Managing Flip Camera Files
Friday June 04th 2010, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Video

I. Copying Camera Files to the Computer

Step 1. When you connect the Flip to your computer for the first time, it will automatically install the FlipShare software.

Step 2. Use FlipShare to copy the source video files to your computer.

Step 3. If the Flip tries to charge itself while also copying a big file, especially in hot weather, it may complain of overheating and shut down. If this happens, disconnect the camera, remove the battery, and try again.


II. Merging Multiple Camera Files into One

Step 1. If you try to merge the source files with FlipShare, it will insist on adding a dissolve between each one. So instead, download a program called MPEG Streamclip.

Step 2. In MPEG Streamclip, choose File / Open Files and select all the source files you want to merge.

Step 3. Choose File / Save As, and MPEG Streamclip will merge the source files into one clip.

Step 4. If you intend to copy the file back to the camera, make sure the merged clip’s running time is under half an hour. The Flip camera may refuse to play a longer file. If your video is too long, consider dividing it into parts.


III. Editing in Final Cut

Step 1. Import your footage files into Final Cut.

Step 2. Create a new sequence: 1280 x 720, 30fps, 44KHz audio, using the ProRes codec.

Step 3. Export your final master using the ProRes codec. It will be pretty big—estimate at least 1GB per minute, and probably more. That’s OK; just make sure you have enough space.

Step 4. If you intend to copy the file back to the camera, make sure your final master’s running time is under half an hour. When exporting from Final Cut, the file size (GB) is not important. Only the running time matters. The Flip camera may refuse to play a longer file. If your video is too long, consider dividing it into parts.


IV. Copying Computer Files to the Camera

Step 1. Make sure your file is 1280 x 720, 30fps, 44KHz audio. If you are using clips straight from the camera or merged in MPEG StreamClip, there will be little chance of this being changed. If you’re not getting the correct results out of Final Cut, double-check your sequence settings.

Step 2. In FlipShare, choose File / Import to copy your computer files into FlipShare’s media folder on your hard drive. This is an annoying, but necessary step–just copying them to the camera directly won’t work. On the bright side, FlipShare will automatically take care of any format conversion that needs to be done. Be prepared; it takes a long time.

Step 3. FlipShare’s Import command will convert your files into 1280 x 720, 30fps, 44KHz MP4s. At this point all files must be under 2GB—that’s half an hour of running time in this video format—or the Flip will not be able to play them reliably. (The Flip is supposed to be able to handle files up to 4GB, or one hour, but I found those would occasionally freeze or otherwise misbehave. In fact, I would aim for no more than 1.8GB to be absolutely safe.) Once again, if your files are over the limit, consider dividing them into parts.

Step 4. The imported files should now be visible in FlipShare’s media browser. Sometimes they arrive named “Untitled,” unfortunately. If this happens, right-click on the thumbnail and choose Rename to give the file a useful name again.

Step 5. Make sure you have enough free space on the camera; you can use FlipShare to move more camera files to your computer and delete them from the camera if necessary. When you’re ready, select your files and choose File / Save to Camcorder to copy them back.

Step 6. If the Flip tries to charge itself while also copying a big file, especially in hot weather, it may complain of overheating and shut down. If this happens, disconnect the camera, remove the battery, and try again.


V. Finishing Up

Step 1. Eject the Flip, replace the battery if necessary, and play any files you copied to it to test that they work.

Step 2. Burn a DVD or make some other reliable backup of the original source files before deleting them from your hard drive.

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