Newsletter #119 - Oct 7, 2006
With new file types and codecs being developed regularly,
conversion utilities are needed more and more. And when forum
posts over a 6 month period by those you highly respect give accolades to
a conversion utility, it's time to take a serious look. I added
SUPER it to my radar screen in April when I read
a post that said "... The list of file formats this software can convert
between is ENORMOUS....".
I downloaded it in July and read many more posts
since then from many who are recommending it. This
newsletter shares my initial test results with you.
It's easy to download, install and use. Here's
an online video showing how....
It installed and opened easily, and it almost
worked OK for my initial test,
ripping a Chuck Bentley VOB file from his 'An English
Mystery' DVD to something that would work in a Movie Maker project.
I'd done it before with other software and methods, so I knew it could
work. But it didn't make it in one easy step with SUPER.
After a few unsuccessful fumbling attempts before reading any
instructions, I was able to get it to produce a Divx encoded file that
played well in Movie Maker's timeline.
eRightSoft's website includes a
forum with pretty good traffic... but two attempts to
register were unsuccessful. It seemed to accept my user name and
password, but I didn't get a confirmatory email, and attempts to log
in didn't work.
I submitted a question via their online support process, which said they
would respond within 24 hours... nope, not even
an automated response about getting to it someday.
The experience is typical of things you run into when trying a
new conversion app... especially free ones that claim to the Swiss Army
Knife for file conversions. Somewhere between the marketing publicity and our
unskilled attempts at usage lies a middle ground of what we can do with such an
app. Let's take a look.
... before getting into it
further, a couple notes...
2007 MVP Award.. got an email saying I was given
the award, this one being my 5th. More and more over time, Movie Maker and
Photo Story are my career.
Vista Corner... just received a Vista
Release Candidate 1 (RC1) 3 disc set. A 32 bit installation disc, a 64 bit
one, and an evaluation and resource disc.
external hard drive went out?? maybe... it's a 180 GB
drive purchased as an internal drive and mounted it in an external
enclosure. It puttered out this week when connecting to a computer... the
best I can do with it now is see it in the XP management tools, with a note that
it's empty and isn't formatted.
I'll pull it from the case, hoping the case is the problem and not the
drive... and try it as a second drive inside a computer.
post-vacation Europe 301 website is off and running... I
folded up my latest attempt at blogging. The blog was going to be my vacation
planning and results area, but I'm not good about adding frequent
enough posts for it to be of interest. I pointed those checking it to
my website Living Projects > Europe 301 page.
Video captured from the vacation footage showed less than
normal audio quality when using WinDV. I recaptured the
footage using MM2 and the audio was normal. So I've switched back to Movie
Maker for my routine captures, at least for now.
.... back to the main
Here's the download
link... while on the site, note the long list of
things that can be converted.
One of the supported input file
types is VOB, the video file of a DVD. I selected one from Chuck
Bentley's "An English Mystery". You need to copy the file from the DVD to
the hard drive before using it as an input file in SUPER.
Dragging and dropping it into the
list of things to convert was easy and quick.
VOB file to an AVI using the
compression codec the website refers to as "Unique Advanced H.264 profile
& level selection. Not available in any other software."
The encoding went well... in addition
to seeing the progress info, I watched the file grow in size in the SUPER\OutPut
folder. The snapshot at the right shows it early in the rendering, when the AVI
file was just 16 MB in size.
I checked CPU and memory
usage as it rendered... and was impressed seeing the
computer using only 50% of my dual CPU energy, and a reasonable amount of
When the rendering finished, the AVI file
was a bit more than 1-1/2 GB, about 50% bigger than the VOB file I started with.
For a high quality AVI file, that's a reasonable size. This video file, one
of a few on the disc, is about 30 minutes.
The AVI file played fine in Windows Media
Player... showing pixel dimensions of 704x480... the same as
the input VOB.
Things were looking good as I imported the
AVI file into Movie Maker and it previewed fine in the collection, and then on
the timeline. I could split the file on the timeline, add transitions... the
That's as far as it got, which was
Attempts to render a movie from it showed
the estimated number of minutes remaining going up about 5
minutes every second I let it continue trying. The rendering itself
never kicked into first gear.
is one of the key utilities I use to
check AVI files...
The file passed the GSpot test, but the
MS Test resulted in a crash with the message at the right...
I then tried opening it in VirtualDub...
... where it also struck out.
That ended my first test.
The website says you can convert
SUPER obviously did well
handling the input VOB file, and rendering the AVI file. But
from Movie Maker and VirtualDub perspectives, the AVI file wouldn't work
because of the codec it was compressed with. A good playable video file isn't
necessarily a good usable file for editing.
