Archive for the 'AudioVideo' Category

Cross-platform Video Editing with Avidemux

One of the reasons I gravitate toward searching out free cross-platform applications is that it matters less and less which operating system I happen to use. I can become familiar with an application that performs a certain essential function for me with the confidence that both my expertise and my data is platform neutral and portable.

So today I’ve set out to look at a solution for doing simple video editing of home videos I’ve taken with our little digital camera (Canon Powershot). My intent will be to successfully perform all the essential functions necessary in Linux Kubuntu where the same codecs and software interface are also freely available for MacOSX and Win32 as well.

  • The software I researched for this task is called “Avidemux”, and it can be located at Sourceforge.
  • Here is the brief description from the project homepage on Sourceforge:

    “Avidemux is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities.

    Avidemux is available for Linux, BSD, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows under the GNU GPL license. The program was written from scratch by Mean, but code from other people and projects has been used as well. Patches, translations and even bug reports are always welcome” (source).

    What’s nice about running Kubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) is that I was able to install this software with one easy command:

    sudo aptitude install avidemux

  • Basically all I really want to do is the equivalent of cropping my pictures, except with video. In other words I just want to trim off those parts that don’t contribute to the story very well such as some of the very beginning or at the very end. Well for this kind of simple work Avidemux is just what I need.

Cross-platform Video Editing with the XviD codec

Another situation I regularly see many users struggling with is trying to embed movies in PowerPoint presentations at home, taking their presentation to school, and finding out their videos won’t display properly.

Put simply, the problem most often comes up because they created their videos for PowerPoint on an Apple computer at home, and then brought their presentation to school to present on a Win32 computer. Sometimes though, even the Win32 machine they started on just simply used different codecs than the one they wound up using for their presentation. What’s going on here?

Commercial vendors have a vested interest in locking you into a dependency of licensing “their software” for creating and viewing “your” content. The problem is practically no vendor will provide the means to do all of this in a platform neutral manner–that would mean they would have to potentially “share” their customers.

What we need then is a recipe, a path to follow if you will, that will help us navigate the process of creating content that is platform neutral, and the Xvid data format provides us with just that. Why? Because XviD is opensource, a product of community effort, and a gift without any strings attached.

Here is how to get started with Win32 so that videos created in this manner will be both viewable and editable within Linux or OSX. Later I hope to provide the same type of recipe for Linux and OSX, but for now this will meet my immediate need to help some users that are currently having difficulties in the Win32 environment.

  1. Install XviD: “XviD is a video codec for PC, whereas codec is an abbreviation for [co]der/[dec]oder, hence describes a program to encode and decode digital video. The purpose of encoding video data is to reduce redundancies – that means to make it smaller for faster transmission over computer networks or for more efficient storage on computer disks. Xvid is open-source software published under the GNU GPL license” (
  2. Install 7-zip (optional)
  3. GSpot is a program that will allow you to determine exactly what codec is required to play a particular video file.
    1. Download GSpot and unzip files to a folder to run from (ie. c:\apps\GSpot).
    2. Do the same thing for C:\apps\GSpot\GSpot.exe and drag that shortcut to your desktop.
    3. Double-click on your new shortcut for GSpot and run it.
    4. Click on Options, then uncheck and re-check the third box from the bottom (Add [or remove] GSpot “Open With”. This will add GSpot to the list of applications to choose from when you right-click on a video file.
    5. Right-click on a video file and choose “Open With: Choose Program”
    6. Choose GSpot from the list.
    7. Now anytime you find yourself wondering what type of file format a video is in, just right-click on a video file and choose “Open With”, GSpot will be listed along with the short-cuts.
  4. “VirtualDubMod is a unification of several popular modifications of the famous video editing software VirtualDub by Avery Lee. It started out as a unification of three projects, VirtualDubMPeg2, VirtualDubOGM and VirtualDubAVS. But since then a lot of new features have been introduced” (FAQ).
    1. Download VirtualDubMod and unzip files to a folder to run from (ie. c:\apps\VirtualDubMod).
    2. Right-click on C:\apps\VirtualDubMod\VirtualDubMod.exe and choose “create shortcut” and drag it to your desktop.
    3. Run VirtualDubMod and open a Quicktime or other proprietary video file from the menu.
    4. Now click on the File menu and select “Save as”.
      1. type in the desired filename
      2. Click on button to “Change” the “Compression” to XviD MPEG-4 Codec (XVID).
      3. Select XviD MPEG-4 Codec
        1. Click on Configure and note that you can also adjust the quality (ie. filesize) of the output.
      4. Output your shiny new cross-platform video!
    5. Done.

Next time I will show you how to do the same thing using Linux. :-)