I have to make a lot of video clips. As someone who watches a lot of anime and attends a weekly anime club, I like to make clips so that I have something concise and appealing to present when our group is voting on series to watch. As a frequent panelist at my local anime convention, I give several presentations that involve video clips. Clips add a lot of excitement to a presentation and give people something to associate with the TV series or movie that’s being discussed. A friend of mine asked me the other day what program I usually use to make my video clips, my answer of course being that I use several depending on the type of video file I have and the situations I encounter. Rather than try to list off a long list of programs to him, I thought it might be better to record my knowledge in one place, so that others might be able to benefit from it (or tell me that I’m going about it all the wrong way and point me towards something much simpler – if you’ve got any suggestions, please feel free to leave it in the comments).
I’ll be sectioning these off by the type of source file that needs to be converted and clipped. Hopefully this will address most situations that people are likely to encounter.
I should note a couple of things before I begin. I use a computer running Windows 7. I can’t speak for any programs that are Mac-exclusive or Linux-exclusive. If anyone has any experience with these, please share your wisdom in the comments section. Also, I’m not going to lie: I use a lot of fan subs and Crunchyroll rips to make my clips. I neither encourage or discourage people from using downloaded footage, but in some cases it’s the only option. While I’m not sure that it offsets my downloading, I do subscribe to Crunchyroll and other video-streaming services and I buy a lot of DVDs and BDs for my personal collection. And that’s all I’ll say about the ethics of downloaded footage for now.
I’ve uploaded an archive of the examples used in the tutorials so that you can compare the video quality between them. You can download the .zip file (approximately 64mb) HERE.
Also, a short introduction of some terminology:
Hardsubbed – This means that the subtitles are burned into the video file and cannot be turned on and off. This is the type of file with which you’ll be editing your final clips.
Softsubbed – This means that the subtitles are on a stream separate from the video and can be toggled to display or not. Most modern fansub groups release video files that are softsubbed, and Crunchyroll’s video streams are also softsubbed.
Interlacing – Rather than explain this in detail, check out this explanation at www.animemusicvideos.org. Essentially, if you are using a DVD source and notice that the picture has horizontal lines in it, your video is interlaced and that should be addressed if you want a nice final product.
Okay, on to the tutorials!
You will need – VirtualDub
Back in the “olden days” of digital fansubbing, these files were the most common types of releases. They’re also the easiest to work with. Unfortunately they’re a lot less common now, but if you know where to look you can find groups that re-encode softsubbed releases into this format.
Open VirtualDub and click File > Open to select a video file. You will only be able to select from video files that VirtualDub recognizes.
You may get some warnings after you load the video file (variable bitrate errors, sound offsets, etc.). I generally just “ok” these because I have never encountered any major issues because of them.
When the video loads, it should be visible in two panes. The pane on the left is the video input, and the pane on the right is the video output. There should be no difference between them with what we’re doing.
Along the bottom is the timeline which divides the full video into frames, and several options for viewing and editing the video that’s loaded. There are only a couple that we’ll be using – the “stop” and “play” buttons (first and second buttons), and the two buttons to select the beginning and end of the clip, the two rightmost buttons.
To select a clip, first select where you’d like the clip to begin. Use the rectangular cursor to drag through the video (finer single-frame adjustments can be made with the arrow keys on your keyboard). When you have located your beginning point, click the button that looks like a little black arrow pointing left. Select where you’d like your clip to end, and click the black arrow pointing left. Your timeline should look like this:
To save the clip, first select Video > Direct Stream Copy from the menus at the top. What this does is tell the program to copy the clip directly from the source video, rather than re-encode it (which would take a lot longer and result in deteriorated video).
Save the video as an AVI by clicking File > Save as AVI. Here you can choose where to save the file and what to name it. A dialog window should pop up showing the file’s progress towards completion (in this case, the clip was only about a minute long and it literally took less than a second to save).
Your clip should now be playable in any video player that plays AVI files (which would be pretty much any of them).
You will need – avidemux
Nowadays, most hardsub re-encoders have abandoned xvid/avi encodes for mp4 files. Mp4 files play on multiple video-capable devices, and even slower computers can usually play HD mp4 files without slowing down. While most fansub groups do not released hardsub mp4s on their own, there are multiple re-encoding groups that take those groups’ releases and re-encode them using the same subtitle styling as the original. Some of these groups are kanjouteki (defunct), NemDiggers (yeah, I know, terrible group name) and Deadfish. To work with hardsubbed mp4 files, I use a program called avidemux.
Open avidemux and click File > open to select a file. Again, the program will only recognize video files with which it’s compatible.
Depending on the type of file, you may get a warning about H.264 video and running in safe mode. Just click “yes.” You will lose a bit of accuracy when seeking frames, but it should not affect this sort of task very much.
Avidemux controls very similarly to VirtualDub. Along the bottom are the video controls. If you know the exact frame number you need, you can enter it in the “Frame” field to jump to it. Otherwise, use the timeline to seek out the section of the video you want to use. The “A” and “B” buttons are used to set the beginning and end of the video clip, respectively. The left and right arrows on the keyboard will advance the video frame-by-frame.
