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A Spanish Holiday Video

Posted 03-11-2010 at 01:51 PM by williamfromtexas

I remember that I had seen the type of video I wanted to do: it was an entire, nearly 4000-picture collection video from someone who visited in Japan. Each shot lingered on the screen for an instant before switching to the next image, and by seeing every photo the viewer was taken along on the 5-minute journey. Myself just returning from a week's spring break in Spain, I had similar ideas.

The cool thing about the idea is that you can preview it before you even create the video, by holding down the forward button on your digital camera and watching the images flick by. If you were lucky you'd have taken several shots of a subject in a row, and the pictures would make a mini stop-motion video.

I dug through emails, bookmark sites and eventually my browser history to find the original video. It gave me a good idea of where to start, especially from the page's constructive comment discussions. But where the original poster used professional-end and proprietary software, I was sure that with the FOSS available I would not.

My first step was to prepare the raw materials, by isolating and backing up the photo directory involved, an extremely a good idea in batch work like this. Then, viewing the thumbnail images in Nautilus, I used this helpful image resize and rotate tool to get the pictures right and manageable.

Next would be figuring out the proper tool and method to to insert my 400-strong photo set into a video context. On an internet recommendation I started with Open Movie Editor (OME), though I quickly ruled it out due to the arduous task of hand-inserting each photo. The app is more suited for actual video editing, and was too powerful for what I knew should be a simple job.

I then tried another app, dvd-slideshow, which had me skeptical at first by being a command line video editing app. What I soon discovered, though, was that for repetitious jobs - such as inserting 399 pictures into a video at 0.333 seconds each - being able to direct through a config file was by far the best solution.

Dvd-slideshow has a wiki that I found extremely helpful in creating my video's config file. While I was prepared to be satisfied with a simple 'moving picture show', the app was also able to insert title slides and a sound track. I was extremely pleased.

I now needed a list of all the files I would use to insert into my config file. I used the opportunity to do well for myself by learning this via command line. With an assumption that I should look for a "find"-like command, I read through some man pages and produced this gem:
Code:
$ find * -fprint thelist
(I am so proud, because even after several years on various Linux distributions, I am still weak-sauce with command line skills..)

I pasted the list into my dvd-slideshow config file and ran a few test runs to see how things worked. In the end I issued a simple command to put everything together:
Code:
$ dvd-slideshow -f spain-video-config
While happy with the resulting vob-format video (the software is for DVD slideshows, remember..), I needed to convert it to an easy web standard for uploading. No special app would be necessary, though, since I was to learn that VLC already comes ready outfitted for converting video formats.

In the end, I created this wonderful and quick collection of trip memories to share with friends and family, and it gives me some ideas of photos and clips to shoot in the future!

http://www.vimeo.com/9641735
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