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Linux Box as Digital VCR: A success Story

By DontTreadOnMe in Technology
Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:46:46 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

I have recently been working on a project, the goal of which is to enable me to capture any arbitrary video to hard drive, edit it using one or more Non-Linear Editing (NLE) tools, and then archive the result to digital video tape, DVD-RAM, CD-R, or, most ideally, DVD-R.

While affordable DVD-R remains promise-ware from Apple (note the 7-10 week delivery schedule if you actually try to order one of these), I had great success in recording an episode of Star Trek Voyager, editing out the commercials, moving the intro sequence to the very beginning, and then saving the result in a 450 MB file of surprisingly near-DVD quality on a single 50 cent CD-R disk. All of this under Linux, using either free software or, where necessary, very inexpensive commercial software.

The details on how I did this follow:

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There are several choices under Linux on how one goes about getting the video signal recorded into a digital format on the hard drive:

  • Analog Capture
    • Video4Linux drivers and software with a supported analog capture card
    • Video4Linux2 drivers and software with a supported analog capture card
    • Braodcast 2000 appears to support other analog capture devices which may have their own drivers in addition to the V4L and V4L2 ones mentioned above. I haven't tried this yet and can't comment further.
  • Digital
    • IEEE 1394 drivers and software with supported hardware
    • Rip of DVD and conversion to a codec other utilities understand (this doesn't really interest me personally, and doesn't really constitute capture per se, but I mention it as it is something others seem to be interested in)

For purpose of this project I used the IEEE 1394 interface, which requires the following be installed:

  • IEEE 1394 Linux kernel drivers (I used 2.4.x of the kernel, but 2.2.x works as well)
  • Libraw1394
  • - Free library required by dvgrab 0.89
  • dvgrab 0.89
  • capture utility, Free Software

I have used both a Sony TRV-900 cam corder (no pass-through, requires you to record to tape first, then capture from the digitally recorded tape) and a Sony DVMC-DA2 Media Converter (which does pass analog straight through to firewire with no intermediate recording step required). Connect whatever hardware you are using to your host adapter (a list of supported hardware is here).

Once the drivers and libraries are installed (and you've booted a kernel capable of loading the drivers), you'll need to create the raw1394 device if it doesn't already exist (the docs don't tell you how to do this, but a quick look at the source code reveals the device MAJOR number required. If you're using devfs this step isn't necessary):

mknod -m 666 /dev/raw1394 c 171 0

Then, load the necessary device drivers:

modprobe ohci1394
modprobe raw1394

Now the system is ready to grab. Create an empty directory on a disk with enough room for the capture (Around 10GB per hour of video). cd into that directory and, when you're ready to begin recording, run the following command:

dvgrab --autosplit --frames 5400 filename

This will create a bunch of three minute clips named filename001, filename002, and so on. When you've recorded all you want to, simply control-c out of dvgrab. I recommend starting your recording a minute or two early, and ending it a minute or so after your certain you've gotten everything. This way you can be sure to have captured everything you need, and you can clip off the extraneous stuff using your NLE software.

The reason I create such short clips is twofold: one, because I find 3-4 minutes a manageable size to work with, particularly when selecting video clips from within MainActor or whatever NLE program I am using, and second, because even though I run 2.4.x of the linux kernel and use filesystems which support large file sizes, most software (Broadcast 2000 is a happy exception) under Linux still has trouble with filesizes greater than 2 GB. This includes some of the utilities I mention below, which are needed to convert the results to DivX. I should mention that MainActor is capable of reading and writing files up to 4 GB in size (I suspect they may be using an unsigned int as an argument to lseek(), which strictly speaking isn't correct, though it does appear to double the filesize limit), but I was unable to use these larger files with any other playback or conversion utilities. dvgrab enforces a filelimit size of around 1 GB anyway.

Non-Linear Editing

Once you've captured the material you want, you have several choices for doing NLE under Linux. Of those, I have tried:

  • MainActor 3.55 - Easy to use, commercial software, costs about $100
  • Broadcast 2000 - Free Software, doesn't have the filesize limitations everything else seems to suffer from, requires 2.4.x
  • Kino - Free Software, as rudimentary DV-out capabilities, early in its development cycle.

In my experience MainActor is the easiest to get started with, but it does have some bugs (a new version is due out any day, however, but in the meantime, save your work early and often, just like you would under Windows), and it is commercial software. The demo is completely functional, but it plasters the MainActor Watermark all over your output until you pay for it and enter a key they email to you. Broadcast 2000 appears to be very promising, but I was unable to get the old version to load my DV AVIs. Downloading and trying out the new version is high on my list of things to do.

If using MainActor, start the NLE with the following command: maseq &

Once you've edited your material to your liking, be sure to save it in a format other Linux utilities understand. If it is something I care about I keep a master in DV Format, which I either burn to CD-R or output back to DV (I haven't done the latter under Linux yet). However, avifile and its associated utilities don't grok DV, so I also save the material in a set of temporary files in MJPEG AVI format (720x480 resolution, default quality settings in Main Actor).

Again, filesize is important. MainActor can read and store files up to 4 GB in size -- I think they use an unsigned integer with lseek() -- but almost any other Linux utility (Broadcast2000 possibly excepted) will choke on anything larger than 2 GB in size, so be sure to keep your clips under 2 GB! I generally use files of about 1 GB in size, which means a 42 minute TV program will require 3-4 MJPEG AVI files. Since these files are temporary anyway, so this is only a minor inconvenience.

Converting to DivX

You will need the following in order to convert your MJPEG AVIs to DivX:

  • avifile 0.53.4 - free software, allows linux apps to use WIN32 video codecs
  • Morgan Multimedia MJPEG codec - commercial, costs $20, demo copy works great but has expiry date
  • x2divx - free software, include avi2divx and mpeg2divx, requires avifile

Once the software is installed (don't forget to install the codecs in /usr/lib/win32 !!) you are ready to convert your work to DivX format! avi2divx takes a list of avi files and writes the DivX output to the last filename in the list (so don't screw up and forget to name an output file or you'll find the last file in your list overwritten). The command I use looks like this:

avi2divx -b 6000 mjpeg-01.avi mjpeg-02.avi ... mjpeg-nn.avi divx.avi

This instructs avi2divx to create a DivX file named divx.avi (using the slow codec, which in my experience usually yields better results) with a bitrate of 6000 using files mjpeg-01.avi through mjpeg-nn.avi (in sequence)

An example created using this procedure (the credits sequence to Star Trek Voyager) can be downloaded here (2 Minutes: approx. 20 MB).

