At the Crossroads of Media, Culture and Technology

Flip Video Vlog: Codecs and You!

A quick tutorial on Spielberg Group’s workflow with the Flip Video files.

Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Blip.tv video.

The written tutorial continues below….

First:

Install the 3ivx codec found in the Flip Video camera itself: ‘System’ folder —>’Install’ folder —> Macintosh 3ixv Installer.dmg or Windows 3ivx Installer.exe

This will allow Quicktime to play and export your Flip Video files.

Second:

Open all of the Flip Video files you want to convert in Quicktime.

Go to: File —> Export —> In this box make sure it says “Movie to QuicktimeMovie” in the export tab at the bottom.

Click on ‘Options’ next to the “Movie to QuicktimeMovie” box.

Video:

On the Video part of the dialog box click on ‘Settings.
Use these settings:

At the top where it says Compression Type click on ‘H.264′

Frame rate: Current

Keyframes: Automatic

Frame reordering: check this box

Date Rate: Automatic

Optimized: for Downloading

Compressor: Best

Close this dialog box.

Now click on the Sound settings button:

Sound:

Use these settings:

Format: AAC

Channels: Mono

Rate: 44.100 khz

Render—> Quality: Normal

Mpeg 4 AAC LC Encoder Settings—> Target Bit Rate: 128 kbps

***When you export your Flip Video files to the H.264 format it’s a good idea to rename them something memorable like “Steve discussed blogging.mov” for later reference when you import these files into Final cut Pro.***

Good luck everyone!

Kirk Mastin- Spielberg Team

ps. Any questions about this workflow, please comment here or email me.

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About kmastin

Photographer, film maker, New Media Guru, Web 2.0 Consultant. I believe in a lo-fi, hi-style method of storytelling: reaching a larger audience with the equipment you already have. In the end, it is the story that matters... not the equipment. -Kirk

25 Responses to Flip Video Vlog: Codecs and You!

  1. gilminer says:

    IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION: You have to install the firmware FIRST, because otherwise you get the white screen. I know this now after 157 files that i need to convert AGAIN. ARGH!!!!!

  2. kmastin says:

    Good point Adri–

    When you go to install the Flip Video software and then use the Flip Video program it should prompt you to update the firmware. This is a simple and important process.

    I wrote this tutorial assuming that the Flip Video user will have already updated their firmware.

    Kirk

  3. gilminer says:

    The computers in the UW lab do not have Flip firmware installed, and only Nika has the admin access to install it. Since the computer lab has G5s they go a lot faster than my little laptop.

    BTW- iMovie reads the files just fine without any conversion or whatsoever. I know the program is limited but it seems to me that it makes sense to use a simple basic editing program for a simple/basic camera like the Flip. I wonder how are the pros editing with footage from the Flip.

    -Adri

  4. kmastin says:

    iMovie is a great program. The only reason I use Final Cut Pro is that it makes it much easier to make fine tuned edits, add b-roll on top of video, edit sound precisely and to use the 3-way color correction tool.

    I have two years of experience editing with Final Cut Pro so it’s not really something to just jump into. I am learning everyday. But a basic edit in iMovie, if the content is strong, will turn out beautifully. Also you can make your major edits in iMovie then output a full size Quicktime Movie and then make fine tuned color corrections etc in Final Cut pro as a last step.

    Kirk

  5. kmastin says:

    Adri-

    I think I misunderstood you. I wrote this tutorial assuming that you are manually taking the video files from the DCIM folder inside the Flip Video Camera. This is the only way to get the highest quality, because when the files are offloaded using the Flip Video software they are really compressed and transcoded as they are downloaded to your desktop.

    I have been dragging and dropping video files form the camera itself then transcoding using the H.264 format for highest overall quality.

