Rotate Video Without Black Bars

Audio Visual 1 Comment

rotate_video_black_barsHave you ever taken a vertical portrait video using your iPhone, import it to your computer, find that Windows Media Player will play it horizontally, and gotten a neck crick from holding your head sideways? Since the beginning, vertical portrait videos (tall and skinny) have been unwanted and unsupported, living in the shadow of the horizontal landscape videos (short and wide). Portrait videos were usually shoehorned into a widescreen frame, resulting in ugly black bars on the left and right. (Using free video editors, like Windows Movie Maker or Mac OS X iMovie, to rotate videos will result in such travesties.)

Thankfully, things have gotten better. Recent smartphones will embed the rotation information into the video file. Some video players, like VLC and QuickTime Player, will act on that rotation data to show the video correctly on computers. (Unfortunately, Windows Media Player does not make use of the video rotation data.) In addition, VLC allows manual adjustment of the playback video orientation (menu “Tools->Effects and Filters->Video Effects->Geometry->Transform->Rotate by 90 degrees”), but does not permanently change the video file’s rotation data. QuickTime Pro has a rotate video function which does not really rotate the video, but does adjust the video file’s rotation data permanently instead.

I read that some online services, such as YouTube and Google Plus, do support video rotation on imported videos, but have not tried them myself yet. (Supposedly, the new Google Photos does not support video rotation yet, but should eventually. In the meantime, the workaround is to rotate the video using the Google Plus interface.)

If you must rotate a video file (perhaps because you wish to use Windows Media Player), you will want to use a commercial video editor. To rotate a video without introducing black bars requires a program that can rotate the video, change the resolution (to avoid black bars), and re-encode with minimal video quality loss. All three functions are usually only found in commercial video editing software such as Adobe Premiere.

Instructions on how to rotate a video file using Sony Vegas Pro 10 and Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 on Windows 7 follow. I am only a beginner with both programs, so there may be better ways to do what I am attempting to do below.

Sony Vegas Pro 10

Though Sony Vegas is less powerful than Adobe Premiere, I find it much simpler to use. Here’s how to rotate a video using Sony Vegas Pro 10:

  1. rotate_video_sony_vegas_1Launch Sony Vegas Pro.
  2. Go to menu “File->Import->Media…”, browse to the video file, select it, and click Open.
  3. Surprisingly, Sony Vegas Pro supports the rotation data and displays the video correctly. Because we want to actually rotate the video, we need to tell Sony Vegas Pro not to use the rotation data. To do so:
    1. Right-click on the top-left thumbnail image of the imported video file and select Properties.
    2. Under the Media tab, in the “Stream properties” section at bottom, select “Video 1” in the “Stream” drop-down list .
    3. Change the Rotation field from “90 degrees clockwise” to “0 degrees (original)”. Click OK and the video file thumbnail will rotate to the true orientation.
  4. Double-click on the video file thumbnail to populate the timeline panel at the bottom.
  5. In the timeline panel, right-click on the video track thumbnail image and select the “Video Event Pan/Crop…” item.

  6. In the Event Pan/Crop dialog:
    1. Disable the “Lock Aspect Ratio” option by clicking on that icon if it is depressed (third icon from the bottom on the left toolbar).
    2. Under Position, switch the values for the Width and Height fields.
    3. Under Rotation, change the Angle field from “0.0” to “-90.0”. (Not sure why but I had to use -90 instead of 90.)
    4. Close the dialog by clicking on the tiny top-right “x” icon.
  7. Go to menu “File->Render As…” to open the “Render As” dialog. In that dialog, do the following:
    1. The “Save as type” and dependent Template fieldsrotate_video_sony_vegas_3 determine the quality of the rendered video, specifically the resolution. Because our rotated video will have a height of 1920, one “Save as type” option that allows such a height is “Video for Windows (*.avi)”. (Other options will allow different maximum widths and heights.)
    2. Select “HD 1080-24p YUV” in the Template field, which is the closest match to our imported video.
    3. Click on the “Custom…” button to configure a portrait resolution (ex: 1080×1920).
    4. In the “Custom Settings” dialog, inside the Video tab, select “(Custom frame size)” in the “Frame size” field, and switch the Width and Height values. Click OK to close the dialog.
    5. Back in the “Render As” dialog, make sure “Render loop region only” is not checked because we want the whole video to be exported. (The “Render loop region only” box will be disabled if no selection is done on the video track.)
    6. Click on the Save button.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5

