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Recording and editing video on a Macintosh

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Creating a World of Warcraft movie is, at a minimum, a 2 step process. The video must first be captured and then encoded.

Prior to the Patch 2.2.0 release of World of Warcraft, two commercial software programs allowed screen video capture in game: iShowU and SnapzProX. The default recording path of files for the World of Warcraft video recorder is by default World of Warcraft/Movies. This folder can be changed by adding SET MovieRecordingPath "/Volumes/SomeDisk" in the World of Warcraft/WTF/config.wtf file.

World of Warcraft Video Recorder Options Edit

This recorder is supported by Blizzard Entertainment, so assistance can be found at the World of Warcraft Macintosh Forums.

The recorder has many options which can be accessed from the Mac Options submenu of the Game Menu. These Options are as follows:

  • Record the User Interface: the video records with the interface shown.
  • Record the Cursor: records the position of the cursor. Requires the User Interface to be recorded as well.
  • Record Sound: adds an audio track to the video, playing game sounds such as casting and emote speech. (unconfirmed does not record in-game chat)
  • Show Recording Icon: shows a recording icon on the minimap when recording.
  • Compress at Log In: compresses recorded video only after logging in. For optimum encoding speed, it is suggested that the framerate of the game when run in the background be set to a low value (2) by typing “/console maxfpsbk 2” into chat.
  • Compress after Recording: after stopping the recording, the video will be compressed. You can not record a new video while the old video is compressing.
  • Resolution: The maximum resolution is set by the “Video” menu and the maximum raw video recording abilities of your Macintosh. For input into most video editing applications (such as iMovie), a 4:3 ratio is recommended, such as 640x480 (VGA). Large values will slow system and game performance.
  • Framerate: The maximum speed of in-game action captured by the recorder. Values higher than the in-game frame rate are effectively reduced to the in-game frame rate. Most video editing applications will want to use 29.97 (NTSC) or 23.98 (PAL). Large values will slow system and game performance.
  • Compression: reduces the size of the video file by removing redundant data and slight detail.
    • Motion JPEG: a very common codec used by consumer digital still cameras when recording video. Records individual frames therefore making extremely large files. Choose this codec for minimum loss of data when editing on a program that does not support Apple Intermediate files (such as an editor that runs on Windows or Linux).
    • H.264: a powerful compression codec suitable to create video suitable for sharing with others over the internet. Choose this codec for the typically smallest compressed video file.
    • Apple Intermediate: a faster codec suitable for editing. Creates large files, but compresses better than Motion JPEG. Choose this codec if editing of your video will be done on your Macintosh with a program that supports Quicktime.
    • MPEG-4: another powerful compression codec that makes files larger than H.264 but is directly supported in iMovie. Use this codec for fast iMovie additions (such as an audio track or some overlay text).
    • Quality: quality of compression. Set to a low value to decrease video compression time, set to a high value for a sharper final video.
  • Display iTunes remote feedback: records the on-screen information created by iTunes remote.
  • Display all iTunes track changes: records the on-screen track changes from iTunes.

Encoding RecommendationEdit

Typical videos (since most Macintoshes come with a version of iLife/iMovie) should be at a resolution of 640x480@23.97 framerate, encoded with MPEG-4.

For entry-level HD encoding using a 2.8 GHz iMac with 4 GB RAM or a superior system, record at 1280*800 @ fps 1/2 of game frame rate, and compress with H.264 for smaller files and virtually the same quality as MPEG-4. Set Quality to High. This can then be letterboxed to fit 'normal' 1280*720 HD format.

External Audio Recording and Editing Edit

Audio recording of sounds not made by the World of Warcraft game can be recorded by three programs: Soundflower (freeware), Audio Hijack Pro (commercial) and the very simple and easy-to-use WireTap Studio (commercial).

Audio editing can be done with the GPL-licensed program Audacity.

Macintosh Movie Editing Edit

The following iMovie example was done in iMovie HD 6.0.3. Source video was MPEG-4, 640x480@23.97 fps.

iMovie Edit

  1. Start up iMovie and select “Create a New Project”.
  2. In the next window, type in a project name and click the triangle next to “Video Format” (which is above the create button).
  3. Select MPEG-4 in the Video Format pull-down menu and click create.
  4. Drag your World of Warcraft video into the project window as well as your audio track.
  5. At this point, play with the program until the video is satisfactory.
  6. When finished, type the shortcut key to export the video: Shift+Command()+E.
  7. Click the Quicktime button and select “Expert Settings” from the drop-down menu. Then click “Share”
  8. Name your movie and choose “Movie to Quicktime Movie" in the Export drop-down menu and choose “Default Settings” in the Use drop-down menu.

Final Cut Pro (FCP) and Final Cut Express (FCE)Edit

FCP and FCE require specific qualities of files when importing.

Aralesh on Bloodhoof-US: "FinalCut (Express or Studio) won't open files with anything other then [sic] PCM (Uncompressed) or Apple Lossless audio. And make sure your frame rate is at 29.97. "

NOTE: Testing has shown frame rate is not the determining factor in whether or not FCE will import a file.

