Saturday, August 08, 2009

Proposal for a new tool, requesting your input

I've been using transcode 360 to stream movies to my extenders for a while now. For the most part it works pretty good. But here lately my girlfriend says the last 4 movies she watched on the extender just stopped around 20 minutes before the movie was over.

So I've been considering eliminating t360 and converting my movies to an extender supported format, like .mpg or .dvrms. I've been looking at ways to do this. I've also been contemplating the best way to do this.

The first thing I did was make a VB application where you pointed it to your movies root folder. It then looked through all the subfolders and built a list of all your movies. It only looks at VTS_01_01.vob and higher. VTS_01_00.vob is ignored (that's the menu). Also, when I rip I only take the movie, none of the other stuff is included. I also only take one audio track. So once the app built a list of your movies, you then selected a movie to process and first it ran copy /b on the .vob files in order to concatenate the files into one file. Next, I used mencoder to re-index the movies and output a single .mpg file. It worked ok, but it was way too time consuming. The concatenation takes a good while, and then the indexing takes a long time.

Next I started looking at just encoding them. I looked at Windows Media Encoder, Expression Encoder, mencoder, and ffmpeg. All take a long time.

My goal was to use software that is free. But, a blog reader pointed me to Videoredo. Videoredo does a great job with this, and it is impressively fast.

I've talked with Videoredo about licensing and they have no problem with me making a Media Center tool, or something else that utilizes their program as long as the person owns the program.

Now I am trying to figure out how to do this. Should I try to make is something you do throug Media Center? Like go through and pick and movie and have it joined and output as say a dvrms file? Or how about a program you can point to your movies folder, and it just runs through them movie after movie and converts them? What about the original files? Delete the .vobs or keep them? Or keep them for a while, and then have them deleted? It would really suck if you ran this tool and went to watch a movie only to find out it didn't work, or didn't work right, and your source files were gone. On the other hand, do this to a bunch of movies and your disk space will be wasted if we don't get rid of the original files.

I really don't know what would be the best way to make a tool like this. I could make something that I would want to use, but if I am going to spend the time doing this, I might as well make something that others could use too. And therefore, I'd like to hear what you think. Or, maybe I am reinventing the wheel and you can just point me to something that already does this.

I'm hoping that by doing this, we can watch movies on the extender and not have issues like the movie stopping before it is over. It would also be nice to be able to fast forward and rewind.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I just came across your blog and it's great... lots of really good info that I wish I had months ago, and great tools too.

As for this proposal, I think it's a great idea and personally would suggest just making the questions you've asked (about how people would use it) selectable options, with defaults such as 'Keep Old Content" (vob files, for instnace). I've been looking for a scripted way to parse all of my movie folders and convert to DVR-MS to ensure better playback on Media Center Extenders (I use 5 Linksys DMA 2200's in my home).

Also, want to say that your MCE Login Script tool looks realy great and I will be using it with my Win7 x86 Media Center and WHS. I had trouble before getting permissions right, including being able to see cover art in MyMovies on the extenders. It looks like I can add multiple shares to log in to with the sepecified account, including the hidden share that contains MyMovies cover art... this may fix my problems 100%, finally!

Thanks for the great Blog !

- Jim

toby said...

Hi Jim,
Thank you for your input and kind words.

I did work on this tool, and I still have the code. During the testing I found that issues come up that make full automation a little scary. 1) wrong audio track being used for the .dvr-ms file. 2) Files have to be 'fixed' before they can be used. For example, when you run the QSF in VideoRedo, that's what it is doing, fixing the files. But in script, when I add the files to joiner I sometimes will get an erro because a file needs fixed. So you end up first having to 'fix' the .vobs, then join, then qsf and save as .dvr-ms.

If you are interested I have some scripts other's created that will automatically convert your movie collection. The are available on the MyMovies technical support forum. Just search for videoredo scripts and you will see on thread that is four pages long. There are two sets of scripts the rip_many.vbs set, and the set called merge.vbs. I ended up using the merge.vbs one in my testing (I had better success with it).

Maybe I could through the scripts up here on the blog and give the authors credit.

toby said...

BTW - when you run my ESLT tool, make sure UAC is disabled on your machine, or right click it and 'run as administrator' or else it will not work right.