Life & much, much more

WIPUP now supports video updates!

Well the Eadrax code (what WIPUP runs on) has always supported updates with video attachments but the live WIPUP site never got to see it in action due to the server not having ffmpeg (video swiss-army knife) installed and playing nice with the latest codecs, permissions, and whatnot. Over the past few days our lovely host OpticEmpire has gotten ffmpeg up and running on the server – and it worked like a charm.

I uploaded a short clip I made a month or so ago to show the company Johnson Controls embracing the Generation Ys. It worked flawlessly – snapshotted a thumbnail halfway through the clip and resized it as necessary, reencoded the file into .flv format (HTML 5 and video tags are on the way folks, but meanwhile we have to keep legacy users happy), and the update page has a lovely in-browser video player courtesy of LongTail Video and their free license on JW Player.

The encoding is done on-the-fly but in the future encoding will be queued by the server so we don’t blow ’em up, and the JW Player will get skinned in a WIPUPish fashion. Note that videos will always be compressed. The point of WIPUP is to dump up unfinished works, and so at the moment it’s simply uneconomical to host uncompressed files.

Go and view the demonstrating update here.

Technical

Tech Tip #6: Reencode any video to ensure compatibility with Windows Media Player

Other very useful tip I picked up when doing video manipulation the other day that deserves its own post is reencoding any video so that it will work on a vanilla Windows Media Player (without any other codecs added). Windows Media Player is probably the most stubborn, pathetic video player the software world has ever seen and unfortunately if you produce a video for the general public to view, you need to make sure WMP is happy to play it.

The tool for such a job is obviously ffmpeg, but the suggested commands on the compatibility page of their site seem to compress the videos to a horrendous state at the same time, so after asking on their IRC channel on freenode this is the command that turned up:

ffmpeg -i input -acodec libmp3lame -ab 128k -vcodec msmpeg4v2 -qscale 3 output.avi

Wonderful. Now I can render to whatever I please and worry about compatibility later.

Technical

Tech Tip #5: Rotate a video by 90 degrees with mencoder

I was recently doing some video editing work where the workflow was something like this: film in portrait, transfer to computer, rotate videos by 90 degrees, sequence together several videos, strip out background noise from entire video. Filming was done with a camera, sequencing was done by Kdenlive (I’ve previously only had experience with Blender’s VSE and I must say I was very happy with this new application), and the noise-stripping was done with Audacity. I must say I’m surprised at how fast this was all accomplished and kudos to all those developers who created these apps.

However one thing I didn’t know how to do was how to rotate the video by 90 degrees. Kdenlive can do it but it ends up being awkwardly stretched and I couldn’t figure out how to unstretch it. Luckily mencoder, which comes with the mplayer package, has got a few tricks up its sleeve.

More for my own records than for anybody else, here’s the command I used:

mencoder -vf rotate=2 -o output.avi -oac pcm -ovc lavc input.mov

As my input file was a .mov some of the sound wasn’t synchronised well after rotating, which was easily fixed by this option -demuxer mov. If you want to rotate clockwise instead of anticlockwise change rotate=2 to rotate=1.

Uncategorized

Poetry Anthology Competition Presentation

I’m taking a bit of a break from my computer, Gentoo, KDE, etc related articles yet again to talk a bit about the vast array of creative and multimedia related creations I produce once in a while. Seeing as you guys must be bored out of your minds from the thumbnails I’ve released of the magazine I’ve been working on, Perspective (see Issue 1, and the more recent Issue 2), I’ve decided to release online a fun presentation I had to do.

The teachers at my school have learned that I know animation, so they’ve taken to shoving every presentation they need at me. This one, being a presentation on a poetry competition (seriously, all I can say is “this is the deadline, these are the themes, get working now”) has sparked off a rebellious nerve in my body, causing some unwarranted video of flying penguins to find its way into the choreography, as well as an opportunity to rickroll my whole school!

Anyways, here is the video:


Poetry Anthology Competition from Dion Moult on Vimeo.

Tools used were Blender and Macromedia Flash. Flash was used for the 2D animation, then exported into Blender. Blender was used for the 3D animation, compositing, and the final video sequencing. A tad bit of Audacity was used as well for sound equalizing and syncing, but that didn’t take up a huge role. Total time taken to produce was approximately 10 hours (including rendering time). Oh, and the stand-up poet clip at the end was compulsory to include, and not part of my doing at all.

And yes, I love the fact that I got to rickroll the entire school.

Other credits go to Florentyna Leow, who gave me the quotes and got the videos of penguins and Rick Astley for me.

Oh, and here’s the link to the Vimeo webpage if you’ve got something against me embedding the video in my blog post. The Vimeo page has a link to download the original 221MB mpg file.

Promise a back-to-techy stuff article soon.