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Advice on camcorder for video of horses to post online

by palominolvr / September 6, 2010 1:12 PM PDT

I have a horse business and need to create sale videos. I would be taking the video outdoors with plenty of light. I need to take a lot of footage then edit it down, put in transitions and titles, etc., for posting on my web site and youtube. I want it to be easily compatible for those uses. I have an Aspire 1410 notebook and have used windows movie maker. My budget is small--what can do the job for the least $$? Thank you in advance for advice.

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In my opinion...
by boya84 / September 6, 2010 11:00 PM PDT

First, the Acer Aspire 1410 is a "netbook" - this a lesser computing platform than a "notebook" or laptop.

Netbooks were not designed to be video editors. They were designed to be a smaller, lightweight (and less horsepower), addition to a tower or desktop computer.

In this case, it is likely that video editing will be possible, but it will depend on the RAM installed (this machine tops out at 4 gig - hope that is the case for yours. The CPU looks OK... and of course, we assume there is available hard drive space (that you will never let go below about 15% of total hard drive space).

The only connectivity the 1410 and a possible camcorder have in common is a USB port. That means you are limited to flash memory and hard disc drive camcorders or cameras that capture video as a convenience feature.

Honestly - with the limited requirements (assuming good audio - external mic - is not a requirement) and good lighting, pretty much any camcorder will do - even the pocket Flip and Sanyo Xacti.

If an external mic is required, then a Canon FS series standard def camcorder is fine.

In any case, the video from the camcorder will probably need to be converted before it gets into an editor. MPEG Streamclip from works well - there are lots of others.

And NEVER use the camcorder handheld. Chair, table, rock, fence post... anything but not handheld.

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What about quality?
by palominolvr / September 6, 2010 11:46 PM PDT
In reply to: In my opinion...

Thanks for your response. I have a pocket vado and it takes ok video but by the time I get it converted it looks fuzzy and distant--not the crisp look I want. I've also taken videos with my little Canon Powershot SD600, and they are better quality but same problem-they're either real jerky or, after conversion, they're wobbly and blurry.

Do you think I'd get better quality with the Canon FS you mentioned?

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If the video is
by boya84 / September 7, 2010 2:30 AM PDT
In reply to: What about quality?

compressed a LOT when it is captured or any time during the process, then video quality will suffer.

I can't see what you see. I don't know what tools you used to "convert". If the cameras are set to record for the longest period of time into the smallest possible file size, then there is LOTS of video compression going on.

Video compression = discarded video data = reduced video quality.

If the "pocket Vado" and the PowerShot SD600 are not set to highest video quality when capturing, the video quality will be poor. Neither of these were designed for "high quality" video capture. They are barely entry-level consumer cams - and in the case of the PowerShot, it is a still camera that happens to capture compressed video as a convenience feature.

Video quality... you get what you pay for.

If your camcorder and camera are capturing in the highest video quality possible (set in their options) and the conversion tool you are using is transcoding to a low-compression video file and the video is being edited, then rendered, to a low compression format, and you still don't like the video quality, there there may be something else going on. Not knowing all the steps, settings and tools you use makes it very difficult to troubleshoot.

There are lots of reasons consumer camcorders and cameras have a range of prices starting around what you paid, a "mid range" of around $00 - $800 and a high end at around $1,200... then the prosumers up to about $3,000 and the pro cams up to about $20,000 and higher... "Video quality" is one of them...

BUT, lets start with your cameras and step through the process. With the subject under nice, bright, sunlight (not in a barn or covered ring, etc.) with the camera or camcorder set to capture video at the highest quality setting:
1) Is the playback in the camera or camcorder OK?
2) Connect the camera or camcorder to a TV. Is that playback acceptable to you? If yes, go to the next step. If no, then the camera/camcorder is not capable of capturing video quality to your requirement and needs to be replace with one that can meet your video quality requirements.
3) When you transfer the video to the computer, can you play that back without using any converter or transcoder - and how it *that* video quality?
4) To get the video into the editor, you convert. Using what? (I like MPEG StreamClip. If you are using MovieMaker, then trancode to low compression WMV files.)

Just so you know, I have a PowerShot SD1000. It captures the same files as the SD600. In a small window (on the camera or small YouTube window) it looks fine - but increase the size to fit a TV or full computer screen and the video is poor (blurry, not crisp). This is due to video compression. If you are expecting crisp and clear video in the full screen mode, you are probably looking at something more than the Canon FS series cams... I am hoping you can share what your video quality expectation is...

