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Unread 03-24-2008, 07:01 PM
Greg Marra's Avatar Unsung FIRST Hero
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[TBA]: MP4 vs. WMV, MP4 seems to be working well

I have noticed lots of people recording this year's events have been recording to MP4 format. This has been working out great for TBA in terms of rapid conversion. It also works really well for iPhone users using the Mobile Version of our site, because they can just download and play match videos on their phone (Tom showed me his, they look gorgeous).

How do people feel about the differences between WMV and MP4? Personally, I love MP4 and think we should stick with it as a container format.

Out of curiosity, what programs have people been recording in? I plan on using Windows Media Encoder to webcast Boston, but if I record straight to MP4 for the matches, what has been working well?
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Unread 03-24-2008, 07:56 PM
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Re: [TBA]: MP4 vs. WMV, MP4 seems to be working well

From the videos I've seen, MP4 comes out much better than WMV. Particularly important is that MP4 seems to do better with still screens and text like in the real-time and score displays.

I used VirtualDub to record the video in maximum-quality MPEG (using .avi as a container). Each match was 200-300 Mb. I also recorded a couple seconds of the score and appended that to the match. This took ~1 minute per match with VirtualDub. There's probably a faster way to do it, but it worked.

Then I switched to Linux and converted the video with ffmpeg. (It turns out that many free format converters are really just GUIs for ffmpeg. I prefer to go straight to the original. ;-) )
Code:
ffmpeg -i ok_045.avi -deinterlace -b 1024k ok_045.mp4
The conversion was pretty fast. ffmpeg was able to convert a match in about 1 minute, and I was able to run two in parallel on my dual-core processor. With this system, I was able to get all the matches up the same day they were played.
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Unread 03-24-2008, 08:14 PM
Jonathan Norris Jonathan Norris is offline
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Re: [TBA]: MP4 vs. WMV, MP4 seems to be working well

Seeing as I proposed we move to .mp4 at the beginning of the year, I've been very happy with the quality of the move. I started off using visualHub (on my mac) to convert everything to .mp4, now i'm doing everything in Final Cut Pro and exporting in MPEG 4.

I had some issues this weekend recording when I moved away from movie maker on windows. On friday I was webcasting with my mac on Ustream, and recording on a desktop PC in movie maker. recording into .wmv is really easy with movie maker so I like using it, but i figured out later on that I could get a better quality stream with IE on the PC so switched to streaming onto the PC. This meant I had to record on the mac, which I really wasn't prepared for, I used quicktime recording in DV to my external HD but had issues with it and lost a couple matches. it seemed like if the recording was larger then 4 minutes it would crash, and it seems like the HD couldn't keep up with the data rate of the video or audio so there is some skipping. Luckily i used Ustream's recording capabilities and should be able to get most of the matches I lost.

Next year I'm going to invest in one of these babies , I hear Joe Ross recorded LA with one of these and I'm very interested in hearing how it went, it looks like a really easy way to record right to h.264.
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Unread 03-24-2008, 08:20 PM
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Re: [TBA]: MP4 vs. WMV, MP4 seems to be working well

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Norris View Post
Next year I'm going to invest in one of these babies , I hear Joe Ross recorded LA with one of these and I'm very interested in hearing how it went, it looks like a really easy way to record right to h.264.
Those look like total beasts. It'd be so sweet if one of those an a hard drive shipped with every field, eh?
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Unread 03-24-2008, 08:27 PM
Jonathan Norris Jonathan Norris is offline
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Re: [TBA]: MP4 vs. WMV, MP4 seems to be working well

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Marra View Post
Those look like total beasts. It'd be so sweet if one of those an a hard drive shipped with every field, eh?
Lets figure out how to get that done, sounds like a perfect solution to record every match of the year. I wonder if FIRST would do it, the have how many fields 8 or so? maybe they can get pinnacle as sponsor. I might work up a couple emails when I'm done exams to see if I can get any interest.
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Unread 03-24-2008, 08:35 PM
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Re: [TBA]: MP4 vs. WMV, MP4 seems to be working well

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Marra View Post
...
Out of curiosity, what programs have people been recording in? I plan on using Windows Media Encoder to webcast Boston, but if I record straight to MP4 for the matches, what has been working well?
I've been using WinTV2000, but I don't know if that records straight to proper MP4. If not, I've been trying to use MediaCoder to transcode. Your experiences with these programs will probably be better than mine.
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Unread 03-24-2008, 08:45 PM
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Re: [TBA]: MP4 vs. WMV, MP4 seems to be working well

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Norris View Post
Lets figure out how to get that done, sounds like a perfect solution to record every match of the year. I wonder if FIRST would do it, the have how many fields 8 or so? maybe they can get pinnacle as sponsor. I might work up a couple emails when I'm done exams to see if I can get any interest.
I think there are 14 fields this year. Week 5 has 11 regionals, and the fields going to Hawaii, Israel and Brazil don't come back. On the other hand, the stuff could probably be reused from year to year.
I noticed that the device only works with FAT16/32 filesystems, meaning you might have to start and stop the video to keep from getting a file too large. Then again, you might want to do that anyway; I recorded each match separately, which saved a bunch of time parsing the video.
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Unread 03-24-2008, 10:04 PM
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Re: [TBA]: MP4 vs. WMV, MP4 seems to be working well

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Norris View Post
Next year I'm going to invest in one of these babies , I hear Joe Ross recorded LA with one of these and I'm very interested in hearing how it went, it looks like a really easy way to record right to h.264.
It was really easy to record right to H.264. I was somewhat disappointed by the video quality, it seems pixelated, but that may be related to the feed and not the device. It's still better then most of the recordings.

There is a 4 gig file limitation, but the device will automatically stop and start again if it reaches that limit (although it might lose 30 seconds while doing that). I chose to stop it and start it again when I had free time (around once an hour).

On Saturday, the AV people started tearing things down before I stopped it, and it lost power. The entire file it was recording was lost (so I don't have the awards ceremony).

A big disadvantage is there is no easy way to monitor the feed. To check it, I had to stop recording, unplug the hard drive, plug the drive into my laptop, watch the video, and then plug it in again and start. I couldn't do this while they were running matches because there wasn't enough downtime. It can also record to USB flash drives, so I might next year use 2 flash drives that I can swap. They should be cheap enough to get 2 eight or sixteen gig drives by this time next year.

The best video setting is interlaced, which isn't ideal for what we want. I recorded on the middle setting on Saturday and couldn't tell the difference between the two (once the interlaced one was deinterlaced).

Hope that helps
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Unread 03-24-2008, 10:56 PM
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Re: [TBA]: MP4 vs. WMV, MP4 seems to be working well

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Norris View Post
... This meant I had to record on the mac, which I really wasn't prepared for, I used quicktime recording in DV to my external HD but had issues with it and lost a couple matches. it seemed like if the recording was larger then 4 minutes it would crash, and it seems like the HD couldn't keep up with the data rate of the video or audio so there is some skipping. Luckily i used Ustream's recording capabilities and should be able to get most of the matches I lost.
It sounds like your external hard drive is formatted in FAT32, which means you can only have a maximum file size of about 4 Gb; this is probably why it would crash every four minutes. And the lack of the drive to keep up was probably because it was USB; Firewire or eSATA will provide a much more consistent (and faster) data stream than USB for video stuff.

Other workarounds would be to reformat the external hard drive to NTFS and install MacFuse on your Mac, or format the external drive to HFS+ (and install MacDrive on the PC if you want to use the drive there). (I wish Windows would natively support one of the Unix-based file systems (such as UFS or UFS2) supported under Linux and OSX...)
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