Video, Kodak Zi8 and....help! (Time for experts.)

by Nathan Alexander 36 replies
Hey guys -

This one is for you video experts out there. I googled and searched the forums here, but I just seem to get further confused and add to my list of questions.

Here’s where I’d like to end up:
I want to have high quality videos from my Kodak Zi8 used on my website(s). I plan on using Youtube and/or Viddler and embedding them on my blog.

There are larger screen size videos on Youtube that look stunning – not pixilated or blocky. I know lighting can make or break video, but I’m concerned here more on smoothness and clarity/definition quality so let’s assume there are no problems there.

I’ve seen videos like this so it should be easy right?

As an example, I want to place a video on my blog for school magic shows (I do magic part-time professionally) and have a three minute video introduction including live show footage etc.)

Here are the problems and questions I’ve run into so far:
1) Out of the options on the Zi8 what would you recommend? (I’ve read enough not to use the 1080). 720@60fps? 720@30? The WMA option?

2) Both 720’s look great on my pc. Any sort of conversion software turns them into less quality at least the way I’m doing it. So….

Any conversion software you’d recommend? Or method I’m missing? Youtube does not seem to like the raw .mov file from the Kodak Zi8 as it is. So when I convert, I’m losing the quality there.

3) Plus – What screen resolution should I use? Do I convert to a smaller resolution on my end? Or do I tell Youtube to do that for me and start from a much larger video ignoring the resolution it starts at? Does this make sense?

4) File size. The movies from the camera are huge. (They can be a few hundred megabytes for just a matter of minutes. Can a 1GB video become converted to 20 or 30 Mbs?) What step do I need to concern myself with to make them much smaller? I’ve read here the format obviously makes a difference. Avi versus mp4 versus flv and that kind of thing. How do I choose?

Do I convert the file (and by the way is “render” a different word for the same thing or an entirely different process?), then further compress it somehow? I see so many great videos and I know they are much smaller in size, but yet still fantastic quality.

5) Hosting. I also wonder if the tradeoffs of hosting the vids yourself versus Youtube and the like mean more control over all of the above. Is this true? Would Amazon S3 be a good solution for hosting the videos? I’ve read here it’s inexpensive and worth avoiding the pain of hosting your own video for bandwidth reasons. If so, is there a player you recommend? Know of any good walkthroughs?
I have several applications (free and otherwise) that are available to me for conversions and editing. But I haven’t found a combination that has worked out for me.

As a last example, fellow warrior Derek Franklin has a great video about publishing a book on amazon.com on his site, and the quality looks great. I’d like to emulate that.

I know those questions could keep you typing for a looong time guys. I hate to be a bother and I appreciate any help! Thanks guys….
#main internet marketing discussion forum #andhelp #experts #kodak #time #video #zi8
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  • Profile picture of the author Han Fan
    Hi,

    I am jump in here give my 2 cents..

    I have the same cam..

    but in reality you need two of Cameras...

    you need what they called soft light, or soft box...

    go to walmart get a bed sheet that is total black..

    over your wall with it, this will be your background..

    you than use different soft box to balance out the light..

    do a test shoot, see how it comes out...

    than set up two cameras: one do close shot, another one do far away shot...

    shooting them at same time... than you can just video editing software... edit all the bugs out...

    all you do is swap, between those two films...

    I hope that helps

    Han




    Originally Posted by Nathan Alexander View Post

    Hey guys -

    This one is for you video experts out there. I googled and searched the forums here, but I just seem to get further confused and add to my list of questions.

    Here’s where I’d like to end up:
    I want to have high quality videos from my Kodak Zi8 used on my website(s). I plan on using Youtube and/or Viddler and embedding them on my blog.

    There are larger screen size videos on Youtube that look stunning – not pixilated or blocky. I know lighting can make or break video, but I’m concerned here more on smoothness and clarity/definition quality so let’s assume there are no problems there.

    I’ve seen videos like this so it should be easy right?

