Tuesday, January 29, 2008

MPEG Streamclip - Convert a DVD into QuickTime

An increasing number of students are using DVD camcorders. These camcorders often come with proprietary software for editing, and often it is PC only. Bringing these disks into a Mac lab can pose a problem.

Mac users can utilize the powerful freeware application MPEG Steamclip for converting a DVD into a QuickTime file.

MPEG Streamclip is a free video converter, player and editor for Mac and Windows. It can play a number of movies files. It can convert MPEG files between muxed/demuxed formats for authoring. It can encode movies to a number of formats including QuickTime and AVI and it can cut, trim, and join movies. It can also download movies from YouTube and Google by entering the page URL.

Converting a DVD from either a camcorder or a non-copy protected disk into a QuickTime file for editing in either iMovie or Final Cut Pro / Express is easy. Insert the DVD and then launch the MPEG Streamclip application.

For a Quicktime File for use in iMovie:
Go to File > Open DVD. Then select the the DVD.

This will bring up a pop-up menu that says, "Please choose which DVD movie you want to open." On a disk created on a DVD camcorder, each camera start and stop (or shot), becomes its own "movie." Select each shot one at a time. You can preview the shot and determine if you need to make a QuickTime conversion of it.

Then go File > Export to DV.
This brings up a pop-up window with all of the presets made for this type of file. The only thing you might need to change is the aspect ratio.
Press the Make Movie button.

For a QuickTime file for use in Final Cut Pro / Express:
Do the above except for the last step. Instead of selecting Export to DV, instead select Import to QuickTime. From the pop-up you will get a large number of choices. It defaults to Apple Motion JPEG A. You DO NOT want to use this default. Instead, for standard DV that will work in FCP without rendering, you want to select the following:
  • From the Compression pull-down menu select Apple DV/DVCPRO-NTSC (Do not confuse this DV/DVCPR50)
  • Move the Quality slider from its default of 50% to 100%
  • Sound: leave it at Uncompressed - Stereo - Audio
  • Frame Size: 720 x 480 (DV-NTSC)
  • Field Dominance: Lower Field First
  • Make no adjustments on the rotation; Zoom, or Cropping (unless, you want that adjustment for some reason.)
  • Optional: Click on the Presents button and create a new preset that you title: DV NTSC
  • Click the Make Movie button.
See the photo below for the how it should look. The conversion is pretty quick, happening in real time or quicker, depending on the age of your Mac.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Find Video Competitions

A great way to motivate students is have them enter video competitions. An excellent website for finding these contests is Vidopp, which they call "the intersection of Video & Opportunity."

They try to locate all video contests available. Many offer cash prizes or trips to various locations. Some are open to everyone, other are for adults, but many are for teens. You can can do a search of those tagged as "students only."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Student Filmmakers Magazine

I can't speak highly enough of the editor and writers at Student Filmmakers magazine. They produce a magazine that is loaded with a wide range of articles covering every discipline within the filmmaking process. The writing is directed at high school and college readers and features a clear succint style. Recent contributers have included John Badham (War Games), who wrote an article on directing actors.When the magazine launched they allowed students to sign up for free subscriptions. While they have currently discontinued that offer, teachers can order free class sets. That's right, order a box filled with 100, or whatever you need, delivered for free every month. This offer is open to both high schools and colleges in the U.S.To obtain free bulk distribution of magazine for your classroom you need to fax or mail in an application. You can find the instructions at this link.

Update: It appears that they have taken down the free bulk distribution offer. 

See the Video Instructor list of free industry magazines.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Online Filmmaking Seminars - Free

Columbia University hosts a number of short online features about
filmmaking that you can build a lesson around.

The Basics of Scriptwriting is very well done and concise.

A list of all short online film related courses:

Features (Interviews)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

iMovie HD 6 as free download (with a catch)

iMovie '08 is a complete rewrite of Apple's movie editing sofware and offers a new model for creating movies. It sports a new look and provides a fast and easy way create a basic video quickly. Unfortunately, some critics have considered it "a step backwards."

