Category Archives: windows 7

Windows 7 stuff.

How to Transcode .mov Files using Matrox Codecs

Not too long ago, I posted an article on how to transcode .mov files from a Canon t2i using Avid’s DNxHD codec. Overall, that was a good solution (and still is) but I think I’ve found a solution I like more.

I noticed on Eugenia’s blog that she discovered a way to trancode .mov files using the recently released Matrox codecs. The solution works, but it’s very cumbersome for the average user (no offense intended; I’ve learned much from reading Eugenia’s blog). I’ve discovered a significantly simpler (and less time-consuming) solution (in my opinion) with the help of a professional videographer who prefers me not to use his name.

This solution should be appropriate for anyone looking for an excellent intermediate format for editing in Sony Vegas or another non-linear video editing program (NLE). It’s fast, easy and free.

A couple quick words (before I start) on why transcoding for editing is a good idea.

There are different codecs for different purposes. There are capture codecs (H.264, AVCHD, etc.). They encode fast but decode slow. Thus, they’re excellent for capturing but terrible for playback. There are editing codecs (DNxHD, Matrox, Cineform) which create large files but which don’t lose much information during the color grading / editing processes. Then there are delivery codecs which compress efficiently while maintaining visual quality. These files are high quality and small.

Professionals will transcode for each step of the process, unless they shoot something at four o’ clock and they need to roll out a finished product by five o’ clock. But to maintain optimal quality, transcoding for each step is necessary. It is often possible to edit .mov files directly, but if you do much color grading and editing you’ll end up with a far inferior product than if you’d transcoded to an appropriate intermediate format.

O.K. There’s my reasoning (mostly given to me by my friend, the professional videographer). So let’s get started on this tutorial.

First, you’re going to need two items. You’ll need Prism Video Converter (free version) and you’ll need the Matrox codecs. Be sure to use my link. Don’t google it or you’re likely to end up with an older version of the codecs. That’s all you’ll need.

If you have any problems, you may need to download a few other things, but for now, let’s start with the two previous items. Download and install the items. Start up Prism Video Converter. You’ll see the following screen.

Prism Video Converter

Click on “Add Files” in the upper left and select the videos you want to transcode. It’s easy to select multiple videos at once by holding down the “Ctrl” button on your keyboard while clicking each video clip you want. After you’ve selected the clips you want, click “Open.”

Select Your Videos

Next, you’ll want to change the “Output Format” to “avi.” Since this tutorial is primarily focused on making intermediate files that will play nicely with Sony Vegas, it’s important to create .avi files. Why? Sony Vegas likes .avi files and gets along with them, that’s why.

Output Format

Now it’s time to set the “Encoder Options.” Be sure that your “Video Compressor” is set to “Matrox MPEG-2 I-frame HD” and set your “Sound Format” to “48000 Hz, 16 bits, stereo.”

Encoder Options

Before closing out your encoder options, click on “Video Compression Settings.” Set your data rate to whatever you’d like (I use the maximum, but that really is overkill; 150MB/sec is a good starting point) and set the frame rate to match your source file.

Video Compression Settings

Under “Video Options” set the size to match your source file. You shouldn’t have to do this, but if you happen to get an error message when converting, this is something you can try. Tick “resize video” (even though we aren’t really re-sizing). Tick “shrink or enlarge the video to the selected size.” Untick “constrain proportions” and then type in the numbers to match your source file (e.g., 1920×1080). Then re-tick “constrain proportions.”

Video Options

Click the “Browse” button (lower right) to choose your output folder. I typically choose the desktop because it’s a nice temporary location. Remember, we’ll be deleting these files after we edit them. There’s no need to save these monstrous intermediate files.

Set Your Output Folder

You can now click “Preview” if you’d like. It’s an optional step. What it does is convert the first few seconds of the video and place the clip into your output folder. If you get any errors at this point it’s time to try something else. It’s a good idea to try this step before converting a huge batch of files.

