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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After exhaustive experimenting, I've finally found a system that cranks out nice quality, with good speed, and minimal setup time!!

The following is just my results, in plain english. I'm writing this because this is the type of thing I've been looking for, and now I've experimented enough that I can answer my own questions. Hopefully, this will save lots of you guys lots of time.


I understand that everyone is going to want to chime in with their personal method, which is fine, but keep the flaming and format smack-talking to a minimum.


Here's the simple version:

1. ReplayTV harvests the shows.

2. DVArchive pulls them to my computer.

3. Vidomi converts to Xvid.

4. VirtualDub fillets the show (takes out the commercials).

5. Burn to DVD-R (six hours of video per disc).

6. Watch on TV through a LiteOn LVD-2001 DVD Player.


Here's the more in-depth version:

Steps 1 and 2 are assumed. If you haven't used DVArchive, please look elsewhere for a better explanation than I can give.


3. I use Vidomi because it's fast, high quality, uses profiles, and can batch encode using multiple computers over a network.


I've been experimenting heavily with an evaluation copy of Dr.Divx v1.0.2p (with Divx Pro 5.05), and just wasn't happy with the encoding time or results. Don't bother flaming, I went through a VERY exhaustive process where I encoded the same video file about 60 times, methodically changing the variables every time. I even asked the guy who wrote Dr.Divx, and tried it with his settings. I think Dr.Divx has great promise, but still needs lots of work.


I've been very loyal to Divx for a few years now, but Vidomi is optimized for Xvid, so I gave it a try. Wow!!! Seriously, it kicks the hell out of Divx in side-by-side comparisons. (sorry, DXN) Oh, and Vidomi automatically installs the Xvid codec.


I've found that Vidomi churns out really great results using mostly its default settings. I encode using two-pass Xvid and let it auto-crop and resize to 640x480. My rule of thumb is set it to 475megs per 30min of video (330-350megs after extracting commercials). This puts 6 hours of really great quality video on a DVD-R. I figure that's enough for two football games, ~14 episodes of South Park, or ~7 episodes of Maximum Exposure. Vidomi remembers your last settings, so just make up a profile for a 30min show, a 60min show, and a 2hr show, and then it's drag-and-drop. Oh, and I get about 16fps on an Athlon 1800, 7fps on a P3-800, etc...


Plus, the network batch encoding is seriously cool, and can cut down dramatically on encode times (for multiple videos). Watch out for the sound bug. If your sound sounds like it's underwater, search on the Vidomi forum for "bubbly", and it'll give you a fix.


4. Once the show is done encoding, I use VirtualDub, on Direct Stream for Audio and Video, to cut out commercials. (You can cut them out in Vidomi before they even encode, but it often crashes Vidomi. Better to just drop in the files in batch, and fillet them later.) This process is fast, super-precise, and is manual, so you won't miss anything. The trick is to use Shift-arrow keys, which skips from key frame to key frame. Set your start point, and Shift-> to skim through the show until you see a commercial. Then go back until you see a solid black frame. Set that as your end point, and save the file. Repeat as needed (about 4 clips per 30min.). Now, "Open" the first clip and "Append" the others, one-at-a-time, and save the whole thing. That's it! It takes me about 3 minutes to fillet a 30min show.


5. Burn or store as you see fit. I use a CD-RW to test them on my LiteOn player, but it never seems to have issues. It can even FF and Rewind Xvids in one minute increments, just like Divx.


I don't claim that these are the best settings ever, and the replies that are sure to follow will tell you they're not, but the above instructions give me suprisingly good video quality, decent speed and drag-and-drop ease of use.


Happy encoding!


-AmoebaMan


P.S. Constructive criticism/advice is always welcome.
 

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Sounds cool. I have also been less than impressed with Dr. DivX (mainly due to the fact that the batch mode crashes on me) so I've been looking at other options. I'll have to try Vidomi out. I only wish the "distributed encoding" had a Linux slave client available so I could take advantage of the extra horsepower on my Linux box. I was actually trying to get a Linux-only encoding solution together, but audio/video sync issues have kept that from being a workable solution. Maybe Vidomi is the next best thing for me.
 

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Thanks for sharing Ameobaman.


Couldn't you save time by 'fillet'ing the shows with womble (quite fast) before doing the encode. Thereby cutting out 1/3 of the workload the encoder must do?


Whats the file extension of the resultant xvid files?


Please explain how you author the DVDs.

