Tag Archive | "h.264"

Ultra Mobile Video Editing Part 3 – ARM Solutions with iPad2 and Nokia N8

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In Part 1 of this series we put aside the idea of ARM-based video editing based on the requirement for higher levels of CPU processing power and tight coupling of hardware and software. Two very interesting solutions have just appeared that could dovetail together as an ARM-based solution  and possibly enable 720p video editing on-the-go. Even if you haven’t got an iPad2, some new software for the Nokia N8 will enable netbook-level H.264 editing.

ipad2-usbnokia_n8_camera

Last week Apple launched the iPad2 and it turns out that it’s quite the performer in terms of rendering 720p videos through the iMovie application. Based on the measurements we can only assume it’s got a hardware H.264 encoder that iMovie is using to speed up the encoding process. Because of the CPU and GPU inprovements, the editing process looks smooth too. You won’t be able to do b-roll cutaways but I bet you’ll see that included in the next iMovie release for iOS.

This morning I’ve also learnt about a new camera application for the Nokia N8 which enables 480p H.264 recording and continuous auto-focus. As I write this I’m rendering a titled, cross-faded 480p video taken with the CameraPro N8 application in Windows Live Movie Maker. It was a smooth editing process which might surprise some of you because I’m using a netbook to do it.

Put the two together and, if iMovie can import and work with Nokia N8 videos (they are .mp4 files containing H.264 videos but there are some interesting advanced settings in the CameraPro app that can teak bitrates, codecs and sizes) then you might have the most flexible, ultra-mobile video camera, editing and posting solution yet. The iPad2 weighs 600gm (possibly 630gm for the 3G version) and the Nokia N8 weighs 135gm. That’s an amazing, seriously amazing sub 800gm, 1.7lbs and the total cost of both, with 3G, is under 1000 Euro. 720p-capable, 480p when on-the-go and direct posting to YouTube.

Ongoing and outstanding: Does the iPad2 import videos from the Nokia N8 and can iMovie work with the imported videos without conversion? One would need to connect the N8 via the camera connection kit either via USB or by removing the Micro-SD card, slotting it into an SD card adaptor. I’m waiting to have this confirmed. I’m hoping that this author has the answer soon.

Even if the Nokia N8 files don’t work with the iPad, it enables netbook usage which opens up the user to more software options. Windows Live Movie Maker can handle the 480p files without re-rendering for editing and output a 480p WMV file at a time ratio of 3.24 mins per minute of video rendered. For clips of 5 mins or less, as are many mobile videos, this is acceptable.

Here’s a 480p video posted directly from the N8 to YouTube via Pixelpipe. It was a 92MB upload and the bitrate was just over 3Mbps. It would make sense to try this at 2.5Mbps and via a service that posts direct to the YouTube API to cut down time and failure-points.

Obviously you should watch this in HQ and at full-frame size.

Here’s the same source video edited in Windows Live Movie Maker with titles and crossfades. The output format from Movie Maker is WMV which means there could be some degradation in quality as the file is converted back to H.264 at YouTube. Update: I see some frame-rate and smoothness issues. You too?

I used the Acer Aspire One 522 for this and the rendering time ratio was 3.24:1 (3 mins 15s per minute of video)

As a camera, the N8 just keeps on getting better and with developers continuing to write specialized apps for it you wonder why there aren’t many other good quality internet and app-enabled cameras around. It’s these sort of enhancements that just aren’t possible on closed-firmware dedicated cameras.

I plan to buy a 3G-enabled iPad2 when they become available here in Europe but I’m sure others are going to test out the N8/iPad2 combo beforehand. When they do, I’ll try and link the information in below. If you know of any articles or videos on the subject, please feel free to link them in the comments below (one URL per comment otherwise the comment is held for approval.)

1.8Ghz Netbooks could tip the sales.

