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They say the third time is the charm
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DickBaldwin
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Default They say the third time is the charm - 04-18-2008, 08:40 PM

You can find my third, and so far best effort to create a video of an animation and post it on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7r6BmaXUMdw

This is much better quality than the previous one, particularly with regard to the visual quality of the background scenery. For anyone who may be interested, I will document my settings.

I captured the program output into a large avi file using the free screen capture program named CamStudio. Then I trimmed the ends and converted it to a wmv file using Windows Movie Maker.

For the second step, I downloaded and attempted to use a movie editing program named VideoSpin but I couldn't get the editing portion of the program to work. The reason I tried it in place of Windows Movie Maker is because it can produce a Flash output file that is directly compatible with YouTube. This eliminates one format conversion that has the potential of degrading the visual quality of the video. I was able to use VideoSpin to produce the Flash output file, but once again, I couldn't get the editing portion to work the way I thought it should. (Maybe the problem was simply a short between my ears but I gave up and went back to Movie Maker.)

Here are my settings for CamStudio for those items that seem to be critical:

On the Region menu, I selected the Fixed Region option. This causes the program to produce a 320x240 rectangle when you click the record button. You drag the rectangle onto the screen and place it where you want the capture to occur. When you click the left mouse button, recording begins, and includes everything inside the 320x240 rectangle.

Options Menu
VideoOptions
Compressor: Microsoft Video 1
Quality: 100 (This is the maximum allowable value.)
Check the Auto Adjust checkbox and all of the other values are set automatically.
I selected Do not record audio for this video, because there wasn't any audio. In an earlier test of Chris101b's War Zone video with lots of audio, I found that it worked well to select Record audio from speakers. Then under Audio Options/Audio Options for Speakers, I set the Recording Volume slider at about the 1/4 point from the left end. Any higher and I got garbled sound. Any lower, and the sound volume was too low.
Under Program Options, I selected Save Settings on Exit and Capture Translucent/Layered Windows (I believe this is the default.) I selected Normal for Recording Thread Priority.
View Menu - I selected Normal.

On the button bar, I selected Record to AVI. I didn't record the Flash output because I needed to edit the file to clean up the ends and I don't believe that Windows Movie Maker will accept a Flash file as input for editing (although I didn't try it).

That is pretty much it for CaMStudio. Just click the red button, place the 320x240 rectangle on the portion of the screen that you want to capture and click the left mouse button. Recording will begin. Start your Alice program running. When you have recorded enough, click the blue button to stop the recording. Enter a file name for the output file when requested. After the avi file is written, CamStudio will play it for you.

Editing the video
Start Windows Movie Maker
Start a new project on the file menu
Select Import video on the left and point to your avi file.

You should see your video being loaded. It will probably be automatically subdivided into a set of sequential clips represented by rectangular images.

Read the help screen or search the web for instructions on how to edit your video. It is really straightforward to trim the ends and put a title at the beginning. I didn't do anything else.

When you are happy with the edited video, select "Save to my computer" on the left.

Enter a file name and directory and click Next. (Don't put .wmv on the file name, else it will appear on the file name twice.)

Check the radio button labeled Other settings.

Select "Video for braodband (512 Kbps)" in the pull-down list and click the Next button.

Depending on the speed of your computer and the size of the video file, it may take a long time to write the output file. The computer in my office at the college required about 15 minutes to write the wmv file for Chris101b's WarZone video. My computer at home only took about one minute to do the same thing.

If you want to view the movie immediately, click the checkbox that reads "Play movie when I click Finish" and then click Finish. This will put you back in movie edit mode, possibly with the video running in Windows Media Player.

If you have a YouTube account, you can upload the wmv file to YouTube. Note that when it is displayed on YouTube, the wmv file will converted to a Flash file format and enlarged to 425x350. This enlargement causes some degradation in visual quality. This is where it may be advantageous to create a Flash output file instead of a wmv file. It may be possible to create the Flash output for 425x350 and avoid the enlargement of the 320x240 wmv file to a 425x350 Flash file. I haven't seen anything on the web about this one way or the other.

This is not a very organized explanation, but maybe it will help someone who would like to put their Alice videos on YouTube and don't want to spend the entire day experimenting with various program settings like I did.

Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm
   
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Video Uploading to YouTube
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DrJim
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Default Video Uploading to YouTube - 04-20-2008, 11:31 AM

Thanks for the posting. Not sure it will avoid still having to do an afternoon of experimenting before doing a first YouTube upload, but at least it will eliminated some dead end paths.

A couple of comments - with the caution I have never uploaded video specifically to YouTube.

1. From "YouTube4You" :

"YouTube stores and serves its videos in the H.263 variant of the Adobe Flash video format, with a .FLV file extension. That said, you can't …upload in the Flash format." The book was published in May, 2007 so - in keeping with my earlier warnings - this may be out of date information.