The result for a 42 minute television show will be a file around 460 MB in size, which you can then burn to CD-R.


Finally, you'll want to be able to playback your DivX videos. There are a number of players out there that do the trick, but the two I've had the best luck with are:

  • avi-xmms plugin - works great with the right hardware and XFree drivers (e.g. MGA G200, G400, G450 adapters), otherwise jumpy
  • xine 0.3.6 - works great on systems with fast CPUs

avi-xmms works very well on my dual PII/450 with 512 MB RAM, a Matrox G400 card, running XFree 4.0.1 on a Mandrake 7.2 system with a 2.4.x kernel. However, on a colleague's Dual PIII/733 system with an Nvidia (using the older drivers) it was unbearably slow.

Xine 0.3.6 on the other hand was unbearable on my dual PII/450, but played back with near-perfect smoothness on my colleague's dual PIII/733.

The most surprising thing about the 450 MB DivX file I generated was the quality. This is particularly true if one uses one's NLE to crop the image, eliminating any "hard" edges, such as where the image goes suddenly black on the side. There is an excellent article on DivX quality here that gives some great tips on improving the quality of the output. On a high resolution computer screen, such as my colleague's SGI 1600SW Flatpanel, you will see a noticable difference between a DivX file and DVD. However, when played at its native resolution in a window, or displayed on a standard television screen, the difference in quality is barely discernible. This is truly amazing, and certainly beats keeping one's video library on Hi8, VHS, VCD, or SVCD.

Of course, VCD and SVCD can be played back on many consumer DVD players, something you can't do with DivX. However, there are a couple of different projects (here and here) that are working to change this. In the meantime, I am in the process of putting together a small computer system that will act as my DivX and MP3 home video component, which will reside discreetly in my stereo stack between my receiver and my VCR.

Addendum: As I was writing this, a timely thread appeared on slashdot, discussing the two set top projects mentioned above.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Recording TV to DivX and CDR
o Is a great idea 67%
o Is a nice idea, but too much work 18%
o Doesn't interest me 5%
o Fair Use is Dead; stop doing it or we'll release the hounds! 8%

Votes: 93
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Slashdot
o promise-wa re
o Video4Linu x
o Video4Linu x2
o Braodcast 2000
o IEEE 1394
o supported hardware
o Rip of DVD
o Libraw1394
o dvgrab 0.89
o Sony TRV-900
o Sony DVMC-DA2 Media Converter
o here
o MainActor 3.55
o Broadcast 2000
o Kino
o MainActor
o avifile 0.53.4
o Morgan Multimedia MJPEG codec
o x2divx
o here [2]
o avi-xmms plugin
o xine 0.3.6
o here [3]
o here [4]
o here [5]
o timely thread
o Also by DontTreadOnMe

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Linux Box as Digital VCR: A success Story | 63 comments (58 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
A correction (4.00 / 8) (#5)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 06:44:34 PM EST

The dvgrab command in the piece I submitted was for use with software which uses the DV1 format. MainActor and others use DV2, which is created with the following command (difference in bold):

dvgrab --format dv2 --autosplit --frames 5400 filename

Note the "--format dv2", which is required to produce DV2 avis that MainActor understands. If you're using Broadcast 2000, you'll want to create DV1 formats (to which dvgrab defauls).

Sorry for any confusion.

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
My Open Tivo Project (4.33 / 9) (#6)
by outlyer on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:58:31 PM EST

I've been working on a similar project, but using a headless box. It has a TV tuner in it, and runs Linux 2.2.18, with the latest V4l drivers.

The trick is, that an extremely clever person put this little program together vcr. This program lets you record any video4linux stream straight into any format supported by avifile to disk.

Consequence? I now have a skeleton of a web interface that is based on tvguide, that I can select shows from, and have this program automatically record them, straight into low motion DivX, which is really good quality (arguably better than Tivo's MPEG-2) If there is interest, I'll complete and release the project.

I can then watch the recorded show on any box on my network, or even the box connected to my TV. It'd probably be cooler to have a TV out card, and watch it right on my TV, and even have a TV interface, but let's walk before we run :)

Beautiful (4.25 / 4) (#7)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 08:02:53 PM EST

The trick is, that an extremely clever person put this little program together vcr. This program lets you record any video4linux stream straight into any format supported by avifile to disk.


I now have a skeleton of a web interface that is based on tvguide, that I can select shows from, and have this program automatically record them, straight into low motion DivX, which is really good quality (arguably better than Tivo's MPEG-2) If there is interest, I'll complete and release the project.

That is very cool. If vcr can be made to support IEEE1394 input that would be a marvelous improvement over what I am doing now, particularly if it allows saving to high quality format for later editing (getting rid of commercials, etc) prior to final conversion to DivX.

Definitely finish the web interface -- being able to cue up a program you're going to miss from work would be great!

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
tv schedule data (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by dave114 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:13:28 PM EST

Are there any places out there that I can download tv schedule data from (free)?

Alternatively I know of a lot of different free online tv guides..... just don't feel like trying to parse the pages.

[ Parent ]
yup check out: (3.00 / 2) (#16)
by jose on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:14:20 AM EST

if you are in the states: tvguide or mister house canada/UK/germany/holland look at xmltv /me is too lazt to get the links, just search Freshmeat for 'em Mister House is probably the best bet, if you are into XML, xmltv is the way to go...

[ Parent ]
XMLtv link (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by dave114 on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:12:28 AM EST


[ Parent ]
Updated XMLTV link (none / 0) (#63)
by Ed Avis on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 07:23:32 AM EST

The URL is now <http://membled.com/work/apps/xmltv/>.

[ Parent ]
universal remote (none / 0) (#33)
by joe_nobody on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 02:57:02 PM EST

try looking for a universal remote with timer functions. You could place the remote near the box when you are gone, and it can change the channel when needed!

[ Parent ]
Apple and DVD (3.75 / 4) (#9)
by Refrag on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:01:29 PM EST

From MacSlash:
Also of interest was Jobs speculation that the SuperDrive would make it into consumer-grade products (read: iMac) by 2002. The SuperDrive, also announced at MacWorld expo, allows consumers/pros to burn movies, sound, and pictures on to DVDs (using Apple's own iDVD software) that can play in set-top DVD players as well as computer DVD drives.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches

How free are the avifile binaries? (2.66 / 3) (#11)
by roystgnr on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:10:24 PM EST

Sure, the DLL loader and wrapper library are free software... but what license are the binary DLLs under? Isn't "DivX" itself a leaked and hacked beta Microsoft MPEG4 implementation?

