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Im looking for a fast workflow, where i can take my gopro video files, make simple cuts (no transisions, no effects, no audio manipulation), and cut them together into a clip and then export that edit out without having to re-encode/compress it.

Im shooting in their lowest HD setting (1280x960)... but would be open to switching formats if it helped.

In looking at this Final Cut Tutorial, it says i could edit without re-encoding if the project format matched the source material. The problem is, my Final Cut doesn't have the exact format my gopro records in... any ideas? Can i install the gopro codec somehow into final cut?

GoPro codec specs:

GoPro AVC H.264
1280x960
29.97

One Idea:

Use QuickTime to set in/out and keep copy/pasting clips into a single clip then SAVE. This works without re-encoding and saves fast, but the the workflow is not that fast. The other downside to this is Quicktime saves all the audio tracks into separate tracks, so the file chokes on youtube/vimeo unless you do an export with re-compression.

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  • Have you tried GoPro Studio?
    – epiclapser
    Feb 19, 2015 at 8:29

4 Answers 4

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I know for sure that Corel VideoStudio version 7 and up can do straight cuts in AVC-encoded HD video, and then output without re-encoding. You must be careful to use exactly the same output format as input format. I don't know whether it can do the same with 4K. You can download a trial version and see for yourself.

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There are two freeware-tools (for Windows) I know:

LosslessCut

Free Video Cutter Joiner

They both work fine, but remember that you can't make exact cuts where you want, as they can only cut at keyframes (Avidemux ignores this, so the Video is always destroyed at the beginning). But this accuracy depends on the keyframe interval of your video.

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Use ffmpeg: http://www.labnol.org/internet/useful-ffmpeg-commands/28490/

First cut at your desired in and out points:

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -ss 00:00:50.0 -codec copy -t 20 output.mp4

Then concatenate the files you cut:

ffmpeg -f concat -i file-list.txt -c copy output.mp4
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  • 3
    Hardly a fast workflow. Without a gui, determining the in and out points is an arduous effort is flipping from the player to a spreadsheet or text file every forty seconds. Not to mention, precision is broad, as you can only see the player to the full second, but if this is fast camera work, you'd want down to at least tenths.
    – user24601
    Oct 28, 2016 at 22:04
  • This is a reliable solution. A GUI front-end, if exists, would be better, but this answer shouldn't be downvoted for this.
    – amdyes
    Aug 22, 2019 at 5:49
  • Precision problem is non-existence. You can get millisecond point using a pro editor. Nevertheless, without re-encoding it will only be accurate to keyframes.
    – amdyes
    Aug 22, 2019 at 5:54
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My recommendation as a fellow Mac user: LosslessCut

  • The most efficient and free tool for your requirements which comes to my mind.
  • Just press I O I O I O ... all the time to set in and out points while watching. One can operate:
  • either inclusively: Keep everything between all in-out points and export the result.
  • or exclusively: Throw away everything between all in-out points and export the remainder.

Pros

  • Playback and operation is super fast and efficient.
  • Export is lossless and super fast — Concatenation without any re-encoding. But the cuts will occur at keyframes (which can be up to ca 1 sec away where you set the in- or out-point)
  • Uses ffmpeg under the hood, and that understands basically every video/audio codec and container format this world has ever seen. 😉
  • Operate by mouse or hotkeys. Very efficient.
  • Suits both beginners and advanced users well in one UI.
  • Free!
  • Cross platform: Windows, Linux, Mac.
  • Exclusive/inclusive mode can also be toggled any time. But ofc you should decide on your approach at the start of your cutting efforts and then stick to it.
  • With this you can easily create one export with "the good stuff" then simple swap the mode and then export "all the rest" into another file. If you need it as a backup. Maybe in a second pass you go through the "all the rest part" and have some takeouts there again. Until you have the "very very rest" which you may simply delete and not bother keeping at all.

Cons

  • Not frame-exact cutting (hh:mm:ss:ff), that would require to losslessly re-encode the portion from the last keyframe to that frame, but they look into implementing Smart Cut.
    • Note that QuickTime can do this already (keep it lossless where possible and only re-encode the portions from keyframe to cut. But with these downsides:
      • ❌ Either thumbs or waveform, not both. LossLesscut has bove.
      • ❌ No zooming into timeline. Exact editing de facto not possible for everything longer than 30secs. That dynamic zoom in (UX paradigm taken from iOS devices) is in-precise and unpractical.
      • ❌ No fast operation. In LosslessCut this goes very smooth with keyboard shortcuts and also mistakes are corrected VERY quickly.
      • ❌ Only neighboring clips. In Lossless cut you can have multiple clips with in/out points and gaps (throwaway or keep) inbetween. In QuickTime you have to manually delete the clips inbetween. Often you confuse them. Forget fast and precise batch cutting here.

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