I am wrapping up a major video editing effort for my day job which has afforded me opportunities to learn a great deal more about video editing with Final Cut Studio Pro. I wrote about this last Friday in the post, “My iMovie to Final Cut learning journey continues.” I also referenced learning related to this project in my August 27 post “Capturing DVD Video for editing,” and August 22nd post “Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus formatting problem solved.” I still have not disabled the spin-down / sleep interval “feature” of my Maxtor 1 TB drive yet, as suggested by a commenter on the latter post, but I hope to do that before long.

One of my biggest technical challenges in this curriculum DVD project has been figuring out a way to import “B-roll” footage I have on DVD which I want to integrate into new edited videos. In my case, this is NOT copyrighted DVD footage, so the DMCA is not a consideration. This footage is DVD video previously shot by a videographer specifically to be used for B-roll sequences. Unlike Adobe Premiere, which I’m told lets users import from a DVD directly, Final Cut Pro does not offer such an option. Another program must be used to convert the MPEG-2 video and audio into a DV stream which can subsequently be imported into Final Cut Pro. The method of using Snapz Pro X software to capture and convert video leaves a lot to be desired. I was overjoyed, therefore, to discover the FREE software program MPEG Streamclip (available for both Macintosh/Apple and Windows users) thanks to Josh Mellicker. Here’s how I’ve used the program to successfully (and relatively easily) import DVD footage for my Final Cut Pro projects.

After running MPEG Streamclip, from the FILE menu I chose to open a DVD volume which I already had in my computer’s DVD drive. Timecode breaks often occur when fast forward or rewind is used during recording. If a DVD includes timecode breaks, MPEG Streamclip provides the option to fix those issues, and I chose to let the program do that for each DVD I used.

MPEG Streamclip - Fix Timecode Breaks

Unlike iMovie but like Final Cut Pro, MPEG Streamclip allows users to define “in and out points” for a desired video sequence. The keyboard shortcut keys are the same as FCP and intuitive: Use “i” for in and “o” for out.

MPEG Streamclip in and out points

After defining the in and out points of the video clip you want to extract, it is time to select an export format. Since I was creating a DVD, I chose to export in DV format. A variety of other options are available, however. Note QuickTime Pro is NOT required to use all the functionality of MPEG Streamclip.

MPEG Streamclip - Export to DV

Most likely, all the default export settings can be left “as is” for your clip. In my case, since I am editing 16:9 aspect ratio HD video, I changed the aspect ratio of the DVD extracted video clip from 4:3 to 16:9.

MPEG Streamclip - DV Exporter Settings

This results in some distortion of the original video, but it is acceptable for the content I’m using.

At some point I may try using MPEG Streamclip instead of Handbrake (also free and cross-platform, btw) to create iPod and iPhone-compatible MPEG-4 videos of DVDs I own. Of course, in the case of commercial DVDs, the DMCA does apply for folks in the U.S. For the purposes of this post and this context, therefore, let’s assume I’m considering just converting DVDs of family videos I’ve created in the past. 🙂

Do you know of other ways to readily import video clips from DVDs into Final Cut Pro?

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2 Responses to Converting and Editing DVD Footage with MPEG Streamclip

  1. H Songhai says:

    Wes,

    Just downloaded MPEG Streamclip. Light, clean and pretty versatile. I opened and played a number of different file types and even opened a URL from YouTube and all the media played back perfectly.

    I opened an MPEG clip and set in and out points, then I saved the edited sequence as a new file. The file saved with the exact in and out points as I specified. I got an error message when I tried to open an MP3, but the file played anyway. It’s a much more hands on approach to conversion and editing than Zamzar. I will be sharing it with my students.

    This approach might seem a little cumbersome, but it’s been working for me for quite some time now.
    I use a capture device (Dazzle) together with my DVD player to bring DVD content into my computer. I come out of my DVD player/recorder into Dazzle and then out of Dazzle into my tower. While the DVD is playing, I capture everything in iMovie, save the project and then import the DV streams into Final Cut.

    Thanks

    H Songhai

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    H: I’m delighted you found MPEG Streamclip also straightforward to use. I love the control of setting in and out points with the keyboard shortcuts similar to FCP. I’ve used QuickTime Pro in the past to do this but I like the MPEG Streamclip interface better. Plus it’s free, of course.

    When I was at the university we used a Sony capture device to import VHS and DVD video into the MacG4 we had setup as a FCP station. I like this method better since it doesn’t require extra hardware or wiring!

    Please let me know how this goes with your students!

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