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 video encoding&cleaning


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Links

Electronic Frontiers Foundation - not about video but important: How to keep your privacy on the web, news about copyright and other issues. A persiflage on the issue and a lot more links you'll find here.

Basics

It's no my business to write an introduction to video here, as there are many other sources about this. You may find a lot of information at Wikipedia, for example:
Analog Television, Digital Television, PAL, NTSC, Interlacing, MPEG, MJPEG, DV, Color
...and at other sites, for example What Is Deinterlacing.

You may also find myriads of interesting books, like on Amazon.com, for example on desktop video, video editing, PC video, digital video, video technology, TV technology, home video, video compression, digital video, codecs, image editing.

Codecs and Software

x.264 is the encoder of choice for HD. The Directshow version is command-line only, but there are GUI frontends helping. For details see HDtv page.

MeGui Is a frontend for x.264 (included). Can generate mkv files directly and has several useful presets. 

x264GUI - a basic GUI for x.264, but really sufficient, as all GUIs out there have one or the other issue where you want to modify the command string they generate for x.264.

MKVtoolnix can convert .ts and .MTS files to .mkv, which can be opened with VirtualDub if fccHandler's plugin is installed. Also multiplexes streams from one or more sources into an mkv file. Install the portable version to disk and make a link to mmg.exe.

MKVextractGUI can demultiplex .mkv files. Must be version 2 or later.

Haali MKV splitter; necessary to play mkv files. Also provides a tray app that allows selecting audio streams and chapters in Media Player.

AC3 filter and AC3file. Often necessary to play or decode AC3 sound. Many HD transmissions contain it.

Smart Cutter. A bit stiff in price, but for simple TV transmission ad cutting even the test version suffices, as it only inserts very short "Demo" logos at cuts. The main advantages: it preserves all streams, e.g., multi audio, and it cuts frame accurate. Best use this on a .ts or .mts stream before further operations with VirtualDub.  Note: with cuts done with versions in the 1.5x range, I got some BSOD crashes when trying to play with Window's HD decoder on an ATI card. 1.39f worked. Solution: update the ATI drivers to Version 12.8.
Recent versions of SmartCutter (currently tested up to 1.93) showed a habit of purging all cuts except of the firstn one, although the status window pretended to write all cuts (and even the time for writing them was used).
--> use version 1.67, it appears to be reliable.

PVAstrumento can convert .ts streams into .mpg files (useful for SD mpeg2 strams so VirtualDub can open them)..

EasyBD lite. This program can generate a simple Bluray file structure including chapters, that can be burned or used from a harddrive. The free version can even create several tracks, but no menu.

Click here to download prepared chapter text files with 2- and 1-minute chapter intervals (delete chapters exceeding the video end). Bluray may currently be the most universal format also for standalone harddrive players.

Imago MPEG-muxer. Multiplexes mpeg2 files. Usage hints here.

PIC MJPEG - fast and good mjpeg codec. (once enable full resolution TV recording on a 450 MHz CPU). Also the best choice for nearly lossless intermediate storageThis formerly free codec went commercial and became quite expensive, but currently they offer a version for personal use again, the 32-bit version for about $30 (I recommend this version even for 64-bit systems, the vast majority of video tool available still are 32bit; using a 64-bit Virtualdub, for example, has NO advantage so far). 

DivX - best MPEG4 codec.
More info in the forums at divx.com and ProjectMayo.
Also see the official statement from the developers.
DivX5 and OpenDivX are MPEG4 compliant !
Some tests on Divx5 (and DivX4) are
here.

Xvid - a real alternative to Divx, open source and bundled with some nice utilities, like the fourcc-changer.

OggVorbis has become the best and most versatile audio compression format (except maybe for the better varieties of the new AAC format). Ideal for audio-only and for DivX-movies as well. Links to more tools on the Audio page !

DivXG400 was a must-have filter for Matrox G400/G450 DualHead cards (and others) that enables overlay and therefore TV-out also for videos 720 pixels wide (or other formats that are not a multiple of 32). This has always been a problem with MPEG4, MJPEG, MSMedia7 and 8, and DV codecs except Microsoft's. This is not a codec but a filter. Works with Media Player 6.4 (not 7) and any codec. Install and forget. This filter is also useful for ANY other graphics card because the overlay bug is always present with Media Player (6.x as well as 7) and also prevents decent fullscreen view of 720 wide movies in any case. Obsolete with current software environments.

