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I have an hour-long video that I want to split into individual clips at arbitrary timepoints. I could do this by hand in iMovie, or even borrow a machine with Final Cut, but there are upwards of thirty separate clips, so doing it manually strikes me as time-consuming and error-prone.

(It's a sequence of recordings for a language textbook, but it's all one file, and it's unwieldy not to be able to separately view, repeat, etc. the chapter-by-chapter clips. Currently it's an H.264 MPEG-4 but I'm not adverse to converting it.)

I know all the timepoints, and I'd like to feed a list of them to something, or build a script around the list, to produce the split clips without further human intervention. Linux would be okay but Mac OS would be ideal; Windows isn't really an option.


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30 cuts of clips is really not much for editors. I would simply put them in my Vegas timeline and use the 'split' feature as required or put them in a Premiere CS5.5 timeline and use the 'razor'. Do you want these as separate renders too or just have time points that have perhaps a title separating them? It's just not clear to me how you see the final product? – filzilla May 17 '12 at 19:24
Cross posted from Super User. Please don't cross post questions over the network — there should be only one site for them, and if they don't receive too much attention they can always be migrated. – slhck May 18 '12 at 12:04
up vote 1 down vote accepted

ffmpeg is the obvious choice.

ffmpeg -i -ss 00:05:00 -t 00:01:00

will split out a segment of the movie 1 minute long from minute 5.

I've not had much luck with lip-sync when doing this. I think there a problems with both decoding and re-encoding the GOP structure and the equivalent AAC or MPEG1 audio structures; but the underlying issue must be that the audio and video frame rates are not linked, e.g. 48 kHz for the audio and 29.97 fps.

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