web friendly video codec choice? How to get there from ATI's mpeg2/4?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Todd H., Nov 21, 2005.

  1. Todd H.

    Todd H. Guest

    A buddy of mine was recently featured on a short clip on a national TV
    show. With my ATI TV Wonder VE tv tuner card, I captured the show and
    have the .vcr file which plays in ATI Multimedia Center's file player.
    ATI MMC has export options only to "mpeg2" and "mpeg4." One option
    produces a .mpg, the other a .avi. Unfortunately, I have tried both
    mpeg2 and mpeg4 exports, and while they played back fine on the
    machine with the ATI drivers/programs/codecs on it, Windows Media
    Player could not play back the video on my other machine, a very up to
    date win2k box.

    What I'd like to do is downsample the quality to a lower resolution
    (to minimize file size--file is 100mb right now) and encode with a
    codec that's in wide distribution so I can post it on a web page and
    share the video with friends.

    I do have access to Gentoo Linux with a bunch of command line video
    toys on it including transcode, mplayer, and the like (not that I know
    how to use them just yet), but I'm not sure what the low hanging fruit
    of video codecs is. I want to encode with something that a stock
    Windows user will have or would be auto downloaded on demand.

    Anyone tackled this issue or point me to good resources on this
    problem? As common an issue as I would think it is, I've thus far
    been unsuccessful in googling up a good FAQ on it. TIA for any advice
    or pointers!

    Best Regards,
    Todd H., Nov 21, 2005
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  2. Todd H.

    Lenard Guest

    This problem has nothing to do with Linux, this is a Microsoft Windows
    problem which can be solved by visiting;

    Lenard, Nov 21, 2005
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  3. Todd H.

    Lenard Guest

    Both avi and mpg formats you mention below are very cross platform
    compatible. Microsoft choose not to support these formats with their media
    player in favor of the formats they want the world to use. This is what got
    them in trouble in Europe and what is currently causing an uproar in
    Massachusetts over ODF.
    The Quicktime player for Windows, can be downloaded and added to the CD by
    you. FYI: since you made mention of mplayer, did you know you can download
    and also add the mplayer for Windows on the CD;


    If you have the codecs available (installed) change this to wmv/wma


    Lenard, Nov 21, 2005
  4. Todd H.

    Todd H. Guest

    Actuallly the question has quite a bit to do with Linux. :)
    transcode specifically. If you read on to see the inquiry regarding
    transcode under Gentoo as a possible tool for conversion the source
    mpegs or avi's into something that is more cross-platform friendly.

    I appreciate your attempt to help nonetheless.

    mplayer under Gentoo plays these files ATI Multimedia exported,
    however, the default media player for Windows (Windows Media Player)
    does not. I'm hoping to avoid having people need to download
    Quicktime player (which many don't have) if I can transcode the files
    into something that WMP groks by default. I'm just not sure what that
    might be.

    If others have experience on using transcode to increase the
    cross-platform friendliness of a given video file, I'd still welcome
    the input!

    The two potential source files I have are .avi's and .mpgs Mplayer
    detects them nicely as shown below, if it helps in guiding conversion


    Cache fill: 0.00% (0 bytes) AVI file format detected.
    VIDEO: [DIVX] 480x240 24bpp 29.970 fps 5483.2 kbps (669.3 kbyte/s)
    Opening audio decoder: [mp3lib] MPEG layer-2, layer-3
    AUDIO: 44100 Hz, 2 ch, s16le, 128.0 kbit/9.07% (ratio: 16000->176400)
    Selected audio codec: [mp3] afm:mp3lib (mp3lib MPEG layer-2, layer-3)


    Cache fill: 0.00% (0 bytes) MPEG-PS file format detected.
    VIDEO: MPEG2 480x240 (aspect 2) 29.970 fps 9600.0 kbps (1200.0 kbyte/s)
    Opening audio decoder: [mp3lib] MPEG layer-2, layer-3
    AUDIO: 44100 Hz, 2 ch, s16le, 224.0 kbit/15.87% (ratio: 28000->176400)
    Selected audio codec: [mp3] afm:mp3lib (mp3lib MPEG layer-2, layer-3)

    Best Regards,
    Todd H., Nov 21, 2005
  5. Great, so install Linux problem solved.
    Michael Heiming, Nov 21, 2005
  6. Todd H.