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thanks and a few more questions about video quality
by palominolvr / September 8, 2010 11:36 PM PDT
In reply to: If the video is

The playback on my camera is good. When I put the video in movie maker, the playback is extremely halting and choppy-basically unwatchable. I read some instructions online that said publish it as a movie on the setting for best playback on my computer, which I did. That improves the playback quite a bit but the quality goes down so it looks very amateurish (it IS amateurish of course but I'm trying to get to a higher level!). Another thing I've done is downloaded DivX Plus (free for a month) and converted it to some format--it plays great then, but I can't edit it. I could buy the DivX plus or some other program but I'm wondering if I need to buy the Canon SD video record like you're suggesting.
I've never played the video from my Canon 600 on TV but as you say, it would be blurry.
My only goal is to make clear, crisp videos of horses for playback on people's computers, via youtube-and they could make the view full screen on their computer and it would be good quality.
Sorry for taking so much time with probably repetitive descriptions.
If I do go for the Canon SD video recorder, will the videos (1) play clearly on movie maker; (2) need to be compressed through movie maker or some other means?

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Cool - a bit more...
by boya84 / September 9, 2010 6:34 AM PDT
video in movie maker, the playback is extremely halting and choppy-basically unwatchable
This symptom is typical of an underpowered computer - sorry. It could be a simple as quitting unnecessary applications or time consuming as defragmenting the hard drive - or even adding more RAM. Without having the machine in front of me, but these are the typical "low hanging fruit items. When you selected the rendering option you did, that compressed the video - discarded video data - which reduces the video quality. There is no single "best file" for all playback needs. The local computer file playback is different form the upload file (less compression), is different from a DVD, is different from someone using a really fast, high end, computer or an iPod or other media player...

When I render out final projects, I have:
A very high quality, low compression, large file size, computer readable file that is the "archive". If I want to make any other compressed files for any other playback reason, I can use this source file. It is not used for any "day to day" playback.
A "medium" quality, medium compression, file that is made for uploading to video sharing sites. The expectation is it is typically watched in small window mode - make it full screen and it will lose sharpness.
Using the low compression, high quality file (which can be too large to upload) it is the source video for a standard definition DVD (VOB file).

...Canon SD video recorder ... will the videos (1) play clearly on movie maker
As standard definition video, I hope so, but again, not knowing your computer makes this challenging. Keeping in mind that a standard def camcorder is standard def (480 horizontal lines) compared to high definition (at 720 or 1080 horizontal lines). SD resolution is less and video quality is less than high definition...

...Canon SD video recorder ... will the videos (2) need to be compressed through movie maker
Yes - assuming you follow the "render a file for the audience playback method" process, different files of the same project will have different compression resulting in different video quality.

No worries about repetition - clarity sometimes demands it.

I hate to be blunt, and please don't take offense, but your continuing to use low-end gear and require high quality results will be an ongoing source of frustration...
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I like blunt
by palominolvr / September 9, 2010 8:25 AM PDT
In reply to: Cool - a bit more...

I get the message. I guess I am doing that.

I have a really good desktop computer in my home--my 16 year old son's. He needs it for all his online role playing games.

I don't remember if I ever tried viewing any versions on his. I will test out some options and see if they're better quality.

If I could sell some horses, I could afford quality equipment, but I can't sell horses because my videos look cheap and amateurish, so I can't buy better equipment, and therefore . . .

Thanks again for very helpful information and advice.

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Well... Maybe there's another option?
by boya84 / September 9, 2010 9:22 AM PDT
In reply to: I like blunt

I know everyone thinks video is cool and all - and for a horse, I understand it is important to see their gait... but are good quality stills put in a video editor and made into sort of a "slide show" not an option?

I think that is a good troubleshooting measure to check the various video clips on the other computer to understand their playback behavior. (I totally understand - my son's computer is better than mine, too.)

Lots of compression makes smaller files and reduces video quality;
Reduced compression makes bigger files and increases video quality.

MovieMaker can deal with exporting to WMV files. You already learned "playback on this computer" means lots of compression. Don't worry too much about the playback behavior in MovieMaker. Remember, the folks you want watching are likely accessing from YouTube. When you upload the video file to YouTube, they "process" the video before allowing anyone to view... that processing transcodes and compresses the video. No sense your doing their job for them - Upload the highest quality you can within their published parameters.

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