Kodak Zi8 Love-Hate Relationship

Kodak Zi8.jpg
Purty, innit? I got the raspberry one pictured above.
Disclaimer: This is not a corporate product review. I purchased my Kodak Zi8 for full retail price two months ago for $179.95. However, you can get it now for $129.95 at Kodak and everywhere else on the web. It was a fantastic deal at the old price – an incredible deal at the new price. It allows one to take fantastic quality, image-stabilized, 1080p HD movies that you can then watch on the TV.
Editing the movies for posting on the blog is pissing me off no end.
I have a 24-minute interview with University of Pennsylvania professor, Marybeth Gasman, on historically-Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other aspects of academia such as dual-academic couples, being a good Mom and scholar, etc. Gasman is a national leader in the study of African-American higher education, philanthropy, the history of the United Negro College Fund, minority and gender issues in STEM fields, and is an active blogger at higher ed sites.
But as engaging and energizing as Marybeth Gasman is, I don’t think that a whole 24-minute video is going to get readers to pay attention to the tremendous gems she has to share with us.
I especially was hoping to get the video segments up over the holiday weekend because the symposium at which I met Dr. Gasman is featured as a cover story on the July 2 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.
But, alas, you are reading this post instead.

The Zi8 comes with some crappy free software not made by Kodak that does little more than allow one to put crappy text and overdubs onto the movie. I can’t figure how to use it to trim the interview into bite-sized segments so I won’t name the software because my problems may be user error.
For the record, I hate to fiddle around with software. I like to use it and move on. No, I don’t want to spend days delving into the stuff. So kill me.
When I put out a call on Twitter for friends to suggest video editing programs, I got a lot of great suggestions. @superkash suggested Vegas Movie Studio which one can test for a free 30-day trial period. It works great for the crappy .mvi files I create on my Canon A710 camera.
But the Kodak Zi8 records the incredible HD video in .mov format. This is apparently incompatible with Vegas Movie Studio. One gets the video but the audio channel is flatlined, apparently a common problem. I’ve searched the web for workarounds and program alternatives. However, I’m not going to buy an editing program until I know that it’s going to work for .mov files.
Yes, I’ve tried renaming the file to .mp4
Yes, I’ve tried Windows Movie Maker (and I can’t use Windows Live Movie Maker because I haven’t upgraded to Windows 7).
Yes, I’ve made sure I have the latest version of QuickTime (but some have suggested I need QuickTime Pro).
Yes, I’ve tried putting a new version of the .dll plug-in for QT into my Vegas Movie Studio plug-in files. Now I can’t even import the movie file.
This is enough to piss off the Good Humor man. Seriously, I have a ton of other stuff to do between work and family. Sheesh.
I guess that I’m just pretty amazed that such an incredible product as the Kodak Zi8 1) doesn’t come with software for editing and jazzing up videos and 2) that its format is incompatible with so many commonly-used video editing packages.
Is it time to get a MacBook and use iMovie?
Any other suggestions from Kodak Zi8 owners using Windows XP?
Apologies to Marybeth – I’m trying. I really am.

9 thoughts on “Kodak Zi8 Love-Hate Relationship

  1. Yes, I believe you would have to upgrade Quicktime to QT Pro. However, you should be able to open the move in QT and then go to “File” then to “Export”. One of your drop-down menu options should be to export/save as “MPEG-4” or “MP-4”.
    That’s how I have converted QT movies to MP-4 files to play on my iPod Touch.
    Good luck.

  2. I have a Kodak Zi8, I love it, used it on my Vacation to the Philippines, it worked like dream. I recommend staying away from the 720p 30fps mode, too slow a frame rate made blurring a problem when panning. Recording in 720p at 60fps takes up more space but for scenes with any kind of motion you have to use the high frame rate setting. It’s so small that you can record video in public and everyone thinks you’re holding a cell phone, great for candid shots.
    For editing, both Pinnacle HD and the latest Magix HD video editing programs handle the Zi8 *.MOV files properly. I have used both programs and they both worked. The results are worth the hassle of finding a good program for editing.

  3. Honestly I’d lusted after the Zi8 until I saw NixiePixel’s distinctly negative review, so your problems are really only beginning.
    That said, you should probably give ffmpeg a try. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need something a lot more expensive (like QTPro, it seems).

  4. Yup, BrianX – here was NixiePixel’s statement:
    Unrecognised Sound Format
    This was the biggest hassle I encountered with this handheld camcorder. I ended up wasting hours and hours trying to import the video into an editor that the audio codecs were compatible with. I tried Sony Vegas Pro 8 (a professional product), Kdenlive, Windows Movie Maker and more. This camera is really only designed to work with the (awful) software that it comes with. I ended up transcoding the files to a more desirable format just so I could use the software that I wanted to use.

    Anyway, I have QuickTime Pro and I’m still having trouble exporting to an appropriate version that will be recognized by Vegas Video. This will require more fiddling.
    And Marybeth, I am very close to doing just that but am having trouble getting YouTube to take the whole file!

  5. Abel, I wish you the best of luck fixing this- and please, if you figure out a fix let me know.
    I also have a Kodak (an old Easyshare) and I gave up on editing movies because of the .mov problem. It wasn’t important enough for me to pursue, but if you find something that works well and cheaply, please do share- I’d love to know!!

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