Last week's newsletter was about a high
definition camcorder, a gadget at the front end of the movie-making
process. In this week's, I'll take a look at a gadget at the
other end of the process, a small... tiny... iriver clix
New gadgets seem to be rolling out of development
stages at in increasing frequency. On first impressions, this one's a
winner.... even more so on second and third impressions. Click the image at the
right for a 2-1/2 minute flick of the clix in action.
Features of the clix include:
playing music files
playing FM radio - with an auto-scan
feature to set local stations
playing video files - AVI files compressed
with the Xvid codec
still pictures - with an option for a slideshow with
recording narrations or FM radio - MP3 format that can then
be copied from the clix to the computer and used in movie or story
isn't a full review of the clix and its features. As usual,
my focus is more narrowly on how to get movies and
stories to it, how well they play there, and how the clix
can help you with your movie and story projects.
the syncing to get files to the clix. It'll automatically convert pictures to
the right size and file type, but it doesn't convert video
files. For those you need to download and use a software
utility named iriviter.
The Xvid format files produced are then copied by WMP to the
clix. It works easily and quickly.
... before getting into it
further, a few notes...
Vista Corner... I got
my DVD burning issue resolved by slowing down the burning speed from
the default of 'fast' to 'slow'. That leaves only the issue of being able to
view 1080i files.
I've been studying chapter 3 of Learning
VirtualDub... the book I co-authored. The chapter is
about capturing video and doing 'pre-processing' enhancement as it
comes into the computer. It might be a better approach than capturing my video
with either MM2 or WinDV, at least for footage that needs more fixing
than I can do with Movie Maker.
Europe 301 branch of
the website got new wallpaper on each of its dozen pages
this week. Take a look at the wallpaper before I cover it all up with
content like text and pictures.
.... back to the main
The iriver clix player
Video files on the clix
need to be in Xvid encoded AVI format... a compression type
we instinctively shy away from in Movie Maker when importing and using videos in
a project. But this is at the other end of the process, viewing
or showing your movies... where the file type only matters for the playing and
No setup is needed... plug it in and
Windows XP or Vista takes care of installing the driver. In a few seconds it's
ready to use.
It comes with an installation disc
that has Windows Media Player 11 on it... my laptop was running v10,
so I used the disc to upgrade it... no luck... it was still v10 after the
install. That's OK, as the clix works with v10 also, and my Vista system
has the latest of WMP to check how the clix works with it.
There's no power supply with the
unit. When it's plugged into the computer via its USB cable, it recharges the
battery from the computer's power... an hour for 1/2 a charge and
about 2-1/2 hours for a fill up.
When plugged into the computer, it
can be synced to manage files on it, or get new ones there. Or it can be
charged. But it can't be used to listen to a radio station or view videos
already on it.
It's a two step process to
get videos to the clix...
Use the iriverter
utility to convert the input files to AVI compressed with
the Xvid codec and aligned with the properties needed for the player... they
are 320x240, 15 fps, about 375 kbps video, 128 kb/s audio
Copy the AVI files to the clix
using Windows Media Player's sync
Both steps are easy and fast... the
ease of the conversions and transfers adds lots to enjoying the
The list of input file types
doesn't include the dvr-ms files for recorded TV shows on an XP MCE
system or the imported high definition camcorder files from last
week's newsletter... but it converted them anyway.
Yes, but the one from Vista didn't
play on the clix... the message was 'the file format is not supported'. The one
captured in XP by Vegas did play.
It converted a VOB file that was
still on a DVD disc... no need to copy it first to the hard drive... but
playback on the clix gave the same error message. The DVD had
been burned on my Vista system... maybe there's something about files made
in Vista resulting in videos not working on the clix.
Most of the conversions are fast and
play fine... each usually much less than a minute
You can opt for a single file conversion, or point to a
folder full of video files.
I did a number of individual ones,
and then pointed to a folder with 134 video files I have on
the website, a mix of movies and stories.
mencoder, the encoder app that runs with it, used a
combined 2/3 of my CPU and a minimal 37 K of memory as they did
I timed the pack of 134 files... 47
minutes to convert them all to a new 642 MB pack of Xvid encoded AVI
WMP in XP then took 4
minutes to copy them all to the clix.
The Syncing Process
with Windows Media Player - in XP
Plug the clix into the computer with the USB cable and the auto pop-up
window includes the option of syncing. It then opens Windows Media Player with
the sync list on one side and the clix folders on the other.
Drag files from Windows Explorer, Total
Commander, or other file managers into the sync list and press the
'Start Sync' button. All that's needed is to copy the files
because they're already the right format.
Here's WMP 10 as it gets ready to copy a
set of 26 vacation still pictures to the clix, all 7 megapixels from the
camera. The process happened so fast it was hard to believe the pictures had
been resized and copied to the clix, but they were. It took much less than
a minute, with all of them reduced in size to be appropriate for viewing on the
small screen... the largest JPG image of 6.03 MB was 31 KB on the
The speed that the video files got
copied was equally impressive, but in this case no conversion is being made as
it was already done by the iriverter utility.
Plugging the clix into my Vista
system was similar... but not as good as WMP 10 in XP.
WMP10 showed all of the video files
on the clix... Vista's WMP showed only 37 of them. The thumbnails
were generic, and the properties for each said they are zero seconds
They all appear in MyComputer on
Vista... and with the nice touch of being able to rename the files directly on
the clix. In XP I have to do any file renaming before syncing them to
To get new video files to the
clix in Vista, you need to use the same iriviter utility for
the conversions before loading them into WMP
All but a handful of the videos on the clix looked and
Three had this file
format not supported message, but the Xvid files played fine
on the XP computer in WMP before syncing.
Using GSpot to look at the 3
files showed no info for the audio track... they play silently in
WMP... the lack of audio, or a corruption of the audio track, seems
somehow to correlate with the message in the clix.
Most of them played well, but a
few had serious audio glitches introduced by the
iriveter app during conversion. The AVI files had the same
problems in WMP on the computer, but the wmv input files played well, so
it's a conversion issue.
All of them played in appropriate shapes
based on pixel dimensions... standard, widescreen,
With such a small screen, 1-3/4" by
1-3/8", the 320x240 pixels are pin points and the pictures look extremely
sharp. If your videos look pixilated on a big screen, put them on a
clix to enhance the viewing experience.