I can't speak for DivX (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by DontTreadOnMe on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:13:51 AM EST

I can't speak for DivX, though I am unaware of any restrictions. The Morgan Multimedia MJPEG codec is downloadable with an expiration date of March 31, 2001. I went ahead and registered it for $20.00, which got rid of the expiration date altogether.

As for patents and the like, I suppose if Microsoft or whoever wants to go after MPEG 4 patents then we'll all end up desperately waiting for the OggVorbis project to complete its video compression work, which, if the audio compression code is any indication, should be quite impressive. Until such a time as this hypothetical affront occurs I'll happily keep encoding my movies in DivX format (and they can have my codec when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers).
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
Cool, but.. (4.00 / 2) (#12)
by cronio on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:26:55 PM EST

Is there any way to do automated commercial removal? I know there's a difference in the signal depending on whether or not it's a commercial (there are VCRs that'll get rid of the commercials while recording, based on that), but is there a way to do that in Linux?

well, according to this... (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by phunbalanced on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 08:50:13 PM EST

...person there is a 1/2 second gap between programs and commercials. Has anyone else heard this or can anyone validate this?

[ Parent ]
From my experience, not always (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by DontTreadOnMe on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 09:44:30 PM EST

In editing various Babylon 5 episodes (Weekdays on SciFi at 6:00 CST) I have found this to be true some of the time, but not always. I'll go back and take a look again ... it is possible they all start with a 1/2 second gap, but I've edited several places where they definitely don't end with a 1/2 second gap.

I suppose if you can predict the commercial length with certainty, it is a start. Alternatively, making a break such that the commercials are always at the start of the next clip would save time. Even if you have to remove the commercials by hand you wouldn't have to go hunting through the clip for them...

An intriguing idea ... a default clip of 2 minutes is automatically "cut out" after a 1/2 second blank spot (but still recorded in case the commercial break is shorter, so you can recover it later). In most cases this would snip the commercial out, but if the break is 2.5 minutes long you have the remainder at the start of the next clip (easy to find and cut out by hand), and if it is shorter you can recover the lost footage from the "commercial clip."

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
well, according to this... (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by Harlequin on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 07:33:17 AM EST

>there is a 1/2 second gap between programs and commercials.
>Has anyone else heard this or can anyone validate this?

It's not true. (Or at least not where I am (we use PAL)).
1/2 second is a HUGE amount of time to be looking at a blank screen. You would notice.
1/2 a frame would be less noticable, but that would screw your fields because video is edited by the frame (meaning a 15 second add runs 15 seconds to the frame, not a field less or more).
Perhaps there is a one frame gap? (ie 1/24th of a second. If so, it should be quite visible if you're looking for it). This seems the most plausible.

Alternatively, you could base your add-cutter on how the stations always annoyingly raise the sound volume for the adds :-)

@#$@%!!! Hurry up! (I'm watching an ad break to see the transition back to the show, and it's dragging on and pm despite it being 1am!)
Damn! The transition back to the program started with a fade-in from black, so I couldn't tell if there was a blank frame in there. I suffered all that corporate mind-control for nothing! :-)

Waited for another ad break. This time I saw a cross-fade between an ad and the start of the programme. Which rules out even one blank frame. Perhaps different places do things differently. In this case the ad was self promotion of the TV station, perhaps they put their own ads on the other side of the transition...

Given also that Television makes its money by selling you (an audience) to advertisers, via "filler" (the material that is played between ad breaks), you can probably bet that the only signal that could be used to edit ad breaks will be something that the station cannot choose to eradicate, and a frame gap is easily eradicated. perhaps there is something outside the viewable picture, in the timecode or something?

[ Parent ]
Automating commercial removal (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by /dev/human on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 11:51:04 AM EST

The studios embed signals into their transmissions to alert the station operators when to play commercials. There are several ways of accomplishing this, such as via an audio signal (called a DTMF tone - sounds like telephone touchtones), or a signal buried in the video interlace. Decoders are simple hardware solutions. It's easy to rig a DTMF decoder on the cheap, but each studio uses a different signal. Additionally, DTMF decoders are very simple switches, so you only get one output line indicating the desired tone was captured. You'll need to modify your decoder for each channel, or build a separate decorder for each channel.

So let's say you have your decoder working. One set of signals always precedes the beginning of the commercial break, and a second set always precedes the end. The interval varies anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds. Don't worry - CNN will always use the same interval of 30 seconds, for example. When you detect a signal for a commercial break, wait for the desired interval and stop encoding. When you encounter the signal indicating the end of the break, wait the desired interval and resume encoding.

Good luck - hope this helps...

There is more to life than increasing its speed.
- Mahatma Gandhi
[ Parent ]

Experience working at a television station... (none / 0) (#55)
by finale on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 04:07:08 PM EST

Commercials are aired from several different sources... In the case of National Programming, some commercials are broadcast via sattelite with the program. There are local commercials manually triggered by master control ops during break. And sometimes in the case of syndicated programming, the commercials are editted at the local station on to the tape with the programming... There's no way to circumvent commcercials with any remote percentage of accuracy...

[ Parent ]
Commercial Avoidance (none / 0) (#57)
by carrier lost on Tue Feb 13, 2001 at 01:04:48 PM EST

My dos centavos on commercials:

I know that television stations use something called a 'genlock' which makes sure that all the video sources are synchronized to the same sync signal - this prevents the picture from rolling or distorting when switching, say, from a live TV camera to a recorded commercial.

But I think this only affects pulse timing and not amplitude.

So if there is a definite amplitude transition in the sync signal (The vertical sync, which is the black bar you see between image fields if you fiddle with the v-sync knob on an older TV. Do newer TV's have vert and horiz adjusments?). If the characteristic of this sync signal changes in a consistent manner when video sources are switched, and assuming your capture equipment outputs information concerning sync, you might be able to design an algorithm which is intelligent enough to memorize the sync signal characteristics of the program you're recording, switch off recording when it notices a change and then resume recording when the signal characteristics match the original.

This is mostly guesses - let me know if it helps!


