MediaCoder: a Trimmed-down Version

Discuss about generic usage of MediaCoder.

Moderator: HuggiL

meRobs
Expert
Expert
Posts: 3116
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:45 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

MediaCoder: a Trimmed-down Version

Postby meRobs » Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:13 pm

20 Mar 2014 [Updated 28 Apr 2014]

The Full Edition of MediaCoder is probably the most powerful video/audio converter in existence. When it began some years ago, it could convert to and from many formats and, since then, numerous features and functions have been added, the most recent being Segmental Video Encoding (SVE) and the implementation of the new H.265/HEVC format.

The increased functionality and power has been at what cost? Size! And the lack of a stable (bug-free) version, mainly because of its complexity! The Full Edition has grown considerably in size over the years as more features have been added and developed. For example over the last 5 years, from build 4399 to build 5600, its footprint (size of installed folder) has increased by a factor of 5 – from 47 MB to 232 MB.

Yet, even the early builds performed most common conversion tasks with ease. Furthermore, there are specialised Editions of MediaCoder with reduced functionality (and size) by design.

So, I wonder: are there users who would like a trimmed down version of MediaCoder? And live quite happily without the recently added functions?

Conclusion: The alternative encoders, mentioned in section 4, don’t compare well with MediaCoder. For my purposes, MediaCoder build 5150 of the Full Edition is a great choice with the PMP Edition being a close second (gave a poor result for an ISO, an uncommon conversion). They both have a similarly small footprint and worked very well – see the relevant sections. Once Presets are created, the PMP Edition seems nicer to use – in the Simple Mode it has no Tabs yet has a convenient Monitor window to view source files and see the transcode in progress. On the other hand, the 5150 Full Edition may be better for those who wish to retain the look they are familiar with and have access to more options.

Remember, that if you use an early build of MediaCoder, such as 5150, above, you will be repeatedly reminded to update to the most recent build. To avoid this use Presets created from the Starter Preset described in the Guide on Presets, at: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8131.

Of course, the more recent Full builds of MediaCoder with more features would be even better. Their only disadvantage would be their larger footprint, which, of course, would be no problem for modern PCs with large HDDs.

The Options

Ever since I resigned as an official Moderator of this Forum, at the end of 2013, I have ceased doing serious testing (no Test Reports under Tips & Guides) and no experiments as a means of helping other users. I now find that most, if not all, of my uses of MediaCoder are confined to conversions to MP4 and MKV and some to audio only. In other words, to formats that support chapters, to formats that suit iOS devices (iPhone etc), editing in Adobe Premiere (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=11959) and those suitable for YouTube (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=12508).

So, the aim here is to find versions of MediaCoder whose features have been limited, but still able to work well on common conversion tasks, and as a result have a small footprint. There are some editions that have limited features by design – those intended for specialised tasks – and those older builds that are limited by not having the recently added functions.

Of the nine Editions mentioned at http://www.mediacoderhq.com/editions.html , the Full, the VOD and the Premium editions have been described elsewhere (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=12453 ) and the Audio edition is not relevant here. Also, some of these editions are too limited to handle the above tasks, such as the Handsets, the iPhone/iPad and the Sony PSP editions. So, for me, that leaves: the PMP edition and the Web Video edition.

Also, if we look at the early Full Builds, we must exclude builds prior to Build 5140 since they depended on XULrunner, which causes a clash with recent builds of Firefox. So, I chose to look at build 5150 of the Full Edition, which not only has a small footprint (a 84 MB folder) but tested out well in the Test Report (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=10383 ).

So, we have three possibilities. I also added Section 4 for comparison and interest.
1: the PMP (Personal Media Player) edition
2: the Web Video edition
3: build 5150 of the Full Edition.
4: Alternative Encoders

The Tests

Apart from checking out the functionality of each MediaCoder Edition and the Alternative Encoders, I examined how well they did the following conversions.
(1) conversion of four VOB files to MP4 to suit editing in Adobe Premiere (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=11959 ). Two were in NTSC and two in PAL, with one each in 4:3 and one each in 16:9. They were all to be converted for use on the same PAL timeline (height = 576 pixels).
(2) to check the ability for direct conversion of DVD material to MP4, as above, I tried an ISO image file and a VTS_01_0.IFO (from a VIDEO_TS DVD folder).
(3) a variety of web-downloaded files (mostly FLV) in a variety of resolutions, aspect ratios and frame rates were to be batch-converted to suit a PAL timeline using Keep DAR and Expand to Fit, or the equivalent.