Unfortunately for the newbie to FCE, there's nothing that will let you know that your Sequence Settings is one of the most important variables in determining the final quality and resolution of your finished video. The following is from p202 of the FCE User's Manual:

Sequence preset Image dimensions Frame rate Codec
DV NTSC 720 x 480 29.97 fps DV/DVCPRO NTSC
DV PAL 720 x 576 25 fps DV PAL
HDV 1080i60 1440 x 1080 29.97 fps Apple Intermediate Codec 
HDV 1080i50 1440 x 1080 25 fps Apple Intermediate Codec 
HDV 720p30 1280 x 720 29.97 fps Apple Intermediate Codec - Recommended for producing entry-level HD video at a reasonable filesize.
Keep in mind that you need to capture at this quality or above to take full advantage of it.

WARNING:
After about a year of using FCE and being continually frustrated with the quality of the end product, I finally found that even more than the Sequence Preset, the 'Render Control' tab hidden in the Sequence Settings will make a monumentally disproportionate impact on your final product. Frame Rate and Resolution should both be set to 100%. /FACEPALM.

Export Settings Recommendations:

5000 kilo bit rate per second
Single-Pass - I have yet to see an example of MP making a significant impact on my final product.
15/20-24fps - the average video watcher will start to notice sever choppiness at around 10-15fps, anything above 30 is just overkill.
There's no real reason not to cap your in-game fps at 30-40 even, you'll hardly see the difference and get a small performance gain.
1280x720 low-end HD resolution
Letterbox if necessary
Key Frames Automatic or every 24 frames(?)
Optimized for Download
Sound bit rate 128kbps should be fine
H.264 is a very good codec that's been around for awhile, and won't give anyone much trouble viewing the video

Regarding bitrate (source link removed as bad):

Starting with 5000 is a good "test run". Try dropping it to 2500 -- do you notice a drop in quality significant enough, or does it still look good enough? Try raising it to 7500 -- is it so good that it's worth the extra download time?

Direct Editing/Transcoding of Video Edit

Many different programs allow transcoding video into different formats and splitting the audio and video into different files. These programs do not allow manual editing of frames.

Transcoding may also be done using VLC, but this needs to be confirmed.

Multiplexing using Avidemux Edit

This example takes an audio file and adds it to a video file such that the audio plays when the video plays.

Prerequisite: Xvid Quicktime Component (May also be beneficial to have Xiph Quicktime Component as well. They get installed to the same place: <Macintosh HD>/Library/Components)

  1. Run Avidemux and open the video file that you recorded in WoW. Avidemux can open MPEG-4 and h.264 files, it can not open Motion JPEG or Apple Intermediate.
  2. By the word Video on the project window, select “MPEG-4 ASP (Xvid4)” on the drop-down menu.
  3. Click Audio -> Main Track on the menu bar, then from the “Audio Source:” drop-down menu choose “External MP3.”
  4. Click Open next to “External file:” and choose an mp3 to play while watching the movie. Then click OK.
  5. By the word Audio on the project window, select “Copy”
  6. By the word Format on the project window, select “AVI”
  7. Click File -> Save -> Save Video... on the menu bar, then choose where you would like to save the file. You need to add the .avi extension to the file name yourself.
  • Note: h.264 source video causes the last frame to wrap around to the first frame when re-encoding.

Editing for YouTube Edit

YouTube supports uploading of multiple formats. YouTube will lower the resolution to approximately 320x240 and to an average bitrate of about 380 kbps.

Importing to FCE/FCP using Quicktime Pro Edit

WHY: The video that is compressed by the WoW client is not importable into Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express, the two most commonly used video editing programs on Mac OS.

Advantage: Using Quicktime Pro over iMovie just to get audio AND video into FCE seems to be a relatively simple process.

1. record video/audio in wow and compress using wow

2. open up in QTP, hit Command-I to see a little more hidden info about your clip.

[2.5:] For HD Editing use Quicktime Pro to make initial cuts, it goes a lot faster than doing it all in FCE. You will run into problems with wanting to restore things you cut, but this can be worked around by saving the edited file under a new file name. With a little work and some caution you can avoid a huge bloated file full of un-needed video in FCE. Much easier to do the initial editing in QTPro than find out later when the rendering takes forever.

To quickly make initial cuts, use mouse and arrow keys to put the cursor on the first offending frame and press 'I' to place the In Marker, then place the cursor on the frame after the last offending frame and press 'O' to place the Out Marker and then Command-X to Cut. You can also use the Mac System Preferences to bind a key-combination to 'Trim to Selection' for cropping (essentially cutting all materials other than what you've selected. Alt-T is reasonably easy to remember and doesn't force you to do unnatural finger movements. Command-S to save.

3. Command-E to export, decide where to save it. (Command is the funky weird Apple button, equivalent of the Windows button on PCs). Export: Movie to QuickTime Movie - unclear if this makes a difference for FCE.

