Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

MPlayer rules

I've been using MPlayer quite extensively since I built my digital satellite receiver two years ago. I use MPlayer to play AVI/MPEG/MPEG2/OGM video files and I use MEncoder to actually create such files from MPEG2 broadcasted shows.

These command-line tools that are both great and free software. Tools are based on standard video codecs and there is even support for commercial codecs (provided you get their dll files). I've used MPlayer on Windows, Linux and OSX without any problem.

If you are a perfectionist a great deal of fine tuning of codecs parameters is possible. If you are "good enough" guy (as I am) you'll be pleased with default behavior most of the time (both in terms of computing speed and output quality).

MPlayer is a program to play video/audio files that can also dump audio to a file. MEncoder allows you almost any transformation of your multimedia files (video+audio) plus different filtering options and limited stream cutting. My main use is to recompress a recorded show for long term storage and/or for viewing it on a hardware DivX player.

The only thing I've needed to get another software on board is to create dual audio AVIs, as MEncoder allows you to select just one audio stream from input source. Sometimes I want to keep both original and dubbed soundtracks (you know this romantic thing; one of these days I want to learn English). Keeping two AVI files, one with the original soundtrack and another with the dubbed version defeats the purpose of compressing, so once I learned two audio tracks could be packed on an AVI file I started searching for a suitable tool for the task.

VirtualDubMod is a Windows software that allows you do play a lot with the streams contained on AVI and OGM files. You can either extract or add audio streams to an AVI file. This software allows you too a great number of editing operations (I am not using at the moment) and it allows you to append an AVI file to another, which is feature I was not able to get done with MEncoder cleanly.

Today I realized that VirtualDubMod runs over wine (I'm actually using Codeweavers CrossOver Office). It's not working fully as it only allows direct stream copy operations due to lack of support for DirectX on wine, but it is more than good enough for my needs (and I do not need to stop my kids from playing in their Windows box).

Just to stimulate your curiosity: Did you know MEncoder can perform a DVD rip with just a single-line command?

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