Joy with MPEG Streamclip

Useful tips for vidders (fan video makers) for converting your video for YouTube, or for preparing clips for editing.

Some of these tutorials may not make sense to you if you are wandering by, but they are targeted for specific users and/or uses. To follow this tutorial, download the free video encoding app MPEG Streamclip (for both Mac and PC). You may also need the 3ivX codec (for opening XviD/DivX AVI files on the PC) or the Perian codec pack (for Mac users).  If you need to open MPEG-2 (or VOB) files from a DVD rip, please purchase Apple’s MPEG-2 Playback Component (plug-in) for ease of use.

Please note: All these tutorials show you how to convert your clips to a file format that is good for editing. As such, the disk space used will be considerable. Prepare for approximately 1 GB of disk space used for each 5 minutes of footage. For an explanation for why this is necessary (and why editing in the smaller-sized XviD AVI, DivX AVI, WMV, MPEG, MP4 or other compressed file types is a bad idea), read this tutorial.

Converting your HD MJPEG AVI file (or other HD file) to a high definition H.264 MOV file (Mac & PC).

This task is particularly useful for iMovie 6 and iMovie 09 users.

Open your file in MPEG Streamclip by going to “File >> Open Files.” 

If you wish to, trim down your clip to just the scene you want by picking in and out points. Move the slider bar to the in point and press the “I” key to set it. Then move the slider bar to your out point, press the “O” key to set where you want the clip to end.

Once your file is loaded and you’ve selected which part of the clip you want to convert, go to “File >> Export to Quicktime.” This window (shown below) will display.

Choose “H.264” for Compression.

Check the “Limit Data Rate” box and type in 4000 or above for the Data Rate.

Leave the Frame Size at 1280x720.

Under “Sound,” you can pick MPEG-4 AAC and select 128 kbps or above, or can select “No Sound” (like I have in this screenshot) and eliminate sound  from your clip. (This can be handy if you’re not planning on using the audio in your fan video anyway.)

Uncheck all boxes under “Deselect for progressive movies.”

Then click on the “Make Movie” button and wait for your clip to convert over!

Converting your HD H.264 MOV file to an HD MJPEG AVI file:

Yes, now we’re going to do the opposite! This tutorial may be useful for some Windows users, particularly those using Sony Vegas and Corel VideoStudio.

Like with the tutorial above, open your file (this time an H.264 MOV file) in MPEG Streamclip. If desired, trim to just the scene you need by selecting “In” and “Out” points. (See section above for specific info on how to do that.)

Now, go to “File >> Export to AVI”

This window will pop up:

For compression, choose Apple Motion JPEG A.

Move the Quality slider bar until it’s at 80-95%. (You can tweak this a bit, but since you WANT to edit in HD, I advise the you keep the quality high, lest you lose some of the HD goodness!)

In most cases you will have no sound, so Select “No Sound.” Otherwise, go with “Uncompressed” for sound.

Frame size should remain at 1280x720.

Deselect anything checked under the “Deselect for progressive movies” heading.

Then click on the “Make AVI” button and wait for the file to convert over!

PLEASE REMEMBER that MJPEG AVI files will be larger in size. Expect to use up approximately 1 GB of disk space for every 5 minutes of footage (more or less). This is normal and expected and for a more seamless, stable editing experience, you WANT to edit in files of this size. Smaller, more compressed video files (like DivX AVI, XviD AVI, WMV) will give your software problems (either now or later on down the road).

Converting your HD H.264 MOV file to an HD Apple Intermediate Codec MOV file:

This tutorial is particularly useful for editing with Final Cut Express (version 3.0 and up) and Final Cut Pro 4.0, 4.5, and 5.

Go to “File >> Export to Quicktime”

This window will pop up.

Under “Compression” select “Apple Intermediate Codec” from the drop-down menu. Leave the Frame Size at “unscaled” or at 1280x720. (If your clips are HDTV 1080i you can save them as that, but you will need a very large monitor and a faster Mac.)

Quality can be a 100% but Apple Intermediate Codec only has one quality setting, so it doesn’t seem to change anything when you fiddle with the quality setting.

Sound can be set to “No Sound” if you don’t need audio in your fan video. If you need audio (and your clip has audio—some might not), then choose “Uncompressed” for Sound.

Then click on “Make Movie” and wait for MPEG Streamclip to convert your whole video over!

Converting your HD H.264 MOV file to an HD ProRes 422 MOV file:

This tutorial is particularly useful for editing with Final Cut Pro 6, 7, or above.