AVI_IO - captures analog and DV video and can store multiple segments, e.g. overcome Win98/ME's file size limitation. Can also set channel on TV cards and has multiple timers, e.g. it's a good video recorder (as long as anyone can receive analog tv...)

FreeVCR is another interesting video recording tool, quite stable and working well with MJPEG codecs.

VirtualDub - the 'swiss army knife' of video: cut, filter, convert, encode and capture video, also multi segment. Very limited DV support if at all. Go for version 1.10.2 or higher (much better for HD than earlier versions)

fccHandler's  plugins for VirtualDub; enabling VD to open many video formats including mpg, mkv.

x.264vfw (this is the vfw version of x.264. It is not further developed  because of some restrictions in vfw; nevertheless this last official version works perfectly, and it allows to do almost everything directly in VirtualDub, if you don't mind possible compatibility issues with the output generated. There is a later, unofficial version, but its user interface is very complicated (for expert use only). 

X-logo for HD. This is an HD adaptation of the best de-logo filter available. Can remove distracting station logos from your TV recordings.

Donald Graft's Filters for VirtualDub: Smart Deinterlacer, Smart Smoother, Unsharp Mask, Telecide and many others

Jim Casaburi's Temporal Cleaner and other filters for VirtualDub

flaXen's VHS filter and more for VirtualDub

Gunnar Thalin's Deshaker filter for VirtualDub makes shaky old videos look good, is free, can really work magic in many cases. More on it here.

The 'Vdub filter list' carries these and several more filters.

AVIdemux - a universal cutting/filtering/recompressing tool like VirtualDub, with more support for exotic and new file formats; comes bundled with many codecs. An easy to use tool for AVC (H.264) encoding (X264 and AAC are included).

Xvid4PSP is a powerful, general purpose video (and audio) encoding application, with a very versatile batch handling and lots of options. Use versions 5.x; the 7.x branch is still far less capable and has a strange user interface.

SUPER© is a universal video transcoder supporting an endless number of formats, easy to use in essence, although its numerous settings will disturb beginners. A good choice for exotic formats like MOV, FLV or WMV.

Miro Video Converter can produce the right formats for up-to-date, HTML5 video presentations on web pages.

VLC media player can play almost anything, requires no installation (i.e. admin rights), is available for almost any operating system, and can also run as a portable app from your USB stick.

PhotoFiltre - sometimes you may need a photo editor to edit stills or menus. This is a very powerful one, free for non commercial use.

Windows Media Tools 4.1 (packed in huge version 7 SDK if still available at this link; you'll have to check). Contained the vintage MS MPEG4 V1/V2/V3 codecs).

WindowsMedia8 final release. This compresses better than MS-MPEG4 (but hardly as good as DivX4). The encoder is command line based, so you'll probably a GUI for it. The probably best one is from Dan Smith. His page has recently vanished, but doom9 may have the file. Some other 3rd party utilities like MediaCleaner EZ 4 (free) are available at Microsoft's site. Surely worth evaluating. Update: only the Media9 standalone codec may be still available at Microsoft.

Qdesign mp2 ACM codec - if you really need an independent codec for Mpeg2 sound for some reason (usually you don't). Better use Toolame (look for it at doom9 for example).

AVIsynth directly transfers video data from one application to another, add all kinds of filtering... More possibilities than with VirtualDub, but harder to learn as it is controlled by a script language. There also is a script editor (Avsedit), that supports you at writing scripts and also has provides a preview function.
Also useful to adapt VitualDub's frameserver to other programs.

huffyuv codec lossless (not if you use YUY2 format!) and best choice for half sized capture

The MPEG Home Page

Tsunami MPEG encoder
good compression quality and speed. Was freeware and now became commercial, but still affordable. Loaded with features.
More links and info (read it !!) here.

