Update 11/07/2011:  I have uploaded the WebM and Matroska (Ogg Theora/ Vorbis) files to Archive.org, and stopped seeding the torrents. If anyone knows how to create a torrent with those files on Archive as the seed, please comment on this post. Archive don’t yet support streaming of WebM (or Matroska), so if anyone feels like transcoding the MP4 on Vimeo into an Ogg container, and adding it to that page on Archive, go for it! 
 ccKiwi-close-up.png

CreativeCommons Aotearoa/ NZ, in association with Mohawk Media, have just released CreativeCommons Kiwi, a video explaining the use of CC licenses in the local context. The video is licensed CC-BY, and the file can be downloaded from Vimeo, in a proprietary MP4 format. Now that Google have loosed the open video format WebM on the world (which uses a VP8 video layer and Vorbis audio track, I thought the obvious thing to do is to create a WebM version of ccKiwi (although the question of whether format-shifting creates a derivative work is unclear, CC-BY allows derivatives, so that’s fine).

So what free code tools are available for converting video files? My first port of call was the Miro Video Converter, mentioned in the Intelligent Television white paper Video for Wikipedia and the Open Web, but I was frustrated to find that it’s only available for Windows and MacOSX. A web search turned up a few possibilities for GNU/ Linux (see below).

First, I decided to try Arista Transcoder, as recommended by OSSGuy, since the WebM support didn’t require any tinkering, and it seemed like the most user-friendly, installing in one click via the Ubuntu Software Centre. A single window came up, which simply asked for:

  • a source (the ccKiwi MP4 file on my hard drive)
  • the type of device being used (PC, I am running Ubuntu 11.04 on an Acer Aspire One)
  • the format you want your video to become (WebM)

Then, I pressed ‘Add to Queue’, and off it went, showing me a preview of the video as it transcoded it. Success! I tried again, with Theora video instead of VP8, using Matroska, which the Webm container is derived from. It seemed a lot slower, although my browser is open and in use, which it wasn’t for the WebM conversion. I’ll have do a controlled speed test.

Update 7/7/2011: The Theora conversion completed successfully, and I have uploaded both the WebM and Theora versions to Vimeo. They’re not working in my browser (Firefox 5 on Ubuntu 11.04), but then neither does almost any Flash video so far, except YouTube. Can anyone else see them?

Later: Vimeo was unable to handle the Matroska/ Theora file. Not sure if the WebM file has retained its format, or been transcoded by Vimeo into another format. I am currently seeding torrents of both files from my computer: WebM, Theora

Media Converters

Video Editors

Filed July 7th, 2011 under Uncategorized
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