    Kirk

  6. Thanks for the post. I started using this method and came up with a little modification that really sped things up for me so I thought I would share.
    After I copy the files from the Flip, I batch process them using MPEG Streamclip using the Apple Intermediate codec set at best with the Audio set to Stereo and 48khz. Final Cut seems to like that better than the mono setting. It’s really really fast converting the AVIs this way. Be aware that it quintuples the file size. I found the quality is only slightly degraded from the original. It makes everything noticeably darker but not as dark as the H.264. I think its acceptable because the time tradeoff is so good. I tried the H.264 codec set at best with multipass and it performs well but I’m pretty impatient and the quality doesn’t seem worth the wait.
    Cheers,
    barclay

  7. Terrie says:

    Thanks for the info….I also found going through QT was the best way—once I got the Firmware update (I did need to do this first, as it was crashing my computer without it). I also did not use the Flip software app at all. I copied the movies directly from the DCIM folder on the Flip drive to my hard drive. Then opened them in QuickTime and exported with whatever settings I needed. This takes awhile, so I do this only if I need to edit in Final Cut Pro.

    Otherwise, I was also able to import the AVIs directly into iMovie (from my hard drive) and export through there for a quick video delivered on the web.

    ~Terrie

  8. matt says:

    does this only work in quicktime pro?

  9. Adri says:

    Yes, you need quicktime pro to convert the files.

  10. Mark McKay says:

    Is it possible to use Apple Compressor to convert the files instead of Quicktime? Can you to send me a Flip Video file so I can play around with it?

    I am thinking of buying one of these cameras. I own a Sony DSC-M2 which I love and think is great, but I need a second camera an the M2 is still crazy expensive so I was thinking of getting one of these – but want to make sure that it will fit into my workflow.

    Thank you!

  11. David Sanders says:

    What website do you recommend to down load the H.264 codec from , with out having to down load other stuff I don,t want or need ?

  12. PeteNice says:

    I’d been transcoding the H.264, but was having issues with rendering on the timeline (orange bars). However, I just used VisualHub to transcode to DV and it’s all grey bars on the TL. Yipee.

    http://www.techspansion.com/visualhub/

  13. ATurner says:

    Any suggestions for PC users? Everyone sounds like chipmunks on my Flip video files.

  14. JohnnySerrato says:

    I have noticed than when encoding the audio setting to AAC, Mono, 44.1khz, I still need to render the audio in my FCP timeline.

    However changing the audio settings to Linear PCM solves this problem and no rendering is needed.

    Does anyone else need to render using the audio settings of AAC, Mono, 44.1khz?

  15. JohnnySerrato says:

    I’m sorry, I should not that this is when using Compressor and not OP’s workflow. I have used the OP’s workflow and for whatever reason, it works. Using compressor with the same settings requires audio rendering.

  16. Andrew says:

    Hi there Kirk,

    Thanks for the videos… I successfully broke open my Flip and put a piece of black tape on the red light a while back. It was great!

    Anyways, I have a problem though… I bought QT Pro and followed these directions and it exported well and QT can play the Flip file. But when I try to import the new file into Final Cut Pro HD it always says “File Error: Unknown File.”

    Any help please? =( Thanks!
    —Andrew

  17. Adriana says:

    Alternative workflow:

    (1) Import all your Flip files to iMovie (no conversion needed)

    (2) save and then open the file on Final Cut.

    If you put the files in the timeline in iMovie you won’t even have to render in FCP, but don’t make any edits in iMovie because you’ll loose all you ins and out points.

    I’ve found this to be the fastest way to handle Flip files. But you still need to make sure the Flip software is installed in your computer.

  18. Andrew says:

    Hi Adriana!

    Oops… sorry for the delay in responding. I just checked this site tonight. I did a test and imported a Flip file into iMovie, put it on the iMovie timeline, and then saved the project. Then, I opened the Flip file in Final Cut, dragged it into the timeline, but it still needed rendering… =(

    Is there a certain setting or something that I need to set the Final Cut sequence to?

    Thanks,
    —Andrew =)

  19. Andrew says:

    Actually, I tried Barclay Missen’s modification method and that worked for me… I like the batch list way hehe. The quality looked really good (and maybe even better than the original). After batching was done all I had to do was set the Final Cut sequence to…

    640 x 480 Custom 4:3 (or NTSC)
    Square
    None
    30 Frames
    AIC
    48khz

    And when I’m done editing, I’ll export with H.264 (it rocks!) the exact same way as on this page. I did a little test and it looks great.

    Keep it up with the videos and posts. I love this website!

    Thanks,
    —Andrew =)

  20. RJ says:

    Does anyone know if Quicktime Pro for the PC will work, same concept as above, but for Adobe Premiere instad of Final Cut?

