Questions From A Newbie Editor

Well, this is officially my 1st post here. Hopefully, I can get the answers that I need.

As the title suggests/implies, I’m a bit of a newbie editor who is still learning certain things as I go. [Not sure if editing will become a career for me in the future; for now, it’s more like a hobby.] Anyway, I was recommended to use ShotCut for part of a small personal project I’m working on, but I have some questions:

1.) Part of the process involves taking certain tracks I want downloaded from Youtube & encoding/converting some of the files to an AAC codec. The files are mainly mp3, webm, & mkv. Now, I know converting from does improve the overall audio quality a bit, but what about converting/encoding from webm or mkv to AAC? There shouldn’t be any problems or loss in audio quality, right? :thinking:

2.) Up until now, I have NEVER used ShotCut before. So, how easy is it to encode/convert the way that I’m wanting to?

3.) Lastly, even though ShotCut is opensource, does it have any advantages over the free version of DaVinci Resolve? [Just curious about the differences & if ShotCut is easier to use or not.]

For anyone wondering, I am FULLY AWARE of copyright/infringement that can occur when you use something like this without permission. No worries though, I contacted each of the artists & got their permissions to use the tracks in my project.

Anyway, if you need more details or wish to ask me any questions you might have or can think of, please feel free to do so & I’ll get back with you! I would very much appreciate it if someone knowledgeable/experienced enough can help answer these questions I have!

Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:

Q 1& 2 : Depends on how you export it. Different cosec got its own pros and cons.
Q3 : If you’re an advance editor, use Davinci. Shotcut never made for advance level. If you want an intermediate editor, Shotcut can get the job done.
Have a nice day/night.

Hm. I should have mentioned that I plan on exporting the videos directly to my desktop once they’re done. But like I stated earlier, I’m a newbie editor meaning I only know some the basics; I am FAR from an expert. But I guess your point is ShotCut is simpler & easier to use compared to DaVinci Resolve, right? :thinking:

Yup. To be honest i use Premier Pro but funny enough i use Shotcut most of the time.

Yeah, I got you. Everyone will have their own tastes. Guess I’ll have to look at some tutorials to see if I missed or don’t know anything. Thanks for the replies, by the way! :+1:

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@Jennings92, welcome to the forum. Let me offer a somewhat different set of answers to your questions:

  1. You have apples and oranges sloshing around: AAC and mp3 are audio specifications (mp3 can also be used as an audio container format), while webm and mkv are video container formats. This can quickly get confusing, but here is a synopsis:

container or file specification - this describes the way various data streams (audio, video, subtitles) and metadata are written together into a single file. In general, a given container is capable of containing data that has been encoded in different ways; for example, an .mp4 container might have a video data stream encoded by the h.264 standard or by the h.265 standard. When you see a file with the .mp4 or .webm extension, you are looking at a container; you have to dig to find out what data streams it contains and how they are encoded.

data stream specification - various standards have been developed to describe the way that audio and video can be encoded and compressed. h.263, h.264, and h.265 are commonly used video standards, but all of these involve patents and royalties. Theora is an open source (FOSS) video standard. VP8, VP9, and AV1 are video standards owned by Google, but they have declared the patents irrevocably public domain, or something like that - royalty free, in any case. Some common standards for audio include AAC, mp3, FLAC, AC3 … and that list goes on and on.

codec - the software or hardware that implements the encoding and decoding based on a certain standard. Note that “codec” is often used synonymously with “standard,” because they are closely connected … but they are not the same. There are several codecs that implement the h.264 standard, including DivX, x264, and various hardware codecs built into AMD and NVidia GPUs.

