Simple mp4 video editor for adding watermarks/text?
September 20, 2009 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a simple video editor that can let me cut and add watermarks to mp4 file?

Total video editing newbie here. For some reason, I just can't figure this out. I have mp4 video files that I'd just like to add a watermark to, such as a website URL. Is there a good, ideally free tool that will let me do that, and possibly make a few simple crops from time to time?

I prefer not to have to convert the file format, although it's an option. I would be open to other suggestions. Thanks.
posted by jeff1010 to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What's your operating system?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:56 PM on September 20, 2009

Whoops - Windows Vista. Thanks.
posted by jeff1010 at 1:05 PM on September 20, 2009

Here's how I would do it without using any shady shareware watermarking tools, assuming that the MP4 files contain H.264 video and recognizing that this will be potentially time-consuming but the best way to do it:

1. Demux the mp4 file with YAMB to an .264 elementary file and whatever your audio is.
2. Load the .264 file in DGAVCIndex and create a .dga file that indexes it.
3. Load the .dga file into MeGUI's Avisynth script creator. (You will need Avisynth preinstalled).
4. Using Avisynth's TextSub plugin (.zip link), call a simple .SRT subtitle for the length of the video with your preferred text.
5. Your AVS Script will look something like the following, but MeGUI will write the .dga-loader line for you so you only need to do the sub line:


6. Save the script and load it into the main MeGUI window. Figure out what your target is; for wide distribution, probably Quicktime-compatible, so use the Unrestricted 2-pass Quicktime for Windows profile. Set an appropriate bitrate.
7. When that finishes encoding, use MeGUI's mp4 muxer (or YAMB, or mp4creator) to combine the new watermarked video and original audio into a new mp4 file.
8. For all cutting tasks, just use YAMB against the output file to avoid having to do an excessive amount of audio processing and resynchronization.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:43 PM on September 20, 2009

Oh, and if you have MPEG-4 ASP video (DivX, XviD, etc.) inside the MP4 file instead, forget about DGAVCIndex. Demux the file with YAMB to the audio and the ASP video...probably in an AVI container, though if it's a raw .asp stream, you'll need to mux it to AVI with your favorite application such as AviMuxGUI.

Once you have an AVI, your script instead will look like:


Aviynth scripts, as intimidating as they appear, are just text: you can play around with them in Notepad to get where you want to go.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:49 PM on September 20, 2009

Thanks Inspector for the detailed response. Though I think you're right, it might be too time consuming for what I'm trying to do.

Is it the format of the file itself that's the problem? I'm fine with converting it to another format, as long as the loss of quality isn't too great.

Really what I'm trying to add is pretty simple. Just some text (not even necessarily a watermark) on the bottom of my video that says (visit some website). Seems like there's got to be an easier way =)
posted by jeff1010 at 2:53 PM on September 20, 2009

The problem is H.264; video editing applications for it are not yet as mature as they are for MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 ASP. If you'd like to try a shorter method, do the following:

1. Open up Notepad and make the following file:

00:00:00,000 --> hh:mm:ss,000

Where mywebsite is the site you want to advertise and hh:mm:ss,000 is the end time in hours, minutes, and seconds of your video. If your video was one minute long, it'd be 00:01:00,000. Save it as ""

2. Download and install Avidemux. Use it to open your video. Since you want to cut, make sure to say "No" at the H.264 frame accuracy prompt. Set the video encoder in the left sidebar to anything. Open the "Filters" menu, go to "subtitles", and use the Subtitler filter to load your subtitle. Pick a font from your Windows font folder that you like, a color you like, and a position that looks good. Approve that and get back to the main window.

3. Set your video, audio, and container options and configure them as you like. Use the keyframe arrows and bracket buttons to mark a segment to cut. Make sure to only cut on I frames.

4. Go to "Save video...", pick an output file.extension and Avidemux will encode your video according to your specs with your new subtitle burned in. Repeat as necessary.

I didn't recommend this at first because Avidemux sometimes crashes...better H.264 handling is coming in the next revision. Should be fine for ASP though, and you may get lucky and find that it works without issue.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:03 PM on September 20, 2009

Great... this looks more do-able. I'm having a problem though, where Avidemux is telling me "Cannot identify subtitle format."

I followed the formatting just as indicated above, saved it as srt and encoded as UTF-8 (the only one Avidemux seems to take). But it doesn't work.

Any thoughts?

You've been very helpful so far!
posted by jeff1010 at 6:23 PM on September 20, 2009

I know you asked about PC solutions, but if you have any access to a Mac, this is really, really easy with Quicktime Pro.
posted by Aquaman at 6:25 PM on September 20, 2009

Try this:

00:00:00,000 --> hh:mm:ss,000

Sorry, I left out the "1" earlier and I think you must designate the total number of subs for a SRT to be valid.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:44 PM on September 20, 2009

It looks like you can get Quicktime Pro for PC's, too. (I am unsure whether this would cover Vista or not.) It's $30 for the Pro upgrade, and I can personally confirm that adding a watermark to an existing video is quite painless.
posted by Aquaman at 7:23 PM on September 20, 2009

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