Once you’ve selected a clip, the timeline will define it with a blue box, and the menu at the far right will indicate the exact frames which have been chosen.
When you’re happy with your selection, save the video. Along the upper left of the video frame are encoding options. While there are plenty of different options from which to choose and you may have to mess around with the options a bit to get what you want, it is probably best to choose those which more closely match the format of the original video (I will admit that this is totally trial and error on my part). In the case of the example video, I chose “MPEG-4 AVC” as the video format and left the audio as-is (I at first attempted to “copy” the video also, but was coming up with errors). The output format is “MP4.”
A menu will pop up that shows the progress of the encode. You can stop the encode if you need to by clicking “Pause/Abort.”
One idiosyncrasy I’ve noticed with avidemux is that it doesn’t automatically apply file extensions when you save a video file, so remember to amend the file name if you don’t do it when you begin the encode. In this case, the file name was “Lupin3,” and I had to add “.mp4” so that my video player would recognize it as a valid file. Kind of dumb, but it’s a minor inconvenience compared to how nice-looking the video usually after using this program.
Softsubbed Video Files (.mkv)
Okay, so here’s where things get sticky. Most modern digital fansubs are released in .mkv format. What is that? .MKV is a video container which can include any number of video, audio and subtitle tracks. In most cases, .mkv fansub releases will contain a video file, and audio file, and a subtitle file, which can be toggled on and off. The disadvantage is that it’s a major pain in the ass to re-encode this video into an editable format and retain the subtitles.
Nowadays, if I feel like I’m going to want to make a video clip, I try to make sure that I have the episode I need in a hardsubbed format. There are times, though, where I’ll need to try and convert a softsubbed .mkv into a .avi file that I can work with.
I have very mixed results with both of these programs, especially when it comes to more current .mkv files. Many of them will cause either program to crash partway through the re-encode, which is why I usually try to seek out other options first.
Using All to AVI
When I run All to AVI, I will usually right click and choose “run as administrator” which appears to cut down on the crashing to some extent.
When the program loads, click “Add File” to select a file to re-encode (in this case I’m adding an older file that I know should work correctly using this program).
Most likely, the video file will be encoded using H.264, and you will have to make some other selections to account for this (it will also cause the encode to take longer). Select “yes” at this dialog window.
You should first select the frame rate of the video. I’ve found that most fansubs are encoded at 23.9x frames per second, but if you’re not sure and want to avoid having to come back and re-do the whole thing later on, use Media Player Classic (a free video player) to check on the frame rate (load the video, select “View > statistics” and the information will appear beneath the video frame).
In this case, I would select “23.9x” because it’s the closest to the average frame rate of this video (it also gives a suggestion in this menu, but I prefer to confirm it myself).
After making your selection, click “ok” and the menu will close. In the next menu, you can change the frame size, video bitrate, subtitle selection and audio selection. Here, I have changed the frame size to something smaller (it will automatically keep the aspect ratio the same), selected the highest quality video bitrate available, and selected the correct subtitle and audio tracks (usually they will be given names like “eng” for English, “jpn” for Japanese, and “und” for Undefined aka “we were too lazy to give this track a proper signifier but it’s probably the correct one). You can change the subtitle font/size if you want, but I have found that it tends to make the encode less stable, so I usually leave it alone.
Click “Add Job” to add the conversion to the queue. Occasionally the program will get uppity in terms of the file name being too large. In that case, rename the source file to something shorter and try again.
Click “Convert!” to start the file conversion. A status bar will open showing the progress. Depending on the speed of your computer, this could take up to 25-30 minutes to complete, so find something productive to do in the meantime. Most likely it will take up a lot of your computer’s resources, so playing games or watching other videos isn’t recommended.
One of the quirks of this program is that the subtitles in the new file are often timed a little bit wonky (they will generally appear a second before they’re supposed to). I have never found this to be a major problem, especially considering how automated a lot of the program’s functions are.
You can use VirtualDub to edit the finished file.
Using Super ©
This program is somewhat more versatile than All to Avi, though the output file is almost never as nice and the font used for the subtitles is absolutely atrocious. I tend to use this program in more desperate situations where I don’t have as many options and I’m pressed for time.
Open the program. Immediately you’ll be presented with several options in terms of video and audio encoding. In this case, we’re going to select the “AVI” output container, the DivX codec, and the mp3 audio codec. You can mess around with this if you want if you feel so inclined, but this is just what I use for simplicity’s sake.
In the dialog box directly below, you can select either FFmpeg or MEncoder. I honestly don’t really know the difference between the two and just go with the default (in this case, FFmpeg). If anyone has a concise explanation about why one is better than the other, I would be happy to hear it. There is also the Direct Show Decode box to the right, which gives an explanation of its function when you hover over the box. I have not really noticed anything special about checking this box.
Next are the video options, where you can select the specifics of how the video portion of the .mkv file will be handled. I tend to leave most options “as-is,” including the frame size, aspect ratio and frames-per-second (remember, to check the fps you can use Media Player Classic). I choose a high bitrate for the encoding and try to squeeze the best quality I can out of it. There are a lot of options to mess around with here, also. If you’re so inclined, play around with it a little bit.
