Report on MediaCoder builds up to 4799

Discuss about generic usage of MediaCoder.

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meRobs
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Report on MediaCoder builds up to 4799

Postby meRobs » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:19 pm

[closed 5 Mar 2011]

NOTE: For MediaCoder builds since 4799, see: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=10383.

Ever since I began using Presets, I have been routinely testing the ability of MediaCoder to transcode to various formats. This I do by applying a number of different Presets to a particular VOB file and noting whether it worked and, if so, how long it took to convert. Some of these presets are tabulated in the Encoding guide (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9643).

Of course, as significant changes took place in the way MediaCoder handled and accessed its underlying utilities, I have had to modify the Presets as I went (see viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8521&start=0 ).

As time went on I realised that various features/functions did not work in all builds; and I had trouble remembering which build could do what. So, shortly after build 4700 was released, I included in my routine testing, a check on which functions actually worked. I tested twelve functions in each new build that I chose to install, and the results are given in Section 1. I have included the findings for builds 4399, 4582, 4460 and 4740 since I had them installed on my PC at the time. The five builds were spread over four drives, with 4399 being a Standalone version.

Section 1: Which Functions work in MediaCoder?

Below are indicated whether each of the tested functions Works or Fails for the builds listed. They relate to the x86 (32-bit) Edition and, thus, may not apply to the x64!
In particular, please note that the tests were done under specific conditions using specified file types and Presets. Thus, strictly speaking, they may apply only to these conditions, although I do expect them to apply more generally. They are meant to be indicative only and they may not apply to your special circumstance!

In any case, before these comparative results may be correctly interpreted, they must be read in conjunction with Section 2, below.

.............. Easy ..... Trim .... Copy ..... Auto .... Choose .. Hard .... Audio ..... Add .... Group .. Effects .. Effects .. Encode .. No.
Build ..... Cropper .. (Clip) ... Video .... De-int' ... Audio .. Render .. Delay .... Track ... (join) ...... A ......... B ....... test ... failures

4399 ....... works .... works ... works ...... na ...... works .... fails .... fails ..... F/F/F* .... fails .... works .... fails ...... yes*** ..... 5
4582 ....... works ..... fails .... works .... works .... works .... fails .... fails .... W/W/W .. works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 4
4640 ....... works .... works ... works ..... fails ..... works .... fails .... fails .... W/W/W .. works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 4
4700 ....... works .... works .... fails ..... works .... works .... fails ... works ..... F/F/F ... works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 4
4720 ....... fails** .... fails ..... works .... works .... works .. W/fail .. works .... W/F/F ... works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 5
4730/40 ... fails** .... fails ..... works .... works .... works ... works .. works .... W/F/F ... works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 4
4745 ........ fails ..... fails ..... works .... works .... works ... works ... fails ..... W/F/F ... works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 5
4755 ........ fails ..... fails ..... works .... works .... works ... works .. works .... W/F/F ... works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 4
4762 ....... works .... fails ...... fails ..... works ..... fails .... works .. works .... W/F/F ... works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 5
4770--78 .. works .... fails ..... works .... works ..... fails .... works .. works .... W/F/F ... works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 4
4782/88 ... works .... fails ..... works .... works ..... fails .... works .. works .... W/F/F ... works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 4
4790 ....... works .... fails ..... works .... works ..... fails .... works .. works .... W/F/F ... works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 4
4795 ....... crash .... crash .... works ..... crash ..... fails ..... fails .... fails ..... W/F/F ... fails .... crash .... crash..... crash .......11
4796/97.... works .... fails ..... works .... works .... works ... works .. works .... W/F/F ... works ... works .... fails ...... yes ........ 3
4799 ....... works .... fails ..... works .... works .... works .... fails ... works ..... F/F/F ... works ... works .... fails .... some# ...... 5

* in build 4399 the track could not be selected in Add Track (displayed blank for HDD) and so couldn't be converted, yet, its corresponding IFO could be converted!
However, Add Track did work for an actual DVD disc.
** this failure in the Cropper was due to a failure in MPlayer, so copy over its EXE file from another build into the Codecs folder (link to other builds given below).
*** the settings in the Encoding Guide worked (see end of Section 3, below).
# see Section 2 ('Build 4799') for comment

If your build doesn't support the features you mostly use, uninstall that build and install a build that does.
Earlier builds are available from http://www.videohelp.com/tools/MediaCod ... s#download.
If your aim in getting the earlier build of MediaCoder is merely to replace the EXE file for FFmpeg or MPlayer, etc, in your more recent build, there is no need to install the older build. Simply download it and extract the desired file(s) using a compression utility like 7-Zip (R-click > Open archive, select file and click 'Extract'). For example, extract 'ffmpeg.exe' to a suitable folder, for safe keeping, and copy it to the Codecs sub-folder for MediaCoder. So as not to lose the more recent version of the EXE, first change its name to "ffmpeg_new.exe", for example.

