Simple Video Editing (No, it’s never simple)



I went snowboarding last week. I took along a £99 Samsung WM200 pocket camcorder. I didn’t take many clips, and they weren’t that good, but I knew they could be improved by shortening and splicing a couple together to form a short sequence. I’ve use Premiere Pro a little in the past, and although it did everything I wanted it to, nothing was ever intuitive (like most Adobe products). So I decided to suppress some of my creative urges and use the simplest app I could find, Windows Live Movie maker.

For the quick edit I had in mind, opened the Samsun W200 MP4 files, and worked well. But there’s always just one more tweak! This time it was the sound. The built in mic picked up a lot of background music outside the mountain restaurant where I’d interviewed one of my ski buddies. All I needed to do was put the sound through an equaliser to remove the bass, and boost the gain. Unfortunately, WLMM doesn’t have such an option. I’d need to extract the audio, tinker with it in a free audio editor, then re-add to my video project, hoping the lip-sync was still ok. The problem is that none of the many utilities I tried would open the MP4 file. Odd, since it played fine in Media Player, Zune, and Movie Maker. The application I really wanted to open it up in was VirtualDub. I don’t even know for sure that I can extract the audio using this awesome utility, but I’d be very surprised if it couldn’t be done somehow.

So the next part of my mission came to be opening the MP4 file in VirtualDub.

After installing lots of apps and codecs, and failing to make progress, I stumbles across this YouTube tutorial , and followed the steps. For the sake of my own future sanity, I’ve noted them here.

  • Start fresh - uninstall as many codec and video editing apps you can find
    • ffdshow
    • virtualDub
    • Quicktime
    • Codec packs
  • Install a fresh new copy of VirtualDub
  • Install the K-Lite Codec pack, both 32bit and 64bit versions (I have Win7 64bit)
    • Leave the configuration until later
  • Install updated ffdshow MPEG-4 codec, both 32bit and 64bit version
  • Configure ffdshow (make sure H. 264/AVC is assigned a decoder)
  • Install AviSynth (this is the important bit)
  • For each video file you need to open in VirtualDub, create a .AVS script file
    • In it, simply add the following line:
    • DirectShowSource(“fullPathAndFilename.mp4”)

At first I thought that creating this script file every clip was a bind. Then I glanced over the documentation 

You can script your video editing! As a programmer this is awesome. I could source control my edits. If I decide to swap editing software, I don’t have to start everything again, as my filter settings, in and out points, andf likely a ton of other stuff is safe in my text file.

I’ve yet to explore this properly - this is one evening’s exploration, so there should be more to come.