Do these mpg4 files work with authoring packages to allow you to create menus etc... and does it package 'em with the .VOB & .IFO crappola for burning with a burning app? Or is it more like a DVD-ROM with a file / folder analogy. I'd assume the later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
gweempose,

I adore my LVD-2001! It definitely has its faults: I often have to reboot it during lockups, it skips on some divx3.11 files, and sometimes just seems to be following its own plan, but.. For $150, this thing does more and plays more different types of files than any player out there. And, it can be made region-free with a remote code. And the Xvid files I'm churning out really look identical to the broadcast about 97% of the time (only slightly blocky during high-action) when played through the LiteOn player. I highly recommend it.


tonycpsu,

Agreed... it looks like Vidomi has basically been abandoned, but its creator keeps saying that a linux slave would be "pretty easy" to make.


Slack,

You're right, I've heard nothing but good things about Womble, I just don't have $100+ right now for what would be a single-purpose program (for me).


I think there's an MPEG-friendly version of VirtualDub out there, right? I could always cut the commercials out of the original Replay file that way, like Womble, but free... hmm... Anyone know where I could find one?


Oh, and I make the Xvid files with the .avi extension. Vidomi allows use of just about anything, but my LiteOn player doesn't notice files with .divx or .xvid. It only shows files with .mpg, .avi, .jpg, .gif, and a few others.


For the moment, I'm just throwing all the files onto a DVD-ROM without any frontend. The LiteOn starts up the first file alphabetically, but shows a menu of all of them by file name if you hit stop or menu.


I know I'm relying alot on the life of my LiteOn, but it sounds like even some major companies (Phillips, Toshiba, JVC) are about to release Divx/DVD players. The Apex 600A was the first dvd player to play mp3s, and now nearly all of them do. I think divx/xvid/mpeg-4 support will be common in the next year or two.


-AmoebaMan
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've gotten a few more "bubbly"-sound Xvids, so here's the fix I'm trying:

Quote:
go here and download a new lame encoder to fix the underwater problem...

http://mitiok.free.fr/lame-3.93.1.zip


just copy the lame_enc.dll

to your vidomi directory

then rename lame_enc3.dll

copy then rename lame_enc2.dll

copy then rename lame_enc1.dll

copy and leave it lame_enc.dll


so you should have 4 of the same file with different names... Fixes the underwater perfectly!!!
Supposedly this fixes the problem completely.


-AmoebaMan
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by AmoebaMan
For $150, this thing does more and plays more different types of files than any player out there.....


I know I'm relying alot on the life of my LiteOn...


-AmoebaMan
For slightly more, a modded xbox with XBMP is a pretty neato gadget. Plus the added bonuses of 1) no streaming limit on LAN files, and 2)shoutcast radio.


I'm sure that mpeg4 decoding will be common place on many future DVD players.
 

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Just another very happy new Lite-On LVD-2001 owner! :D


Still quite new, and I haven't upgraded to the current firmware yet, but the thing just WORKS. (Disclamer: I haven't even begun to try all the possible formats this thing will play.)


My main reasons for jumping on it:


1) It plays ANY recordable media you shove in it ... CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW ... and ANY brand, even the cheep stuff. :p


2) You don't need any hacked firmware - the factory stuff has a "secret menu" to allow resetting the region and turning off Macrovision. The last is a godsend for guys like me who have limited video inputs and MUST run thru a VCR. (And, no, I never copy to tape. Just because you COULD break the law dosen't mean you DO break the law.)


Oh-oh.

Lunch is over - gotta go.


PS Got it at Newegg for $150
http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproduc...ion=LVD%2D2001
 

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I actually did just that, with a modded Xbox and XBMP.


Took a two-hour long movie, used Vidomi (because like someone else here mentioned, Dr. Divx and batch mode on my machine were like a cobra and mongoose - wasn't happening), and ended up uploading to the Xbox.


Total encode time was about 1:1 on my Athlon 2000 w/1GB RAM. The quality was great, and the audio seemed OK (but I'm using the latest and greatest LAME).


Now for the question - and bare in mind, it's a *question* - I'm not making a statement, so don't flame me because I'm starting off with the explicit statement that I'm not sure of what I'm saying...


Xvid isn't Divx - is it actually fully compliant MPEG-4? Can I expect these files to play back in an MPEG4 player some time in the future? I worry only about compatibility - that if Xvid were to somehow go defunct, other players wouldn't be able to play on future platforms (meaning near future, not 20 years from now).


This works great for me though - so if someone says they should work just fine with upcoming MPEG4 players, I'll be dancing in the streets (and doing a very poor job of it IMO).


Thanks,

-rj
 

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I didn't even know that newegg had these in stock. I thought PCclub was the only place.


now i'm torn between getting a second replay unit and this.
 

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Great instructions!!
 

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any commercial DVD players out there that do WM9?
 

