PapaJohn Productions

Newsletter #22 - Oct 9, 2004

Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2

 
This article is translated to Serbo-Croatian language by Anja Skrba.


 
About: Rad Video Tools
 
Newsletter #13 began coverage of selected utilities used with Movie Maker to do specialized tasks. It covered IrfanView and newsletters since have focused on Paint, Virtual Dub, and TMPGEnc. Here's another in that series, this one about Rad Video Tools.
 
A key reason to use this utility is to bridge the gap from the world of Apple computers and their QuickTime video files that won't play in WMP or import into Movie Maker. You can use Rad Video Tools to convert MOV files into AVI files you can work with. 
 
And it's not just Apple computers. Many digital still cameras can record video clips as QuickTime files with MOV extensions.
 
Here's the main working window of Rad Video Tools. You can see that .mov is one of the file types listed. This utility handles them well. We'll take an overall look at it, and then do a conversion from .mov to .avi in the mini-tutorial.
 
RAD Video Tools - Main Menu
 
Main Menu
 
Before getting into it more, a few notes about things going on...
 

 
Notices
 
 I enjoy preparing these weekly newsletters and put more into their preparation than I first envisioned, to the extent that I'm spending time writing them that perhaps should be going into my next book.
 
They've been very well received and the subscriber list keeps growing, as does my administrative efforts to maintain it. I need an appropriate way to balance future efforts, and after lots of thinking decided to: 
 
Effective immediately, I will no longer be accepting new free subscribers.
 
Not everyone wants or needs the latest issue as it's released, and many simply subscribe because it's free. Issue #26 will mark the half-year anniversary of the publication and the end of the free subscription issues. There will now be an annual subscription fee of $20. But older issues will continue to be archived for free online viewing.
 
Here are the new terms:
As this issue goes out, I'm revising the main page of my website to provide a link to purchase new or continued subscriptions...
 
Issue #27 and beyond will be sent only to paid regular and professional courtesy subscribers.
 
Thank you for your ongoing interest, feedback and support.
 

 
A reader of last week's newsletter made this good point about editing the audio track of a video: "It's a far sight easier, quicker, and uses less disk space, to record the audio to a WAV file and equalize it using an audio editing program such as Cool Edit Pro. The whole process takes less than a minute, and I do it this way all the time and it's a far sight easier than your overly tedious method. Perhaps you should try it in future and find out just how much better and easier it is."
 
I haven't tried it and maybe I will... there's only one note in my database about it, going back to an 8/23/02 post that reads:
 

"Yesterday I downloaded a demo of cool edit. I like what I see, but the demo is only for a short time.  You all talk about Cool Edit a lot.... but do you all have the $300 program???  Is there something like it for a LOT less money (free is good)?"
 
 I'm back preparing newsletters and doing other work on my Toshiba laptop.... but it's like having done a 'super-restore' and going back 1-1/2 years. Lots of software updates to catch up to get it where it was when it went into the repair shop a few weeks ago.
 
I have SP2 on it already so it's up to MM2.1... interesting that only two filters show up in that new option tab page. The InterVideo Audio Decoder is unchecked by default, and the Panasonic DV Video Decoder is checked. The other 40 or so it that I had in my list when it went off for repairs must have been from software I had added.... I'll be watching them come back as I add the software back. 
 
....on to the topic of the week
 

 
Rad Video Tools - the big picture
 
What is it? here's some info from the online help info:
 
The RAD Video Tools are a set of utilities for processing video, animation, and sound data. They feature both of our video codecs: Bink Video, our latest 24-bit true-color codec, and Smacker, our 8-bit 256-color codec.
 
Bink Video is a "better-than-DVD" video codec. That is, it compresses better than DVD at up to three times the playback speed! Bink is a hybrid block-transform and wavelet codec that can encode your video using 16 different compression techniques (wavelet, DCT, motion compensation, a variety of vector quantizers, Smacker-style, and more). With all of these techniques in one codec, Bink can handle pretty much any type of video. It also has a psycho-acoustic based audio codec that is capable of 8 to 1 perceptually lossless compression, so your audio will sound as good as your video looks!
 