[ Parent ]

BAD LINK (4.50 / 4) (#13)
by Refrag on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:30:49 PM EST

The link for promise-ware used a session variable that has expired. I've provided what I feel is a better link to Apple's DVD technology, which is not what some would call promise-ware.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches

When I can get the product overnighted... (4.00 / 3) (#19)
by DontTreadOnMe on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:22:54 AM EST

...then I'll stop calling it promise-ware. But when I tried to order a high-end G4 with the DVD-R drive the delivery time was 7-10 weeks. All the literature I could find indicated April as the real release date, when the faster G4 chips would be available in quantity ... which to me is just a promise, nothing more. Better than vapor, but by no means a shipping product.

That having been said, I'm looking forward to inexpensive DVD mastering tools as eagerly as everyone else...

Thanks for the fixed link!

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
You can't master DVDs with Apple crippleware (5.00 / 2) (#51)
by Harlequin on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 06:22:30 AM EST

>That having been said, I'm looking forward to inexpensive DVD mastering
> tools as eagerly as everyone else...

Unfortunately, you can't use the Apple DVD-R to master DVDs. All you can do with it produce one-off copies, which while they might play in a DVD-player, will be assumed to be full of pirated material and rejected by DVD reproduction devices.

This is just one example of the crippled future of digital consumer devices. As the DeCSS case highlights, the industry takes the view that while those troublesome consumers might have the legal right to do things like time-shifting, fair use, etc, they don't have the right to be able to buy consumer devices that actually allow them to act on their rights. Apple is just towing the line with the rest of the industry. If they don't play ball and retard their tech before selling it to us, the MPAA doesn't play ball and their content will be witheld from the platform.

Enforced copy control, ostensibly to stop piracy but, as is becoming increasingly obvious (the copy controls and cripples currently being implemented are going far beyond what is needed to guard against piracy) also involves an agenda of reducing unprofitable media viewing (such as encouraging pay-per-view in preference of consumers owning their own copies of a movie and being able to watch them as often as desired at the one price) and also, I'm beginning to suspect, maintaining the higher price of devices useful for producing content.

This is one big reason why media on the Windows and Mac platforms is likely to be problematic compared to Linux in a few years, if the industry cartels are even remotely successful.
Microsoft is writing some serious media cripples into Whistler, and Apple is ensuring that they are likewise MPAA compliant. It's a battle for content, because content will attract consumers, but the consumers will pay the MPAAs price - crippled products that prevent us exercising our rights, (and gradually increasing the amount that we tend to pay for content).

Some people think the consumer demand will prevent this scenario, but I don't think they've seen all the plans currently in the pipe. Consumer demand will prevail eventually, but we could be looking at a sort of dark ages in the years ahead before any eventual victory.

Also, I don't think it matters that a few people are smart enough to build their own media boxes if the tech is denied to the population at large.

[ Parent ]
*gasp* (4.33 / 3) (#15)
by extrasolar on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:56:08 PM EST

Some teachers of mine are about to spend 4 and half thousand dollars on a single computer from Apple and software to do video editing! I am going to tell them about this article and the use of GNU/Linux for video editing. Thanks to DontTreadOnMe for posting this!

Quite frankly, I don't know enough about this field, but these teachers were told that Macintoshes are better at graphics and video editing than PC's (here, I presume they are speaking of Windows also). Since I heard something similar, even though I have never used a Mac, I sort of agreed with them.

But if GNU/Linux is a better or viable solution for this, then I will quickly show them this post as well as any other information I can find.

I would **really** hate to see educational dollars go to waste.

If anyone here can make a comparison between the Apple solution and a GNU/Linux solution...please do so. I will probably need data to back up my claim.

For now...I am looking through the HOWTO's. I will probably be responsible for setting this up if they approve.

Apple mature, Linux progressing but not there yet (4.66 / 3) (#17)
by DontTreadOnMe on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:18:49 AM EST

Don't be too quick to steer them down the Linux road just yet. Linux as a platform is very, very promising. Multi-user, multi-tasking, real time extentions, extremely stable and fast on inexpensive hardware. But, OS X (based on *BSD) is in some ways just as promising. The advantage over the long term goes to open source platforms like Linux and BSD (for various reasons too numerous to go into here, see www.fsf.org and the Open Source Project for better arguments than I can give in a quick post here).

But, as cool as Linux is and as quickly as it is developing, Apple is still far and away a better platform for doing NLE in a serious envorinment. With the new G4's supporting CDRW/DVD-R, and the mature video applications already available, it will probably take Linux a year or two yet to catch up. I'll go out on a limb and predict that, in the long term (meaning a few short years) Linux will cream both Windows and Apple in this area (SGI's involvement and contribution to this is by no means negligable), but in the short run the advantage clearly goes to Apple.

In fact, I was going to order their high-end G4, just for the DVD-R drive. However, when I saw the ship date of 7-10 weeks I changed my mind. When the things are available for overnight shipping I'll consider it, assuming that by then one can't just get OEM DVD-R drives and install them in a Linux box ...

Have fun playing with Linux and using it for your personal work, but be advised that it isn't quite there for everyone just yet (although I have read that Broadcast 2000 is being packaged for professional use, so it is rapidly getting there).

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
Some options for non-linear editing (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by VValdo on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 03:31:43 AM EST

Here's some of the Non-Linear Editors I've heard about. It's not true that Apple's inherently better than others, though Apple's making a pretty serious effort to getting NLEs into the hands of the public.


Broadcast 2000 -- One of the more developed linux editors. Works with a variety of hardware. I personally haven't used it, but there is at least one company out there (in Burbank, CA) selling pre-packaged versions of this.

Trinity -- Another Linux solution http://members.nbci.com/_XMCM/nicholasf/ - still very early in development but I believe they are based on that new GNOME bonobo standard (?)

MainActor -- Funny, I'd never seen this one before this review.


iMovie - The low-end commercial editor for Macs, like $50, or I think bundled with most new Macs. It was even free for a short while (version 1) now it's in version 2 and no longer free. Version 1 kinda sucked, but I hear good things about version 2. Info at apple.com

Final Cut Pro - About $1000, a professional level NLE, also by and for apple. They were at Sundance pitching this to independent filmmakers. I think I heard that the new versions are Altivec enhanced, and I also heard there's a version that uses some $10,000 video card but has extra-advantages. Just check the apple web site.