You will follow the same process as outlined above, only instead of Apple Intermediate Codec, you’ll select some flavor of “ProRes” from the Compression drop-down menu.

If you have Final Cut Pro 6, you’ll probably only get to choose from ProRes 422 and ProRes 422 (HQ). Either will work, but I usually go with HQ.

If you have Final Cut Pro 7, you’ll have more options. I’ve settled with ProRes 422 (LT) because it saves on disk space but looks pretty good. But, do tests yourself to decide which setting you like best.

Choose the same settings for Frame Size and Sound as are used in the Apple Intermediate Codec tutorial. Then click on “Make Movie” and wait for MPEG Streamclip to convert your video.

Converting your HD H.264 MOV file for use in iMovie (6 or 09):

iMovie 6 is very easy. Follow this tutorial for setting up your iMovie project as HD (this is important!) and then just import the HD H.264 MOV files straight into iMovie 6 and wait for it to process them over. Here’s the tutorial for iMovie 09 (scroll down near the bottom of page for the instructions on preparing HD to iMovie 09). Basically you import the HD H.264 MOV files into iMovie 09 and let it convert them for editing. (The tutorial gives you all the specifics.)

Converting HD clips DOWN to regular (Standard Definition) video.

*Sniff sniff*, now WHY would you ever want to do this, and lose all that glorious HD detail? Well, if you are using software that doesn’t support HD (like Sony Vegas Movie Studio, non-Platinum version) or you have a slower computer that might not deal with HD that well, then this might become necessary.

Please note again that when you convert your clips over to DV or MJPEG, that the files will be larger in size, and this is GOOD for editing. Smaller clips (like DivX, XviD, H.264, WMV, MPEG) are compressed and do not play well in your video editor, and can eventually cause crashing or other quality issues. Read this tutorial for more info.

So, let’s get started. I’m going to assume that you have some HD clips in either the MJPEG AVI format or in the H.264 MOV (or H.264 MP4) format. (If you want to convert H.264 720p MKV files, consult this tutorial—free membership required.)

Okay, so open one of these HD AVI or MOV clips up in MPEG Streamclip.

Converting over to DV (Standard Definition) AVI or MOV:

Go to “File >> Export to Quicktime” or “File >> Export to AVI” (Mac users will probably want to export to Quicktime, Windows users will want AVI.)

There are four areas of note here:

First, pick either “Apple DV - PAL” or “Apple DV/DVCPRO - NTSC” as Compression. (If you’re not sure which to pick, go with NTSC.)

Once you pick your compression, MPEG Streamclip will automatically select a frame size which corresponds (either DV-NTSC or DV-PAL). LEAVE THAT AS-IS. MPEG Streamclip knows what it is doing in this case!

If you are downsizing a large HD clip to Standard Definition DV, then CHECK the “Better Downscaling” box.

For Sound, pick “Uncompressed,” or, if you don’t want audio in your clips (a lot of vidders don’t need it), pick “No Sound.”

Then, lastly, click on the “Options” box (top right).

The options window pops up with this:

In most cases, pick “Progressive” as “Scan Mode” (at least this is what I always do) and pick your Aspect Ratio. If you are converting HD clips, your aspect ratio will ALWAYS be 16:9. (HD 720p is always widescreen or 16:9.)

If you are converting some other kinds of clips, odds are (that if you are converting clips from a film or recent TV show) that the aspect ratio is still 16:9, but you need to confirm this. Consult this aspect ratio tutorial for more information.

Click OK when you’re done making your selections.

Then return to MPEG Streamclip’s main window, and click on the “Make AVI” or “Make Movie” button (bottom right corner) to have MPEG Streamclip convert the clip over to DV MOV or AVI.

Converting to (Standard Definition) DV:

So, you need DV (not DV AVI or DV MOV) for editing. (iMovie 09 users will want DV for editing Standard Definition.) Open your clip in MPEG Streamclip, and go to “File >> Export to DV.”

The options are in a different place, but they’re all familiar.

Pick PAL or NTSC (if you’re not sure which format matches your clips, go with NTSC). If you are converting HD clips DOWN to DV, then check the “Better Downscaling” box.

Again, if you are converting HD clips to DV, keep the Aspect Ratio at 16:9.

If you are converting some other type of clips, consult the aspect ratio tutorial for more help determining what aspect ratio to choose.

Then click the “Make DV” button to have MPEG Streamclip convert your clip over to DV.

Converting to (Standard Definition) MJPEG MOV or MJPEG AVI

If you want to convert HD clips to standard definition MJPEG AVI or MJPEG MOV, open the clip in MPEG Streamclip:

For “Compression,” pick “Apple Motion JPEG A” from the drop-down menu.

