option on each of your 1280x720 video clips. You can select mulitple clips and turn that option off on all of them at the same time. This won't have any effect when you share to HD 1280x720. When sharing to 720x480, I would go into advanced settings and set the the field order to progressive. To keep the video looking sharp when sharing to 720x480, I would add the sharpen effect with a value of 9 to each video clip.
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby rtk1958 » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:33 pm

Great advice RJ, will definitely do that. Thanks for all your help!

Todd
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Re: Question on converting MP4 Video to AVI

Postby rtk1958 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:10 pm

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who responded and provided all the helpful advice and tips. I really appreciate it. I've decided to go with the 720x480 DV/DVCPRO encoded AVI files created by Streamclip converted from my GoPro 1080P MP4 files. These are very friendly inside PE. The other option was was the Cineform converted 1980x720p AVI files, but these worried me in PE as they stuttered on playback, especially when some effects were applied. I was concerned this would prove difficult once I got deep into the project.

Am curious about one thing though:
I'm inclined to believe the main problem with the HD Cineform AVI file is horsepower in my laptop. Was wondering if anyone has successfully edited 720 or 1080p HD content on a Duo Intel platform running at 2.0GHz, with 8GB memory, and a single disk drive?

Anyway, it's time to move on.

Thanks again for all the help! :-D
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