Avid -- Avid makes a number of products (www.avid.com) from the Media Composer to the Avid Express with many in between. Avid is the #1 professional choice for movie and most tv programs. They've just announced a low-end like $1600 non-hardware dependent version which generates EDL (Edit Decision Lists) and cut-lists that can be used later with the $100K systems. Avid stuff works on Macs & NT. They've been around for years-- current version is 10 I believe. I've used Avids for about six years-- they're current industry leaders and their interface is top-notch. The majority of new movies this year have been cut on one. Avid also owns Digidesign, which incidentally, has a FREE version of their 8-track audio editor (not demoware, not crippleware!) which is also the leading audio editor IMO. Check out www.avid.com and www.digidesign.com for more.

Premiere - Now in version 6. This is Adobe's non-linear editor. I haven't used it but I hear this new version is pretty great. You can find more info at adobe's web site. 5.2 the latest version was supposed to be a major improvement, so I expect 6 is pretty good too. I think this supports all kinds of hardware but isn't free (maybe $550? I can't remember) and isn't on a free platform.

Of course, there are other NLEs but these are the big ones, at least the ones I know.
This is my .sig. There are many like it but this one is mine.
[ Parent ]

Apple is better (none / 0) (#47)
by hardburn on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 03:26:06 PM EST

To be quite honest, Apple is pretty much standered for any professional picture/video editing. The exception is SGI workstations, which is more for very *very* high-end (and expensive). I did hear, though, that GNU/Linux was used for special effects in "Titanic".

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
Capturing TV (4.33 / 3) (#18)
by doormat on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:19:14 AM EST

Its cool that you've done this in Linux. I've been doing the same type of thing (capturing TV to MPEG-1) for about a year now using windows9x, iFilmEdit, and a Snazzi capture card. The main difference is that the Snazzi captures directly into MPEG-1 in hardware (it looks good)so there is no need to re-encode the captured data, allowing me to have a completed a fully VCD compliant copy of the show about 30 minutes after it is done airing (the time it takes me to edit out the commercials and burn to CD). Capturing to Mjpeg, editing commercials, and then encoding to Divx is a time consuming effort, even with the fastest processors.

An important point that was overlooked is that the quality of the encode is only as good as the source. A capture from analog cable will not look as good as DBS satellite or digital cable, no matter what compression or filters are used.

Another thing not mentioned is price of this whole thing. For my setup, the Snazzi cost $160 (off ebay, they dont make it anymore, and it only runs under win9x/ME) and iFilmEdit is $50 for a good editing tool. So for about $200 and about 90 minutes of my time twice a week (Roswell and Voyager) I am able to keep an archive of my favorite shows in a format readable by most DVD players (including the playstation 2 with some tweaking).


Win98: A Sucess Story (5.00 / 5) (#23)
by Beorn on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 05:00:03 AM EST

Ok, this may not be relevant to linux users, but it's worth pointing out that there are good freeware VCR tools for Windows as well. In fact, you only need one: VirtualDub.

I started out with a Hauppage WinTV PCI, and added a Pinnacle Studio DC10+ last month. WinTV is a cheap and reliable tuner, but it's difficult to capture good quality with it. The channel must be selected before starting VirtualDub, and sound turned on manually with a utility. The bottleneck with WinTV is the processor, as all compression is done in software. On my Celeron 300 I get reliable results capturing to Indeo 5 at 90-95% quality, at 1/2 PAL resolution (384x288), using roughly 1-1.5GB per hour.

The DC10+ is more powerful, using hardware MJPEG compression. It does not have a tuner, so to capture from TV it must be connected to a VCR. Another drawback is that VirtualDub is currently unable to capture more than 70 minutes with it, so I had to buy the shareware utility AVI_IO ($25) which really is a brilliant piece of software for its purpose, I've never lost a frame with it. (I still use VirtualDub for editing, though.)

DC10+ allows me to capture at full PAL resolution (768x576), practical if you want to watch while you capture, which introduces the problems of deinterlacing. VirtualDub is an absolute must-have here, with it's powerful filter plugin system. In addition to standard lossy deinterlacing which effectively cuts the vertical resolution half, there's a great Smart Deinterlacer filter which only reduces quality where interlacing artifacts are visible, and even can be used to restore full deinterlaced quality, (but only for PAL, and only if the original source was shot on progressive / non-interlaced film. Movies are.) VirtualDub's inverse telecine feature might do the same trick for american NTSC.

Also, capturing with MJPEG at this resolution requires much more disk space, at least 6GB per hour.

Finally I use DivX/mp3 (both hacked and illegal) for compression. In case anyone wonders, DivX (Mpeg-4) is not several times more efficient than Mpeg-2, (40-60% has been claimed), and there are better codecs out there. The reason it rules is that it can be used with free, open AVI editors such as VirtualDub. At 384x288 with WinTV I get good results with 4-500kbps DivX (low motion) + 64kbps mono mp3 (1 hour = 210-250mb). I haven't really settled on output resolution and compression settings for DC10+ yet, but at the moment I resize down to 512x384, and compress at 550kbps DivX (low motion) + 160kbps stereo mp3 (1 hour = 320mb).

(Btw, one drawback with mp3 is that the framerate must be adjusted after compression, or the audio will be out of sync. VirtualDub does this too.)

Anyway, conclusion 1: Using a PC as a digital VCR is pretty cool. Conclusion 2: It's not easy.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Win98: even better (none / 0) (#36)
by ToMega on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 03:30:19 PM EST

There exists a new device, the WinTV PVR, which encodes MPEG 1 and 2 real time at D1 (and VCD) resolutions, at various bit rates. With this device, using a PC as a digital VCR is supa easy! They say it doesn't use any processor time, which i'm not sure is completely possible. It also has that TiVo-like live pause action.

I've ordered one of these things (which are not easy to come by yet), and will try it out, so this isn't an endorsement yet.

In terms of Linux support, it uses a Kfir encoder, for which there are drivers for a reference board, so drivers for the Hauppauge board are not necessarily out of the question.


[ Parent ]
Actually One MS Tool Is Required... (none / 0) (#50)
by Dooferlad on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 05:19:12 AM EST

The Windows Media encoder system will record to MPEG4 video and WMA audio in real time to a stream or file. It is a one step process after you have found quality settings you like (which can be quite high if you have a high spec PC) because you can save your record parameters. The software is free from microsoft.com. As for applying advert filters you would have to do it post production, though there are free editing tools in the same suite of packages.