Smacker is our 256-color compressor for video and animation. It is used in all aspects of multimedia application design: cinematics, cut-scenes, video-sprites, transparent videos, single-image decompression, scrolling video backgrounds, and more. Smacker has been used in over 2,600 games because it's fast, it's easy-to-license, it has a terrific SDK, and its video quality is unrivaled in 256 color mode.
 
the free download is at: http://www.radgametools.com/smkdown.htm
 
Here's the main menu with a file selected to work with.
 
 Menu Choices
 
MenuWithFileSelected
 
File name: Select the file you want to work with. If you just want to play a file, select it and click the "Play" button. It'll play a version 9 WMV file or a type I DV-AVI file by opening it in the Windows Media Player. It'll play an MOV file if you have the Quick Time Player installed. And it has built in players for Bink and Smacker files.
 
Files of type: By default, RAD Video Tools will display all media files, but you can use this pulldown to change the file selection list. Version 9 WMV files can be selected.
 
The main menu choices are started with the buttons at the bottom of the window:
 
Bink it: Compress your movie with the true-color Bink codec.... it won't bink a WMV file or a type I DV-AVI file.... convert the DV-AVI to type II first and it'll work fine.... cancelling the rendering part way through will result in a partial file that seems to play OK.
 
Smack it: Compress your video file using the Smacker codec.... it won't smack a WMV file or a type I DV-AVI file..... convert to type II and it works fine. Unlike Bink, cancelling the rendering before it's finished will result in the partial file being deleted.
 
Advanced play: Customize settings to use for playback of the video. Advanced play options are available only for Bink and Smacker files. If you've highlighted a Bink file, then the Bink Advanced play screen will open. Similarly, if you highlight a Smacker file, and hit the "Advanced Play" button, then the Smacker Advanced play window, which is a little different, will open.
 
Mix in sound: The Bink or Smacker audio mixer only opens with a Bink or Smacker file. You only need to use the audio mixer when you want to replace or add another audio track to a video file. Normally, you won't have to utilize this feature, because the compressors will automatically compress the audio track of an AVI or QuickTime file in with the video frames.
 
Convert a file: The RAD converter can convert almost any type of file to another type. For example, you can convert a bunch of BMPs into an AVI, GIFs into JPEGs, Smackers into flics, QuickTimes into AVIs, wave files into different sample rates, 24-bit images into 8-bit images, etc.
 
Analyze file: A visual representation of a Bink or Smacker file's data rate. Here it's showing info about the sample Bink file I'll be using in the mini-tutorial.
 
RAD Video Analysis Tool  
 
Analyze File 
 
List files: You can create a list file by clicking this button. A list file is a text file that contains a list of other file names that you want to be treated as one big file. This allows you to compress multiple input files into one output file.
 
Batch: Use the batch editor to create a list of tasks that can be run unattended.
 
File info: About the highlighted media file.
 
System info: Displays some information about your computer.
 
Help: Opens the online Help page.
 
FAQs: Opens the online Frequently Asked Questions page.
 

 
Mini-Tutorial: Converting an MOV File to AVI
 
Let's do one exercise with the utility, the main reason for this issue, converting a QuickTime MOV file to AVI.
 
I copied an MOV file from another computer, named it 'NewsletterSample' and selected it in the main menu. Then I pressed the 'Convert a file' button.
 
Sample MOV File Selected
 
 
The output file window pops up, lets you select the output file type, and choose a number of settings.
 
I'll just make sure that both video and audio steams are selected, and not fill in any of the settings. I'll accept the default settings and tell it to make the output file an AVI. From there I pressed the 'Convert' button to move on.
 
Output File Settings
 
Convert MOV to AVI
 
When I first tried the conversion button, I got an error message. I hadn't yet installed the QuickTime player on my Toshiba laptop, so it didn't have the needed QuickTime decompression codec. Here's the link I used to get it:
 
http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/
 
The last time I downloaded it and iTunes, they were different downloads. Today they are bundled together.... after installing the package I tried pressing the Convert button again.
 