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182009netbook Ben reported on the new MSI netbooks recently [Not your standard cookie-cutter specs] and highlighted that MSI will use the Z530 and Poulsbo chipset, the Menlow platform, originally designed for MIDs, and not the existing netbook platform. They aren’t the first netbook devices we’ve heard about that will use this platform as the Dell Mini 12 is already out there using it but it could be that we see a lot more of these as it offers an interesting marketing possibility at a time when netbook manufacturers are trying to make their products stand out from the crowd.

LaptopMag recently interviewed MSI and asked about their decision to use the Menlow platform. The answer gives us some clues.

Why would MSI use Menlow? Part of the answer comes from MSI in the LaptopMag interview:

“Now we are going to come out with the U110 and the U115. These are similar to the past systems in size and will look like the original Wind but they utilize the Intel Atom “Menlow” processor – the Atom Z530.

The U110 and the U115 will be out in late January.  The biggest difference between these two models is their battery life. With the U110, we will deliver 8 hours of computing time; and 10 hours with the U115. Both will use a 6-cell battery.”

So it looks like the 1.6Ghz Menlow platform is attractive because of battery life. Not surprising as it offers a lower idle power and lower in-use power. Battery life is a very important differentiator. Menlow’s hardware video decoding (1080p using H.264) can be used to differentiate too but here’s something that is more interesting and you probably won’t hear any product manager talk about it in these terms. The Menlow platform goes up to 1.8Ghz and CPU speed is about the best differentiator a marketing group could hope for. In netbook quantities, I wouldn’t expect any noticeable difference in the price either. $20 at the till maybe. When your average netbook customer is standing with a Saturday sales rep. in the local electronics store and has a choice between a a Samsung NC10 at 1.6Ghz and an MSI Wind at 1.8ghz, for the same price, which one is the customer more likely to go for?

If this process works, if sales figures indicate a preference for 1.8Ghz, expect either a clock boost on the N270 CPU (which is likely of course) or, for the higher-end of the netbook market and the ultra portable notebook market, a lot more action with Menlow in 2009. From where we are sitting, it looks like Menlow could eat into even more of the traditional laptop market but if it’s a net gain for Intel, they won’t complain!

Check out the interesting interview and watch out for comments about Linux, touchscreens and a temporary HDD set-up.

HD720P videos from YouTube Tested on UMPCs.

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youtubehd _1__0001 An article on Wired yesterday alerted me to something I’ve been waiting for for a long time. High Quality H.264 videos on YouTube. [Update: YouTube have now announced a widescreen player.] Medium quality stereo H.264 vidoes have been available for some time using the fmt=18 trick [example] and you can even download them with an easy-to-use Firefox toolbar add-on but the availability of the 1280×720, possibly original-format versions, is a great step forward and with a tweak of that download toolbar, you can download them too which allows netbooks and other ultra mobile PC’s to play the files that would otherwise struggle trying to play  through the built-in H.264-enabled flash player. (Video below)

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Poulsbo. Big video on Little Devices.

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aigovid Back in April, I published my thoughts on how MIDs could raise the bar for high-end PMPs. I wrote the article after I saw some interesting notes on the video hardware that was going to be included in Poulsbo (now called the System Controller Hub, the chipset that accompanies Z-series Atom CPUs.) When I got the Kohjinsha SC3 a few weeks ago it was the first chance I’d had to test a Menlow based device (Atom Z-series + SCH) so one of the first things I did was to download a high-end WMV file and play it in media player. I also downloaded Quicktime and the Klite Pack to get some H.264 support. What I saw was less than impressive.

At the same time, Jenn at Pocketables.net was doing similar tests with her SC3 and to cut a long story short, between us and the feedback of forum members and readers, we’ve ended up in a position where we’ve only found one commercial software package that will enable just one of the built-in hardware decoding features. H.264 [See Jenns article about 1080p on The Willcom D4.] On one hand its a poor result and a major disappointment. There’s no single player available that can support playback of all HQ content and if your content is wrapped up in DRM (iTunes films for example) there’s no support at all. It all sounds like quite a sad story. On the other hand the H.264 part of the story is good (no, excellent – 15mbps H.264 anyone?) and it looks like there’s more to come if Poulsbo can be unlocked further with the right software.  (article continues…)

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