Recently, my son and daughter appeared in a cute little Christmas play which I attended last week. I own a Kodak ZI8 which I forgot to grab for the performance but alas I had my new iPhone 4 which also recorded video so I decided to use it. I have to admit I am a real novice in the world of videos, DVD burning, encoding, and all that crap. Furthermore, I don't own any fancy video publishing software. At least nothing that didn't come with my Kodak camera or for free. This post is meant to educate other novices and help them to avoid the mistakes I made and learn from my limited successes.

Lesson #1 - Don't Record Video in Portrait Mode
When recording video on the iPhone (and I'm guessing on any phone or small form-factor video camera for that matter), use landscape mode (with the big side going left to right). Now I usually shoot photos in portrait mode and it's real easy to flip the orientation of a photo by right-clicking on the photo in Windows Explorer and choosing Rotate Clockwise. Well with videos--guess what--this isn't so easy. Plus if you plan on watching the video on a television, portrait videos will look lousy, even after flipping it.

Lesson #2 -- How to Flip a Video
So if you happen to record a video the wrong way (see lesson #1), you will need to flip it unless you want to rotate your head sideways while watching it. Now you'd think this was pretty simple, but it's not. I guess the video editor needs to literally flip every frame of the video and then you need to re-save the flipped video.I tried flipping the video using 4 different pieces of software:

  1. Camtasia doesn't flip videos.
  2. Microsoft's free Windows Live Movie Maker will do the job but it takes forever and then I didn't like the results. http://explore.live.com/windows-live-movie-maker
  3. I downloaded some free video editing DVD Video Software Free Studio from http://www.dvdvideosoft.com/. This software feels cheap but appears to be spyware free. Regardless, the quality of the video was terrible when it was done.
  4. ArcSoft MediaImpression, a version of which came for free with my Kodak camera, did the job and did it well (and faster than Windows Live Movie Maker). http://www.arcsoft.com/en-us/software_title.asp?ProductCode=AMI3

Lesson #3 -- How to Create a DVD That Will Play in a Television DVD Player
Okay, like I said I don't know much about producing videos. Here's what I found out in this regard:

  1. While Camtasia has a great video editor, Camtasia wasn't of much help here because while it does a nice job producing videos for uploading or playing on a computer it doesn't create DVDs that play in a DVD player for televisons. OTOH, if you need to upload your video, Camtasia is a great product.
  2. I didn't even try using the DVD Video Software Free Studio product since I was so unhappy with the quality of it's video flipping.
  3. ArcSoft MediaImpression should be able to do the production but the Kodak Version (version 2.0) couldn't seem to locate my laptop's DVD burner which rendered the Produce DVD feature useless.
  4. This time, Windows Live Movie Maker shined. It had no problem creating titles and transitions (which were also possible using Camtasia and MediaImpression) but most importantly it could burn a DVD with menus that I could then pop in my DVD player and play on the television.

So I was able to produce the final (flipped) video and all was well except that the above still can't fix the fact that I recorded the video in portait mode. Oh well, lesson learned...