Adobe Premiere is very powerful and thus, not simple to use. Definitely, it is overkill for just rotating a video file. But if you ever need to rotate a video, here’s how to do it in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5:

  1. Launch Adobe Premiere Pro, choose a “New Project” and click Ok to accept the defaults. When the “New Sequence” dialog appears, click Cancel to skip creating it.
  2. Right-click inside the top-left Project panel and select “Import…” (or go to menu “File->Import…”). Browse to your video file, select it, and click Open.
    • Note: If you are opening a QuickTime .mov file and Adobe Premiere displays a “no audio or video streams” error message, rename the .mov file to .mpg file and try again.
  3. When you select the imported video file in the Project panel, the mini-preview on top of the panel will show information concerning the video. Take note of the resolution (ex: 1920×1080), frame rate (ex: 29.97 fps), and audio sample rate (ex: 44100 Hz).
  4. Right-click inside the Project panel and select “New Item->Sequence…” (or go to menu “File->New->Sequence…”) to create a sequence. In the “New Sequence” dialog, do the following:
    1. rotate_video_adobe_premiere_1Open the Settings tab.
    2. Swap the horizontal and vertical field values for the “Frame Size” (ex: 1080×1920).
    3. Select a matching Timebase (ex: 29.97 fps) and Audio “Sample Rate” (44100 Hz).
    4. Under the “Video Previews” section, select “Microsoft AVI” for the “Preview File Format”. We want to select the highest-quality codec that we can. Unfortunately, the high-quality “V210 10-bit YUV” and “Uncompressed UYVY 422 8bit” codecs support a maximum resolution of 607×1080. For 1080×1920, I recommend using the “Intel IYUV codec”. (The “Microsoft RLE” and “Microsoft Video 1” codecs will degrade the video quality noticeably.)
    5. Click the Reset button and the Width and Height fields will be updated to match the “Frame Size” (ex: 1080×1920) or as close to it as possible (depending on the codec selected).
    6. Click OK to create the sequence.
  5. The sequence will appear as a tab in the Timeline panel at the bottom-middle. To populate it, drag the imported video from the Project panel to the very beginning of the “Video 1” track in the timeline. The Preview panel at the top-right will show the sequence video frame with the video data and top/bottom black bars. (We will get rid of those black bars in the steps below.)
  6. Select all the video data in the Timeline panel. This action will populate the “Effect Controls” tab in the top-middle “Source, Effect Controls, Audio Mixer, Metadata” panel.
  7. In the Effect Controls pane, expand the Motion selection under “Video Effects”. Input a value of 90 in the Rotation field to rotate clockwise (or -90 to rotate counter-clockwise). The Preview panel will show the rotated video which fits the sequence frame perfectly without any black bars.
  8. rotate_video_adobe_premiere_2With the sequence selected in the Project panel, go to menu “File->Export->Media…”. Check the “Match Sequence Settings” box. Click on the Output tab to double-check that the exported video will not contain black bars.
  9. Click on the Export button. By default, the exported .avi video file will be created in the documents directory at “C:\Users\your_username\Documents\Adobe\Premiere Pro\5.5”.

Tip: If you want to easily create a sequence that matches the video file exactly, just drag the imported video file to the “New Item” icon on the Project panel’s bottom toolbar. (The “New Item” icon is immediately to the left of the Clear/trash icon.) This action will create a sequence that matches the imported video as close as possible and populate the sequence’s timeline with the video data automatically.

The exported video files may be significantly larger in size than the original video files. In most cases, re-encoding video will result in loss of quality or increase in file size. I think the best thing to do is to leave the original video file untouched and use a video player that is aware of the embedded rotation data. If the rotation data is wrong or missing, it might make more sense to use a program, like Sony Vegas Pro, to modify or add it without re-encoding the video.

Some info above derived from:

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Clone a Hard Drive Using Clonezilla Live

Windows No Comments

I needed to clone one hard drive to another. In the past, I would have used a bootable MS-DOS CD containing an old copy of Norton Ghost 8. This time, I decided to see what is currently available and could be launched from a bootable USB flash drive. I found the open source Clonezilla Live utility, which is a small GNU/Linux distribution capable of running from a USB flash drive and cloning hard drives.

