I am spending a little bit of time trying to find a way to convert Flip video files into QuickTime or FLV format for posting on our web sites. This is not really a how-to guide, but rather a snapshot into my (limited) progress with this task at this moment in time. Perhaps I will make more progress later, or one of you fine readers will post a comment detailing a more helpful solution!
Our seniors spent a morning at the pumpkin patch with their first grade buddies and took twelve Flip Mino video cameras with them. They captured 340 video segments!
How may I produce one or more useful movies from these using the least possible effort? I don’t want to simply post the videos directly to a site like YouTube, because some of the content is likely to be private or exceed their posting limits. I also don’t want to require teachers to create YouTube accounts just to facilitate this conversion process.
Flip records in AVI format using 3ivx compression. If we go to QuickTime, we will want to convert into MOV format using H.264 compression. If we choose Flash video, then we will convert into FLV format (what does Adobe call their compression codec?).
Two issues are making this process more difficult for video than for audio. For one, Adobe and Apple can’t seem to get along — neither QuickTime nor iMovie has a FLV export feature, and I’m not about to insist that all of our teachers and students own a full copy of Flash to do this work. While some people suggest FilmRedux (formerly VisualHub) or FFMpegX, I have found these applications either too arcane for the average user or incompatible with either the import or export portions of this process. Is it possible that VisualHub used to have FLV export, but the SourceForge hosted version lacks that component?
QT Amateur (converted files but can’t handle nested folders)
FilmRedux (wouldn’t read 3ivx AVI or m4v files)
FFMPEGX (too many dependencies to foist on our users)
iMovie (successfully reads 3ivx files, allowing users to edit first)
QTAmateur looked to be a good option to batch convert the files into a usable format before starting editing work, but then I found that it took a long time to convert files in QuickTime format, and QTAmateur was not able to reach into subfolders to convert files located in there. Since I have twelve cameras, many files have the same name and must be stored in subfolders as a result.
Good news: iMovie ’08 can use the video files straight from the Flip camera, once I have installed the 3ivx decoder that comes with the Flip (the software is stored within the camera memory). Given this, it may work best to do all of the clip selection and editing work in iMovie and postpone the task of format conversion to the end. This way, we are applying the time-intensive task of format conversion to the shortest length and fewest possible number of clips.
It will then be simple for a teacher or student to use iMovie’s built-in Share tools to export to QuickTime, YouTube, or iPhone.
What about posting a FLV file to one’s own web site? I don’t see a straightforward way to do this that would be easy for other users to follow. If it has become difficult to build FLV conversion into desktop software, then let’s push that task to the web site software, as YouTube does. This way, we won’t burden users with that problem.
Drupal may fulfill the role of YouTube in this case. I will have to remind myself what modules provide on-the-fly conversion of uploaded files to FLV (Video, FlashVideo, FFMPEG wrapper, what others?).
Windows users may have more options.