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Send your greetings via video MMS

Updated January 9, 2010

bijoux fantaisie

There are different ways to send greetings to your family, friends or other people. This article describes how to create an original greetings card, and then how to send it from a mobile phone to another phone.

Basics of sending video with mobile phones.

For now several years, almost all mobile phones can send and receive short video clips. These clips are named MMS (for Multimedia Messaging Services).
Most phones still limit the size of these movies to 300 Kilobytes, which is quite small compared to the videos that are produced using Pinnacle Studio. Note that this barrier is currently moving to 600 Kbytes, which will provide a little more flexibility...
Originally, these video MMS were encoded using H.263 for video and AMR for audio.
  • H263 offers the advantage of requiring a reduced computing power for encoding, and, for this reason, has been chosen for standardization to enable phones to manage their camera considering their limited an onboard encoding capability. Today, latest smartphones have full HD video capabilities, 1 GHz processor, and graphics accelerator superior to PlayStation of first generation !. In fact, almost all phones sold in the last 3 years are compatible with  MP4 format allowing more efficient compression, which will be key in our project.
  • AMR is the voice encoder used by GSM and UMTS mobile phones. Its main drawback is that it was designed to carry voice, not music. Its dynamic encoding is in the frequency range between 100 Hz and 8000 Hz, and will try to make speech intelligible rather than render music correctly. This encoder is nevertheless the common denominator in all multimedia mobile and cannot be ignored.

Strengths and Limitations of Studio for creating MMS

format selection .3 GP in the step of creating a file
Movies encoded using MP4 (Xvid) for image and AMR audio will be stored in a 3GP container similar in structure to MP4 container, and will have a .3gp extension.
To generate files directly in .3gp format, an online license registration is required. Its free with most versions of Studio. (I think this allows Pinnacle to save the associated royalties of these formats for Studio users who never use them).
The main limitation is the minimum throughput proposed for the encoding, 64 kbps for video and 8 kbps for audio, giving a total of 72 kbps. Given the necessary margins for the MMS container (format description, title, text, etc....), Pinnacle Studio settings will limit your MMS to 31 seconds.

If you really want to fit in an MMS a video longer than 31 seconds, you should use a third party encoder. Personally, I use MediaCoder (see links page with which we can successfully encode up to 45 seconds with an acceptable quality.
You have now understood, the obstacle to overcome is the size of the generated file !

Studio Setup

paramétrage format .3gp in Studio 12
By clicking the button "Settings ..." in the window of files or disks creation, it is possible to change output resolution, number of frames per second, encoding rate and number of audio channels.
The good encoding resolution for an MMS is 176x144 which is the most widespread inter-working standard. It is useless to customize a higher resolution (320x240 for example ...), because the operator gateway for sending MMS messages will then transcod your movie down to 176x144 resolution to ensure that the recipient could display your video.
Personally, I set my video using 15 frames per second, allowing a better quality compromise for these very low encoding bitrates.
For sound, please select Mono, the recipient's phone is not a HiFi system.
The default video encoding rate is proposed at 64 kbps, especially do not touch it, because in this case Studio does allow you to go back anymore, it would block the selection at a minimum of 100 kbps. (To break this deadlock, select another video format, eg WMV, validate, and then return to the menu and select again .3GP format)

Create your greeting card

Now you know how to generate the file to be sent. You still have to build it.  For this I suggest you use Greetings themes designed for this purpose.
Specifically, I suggest you use theme #132. You will notice however that it exceeds the limit of 31 seconds to be sent in a MMS, it will therefore be necessary to shorten it.
To achieve this, we must first drag montage theme #132 on the timeline track No. 1, then move the mouse over the right part of the theme, and when the blue arrow appears, select the right edge of the theme and set it at time 27.5 seconds
Now you just find in your rushes 2 sequences to be placed in the Drop Zones 1 and 2 (the third is not used any longer due to the shortening of the theme), then select the geetings images, the frame, and the objects falling down. Feel free to customize the text.

Sending file

Using the above settings,  generate the .3gp file.

You must now transfer it to your mobile phone before sending it. At least, 2 methods exist :
  • use a USB cable between your phone and PC. In this case, the phone is often seen as an external drive. Simply copy using Windows Explorer your  .3gp video file from your PC to the directory of your phone (often named Video)
  • use  Bluetooth wireless transmission. This assumes that your PC and your phone have both this interface. It is very common for phones, as it serves mainly to connect earphones. It is however more uncertain on PCs, especially for desktop. Nevertheless, if you have this interface, you will first need to pair your phone and PC by running the Bluetooth wizard and selecting Add a Bluetooth device. Then follow the instructions on  phone and PC. Once equipments match, the transfer will be selected, simply using Windows Explorer, right click on your file, and select transfer by selecting send to then Bluetooth device, and then, transfer will start you should even accept the transfer on your mobile ...)

Well, there's still to build your MMS on your phone, giving it a title, an introductory text, and putting your video on a separate page.

Caution : Be careful to the cost of the MMS service In general, MMS is charged the price of 3 SMS, but if you have an SMS package (unlimited or not), verify that it also includes MMS, otherwise you will be extra charged outside of your bundle.

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