I decided to follow Clonezilla Live’s “MS Windows Method B: Manual” instructions to create a bootable USB flash drive.

  1. Follow these DiskPart instructions to create a bootable USB flash drive. (Clonezilla Live requires the FAT32 format and at least a 200MB capacity flash drive.)
  2. Download the latest stable release of Clonezilla Live. If you have a 64-bit capable machine, select “amd64” for “CPU architecture”. Or select “i586” for 32-bit. Select “zip” for “file type”.
  3. Unzip the Clonezilla Live Zip archive to the USB flash drive.
  4. syslinux_makebootLaunch the Command Prompt utility, change directory to the USB flash drive, and run “utils\win64\makeboot64.bat” for 64-bit or “utils\win32\makeboot.bat” for 32-bit. The “makeboot64.bat” or “makeboot.bat” script will modify the USB flash drive to boot the small GNU/Linux distribution and run the Clonezilla Live utility. (The makeboot utility will display the drive letter to be modified before continuing; please make sure that it is the correct one belonging to the USB flash drive.)

Clonezilla Live will show a lot of options which unfortunately are not easy to understand. The simplest way to deal with it is to accept the default when you are not sure.

  1. Attach the destination hard drive to the same machine containing the source hard drive.
  2. Start the machine and boot from the USB flash drive. You may need to press a particular function key to load the boot menu (F12 on my Lenovo desktop) or you may need to adjust the BIOS setup to boot from a USB drive before the hard drive.
  3. clonezilla_liveOn Clonezilla Live’s startup screen, keep the default “Clonezilla live (Default settings, VGA 800×600)” and press Enter.
  4. Press Enter to accept the pre-selected language, “en_US.UTF-8 English”.
  5. Keep the default “Don’t touch keymap” and press Enter.
  6. Make sure “Start_Clonezilla” is selected and press Enter to start.
  7. Because I am copying from one hard drive to another, I select the “device-device work directly from a disk or partition to a disk or partition” option. Press Enter.
  8. To keep it simple, stay with the “Beginner mode” option and press Enter.
  9. Select the source hard drive and press Enter.
  10. Select the target destination hard drive and press Enter.
  11. Keep the default “Skip checking/repairing source file system” selection and press Enter.
  12. Type “y” and press Enter to acknowledge the warning that all data on the destination hard drive will be destroyed.
  13. Type “y” and press Enter a second time to indicate that you are really sure.
  14. In answer to the question “do you want to clone the boot loader”, type uppercase “Y” and press Enter. (I need to clone the boot loader so the destination hard drive will be bootable like the source hard drive.)
  15. The hard drive cloning will occur. It took me around 10 minutes copying from one SSD to another SSD. (The length of time required to complete the process is dependent on the speed of both the source and destination hard drives.)
  16. When the cloning completes, press Enter to continue.
  17. Select “poweroff” to shut down the machine.
  18. Once the machine is off, swap the hard drives (or remove the source hard drive) and boot from the destination hard drive.

Even though my destination hard drive was twice the size of the source hard drive, the cloned destination partition size was the same size as the original source partition. I then used the free EaseUS Partition Master utility to increase the size of the destination partition (without destroying the data on it). Probably, Clonezilla Live’s expert mode has a setting to adjust the destination partition size.

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Create Bootable USB Flash Drive With DiskPart Command-Line Utility

Windows No Comments

The instructions below will create a bootable system partition on a USB flash drive, which is exactly the same as creating such a partition on a hard drive. Specifically, I will be using Windows 7’s built-in DiskPart (Disk Partition) command-line utility to create a bootable USB flash drive containing a Windows 8.1 Setup image.

diskpart_usbIf you are interested, here’s the technical reason why our bootable USB flash drive will use the MBR layout and FAT32 format: Computers, including both Windows and Macs, boot using a standard called UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), which is based upon the EFI specification (Extensible Firmware Interface). (When folks say EFI, they are usually referring to UEFI because all modern computers use UEFI.) UEFI is a replacement for the previous BIOS method of booting up, but UEFI still supports the older BIOS method. The BIOS boot method uses the MBR (Master Boot Record) layout. In addition to BIOS+MBR, UEFI also supports the new GPT (GUID Partition Table) layout. The UEFI specification requires bootable removable media (such as a bootable USB flash drive) to use the MBR layout and FAT32 format.