3 ALT. Alternative solution that works better for keeping track of large number of files which you may or may not have already readied for FCE: Export: Movie to MPEG-4.

Settings:
File Format: MP4
Video Format: H.264
Data Rate: 5000 kbits/sec Optimized for Download. [3000 is recommended by the Vimeo HD FAQ, but this way
you will retain the option of having reasonably sharp backgrounds later in the editing process]
Image Size: Current (even if your raw footage is at a much higher resolution than your final product will be 
- it is generally worth it to not make it smaller until you're doing final edits as you may need to
zoom or crop later.).
Frame Rate: 24
Key Frame Every 30 frames [Vimeo HD FAQ recommendation]
Video Options - Unclear on this, but Single Pass seems to be fine.

This solution leads to you not having to worry about figuring out which raw files you've already processed for FCE.

4. Options button. Enable both Video and Audio.

  • Video Size: current
  • Deinterlace Source Video is not needed.
  • Video Filter - no need to mess with this afaik.
  • Video Settings: H.264, frame rate 29.97 - needed by FCE afaik. UPDATE: 24fps seems to work just as fine, begging the question as to what exactly it is about the movie files that come out of WoW which causes them not to be uploadable into FCE?
  • Key Frames Automatic (I actually understand that concept - but no clue how to make that knowledge work to my advantage).
  • Data Rate Automatic, optimized for download.
  • Compressor Quality High since visual quality is very marginally affected at the expense of a huge jump in file size (by ~3x).
  • Encoding Single-pass since it doesn't seem to make much difference if you set it to Multipass and takes much longer.

Sound settings: Format Apple Lossless (PCM may work too, but I just don't really know much about this, ok? ok.) Rate 44.100 since that's what came from WOW afaik. Render settings Faster - dunno if this affects audio much, but I'm not much into audio quality in pvp/pve videos, there'll be music to cover it anyways. Preview button seems to work ok if you're in doubt.

5. Leave unchecked the box 'Prepare for Internet Streaming' - I can't stand WoW videos on Youtube and like, the visual quality is just too bad. Anything I write about will be HD, or close to it.

6. hit OK.

7. hit SAVE.

8. now you'll get a little window pop-up that'll have a floating bar showing exporting progress. with luck your average 1min pvp clip of about 1min footage = `70-100mb filesize will now be compressed into roughly 50-60% of that.

9. Now you're ready to import this into FCE. You can either open FCE and then import, or right-click the file and choose 'Open With'.

10. This entire process, once you've messed with the QTP settings, doesn't take all that long, since the export settings are saved. Open file from wow, stop video playback, Command-E, Enter and DONE.

11. If you have a very large number of files that are going into one single video (think 3,000+) you will become intimately familiar with Blizzard's file naming conventions and its limitations. Quickly browse through videos and rename them with a code letter in front of or behind the time-location stamp file name that the WoW Mac client assigns. Examples:

iNaxxramas_092008_200937kill.mov for an Instructor Razuvious cut in Naxx40 that shows the boss dying
iNaxxramas__The_Military_Quarter_120508_180527e ck reds.mov for the same in Naxx25 as an Establishing shot
that needs to be chroma-keyed for reds

Importing to FCE/FCP using MPEG Streamclip Edit

Important: WoWWiki does not monitor these link, or endorse any applications therein. Download and use at own risk.

According to a poster in good standing on the Mac FCE forums:

Try this free third party app: http://www.squared5.com/

Try this third party app: http://www.appgeeker.com/how-to/convert-flv-to-mp4-mac.html

Try this software (for Windows): http://www.top-password.com/knowledge/convert-flv-to-mp4.html

You have to decide which format you want to work with in FCE and use that Easy Setup. Read the details when you are at the Easy Setup window, each are different to suit incoming audio and video. Then use Streamclip to convert your original footage to conform to your chosen Easy Setup, audio rate and video size.

From http://strats.fusion-guild.org/index.php/CreatingMacintoshVideos#Pre-Editing :

It's quite possible that your editing program will not like the files produced directly out of the WoW client (e.g. Final Cut Pro doesn't). I don't think anyone knows why -- I suspect it has something to do with how the frame rate is recorded.

The good news is it's fast and easy to reprocess it with MPEG Streamclip and you don't see any noticable quality loss.

  • Open your video with MPEG Streamclip
  • Select "Export to MPEG-4..." from the File menu
  • Settings:
    • Make sure Compression is set to H.264
    • Quality should be 90-100%
    • Set Frame Rate to "29.97"
    • Turn off Interlaced Scaling
    • Set the size to the size of your movie
    • Leave everything else the same, and click "Make MP4"

NOTE: Does not appear to matter what the frame rate is set to. 23.98, 29.97 and 20 all work for film you want to import into FCE.

If you're unsure the size of your movie, open it in QuickTime and press ⌘I (command-I) and look in the info box for the dimensions information.

External links Edit

  • GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.
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