1. PMP Edition

Build 5292 (built Oct 2012) of the PMP Edition is the most recent version available, since its development has been discontinued. It has an installed folder of 81 MB, only about 40% of the Full Editions of a similar vintage. Presumably, it is a trimmed down version of the Full build 5292, which passed all but one of the tests (second part of Add Track B) described in the Test Report (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=12306).

Once opened in the default Interface Mode (Options > User Interface Mode > Simple Mode), the GUI has three panels (see image at: http://www.mediacoderhq.com/device/mpx.htm, with PMP download link below). The uppermost is the usual Queue panel for the list of source files, beside a Properties pane, and across the bottom of the GUI is the usual info panel. However, unique to the PMP Edition, is a large Central Panel that allows the user to choose from a limited number of conversion Formats, has six buttons to access Effects, Crop, Subtitle, etc and includes a 87x49 mm player (Monitor window). The latter has a Play button and a scrubber for examining any chosen source file – very useful. It also serves as the preview when transcoding, provided ‘Framed’ is checked on the Preview Tab (Normal Mode – see below).

On switching from the Simple Mode for the GUI to the Normal Mode, an extra panel appears with all the usual Tabs as found in the Full Edition. As a result the Normal Mode has a reduced area for the Queue panel. Fortunately, the Normal Mode, which displays all the Tabs, is mainly of use when setting up Presets and, once done, can be closed.

So, the user has two methods available: (1) the use of limited options offered on the Central Panel, which may suit many users, and (2) the use of Presets created via the Tabs in the Normal Mode – these allow a larger range of values (bitrates, formats, etc) and Codecs, although, some may not be present in the installed folder. After all, the size of the folder for the PMP Edition is less than half that of the Full Edition, of the same vintage, so, there must be some missing utilities. For example, the audio EXEs for ALAC and FAAC are not present, nor are the multiplexers MKVmerge and TSmuxer. Moreover, the Task Mode ‘Demux’ is not included, so, MKVextract is also missing. In my case, I wanted to be able to convert to MKV, so, I simply copied over the MKVmerge EXE from build 5392 of the Full Edition to the Tools folder for the PMP Edition and all was well!

To switch between operation via the options on the Central Panel to operation via Presets, File > Revert All Settings should be used. This action has the effect of changing all Tab values to reflect the settings on the Central Panel. Thus, once done, the conversions will produce output that suits the settings on the Central Panel. On the other hand, when a Preset is loaded, it overwrites the tabs to reflect the values in the Preset without changing the values displayed on the Central Panel. To revert to the Central-Panel values: click on Revert All Settings again.

All the conversion tests listed above were successful via Presets, except that the ISO image file (NTSC in 16:9) failed to convert properly to PAL – the result was 720x480 at 25 fps!

2. Web Video Edition

For this study I chose build 5392 of the Web Video Edition, which has an installed folder of 148 MB, 70% of the Full Edition and roughly twice that of the PMP Edition (above). I chose this build since the best of the recent versions of the Full Edition for most conversion tasks seems to be build 5392 (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=12306). More recent builds would work no better for these purposes yet be much larger in size.

Like the PMP Edition it offers operation by Presets and operation via direct choice from the GUI. For the latter function, it has a Side-Panel with a limited choice in Formats, etc.

Unfortunately, I could not get successful outcomes for some of the tests, using either the Side Panel or Presets. For example, when trying to convert to PAL at 720x576 and 25 fps with Keep DAR, an NTSC source file in 720x480 and 4:3 gave the output as 640x480 (PAR=1) and 4:3, whereas, an NTSC source in 16:9 gave 854x480 (PAR=1) and 16:9. The Web Video Edition often had a mind of its own and couldn’t be relied on.

3. Full Edition build 5150

As mentioned above, build 5150 of the Full Edition is the earliest and, thus, smallest, build that would work well. Once installed as a portable it had an 86 MB folder, much the same size as the PMP Edition, above. This build was downloaded from: http://www.videohelp.com/tools/MediaCoder/old-versions .

