Newsletter #144 - April 7, 2006
DVDate... by Paul Glagla

Opening WindowWhen you use entry level video apps such as Movie Maker, you often, or at least sometimes, want to do a specialized task with another tool. One of them is displaying the date and time info from a DV-AVI file on the video itself. DVDate is a tool that does it... and more. 
If you use your camcorder like I do, its clock is often out of sync with local time... due to traveling to other time zones, or making adjustments for daylight savings time. For me, it's not just big trips to Europe or the west coast; a day trip to Chicago puts me an hour off.

A forum post pointed me to Paul Glagla's website and DVDate. While there, I noticed a few other interesting tools to explore.
Who is Paul Glagla? Here's some info from his site...
I downloaded some of his other tools also, and started to look at them...
DVDateI was tempted, but refrained from expanding this newsletter to include the other apps... I'd rather do one in more depth than a bunch in a shallow way.
Here's the link to the DVdate download page... Paul's site not only has the download link, but a pretty comprehensive set of usage instructions and help info which I won't duplicate it here. I'll pick and choose some of DVDate's features to explore.
Overall, his apps look and feel good, and the documentation is thorough and reads well. Of the 5 apps I downloaded and checked:
They seem to be pretty lean and effective... reminding me of VirtualDub.
But DVDate is like any software... I've gotten requests for info about how to embed the date/time info... it might not be intuitive to use Convert > Inlay from the menu when you're ready to do the embedding. I've been asked to the point of adding the screen shot at the right to my website, and beyond that to do this newsletter.
I emailed Paul to tell him I was doing this issue, and I'd be sending him a copy... he sent a positive and quick reply... refreshingly unusual.
Before getting into it, here are...
... a few notes...


Vista Corner
Strange but true... Movie Maker v2.6 was released on 4/6/07 for users of Vista whose Movie Maker v6.0 apps won't work. I added the download link to my Vista > Movie Maker > Intro page.
'Codec packs' are a hot topic...
I'm neutral on codecs... I don't like installing packages from third parties. I'll install one codec at a time, when I know what it is, where it's from, and why I need it.
There are posters on both sides, saying they resolved their issues by removing one pack and installing the other. Users need 3rd party codecs, and with a new computer coming at a time when there are so many different codecs needed, it's easy to try to make life easy by turning to a package. Hopefully, they will do more good than harm. 
Sticky Note While the issue is on the bookstands: Making Movies with Vista! the six page article is in the Spring 2007 Special Edition of MaximumPC, on bookstands now to May 29, 2007. Starting on page 78... the article covers the movie making process from camcorder tape to viewing it on a standard video DVD.
.... back to the main topic...

Paul's website is pretty thorough. I'll go over some of the features of DVDate, looking at it from the perspective of a Movie Maker user.
Convert DV-AVI type 1 to 2, or vice versa
Conversions in either direction worked fine. Movie Maker 2 saves as type 1, but type 2 is needed by some software such as Pinnacle Studio.

Convert a non-DV file  into a DV file (Pal or NTSC)
Assuming this means avi files as inputs, it still didn't work for me.

Convert a DV file from Pal to NTSC, or vice versa
Conversions worked fine in both directions.

Inlay Datecode or Timecode into the Frames of a DV File
This is the main purpose of the app. It works well, but not without a couple unwanted side effects. First note the icon or key to use to toggle the displayed date/time code on or off in the preview monitor.
Touch the preview screen to position the 'inlay' date/time... or use the horizontal and vertical sliders. You can select any place on the window.
Any time there's a video in the monitor, press the space bar to play or pause it.
Use the menu > Convert > Inlay to kick off the process of copying the original to a new DV-AVI file with the date/time inlaid. It'll start the copying as soon as you exit the menu choice.
Use the menu > ? > Settings > Formats tab > Inlay lines 1 and 2 to get to the settings. Make a note of what the settings are before you change them, as they are 'sticky' by default, with changes stored in the computer's registry... even a fresh download of the app won't get the default settings back. The app includes a feature to erase the registry entries, but even that doesn't put the settings back to what they started with in the app. Maybe I didn't try hard enough.
If you liked the original settings but lost them, use the ? > Settings > Formats tab and do some tweaking or learning...
URL EmbedI tried to get cute and use the date/time inlay feature to embed my URL... it almost worked... but when it reached the 'h' in my URL, it must have taken it to be the signal to show the hour.
Don't forget to change a time shift setting back to zero or it'll effect each of your processed files when you don't want it to.