Section 2: More Observations
The Encoding Guide: the Encoding Guide (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9643) was changed at various times: (1)the Bypass 'source', used only for the Xvid format, was no longer available as of build 5010. So, the video source was reverted to MEncoder and, for AVI, the Encoder was changed from FFmpeg to Xvid; and for the MKV container, MPEG4 (or H264) was set as video format. (2) as of build 5026, FFmpeg as video source was no longer compatible with the presence of AAC audio. So, ...
Recent versions of FFmpeg often cause problems, such as that above, the setting of incorrect values of DAR/PAR in MPEG2 and MPEG4/AVI (viewtopic.php?f=28&t=10149) and Error 11 in builds 5025/26 (viewtopic.php?f=28&t=10252 ). These may all be overcome, if desired, by copying over the EXE for FFmpeg from build 4740 (see above).
Copy video and Select Audio: the test for 'Copy video' (and audio) was done with a VOB having only one audio and one video stream (no subtitles). However, if the test had been done with a VOB having more than one audio track, the results may have have differed!
* For example, I tested builds 4640, 4740, 4797 and 5010 with two multi-audio VOB source files, each having the same three audio streams, with one VOB having subtitles and the other none. In all cases, an attempt to copy video with audio encoded, prevented the audio stream from being chosen. For that VOB with subtitle streams, the output audio was always based on the first of its three audio streams (ID 128) and for the VOB without a subtitle stream the resultant audio was from the second (ID 129)! Builds 4399 and 4582 were also tested and, in their case, copy audio always gave the first audio stream regardless of the audio ID chosen and whether subtitles were present or not.
* Also, for both multi-audio VOBs, each attempt to copy an audio stream with the video being encoded, gave an output file with no audio present (in all 6 builds). Builds 4797 and 5010 also gave the Error 11 message and 4582 crashed. Note that Copy Audio seems to work for VOBs with only one video and one audio track
Builds 4770 to 4780: in these builds the setting of Multiplexer to either Auto or Disabled will force the audio encoder to be FFmpeg, regardless of what is set, if the Video encoder is FFmpeg! For example, with Video encoder = FFmpeg and Audio encoder = Nero, the setting of Multiplexer = Auto will result in FFmpeg being used as audio encoder despite Nero being set! This was fixed in build 4782.
Build 4799: two of the seven conversions defined in the (previous) Encoding Guide (see above) failed. The output to MKV had the LC-AAC audio in 4-channel, even though stereo was set, and the conversion to Xvid/AVI gave Error 11. These were rectified in build 5010.
* Then, for build 5025, four of the seven conversions defined in the Encoding Guide failed, three of which gave Error 11.
* Build 5026 failed only for MP4 and MKV (error 11), which initiated changes to the encoding settings (see above). As a result, build 5026 was successful for all conversions.
* Build 5028 then failed for MKV due to changing the “Matroska” string to “MKV”.
* In builds 5050 to 5062, attempts to get AC3 in MPEG2 gave audio that failed to play, yet, it worked for MP2 and MP3. Also, settings audio bit rates of 112 or 144 kbps gave 98 and 128 kbps, respectively, and other values seemed to work.

Section 3: MediaCoder Functions & how I tested them
The functions in MediaCoder that I test (when I feel up to it), how I do it and what constitutes success are described below. Please note, though, that I had to restrict the extent of testing because there are too many perms and coms. If you get a different result with a different combination of parameters, issue a bug report!
When a test required the playing of an encoded output, I used SMplayer, a GUI for MPlayer.

The Easy Cropper (click on the Cropper button on the Picture tab).
The crop function is described in viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8188&start=0 and is considered working if the video can be moved 'under' the defined boundaries in Free Cropping mode and the boundaries may be dragged relative to the video for a different crop area. Usually when the Cropper fails it opens with no video showing (uniform grey).

The Cropper test is routinely done on a VOB file that has only one audio stream and no subtitle streams.
An occasional test with an FLV file gives the same result.
In build 4797, however, this feature failed for a VOB with subtitle streams! So, I checked other builds that were previously reported as having a working Cropper. Builds 4582, 4640 and 4700 worked with or without audio and/or subtitle streams! However, builds 4760, 4770, 4782, 4790 and 4797 failed if a subtitle stream was present! It also failed for a subtitled VOB in 4799 and may do so for future builds as well.

Trim or Clip a video (Clipping & Effects window via the 'Effects' button on the Picture tab or 'Select' from the Time tab).
'Clipping' is used to remove content from the ends of a file, and is described in viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8912&start=0. It should be reasonably easy to set the Mark In and Out points on this window. Whereas, trimming a video with such a tool would be inaccurate, it ought to be usable. The slider should stop on hitting Pause and it should be possible to scrub through the video to find the desired points. The jump buttons (double arrows) should also work (about 12 sec).
It was tested on a VOB file that had one audio stream and no subtitles (in builds 4399, 4640 and 4700, this feature failed with subtitles present). If after a pause, and the slider is dragged to another position, the slider immediately jumps back to its previous position and begins to play, the result will be indicated as “fails”.

Copy the Video stream ('Copy Video' on the Video tab).
Presumably, this function will fail if the video and/or audio streams are not compatible with the output container. For example, it would usually fail for an FLV file converted to MPEG2. Copy Video may be applied with the audio disabled, converted or copied. Similarly, there are three options for Copy Audio. If all combinations were to be tested, especially if I were equally thorough with the other functions, testing would take too long. It would be even more complicated if I considered combining two functions.

Video quality is easily compromised by repeated encoding, whereas, in my opinion, it is easy to re-encode audio without a noticeable loss. Moreover, the saving in time when video is copied is far greater than for audio. Hence, the ability to copy video will be considered as more important; and I will limit myself accordingly. Consequently, the 'Copy Video' function was tested by converting a VOB having just one video and one audio stream, and was considered to be 'working' if (1) both the video and the audio will copy at the same time (very quick since no transcoding takes place) and (2) Video will copy with the audio stream being converted. The test was done using the MPEG2 Preset (see NOTE at the end of Section 3) since this container will accept the streams from a VOB.

Also note that builds were NOT routinely tested with only the audio set to copy (video to be encoded )! See “Copy video and Select Audio” in Section 2.

Auto De-interlacing (set via the Effects button on the Picture tab or opposite on the Effects tab, since ~5010).
'Auto' means that MediaCoder will automatically enable de-interlacing for interlaced source files and disable it for files already progressive. De-interlacing is discussed in section 2 of viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9488&p=28837#p28837. This test is considered a success if the file size for Auto (Linear Blend set), when applying my MPEG2 Preset to an FLV file (progressive), is similar to that obtained when de-interlacing is disabled and both being significantly different from the Enable (Linear Blend) case.

Ability to Choose Audio Stream (select ID on audio tab).
This was tested by applying the MPEG2 Preset (see NOTE at the end of Section 3) to a VOB file having three different audio streams. This feature is considered as 'working' if the selected audio stream appears in the output file when converting both the video and the audio streams of this VOB. I chose to limit myself to this scenario since there are too many possible combinations and I have had to restrict myself. See also “Copy video and Select Audio” in Section 2.

Hard Rendering of a Subtitle -- on the Subtitle tab, choose the default setting for Mode ('Render'), in builds up to 4790, or for Renderer ('Default') in 4795, etc.
For this test, I chose the above VOB with 3 audio streams. It also had 8 subtitle streams. I converted it to MPEG2 with the second audio stream selected and, for the subtitle, I tried with the default ID of 0 (English) and with ID = 2 (French), and, in both cases, with 'Language' left blank, after all, the VOB didn't contain the language data (not shown in MediaInfo), which is usually kept in the VIDEO_TS.IFO file for the DVD. For success in this test, the correct subtitle had to be present on the Preview panel (if open) during transcoding and in the output file. If there is no rendering the test “fails”.

However for (hard) rendering to be considered a successful function, the setting of 'Disable' should avoid rendering. Hence, if subtitles are present when the mode is 'Render' and absent for 'Disable', the rendering function is considered as “working”. On the other hand, if rendering occurs when disabled, it is just as much a failure as not rendering when 'Render' is chosen. To distinguish the two failures, a rendered result when disabled will be marked “w/fail” ('w'orks when render is set and fails when disabled).