-- Dooferlad

[ Parent ]
Required? (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by Beorn on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 03:57:33 PM EST

As for applying advert filters you would have to do it post production, though there are free editing tools in the same suite of packages.

I don't see why you call this a non-step process, if you're applying filters afterwards. There is only one way to do capture on todays PC's: Capture in very high quality first, then edit and export to a lower quality. It doesn't make sense to capture directly to the lossy export format, because the noise will increase every time it's recompressed.

And I don't see why anyone would want to use free Microsoft tools for this. You really should try VirtualDub.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

BeOS (3.66 / 3) (#24)
by jonr on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 05:59:42 AM EST

Be's BeOS Pro does video capturing out of the box, and it's an OS your Grandmother could install. For $49, you can buy Adamtion Personal Studio and edit/style videos. BeOS also has a IEEE1394, aka FireWire support, if you want top-qualty signal.... (I must try this all myself one day :)) J.

BeOS (none / 0) (#26)
by DontTreadOnMe on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 08:27:23 AM EST

I have a copy of BeOS and Personal Studio (which is how I got my firewire card). It was a very nice OS, but the video capture application was too buggy to be useful (more so than MainActor was). After waiting months for a new release, for drivers to support my Promise ATA100 controller and drives, and for the bug to be fixed that causes captures to mysteriously die around 9 GB, I gave up.

The last point is no big deal (I work around filesize limits under Linux and Windows), but the first two together comprised a brick wall I simply couldn't get past. Linux is IMHO a better platform -- not because it is intrinsicly better for multimedia (it isn't) -- but because it is decent to good for multimedia and above all open source, so fixes, improvement, and new features arrive in days or weeks instead of months or never.

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
BeOs (none / 0) (#45)
by Ocker on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 08:17:56 PM EST

I have successfully used BeOs personal edition, a Sony TRV 11E camera, a Swann Firewire card ( actually Domex Technology manufactured and OHCI compliant) and the trial version of Adamation's personal Studio video editing program (limited to 30 sec clip captures) to successfully capure digital ideo immediately after installation of the firewire card.


[ Parent ]
BeOS (none / 0) (#48)
by ranessin on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 10:23:11 PM EST

BeOS is all fine and good (as is PersonalStudio) but till the MediaKit is fixed so that videos created with any of the codecs packaged with BeOS actually run under Windows or MacOS, it is most definately not an option for video capture IMHO.


[ Parent ]
All very well but a little small fry... (5.00 / 2) (#25)
by PhadeRunner on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 07:25:45 AM EST

I work in the digital TV/video-over-IP industry. I've been capturing video to computer copy for absolutely ages, the difference being what I use to do it with.

My normal kit includes an Optibase real-time MPEG-2 encoder with SCSI hard drive. With this I can capture from any source (normally digital TV or DVD) straight to digital TV qualtity MPEG-2, in real time at ANY bitrate. After the capture has finished (about 1 second after transmission has ceased) I can then transfer the file to my Oracle Video Server and shoot it at full bitrate to any PC or set-top box in my office. Alternatively, I can IGMP multicast it to any number of the above. I can even IGMP multicast it to my desk so I can watch the transmission in real-time as I am capturing it.

The only problems with this approach are the cost of the equipment and the size of the files generated. An encoder of this type costs around $16,000 for one capture to $60,000 for 6 at a time (!!). Your standard nCUBE video server running OVS starts at a cool $50,000 or so. Real-time encoded MPEG-2 at 4Mb/s (just under DVD quality which is around 4.5-6Mb/s) comes in at around 30MB per minute of capture. Nice thing my nCUBE has 12x9GB RAID then... :)

Hauppauge WinTV-PVR: $250 (3.00 / 1) (#31)
by jwb on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:22:30 PM EST

The Hauppauge WinTV-PVR claims real-time MPEG2 capture rates up to 12 megabits per second. This would appear to be a datarate three times better than the professional capture gear you cite. Do you have any experience with this kind of consumer-grade equipment? Does it achieve these capture rates through shear superiority, or by compressing less or less well? Overall, how do you think this equipment would perform for recording broadcast and cable television.

By the way, Hauppauge also makes digital TV tuners than can capture up to 1080i digital high-definition television broadcasts. It has one great big IC covered with a heat sink, so I can't see who makes it or what it is.

Finally, Apple claims to have acheived DVD-quality encoding on regular computers in 2:1 time, while 25:1 time is usually required. The way they acheived this is simply by compressing less. This is why you can only put 1 hour of video on DVD using Apple's new software: the video files are simply larger per unit time.

[ Parent ]

Apple's drivers (none / 0) (#32)
by jovlinger on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 02:44:13 PM EST

Do you know whether it is possible to recompress the output from apple's codec at a later date with higher compression without going through the decompress/compress cycle? Not that I'm likely to be able to tell the difference, it's more of an elegance issue.

So, the question is whether I can take an mpeg2 stream and do meaningful things to it without having to decompress it fully.

[ Parent ]
More importantly (from my point of view) (none / 0) (#34)
by DontTreadOnMe on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 03:13:03 PM EST

More importantly, can one elect to take more time compressing the video in exchange for more storage capacity, or has Apple caved to the MPAA and made their product utterly incapable of storing a feature-length film on a single, blank DVD-R disk?

Is the limitation in hardware, or in the software (drivers, applicaiton)? If the latter, then hope remains for a Linux/FreeBSD/Windows driver/software combo that would allow one to burn a full two or three hours on one disk, in exchange for a longer time spent compressing.

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
Just a guess (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by jwb on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 03:30:31 PM EST

I'm only guessing, but I bet Apple has reserved this capability, and probably a number of more "advanced" capabilities, for their DVD Studio Pro, which costs $1000. This software can master DVD using the MPEG-2 output of any encoder.

The parallel would be the difference between Apple's cheap iMovie and their full-featured Final Cut Pro.

[ Parent ]

More importantly (from my point of view) (none / 0) (#35)
by DontTreadOnMe on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 03:13:03 PM EST

More importantly, can one elect to take more time compressing the video in exchange for more storage capacity, or has Apple caved to the MPAA and made their product utterly incapable of storing a feature-length film on a single, blank DVD-R disk?

Is the limitation in hardware, or in the software (drivers, applicaiton)? If the latter, then hope remains for a Linux/FreeBSD/Windows driver/software combo that would allow one to burn a full two or three hours on one disk, in exchange for a longer time spent compressing.