I changed the output video compression codec
to MS-MPEG4-V1 and tried again.
It rendered to a file of 392 MB in size, but
wouldn't open in WMP or play in VirtualDub. GSpot said it was an MPEG-2
It imported into Movie Maker, but trying to
preview it in the collection gave an 'Unspecified Error'.
On to another test.
For an AVI output, you have the choices of
codecs shown at the left (for either the ffmpeg or mencoder choices).
The ffmpeg2theora and producer choices are
for ogg output containers, not AVI or WMV.
The WMV output type didn't work for me... it says 'still
experimental' and doesn't include WMV9 choices... after trying WMV7 and 8
choices, there was no output file and it would say 'ERROR'.
I picked the Divx
codec from the list, even though I knew I'd want to convert it again
to something else before using in a project. I still don't trust Divx encoded
files in Movie Maker.
Again the rendering went fine, and this time
the AVI file looked and sounded great in WMP.
The Divx encoded file imported into
Movie Maker, went to the timeline, and rendered to a WMV file for
further use in MM2 projects... a good point to stop and think about what
Time to Read the
Manual... and other info
What was I missing? What are the
instructions that came with it? I assume that, somewhere between the marketing
material and my first unsuccessful attempts lies some reasonable
Here's an assortment
of quotes from documentation with SUPER and the eRightSoft
website/forum, when forum answers were from moderators...
As SUPER is a simple GUI, the
quality of the rendered files or the played files DOES NOT depend on
SUPER. The speed, rendered quality or the variety of the
codec selection are the result of the great work achieved by the respective
authors of ffmpeg , mencoder , mplayer , x264 , ffmpeg2theora , MusePack (mpc)
, libavcodec library & the theora/vorbis RealProducer's
Any file type that you can play with
WindowsMediaPlayer is supported by DirectShow.
Any file supported by
DirectShow can be encoded with SUPER(C) with the "Use DirectShow"
therefore, if you can play this ".dvr-ms" file with WMP, chances
are very high to be
able to encode it with SUPER(C) (into any format of
As for the DirectShow, using it leads to a
faster encoding, if it doesn't work, simply un-check it.
depends on your PC installed filters, thus it differs a lot from one PC to
Q - Why is it that when I convert any
file to the AVI format, the movie plays very quickly. Is it because of the
frames per second or the bitrate configuration? My input file is alright,
because I can play it at a normal speed.
A - You are playing the AVI with your
WMP which is using a DirectShow driver installed
on your PC unable to
correctly synchronize the video frame with the audio sampling rate.
same file would play normally with SUPER(C). Select 44100 Hz as Audio
sampling rate (instead of 22050 Hz) this makes your WMP
SUPER c (Simplified Universal Player
Encoder & Renderer) is nothing more than a trivial graphic user interface
to the famous line command encoders:
mplayer, x264, ffmpeg2theora, the libavcodec library and the
theora/vorbis RealProducer plugIn.
Some additional .dll files may be
required in your system directory in order to play or convert all the
MicroSoftWindowsMovieMaker is NOT
supported to be rendered by SUPER. However, now that you
installed SUPER, and AviSynth is enabled,
Copy and paste the above 4 lines in a txt file, name
as you could tell, it is an AVS
script, rename the file Vts_01_1.vob in the script to match the real name of
the VOB file(s) you need to edit.
Open it with virtualdub and edit your VOB file without any
conversion/encoding and without anu quality loss!
The Direct Show
SUPER has an option to use Direct Show. The
tool-tip reads kind of interesting.
Turning it on, opting for a WMV file with WMV8
compression... results in the same error as without the option.
As it says, the WMV option is experimental.
Toggling the DirectShow option on and
off doesn't change the list of compression options.
Conclusions and Closing
SUPER provides the compression codec choices shown at the
left when rendering an AVI file, ones generally not compatible
with Movie Maker 2 running on my Windows XP laptop.
My other utilities offer
different choices. For example, the list at the right
shows those currently available to VirtualDubMod. Many of them
are files that work in Movie Maker.
My usual choices are absent in
SUPER... including the WMV9 and Panasonic DV codec ones that I
use so often... and others such as Cinepak that I sometimes
For my needs, SUPER
might be the first part of a 2 step conversion process, as I
used it here to successfully rip a DVD VOB file into Movie Maker
2, or for conversions not related to getting files into a
The DVD test file was
from Chuck Bentley's "An English Mystery", which
starts with a great opening title sequence. I selected it to be able
to publish something inspirational to forum uses
Viewers are giving it rave
reviews. Here's a link to the
forum thread with the link to the
opening, and comments to date.
Or click the picture to see the 2
minute intro directly... there's about 10 seconds of playing before it starts,
so be patient.
Have a great week...