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.

1 Comment »

33_hertz wrote on June 29th, 2010 at 9:19 AM PST:

Great info (as usual), thanks. I didn’t realize this update was out.

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