Cinemacraft MPEG2 encoder (CCE) Basic - best but discontinued

HC-Encoder is a free and good MPEG2 encoder. Other than the (discontinued) champion CCE, it can also do HDTV, and at a very competitive quality, and constant quality VBR, that CCE offers in the utterly expensive pro version only. Usage explained at the mpeg2 page.

bbMPEG
MPEG1/MPEG2 encoder, freeware, stand alone and Premiere plugin. Not state of the art anymore, maybe the multiplexer functions are of some use. No link currently.

Mpg2Cut2 - a quick MPEG2 cutting tool that also does HD. Still in beta stage. Some applications still don't like its output. Basically, trimming usually works well if you want to use the result with TMPGenc DVD Author or with VirtualDubMpeg2. Directshow/AVIsynth may get wrong frame counts and stop reading in the middle of the file.

MPEG2Schnitt (website in German, but program menus can be switched to English) not only cuts multiple clips frame accurate, but also analyzes streams and repairs many faults on-the-fly. It needs demultiplexed input files however (video and audio separated). This can be quickly prepared with Mpg2Cut2 ("save all streams as" command).

MPEG Streamclip cuts and converts MPEG2 and other formats. HD capable. Very powerful, but navigating an MPEG file is very slow and clumsy compared with MPGE2Cut or VirtualDubMPEG2. Nevertheless, cutting MPEG2 without re-encoding works well.

MP3directcut - An MP3 cutting tool that also handles MP2 (MPEG2 audio) files.

VCDhelp.com/VCDhelper.com
A very good source of information for VCD and other formats, w. lots of recipes for conversion and encoding

DV / VCD /SVCD guide from dv-tip.de - a beginner's guide to Digital Video and also a guide to the Tsunami MPEG encoder.

Adaptec DV codec
Encodes/decodes DV format for any Windows program that uses the Video for Windows interface. Good for some experiments and more.
Note: this link goes to Adaptec.

Main Concept has a good DV codec that also works under Windows2000.

Free DV codecs for Windows2000/XP are the Panasonic DV codec (there are some issues with it, read the comments!) and the Cedocida DV codec, which is open source and needs to be compiled before use. A web search would probably find a compiled verson. Reportedly this codec is working well.

DirectX8 SDK
From Microsoft. Useful C++ toolbox to write your own media apps. Also contains the Filter Graph Editor, which allows you to design the weirdest conversion algorithms on a graphical scratchpad and run them instantly, and some more nice little programs).

Elecard MPEG2 player installs an MPEG2 engine that can also be used in Media Player and in the generic Windows DVDplay program. Be aware that some Elecard packages also contain an mpeg4 decoder that may not work so well for you. Use the utilies that come with the software to deactivate or activate it. Meanwhile obsolete.

CoreAVC fast playback codec for AVC (H.264); but better get one that supprts your graphic hardware acceleration...

CoreAAC is a good AAC audio decoder, especially for use with AVIsynth.

DScaler (former dTV).This one is a must if you have a TV card. A TV viewer that deinterlaces your screen view in real time. No more motion blurring.

DVD2AVI with vfapi plugin, plus vfapi reader codec.
From http://arbor.ee.ntu.edu.tw/~jackeikuo/dvd2avi/
Makes VirtualDub read MPEG2; now quite obsolete, use fccHandler's plugin instead.
- Install vfapi codec (right click on .inf file, 'install').
- Open MPEG2 file with dvd2avi.
- Store as project (signpost file). Also stores sound into a separate wav file at the same time.
- Use vfapi converter to convert project file to avi.
- Open avi and wav file with VirtualDub. Voilą.
TMPGenc can also read vfapi project files (without avi conversion).
(The easier way to work on MPEG2 with VirtualDub is to use VirtualDubMPEG2. However this reproduces green too dark with CCE encoded files and it crashes with HDTV).
Hint: Be sure to temporarily disable VirtualDub's AVIproxy if installed, it can stop vfapi converter from working!

Scenalyzer Live is a versatile capturing tool for DV that can recognize scenes by timecode and write each scene into a new file. Also supports Pinnacle StudioDV to overcome Win98/WinME's 4 GB filesize limitation in a convenient way (auto captures 2 or 4 GB segments and writes scene lists for Studio DV). Many more features.
More on DV page.