Move the Quality slider bar to anywhere from 65%-95%. (You can go higher, but the file size increases with no real difference in quality. And note that the lower you go in quality, you’ll start to notice real quality loss. A quality setting of 70-85% is pretty decent.)

Click on “Better Downscaling,” since you are converting HD clips down to a smaller size.

Under “Frame Size,” choose “Other” and pick the numbers 640 x 360. (These are widescreen aka 16:9 dimensions, and HD is widescreen, so naturally you want to keep that aspect ratio when you convert your clips.)

If you are converting some kind of non-HD clip and you know that they are fullscreen (4:3) then pick the numbers 640x480. But only do this if you know that your clips are fullscreen. Consult this aspect ratio tutorial for more help with this.

For Sound, pick “Uncompressed,” or, if you don’t want audio in your clips (a lot of vidders don’t need it), pick “No Sound.”

Click on the “Make Movie” or “Make AVI” button and wait for MPEG Streamclip to convert your clips over!


So, let’s say that you have a lot of little clips and you want to convert them all over to some other format. Instead of going through the tedium of converting them one-by-one, do them in bulk! (This only works if you don’t need to trim anything away from the clips, but just want to convert them, as-is, to another type of video.)

Open MPEG Streamclip. Go to “List >> Batch List.”  You’ll see this window:

Click on the “Add Files” button, then navigate through your computer’s files for the clips that you want to convert over. It works best if all the clips you want to batch convert are in the same folder (but they can be in various places if that works better for you).

Then you are going to start adding files that you want to convert:

Find the folder where the clips are, and then select one from the top of the list, HOLD DOWN THE SHIFT KEY and then select the clip at the bottom of the list. Or, if you just want to convert select clips, hold down the Apple (Command) key (Mac) or the Control key (PC) to cherry-pick just the clips you want. When you’ve made all your selections, click on the “To Batch” button.

You’ll then be asked to pick what kind of file you want to convert to. If you’ve been following the above tutorials, you will know if you want to convert to MOV, AVI, or whatever.

Pick the desired format from the drop-down menu. In this case, I’m going to convert to Quicktime (MOV files) but you can convert to AVI, MP4, iPod, just whatever you need.

Check on the “Join all the files” if you want all your clips to be joined into one long clip. In some circumstances, this might be desirable. But in my case, I don’t want it.

“Fix timecode breaks” is for when you are converting a DVD rip to some other format. Don’t select it here. (And a tip—I tried to bulk convert a bunch of DVD rips, and it didn’t turn out well. I can’t recommend it unless you do tests first and it works for you.)

When you’ve picked the options you want, click on “OK.”

Then you’ll be asked to “Select a Destination Folder.” This is where you want all your converted clips to be placed after MPEG Streamclip has finished making them. Navigate through your hard drive to find the spot you want everything to go. Then click on the “Select” button.

Then you’ll be asked all the familiar questions that you should know by now if you’ve followed the other MPEG Streamclip tutorials: Compression, frame size, and so forth. Select whatever options work best (consult the above instructions on this page if necessary).

In my case I’m making H.264 MOV files, but you might use totally different settings.

When everything is selected, click on the “To Batch” button.

If this is all you want to convert over, click on the “Go” button and wait for MPEG Streamclip to do its thing. Otherwise, click on “Add Files” and locate more clips you want to convert over, repeating the process until you’ve added as many files as you need to the list.

When you click on the “Convert” button, wait while MPEG Streamclip converts, converts, converts! You can leave your computer to convert overnight, or just be busy with other things as it finishes converting all your files.

MPEG Streamclip busy converting a bunch of clips in Windows 7. See how the “Status” of some clips is listed as “Completed,” while others are still “Waiting.” When everything is done, all the clips will be listed as “Completed.”

Download video samples:

Here’s a video made to pimp HD. It shows the quality differences between “regular” resolution, a clip made from HD (but converted “down” to DV MOV or DV AVI—as instructed on this page) and a real HD clip. The differences between the “regular” clip (from XviD source) and HD should be obvious. The differences between the  “real” HD clip and the “HD converted down to DV MOV” may not be quite as obvious, depending on how sharp your eye is and your monitor resolution. (To me there is enough of a difference to be noticeable.)

Right-click to download: Pimping HD (1080 HD)  | Pimping HD (720 HD) | Pimping HD (HQ)

Tutorial keywords: MPEG Streamclip, MJPEG AVI, HD, converting video tutorial, fanvideos, fanvids, vidding tutorial, vids, vidders.