This time it worked, giving me a drop down list of choices for the compression codec. I didn't see the WMV9 option that I usually pick (guess I need to install the full Windows Media codec package to have the additional optiongs). I then picked the Microsoft MPEG-4 codec, which also didn't work.
 
Choose Codec for the AVI File Conversion
 
Compression Option
 
After trying a few more, I found a codec that worked - Microsoft Video 1.
 
A Conversion Done with the Microsoft Video 1 Codec
 
Conversion Done
 
To check the new AVI file, I imported it into Movie Maker 2.1 and previewed it in the collection.
 
Converted File in MM2.1 Collection 
 
Converted MOV in MM2
 
It was fine, looking and sounding the same as the original MOV, and now ready to use in a project.... this finishes the exercise.
 

 
Some additional comments about Rad Video Tools:
 
 When and why would you Bink or Smack a file?...
 
After Binking or Smacking a video you can use the Advanced Play options with it... one of which is to Make EXE, a self contained viewable package, a video file wrapped in a Bink or Smack player as an executable file. Send it to someone running Windows 95 and they won't need a newer version of the Windows Media Player or anything else. I put a copy of a Smacker exe online for you to check.... see below.
 
 Can you Bink or Smack a WMV file from Movie Maker? How About a Photo Story?
 
No, it gives an error message. You would need to save it as a DV-AVI file (type II) and then use that to Bink or Smack. It's easy enough to do by opening the WMV in MM1 and saving it as a DV-AVI file.
 
 What are the relative file sizes of DV-AVI, WMV, Bink, and Smack files? And how long does it take to render? 
 
I made a 10 second DV-AVI file type II in MM1, using some footage from a nice sunset a couple weeks ago. The 10 second DV-AVI clip was 38+ MB. From it I made these:
A high quality (NTSC) WMV file in MM2 - 2 MB - less than a minute to render
A Bink file - 4 MB - 23 minutes to render
A Smack file (256 colors) - 2.8 MB - 9 minutes to render
Once you have the Bink or Smack file, turning it into a self-contained executable takes only a split second, and the file size is only slightly larger than the video file without the player.
 
The Bink and Smack files looked and sounded fine....
 
I put copies of two files online for you to check and compare:
 
(1) the 2.0 MB high quality WMV: www.papajohn.org/PapaJohn/Newsletters/22-Sunset-10Seconds-HighQuality.wmv
 
(2) the 2.9 MB Smacker self-contained executable: www.papajohn.org/PapaJohn/Newsletters/22-Sunset-10Seconds-TypeII-Smack.exe
 
If you have a Unix, Mac, Windows NT, Windows 95, etc. computer to test the Smacker file on, I'd appreciate feedback on how well it works on them.
 
 If you can convert an MOV file to AVI, can you use it to convert an AVI file to MOV?
 
No... the MOV file type is not listed in the drop down list of output file choices when doing a conversion. If you had a QuickTime encoder on your system, maybe the choice would be included.
 
 Are there any other interesting things you can do with Rad Video Tools?
 
It provides an option to get still pictures from a video file. BMP and 6 other still picture types are listed as conversion output file types. I selected BMP with the 10 second sunset clip in it and ended up with 300 pictures at 720x480 pixels, one from each frame. You can specify a range of frames from ___ to ___ if you prefer.
 
And you can do the flip side, taking a series of still pictures and convert them into a video or animation file.... selecting the first frame of a numbered series and pressing the button to convert the file results in this message popping up:
 
Anamation Frame
 
I said Yes and it worked fine, rendering an AVI from the still pictures... with no audio of course.
 

 
That's as far as this tutorial goes. Some closing remarks
 
Closing
 
This is the first project I did with my repaired Toshiba laptop.... having it back with bare bones minimal software helped me appreciate the need for the codec from the QuickTime Player.
 
When a computer is well outfitted, you often don't know what is needed to do something.... when it just works fine. You could easily assume that RAD Video Tools has the MOV decomprssion codec included in it.... which is why I'm now wondering if it can convert an AVI to an MOV if the compression codec was already installed. I'll have to check it again after I reinstall Premiere.
 

Have a great week...
 
PapaJohn