BSPlayer is a universal media player with one unique advantage: It continues playing overlay through TVout even when its player window is fully covered by other applications or even without a player window on the PC screen at all. Other features are multi soundtrack support and lots of other options and settings accessible.

Media Player Classic Home Cinema - the most versatile of all, a real alternative to Microsoft's own, without the overhead, and offering special features. It is the only player able to play demultipleyed video together with the belonging audio file!.

Many useful open source programs can be found at Sourceforge, like:

AC3filter - a universal tool set for surround sound.

ffDshow - package with huge lots of decoders and encoders. Install with all deactivated and activate what you need and when you need it.

AC3Filter is a freeware set of tools that includes Directshow filters and also a Winamp plugin that can be used for playing as well as encoding AC3 sound.

mp3val-frontend scans mp2 and mp3 files for errors and corrects many of them.

Delaycut can cut mp2 and AC3 and also corrects stream errors.

MP3tag is an easy and powerful tool for editing mp3 tags of entire mpe collections, including cover images, and also  tags of ogg, mp4, or flac files.

TMPGEnc DVD Author (TDA) is a DVD authoring tool that works quick and (almost) free of bugs. It has the best chapter editor and even allows extensive cut editing of scenes. Making a DVD is a few clicks and the program is very stable.

GUI for dvdauthor is finally a user interface for the freeware 'DVDauthor' project and also for Muxman, that allows to use most of their features at ease. If you want a free tool, this is the one.

DVDstyler portable is probably the easiest-to-use software if you want to do a little authoring, it is freeware, and it has lots of features. Best of all, it runs without installation,

CodecGuide is a page that holds several of the most useful codecs for download.


Local Downloads:

WaveMP3 gives MP3 files a WAV header to make them readable for VirtualDub. To prevent misunderstandings: This is no encoder or decoder, it just changes the file's header information.
This is the only 3rd party software here. I have decided to carry it, with the permission of the author, because his website is not available and this tool is the best and maybe only one for this purpose.
You will not need it if you use Nadudub (from nandub.org). Nandub will also handle variable bitrate mp3.

General Utilities:

StartupCPL lets you easily watch and edit all these apps that are launched from the Autostart folder and several places in the registry. A must-have to control unwanted ad- and spyware and other nuisances, like the Office-fastfinder.

PTFB automatically presses nagging buttons for you. You get rid of hundreds of silly ever repeating questions from Windows and apps that have always bothered you. Was free. Now payware (in the pro version).


My own stuff:

(If you don't have the necessary VB6 runtime files for these programs, you can obtain them from Download.com. Just do a search for 'runtime').

Mpg4 Calculator 2
Allows not only to calculate bitrates and file size for MPEG4, it also has a frame size optimizer that calculates the max. frame size for 3 selectable quality levels.

ScTrans 1.5 beta
Converts Scenalyzer scene lists to StudioDV scene lists. Useful because Scenalyzer can make scene lists for analog or AVI_IO captured videos much faster than the StudioDV software. Simple interface (simply drag scenelist onto program icon), exportable protocol window.
ScnView 0.2 alpha - a little tool to view the contents of StudioDV .scn files.
I'd now recommend to get ScenalyzerLive rather than using ScTrans. I've given the author my knowledge about .scn file format and he has built it into his really terrific tool to work perfectly together with StudioDV. Solves the 4 GB problem, recognizes analog scenes on the fly and much more accurate, has fast preview capture and more goodies. Worth every single $ he asks.

TTTimer is a little utility for timed recordings with the Terratec WDM TV card software. First made for the beta 0.3, it still works with the current version 1.11 (however, stopping still doesn't always work, as apparently hardly any bugs from 0.3 have been fixed meanwhile and I would not recommend to upgrade at all if you have 0.3 running).

VDTimer is a timer that starts and stops VirtualDub's capture module.
VDTimerEnhanced version by Tom, has some additional functions.
A version by Shuang Ji, based on this, has an "every day" checkbox as well.

DStimer can start and stop Dscaler4's timeshift (recording) function and even set the TV channel. Simply start several instances of the program to schedule as many recordings as desired. Use PTFB to click away Dscaler's "experimental feature" warning.

 

Note: Not all items may be linked and some links may be non functional due to frequent changes and other reasons. Many of these can probably be found by a search engine.


 


 



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