Canon PowerShot vids conversion

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by jon08, Nov 6, 2009.

  1. jon08 macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Hey guys,
    I have a Canon PowerShot SD800 camera and as you might know the vids (.avi) you take with that camera take up quite a lot of space.

    I would like to ask for some advice. What vid format could I convert them to to lose as little on vid quality as possible and gain as much free space as possible with it? And what Mac app to use for the conversion?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    According to my googling, the SD800 avi's are 320x240 mjpeg files. This is nice and flexible. You can easily edit these within quicktime pro and export with the H.264 codec. Since the resolution is so small, a small bitrate will turn out great results... you could probably go as low as 600kbits/sec if you want these to be nice and small for downoad on the web. If you want to have as high quality as possible, I'd put the bitrate around 1000-1200kbits/sec, but play around with it an see what you get. Either way, it's important to remember to edit it the way you want *before* converting to H.264. Once you go H.264 there's no going back.

    Use AAC 128kbit for your audio. ( make sure you use mono audio, since your camera only has mono sound )
    You could easily go lower to 64kbit, or even lower.
    I have an old Canon A95 that I use for quick web videos and I routinely encode at 48kbit with no noticeable loss...

    Take a 30 second clip and play around with all he encoding settings and find what you like. It's never going to be one size fits all, but my guess is your sweetspot is going to be 800Kbits/sec H.264 video w/ 64Kbit mono AAC audio.

    Good luck!
  3. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Huntercr, thanks for your reply. Just wanted to let you know that SD800 can either take 640x480 or 320x240 vids, both in either 30 or 15 fps. Most of my vids are in 640x480. Does that change anything you wrote?

    Btw, what Mac app could I use for easiest conversion? Quicktime Pro?
  4. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    No, it doesn't really change what I wrote too much... maybe shift the bitrates up by +100Kbits/sec. Don't be afraid to experiment.

    Yes, use Quicktime pro. You could also use MPEGStreamclip, but starting out I would use quicktime pro. In the end, they're going to be around the same quality result.
  5. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Hm, I checked for Quicktime pro and apparently it's a payable app, while MPEGStreamclip is free. I just downloaded the latter and it seems to offer quite a diversity of options you can choose from, so perhaps I'll just stick with it for now.

    So if I wanted to gain as much free space and lose as little as possible in quality, what vid format should I go for? I've attached a pic with all the options the app offers.

    Also, you mentioned bitrate around 1000-1200 kbps - - is that the Limit Data Rate you can see in the picture 2 (it was me who entered 1200 in that field)?

    What about the rest of the settings in the pic? I assume I would need to change the Sound from 256 kbps to 128 kbps as you mentioned in your first post?

    Anything else you'd suggest changing from default settings you can see in the pic?

    I apologize for all these questions... It's my first time editing video, so I'm a bit anxious. :)

    Attached Files:

  6. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Btw, do you have any experience with iVideo Converter? It seems like a neat app with neat interface (though it costs $9.90 - which is still a lot less than Quicktime Pro upgrade..). I really like the "Preview" option, too - it gives you a preview of the to-be-converted vid, which is quite cool.

    What do you say? I've checked Mroogle for MPEG Streamclip topics and actually found quite a few topics with people complaining about audio issues and whatnot?

    I wouldn't mind paying $10 for better "quality"...
  7. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    Yes, you can use MPEG streamclip, but I didn't recommend it because it's a lot more complex as you can see. :)
    ( and actually despite all the settings, the quicktime compressor has a couple of extra features that make for small file sizes )

    OK, so for MPEGstreamclip ... you want rate limit checkbox enabled ( the quality bar actually makes no difference when this is used)

    Check the "2 pass" and "bframes" boxes , and then you should be good to go! ( leave the frame rate blank if you want to leave it what it currently is )
    I would lower your audio bitrate to 64kbit mono and see if you notice the difference. Remember itunes music was, until recently, 128kbit stereo. ( 64kbit mono ).

    It will take a long time to compress, so I would test out your settings with a 30 second to 1 minutes clip of one of your movies, so that you like the quality of what you see.

    For you, since you're wanting to simply preserve your videos as a high rate and aren't wanting to put them online, you don't need to worry as much. You're probably going to be happy with one bitrate for everything. ( my guess is around 960kbit with 64kbit audio )

    You must remember one very important thing here. We are encoding to H.264. We are assuming any editing you wanted to do is finished. It is highly recommended never to try and re-edit a file once it's in H.264.
    Your quality will be lost if you do.

    If you are wanting to save this in an editable format, I recommend leaving it in the codec its in and buying an external harddrive, since your AVI ( using the MJPEG codec ) is actually more efficient than the standard Apple editing codec ( AIC ) .

    Hope this helps!
  8. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    can't say I've ever used that. For $10, as long as it works for you, it might be worth it.

    BTW, what are you doing to be doing with these videos when you're done? Are you simply going to store them?

    If you're thinking of putitng htem on DVD ( by that I mean a DVD for playing on a TV, not a DVD-ROM ) or something, we'll want to do an entirely different workflow! :)
  9. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Huntercr, I really appreciate your help. I'm actually a bit indecisive about what the best thing would be about compression. As I mentioned earlier, my wish would be to gain as much space and lose as little on quality as possible. But then again I'd still like to leave me an option to edit those vids in the future should I get an idea or desire to add something to them or do whatever other editing. Also, I might want to burn them to a DVD some day to watch them on TV, or even just play them through an USB key plugged into a DVD player.

    So perhaps I should form my question as follows:

    What format/how should I convert my camera vids to gain as much space and lose as little on quality as possible, BUT still keep the vids in the format that can be edited in the same way the original .avi could be? (I hope you get what I'm saying?) :)

  10. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    I thought you might be thinking about this that's why I kept saying H2.64 is not an editable format... so many people this it is because camera companies market it ( AVCHD aka H.264 ) as if it is.

    Anyway... you're not going to believe this, but The AVI format it's currently in is the best.

    The only editing formats for consumers are:

    DV video ( which is 25Mbit/sec ) and Apple Intermediate codec (AIC ) vide
    ( which is varies.... 2-15Mbit/sec )

    DV video will end up being larger that your AVIs so you shouldn't use that.

    AIC will probably end up smaller in size and will keep you current quality level... however its achilles heal is that it's not portable... only Macs can use it.

    Personally, if I were you, I would keep all of my original AVIs on 2 spare external harddrives. ( only plugging them in when you were backing up files ) I would alternate between the 2 every month or week or whatever so that you only lose at worse 1 months backup. The OSX backup program that comes with mobile me/.Mac is excellent for this.

    Or if your movies are small enough, you could back them up to DVD-R, but that would result in alot of plastic over time.

    Then you just use the AVIs you currently want to mess around with in iMovie, iDVD etc and bring out the others when you want to. There is a good video cataloging system that might work well for you called iDive ( there's a usable demo you can download in their site )
    That also might help.

    One other thing to consider.... hard drives are crazy cheap right now.

    My backup system 9 for video and general purpose ) uses a Thermaltake BlackX external Harddrive "cartridge" device

    and 1TB internal drives ( which is what you would use for the device above ) from Segate, Samsung, or Wester Digital ( take your pick ) are < $90.

    You can get both the external unit and a pair of drives from newegg, nice and simple.

    1TB drive can probably hold 150-200 hours of your size video.

    Hope I'm not confusing you!
  11. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Thank you again for all your help. :) I guess I'll save the original .avi vids and have the converted ones for online use only...

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