PapaJohn Productions

Newsletter #180 - Dec 15, 2007
Are You Ready for GraphEdit?


Over the years I've seen Dean Rowe and other programmers use GraphEdit to take screen shots of the interactions of codecs/filters. It seemed too geekie a tool for me.
It still seems that way... but hey, it can't hurt to open it up and take a peek. At worst, we can always close it for another day. At best, we can start learning about and using a useful utility.
What is GraphEdit?
GraphEdit is a visual tool for building filter graphs (read filters being codecs). With GraphEdit, you can experiment with a filter graph before you write any application code. You can also load a filter graph that your application creates, to verify that your application is building the correct graph. If you develop a custom filter, GraphEdit provides a quick way to test it: Simply load a graph with your custom filter and try running the graph. If you are new to DirectShow, GraphEdit is a good way to become familiar with filter graphs and the DirectShow architecture.
That's from one of the Microsoft web pages in this Simulating Graph Building with GraphEdit... and kind of says it's a programming tool.
Where do you get it?
That website section says it's a utility that comes with DirectShow. Instead of getting it from the large DirectShow download, I found it on this page at Digital Digest. Scroll down to the link to the file... 431 KB.
I'll limit this issue to setting it up and taking a peek at what it shows us. Here's a couple notes before getting into it further.
a couple notes...

My 6 session KPBX radio series about Movie Maker with Frank Delaney is coming to the final segment on Wednesday. The weekly series started Nov 14th... scroll down to the links on Frank's Raw Bytes page...
Raw Bytes Computer News
I'll be putting together some final comments for the series. Being broadcast on radio, the subject of video editing is addressed on a very surfacy level... the opposite extreme of a newsletter about GraphEdit.
My Chicago Summer Fun video ended up in 4th place in the Microsoft Virtual Earth contest. Scroll down this link to see a Dec 10th entry listing the final vote count is:
Scroll to the bottom of the page to see that there were... looks like 5 entries. 

How To... Setup the How To Recording Stagethe 'Stage' for How To Screen Capture Sessions
I want to show you my evolving setup for the How To capture session background 'stage'.... you might want to do something similar with Camtasia or the Encoder capture wizard. Use this How To link to see the 2 minute video.
Here's the stage as it's being moved into the capture area. The stage is the full working window of Paint.NET with a 'canvas' size of 884x500 pixels, 10 extra on each side over the 864x480 size of a widescreen video.  I have a second .pdn file that looks the same but is 660x500 pixels for a standard 4:3 stage.
The black rectangle on my HP laptop desktop shows the capture area I'm using for Camtasia Studio. I'll turn on Camtasia first, start the capture session so the 4 corners of the capture area start flashing, then move the Paint.NET window into position. You can see it happening in the How To video.

Back Stage

Paint.NET supports working with 'layers'... like Photoshop... one of my layers has the How To logo on it. Another has the NASA night picture of earth. If you have a dozen background layer pictures, it's as easy as unchecking one and checking another to use a different one... even change graphics during a recording session.  

HowTo-Recording Stage
Here's the link to a 3 minute How To... about GraphEdit... showing the main working window of GraphEdit and the filters that are used to play a VOB file from a DVD, and a HighDef Motion JPEG file from a Canon TX1 camcorder.
Some are just informational but others interactive.
The video doesn't show additional features GraphEdit, such as manually inserting filters into the graph to test different scenarios. The available filters come from the info in your system's registry. This newsletter was done on my XP laptop... not my Vista one.
A sample filter that can be adjusted is the Dolby digital AC3 filter. Set the equalizer and tweak audio delay features.
Equalizer Controls
That's enough for this first look.  

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
Maybe GraphEdit isn't listed on my website as I've thought of it as a programmer's tool. It's time to add it, as any utility that can help us understand what's happening in the codecs/filters area can only be good. There are more codecs and conversion apps rolling out every month, and more need to understand what you have when conversions or movie projects don't work successfully.
I don't have aspirations of becoming a programmer, but I enjoy looking over their shoulders as they do their work, and even reading their code. Casually browsing filters with GraphEdit may be as close as I want to get to the complexities of multimedia filters... as I say that I'm well into that book about Digital Video Compression, and it's a whole lot technically deeper than GraphEdit. 
GraphEdit opens doors to lots of details for those who want to explore and learn. Enjoy it if you're inclined!
Have a great week!!