How to prepare / render video for Amazon Video Direct from Final Cut Pro using QuickTime conversion
In the Spring of 2016 Amazon launched a new platform called Amazon Video Direct. If you were previously selling your video or movie on Create Space then you should have gotten an email around June 15, 2016 stating that CreateSpace Amazon Video titles have been transitioned to the new Amazon Video Direct service. Unfortunately Amazon is very picky about videos that are rented or sold on Video Direct. They want captions and they want very specific video formats.
After some trial and error I decided to go with rendering H264 video. You will dicover that Final Cut Pro (Final Cut Studio) does not render H264 with an acceptable wrapper (or "container"), such as .MP4. But don't worry. You can download a free command prompt program called ffmpeg. Here's the link. I recommend watching this guy's YouTube video on how to use this program.
But starting in Final Cut Pro you want to render your H264 file using the original uncompressed video timeline in order to get the highest quality H264 file. Here's the options I selected using QuickTime conversion:
Compressor quality = Best
Dimensions = duplicate the original size. If you shot your movie at 1920 X 1080 then select "1920 X 1080 HD"
Check the "frame reordering" box.
Check the "preserve aspect ratio using letter box" box.
Check the "deinterlace source video" box.
At 1920 X 1080 with "Best" compression quality you can expect a 90 minute movie to take about 31 hours to render. Expect a file size of about 18 GB.
Next use ffmpeg to convert from .mov to .mp4. Then upload to Amazon.
You can pay someone an arm and a leg to create your .srt captions file or you can do it yourself. Here's how I did it. First I used YouTube's captions tool to create a captions file that can be saved on my computer.
1. Render a video file that you can upload to YouTube. This file should not have any video. Just mute your video channel(s) so that it's black. We only care about audio for our reference. Upload it to YouTube.
2. Then begin writing captions to the audio that you are listening to. When done you can save the file to your computer. This file format is .sbv. Amazon does not accept .sbv. But you can use a conversion tool such as http://captionsconverter.com/
Unfortunately this online convertor didn't work for me. I had to paste the text to this site. Then click "convert my file". Then open the text in AbiWord. AbiWord will create a new line for each item (order numbers, time durations, text and a 4th line that is blank.
00:00:11,520 -> 00:00:14,400
Rocky Balboa is training for his next fight.
0:00:14,400 –> 0:00:16,740
He's making a comback.
0:00:16,740 –> 0:00:19,640
Tickets go on sale tomorrow.
Then you can copy and paste it all to NotePad and then save it.
Then change the file extension to .srt.
Then you're ready to upload the file to Amazon.