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
mpeg2 encoding and linux (none / 0) (#38)
by phunbalanced on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 08:41:20 PM EST

Does anyone know if this hardware encoding is supported under linux? I'ld be really interested in trying this under linux if so, but I don't think I'm up for writing hardware drivers. :)

[ Parent ]
You didn't read what I said... (none / 0) (#43)
by PhadeRunner on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 08:28:21 AM EST

I actually said the equipment can cope at any bitrate. I usually encode at 4Mb/s since this gives (in my opinion) the best quality/filesize trade-off for encoding from a live source. I could, if I wanted to, encode at 12Mb/s (or higher) but the percieved quality of the MPEG would not be sufficient to warrant the three times larger filesize. Also, 12Mb/s for each stream would cause three times as much network usage for situations where I am multicasting or serving the video from a video server. Finally, what would be the point in encoding from a digital source at a significantly higher bitrate that what it was transmitted at? Digital TV usually comes down at around 2-3.5Mb/s for cable and 4-5Mb/s for satellite, DVD's are equivalent to VBR MPEG-2 at 4.5-6Mb/s, I've already lost picture quality and introduced artifacts that re-encoding at a higher bitrate will not repair.

Live encoders will always have a slightly higher bitrate for a certain percieved quality than their offline counterparts as the latter get the opportunity to go-over the file several times and optimise the results, a live encoder cannot do this as it has to encode and output as quickly as possible. A live encoder also doesn't have the luxury of being able to see the file as a whole and profile accordingly.

(* please not I am talking about percieved quality not actual frame quality. )

[ Parent ]

Possible improvements (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by hardburn on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 09:23:44 AM EST

One (possibly obvious) thing I thought of was to use the IRda drivers for Linux, then create a small app for my Visor to work as a remote control. Then I can have it start recording to my hard drive when I press "pause" and then start playing agian after I get some food from the 'fridge, just like a TiVo.

Being able to automate the process of removing the commercials is a definate plus. Anyone know how?

To get around file size limitations, it would be nice to be able to stream the video to STDOUT and pipe it to 'split'. I've done this before when making images of hard drives (something like "dd if=/dev/hda | split --bytes=2048M").

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

Re: Possible Improvements (none / 0) (#28)
by DontTreadOnMe on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 09:43:41 AM EST

One (possibly obvious) thing I thought of was to use the IRda drivers for Linux, then create a small app for my Visor to work as a remote control.

That's a great idea ... I'm going to try to do this when I build my "home entertainment PC component" (read: MP3 server / DivX player). The box I currently have is more of an NLE workstation than an VCR ... my efforts at getting the VCR capabilities in place is more of a proof of concept than anything else (the user interface is nonexistent, for example). I'm also going to experiment with using an MGA G450's TV out feature for playback to television, rather than a dedicated TV tuner card (e.g. Hauppauge).

Being able to automate the process of removing the commercials is a definate plus. Anyone know how?

If anyone has any idea how to do this, please, please let the rest of us know. That feature would be tremendous!

To get around file size limitations, it would be nice to be able to stream the video to STDOUT and pipe it to 'split'.

For digital capture using the IEEE 1394 interface dvgrab does that automatically:

dvgrab --format dv2 --autosplit --frames 5400 filename

The --autosplit command insures sequential files will be created (with no frame loss), while the --frames 5400 specify how many frames per file (this value yields a filesize of around 540 MB if I recall correctly). If you don't specify the number of frames dvgrab defaults to something around 1 GB or so.

However, for analog captures what you suggest might be a better approach, although I would be surprised if there weren't already commandline utilities available that support that feature -- after all, Linux only recently got rid of the 2 GB filesize limit, and most of the utilities and software haven't caught up yet. Another poster suggested VCR and is working on a web interface for controlling it (a very cool idea IMHO). VCR doesn't support firewire capture, so it isn't applicable to my particular setup, but if you're doing analog capture it's definitely worth looking at.

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
Take a look at gstreamer... (4.66 / 3) (#30)
by icepick on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:13:46 PM EST

gstreamer is a whole media frame work. It creates a pipeline that data flow down so you can put diffrent objects in the pipeline, like a net broadcaster (a sink), v4l input (a source), or divx encoder (a filter). You could write a filter that detects the 1/2 sec blanks inbetween tv shows and a commericals and stops the pipeline until it sees that the tv show has started again. You could have the divx encoder output to a file sink that writes directly to a cd.

Also what I'd love to see is more work on cable descramblers :). fscktv is out there but hasn't gotten a lot of attention.

gStreamer Looks very impressive (none / 0) (#44)
by DontTreadOnMe on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 12:38:02 PM EST

I took a look at gStreamer last night. It looks very, very impressive (based on the docs and release notes I've read). It doesn't seem to like my version of wine for the DivX plugin, so I haven't successfully compiled it yet. I'll try CVS today and see if it compiles cleaner.

This is exactly what we need, a solid multimedia infrastructure that is network/distributed processing friendly, straightfoward, and facilitates the creation of multimedia projects such as NLE, video streaming, and VirtualDub-like utilities. Very, very exciting work ... now if I can just get the d*mn thing to compile on my Mandrake 7.2 box...

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
Inconsistent Xine performance (5.00 / 2) (#41)
by Frigorific on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 11:58:11 PM EST

I'm going to take a wild guess here (I don't know the setup of either box), but my feeling is that one of them has a graphics card that supportst the X11 "xv" extension and one doesn't. This extension uses the hardware scaling features of the graphics card to shift a lot of the load off the processor, but it only works (afaik) with Matrox and NVIDIA cards. MPlayer is another player that uses this feature (and plays MPEG and AVI files a good bit faster than avifile or Xine, in my experience).
Who is John Galt? Rather, who is Vasilios Hoffman?
Inconsisten Xine and avi-xmms performance (none / 0) (#42)
by DontTreadOnMe on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:17:41 AM EST

This extension uses the hardware scaling features of the graphics card to shift a lot of the load off the processor, but it only works (afaik) with Matrox and NVIDIA cards.

This is possible. I have an MGA G200 at home (which had terrible xine performance), but I haven't gotten around to downloading the drivers from Matrox yet. My colleagues machine (on which xine performs well) is indeed an Nvidia chip with the Nvidia supplied drivers installed.