If you didn't kow, iMovie HD 6, previously distributed with iLife ’06, is available free for download for those who have purchased and installed iLife ’08. (NOTE: It will not work if you don't have iLife '08, I tried.)

So, if you purchased a new Mac or bought iLife '08, you should get iMovie HD 6.

The minimum requirements for iMovie HD 6 are:
- A Macintosh computer with a PowerPC G4, G5, or Intel Core processor
- 256 MB of RAM; 512 MB recommended
- High definition video requires a 1 GHz G4 processor or faster and 512 MB of RAM
- Mac OS X 10.3.9 or Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later; Mac OS X 10.4.4 recommended
- Mac OS X 10.4.4 (or later) required for themes, real-time video effects, and audio effects

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Weebly - Free Website Hosting

For people seeking work in the video production field, personal websites have become more important than business cards. You need to site to show your reel and talk about work you have done. Students without any money can consider a number of free web hosting sites. If you don't have the cash to buy a domain, the consider a site like Weebly.com.

One of the benefits with this particular site is the number of templates they offer. They also have a simple "drag and drop" interface. So, you don't have to have a background in web designing to put up a nice looking site.

Check out other free web hosting sites.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Center for Media Literacy

The Center for Media Literacy has a downloadable PDF of key concepts and other educational resources.

Five Key Questions of Media Literacy

1. Who created this message?

2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

3. How might different people understand this message differently than me?

4. What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

5. Why is this message being sent?

Five Core Concepts

1. All media messages are ‘constructed.’

2. Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.

3. Different people experience the same media message differently.

4. Media have embedded values and points of view.

5. Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Stray Cinema - Video Footage - Free

The British website StrayCinema.com is offering an interesting
experiment. They sponsor a video contest where they provide the video
footage and you get to edit it.

There is no specific narrative tied to this footage and you are encouraged to
create something poetic with it. Some students may enjoy practicing
their editing skills with this contest. You can download the raw
footage in the QuickTime, MPEG4, and AVI formats.

Stray Cinema is an open source film. It is an experiment that combines filmmaking with online information sharing. We have shot a film and put the raw footage on this website, so you can download it and make your own version of the film!

We would love you to submit a two minute segment of the film you wish to make with our footage onto this website to be included in our competition.

We challenge you to make a more interesting cut of the film than we do.

Your film will be voted by our online community, and the top five films will debut at our New Zealand screening event.

An archive of the 2007 submissions is available here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Maya Animation Software - Free

For students interested in learning top-end animation software Autodesk's Maya Personal Learning Edition is for you.

Maya Personal Learning Edition (PLE) is a special version of Autodesk® Maya® software, which provides free access to Maya for non-commercial use. It gives 3D graphics and animation students, industry professionals, and those interested in breaking into the world of computer graphics an opportunity to explore most aspects of the award-winning Autodesk® Maya® Complete software in a non-commercial capacity. The Maya Personal Learning Edition software is available for 32-bit Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional and Apple® Mac OS® X (for Macintosh Power PC or Intel-based Macintosh computers) operating systems. Autodesk Maya PLE is based on Autodesk Maya 8.5.

Note that the software is for personal use only:

The Autodesk Maya PLE restricts users to non-commercial applications through the display of a watermark on images as well as through the use of a special non-commercial file format. If you are a business, school, academic institution, training center or any similar type establishment you should not use the Software or Materials, or any Personal Use Files in, or as part of, any business activity or educational or training program.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Music Video Footage - Free

The Guardian newspaper in England with Intel sponsored a music video contest. The contest is over now, but you can still download the video clips and the music and edit your own version 60 second version.

For teachers, this can make a great extra credit filler project. The media is available both in WMV and QuickTime.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


The purpose of this blog is to share resources and instructional ideas on the teaching of video production and related media. High school and even middle school and college teachers are the target audience. It will primarily focus on solutions for Macs, but will also feature resources for other platforms.

It is hoped that not only teachers, but anyone interested in learning about video production will find the information in this blog valuable.

I will explore the use of many free resources, particularly freeware, which is listed on the Apple website.

Expect a new post about once every week. I look forward to sharing ideas from readers. Thanks