    As an example, I want to place a video on my blog for school magic shows (I do magic part-time professionally) and have a three minute video introduction including live show footage etc.)

    Here are the problems and questions I’ve run into so far:
    1) Out of the options on the Zi8 what would you recommend? (I’ve read enough not to use the 1080). 720@60fps? 720@30? The WMA option?

    2) Both 720’s look great on my pc. Any sort of conversion software turns them into less quality at least the way I’m doing it. So….

    Any conversion software you’d recommend? Or method I’m missing? Youtube does not seem to like the raw .mov file from the Kodak Zi8 as it is. So when I convert, I’m losing the quality there.

    3) Plus – What screen resolution should I use? Do I convert to a smaller resolution on my end? Or do I tell Youtube to do that for me and start from a much larger video ignoring the resolution it starts at? Does this make sense?

    4) File size. The movies from the camera are huge. (They can be a few hundred megabytes for just a matter of minutes. Can a 1GB video become converted to 20 or 30 Mbs?) What step do I need to concern myself with to make them much smaller? I’ve read here the format obviously makes a difference. Avi versus mp4 versus flv and that kind of thing. How do I choose?

    Do I convert the file (and by the way is “render” a different word for the same thing or an entirely different process?), then further compress it somehow? I see so many great videos and I know they are much smaller in size, but yet still fantastic quality.

    5) Hosting. I also wonder if the tradeoffs of hosting the vids yourself versus Youtube and the like mean more control over all of the above. Is this true? Would Amazon S3 be a good solution for hosting the videos? I’ve read here it’s inexpensive and worth avoiding the pain of hosting your own video for bandwidth reasons. If so, is there a player you recommend? Know of any good walkthroughs?
    I have several applications (free and otherwise) that are available to me for conversions and editing. But I haven’t found a combination that has worked out for me.

    As a last example, fellow warrior Derek Franklin has a great video about publishing a book on amazon.com on his site, and the quality looks great. I’d like to emulate that.

    I know those questions could keep you typing for a looong time guys. I hate to be a bother and I appreciate any help! Thanks guys….
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    • Profile picture of the author Chris Grable
      Originally Posted by Han Fan View Post

      Hi,

      I am jump in here give my 2 cents..

      I have the same cam..

      but in reality you need two of Cameras...

      you need what they called soft light, or soft box...

      go to walmart get a bed sheet that is total black..

      over your wall with it, this will be your background..

      you than use different soft box to balance out the light..

      do a test shoot, see how it comes out...

      than set up two cameras: one do close shot, another one do far away shot...

      shooting them at same time... than you can just video editing software... edit all the bugs out...

      all you do is swap, between those two films...

      I hope that helps

      Han
      Han, This sounds great, but I am having trouble imagining it in application. Would you mind pointing us to a sample video somewhere?

      Thanks!
      chris
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    • Profile picture of the author Algo
      Originally Posted by Han Fan View Post

      Hi,

      but in reality you need two of Cameras...

      than set up two cameras: one do close shot, another one do far away shot...

      shooting them at same time... than you can just video editing software... edit all the bugs out...

      Han
      I don't use 2 cameras for this... just one. When I need to edit out a bug, I just "zoom in" on (or scale up) the picture in my video editing application (Final Cut Pro).

      I don't know if this feature is common among other video editors, but I find this way of doing things much easier (and cheaper) than having two cameras and editing between the footage from both.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brad Gosse
    I can't tackle all your questions but I can say this.

    The bigger your file size the better. Youtube allows 2GB files so it's better to let them compress it their way.

    One often overlooked factor is bitrate. You can convert that mov to an MP4 using a high bitrate (say 5000-9000 kbps) and it should remain in good condition. Not sure how the kodak works but watch out for interlaced formats. Progressive is always better online. FFMPeg is a great conversion app.

    Make sure when converting you maintain original frame rate.

    Other factors like using a tripod affect quality as well. Less motion makes for a better video.

    Hope that helps
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    • Profile picture of the author Nathan Alexander
      Originally Posted by Brad Gosse View Post

      I can't tackle all your questions but I can say this.