What I don't understand is why avi-xmms performs so well on my dual PII/450 + MGA G200, yet is unusable on his dual PIII/733 + Nvidia. (Both of us are running Mandrake 7.2, XFree 4.0.1, and Linux 2.4.x) I had assumed that avi-xmms was taking advantage of Matrox's support for the xv extention (which I assumed his driver wasn't supporting), while xine was relying on raw processor power. If that is not the case I am truly baffled...

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
One final followup (none / 0) (#46)
by DontTreadOnMe on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 11:34:51 PM EST

One final followup for the archives:

xine 3.3.6 performance on a dual PII/450 with a Matrox G450 using the beta drivers one can download from Matrox performs as well as it does on my colleagues dual PIII/733 Nvidia setup.

This appears to support your suspicions with respect to the xv extention and xine performance. Why avi-xmms performs so much better on my (much) slower system remains a mystery, however.

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
Success with bttv? (none / 0) (#49)
by safemode on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 02:17:50 AM EST

I think not. I have yet to see any success with bttv cards in linux. On 2.2.x or 2.4.x (especially not 2.4.x). I have been told that latency patches would greatly increase performance dealing with dropped frames but the latency patches make X 4.x unstable. Now I know people in windows 98 that can do full motion captures on a Pii 233 ... now I'm using an Athlon 850 which is tuned to the max performance wise...this is a kernel problem. This is the kind of success i would like to hear about. Anyone can get fullmotion captures from digital media... especially if you can control the source such as from dvd or dvcams and such . I think the real challenge for linux video capturing is the analog route, and so far i've seen nothing but crap. Anyone who can prove me wrong about it... i'd like to know how you did it email to safemode@voicenet.com

Huh? Not Promise-ware (1.00 / 1) (#56)
by JBlaze on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 10:16:20 PM EST

>While affordable DVD-R remains promise-ware from Apple

Although I am very happy to see this done on Linux and am very excited about it, you were not at all truthful when you called Macs doing this promise-ware. Macs have been able to do what you described for over 2 years.

The promise-ware at this point is the end step that you didn't even perform, getting your video on DVD. Apple is shipping a drive that will allow users to create DVDs that can be played in consumer DVD players. Your final product is onto a CD-R which you have been able to do on Macs for years.

I love Free software, but it will not help anything by spreading false truths.

> most ideally, DVD-R.

The fact is Apple is the only company in the world shipping a Prosumer level DV to DVD end-to-end solution.

o contrair (none / 0) (#58)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 11:16:46 AM EST

Nothing I said was in the least bit untrue. I'm sorry if I've offended your religion, but at the present I cannot go and pick up, or otherwise obtain, an Apple G4 with DVD-R drive. From the consumer's point of view it doesn't exist yet ... you can order it, but you can't go pick one up, and according to AppleStore your order won't ship for a couple of months. This is, by any reasonable definition, promiseware.

The fact is Apple is the only company in the world shipping a Prosumer level DV to DVD end-to-end solution.

Except ... they aren't shipping anything yet! That is the entire point of the brief aside in my comments which seems to have offended you so disproportionately.

I tried to buy one of these, only to discover a shipping date of 7-10 weeks! Furthing digging and research revealed that the high end G4 chips aren't even being manufactured in quantity yet (or weren't at the time the article was written). I opted out of the privelege of charging $5k to my credit card in the hopes of receiving some hardware 3 months 2.5 months later, assuming no production glitches (which, history shows, is not a safe assumption).

At the time this was written, G4's with DVD-R were only a promise, not a shipping product. Until that changes, it is promiseware, nothing more.

Pre-announcing something months ahead of time as though it is shipping today, and accepting orders as though it is shipping today with an easy-to-overlook note that "oh, by the way, you probably won't get this for a couple of months" is at best "promiseware." Be glad I didn't choose another term for it ... my entire effort to buy the product and then to ferret out the facts that the CPUs weren't even in mass production yet left an ugly taste in my mouth. Disingenuous marketing is about the most polite way to characterize it.

It's an exciting product (despite some ugly limitations, like only an hour capacity on a DVD, that the marketing literature doesn't mention), but until I as a mere mortal can get my hands on one it remains a hypothetical.

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
File Sizes (none / 0) (#59)
by BlackDragon on Tue Feb 20, 2001 at 09:11:27 AM EST

I am trying to size a server/workstation to do video capture/editing/saving.

For that Star Trek Next Generation episode how big/many were the DV files, AVI and AVI2 files, and Divx files that were produced.

I have read estimates for the DV files as much as 4 Gigabytes per 2 minutes.

File Sizes (none / 0) (#60)
by DontTreadOnMe on Tue Feb 20, 2001 at 10:55:42 AM EST

4 GB for two minutes is what you might get if you're doing analog captures with no compression. If you are using firewire, for analog captures to a compressed format, the filesizes will be much smaller. In my case, I use firewire via a Sony Media converter:

I record Babylon 5 Episodes every night (not sure where the Voyager CD is at the moment).

STEP 1 - Capture to DV-2 AVI format: 15 files of 854 MB each (plus a small 16th file of ~10MB as I do not Ctrl-C until the next segment starts, to insure the final, 15th clip, is not corrupted somehow): 12.8 GB

STEP 2 - Render edited files to high quality MJPEG AVI format: 3 files totalling between 2.5 GB (cropped, 16:9) and 4.5 GB (uncropped 4:3)

STEP 3 - Final render as DivX: This depends on the quality setting you use, and is the same regardless of cropping or resolution in step 2. For 42 Minute episodes of B5 I use a setting of -b 9000 for avi2divx, which yields filesizes of 630MB (which easilly fit on a single CD and look very good on the screen).

Hope this helps!

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
oops (none / 0) (#61)
by DontTreadOnMe on Tue Feb 20, 2001 at 01:39:17 PM EST

If you are using firewire, for analog captures to a compressed format, the filesizes will be much smaller.

This is what I get for posting before the first cup of coffee. The above should read:

If you are using firewire, OR analog captures to a compressed format, the filesizes will be much smaller. Firewire is of course a digital signal, so capturing firewire is a digital (in the case of dv-1 or dv2, compressed) capture.

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
File Size summary (none / 0) (#62)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 08:58:27 AM EST

From last night's B5 capture:

Initial dv2 grabs from firewire: ~12 GB (60 minutes with commercials)
cropped MJPEG avis: 2.6 GB (42 minutes sans commercials)
DivX avi (-b 9000 quality): 630 MB
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
Linux Box as Digital VCR: A success Story | 63 comments (58 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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