Friday, May 24, 2002

With a lot of assistance by some experts on a video bulletin board I have the process now. First one must not edit Mpeg files in Video Factory. Use the Avi format that you captured with and capture at a television multiple, either 320 x 240 or 640 x 480. So the process goes like this:

1. Capture using Virtualdub. I use CQ=100 for the best quality but it takes longer.
2. Filter using Virtualdub. I use:
Temporal Smooter setting = 6
Smart Smoother seeting 7/40 no interleaving (Mpeg2 does not require any interleaving settings)
Dynamic Noise Reduction seeting = 6
Smart Smoother again at 5/8 and no interleaving (cleans up any remaining pixels)
3. Use Video Factory to edit the .avi file. Do not convert to mpeg until after all editing is done.
4. Save from Video Factory as an .avi file. The only resolution available seems to be 352 x 240
5. Convert to MPEG2 with TMPenc. Be sure that you choose the setting that fills the image out to the borders and not the one that pads with black pixels or you will get a vertically letterboxed video.
6. Burn to SVCD using Nero Burning Rom

That's it. Only about 12 hours work to figure out how to burn a 4 minute video clip. Next ones should be much easier though.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

All went well with last nights test with one exception. The mpeg2s that I creaed in Video Factory were the wrong size. I should have let VF resize them to the default 480 x 240 for SVCD. Will run a quick test on that procedure.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

I decided that I needed to convert my collection of small video clips recorded with my TIVO to a non magnetic format. I want to end up with SVCDs since I can't afford a DVD write drive at this time. So, I purchased a cheap TV card for my PC. I got the Haupauge WinTV Go card from CompUSA for around $50. Seems as thought this is a slippery slope I have started down. There are so many variables in this process that getting good digital video capture from VHS tape is like trying to nail Jello to a tree.

After a lot of trial and error and struggling with getting the audio working I am now able to capture video and audio with no problem. I use the excellent freeware package called Virtualdub for my capturing. The initial capture creates a very large .AVI format file, about a gigabyte per minute. I am capturing at 480 x 480 resolution since the mpeg2 file needed for SVCDs requires that resolution.

I tried capturing using 24 bit RGB, YUY2, etc. etc. All of the captures exhibited color banding in the sky areas or any other large areas of similar color. I tried all sorts of filters in Virtualdub with little success. Finally, I looked at the web site and noticed that all of their testing was done in a 15 bit RGB format. So, I did a capture using that and no filters. The result was much improved with little or no color banding.

I was using TMPGenc to convert the AVI file to MPEG2 for creation of the SVCDs. On a whim, I decided to try my copy of Video Factory from Soundforge to do the conversion. This gives me some easy editing capability since Video Factory is my favorite editing tool. The results look very promising. I have played the resulting MPEG2 files in the Windows Media Player at full screen resolution and there are much fewer undesirable artifacts than before. I think the real breaktrhough was using the 15 bit RGB for capture. I may also try one of the other capture formats recommended by Haupauge on their Tips Page.

Next task is to burn an SVCD with Nero to test the quality of the playback on my TV.

To summarize:

1. Capture using Virtualdub and Haupauge WinTV Go TV card using 15 bit RGB at 480 x 480 resolution.
2. Load in to Video Factory and clip extra frames off as needed.
3. Use Video Factory to convert to MPEG 2 for SVCD production.
4. Load all clips into Nero for burning to SVCD.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

My virus scanning software, AVG from Grisoft, picked up another infestation of the I-Nimda virus last night. This is the second attack that has come into my computer. The first one created a LOT of infected files, over a hundred. I used a DOS excecutable from the Grisoft site to clean it up that time. That was about a week ago. This morning it found about 12 infected files and was able to clean them up with no problem. I am pretty happy with the AVG software and the nice thing is that it is free. It has saved me a couple of times now and I am grateful for that. This is one you might want to check out. The bottom line is that you need some kind of virus scanning software on your computer or your machine and all of your friends machines are going to be hosed by some nasty virus before you know it.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

It has been an exciting time here in tropical Florida. Barbara had surgery a couple of months ago to replace her pacer/defib. She has done really well during her recovery. Well, with one exception. We both have caught summertime colds and have been taking a few days off from work to recover. Barbara is almost well but I have been lagging a week or so behind her in my recovery.

Last week while she was home she heard a noise outside our house in our backyard. Going out on our patio she found a man had backed his car down our side yard and was loading our hurricane panels into his car. She confronted him and he said, "Your husband said to come and pick them up!" Of course, she called the police who were here in just a few minutes but he had long gone. The police said that he would sell them for scrap metal for about $30-$40. I set up a security cam that can be viewed here but as my dad said, "that is like closing the barn door after the horse has run away!"

So, now we have had the insurance claims guy out and have gotten estimates from shutter companies to replace our panels. What a hassel. The replacement is costing a hundred times what that guy probably got for them as scrap. We need the shutters down here because of our hurricane season that runs from June through November.