To create a bootable USB flash drive, do the following:

  1. Insert a USB flash drive with sufficient capacity. (The 64-bit Windows 8.1 Professional ISO image I had is 4.5GB in size and requires at least an 8GB USB flash drive).
  2. Launch the “diskpart” or “diskpart.exe” utility from the Windows Start/Run menu or the Command Prompt. You will be prompted with a popup message asking “Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?” Answer Yes.
  3. Run the following commands in the DiskPart utility (ignore the comment lines marked by the pound # character):
    # Show all disks (aka drives, like hard drives or removable media).
    DISKPART> list disk
    # Select a disk to operate on.
    DISKPART> select disk [number identifying USB flash drive]
    # Delete all partitions, resulting in a blank disk.
    DISKPART> clean

    # If the USB drive is using the GPT layout, the "list disk" command output
    # above will show an asterisk in the last "Gpt" column.  If this is the
    # case, issue this command to change it to the MBR layout.
    DISKPART> convert mbr

    # Create a primary partition (using MBR).
    DISKPART> create partition primary

    # Show all partitions (should just be the one newly-created partition).
    DISKPART> list partition

    # Select the primary partition to operate on (only 1 partition exists).
    DISKPART> select partition 1
    # Make the primary partition active (aka bootable).
    # This command will fail if the USB drive is using the GPT layout.
    DISKPART> active
    # Format the active primary partition using FAT32.
    # To do a full format, instead of a quick format, omit the "quick" flag.
    DISKPART> format fs=fat32 quick
    # Assign a drive letter to the primary partition
    # (just in case Windows didn't already do it).
    DISKPART> assign

    # Quit DiskPart.
    DISKPART> exit
  4. Test by opening the contents of USB flash drive using Windows Explorer. If you get an inaccessible error when accessing the drive, unplug and re-plug it back into the computer. You should then be able to access it.
  5. Insert the Windows Setup DVD or mount the Windows Setup ISO file (I recommend using the free Slysoft Virtual CloneDrive utility to perform the ISO mount).
  6. Copy all the Windows Setup content to the USB flash drive by running the xcopy command from the Command Prompt:
    # Supposing USB flash drive is K: drive and Windows is L: drive,
    # copy all files and directories from the latter to the former.
    # /e = Copies directories and sub-directories, including empty ones.
    # /f = Displays full source and destination file names while copying.
    xcopy L:*.* /e/f K:

And we are done. The resulting USB flash drive should be bootable on both Windows and Macs. I tested the USB flash drive on my Macbook Pro Retina and it booted fine.

Info above derived from Install Windows 7 From a USB Flash Drive.

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Windows 8.1 Boot Camp on 2015 Macbook Pro Retina 13 Inch

Mac OS X, Windows No Comments

I recently upgraded to a 2015 Macbook Pro Retina 13 inch laptop. I attempted to install Windows 7 using the Boot Camp Assistant, which immediately asked for a Windows 8 or later installation media to be inserted. Darn it. I managed to create and insert a USB flash drive containing the latest Windows 8.1 with Update. After that, the Boot Camp Assistant asked me for the Boot Camp Support Software (Windows drivers). I inserted a second USB flash drive containing the latest Boot Camp Support Software I had manually downloaded from the Apple website, but Boot Camp Assistant still complained that it couldn’t be found. It turned out that for newer Macbooks, I must download the Boot Camp Support Software using the Boot Camp Assistant.

After I overcame the above and other issues, I was able to get a Windows 8.1 Boot Camp working. I’ve documented the steps I took below.

Create a Windows 8.1 Install USB Flash Drive

I used my Windows 7 desktop to create a USB flash drive containing the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 with Update. (2015 Macbooks only support 64-bit Windows 8 or later.) Because Windows 8.1 setup requires 4.5GB of space, you must use an 8GB or larger USB flash drive; I ended up using a spare 16GB flash drive that I had.

Update: Instead of using the WinToFlash utility below and dealing with its browser plugin spam, use Window’s built-in DiskPart command-line utility to create a bootable USB flash drive containing the Windows Setup.