Since it is a Full Edition, it was immediately user-friendly – as it looked like other Full builds I was familiar with. And, it was completely successful. It performed all conversion that I threw at it, not only those suggested above, but many others.

4. Alternatve Encoders

When I first mounted this Guide, mixer suggested (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=13058 ) that I try Handbrake, since it has the limitations that suit this survey of mine – it converts only to MP4 and MKV. He also suggested I have a look at ShanaEncoder and its predecessor, the Kiara Encoder. The development of Kirara ceased in 2013.

Handbrake: Even though, Handbrake is able to convert to MP4, it failed to perform the above tests, its settings were ambiguous and it wouldn’t batch convert for me. Most importantly, it is unable to give the desired resolutions – it has a mind of its own. For example, a VOB source file in NTSC (720x480 at 16:9) was displayed as a file in 853x480 pixels, and when attempting a conversion to 720x576, the result was a file at 720x486 pixels at 25 fps. In general, HandBrake will not allow the frame Height to be set greater than that of the source file. For more comment, see viewtopic.php?f=17&t=13058.

ShanaEncoder: this PGM cannot output with a PAR (Pixel Aspect Ratio) other than 1 and, for source files in PAL or NTSC, the resolution must be changed for each file to give the correct DAR, such as 768x576 for 4:3 and 1024x576 for 16:9. Nor can it auto-set the frame width to maintain the DAR. This is very inconvenient, especially if batch encoding files with varying resolutions.

Kiara Encoder: On the other hand, Kiara can have Auto Width checked as well as DAR. This will automatically adjust the width to give the required DAR while keeping the frame height as set. For this test, I chose the portable version, the latest being version 9.6 – easily obtained in March 2014 from a Google search. Its standalone folder was 65 MB.

Kiara Encoder uses FFmpeg as the encoder, even to H.264, and outputs to many formats, including AVI in Xvid or Huffyuv, etc, MP4, MKV and Audio only. There are a number of limitations, however, such as: (1) the audio sample frequency cannot be set – in my tests, the output had audio at 44.1 kHz, (2) to set the GOP for smoother scrubbing in Premiere, I entered the command: “-x264opts keyint=20:min-keyint=10” under ‘FFmpeg parameters’ and (3) to get a progressive output for an interlaced source file (VOB say), it is not sufficient to set Interlaced Mode = None under ‘Configuration’. It is also necessary to check YADIF on the De-interlacing tab under Video Filters.

Kiara was successful in all of the above tests except for the conversions of an ISO image file and the IFO. The properties of the ISO file (NTSC at 16:9) were not read correctly and so the resultant conversion to PAL was a file in 768x576 (PAR=1) at 4:3. However, when examined in the Premiere monitor at 400x, the visible micro-blocks appeared to be pixels clumped together in blocks of 2x2 rather than as single pixels, as seen for MediaCoder. Also, the VTS_01_0.IFO failed to load!
Have you checked out the Tips & Guides for MediaCoder? Try: http://forum.mediacoderhq.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8061
Also, get older builds at: http://www.videohelp.com/tools/MediaCoder/old-versions#download
meRobs
Expert
Expert
Posts: 3116
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:45 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: MediaCoder: a Trimmed-down Version

Postby meRobs » Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:49 am

I have re-checked the above tests and can confirm the findings.

This topic has been added to the Tips & Guides list (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8061).
Have you checked out the Tips & Guides for MediaCoder? Try: http://forum.mediacoderhq.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8061
Also, get older builds at: http://www.videohelp.com/tools/MediaCoder/old-versions#download
meRobs
Expert
Expert
Posts: 3116
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:45 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: MediaCoder: a Trimmed-down Version

Postby meRobs » Mon Apr 28, 2014 10:48 am

Because of suggestions by mixer (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=13058 ) I have expanded the above Guide to include results and comparisons with Handbrake, ShanaEncoder and Kiara.

Also, I have added a suggestion to avoid repeated reminders to update if an early (smaller) build of MediaCoder is to be used.
Have you checked out the Tips & Guides for MediaCoder? Try: http://forum.mediacoderhq.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8061
Also, get older builds at: http://www.videohelp.com/tools/MediaCoder/old-versions#download

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests