Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Intermission: how to crop an AVI file (Florence log 4A)

As I wrote in my previous blog, looking at what was recorded [at SEMS], I see that I am in a small square at the bottom of the picture; I found a video editor on the net which enabled me to crop the film and I'm converting it as I write these words. What I didn't know until after the conversion had finished was that the program had placed a watermark on the picture - on all the resulting video. Obviously I could not keep this result, so I deleted the file along with the program and started looking for another program.

The second program which I found placed a less obtrusive watermark on the cropped version but this too was unusable. I should state that both these programs have free versions (for a given period) but the watermark is their method of causing the user to buy the program.

Further searching led me to a true freeware program called VirtualDub. It took me some time to figure out where the crop function was and even longer to find how to save the resulting file, but eventually I was able to create a cropped video. Strangely, the input file is less than 1GB in size but the cropped file is 14GB.

When I imported this file into the AVI->WMV converter, I noticed two things: the picture was in black and white, and that it was slanted. I also noticed that the converter has a crop function of its own; I tried converting the original file from the camera but the crop function was greyed out. Hmmmm. After a bit of thinking, I realised that VirtualDub might be doing something to the AVI file which caused the converter to enable the crop function; this might have something to do with the huge size of the file.

So: I used VirtualDub to create a copy of the original file; I merely chopped off the beginning and the end, which I didn't want. I then ran this version through the converter: the crop feature was available, so I could choose the section of the picture that I wanted. The conversion took some time, but eventually I had a 750MB WMV file, lasting about 28 minutes and showing what I wanted it to show. Success!

I probably won't ever have to do this again but it's worth documenting. I will probably include only a small section of the talk in the final Italy film (this is easy to do within Microsoft Movie Maker) but I may make a DVD just of the talk itself.

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