Monday, December 28, 2009

Using MP4 Video Files with Corel Video Studio 12

Normally I shoot video on a Leica C-Lux 2 digital compact camera. This is primarily a stills camera with the normal low resolution video camera setting, but hidden inside the menus is a widescreen high resolution mode at 848x480 pixels. I have successfully used this to create HD movies like this using Corel Video Studio 12. I export the .mov files from the cameras HD card, edit the movie in Corel Video Studio and then save as an HD file which upscales to 720p. Its not perfect but it does work, and it forces Youtube to recognise it as an HD file - allowing the full 848x480 resoultion to be utilised.

The advantage of the C-Lux 2 is that it has optical image stabilisation. The disadvatages over a camcorder are that it does not allow zooming during a shot and it only has a three times optical zoom which is not really sufficient. I have been considering getting a Panasonic HD Camcorder, but over Christmas I had the chance to borrow a Toshiba Camileo HD-DV Camcorder which shoots in 720p.

Although it shoots in 720p the lens is of an inferior quality to the Leica C-Lux 2. It produces a higher resolution video output but the mechanical resolution of the image is inferior to the 848x480 from the Leica, even after upscaling. Also, the Toshiba does not have optical image stabilisation which is very noticeable on a zoom.

I was able to copy the MP4 files from the SD card to my computer very easily but then Corel Video Studio came up with the error "file format mismatch" when I tried to import them for editing. Overcoming thisd was not particularly difficult as I have a program called Total Video Converter. I normally use this for converting video files to Ipod type MP4 for putting on my mobile phone but it can also convert files to Apple .mov format (which is the type of file produced by the Leica camera).
I set the program to maximum quality, .mov MP4 file type and accepted all the other default settings. Then I set the output directory to the same directory I had the original files in and ran the conversion. It did not take long to convert all the files and the converted versions appeared to be of identical quality to the original ones when I viewed them in Nero Showtime.

After analysing the original and converted files using Gspot I found this:

Original File - MP4 .mp4

Codec: avc1
Type: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC

mp4a: MPEG-4 AAC LC
48000Hz 128 kb/s tot , stereo (2/0)

Converted File - MP4 .mov

Codec: mp4v
Type: ISO MPEG-4

mp4a: MPEG-4 AAC LC
48000Hz , stereo (2/0)

I did a bit of investigating and H.264/MPEG-4 AVC was introduced in 2003. ISO MPEG-4 was introduced in 1998.

Corel Video Studio 12 was released in 2008 but it started as a much earlier product (Ulead Video Studio) so its underlying systems predate the newer MP4 format. I have done some research and it looks like the newest version "Video Studio x2" will handle H.264 MP4 files natively, although I can't guarantee this.

If I do change to a Panasonic HD Camcorder they use yet another file type so I will need to investigate what I need and maybe upgrade to Video Studio X2. Until then I will settle with using the video conversion process while I test the Toshiba camera.