Next is the audio. I don’t do much here except make sure that it’s fairly high-quality and that the stereo channels are retained.
One final thing to verify before encoding is that the subtitles of the .mkv are not disabled. To check this, go to the “Options” portion of the Video section and click “O” for “Other Options.” Make sure that the “Hide Subtitles” button is unchecked.
When you’ve selected your options, drag and drop the file you want to re-encode into the gray box at the bottom. You can drop multiple files here at a time, and they will all be re-encoded using the same options, however I tend to find that trying to do a lot of files at once makes the program crash. When you have your file ready, click “Encode (Active Files.”
When encoding to DivX or Xvid, another dialog box will appear. Again, I’m not familiar with all the different choices here and tend to just choose Xvid.
Note: newer versions of the program have a truncated menu for this.
I’m going to lay it out right now, using this program is a total crap shoot. Sometimes files come out beautifully, sometimes they’ll stall for no good reason whatsoever (I had to try my example file three or four times using different settings to finally get it to work). This is really a last line of defense for me if nothing else will work.
Re-encoding to MP4
I have not personally tried this so I can’t relay my direct experience, but Kanjouteki has a quick-and-dirty guide up on their website for taking softsubbed video and re-encoding it to hardsubbed mp4. This may be helpful if the only video source you have is a softsubbed file that neither All to AVI, Super ©, or other programs can handle.
Ripping YouTube Videos
Sometimes there’s just no other option but to rip off other people’s hard work. There are several programs out there that one could use to save and use YouTube videos. This is the way that I do it.
You will need - Google Chrome (browser) and YouTube Options , a Chrome Extension (NOTE: Download the web store version rather than the full version to be able to download video. Yes, I realize that that’s counter-intuitive).
With YouTube Options enabled, all you have to do is go to the page of the video you want to rip, and the download links will appear below the video. Generally there are not many options for HD video with anime that’s posted to YouTube (at least officially).
Here, I would download the 360p MP4 file and edit a clip using avidemux. One could also download the nicer-quality 480p FLV and re-encode it using Super ©.
Using a DVD Source
If you have an anime DVD, getting your video is very easy and it will look pretty nice, too (depending on the quality of the DVD transfer, that is).
You will need – HandBrake
Open HandBrake and insert a DVD into the DVD drive. Use the “Source” button at the upper-left corner of the menu to select the source.
When you load the DVD, you’ll be presented with several options. First you need to select the title you want to rip. This is really the only sucky thing about using a DVD source – the titles aren’t labeled “Episode 1” or “Trailer,” you have to kind of guess what it is you want by the length of the video. In this case, I’m fairly sure that Title 3 is the second episode on this disc (which would correspond to episode 6 of the show).
It’s safest to rip all the episode chapters, unless you’re very sure that you can pinpoint the exact chapter that contains the clip that you want.
Select a Destination for the resultant file. Here I’m just saving it to my desktop (because I’ll probably just end up deleting it anyway, haha).
Then, select a video container. Along the right side of the screen is a list of pre-set options. I’ve selected “Normal,” and the options it gives me for the video container are MP4 and MKV. I’m selecting MP4 because I want to edit the file later on in avidemux.
Next, we have to mess around with some of the other settings. The “Picture” tab allows us to alter the frame size if we want to (Protip: we don’t). Leave the settings as they are (the program should auto-detect them).
The extent to which you’ll use any of the settings in the “Video Filters” tab will depend on whether your DVD is interlaced or progressive. The only real way to get a handle on that is to watch it on your computer. There are video analysis programs out there that you can download to check this for you, but I generally just do a quick pass encode first and deal with it later if I have to. In this case, I know from an earlier test run that the video on this DVD is interlaced, so I’m going to select an option in the “Deinterlace” menu to correct for that.
In the Video options, you shouldn’t have to do much except check “2-Pass Encoding” under the Avg Bitrate box. This will give you a much nicer finished product.
In the Audio options, click “Add Track” to add all of the DVD’s audio tracks to the menu below. Because my DVD has both Japanese and English audio, I want to be sure to select the one that I actually want, which is the Japanese language track.
Under the Subtitles tab, click “Add All.” This is where things can get tricky. This DVD has two English language subtitle tracks, one which is the full translation of the dialog, and one which translates just the signs and other background items. Because I’ve selected the Japanese audio track, I want to select the subtitles that contain the full translation. Because I’ve watched the DVD recently, I know that the first English track is the full translation, but you may have to do some research so that you select the correct one.
Remember, we want these subtitles to be hardsubbed, or “burned in” to the picture. Mark the check box above “Burned In” to accomplish this.
You shouldn’t have to do anything in the last two tabs.
After making your selections, hit “Start” (the green circular “play” button) at the top of the screen. The encode should begin. To rip and encode this episode took approximately eight minutes on my machine, but your mileage may vary.
Edit the file using avidemux.
Well, I think that’s about it. I hope that this proves useful for others. I know that a lot of what’s up here seems complicated, but once you have to do it several times, it becomes second nature.