A Third Experiment In Video Screen Capture

The third experiment involved finding tools that would allow me to process video in arbitrary resolutions. The only unpaid editing tool I was able to locate in a reasonable amount of time (defined as two hours of reading, but not of installing things one after the other to see how they work) was VirtualDub, but that software only processes AVI files. The capture tool I’d been using only captures in WMV and converting that to AVI would cause distortions which would defeat the purpose of this experiment, which is to process video end-to-end in non-standard resolutions. Therefore I had to locate a tool that would capture AVI in arbitrary resolutions. Fortunately there’s a nice tool that does this and it’s one I’ve used before. Hypercam to the rescue!

Link to full resolution video here.

The captured video had a resolution of 1028×632 and came in at 133 MB. That’s right, MB. The editing operation involved trimming a few seconds off the beginning and end of the original video and saving the output, which resulted in a video of 862 MB. No audio track in included so I have to figure out what VirtualDub is doing or not doing with compression to see why that might have happened. As it is, the video takes forever to load. Moreover, YouTube complained that it was having trouble processing the resultant video when I uploaded it, so that part of the process is also potentially suspect. However, the video does play, though YouTube appears to have reduced its resolution and probably color depth and other attributes to keep it under the size limit.

The video itself shows a building evacuation tool that was developed by Regal Decision Systems while I worked there. I didn’t work on the simulation or graphics output but I did design the parameters and user interface for the part of the tool that allows users to define the complex range of behaviors of different types of evacuees.

Aside from the issues of file size (AVI is typically larger and better suited to editing, WMV is typically smaller and better suited to sharing) it seems that it’s easier just to use standard resolutions end-to-end where possible. As I was reading about a number of the editing tools I learned that they all make choices about what formats and resolutions to handle. Some tools might be higher end with respect to features, but limited only to resolutions typically associated with broadcast media. Other tools might provide a range of features but target a variety of target devices and their varying resolutions.

Review of the comparison tables and other articles shows that they don’t tend to delve into the issue of handling non-standard resolutions. It would be nice if they did. However, that isn’t a question most people would ask until they stumble upon a need for it, and even then they may decide to simplify things by using a standard one. Alternatively, some editing tools can export video of reduced resolution that was generated by clipping the original rather than scaling it. That could also be a useful solution in some cases.

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