Archive for June 28th, 2010

Video editing with the Sony PS3

The brand new Sony PS3 firmware that was released tonight comes with a built-in video editor. It is able to edit in real time HDV, AVCHD, and [almost] dSLR h.264 footage.

First, you have to copy your video files in the internal hard drive. If you already have video files there, you will have to re-copy them, because the files must be copied with firmware 3.40 or newer (this firmware copies more needed attributes).

HDV and AVCHD files will work out of the box. If your footage is dSLR/digicam MOV h.264 files, then you must pass them via a re-wrapping utility, to make them MP4. Take note, this is NOT a re-encoding. Re-wrapping simply changes the container from MOV to MP4, without re-encoding. It’s done in mere seconds, and it has zero loss in quality. I usually do mine with Quicktime Pro, or MPEG Streamclip, or a DOS script utilizing ffmpeg, or mp4box and mencoder.

The easiest way is with MPEG Streamclip, but it doesn’t save the audio along. Google it, download it, install it, load it. Then click “List” from its menu, “Batch list”, “Add Files…”. Using your mouse or the SHIFT key in your keyboard, select all the files you want re-wrapped from MOV to MP4. Select “Open”. In the next dialog that pops up, select “Save As” from the drop-down menu, then the “Ok” button. Then select a folder to save the new MP4 files, and click “Ok” again. From the new dialog that pops up, select “MP4” from the drop-down menu, and then “Ok”. Then, select “Go” from the main dialog, to begin the re-wrapping process.

If you do want to keep the video’s audio, use Quicktime Pro (exporting the files one by one: use the MPEG-4 exporting option, and use “passthrough” for the video, and AAC 192 kbps for audio), or write a batch script that uses FFmpeg (e.g. ffmpeg -i -vcodec copy -acodec libfaac -ac 2 -ar 44100 -ab 192k output.mp4).

Then, copy the created .MP4 files on your PS3. I do it via the TwonkyMedia UPnP server, but you can use an SD/CF card too, or a burned DVD disc (with your files in it, not DVD video), or another DLNA/UPnP server.

Then from the “Video” XMB PS3 menu go up, and find the Video Editor option. Create a new project and “Add” your video files in it. Then follow the on-screen instructions to edit the videos. Usability is not stellar, but it works, and it’s super-fast. There are about 15 pre-installed music tracks to select from for your video, and there’s a text, and speed-up/slow-motion ability too.

At the end, you’re given the option to create a new MP4 file, or to upload to Youtube/Facebook. Unfortunately, we’re not given the opportunity to export to HD. All uploads are in 640×480 resolution, at 29.97 fps. For widescreen videos, the 1.333 aspect ratio is attached to the VGA resolution. The PS3 and the VLC players support that aspect ratio flag, and your widescreen-edited video will playback in widescreen, but Quicktime won’t recognize the flags and it will display your video squashed. I haven’t tried Youtube/Facebook about if they recognize the widescreen flag properly. Leave a comment if you tried it.

Quality of the saved video is very good: 2 mbps h.264 MP4, and 128 kbps AAC. It’s at least DVD quality. And exporting is very fast: 40 seconds of my edited video, took only about 30 seconds to encode!

Anyways, if Sony gives us the ability to export at different resolutions, frame rates, bitrates, and possibly add the [dreaded] support for the MOV container and the Canon audio dSLR/digicam format, they’ll have a winner. But even as it is now, it can really be of much help to people who have a camera and a PS3 but no video editor on their PC, or their video editor is too slow for their camera’s format. The PS3’s CELL CPUs really fly in video editing.

My own idea of a natural diet

Update: Obviously the following is not a great diet. Paleo/Primal is where real health lies.

Since my husband lost so much weight recently by following a loose version of the South Beach diet, a lot changed: we planted a garden, trying to grow our own vegetables, and I started following a similar food regime as well: a lower carb diet, with more vegetables in it. Doing so even helped my health issue somewhat: instead of getting sick every second or third day, it was reduced to once a week. Obviously an improvement.

