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An alternative to video editing

Video editor software has many powerful features but it always needs to re-encode the original source files to make the finished video. Whilst this maintains high quality so long as the bitrate is sufficiently high, it causes small changes to the original data. Some techy people like myself prefer to watch the original video files in their unmodified form. The camcorder has done a good job of encoding the video into an efficient compressed format such as MP4 or MOV, with the bitrate optimised for the particular resolution setting used. Watching the original files prevents further changes to the data by the decoding and re-encoding process.

By cutting out clips from the video and joining them together, its possible to make a continuous video of the parts that you want to watch. You can then play back the whole sequence without interruption. This can be done losslessly using video cutter and joiner software. Each file (eg. MP4) has a header and footer as well as the actual data section. By cutting off the header and footer then merging the data sections, its possible to join two files together with no changes in the underlying content. In the same way a file can be cut by discarding parts of the video data content.

There are free cutter/joiner software utilities that allow you to cut and join video files. Most of these work by re-encoding them, so do not offer the advantages described. There are others that let you go about this task losslessly with no changes. I wanted a cutter/joiner utility for my own use so I did some research into what's available. The best free solution I found is MP4Tools. It consists of MP4Splitter and MP4Joiner. These apps are free and work losslessly, and for these reasons I fully recommend them. Most other software available works by re-compressing the files. Here's the link to their website for MP4 Cutter and Joiner.

To make an analogy to the world of audio think of a MiniDisc containing compressed audio data. Imagine you want to merge two tracks to make a single track. One way to do it is to take the digital output of the MiniDisc player and connect it to a different player/recorder. You can then digitally record the music as one track on the other player. This is fine but the data is de-compressed, transmitted digitally and then re-compressed again into the MiniDisc's ATRAC format. Whilst the sound quality is still very good, there are small changes to the underlying data. A better way is to merge the tracks on the original MiniDisc using the recorder's combine function. This combines the tracks by editing the Table of Contents information, without changing the underlying audio data.

Try our SceneMax Software

SceneMax is a utility for playing back highlights from your home movie collection without any editing, using the original unmodified source files in their optimal quality. Whilst theoretically you could do this by cutting and joining the source files losslessly, this process is time consuming when working with multiple sources. It also creates a new output file that takes up extra space on your computer system.

SceneMax acts like a programmable remote control. You set the start and end points for the scenes you want to watch. It then controls playback to show only these clips, together in a continuous sequence. Its quick and easy to use, ideal for rapidly preparing viewings for friends and family. There's no editing and it uses your original source files without changing them.

It's designed to work with Action Cameras for outdoor sports. Specifically it supports slow motion and you can easily add this to your sequences. Because it plays the original source files you can watch at the full 60 frames-per-second high frame rate when this setting was used to make the recording. The faster frame rate shows rapid movements more fluidly, and this is often lost during a typical editing process.

Back in the days of analog camcorders most of us didn't have the option to edit, add special effects or add a soundtrack. The movie clips were dubbed onto VHS tape for playback in sequence one after the other. This simple method is sufficient for viewing the footage at home. You can think of SceneMax as a modern version of this approach.

There are two versions of the program for Windows computers. The first version works with Windows Media Player 12. This is installed on computers running Windows 7 through to Windows 10. The second version works with VLC Media Player. This is the leading open source media player by VideoLAN, Its compatible with older computers running Windows XP and Vista as well as more recent Windows versions.

Make and play custom sequences
BeeRead more about the Key Features of SceneMax

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