    I have used Windows Movie Maker to convert the Flip’s .avi to .wmv– the .wmv will then import trouble free into Premiere… but I’m wondering if the H.264 .mov would give me better quality.

  21. Mark Riffey says:

    Do we really need one more obscure codec?

    I think it was severely misguided to use YET ANOTHER CODEC rather than choosing one already available to windows and mac users.

    What was simple as pie (sharing video) has now become a download and installation process for every single person who wants to view a flip-created video.

    Just plain dumb, IMO.

    Mark

  22. peter says:

    i’ve completed the processing step easily, but when i put the processed file into the timeline of FC Suite 2 it says that the clip settings don’t match the sequence settings, thus i have to render the files.

    what should the sequence settings be once we’ve done this?

    thanks

  23. John Smith says:

    If you do it using MPEG Streamclip using the Apple Intermediate codec set at best with the Audio set to Stereo and 48khz, then let FCP do the sequence settings automatically, or use:640 x 480 Custom 4:3 (or NTSC) (I actually use it in widescreen, because of the Mino HD), Square (Same as last parenthesis), None, 30 Frames, AIC, 48khz
    You don’t have to render anything.
    The only problem is that your video files will be huge.
    So you can set the slider in MPEG streamclip down to somewhere where the files are smaller. But, that only works if you don’t care as much about quality.
    It also converts it much faster than Quicktime Pro. It’s nice not to have to wait as long to edit.

    PS
    I just compiled earlier suggestions and added my own comments.
    These are a mix of BARCLAY MISSEN’s and ANDREW’s instructions.

  24. autosavevault says:

    Greetings!

    This blog got me on the right track to converting my flip mino HD video files and bringing them into fcp. thanks to everyone!

    The problem I’m having is finding the right combination of settings for Flip HD media making its way though MPEG Streamclip, fcp, and compressor to host videos on Blip that are 8 min in length and embed them into my indexhibit.org website.

    Is there any way to adjust what I”m doing (workflow below) to make the videos smaller and not sacrifice image quality? The perennial question….

    What settings do you use for Flip Mino HD. Thus far this is my workflow:

    MpegStreamclip:
    Batch convert using Apple Intermediate Codec at Best / Audio Stereo 48khz, 1280 x 720 (unscaled)

    Into FCP:
    Sequence settings:
    1280 x 720 (HDTV 720p 16:9)
    square
    none
    30
    AIC

    Through Compressor:
    h.264 300 kbs
    640 x 360
    Data rate 2.000
    key frame: auto
    fast start: on
    frame rate: current
    frame controls: off
    multi pass: on
    frame reorder: on

    This creates a file size of 1.41 GB The image quality of the flash video on Blip looks horrible, and the gorgeous QT video on Blip takes ions to load on my indexhibit website. I tried posting on youtube and had worse luck.

    So the question is: how do you get your edit out of fcp and onto the web, and then host them on your website?

    Is it better to encode a flash flv video or QT h264?

    Kind thanks for any help.
    Robin

  25. Balumby says:

    Thank you, =..) I almos cry when I saw my HD videos, I bought a Flip Mino HD I was very excited about it, and it was very dissapointing when I realized my videos were grany I couldn’t see my videos on HD,
    I have a PC I didn’t know how to use the 3ivx
    also english is not my first language I didn’t dare to ask, on the forums because I really didn’t know what to ask I don’t live on the states, I coudl’t ask for much help here, I bought the mino here on Office Depot on my coutnry, The mino has a very basic manual, and of course is very easy to record the video, but, watching that video on HD on a PC is very different, so I spent a lot of time searching on the web, I read everything I could about the codecs, I watch many you tube videos about the mino, I knew that you could see the videos on HD on quick time and that was the first thing that I did when I bought it… but my videos were grainy even on quick time, so, I tried many different things and my videos were bad quality, I was giving up, when I found your article, maybe is very easy and logic for a lot of people that thing about exporting the file, maybe is something basic, but it wasn’t for me, so, when I follow your instructions and at the end when I saw a Much better quality on my video..I really felt I wanted to cry =..) now I can see my beautiful family and friends on a very beautiful movie =D.. I hope you understand what I wrote, but if you don’t, I don’t worry because, eveything I wanted to say is THANK YOU, and I know that you understand that =).

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