Tag Archives: Video

Tools: Digitize Your Old Videos

If like me,  you have a pile of old personal videos on VHS, Betamax, Hi-8 etcetera, why not move them to your hard drive or a DVD instead!

There is of course many ways to do this, but what we use is our old video tape machine, Kdenlive video editing software, and a simple USB video / audio dongle.

And there’s the rub. Finding a USB capture device that will work with the Linux video driver can be a challenge. I tried several, before settling on the Easycap dongle.  While I just linked to one, it turns out there are several versions of this capture device, and not all of them have the chip set required to work happy with Linux so it does take some digging.

Keep in mind that most of the sellers of these, ship directly from China, so don’t be in a huge hurry to get it!

Instead of rehashing what is already available on the topic, I’m going to send you off to the LinuxTV.org site on how to find the unit with the chip set you need.

I got lucky, because they are so inexpensive on Amazon, I went ahead and purchased a couple of these units, each from a different vendor. Of the two, one of them had the required Syntek Semiconductor Co., Ltd chip set.

Carefully read the above LinuxTV site for more information on choosing your capture device.

To see the specifications on your dongle once you have it in hand, and plugged into your computer, simply type the following in a Terminal window:

~ $ lsusb

Linux will then report the devices plugged into your USB ports, including your new USB video capture dongle, like this:

Bus 001 Device 005: ID 046d:c534 Logitech, Inc.
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 05e3:0606 Genesys Logic, Inc. USB 2.0 Hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID Syntek Semiconductor Co., Ltd STK1160 Video Capture Device

Of course, once it’s all up and running, it’s a pretty simple matter to let Kdenlive do the capture, and then edit your personal video the way you wish, finally, encoding it as an mp4 video or for burning to a DVD.


Software: Encoding For Roku With Handbrake

Back at Christmas, one of my regular viewers of our Goats Live,  live stream, very kindly sent us a GoPro video camera.

We’ve been enjoying it much, adding many quality videos to our web site. The next step though, was to start adding video to our private Roku channel, GoatsLive

Having previously uploaded  standard definition videos to  Roku  with no problems,  I expected the same with High definition video. That was not to be the case however.

My first attempt  gave me nice crisp audio, but no video displayed. So did attempts 2 through 58! Everything I uploaded, no matter what  settings I used, would only play the audio, but not the video.

Yes I did searches for video encoder settings for Roku, and I bookmarked 20+ sites, all giving similar information, but nothing worked.

I did know that the Roku wanted h264 video in an mp4 or mov container, but nothing worked!

My video editing software’s h264 just wasn’t cutting it.

Enter Handbrake. Not only will this software decode / rip a DVD movie to your hard drive, but more important to me, it also has the ability to encode any ffmpeg compatible video source.

Handbrake Transcoder

Handbrake Transcoder

I spent 2 solid days, uploading video after video to my server and attempting to play them on my Roku. After much experimenting, I was able to get a nice balance between video quality and file size.

Once the codec is  set and working, you can use the RF slider shown in the screen grab above, to then decide the quality of your video. In our example, we use a quality number of 30. We did try several of course, before we got the quality vs. file size in harmony.

My many net searches about encoding for Roku were good guidelines, but what I really wanted is someone’s exported configuration file!

Since that was not to be found, I had to figure it out for myself.

Hoping to help the next guy, I’m going to post my configuration file for Handbrake.

Handbrake Roku Configuration File: Download

Once saved to your hard drive, you can import this configuration file into your Handbrake presets, and start encoding.

Roku is a powerful tool for us to advertise our web site. I hope  if you want to build a Roku channel, that this info will help save you some time and energy!




Editing Video

Pro editing of video used to be a very expensive and exclusive club. In my broadcast days, using software costing thousands of dollars per workstation was the norm. Now days however, anyone can produce professional results at home and with modest equipment. All under Linux!

With the proliferation of video sharing sites, and the fact that most of us carry video recorders in our pocket 24/7 now; it’s time to start editing video!

The Linux Software Manager is the first place to start looking for editing software. There, you will find a number of non-linear editing packages.

Today, we’ll focus on what we use, which is Kdenlive


Kdenlive is a traditional non-linear editing package that will allow you to drag and drop any media file into the timeline and begin editing. You can include almost any format of video, plus photos, screen grabs or anything else you wish to add to your video composition.

Kdenlive has a wealth of filters and transitions available to you, so fancy wipes between  scenes, and adding graphics on top of your video is a breeze! Don’t worry about making a mistake either, as multiple layers of undo are available to you at your fingertips.

When the project is done, you can export your video in many popular formats and in all the usual screen sizes. Filters are included for many popular video sharing sites, so you’re sending them exactly the type of video that they expect.

Your standard, or 16:9 pro quality video can then be uploaded to your favorite video sharing site, or burned to a DVD, ready to play on your own TV!