IT Industry and Users — a lesson in advanced BDSM

Case study :  you have an hour-long education video that you want to upload to your YouTube channel. The video needs minor editing : (1) trimming and eliminating a few portions; (2) splicing-in another short video; (3) maybe normalizing the sound.

On a 2011 MacBook Pro using OS X, your options are :

Use iMovie (bundled with OS X) — it will take 30′ importing the clips, then you’ll have editing capabilities much more advanced than you need. But it will take 10 hours for it to reencode the final video, and of course, there will be a compounded quality loss due to the double reencoding ;

Use Quicktime X Player (bundled with OS X) — contrarily to what “player” would suggest, Quicktime X gives you recording abilities, and very minor editing abilities, like trimming and gluing takes, without having to reencode the video. Sounds perfect, no ? The trimming feature is, however, practically useless, since it has very poor resolution (what is the use of  editing if you’ll end up having people being cut in the middle of a utterance ?). And you cannot remove inner portions of a video, just trim the edges : although you can go around this by trimming and gluing several times, for very large videos, it quickly becomes annoying.

Use Quicktime 7 Pro (US$ 30 on Apple Store US) — the old version of QuickTime has much finer trimming abilities, and it will allow you to remove inner portions of videos. Free trumps bought any day, but the price is not bad,  considering the time it could save. (What really ruffles my feathers is that Apple is basically selling you abandonware 30 bucks-a-piece, but Apple’s greediness shouldn’t really surprise anyone by now.) After you go through all the hoops to find out how to install QT7 on OS X Mountain Lion or Mavericks  (it does not work if you don’t get exactly the right version), you find the deal breaker : it is not available in Apple Store Brazil, and Apple Store US does not accept foreign credit cards.

(This is getting ridiculous.)

Use Avidemux (Free as in speech, and as in beer) — Jackpot ! This open-source project is meant to solve exactly your problem : make minor editing on videos without having to reencode the whole thing (although it has advanced reencoding abilities as well). Installing it is a bit of a hassle : you do all the clicks and have no sound on output. Some googling tells you that the problem is a preferences setting, but you can’t find the “Preferences” panel because a freaky bug has blanked out most GUI elements, including most of the menu items. One hour later, you finally have sound (having found out which blank menu item is “Preferences”, and which blank tab is “Sounds options”, and which blank field is “Sound device”). All that to find out that the preview window has a time delay on the play/pause/ff/rev buttons that makes it completely useless for precise editing purposes.

(If it weren’t four in the morning I would scream.)

Use ffmpeg (Free as in speech, and as in beer) — Video editing on the command-line : you may be an Apple user by choice, but even for you there is such a thing as too much masochism.

Use Final Cut Pro (US$ 300 in Apple Store US), Adobe Premiere CC (US$ 30 per month for Teachers and Students in US) — In order to cut and paste video pieces. Are you kidding ?

(Okay, you see where this is going —  I’ve tried and discarded many other solutions. For sake of curiosity my browser history shows :  “H.264 Cutter”, “Why am I doing this to myself”, “MPEG Streamclip”, “Mp4Split”, “Can a MacBook Survive a 4 story fall”, “Xilisoft Video cutter”, etc.)

And I didn’t find a solution ! In the end, I sucked it up and went with iMovies. Grudgingly.

Computer Users, we have to do something about this play : this is neither safe, nor sane. But Computer Industry, if you are hearing, this is definitely not consensual.

Update 13/dec : A typo in the link for my YouTube channel was misdirecting people to the fake tiniurl URL shortener, instead of the real tinyurl. My bad.

Update 18/dec : The story is, unfortunately, not over. Now iMovie refuses to generate an output with a mystifying “error 49” that, according to a Google Search, might mean everything and the kitchen sink. I’ve reverted to a rough editing with Quicktime X and got an output… without audio. I am arriving at the conclusion that I should give up IT entirely and move to the country to raise pigs. This whole “computing” idea should just be filed as “tried, did not work”.

Time Machine menu on notification areaUpdate 19/dec : apparently, iMovie and Time Machine don’t play nice with each other — which is one of the possible causes of the error 49. Unless you are rendering very short videos, it is better to disable Time Machine (click on the Time Machine icon on the notification bar — upper left corner — then “Open Time Machine Preferences”, then switch the big “On/Off” button. Remember to turn it on again once the Finalization or Export are over !). This worked for me, but it is no guarantee to make the pestering error disappear.

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