NovicorpWinToFlashLiteI used the free Novicorp WinToFlash Lite utility to copy the contents of my Windows 8.1 with Update ISO file (alternatively, you can use a Windows 8.1 DVD) to the USB flash drive. WinToFlash will re-format the USB flash drive using FAT32 format before copying the content over.

Note: Strangely, WinToFlash won’t throw an error even if you use a USB flash drive that is too small. I tried a 1GB USB flash drive and WinToFlash completed successfully. So make sure to use an 8GB USB flash drive or larger.

Unfortunately, the first time you run the latest version of WinToFlash, it will install a browser plugin called “WinToFlash Suggestor” which adds advertisements to search suggestions. Go ahead and uninstall this unnecessary browser plugin using the Control Panel’s “Uninstall a program” function.

Note: The Microsoft website has a Windows USB/DVD Download Tool which can do what WinToFlash does. Unfortunately, that tool re-formats the USB flash drive as NTFS. Because the Macbook uses UEFI BIOS boot up which only works with FAT32, the USB flash drive created by the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool won’t be bootable.

Download The Boot Camp Support Software

For Macs released in 2014 and 2015, you must use the Boot Camp Assistant to download a specific version of the 64-bit Boot Camp Support Software for your Mac. Apple does not provide links to manually download all the available Boot Camp Support Software versions. (You can manually download the older Boot Camp Support Software 5.1.5640 64bit for Mid and Late 2013 Macs here and Boot Camp Support Software 5.1.5621 64bit for Early 2013 or previous Macs here.) For 32-bit Windows installation and other options, check Apple’s System requirements to install Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp page.

BootCampAssistantWindows8In order to install Windows 8.1, the Boot Camp Support Software needs to be incorporated into the Windows 8.1 Install USB flash drive. The simplest method is to have the Boot Camp Assistant download the Boot Camp Support Software directly to the Windows 8.1 Install USB flash drive.

Note: I tried installing with two USB flash drives, one containing the Windows 8.1 Install and the other containing the Boot Camp Support Software, but the Windows 8.1 setup threw a “No new devices drivers were found” error even after I had manually selected the I/O driver on the Boot Camp Support Software USB flash drive.

To download the latest Windows drivers from Apple:

  1. Insert the FAT32-formatted Windows 8.1 Install USB flash drive.
  2. Run Boot Camp Assistant.
  3. Select the “Download the latest Windows support software from Apple” option. Click Continue.
  4. Select the Windows 8.1 Install USB flash drive. (Boot Camp Assistant requires FAT32 format and at least 500MB free.) Click Continue.
  5. Boot Camp Assistant will copy all the Boot Camp Support Software content (“$WinPEDriver$” directory, “BootCamp” directory, and “AutoUnattend.xml” file) to the USB flash drive’s root directory (which is where the Windows 8.1 setup will expect them to be).

Install Windows 8.1

To install Windows 8.1, run the Boot Camp Assistant and select the option to “Install Windows 8 or later version”. Follow the instructions to create a BOOTCAMP partition. With the Windows 8.1 Install USB flash drive still inserted, agree to restart the Macbook.

On reboot, the Macbook will boot from the Windows 8.1 Install USB flash drive. (If it doesn’t, shutdown the Macbook and power it up while holding the alt/option key. When the boot screen appears, select the USB flash drive’s “EFI Boot” option.)

The Windows 8.1 setup will automatically use the Boot Camp Support Software’s I/O driver to access the hard drive and show the list of partitions. Select the BOOTCAMP partition and allow it to be re-formatted as NTFS. Windows 8.1 setup will then install itself onto that NTFS partition.

After reboot and once the Windows 8.1 initial setup is completed (can take several minutes), the Boot Camp Support Software installer will automatically execute to install the necessary Apple hardware drivers.

Note: The Windows 8 version of Windows Defender is different from the Windows 7 version. Windows 7 Defender only protects against spyware, so the recommendation is to disable it and install Microsoft Security Essentials which protects against virus, spyware, and malware. However, Windows 8 Defender protects against virus, spyware, and malware so there is no need to replace it. (Microsoft Security Essentials can’t be installed on Windows 8.)

All in all, the Windows 8.1 Boot Camp installation went smoothly once I knew to creat a USB flash drive containing both Windows 8.1 and the Boot Camp Support Software.

Some info above derived from:

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