    Todd H. Guest

    Indeed. What's troubling is there are video formats that Microsoft's
    media player plays quite happily within the AVI and MPG file format.
    Just not with codec's (DivX MPEG-4, and ATI MPEG-2) the silly ATI
    program exported the file.

    What I'm attempting to unravel without much success just yet is a)
    what codec would work that every leming windows user including my
    buddy's grandma might already have installed, and b) what Linux tools
    can be leveraged to convert what I have to the that encoding.
    That's good to know, and I appreciate the info. However, the goal
    here is for distribution via a web page rather than a CD (as in "here
    grandma, click this link in the email--it should work for you). So
    the problem, as I've constrained it is for conversion of a given
    avi/mpg into a file format with a video codec that is cross-platform
    friendly and, most importantly, installed by default in windows media

    I'd have to think a free tool in Linux is up to the task of converting
    the non-friendly crap that came from ATI Multimedia center into a
    format that is readable by default on the lowest common denominator.
    Unfortunately I just haven't found the linux video guru who knows how
    to get it done just yet.
    Which would be groovy.

    But--is transcode the right tool for such a conversion? And if so,
    I'm trying to hunt down the resources to unravel a command line that
    would achieve it.

    Thanks again for the time and insight into this.

    Best Regards,
    Todd H., Nov 22, 2005
  7. Todd H.

    Todd H. Guest

    Howdy all,

    Here's the flow that ended up working, offered for net.posterity:

    1) export the .vcr file from ATI multimedia Center to mpeg4. This
    creates a DivX MPEG-4 Version 4 encoded .AVI file. The file
    started life as a 94MB AVI file exported from an ATI's .vcr file
    that used "good" video quality for recording TV shows with their
    digital VCR.

    2) Under Linux, I used avisplit, a free Linux command line tool, to
    trim out the portion of the show I wanted using time code markers.
    E.g. to grab only from 14s to the 2min 50 sec portion of
    my_file.avi, I did:

    $ avisplit -i my_file.avi -c -o out.avi -t 00:00:14-00:02:50

    out.avi was down to a still bulky 64MB.

    3) Back on the Windows box that had ATI Multimedia center on it
    (required because of the goofy codec used for the .AVI file), I
    downloaded and installed Windows Media Encoder, a free tool from

    In Windows Media Encoder, I invoked the quick start wizard for
    "Convert a File", when it asked how i wanted to distribute it, I
    chose "Web server (progressive download)." On the next screen, I
    chose "VHS video quality (CBR)" output file suitable for web
    (progressive download). Some minutes later, I had a 4.5MB .wmv
    file that still looked pretty darned good.

    The resulting .wmv file seems to play fine for the Windows Media
    Player crowd without requiring a codec download. A buddy tried it on
    his Mac (which has Windows Media Player installed on it--who knew
    Microsoft even made a version for Mac??) and it played fine. I could
    not, however get it to play with any of the Linux file players which
    was a bit of a bummer, but the "grandma" element has been served and
    he's got the video clip up on his website.

    Thanks to all who offered useful suggestions! You'd think ATI
    could've made this a little friggin simpler in the codec realm. But
    then again, most of their software seems to suck mightily so that it
    even worked at all should have me giving thanks I suppose.

    Best Regards,
    Todd H., Nov 22, 2005
  8. Todd H.

    RS Guest

    MPG1 is pretty cross platform friendly. Its not exactly a 'quality'
    standard, but most everyone will be able to play it and you will get
    few. "The link didn't work for me" emails.
    RS, Nov 22, 2005
  9. Todd H.

    kalev- Guest

    I'd agree with that.

    What I didn't see in the thread though...was that for simply mpg2 to work on
    a PC: all you need is a mpg2/DVD codec, which may not be too high of a
    requirement? PowerDVD SE, WinDVD or Nvidia DVD codec for example. Often
    one of these apps are bundled with PC's....just a thought. Mpg2 is
    patented, licensed and a fee has to be payed for. This is one reason you
    can't play mpg2 with a "plain PC".

    Correct me if I'm wrong.
    kalev-, Nov 23, 2005
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