lossy vs. lossless compression - As far as I know, there are no video standards that do not involve some type of compression; otherwise, the storage and transmission of digital video would be overwhelming - it would take something like 11GB per minute for a 1080p video using 8-bit color depth. At a minimum, one can compress the video data stream using a lossless algorithm (along the lines of a .zip file); this might reduce the stream to something like 1GB per minute, but that’s still a lot of data to try to push across your wifi connection. The real secret of everything from DVDs to YouTube is to use lossy compression, which can achieve tremendous amount of compression at the cost of losing a small bit of detail. To see what this means, zoom in to the pixel level on a picture stored in a RAW format (lossless compression) vs. one stored as a .jpg - the latter will have some fuzziness that you don’t really notice when you are zoomed out for typical viewing. Using lossy compression, a 2-hour movie can be compressed into < 4GB to fit on a DVD. All of the most commonly used video standards - h.263, h.264, h.265, VP8, VP9, etc. - use lossy compression. Note that audio is much less “expensive” than video, so there are some uncompressed (e.g., PCM) or lossless compressed (e.g., FLAC or ALAC) audio formats, but again the most commonly used, such as MP3 and AAC, are generally implemented as lossy compression.

  • 1a. You can never convert to or from a lossy format without losing something. You might improve the audio quality by doing some filtering, but you cannot improve the quality simply by re-encoding, even if you re-encode with a “better” standard, higher bit rate, etc. I would guess that anything downloaded from YouTube has probably already gone through a couple of encoding cycles, so the data (both audio and video) is already degraded. The only way not to degrade it further is to copy it rather than to convert or encode it. If you do need to encode it (e.g., because you are editing it), make every effort only to do it once. The more times you decode / encode, the more it will degrade.
  1. If ALL you want to do is to encode / convert the data streams and/or containers, then Shotcut is overkill. That said, yes, you can use it for this purpose.

  2. I tried the free version of DaVinci Resolve and found it much harder and more confusing to use than Shotcut. It also did not work correctly when I tried to run it on a virtual machine - may be a minor point for most, but in the specific use case for which I was testing it, that was a fatal flaw. (Shotcut worked fine on the VM.)

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Boy, was that a REAL ear-full to take in… :no_mouth: Some of what you said sort of went over my head, but I get the general explanation for what you were giving to me.

I did state in my description that these files were downloaded off of Youtube & that the file types/codecs they’re currently in are MP3, WEBM, & MVK. But do bear in mind that they don’t have any video in them; they are just music files from “topics” on Youtube & a few tracks/music files from Soundcloud. Specifically, I had to use VideoDownloadHelper in Firefox for the Youtube tracks as I was told it can download them & NOT have any loss in quality. (Which means the only thing I have to do is convert/encode them to a different codec, then I’ll be ready to start.)

Anyway, just thought I would put this out here so you can know how I downloaded them & if you have anything else to add. Thanks for the reply, by the way! :slight_smile:

Yes, I was trying for a quick synopsis … but was aware it wasn’t turning out very quick as I wrote it!

I had wondered if you were focused on just the audio, but wasn’t sure. If you don’t intend to add any video in, you might want to explore Audacity; it is a very capable audio editor that should be able to handle any conversions you want to make.

“No loss in quality” for the VDH plugin suggests that it is able to fetch a copy of the file as it is stored on YouTube. That’s the best you can hope for, though again, the process of encoding it on YouTube will have generated some degradation. And every time you convert it (re-encode it), there will be further degradation. That is not necessarily something to be alarmed about - depending on the quality of the original and the settings used in the re-encoding, it may take quite a few “generations” before you can discern significant differences.

This is my personal take but when I gave davinci resolve a try (a while back, before shotcut) I found it very unintuitive compared to anything I used before (windows movie maker mainly and a bit of after effects).

Also one big issue for me was how long it took to load the program - just initial startup used so much RAM and 100% cpu. For simple video trim/concatenation + simple color corrections I mainly use this was not worth it. I do sometimes fail at color correcting stuff in shotcut but I realised nobody cares about it that much and just save my time instead :smiley:

And lastly the limitation on export formats for the free version was the final nail in the coffin. I use almost exclusively x265 for better filesize, and at very low bitrates the difference between x264 and x265 is huge in terms of subjective perception (annoying squares trying to preserve useless details VS lost small details but smooth movement). I don’t know if this is still the case though, this was 2+ years ago and exporting in davinci was just too limited for me, I like having actual control not just a “low/medium/high quality” discrete options.

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