      The bigger your file size the better. Youtube allows 2GB files so it's better to let them compress it their way.

      One often overlooked factor is bitrate. You can convert that mov to an MP4 using a high bitrate (say 5000-9000 kbps) and it should remain in good condition. Not sure how the kodak works but watch out for interlaced formats. Progressive is always better online. FFMPeg is a great conversion app.

      Make sure when converting you maintain original frame rate.

      Other factors like using a tripod affect quality as well. Less motion makes for a better video.

      Hope that helps
      Hey Brad,

      That helps a lot! You cleared up a few questions I forgot to ask about (what about bitrate and that kind of thing?) so thank you.

      Totally cool. And it makes sense about giving Youtube a huge file. Thanks!

      (I have a lot less head-scratching now. In fact most of the rest is probably just the lice. Kidding.)

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      • Profile picture of the author Brad Gosse
        Originally Posted by Nathan Alexander View Post

        Hey Brad,

        That helps a lot! You cleared up a few questions I forgot to ask about (what about bitrate and that kind of thing?) so thank you.

        Totally cool. And it makes sense about giving Youtube a huge file. Thanks!

        (I have a lot less head-scratching now. In fact most of the rest is probably just the lice. Kidding.)

        You're welcome

        I should also mention whenever possible use h.264 when compressing mp4 files Youtube uses the same codec.
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        • Profile picture of the author Maddi
          Originally Posted by Brad Gosse View Post

          You're welcome

          I should also mention whenever possible use h.264 when compressing mp4 files Youtube uses the same codec.
          Hey Brad, Just wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that I love the videos you do on your blog and love the content plus your genuine and authentic style. Keep up the good work mate!

          Nathan, I've ordered my Kodak Zi8 and its due to arrive anytime now, I really don't know if I'll bother with the lighting [I'm technophobic] but it would be nice to see your results after you take the input from this thread.

          Do let us know what works best for you so that we can benefit.

          All the Best

          Maddi
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    • Profile picture of the author mcmahanusa
      I can't tackle all your questions either, but one thing I can address is your background: to have the greatest flexibility on how your video looks, as well as having the ability to have a really interesting background, you should use a green screen. I found a video that shows you how to build your own screen and light it for very low cost. Here is the link:How to build a cheap and portable green screen | Video « Wonder How To

      I used this tutorial myself, and it works great. In the video the green screen is constructed using green cloth. Almost any good fabric store will carry a cloth that is the right color. A fabric store where I live was able to provide me with fabric that was perfect. This a common request, and the manager of the store should have the perfect solution.
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      • Profile picture of the author mcmahanusa
        Brad mentioned a tripod. He's absolutely right. If you are on a tight budget (who isn't?), you can get a Targus 50 inch tripod from Amazon for $14.99 or a 58 inch one for $25.34 (the one I use myself) Tripods can cost a lot, and usually you get what you pay for, but for indoor use, or very careful outdoor use, this inexpensive tripod can do the trick.
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  • Profile picture of the author Shannon Herod
    I use the Kodak and zi8 almost daily. Here is what I do...

    I record at 720P. 60 frames per second. Then, I insert it into Camtasia studio, believe it or not, and then output at a screen size of 1280 x 720 in MP4 format.

    This produces stellar quality at relatively low file sizes. I believe this would be a perfect fit for you if you have Camtasia studio.
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    • Profile picture of the author seobro
      I had those cameras. The quality of the video was so very poor. Get a canon sx20 is. The quality is XLent, sound is on stereo, and it is not that expensive. About twice the kodak which is junk in my opinion. Yeah, I still have it, but no longer in use.

      To edit video use sony vegas. I also have other programs. For example, ulead video studio which you can get on ebay for very little money.

