Part of my role here at Calvary is “other duties as assigned”. This blog post today is the first in a series with the goal of “documentation for myself and my coworkers category”. This post is from the viewpoint of an IT guy trying to help coworkers out (when you really need a Broadcast engineer for all this video stuff). You’ve been warned ;)
A little background:
Recently we started using MediaShout for some ministries (Youth, Children’s, etc.) It’s a very nice product, but definitely has some quirks. One of those is getting it to play QuickTime files. The nuances of video formats and vendors makes my head hurt, so we’ll skip most of it.
Our Children’s Ministry recently started using some curriculum from Re:Think Group. They get a “packaged” solution, and can adapt it to their needs. Unfortunately, Rethink doesn’t offer their files in a format that works well (supposedly it works perfect if you have Mac’s). Unfortunately we discovered this after purchasing the curriculum (which is marketed as working on Windows OOB).
Note to curriculum vendors: my next post will be highlighting automating this process. You’ll earn big customer loyalty if you provide your video in a format that a non-video/non-techie can use.
So, as part of my helping, I was tasked with finding a solution. After spending a few hours working with the people at Rethink, we reached the conclusion that the only way to get their files to work reliably was to convert them (they primarily provided some h264 format that didn’t work for us). Rethink recommended QuickTime Pro ($30). Fortunately we had a license handy to give it a go.
Using Quicktime to convert video files
- Install QuickTime player, and then register your "Pro” version (the free version doesn’t convert files).
- Open your source file in QuickTime (if it plays w/ QuickTime, you should be able to convert it)
- File –> Export (specifying the destination directory)
- Specify your export settings. In my case I’m exporting with the intent of using these in MediaShout, and I’ve previously decided on “mp4” files:
- Choose “Movie to MPEG-4” in the “Export” menu:
- Click the “Options” button. This will bring up the Export Settings dialogue. We’ll be changing a lot of these settings:
Note: many of these options stay in the format that you last used, i.e. you don’t have to change them every time.
- First of all, change the “File Format” to “MP4” without the (ISMA). Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. What I do know is that vanilla MP4 worked, and MP4 (ISMA) didn’t work in our situation:
- Next, we need to specify a video format. We decided on H.264, because it provides high quality, and high compression, and the source content is H.264:
- Now we need to specify the “Image Size”. We’re just looking to do a format conversion (no scaling), so choose “current”:
- Next we need to change the “Data Rate” (the amount of disk space used during compression). We’re going with 6000kbits/sec (that’s what I picked). Go ahead and replace the current setting with “6000”:
- Now, we need to change some other, more advanced options. Click on the “Video Options” button:
- We’re going to stick with the “Main” profile (that’s the default), but change the “encoding mode” to “Best Quality (Multi-Pass):
- At this point, we’ve set all the options. Before moving on, let’s review the options we’ve set:
- H.264 Video (in an mp4 “wrapper")
- maintain the video size/frame size
- use a video compression rate of 6000kbps (6mbps)
- use the default of 30 fps
- AAC-LC audio, Stereo
- 128kbps audio compression rate
- 44.1 kHz
- Click OK, name your file, and click “Save”
- Go get a cup of coffee, and then (hopefully) it will be done converting your file. If you want to, you can start up multiple conversions simultaneously.
Note: We decided to use Sorenson Squeeze to automate this (detailed in my next post)