JBQ and I have been joking that the traditionally accepted food pyramid is one of the reasons that America is obese. Also, I was reading lately that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest in the world. Cretans are among the peoples with the best health in the world, apparently.

In fact, prior to 1985 (the ’80s was the decade that Greece became “modern”), I don’t remember anyone in my vicinity to die of cancer. And yet, as time goes by, I hear of cancer for people I know in Greece more and more. In the olden days, that was something very rare. I personally attribute a good chunk of the blame to the food changes. Back in the day I remember myself eating wild or other vegetables, and beans, 6 days out of the 7. We usually had meat every Sunday. Then, the ’80s came, a lot of the EU “free money” was spent (in good and bad ways), and everyone started eating more meat, and more junk products.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We probably had a protein deficiency back then (although some of the vegetables we ate, like wild amaranth, were rich in protein too). But the point remains, I feel that our diet back then was better than what it is now. Less crap in the shelves (hell, there were no shelves).

So in the last few days I tried to create another food pyramid, one that I personally believe is more proper for hommo sapiens (no, I’m not a dietitian or a doctor btw — just a good observer). A pyramid that takes into account the ancient people, and the way they evolved, the new theories about bad carbs (that now are getting proven, I was reading recently), the studies about how good olive oil is, and how I felt way back then, and now. Basically, this food chart is a mix of personal experience & knowledge — which could be way off, but so far, it works for me: I’ve lost weight, and I feel healthier.

Much healthier than my very-low-calorie diet (if you remember that one, which I blogged about it too). At the end of my VLCD I lost half of my hair. And I was always hungry throughout the 3 months I managed to live at 900 calories a day. With this new diet (which is not an actual weight loss diet, but a lifestyle change), I eat like a cow — and I lose weight.

Some clarifications:

– The basic principle is: don’t overdose on anything. Even when we have to eat vegetables every day, have a selection of veggies, not a full plate of the same vegetable. Our progenitors didn’t have a giant broccoli for lunch. They most probably had a bit of this, and a bit of that, whatever they could find. Therefore, we evolved in a way where overdosing EVEN for “good” foods is probably bad for us.

– You noticed that I don’t value wheat/corn products a lot. That’s for two reasons: First, flour products are not exactly natural. You can’t find flour in the wild, you will have to make it, after heavily processing it (and processed food is not very natural). Also, we can get their minerals and vitamins from other sources too. Plus, there’s a high-fiber bran cereal in my chart, which can offer all the vitamins and gluten one needs. I started eating this cereal. It’s very good, except the added aspartame. Alternatively, go for added-fiber wholewheat bread. But avoid pasta — wholewheat of not. Pasta is even more processed, and it’s impossible to eat in small quantities (spaghetti bolognese would look silly without enough pasta in it).

– Regarding animal meat, the best would be eating it only once a week. But I think my JBQ likes his steaks, so it’d be difficult to not cook it more for him. Fish 2-3 times a week is a must though, I’d say.

– Regarding sugary products, e.g. desserts, it’s best to make them yourselves, to ensure that you’re using the best ingredients. Use agave nectar instead of actual sugar, but still, not very often. There’s no better dessert than a fruit salad (add a bit of natural orange juice), or a smoothie (blend frozen fruits, with a little bit of natural orange juice — again, no sugar is required). All the sugar one needs can be found in fruits. So there’s no reason for a lot of added sugar, or its substitutes.

– Raw root vegetables are OK, e.g. carrots. Cooked root vegetables are ok too, but not too often, and not at high doses. E.g. a small potato is ok, but giant jacket potatoes twice+ a week are not. I admit, this is mostly a keep-the-weight-off tactic more than a healthy one though. Root vegetables are not “bad”.

– Dark chocolate is fine (75% of cocoa or above).