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Journal of babbage (2619)

Saturday December 13, 2003
11:34 AM

Freeware video rotation options?

[ #16320 ]

Dear Aunty use.perl;

Like many people, my wife and I have digital cameras that can record short mpeg video files in addition to traditional jpeg stills. Like any still camera, taking photos with the camera held vertically is a perfectly conventional thing to do, if the subject matter being photographed would be better framed that way. Caught up in the moment though, we've also got some video files that were shot this way, and fixing these is proving to be much harder to correct. Does anyone know of a good, relatively painless way to rotate video files so that they're right side up? As video-capable digital cameras become more common, this is a feature that I'd assume an increasing number of people will want.

I'd prefer some kind of freeware approach to this, but so far haven't found anything that seems like it will help. It seems like ImageMagick might be the most promising tool, if I can get the mpeg2vidcodec_v12 plugin working on my Mac (lots of make test errors so far...), but even then will it be as simple as a convert -rotate 90 > ? So far, I can't even get to that point with the IM toolkit. CinePaint (nee FilmGimp) didn't seem to want to open *.MOV files to begin with, which confused me as I thought that was the whole point of CinePaint. I've also looked into mjpegtools, mpgtx, VirtualDub and TMPGenc, but none of them seems able to do rotate the contents of video files. I was able to open a sideways video file as a series of hundreds of separate still images in Adobe ImageReady, but even with that program's automation tools (and my admittedly shaky grasp of how to use them), rotating them all & stitching it back into one file seems like it'll be annoying. I've also tried Apple's iMovie, but it seems to be geared towards stitching together a collection of video clips rather than manipulating the contents of any given clip in any significant way. I don't have any other commercial software available, and am not that interested in shelling out possibly hundreds for the kind of "pro" software that might work but would be overkill for my usual needs.

As an added bonus, it would be nice to be able to convert individual frames to JPEGs for making thumbnails, or ranges of frames into low-resolution GIF/MNG animations. I have a hunch that the ability to do that may fall out of any solution to the bigger problem, so I'm putting off worrying about this for now, but would like to be able to do it eventually.

Does anyone know of a good way to rotate video files? I realize that the proportions of the converted file will be "wrong", but I don't care -- they're low resolution files meant only for viewing on my computer or maybe a web page, and if I ever want to put the files on a television screen then I can just put up with the vertical letterboxing. So far, the only approach that seems to have any traction at all is to find a way to treat the file as individual frames, rotate one by one, then stitch it back together -- but that seems annoying, particularly if the file also has an audio component that has to be kept track of. Still, for lack of tools to do it any other way, that's the best approach I've been able to come up with. Can anyone suggest something better?

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