August 20, 2017

Lucky Clan’s Videon Degrades Video Bit Rate During Trim and Split Editing

 
Videon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 14 Videon Icon 02_800xAUTO.JPGDuring a recent project, I discovered that Videon iPhone video application degrades the video bit rate from that of a source video clip during split and trim functions.

Gravitas

Over the past year I’ve been fortunate to have discovered and use Lucky Clan’s Videon iPhone video recorder and editing app as a goto app for recording many of my projects.

Videon had a far superior video image quality, provided manual control of exposure and focus, and contained powerful trim and split editing features which saved time by allowing the use of the iPhone to conduct initial post production tasks portably and before the real work took place behind a desk at the editing workstation.

I recently had to abandon Videon for the video recording portion of my projects in order to use DSLR video cameras to take advantage of their refined manual settings control and interchangeable lens options.

One feature, however, I regret not having at my finger tips. That is Videon’s simple and highly efficient trim and split feature.

Videon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 10 Videon Trim 02_800xAUTO.JPGVideon’s interface is far superior and simple to use over other top iPhone video recording and editing apps.

The manner in which Videon allows the user to set multiple split points on a source video clip, before sending it off for splitting, saves time and acts like a batch splitting tool.

Videon’s split and trim tools are intuitive, and are simple to use providing frame accurate placement of in and out points.

Videon further incorporated a logical renaming scheme when producing the resulting sub-clips after a trim or split procedure. The created sub-clips are subsequently chronologically numbered with an extension to the source video file name.

This keeps the new sub-clips closely associated with the original file name so they don’t loose their place in the directory listing. Unlike some iPhone video editing apps which sometimes merely create new file names added to the last name or number on the device which creates chaos and drastically reduces work-flow efficiency.

Trying to Keep Videon in the Workflow

Without fully abandoning Videon from my production workflow, I found I was able to copy my source files recorded using a DSLR camera into the root working directory of Videon on the iPhone. This requires a hack these days, given Apple’s insistence to prevent users from accessing an app’s directory area, forcing the user to resort to clunky iTunes in an attempt to quickly add or copy files from these areas on the iPhone or iPad.

Once the prospective files needing to be trimmed or split are in the apps work director on the device, they will appear much the same way as any file created by the app, in this case Videon. The files can then be freely worked on using Videon for splitting or trimming.

Tricky File Naming Scheme

Working on video clips in Videon’s working directory on the iPhone was a bit tricky at first.

I had to first figure out compatible names for my source files before copying them to the apps working directory. If named incorrectly the app may not see them, or, when creating sub-clips after a trimming or splitting operation, as in the case of Videon, it may truncate the file names when characters such as the underscore “_” are encountered.

If a file was being worked on by Videon which contained an underscore in its name, the resulting sub-clips would be renamed by truncating from the underscore and by adding the three digit file name extension (i.e., 001, 002, 003, etc.).

For instance, if a source clip named 20151210_1500_001.mov was copied to the working directory of Videon on the iPhone. Then, if the clip underwent a trim or split procedure in Videon, Videon would look for the first underscore after 20151210_, and then start its chronological renaming scheme at that point, naming the new sub-clips as 20151210_001, _002, and so on.

The way around this is to remove all the underscores from the source file names to 2015121015001.mov. Then, when Videon goes to apply the renaming scheme to the clip after a trim or split procedure, it would rename the sub-clips to 201512101500001_001, _002, and so on. Keeping the clips in their respective order in overall file name scheme.

MP4 vs. MOV Renaming Trick

I also found out that if you rename a source file clip originally recorded in .MP4 format to .mov, Videon would find and work with the file without any problems. Afterward, the file could then be copied from the Videon working directory and later renamed back to its original *.mp4 name as needed.

Future LuckyClan Updates Unknown

All said and done, it is most desirable to keep the portability and time saving characteristics of using Videon and the iPhone to work on mundane tasks such as trimming and splitting source video clips to be later used at the editing workstation. However, given the revelation that Videon reduces the bit rate of the source video clip by as much and 2.7 times is a critical quality control issue of concern.

Shooting video using a DSLR camera is already handicapped in terms of image quality by the limited amounts of stops of light it is capable of recording. So every little “bit” helps. And a reduction as much as 2.7 times in the bit rate is not something to ignore.

Developer Awareness

Before writing this article, LuckyClan.com was emailed advising them of the issue regarding the underscore “_” file naming truncating issue, as well as the source video bit rate reduction issue during Videon’s trim and split procedures. Unfortunately, Lucky Clan did not respond by the time this article was published, so they were not able to shed any light on the issues.

Videon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 06 Videon Apple Store v2_800xAUTO.11 Nov 8 2014 Info.JPGIn any event, Lucky Clan has been made aware of this issue, and hopefully will find it noteworthy enough to include any improvements and modifications along these lines in a future Videon update. Consequently, Lucky Clan, at the time of the writing of this article, had not updated the Videon app since November 8, 2014, so it may be time for an update from its current version 2.11 (Rel. Nov. 8, 2014).

Case Scenario

All that said and done, lets look at the specific case scenario and resulting degradation by Videon after splitting a source video clip from a modified Nikon D800 recording at 1080p 24fps at 36Mbps.

After the clips was recording by the D800, it was then transferred to Videon’s video clip working directory.

Videon was then opened up, and the clip was retrieved where it underwent either a trim or spit procedure.

