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Tip: Rendering HD With Your Flip or Zi8

The rear LCD display on a Flip Video camera. Image via Wikipedia by Phil Roeder. By 2.0

by Andrew Garton

Flip cameras are at bargain prices now and certainly a LOT cheaper than I’d paid for mine only a few months ago. That’s because they’re no longer being made. That’s a shame. They’re discreet, easy to use and popular.

Kodak has stopped making their popular grab-in-the-hand camera too. The Zi8 still fetches good money in stores, but like me, you can pick one up for around AU$100 on eBay if you’re fast.

The beaut thing about the Zi8 is that it takes a stereo mic in and supports SD cards. I can record up the 15 hours of video on a single card, but batteries power down well before then. Also good for recording audio if you’ve got a decent mic.

Both the Flip and Zi8 have turned out gorgeous video, but the only snag I’ve encountered with these lovely portable HD cameras is the need for more grunt when you need to edit. Well, not so much editing, but in the rendering.

If you’re using anything other than the supplied editing tools that come with either Flip or the Zi8, you’re going to need a lot more memory and processing power from your computer.

My production laptop just can’t render out 1080p HD resolution at 1,920×1,080 without a LOT of tedious throttling. Note, the Zi8 supports 1080p whilst the Flip is 720p HD.

Here’s the tip – If you’re editing with Final Cut Pro, Premiere or Vegas, edit at the highest resolution, but export / render out at the lowest possible without losing image quality. 720p is more than adequate in the field as I don’t expect many folks to have multi-threading capacity on their laptops when out and about.

Oh, and if you’re publishing your HD video on you’ll need to set your edited video to render out letter-boxed. We don’t support HD yet, but when we do you’ll be the fist to know.