Video Woes & Wishing For More Laptop Firepower

I took a several videos today at CTIA, all of Windows Mobile applications being demoed. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight I really didn’t have the right hardware or software to get the job done properly. I thought that YouTube was limited to videos 10 minutes long, but they also have a 100 MB file size limit. My Canon SD800 doesn’t have any sort of video compression beyond basic MJPEG, so the file sizes are huge. An 8 minute 44 second video clip at 320 x 240 resolution weighs in at 325 MB. That means I’m having to compress them to get the file size under 100 MB before I can upload the videos to have YouTube compress them all over again. It’s not like you can see the double-compression though with the crappy bitrates YouTube uses.

Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but my Fujitsu P7010D doesn’t have the graphics power to run Windows Movie Maker (which is incredibly stupid that it requires hardware acceleration and won’t run at all), and I didn’t install Premiere Elements before leaving, so I was left without any ability to edit video files. I tried Movavi, but it turned out to be highly problematic – it locked up on me several times, complained about missing codecs even when Windows Media Player could play back the file without trouble, and generally wouldn’t do a damn thing properly. I really wanted to like Movavi – it seems to have a great set of features, but I’ve tried it on two PCs now (one Vista, one XP Pro) and it was unstable and dysfunctional at editing video, splitting video, and ripping a DVD. Next I installed Nero 7 because I happened to already have the 175 MB “upgrade” downloaded – it’s ridiculous how Nero releases a trial version of the entire suite as an upgrade for customers, but in this case it happened to be helpful to me. A quick phone call to Ashley got me the serial number I needed. I installed it and rebooted, but bizarrely enough Nero Vision (the video editing application) won’t work with the Canon AVI files properly – when I add one to the timeline it only recognizes the first ten seconds. No errors, it just won’t work properly.

I started to get a bit desperate at this point, so I did a search for a freeware video editing application and tried AviTricks. I didn’t work and puked on codec errors. At this point I was loudly cursing Canon for making their video format so difficult to deal with. As a last-ditch effort, I tried the crusty old Windows Media Encoder 9, and it actually worked! The problem is this 1.2 Ghz Pentium M CPU is exactly made for fast video encoding – it’s taking me forever to encode each clip, especially when I encode a file only to discover it ends up being more than 100 MB in size.

I actually spent some time researching what laptops a local Best Buy here had because I was convinced I’d need a new laptop in order to get all this video transcoding finished before I left Orlando – selecting a new laptop is a topic for another post though, because it’s proving to be a frustrating trying to find the right one. At any rate, the closest Best Buy was out of stock on all six of the HP laptops I was looking at. What are the odds? 🙁 The nearest Circuit City only had one HP laptop, not the one I wanted, and no one at the store would pick up the phone. I gave up and decided to rough it with my little Fujitsu, and while it’s slow, I’m getting the videos transcoded and uploaded. Back to the grind…