The resulting sub-clips were then copied back to the editing computer and a media report was conducted on both the source and sub-clip files revealing the following results.

Videon source clip:
37.1Mbps (1920x1080p (16:9), at 23.976 fps
AVC (High@L4.0)(CABAC/2 Ref Frames)
(1,536 Kbps, 48.KHz, 16 bits, 2 channels, PCM (Little/Signed)

Videon Sub-clip:
13.7Mbps (1920x1080p (16:9), at 23.976 fps,
AVC (High@L4.0)(CABAC/2 Ref Frames)
(256 Kbps, 44.1.KHz, 2 channels, AAC (LC)

Videon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 04 Videon Clip Info_800xAUTO.JPG

Simple division between 37.1Mbps and 13.7Mbps, the difference between the source and resultant split sub-clip, results in a 2.7 times reduction in quality. So again, that is a 2.7 times less video bit rate density than the original source clip bit rate which Videon started off with before the split.

To explore this issue further, I then tested another iPhone video and editing app, FilMic Pro on the same clip.

After copying the editing the source clip in the same manner done using Videon, it was discovered that FilMic Pro had little to no degradation applied to the video bit rate of the resulting sub-clips.

FilMic Pro source clip:
35.4 Mbps (1920x1080p (16:9), at 23.976 fps,
AVC (High@L4.0)(CABAC/2 Ref Frames)
(1,536 Kbps, 48.0 KHz, 16 bits, 2 channels, PCM (Little/Signed)

FilMic Pro Sub-clip:
32.7 Mbps (1920x1080p (16:9), at 23.976 fps,
AVC (High@L4.0)(CABAC/2 Ref Frames)
(1,536 Kbps, 48.0 KHz, 16 bits, 2 channels, PCM (Little/Signed)

Videon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 13 Filmic Pro Logo_800xAUTO.JPGThere is negligible difference here in the bit rate. Also notice that FilMic Pro did not modify the audio quality either.

Spitting and Trimming

Using FilMic Pro for basic trimming and splitting of large extraneous clips resulting from a video production was definitely not as easy nor ergonomic as Videon.

Videon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 08 FilMic Pro Trim 02_800xAUTO.JPGFilMic Pro’s trim only interface is clunky to say the least. And FilMic Pro did not seem to offer a split feature. The user is limited to one instance of a trim to the source clip which was then saved as a sub-clip. Then next trim would have to be “reloaded” and done again along another point on the source clip. Wash, rinse and repeat.

On the other hand, Videon offers a multiple point designated split feature which allows the user to designate multiple split points within a clip through the designation of tick marks.

Videon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 10 Videon Trim 02_800xAUTO.JPGThe user simply scrubs through the source clip, placing split point ticks along the time line of the clip. Then, when ready, the ticked up clip is sent to the splitting process resulting in multiple sub-clips being generated for each of the designated split points. With the option to preserve the original source clip of course, or not, user specified.

I recommend preserving the source slip, because sometimes there is a system memory log jam which may corrupt long video editing operations.

So to play it safe, preserve the original source clip until the split or trim operation has been completed successfully.

Sub-Clip Naming Conventions

Each of the sub-clips generated by Videon’s split feature are named with chronological extensions added to the original source file name. This allowed the resulting sub-clips to say in chronological order to its source file, if preserved. Or at the least, continue on in the master directory list of source files.

Lucky Clan’s Future Development of Videon Uncertain

It is uncertain if Lucky Clan will modify their Video product to address this degradation in video bit rate issue when their Videon app performs split and trim procedures on a source clip.

There last Videon update was over a year ago, and perhaps having been made aware of this issue as a result of this article, they may seek to include an update in the near future to address the bit rate reduction issue.

It seems like it would be simple fix, and any current bit rate modifications currently being applied to split clips may merely be a proposed default setting used in the programing of Videon.

A proposal would be to have Videon inspect the source clip’s format and quality settings, save them to a variable, and apply them when rendering any sub-clips resulting from spitting and trim operations.

FPS and Bit Rate Configurability

Videon also does not provide refined configurability of its bit rate settings in its app. It simply allows the user to use percentage based settings (i.e., 100%, 200% quality, etc.). This is consistent to the theory that the bit rate issue was not given full granular design which given today’s iPhone capabilities, with 2K, 3K and 4K offerings, can’t be overlooked.

Especially when other iPhone video recording apps such as FilMic Pro, though limited in its ergonomic functionality, offer more refined configuration menus options. Additionally, FilMic Pro does not degrade the bit rate quality of its source clips when conducting trim operations.

(Screen shots to be uploaded at a later time.)

Screenshot Gallery:

Videon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 01 Filmic Pro Source Info_800xAUTO.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 02 Filmic Pro Clip Info_800xAUTO.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 03 Videon Source Info_800xAUTO.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 04 Videon Clip Info_800xAUTO.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 05 LuckyClan Logo 01_800xAUTO.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 06 Videon Apple Store v2_800xAUTO.11 Nov 8 2014 Info.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 07 FilMic Pro Trim 01_800xAUTO.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 08 FilMic Pro Trim 02_800xAUTO.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 09 Videon Trim 01_800xAUTO.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 10 Videon Trim 02_800xAUTO.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 11 LuckyClan Videon Page 01_800xAUTO.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 13 Filmic Pro Logo_800xAUTO.JPGVideon Bit Rate Reduction Screenshot 14 Videon Icon 02_800xAUTO.JPG

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