      Also, the canon has an XLent zoom. It is 20X, and plus max macro.
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  • Profile picture of the author tommygadget
    Something also to keep in mind. If you have a good webcam and use 640x480 capture and you use Windows Movie Maker's 720 settings, it will look like complete garbage when you're done. I know this is a bit off your initial request, but it's worth saying that Google also likes certain resolutions and sometimes you have to experiment to get the upload format in a format that compresses nicely. Hope that's helpful somehow

    TomG.
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  • Profile picture of the author glycodoc
    You may find helpful info on a site called "Web Video University".
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  • Profile picture of the author Deepak Media
    Check out these articles. It will has answers to some of your questions.

    The Best Formats And Resolutions For Online Videos

    Flip Ultra HD vs Kodak Zi8 – A Comprehensive Comparison
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  • Profile picture of the author pcpupil
    Try this website.
    He has all kinds of videos on how to do things.
    Articles,ect.
    This no affiliate link and i have nothing to do with this site.
    maybe video help
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  • Profile picture of the author Quentin
    Get the new Windows Movie Maker which is free and the videos play great inside and allows basic editing.

    Save as wma and it will crunch it down with good sampling and ready for youtube.

    Have a look at dons video which is pretty informative.


    Quentin
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  • Profile picture of the author Nathan Alexander
    I've only got a sec...

    But I wanted to say I've got some awesome answers here, and some great results! Will share them soon with you all.
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  • Profile picture of the author mcmahanusa
    Originally Posted by Chris Kent View Post

    Hey guys, I appreciate the videos and links, just spent a few minutes looking at options.

    Question about the Zi8 if I may. I see it records in .mov format. Any problems with this format? I hope you don't have to install a whole suite of Apple tools or anything??
    Chris,

    I just got my own Kodak, and haven't had a chance to use it yet, but I have AVS Video Converter 6, and supposedly I can use it to convert .mov to MP4 format. I will be doing that at the end of this coming week.

    I got the AVS Video Converter free from their website. Here's the link:
    AVS Video Converter: perfect for home video conversion. Convert video fast & easily!
    I hope that link works, I got it through Google search.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulwa
    re zi8, before buying I'd check out the new Kodak Playtouch, come out later this month, very similar but better screen.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nathan Alexander
    @Tim - I'd be interested. Let us know!

    @paulwa - Now isn't that just the best. I go and get a Kodak Zi8 and now this! Although that's how it always is isn't it? I looked it up - and I'm jealous. Shouldn't be though, I'm really lovin' the Zi8 right now.

    Fantastic piece of hardware. And Fun.
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  • Profile picture of the author Quentin
    The new Windows Movie Makes is great for the ZI8


    Quentin
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  • Profile picture of the author ChrisCree
    I shoot a fair amount of video with the Zi8 and it's a great little camera for the price. I've seen some of Shannon's (above) video and he knows what he's talking about.

    Personally I use 720p at 30 fps. Unless your video has lots of fast pans or things moving across the screen quickly (like with a sporting event for example) you shouldn't notice any real gain in quality stepping up to 60 fps and your raw video file size will be about half as big.

    Having hosted a bunch of video on my own server too (in addition to video sharing sites) I've found that bit rate has a huge impact on final file size, and on sharpness. If you're using YouTube, it's not as big a deal because they convert the files to the specs they need.

    Resolution (video image dimensions) will have a big impact on your file size too. I shoot most things in 1280x720. But when I'm hosing my own videos I cut it in half to 640x360 (via my editing software) so that they stream better for people with slower DSL connections. Again when using video sharing sites this is not an issue.

    Lighting makes a huge difference in quality, especially if you are using green screen. I went to Home Depot and got some $7 clip on work lights and a mix of florescent bulbs for them. Most of the bulbs I use are full spectrum "sunlight" to give a more natural color and I use a couple "soft white" bulbs to give some yellow-ish highlights. Took a bunch of experimentation to get it looking good. I use 6 total lights when I'm shooting green screen to get even light on the screen behind me and good lighting on me at the same time. And I use some bubble wrap to diffuse the main light on me so that it doesn't cast a shadow on the green screen and make matting harder. (Yes the fluorescent bulbs are cool enough to use bubble wrap close to them.)

