New Personal Project – The Best Mobile Video Editing Kit. (For YouTube)

Updated on 25 February 2011 by

Is it the iphone4? A netbook? Honeycomb on a quad core tablet? Or is it going require 2kg of Windows laptop?

I’m on a mission to find a way to improve the video setup I use for my YouTube posts while retaining mobility.

I currently record in VGA using the mjpeg format at well over 10mbps. The results are smooth and free of common artefacts . The mjpeg format is also easy to chop around because there’s no frame-frame compression. With a fast ssd and 2Gb of ram its easy to work on, say, a 15 minute long set of clips. Encoding to 2mbps in WMV knocks the size down and ensures a reasonable HQ experience in YouTube. It works well.

The problem is that VGA, while perfectly good with a touch of zoom for details, isn’t acceptable any more. 4:3 is out! For YouTube sake, I need to move to 16:9 which means a minimum of 480p. That’s about 40% more bits of information per frame (and very little extra value to the viewer.) If you go to 720p, its many times more bits of information and at that point mjpeg become unusable because of the file sizes (storage and transfer times) and so you have to introduce mpeg2 or, more likely, mpeg4. The most common option, H.264, an Mpeg 4 standard, requires many many more times the processing power per frame than MJpeg so you’re in a situation where Atom, one of the more common mobile cpus that can be used with common video editing software, just doesn’t cut it.

There are choices.

Highly optimized software
More powerful CPU
GPU assistance
Cloud-based editing

The solution for mobile video requires a careful balance of source quality, format and bitrate and a partnership with optimized software on a platform that can do as much in dedicated codecs as possible. OR you get a big fat mobile pipe and do the crunching in the cloud.
There’s only so much that can be done in GPUs and hardware codes though. Fades, overlays and other per-frame changes can only be done in CPU and remember, video editing requires decoding and encoding, you don’t often find that in a mobile computing platform.

So here’s the challenge:
A basic video editing solution that includes watermarking, titles, clip editing, fades and crossover, audio track editing and voice-over. It should be able to take common formats in without having to convert them to a working format. It should output a format that is YouTube friendly. Minimum 480p with a bitrate of 2mbps and 25fps.
The hardware should not weigh more than 1.5kg but should last for about 4hrs of editing, 6hrs of general computing. The screen can be up 12.1″ to allow for a resolution of 1366×768 or similar. 10″ is acceptable if the resolution is good enough. Thinner and lighter is better than smaller screen in my opinion.
Cost – Under €600.

This is a huge challenge.

A quick brainstorm this afternoon has me starting with keywords like CUDA, Intel core, H.264 (source and output) 480p

The interesting part of this challenge is that I will have to buy a new camera. 720p recording is common but I rarely see cameras that can record a real 480p 16:9 source. Ideally I would combine my digital camera with the video camera but I know that’s going to be very very difficult to achieve.

Your input is welcome on any aspect of this. I’ll be updating when I’ve made discoveries and decisions. Wish me luck!

Posted from WordPress for Android with the Galaxy Tab

1 Comments For This Post

  1. NicoleScooter says:

    It is a real challenge. I’m looking at the long tail of yt videos and I think that HD is an important part of the equation. This decision might not make me mobile..or it would make me mobile with a back ache!

    Even if you look at some of the i3 or i5 that come in 11.6″ frames now they are potential HD editing monsters! My question is how much time to I save by editing on i7 vs i5. From what I understand I loose out on they hyper-threading and obviously battery life, and I would only have minor gains in video rendering speed. BUT no one seems to have done speed tests. The perfect balance for HD might just be i5 with switchable graphics and finely tuned editing software with 1366×768 resolution to make sure that all editing software will actually run with out issue.

    Sandybridge is out. . .i3 with switchable graphics editing VGA content will be quick. What are you going to do?

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