Ripping the Audio from a DV file to WAV
The feature works well. It's an easy way to get the sound track over to Audacity for some audio 'fixing'.

Making a Time Shift
I have a DV tape of our visit to the Hearst Castle in California a few weeks ago... my camcorder time was 3 hours shifted from Pacific time... give or take another hour for daylight savings time.
Use the menu > Convert > Fix a time difference to set the time adjustment... it'll start copying to the new file as soon as you select OK. The new file automatically includes a file name suffix indicating the time shift, a handy feature to help you stay organized.
DVDate took 22 minutes to copy the full 1 hour 13 GB file to a new one with the adjusted time.
Time Shift
See the note in the time difference window above... about it never replacing the true datecode found in the frames. The shift is for displaying on the video only.
It automatically creates the adjusted file in the same folder as the original.
Date-Time in MM2Here at the left, I'm in Movie Maker looking at two copies of a video clip... the clips at the left unadjusted and those on the right adjusted by 3 hours. 
See how Movie Maker uses the same date/time code for both, illustrating DVDate not changing the info in the file itself.

DVDate effectively did what it was supposed to... shifted the time, and displayed it on the video, but with a couple unwanted side effects.
  • The widescreen tag in the below original DV-AVI file wasn't copied into the new DV-AVI file, resulting in the new file playing at standard 4:3 in both Windows Medial Player 11 and the player in DVDate.
The new file with the displayed shifted date code doesn't carry the original timecode data.... if it does, Movie Maker can't use it. This picture shows Movie Maker auto-splitting a file into 7 sub-clips from the original, but attempts to auto-split the newly created one with the overlaid time/date data didn't work.
Time Shift + Inlay
If you've already imported and subdivided the original file, you should be able to replace it with the new file, and let Movie Maker continue to use the current breakdown.

Scenes File
Note the .scn file that's with the 146_DV.avi file.
File List
It's a 'scenes' file, a list of scenes with embedded thumbnails. It was created by Paul's DVCassette app when I used it for the camcorder capture.
The conversion by DVDate to adjust the time didn't automatically make a new scenes file for it, but it's in sync with the other app in that it has a feature to make a new one, which works in DVCassette.
Use the menu > Scenes > Create a Scenes file... it took 8 minutes to make.

Multimedia Player
DVdate includes an embedded multimedia player which can read the video (full screen if you want) and let you easily browse it.
That's why the scenes file comes into play in DVDate. Use the F8 and F9 keys to step forward or backward one scene at a time... a handy feature.
Some info from Paul's site: The player shows the datecode and timecode of the frame being viewed. DVdate also displays complete information about the AVI file. Like the utility Gspot, it indicates the codec, the image size, the number of frames per second, the duration of the video etc..., when dealing with DV files, it adds the type I or II and the TV standard Pal or NTSC and the aspect ratio 4x3 or 16x9. It features also a function to display the RIFF header of an avi file, like riffwalk.exe from Microsoft used to do.
Using the F8 and F9 keys to browse through a full one hour DV file one scene at a time is really great!! More about the scenes files and DVCassette in another newsletter someday.

Playlist - Batch Processing
DVDate can load lots of avi files into its "playlist", and process them individually or as a batch. Using the CTRL+F7 keys will even load all avi files on all your hard drives into the playlist.
Adding all the AVI files on my laptop's c drive resulted in 271 files in the playlist. I started to preview some of them. I got only a few files into the list when I got this error about 'a must have' encountering a problem. That's a new phrase for me.... I don't know what a 'must have' is.
MustHave Error
Divx Faulting WMPThe video file happened to be a Divx encoded one. I tried it in WMP and it crashed that too. The event viewer didn't have an entry for the 'must have' crash in DVDate, but it had one for WMP.... shown at the right.
GSpot said the file had problems... I considered it a bad file rather than an issue with DVDate.

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
Paul's suite of video utilities has a number of really useful features. Even with the quirks I ran into, I suggest getting a set.
I'll be adding links to each of them, and to this newsletter, on my site's Setup MM2 in XP > Other Software page . 
Have a great week and enjoy your video work...