Importing Video Tapes – DV Files and FFMPEG

I’ve been working on importing all my old VHS and 8mm video tapes into my computer.  It’s always been fairly straight forward process of importing the video, originally when it was composite video being inputted it was in the form of an Uncompressed AVI file.  And then you’d convert it over to whatever media format you wanted.  Long ago I had chosen the Real Media file format. It had multiple bit rate encoding in a single file. This was required due to the various connectivity speeds everyone had back then.  From 28k Dialup to 1mbit connections.  It worked really well and then the Real Media format was pushed out for more wide spread and open source accessible media file formats. This is what happened with most of all the video files I had online.  They were all in some obsolete format and there wasn’t anything that could convert the Real Media files.  Which in turn were low resolution already.

I had started importing my video tapes back in 2011 via Firewire port and the pass through option on my Sony video camera.  This worked really well and unfortunately that computer failed and the replacement one no longer had a Firewire port.  So, I finally picked up a Firewire port at the beginning of this month and began the process where I had left off.

When importing via Firewire the it creates DV files.  Back in 2011 one of my main things was for the Karvanek Conspiracy video files, I wanted to master them all in the new webm format, because I like to torture myself with bleeding edge technology and paint myself into a corner like I did with the Real Media.  This worked out great, but it was a fairly slow process of hand writing all the times for where to stop and start the webm encoding process.  I was using WinFF which is a Windows GUI for ffmpeg.  And I would do command line encoding using the latest version of ffmpeg at that time. Everything worked like a champ. Other than encoding in webm is insanely slow.

But, that is no longer the case now.  Trying WinFF and straight ffmpeg and any application that uses ffmpeg will now fail to encode DV video files that I am creating because the DV files will record tape drop outs and other events (like stopping and starting recording) as some sort of odd or error frame.  When ffmpeg detects these frames it will spit out a bunch of EOB errors and stop encoding. ffmpeg, WinFF, Xmedia Recode, Handbrake all succumb to this problem.  The only encoder I had installed on my computer was Microsoft Expression Encoder 3.  It was part of the whole Microsoft Expression suite as I use Expression Web to do HTML editing.  It is a real good encoder, it will do VC-1, H.264 and Smooth Streaming.  I’ve been encoding everything now in MP4 format and Expression Encoder 3 worked great, but it was slow. It would take an hour to encode 30 minutes of video.

I wasted a good day figuring out the problem with DV files and ffmpeg and realizing it was hopeless unless I wanted to patch the source code on a Linux box and do all my encoding on that.  Which seemed kind of retarded, wait, that is retarded.  This whole issue is retarded.  So I finally started looking into other encoder programs.  I found one that works like a champ with my DV files converting to MP4 and it will do WebM as well, but I haven’t tested it out yet.  It’s called Xilisoft Video Converter Ultimate.  It’s only about $50 at the time of this post. It’s worth the cost just in the time you will save searching total retarded non-sense.  The big surprise about this software is not that it worked converting the DV files, but it has code for both Nvidia and ATI graphics cards that will speed up MP4 encoding. The 30 minutes DV file that took an hour to convert using the old Expression Encoder 3, takes Video Converter Ultimate just about 5 minutes on my AMD A10 APU.  If you have a higher end graphics card I can imagine that time will go down considerably. So now my bottleneck is the actual importing of the video tapes and uploading them to You Tube.

The Super Fucking Ultra Shitty editor that comes with BlogEngine.Net refuses to allow me to enter a link over the Xilisoft name. You know, let’s make a blog application for Microsoft’s web server and go out of our way to make it not work with Internet Explorer.  So here is the manually typed in link; http://www.xilisoft.com/

 

 

Will technology keep our past in the present?

There soon will be an entire generation that grew up in the age of online.  Everything they did in the past will still be with them in the present and into their future.  Middle aged people are now facing their children becoming adults, but what did all the middle aged people and their parents do to preserve the past?

Previously people have used photography as a means to preserve the past.  You would take yearly Christmas photos, the classic photo op on summer vacations.  For many years it was film based photography, which had it’s limits in the cost of the film and then developing the exposed film. This created an artificial scarcity due to the cost. You would treasure those moments and make them special by taking a photograph. Film wasn’t as popular, but it was readily available.  They were available for film but it was cumbersome, not very good, no sound, and expensive.  This limited the use and created an even greater scarcity of home movies.  The first great leap forward for this type of past preservation was the release of video tape recorders and home market cameras.  These bulky devices were still in the realm of hobbyist type usage.  Then the home market video camera is unleashed. There is now an unprecedented amount of our past preserved on video tape.  Most of it was all ignored, pushed off into the closet, collecting dust or forgotten about.  Some, or perhaps a lot was over written or stored improperly to be forever in the past.

Is this what we really wanted when preserving the past?  To shove it off into a box to be forgotten?  People seem to have a tendency to create their own narrative of their life, whether it reflects reality or not. It’s just part of how we work. When we relive the past and then see what we were, that may change or bend the narrative we’ve created for ourselves.  How our reaction to it will be different for everyone’s experience and how their experience put them on their path.  It’s those gaps of time from the past to the present that gives us this reflection. Now can you imagine, no gap from the past to the present?

There is an emerging generation that has grown up entirely with the Internet and it’s massive ability to preserve, everything.  How will this and the preceding generations deal with this shift in how our past is preserved?

I don’t have time for your bullshit

I was talking with a friend today about how we are at an age where there is nothing that she wants to buy that she finds interesting or cool anymore.  As we were bantering back and forth with our nonsense, that idea kept creeping in my old and busted mind.  I had been encoding 20 year old VHS and 8mm video tapes onto my computer and uploading them to YouTube for the past couple of days.  I had begin to notice how I was first and foremost an asshole when I was younger. But, another aspect of the idea that, I didn’t know any better then.

Hindsight sure is 20/20, maybe even more clearer as you age.  My friend and I couldn’t really figure out what new and cool gadget would actually be useful.  When we were younger, we would spend inordinate amounts of money on complete nonsensical bullshit.  Were all these new gadgets and stuff we spent time and money on training us to finally come to the realization that it’s just all a bunch of crap?  Was it’s some sort of panacea for us? Or was it to pacify ourselves into self assuredness?  Now that we are 20 years older we see the man behind the curtains and all the crap for what it really is; It’s crap.

I feel weary about so much push to consume, consume and consume some more.  The new promising technology of 3D object printers sounds like a great idea. But what do I need a 3D Printer for? To print out more plastic trinkets? I already have so much plastic useless trinkets already, do I need more?  This is where my age is either against me, or as I said earlier, the curtain has been revealed and I see it for what it really is. Bullshit.

Welcome to Costco. I love you.  

It’s Phototronic!

During the early 90’s while my friend Barrett and I were in college we were able to acquire two Phototron’s.  They were those plant growth chambers that were advertised in the back of High Times magazine. We got the Phototron III and Phototron IV models.  The III model used the U shaped fluorescent bulbs which were easily found at the local hardware store.  The IV model used this new High Output fluorescent lamp from Philips that was a little more difficult to find but was much more brighter than the regular bulb.  The Phototrons worked quite well and did what they say, but the yield was quite minimal.  I think the most we ever got out of it was about 14 grams of dried fluffy bud.  The biggest value from them was the learning process of how to grow.  It had very specific instructions and it’s own nutrients that you used along with a sphagnum moss soil base.  Following these directions you would be successful at whatever it is you were growing.