    One tip that will make things easier for indoor shooting: close your blinds to keep out as much sunlight as possible. Your videos will be more consistent that way. Otherwise the sun will go behind a cloud and your whole shot may change color and look totally different.

    I've done a bunch of green screen work and it takes a bit of doing to get decent mattes with it (so that you don't have a green glow or a fuzzy outline.) I'm on a Mac had to teach myself how to use Final Cut Express to get good mattes and still be able to edit them well.

    I ended up buying a plugin for FCE called dv Garage dvMatte Pro (I don't yet have the 15 posts required to link to it. Sorry.).

    At $200 it seems kind of pricey (especially when FCE only costs $150 when bought pre-installed on a Mac). But for me it was totally worth it. The final edit of my video training course was over 9-1/2 hours, most of it on green screen, and with dvMatte Pro I could get crystal clear mattes with about 4 mouse clicks. Every time. The untold hours it saved me was TOTALLY worth it!

    And one last point. Sound will make a huge difference in the overall quality of your videos too. Using a lavaliere (lapel) mic and plugging it into the Zi8's mic input will dramatically improve your sound quality. Just know that most mics are mono and the Zi8's mic input is stereo. You can get a mono-to-stereo adapter at Radio Shack for like $4 so that your sound comes through on both channels and not just on one side.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nathan Alexander
    ChrisCree, that's a lot of great info. Thanks for the specs and help.

    I can tell (from what you wrote as well as my own experimentation) that this camera is more than capable of doing nice work. Now I just have to do my share to support it.

    The mic mono-to-stereo adapter you mentioned? Does that work with those entry level mics I've seen mentioned around here that you know of in an easy way? Like the Audio Technica ATR-3350Audio Technica ATR-3350 for example? I believe that one's in mono.
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    • Profile picture of the author ChrisCree
      Originally Posted by Nathan Alexander View Post

      The mic mono-to-stereo adapter you mentioned? Does that work with those entry level mics I've seen mentioned around here that you know of in an easy way? Like the Audio Technica ATR-3350 for example? I believe that one's in mono.
      Yes, it does. In fact I did most of my recording with the ATR-3350 and was confused at first because everyone raved about it but I could only get it to record on one audio channel. Then I figured out the camera jack is stereo and the mic is mono. The adapter I got at Radio Shack took care of that.

      The ATR-3350 is a wired mic, which is great. It needs a little battery to power it that you can find at Wal-Mart.

      But I guess I tend to be a little clumsy. I would step on the cord and pull on it from the little clip on switch/battery compartment in the cable from time to time. Eventually I ended up breaking the mic and mine stopped working.

      Recently I got a wireless mic from Radio Shack for around $50 so I don't have that problem again.
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  • Profile picture of the author ChrisCree
    Originally Posted by Chris Kent View Post

    My headset mike has 2 rings on the jack. Does this mean it is mono to stero already?
    I'd have to test it to be sure, Chris. Most mics tend to be mono until you get up into the more expensive ones. If your headset has an ear piece speaker, like for a Skype headset, it would probably just be a mono mic.

    But if it is only a mic and has two black rings then it probably is a stereo mic.

    The easy way to test it is to plug it into the camera and shoot a little video. When you upload the video to your camera if the sound is coming out of both speakers equally you are good to go. If you only hear sound out of one side (or it is horribly out of balance) then you probably have a mono mic and the adapter should fix it.
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  • Profile picture of the author ChrisCree
    Nathan, I don't have enough posts yet to reply to your PM directly. Here's the info you asked for:

    The one I have looks like this:
    1/8" Stereo Plug to 1/8" Mono Plug Adapter - RadioShack.com

    I went to the store and told them what I needed. They took me to the shelf where it was. It might have been less than $4. I don't remember but I know it wasn't much.
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  • Profile picture of the author Victoralexon
    Deepak (View Profile: Deepak Media) knows a ton about creating videos. I would suggest that you contact him, maybe he can help you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nathan Alexander
    Thanks Chris, I really appreciate it.

    Nathan
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