Category Archives: Video

TV tuner for Mac Pro?

I’ve been delighted with the secondhand Mac Pro I got last year. It’s five years old, but probably the best Windows PC I’ve ever owned… we sometimes use OSX, and sometimes use Boot Camp to run Windows, and I did end up getting Parallels as well, which is able to boot the Boot Camp partition — this I think is nothing short of miraculous.

Anyway, our other Windows PC is due for replacement. I was thinking I’d wait and see what the next crop of Mac Minis were like, but it looks like I’ve again got the opportunity to pick up a used Mac Pro via the same workplace clearing more of them out. Same age, but (if my calculations are right) double the speed of the current Mac Mini. Given our usage patterns, this is a cheap easy upgrade… particularly if we put an SSD in it.

I’m now pondering: what’s the best TV tuner for it? That’s the main thing I miss about the HP desktop we had that died. (I did try and rip the tuner card out of that to try in the Mac under Windows. It didn’t work.)

So… Mac Pro TV tuners…

I’d prefer dual tuner. I’d want it to work with both OSX and Windows. In fact I’d go so far as to say that this second box will be mostly using Windows, and I’d want this to work with Windows Media Centre.

For a USB dual tuner, the Elgato EyeTV Diversity looks pretty good.

Asking around on Twitter, there was some good feedback:

(Why does Twitter’s embed tweet with “Include parent Tweet” not seem to work?)

It’d be used with a proper connection to a roof antenna, so not concerned about the mini antenna.

But I think I’d actually prefer an internal card, since I really don’t need it to be portable… and installed internally might be more out of the way/better for longevity.

Any good options?

PS. This ancient page talks about some options. Not sure how relevant it is anymore though.

Sony Vegas 10: Out of memory when rendering

We were having issues rendering a reasonably complex but fairly short video using Sony Vegas 10 (32-bit) on a 64-bit machine (Win7 x64) with plenty of RAM and disk space free. After a few seconds each time, the rendering would stop dead with an Out Of Memory error.

I looked around on Google, where various discussion forums came to different conclusions about a fix (including changing the rendering thread and RAM options within Vegas) — and a 4-minute YouTube video claiming also to fix it — honestly, who has the time to watch something like that? — just give me the solution in words I can quickly scan and replicate.

I eventually found this:

I finally found the solution to Vegas giving me memory errors using CFF Explorer… This is what I did.

1) Using “CFF Explorer” I open the original “VegasMovieStudioPE100.exe” file.

2) Now go to “NT Header/File Header” and click “File Header”. There you will find a button labeled “click here”. Click it. And select the checkbox “App can handle> 2GB address space”

3) Now press the “ok”'s and when back on the main menu, click on the disk button and save the modified “.exe” file, overwrite the orginal one. (Note in Vista and 7 you must be running CFF Explorer in Administrator Mode).

Suddenly all my low memory errors were history and have been able to render all my movies with no issues.

Happily, this worked for us too. Hopefully repeating the fix here will help others find it more quickly. Thank you, “Lowlypawn” for posting your solution rather than just posting your problems like many do.

At some stage we'll upgrade to a newer (64-bit) video editing package. But it's nice to know this one can be cranked up to keep going for a bit longer.

It makes me wonder why (a) Sony hasn't issued their own information about this, and (b) something as incredibly useful as CFF Explorer isn't built into Windows.

Click through to read the full post, which includes feedback from Sony from when he contacted them about it.

No more Pinnacle

It’s this kind of thing that Geekrant was devised for.

I’m boycotting Pinnacle products from here on in.

Pinnacle Studio 10 Plus is pretty good. Good enough that I don’t feel the need to upgrade to the latest and greatest. It handles all the video formats I use quite well. It grabs a lot of resources, but video editing always does. I’m happy with it.

BUT… the Pinnacle 310i capture card I have… it’s never worked well. As I have written before, the media centre program that came with it was horribly slow. The capture results were good, but I always had to keep an eye on the CPU usage, or it would start dropping frames.

(I bought it in the first place because Australian Personal Computer noted it in its Best Tech column. I’ve read that magazine for decades, and generally trust its opinions, but won’t be using that particular column for a recommendation again.)

Eventually I got it running with Virtual VCR, which is analogue only, but gave consistently better results.

Then a couple of weeks ago it died. Completely. No response.

After wrestling with drivers for a bit, I disabled it and went and looked for the Pinnacle 60e USB tuner I’d got as a freebie with Studio.

I tried it with some of the Pinnacle software, which was underwhelming. It’s DVB only, so wouldn’t work with Virtual VCR. So I looked around for freebie PVR programs, and found GB PVR.

GB PVR is one of those freebie media centre applications someone’s written. It’s reasonably responsive, if a bit bare-bones in places. It has some quirks, like it’s totally not designed to handle people operating it without a remote control… so for instance I haven’t found a way to record live TV manually; have to program it. And the timer only does 10 minute increments. Annoying.

Interestingly it seems to record the DVB-T stream directly onto the disk, leaving you with a TS file. This can be played using the K-Lite codec pack/Media Player Classic (VLC should play it too), and you can convert it using HDTVtoMPEG2 into a standard MPEG file to use in Virtual Dub and other applications. All good. (Well, as long as I tuned to the channels with the AC3 audio; some of the others required more fiddling to work.)

Once I figured out the quirks in GB PVR, I got absolutely outstanding quality recordings out of it. Really really clear, as you’d expect when working directly with the DVB stream. Fantastic.

Then the 60e stopped working. Un-#$&#ing-believable! Just stopped. GB PVR stopped doing what I asked of it. The logs revealed it couldn’t start the capture. Nothing would talk to it, tried uninstalling and re-installing, nope. Error 10 starting it up, whatever the hell that means. And the config screen reported there was now no capture device on the computer.