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If I use Vidomi with the DivX codec installer (available from Vidomi) would I see a performance increase over Dr.DivX or is that a function of the Xvid codec?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks icecow. I just get so frustrated with all the encoding formats/settings, so I try to write what I'd want to read.


If anyone from the Dr.Divx team is reading this, I think the best thing you could do for Dr.Divx, once the bugs are worked out, is have preset profiles for total newbies. Ex. 30min TV show, Movie on 1 CD, Long Movie on 2 CDs, etc... You probably do such exhaustive testing that you know the absolute best settings to use for top quality. So, share the wealth. ;)


Slack: The whole Xbox mods thing intrigues me, I just didn't jump on it because I didn't realize it was so far along. Might have to look into that.


Arklab: Amen. You should update your firmware though... mine didn't play divx3.11 and wouldn't do the FF/Rewind at all until I flashed it. Not that 1-minute increments are stellar, but it's something. And apparently, LiteOn has regular FF/Rewind figured out and is working on it.


RJ28: I think Xvid is fully MPEG-4 compliant, but I'm not certain...


Frogster, I know it will do subtitles, but I haven't used this feature yet. Look here for instructions:
Vidomi Subtitle Instructions


Thanks for the praise icecow and whirly! I enjoy the subjective debates on AVSForum and planning out ReplayTV's future as much as the next guy, but sometimes I just wanna encode my video and get the best possible results without much futzing.


I'm having increasing issues with the Vidomi underwater sound bug. I tried the instructions I put a few posts back, where I downloaded the newest LAME codec, but it only fixed the left channel (no idea why), and left the right channel still "bubbly".


Here's the latest thing I tried:
Vidomi audio bug update


It seemed to work flawlessly on a small test video, but I won't know for a few hours if it really solves the problem.


-AmoebaMan
 

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Thanks for all the info Amoebaman,


my personal choice for avi conversion is gordianknot. i haven't used vidomi for ages. however, i have yet to do a conversion from a replay file yet.
 

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Cool story behind Gordian knot (what the converter was named after)


"One day, according to ancient Greek legend, a poor peasant called Gordius arrived with his wife in a public square of Phrygia in an ox cart. As chance would have it, so the legend continues, an oracle had previously informed the populace that their future king would come into town riding in a wagon. Seeing Gordius, therefore, the people made him king. In gratitude, Gordius dedicated his ox cart to Zeus, tying it up with a highly intricate knot - - the Gordian knot. Another oracle -- or maybe the same one, the legend is not specific, but oracles are plentiful in Greek mythology -- foretold that the person who untied the knot would rule all of Asia.


The problem of untying the Gordian knot resisted all attempted solutions until the year 333 B.C., when Alexander the Great -- not known for his lack of ambition when it came to ruling Asia -- cut through it with a sword."


Here's the link I got this excerpt from:
http://www.maa.org/devlin/devlin_9_01.html


Here's how a gordian knot looks to a power computer user:
http://scott.littlemeanfish.com/blog...es/000482.html
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by AmoebaMan
After exhaustive experimenting, I've finally found a system that cranks out nice quality, with good speed, and minimal setup time!!...

3. Vidomi converts to Xvid....
this is really easy and helpful, but i ran into a problem. i converted a 1/2-hour show just fine. then i tried a 4-hour show and Vidomi keeps crashing. i've tried Xvid 1-pass and 2-pass (getting around 60-80 fps) and it always crashes, usually after 50-95% complete. (i'm using WinXP with NTFS.)


the input is 3.2GB and i asked for output to fit one CD (649MB). i realize that's tremendous compression, but Vidomi doesn't do any initial complaining as it goes thru it's size-estimate scan. are there some settings i could tweak (i'm a bit lost on all the possibilities)? or is this amount of compression just never gonna happen?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Greenlantern, no idea what the problem is, but compression isn't it. You can compress anything down to anything... it'll just look worse than if you give it move space.


Here's the latest update in my quest:

I've installed the Vidomi update, and it DOES fix the underwater audio bug, but seems to completely screw up the network encoding. Ugh!


The good news is, I've gotten in the habit of just lining up lots of files, that I know will take whichever box a few days to process, but this definitely is not optimal.


Plus, Vidomi is now more unstable than before, and often crashes when I'm putting encoding jobs in the queue. (I've started saving frequently while loading the jobs.)


But, it still churns out much better video than anything else I've seen.


Having said that, Divx Networks is sending out coupons for $20 off Dr.Divx, taking the price to $29.99. Even with my great success with Vidomi, and Dr.Divx's bugs, I'll probably buy a copy...


-AmoebaMan
 
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