Archive for February 25th, 2008

I hate software, part 7

So there was this question on that video forum, right? About how to transcode an h.264/AAC MOV file into an h.264.AAC MP4 one without re-encoding so it plays back on the XboX360 and PS3 devices. Owners of such devices that use Vimeo to download videographer’s videos will probably have stumbled into the problem already.

So here are my tested solutions using popular software:

1. Quicktime Pro. Costs $20. You load the MOV file, you make sure that it’s indeed h.264/AAC using the “Show Movie Inspector” window. Then, you export, select “Movie to MPEG-4” and then click “Options”. There, you select the MP4 option, and you select both for video and audio the “passthrough” options from the format drop-down menu. That’s it, in 30 seconds you will be having a PS3/XBoX-compliant video file without re-encoding.

2. Download AvideMux2. It’s free. First, Avidemux2 will ask you if you want to use an alternative algorithm to load this kind of file. If you say “no”, you will get a crash after a while. If you say “yes”, you will get a known audio/video sync issue. So choose your poison. Then select “copy” for both video and audio, MP4 for exporting format and then you save your .mp4 file. The created file is compatible with the PS3 (dunno about XboX360), but Quicktime itself can’t play it back. It seems that Avidemux2 has an MP4 container bug.

3. Download FFmpeg. It’s free. You run the file like this: ffmpeg -i -f mp4 -vcodec copy -acodec copy output.mp4
It creates a compatible MP4 file but B-Frames are all fucked up and so the file stutters on playback.

4. Download Mencoder. It’s free. You run the file like this: mencoder -oac copy -ovc copy -o output.mp4
It says that it’s broken and that it can’t copy AAC audio and that you will need to override this by using the -fafmttag 0x706D option. You add that and you get an MP4 file. Only that this file is broken and it doesn’t work.

So, commercial proprietary solution 1, open source 0. You get what you pay for, obviously. This doesn’t mean that Quicktime is perfect, I still hate its “tick” problem with h.264 MP4 videos and the fact that the MPEG-4 exporting has no de-interlacing option. So in general, you have to use a gazillion utilities that each one does one part of what you need in order to accomplish a seemingly simple task.

In all fairness, the “Transcode” OSS utility might be able to do what we need to do here, but it only runs under Linux, and this takes out 99% of the Vimeo users.

Why I like Wolverine

Wow, a very sexy Hugh Jackman, I don’t even want to think the countless painful hours spent on the gym building that body. Thankfully, the producers let him grow his chest hair back, as he is currently filming the “Wolverine” movie. This is why I like the Wolverine super hero: ’cause he’s a hairy badass. He doesn’t look like a wuss. I don’t like the real-life actors btw (I can’t stand their insecurities — I have enough of my own), I often like the fictitious characters they portray though. Jackman’s wife seems to like Wolverine too, as it is said that sometimes Jackman wears the X-Men costume in their bedroom…

I guess I can ask my (also hairy) JBQ to come to bed with his work costume, covered in printed sheets of C/C++ and Java Android code. 😉

Stage6 to Shut Down on February 28

And so the popular with teenagers Stage6 is going to close. Reason being that it’s “too expensive to run”. Now, leaving aside conspiracy theories that RIAA/MPAA might be lingering to sue them as Stage6 is a pirate’s heaven, truth is, this site IS expensive to run.

The reason why it is expensive to run is because they are not clever about it. Here you have people uploading GBs of video, and Stage6 shows them as is, without a sensible re-encoding. This obviously does not fly well with bandwidth consumption, which is the No1 wallet killer. If they had the brains to do HD the same way Vimeo does it (re-encode the HD stream in a lower bitrate HD in the page, allow an SD version to be embedded only, and allow for download of the original stream), plus re-encode files only if necessary (a formula could be used to decide to either re-encode or not based on the video time vs bitrate and filesize), that would have probably save them millions of dollars in bandwidth by now.

But, they didn’t seem to have the brains, so they are out of the picture, leaving Vimeo being pretty much the only big-enough video sharing site to support HD.


Wow, amazing light work, this video is one of my new favorites! HD version here.

HV20 on steroids

Now, that’s a rig! This geekiness is what made the HV20 so cool.