Thursday, February 25, 2010

Video Editing: Picture in Picture

Last year while on a ride to Kelowna, BC on my Suzuki SV650K4 I did take a bit of video using my Panasonic SDR-SW20 Flash Camcorder. It was perfect for bike use. I had it mounted on my right handlebar mirror stem using Ram-Mounts. The SW20 is in a waterproof case, shockproof and best of all used electronic media rather than Hard Drives or tape mechanisms which can fail due to vibration. The SW20 is only a DVD quality, recording in standard definition which is perfect if you are going to use the clips in a picture in picture application, or podcasts where you would like to have smaller files.

I am not going to make this too technical but the SW20 produces .MOD files which cannot be imported into WMM (Windows Movie Maker). The reason that WMM or WMP (Windows Media Player) can't recognize these files which are produced by flash camcorders is because the Header Information is missing from the main file and is included in a secondary file as matched pairs. The header file includes information such as bitrate, aspect ratio (16:9 or 4:3 etc) in order for the codec to DECODE the info in the file. CODEC stands for COmpression and DECompression, after all Mpeg4 is a compressed format. I discovered a Utility that can give you the specifications of the file so you know what codecs you are missing. The original File produced by the SW20 is xxxxxx.MOD

pana sw20 orig mod
(original specs of the .MOD file Panasonic SDR-SW20)

here is what it looks like after conversion to .AVI

pana sw20 conv avi
(.MOD file converted to .AVI)

It has been converted to a DivX 5 but at a lower bitrate. I've been doing video editing for a couple of years now using the proven, Try and Fail Method, sort of like WWID as practiced by Charlie6. Eventually everything fell into place

This video was produced using 3 video clips from the SW20 and a couple of static photos which were downsized to 1100 x 800. The clips started out from the camera at 9510 Kbps and finalized at 2.5 Kbps for upload to YouTube 480p resolution HQ.

Here is a slice from the screen of PREL7 with a portion of the timeline


The video is compiled using 3 clips.

1) Westside Road just south of the Junction from Westbank BC with Okanagan Lake on the right

2) Hwy 8 From Merritt to Spences Bridge which is one of the better motorcycle roads which is just over 3 hours from the heart of Downtown Vancouver, BC

3) Heading south in the Fraser Canyon south of Boston Bar where there is a series of seven tunnels ( <-- link )

I placed two static photos overlayed with rolling video, then changed the background. Later I replaced the static photo with another video, overlayed with a video in a picture in picture. With PREL7 you can resize the thumbnail video to any size and place it anywhere on the screen. The I annotated the video with some titles. It was raing part of the way back from Kelowna (approx 400 kms East of Vancouver) and miles later when the sun came out I didn't think to check the protective lens cover to clear the mud from the glass so of course that blob is in the video.

I hope you like my little experiment with PIP


  1. Dear Bobskoot:

    Your intuitive abilities to figure all this out never cease to amaze me. Yet I must confess that by line three in your explanation, I have decided that video will not be a standard feature of Twisted Roads... At least not in the immediate future.

    I was very intrigued by this at first, and thought it would be interesting to offer various segments of Twisted Roads TV. I have some gear that will handle this, but not as effectively as the GoPro setup. (I used to write and direct on the camopus television station when I was in collrege, and regarded this time as one of the best learning experiences of my life.)

    I use a MacBook Pro, which has something called iMovie in it. I am going to seek out an aftermarket book on using this system in the next week or so. Then I am going to find a film editing student at the local college to walk me through this.

    I believe that this whole process should only entail emptying the contents of the camera into a folder on the computer (in the same automatic fashion that iPhoto does it), fooling with it to your satisfaction, and dropping it into the blog.

    For me, it is difficult enough to come up with a good story to write. The last thing I want to do is kill more time kissing the ass of all this electronic stuff.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  2. Hi Bob,

    Your PREL screen shot looks exactly the same as my PD8.....At the moment it takes me about 10 hours in total to produce a bog standard 5 minute video, how much extra time does PIP add??

    PIP gives a more profesional look to the video production for sure Bob, I think you've just talked me in to having a go on my next vid!!

    Thanks for the electrical advice, think its going to be a trip to the main dealer and get them to install relays etc (If they're cheap)if its pricey, then my switch/flash will be twisted wires and sticky tape lol.



  3. Very nice Bob. You are definitely the video guru. You not only have a knack for doing fine video, but you lay out the technical stuff too. I appreciate the time and effort you put into these posts. Having said that, however, I've been thinking about taking Greek for biblical study but now I see it will also come in hand for technical video discussion because this is all Greek to me. I hope you don't take offense at that, I'm kidding of course. But it does seem a lot more technical than still photography not only to capture but to process. You have gathered a great knowledge of it. Please keep up the videos and posting - I enjoy it and can learn from it.
    Thank you!

  4. Dear Sir:

    I played with iMovie for an hour last night, using video's I had taken either by intent or accident (pressing the little buttons on this camera). I just ran through the first two tutorials, and am delighted to report that iMovie found the videos (which were taken by a still camera and autmatically downloaded as such through iPhoto), which then created files for them.

    The second tutorial was more involved and I need to go through it a bit slower. But it looks like this program and this computer will greatly simplify the video process. This is good as I'm hoping to spend minimal time dicking around with this stuff. I am also looking at an aftermarket book on this, as well as taking an iMovie course down at West Chester.

    I do intent to follow your example and get the same video unit you did.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads