Video Annotation Revisited

We have some students doing a term project using the SMI eye tracking glasses. They need to manually annotate the eye tracking data and stimuli but we have more students than SMI BeGaze software, so we tried out some of the annotation tools I’ve mentioned previously. Unfortunately, recently while demoing the RIT Code app to some students it seems that with movies using newer codecs the application is painfully slow when trying to move thru video frames. While the software works well with older codecs (e.g. mpeg-2) – It seems to be showing it’s age as it was created 10+ years ago with the older quicktime framework – Will need to look into seeing if it can be updated. In the meantime one of the students found Anvil Video Annotation Tool

Video codecs and cross platform/application compatibility can drive you nuts – I messed around way too much today to actually get Anvil to work. The problem being it has a very particular list of ‘older’ codecs it supports. I am not sure how well maintained the software is as the links to their demo movies to test Anvil out had broken links.  I have movies from an SMI tracker which are xvid codec in an .avi container which is not supported by Anvil. To get something Anvil compatible I tried a few things out and the best I could find (after trying virtual dub, mpeg streamclip, handbrake, and looking at ffmpeg (but running into some problems wirth each.

Ultimately, I found that a combo of handbrake (which can open these avis but doesn’t support old codecs) and mpeg streamclip (which can’t open the avis but supports the old formats) will work.

Make sure to install handbrake: https://handbrake.fr/ and mpeg streamclip: http://www.squared5.com/

First use handbrake to open the SMI tracker avi’s and convert to a .mp4 format with video encoder chosen as h.264 and framerate chosen as same as source.

Now you should be able to open this new video in mpeg streamclip. If you choose file->export as quicktime -and then choose the compression in the dropdown box. H.261 and H.263 work, but you can also try the others listed here: http://www.anvil-software.org/#codecs

Only problem is mpeg streamclip converts to these formats really slow (seems like it takes the same length as the video, so a 10 minute video is a 10 minute wait at least on my 2014 macbook pro) so it might be good to try alternates for better speed/quality as ymmv from mine.

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