2. As far as editing .flv files goes - this is something I have found to be very difficult. Usually when you get Flash files to the point where other programs can edit them, there has been a conversion to the .swf format. Don't know whether this is a Adobe/ Macromedia vs. Microsoft issue or a technical issue - and if anyone does have a good approach (other than the Adobe products, which are excellent but very expensive) I would like to know about it. (For teachers, the Adobe educational discounts are pretty good - but the software is still relatively expensive.)

3. In dealing with the .avi format, remember that, as far as requirements go, it is just a "container" format. That is it only defines standard header and ending fields - the actual file content can have a variety of formats - and the video and audio compression formats are not required to be of any specific form. (By comparison, MPEG-4 and MP3 are specific compression formats that can be embedded in a variety of "containers" - though even these have several allowed options.) This distinction is not always clear - or even shown - in the process of setting up a specific CODEC.

4. For output from Movie Maker that I want to use to work with further in a video editor (most of what I do), I have found the DV-AVI (NTSC) option the best choice. This gives you an uncompressed (and hence huge) video file with the necessary settings to be compatible with North American TV - most notably frame rate. Using this as a starting video file using the (free) DviX CODEC to compress the file for uploading YouTube seems to give pretty good results - though I have not seen a comparison with other approaches. Where the uncompressed format does shine is for such things as chroma mix and shape manipulation where the compression artifacts can have very negative effects on the results - though the resulting file sizes are far to large for uploads or downloads via the web. (A DVD in a good shipping box and snail mail does work quite well.)

Note: Haven't tried it, but it might be worth uploading a 640 x 480 version of the video. Usually shrinking an image gives less problems than enlarging it. Be sure to also view the video in a 320 x 240 version before actually uploading the bigger version, however.

Last edited by DrJim; 04-20-2008 at 11:40 AM. Reason: Added upload size note
   
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DickBaldwin
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Default 04-20-2008, 11:55 AM

Good advice DrJim,

Thanks,
Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm
   
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John_Clark
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Default 04-21-2008, 11:25 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DickBaldwin View Post
Did you modify the Alice program?

The cars look a little larger and the text looks a little smaller as though the camera is closer to the cars.

Also, the cars seem to be moving in spurts instead of moving smoothly when I play your video on my computer. Were they moving in spurts when you ran the Alice program on your computer to capture the output and make the video?

Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm
I just changed the screen size other then that everything is at defalt settings.
   
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DickBaldwin
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Default 04-22-2008, 07:36 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by John_Clark View Post
I just changed the screen size other then that everything is at defalt settings.
Increasing the screen size would change the relative sizes of the cars and the text. I wonder if departing from 320x240 also caused it to appear that the cars were moving in spurts instead of moving smoothly. That could simply be the result of computer speed. Do you recall if you saw that behavior while the video was being captured?

Thanks,
Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm
   
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John_Clark
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Default 04-22-2008, 11:21 AM

Actually now that you mention it the only time that jerking has happened to me was when I was recording with camstudio anyother time it never jerked.
   
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DickBaldwin
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Default 04-22-2008, 04:41 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by John_Clark View Post
Actually now that you mention it the only time that jerking has happened to me was when I was recording with camstudio anyother time it never jerked.
That probably indicates that having CamStudio running concurrently with Alice simply placed too much load on the computer.

Thanks for your help.

Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm
   
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Compression "Noise"
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DrJim
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Default Compression "Noise" - 04-23-2008, 11:45 AM

I was working on the attached image this morning and realized it was a good example of the type of the (impressively small) noise you get when running a data compression algorithm on an image. The left photo is the original compressed image - the right is the same data after having been run through a "JPEG Noise Removal" filter in Paint Shop Pro.

(The first couple of YouTube videos posted by Dick Baldwin also show this type of noise.)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Compression Noise.JPG (24.5 KB, 163 views)
   
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DickBaldwin
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Default 04-23-2008, 11:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJim View Post
(The first couple of YouTube videos posted by Dick Baldwin also show this type of noise.)
What did you think about the visual quality of my third video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7r6BmaXUMdw

Although I have done quite a bit of work with regard to the programming aspects of static images, videos are a whole new world for me. I am definitely on a steep learning curve.

Don't worry about hurting my feelings with your comments. Just tell me what you think. My main objective in this area is to learn how to convert the output from animation programs into high-quality YouTube videos for educational purposes, hopefully using a simple recipe that works well most of the time.

By the way, my previous efforts in the online video area have resulted in lots of CODEC problems. This is what caused my interest in using YouTube. Somehow, YouTube seems to be able to distribute videos that are compatible with almost all client computers.

Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm

Last edited by DickBaldwin; 04-23-2008 at 12:01 PM. Reason: Update
   
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lanceA
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Default 04-23-2008, 02:11 PM

It could be my eyes Dick, but even when I put my glasses on, the video appears to be somewhat blurred.

It could just be me though!! . . . or dirty eye glasses

Also, I have absolutely zero/zilch experience in working with video. I ordered Camtasia today so now I can begin my experience in this new area.
   
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