Setting an Audio delay (on the Time tab).
Even though the conversion of VOBs is best not done directly (see: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8082&start=0), if you must convert them, their delays (given as video delay under 'audio' in MediaInfo) may be corrected with this function. It is tested using the MPEG2 Preset (see NOTE at the end of Section 3) on an FLV file with obvious sharp impact noises. I set a delay of -525 ms on the Time tab and, if successful, the resultant audio shift would be heard on playing the output. Usually, when the function fails the set delay resets to zero on hitting Start.

The Add Track feature (on the 'File' menu or Ctrl+T).
This feature is described in viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8082&start=0. The testing procedure was revised when discovering that if the audio in a DVD was in MP2, as allowed for PAL, and all Titles (tracks) were in one VTS group of VOBs (VTS_01_1 to VTS_01_5, say), titles near the end failed to convert in build 4740. So, this feature was tested using a VIDEO_TS folder that had been ripped to the HDD from a DVD of this type. It had one VTS group having 14 'Tracks' and MP2 audio (see Comment, below).
There were three steps:
Step 1: use File > Add Track to select the VIDEO_TS folder, via Disc Root/URL, to display all its tracks in the Track panel and to select tracks 7 and 11 to display their content in the Chapter panel at right,
Step 2: 'Add' these tracks into MediaCoder and check their details in the Properties panel and
Step 3: convert Track 11 to MPEG2.
The Properties info (Step 2) was either satisfactory or mostly empty. When 'satisfactory', it had details under Container, Video and Audio, even though usually only broadly correct. When 'mostly empty' there were very few data and a conversion (step 3) usually failed.
From my experience to date, the conditions of this test are most likely to find a fault in the Add Track function.

The Add Track feature was rated using three letters in the form: “A/B/C”, where A, B and C relate to Steps 1, 2 and 3, resp. Each is either 'F' for failure or 'W' it works. A failure for step 1 is when it gives a complete blank in the Track panel or gibberish for the chapters, at right and for step 2, when the Properties data for either track is virtually empty.
Obviously, if the Track panel is a blank (Step 1), a track could not be selected for adding to MediaCoder for conversion. In this case, the result would be “F/F/F”.
Comment: please note that if a DVD has audio in AC3, instead of MP2, or its titles are in separate VTS groups, Add Track would most likely work provided Step 1 was reported as successful!

The Group function (on the 'Item' menu or via R-click).
'Group' was tested using three 30-sec VOBs cut from the same source file (at I-frames using Avidemux). Each had only one audio track. They were then placed in MediaCoder, joined (R-click > Group) for transcoding to MPEG2, with progress indicated as a percentage in the 'State' column for the first file only. Success may be judged by checking the Duration of the output file in the Properties panel, at right.

Video Effects (applied via the Effects button on the Picture tab).
Here, there are two groups. Group A, for the Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and Hue, and Group B, for the three colour gammas, nominally for Red (R), Green (G) and Blue (B). Notice that Hue is like a Colour Wheel, adjustable from -180 to +180 to cover the spectrum, with small values near 0 (default) offering small colour corrections.

Notice also that the success of each group of Effects is expressed separately in the Table of Section 1. For either group of effects to be considered successful, they must satisfy two criteria: (a) the effect of any adjustment must be evident in the video panel of the Clipping and Effects window, else this feature would have no practical use, and (b) that the change seen in this panel should be a true reflection of the change to be seen in the output file after conversion. In practice, I will judge this by hitting the Apply button, the OK button and then the blue Play button (MPlayer) on the Toolbar, since tests to date show that MPlayer will properly reflect the output video. Occasionally, or if in doubt, I will check by actually doing a conversion and examining the output file.

For builds 4399 to 4700, the adjustment of sliders for Group A gave immediate effect on the video panel, although, in other builds, and for the adjustments in Group B, the 'Apply' button may need to be pressed for the resultant effect to be displayed in the window.

Encoding Test. I applied the 7 encoding suggestions tabulated in the Encoding Guide (see Section2, above). In each case, the source file was a 100-sec VOB file, which has one MPEG2 video stream, one AC3 audio and no subtitle streams.

NOTE: for the MPEG2 Preset, mentioned above, I used the settings given in viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8599&start=0, which includes the setting of the GOP length to 12.
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

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