Dead.

Jeez.

Now, I might normally assume it was a problem with the PC. So I installed it on the other one. It worked for a couple of days, then also stopped.

So no more Pinnacle products for me.

Some of the Hauppauge capture cards look good. Alternately there are some new TVix products which double as standalone PVR/media player units.

Dave’s suggestion of going via Firewire is a good one that I’ll look at. Unfortunately my cheapie firewire video camera doesn’t have an input.

High quality in Youtube

You've probably heard this already, but you may be able to tell Youtube to display higher quality video by adding &fmt=22 onto the URL… that is, if higher-quality video was uploaded by the content creator.

Encoding XVid for MediaGate

Get slightly jerky results when encoding XVid and watching it on a MediaGate player?

Turn off the Packed Bitstream option. That seems to fix it.

VirtualDub error -100

Memo to self: When VirtualDub complains about an error -100, which it claims could be due to a corrupt file, or a codec problem, check it’s not the latter. In particular, if using the resizing filter, make sure the size can be handled by the codec. In the case of XVid, it won’t handle a size not divisible by 4.

The patch that bricks

“CCP’s latest major patch to the EVE-Online client, Trinity, comes with an optional DX9-enhanced graphics patch that dramatically improves the visual quality of the in-game graphics through remade models, textures, and HDR. It also has an unfortunate bug: the incredibly stupid choice of boot.ini as a game configuration file, coupled with an errant extra backslash in the installer configuration. The result is that anyone who installs the enhanced graphics patch overwrites the windows XP c:\boot.ini file with the EVE client configuration file, bricking the machine on the next boot. Discussion in a couple of forums threads is becoming understandably heated.”

From Slashdot (via Lauren)

Crysis Single Player Demo

The big gaming news this past weekend was the release of the Crysis demo by EA, Crysis has been the “next big thing” in PC gaming since it was first shown over a year ago. I was lucky enough to grab the single player demo, which weighed in as a hefty 1.7Gb, on Saturday afternoon. Sunday afternoon I installed the demo and spent an hour or so running through the jungle in the mission available.

I was very surprised to see after installation that Crysis is available in both 32 bit and 64 bit versions and whilst I’m sure the native 64 bit version does have benefits over the 32 bit version I don’t know what those benefits are at this time it’s just nice to have native 64 bit executable to run.

I really enjoyed playing Crysis, graphically its outstanding where BioShock was graphical champion for indoor and underwater action Crysis is going to be the outdoor champion. I only had my settings on medium but the whole environment looked fabulous.

One of the ‘cool features’ of Crysis is that the environment can be shot up and destroyed, not everything can but the trees can be shot and felled and buildings can be rammed with vehicles and fall apart as if they’re real, even bullet holes appear in walls when shot. Kudos to Crytek for the attention to detail that so many other games lack.

With the release of DirectX 10 a few months ago people have been wondering what difference it will make to gaming, BioShock did look a little better using DirectX 10 but Crysis appears almost lifelike running under DirectX 10.

Performance wise the game averaged 20 – 30 fps on medium settings for me. As my gaming system has dual 1900 series ATI graphics cards in CrossFire I would have expected better performance but I’m not even sure if CrossFire was working for Crysis and ATI haven’t released an updated driver for Crysis as of yet whereas Nvidia have in their 169.01 Beta drivers.

Overall I think Crysis is a very good game, I’m looking forward to buying the full version when it is released in a few weeks time….. which is just enough time to decide what upgrades I need in order to play the game at it’s maximum settings <evil grin>

 Edit: A pair of Nvida 8800GTX’s will be running in SLI tonight, wife not going to be happy. But dangnamit, we need more power!

Video capture woes

I’ve got Pinnacle Studio 10. It was definitely worth the money; great for video editing, and heaps better than Windows Movie Maker. It may not be up to the standard of Adobe Premiere, but it’s much cheaper.

But the Pinnacle video capture devices (one bought before Studio 10, the other was a freebie that came with Studio 10) that I have seem to be somewhat troublesome. That is, it’s not the hardware, but the software… it burns up CPU like there’s no tomorrow. For most of the time I just want a simple viewer/capture application, but the stuff they pack with the hardware is all-singing, all-dancing, all-consuming.

MediaCenter 3.4 came with the PCTV 310i. It installs big heapem SQL Server Desktop and takes up heaps of disk space.

MediaCenter 4.11 came with the PCTV 60e, and is a little better space-wise, but manages to burn up lots of CPU, dropping frames left, right and centre.

TV Center Pro 4.9 is a free download to 310i owners (and some others) and is promoted by Pinnacle as needing less resources… though from what I can see, it’s also burning up CPU and dropping frames.

(What really caught me is that it wouldn’t recognise the 310i unless I installed the drivers with one of the MediaCenter disks. Just installing the drivers off the Pinnacle web site didn’t work, no matter how many times I tried it.)

All in all, it makes for an irritating experience.

Oh, of course once the drivers are working, you can also capture with Windows Movie Maker, which is a bit easier. But its default “best” capture spec is only 320 x 240 at 25 fps. Not very impressive. Try and change that, and it gives you a lot of alternatives… but they’re all at 30 fps! NEWSFLASH! PAL is 25 fps! And of course it only outputs as WMV, whereas ideally I’d like to store stuff in MPEG2, in a format I can burn straight to DVD without further encoding, and is somewhat more futureproof.

Maybe I should try Windows Media Encoder or Windows Media Capture. I know from the last time I tried WMC (years ago), it didn’t grab resources like some others. The old version only wrote out in some uncompressed AVI format, but it was easy enough to use something else (such as Pinnacle Studio) to crop and encode to MPEG.