What's the best way to edit video from my Kodak zi8?
August 21, 2010 6:15 PM   Subscribe

I have a Kodak Zi8 mini camcorder, which shoots HD footage in Quicktime format. I'm having difficulty editing the video afterwards. Can you help?

My understanding is that if I had a Mac, editing the Quicktime video in iMovie would be pretty straightforward. However, I have a PC, so I have to convert the video to a different file format in order to edit it. I've tried a bunch of different editing programmes, and so far the only thing that works is to convert the video to .avi using MP4Cam2Avi, and then edit it in Pinnacle Studio 12. This isn't ideal as the quality of the video really suffers once I've converted it to .avi format (which seems to negate the whole point of shooting in HD).

So I guess my questions are:

1) Is there any editing software for PC that will allow me to edit Quicktime video without having to convert it first? I want to be able to do more than just trim the video; I'd like to be able to add titles, move clips around, add a soundtrack, etc; and

2) Is there a better way to convert the file so it doesn't degrade so much?

Having googled around, it seems like this is a pretty common problem for zi8 owners who, like me, own neither Macs nor technical brains.

Thanks for your help!
posted by hot soup girl to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might try Adobe Premiere Elements. It's for windows, there is a free trial version available and imports six different flavors of quicktime movies.
posted by nightwood at 6:48 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

The program AVIDEMUX (first hit on Google) will read in and transcode pretty much any format to any format.
posted by cowmix at 8:37 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is it really "QuickTime" format? Or is it just an MP4 file? I suspect it's the latter.

You'll probably have more luck looking for software that can edit MP4, rather than "QuickTime".
posted by Mwongozi at 6:15 AM on August 22, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, nightwood. I'll try Adobe Premiere Elements.

> Is it really "QuickTime" format? Or is it just an MP4 file? I suspect it's the latter.

No, it really is Quicktime. Apparently I can rename the files and give them an .mp4 extension, but I can't work out how to do this (the explanations I've read don't correlate with what I see on my screen; presumably they're written for a different version of Windows? I have Vista.)
posted by hot soup girl at 6:57 AM on August 22, 2010

Video compression is separate from the container; both Quicktime & avi can contain H264-compressed video, which is what the Zi8 produces. With the right tool, you could open the Quicktime video & output a lossless copy to avi; I think Avidemux would probably work for this. I'd personally use mencoder & ffmpeg for the lossless transfer, though I'm pretty comfortable with the command line.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:25 AM on August 23, 2010

I used Vegas Movie Studio Platinum before I took advantage of a sale a few months back and upgraded to Pro. But I face the same situation as you with my Canon SD-780IS -- the video is captured into Quicktime files using the H.264 codec. It's a good codec to share a video on the web, but it's lousy to edit with it. I have no idea if it would be easy to edit Quicktime movies in iMovie since I don't own a Mac, but any time I've had to edit with a lossy codec like H.264 led to heartbreak and frustration.

I finally understood when I made the analogy with music -- I record my parts in WAV files, then save the finished mix to MP3 before posting it to the web. I wouldn't want to record my parts as MP3s, then save the mix as MP3 -- I'd be compressing my lossy parts into another lossy file!

As Pronoiac mentions, you should transcode the video to a lossless codec. My computer is not quite powerful enough yet to handle editing in HD, so I create proxy AVI files in a standard video format and use those to edit. When I'm done, I'll switch out the proxy files with the transcoded lossless HD files. Using lossless files does eat up tons of drive space, something I've had to just accept.

But the bottom line is that if you want to do some decent editing, you really should convert the file first. In Vegas, I would save my Quicktime files as AVI, specifying Lagarith as my codec, which I had to download and install separately. If I'm making proxy files, I'll save them as NTSC DV. Whatever program you choose will probably do it differently.

I can say I bought Pinnacle, used it once, uninstalled it, bought Vegas Movie Studio and never looked back.
posted by NemesisVex at 7:38 PM on September 23, 2010

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