One of the things that really
makes me nuts when I use technology is when I spend more time learning the tool
than actually doing what I wanted to do in the first place. Obviously, that
means that I rarely ever get the real task done. Instead, I'm always half-way
done and out of patience. And, this being the first edition of TechTrax for the
new year, it seemed appropriate to write something for the large number of
subscribers who received Mini-DV video recorders during the holidays. So we're
going to discuss another wonderful product from the folks at Pegasys . In the October 2003 issue of
TechTrax, I described their TMPGEnc
DVD authoring tool. The grand-daddy of the TMPGEnc DVD is TMPGEnc Plus, a
beautiful little MPG Encoding program with both a free and commercial version.
If you're one of the lucky folk to get your hands on one of these little
video camera miracles, you're gonna love it for everything from the size of the
media to the size and features of the camera. That wonderful feeling will last
all the way up to the time you decide you want to make a DVD from your film.
Then you'll probably walk away from that experience with a secret you won't care
to admit - the software for the job is expensive, unreliable, slow and despite
all your hard work, it will be next week before your production is converted to
a DVD stream and ready to burn to disk.
There are a couple things you should know about moving the video from your
tapes to DVD media. First, it almost doesn't matter what you use for capture
software. The use of IEEE 1394 (FireWire) technology makes camera detection and
capture by your PC almost effortless.
The next thing to know is that the capture software is going to create an AVI
file but, by default, it will be AVI Type 1. The only software package I've seen
that can reliably capture as AVI Type 2 is NeroVision Express. The reason you
may care about this is that many MPEG encoders will only work reliably with AVI
Type 2. Type 2 produces a higher quality file that is native to Windows and
separates the audio to an additional data stream. It also produces an AVI header
to the stream. Type 1 creates a smaller file and does not include these
The final big consideration is that when you produce a DVD, any input images
and video will have to be encoded to MPEG before the DVD file system can be
produced. It's this part of the entire production process that can cause all you
efforts to be spoiled as not all encoders are created equal. Image artifacts,
inefficient encoding algorithms, etc., can make all the features of your
production tool seem useless and you only discover the fact 15 hours into the
I've greatly simplified by video editing experience by first changing my
goals. One thing I know above all else is that no matter what I finally do in
editing video, the one thing I'm going to be using over and over is an MPEG
encoded stream in the end. So, after capturing the video to the PC, the next
thing I do is the MPEG encoding and that's where we start using TMPEnc Plus.
You just know the folks at Pegasys were thinking about us home video users
when they built this tool. Amongst the things it can is batch encoding of files.
Simply select the files you want to encode and turn it loose. The next feature
they built just for us is the Project Wizard. When TMPGEnc Plus first starts,
it's the Project Wizard which greets you first. The default values are even the
ones you're most likely to use. Let's take a look!
To start, we've captured a little video stream of a mother practicing her
job. If you've ever wondered how mothers can face the funniest situations and
delivered that required stern look without cracking a smile, this video shows
how they train.
Start TMPEnc Plus and start your way through the wizard. There aren't that
many steps to the wizard so you'll be able to turn your attention to other
matters very soon. Click Next
Don't let this screen confuse you, all you need to do is Browse to
the AVI file you captured. The Audio File field will fill in automatically once
you've done so.
So go ahead and browse to your file...
...Click OK or check to not display this message again and then click
...Take a look at these values before moving on. The settings you see here
are typical for NTSC output. You might want to make a note of these in case
there is more advanced work you might want to do to the video later. When you're
satisfied, click Next...
...Check the output file name and change it if you prefer. Click
And the process begins!
When the job is complete, you'll have an MPEG encoded video file ready for
inclusion in your next video project!