Preview

If you don’t run into any errors during preview, it’s now time to hit “Convert.” Prism will do it’s thing and you’ll end up with some quite large Matrox .avi files on your desktop. You’re now ready to edit!

Convert

If you do run into errors, don’t panic. There’s something else to try. Go to “Options” then click on the “Conversions” tab. Under “Decoder Options” tick the box that says, “Use FFMPEG decoder (try this if you are having problems converting or playing the file).” Try converting again. If you still continue getting errors, this is where things can get dicey.

If you’ve tried all the above and you still can’t convert your files, you probably have a codec issue. Either you have codecs you shouldn’t have or you don’t have codecs that you should have. You can try downloading ffdshow tryouts, installing it (stick with the defaults), then attempting this process again. I typically don’t like codec packs and avoid them whenever possible. I’m running Windows 7 without any codec packs. The only extra codecs I’ve installed at this point are the Matrox codecs. If all else fails, you can try re-installing Windows (you should do that once in a while anyway). It’ll make your computer run like new and alleviate any codec problems that you may have inadvertently created.

Not too long ago I could not get this method to work. I couldn’t get any of my files to convert – no matter what. I finally installed ffdshow and only then would Prism convert my files. But without ffdshow it simply would not work. Over the course of the last year I’ve downloaded lots of different codecs for this reason or that reason. I also tried a few different codec packs. Over time, I collected a lot of conflicting codecs and codec packs. Simply uninstalling them didn’t fix my problems. The solution? I re-installed Windows and only installed the codecs I absolutely needed. For now, the only additional codecs on my computer are the Matrox VFW codecs. That’s it. And now this solution works flawlessly every time.

HP Printers & Windows 7

If you’re planning on updating to Windows 7 and you rely on  your HP printer, be careful.

I recently installed Windows 7 (64-bit Ultimate . . . cool, huh?) and as I happily set it up, I browsed to the HP site to download software for my HP all-in-one.  Lo and behold, not only was there no Windows 7 software available (which didn’t really surprise me) but the Vista 64-bit version would not install.  “Operating system not supported,” it taunted.

So, unless there’s a way to print without the HP software . . . I guess I’ll have to wait a few months. 

Of course, I can install the software on my laptop (running 32-bit Vista) and print from that.

Firefox 3.6 on the Horizon

Today (Friday) Firefox announced availability of its next release – Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1.  According to the lovely folks at Firefox,  the release is for developers and testers only.  But who cares?  It’s fun to try new stuff.

Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1, codenamed Namoroka (you’ll have to figure out what that means for yourself), boasts some minor changes.  Purported improvements include a faster TraceMonkey JavaScript engine and faster startup times (among other minor things).

This isn’t a major overhaul (like 3.5 from 3.0).  It’s an incremental improvement.  Google Chrome keeps updating their browser, so Firefox had to do something too (to look cool and hip and keep techno-nerds happy).

The actual release is due sometime in November (check out the Firefox 3.6 public roadmap).  I’m just installing Windows 7, so I’m excited to hear it’ll support some cool new Windows 7 features, like Aero Peek, which allows you to see your desktop through open windows.  Cool, huh?

I’m off to download Firefox 3.6.  And no, I’m not a developer or a tester.  I just like new stuff.

Codecs Package for Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit)

Have you ever clicked on a video just to see it play without sound?  I have.  Then I spend 20 minutes finding a program that will play the file.  For other less techy people (like my parents – sorry, Mom & Dad), if the file doesn’t play, it either goes in the recycle bin or never gets watched.

For those of us who’ve upgraded to Windows 7, avoiding such nuisances is a thing of the past.

Sharky’s Windows 7 Codecs solves the problem elegantly.  Download the file, install it, and any audio or video file you attempt to play will play as it should, in most any media player.  It doesn’t mess with the default Windows codecs, so you don’t have to worry about messing anything up.  For more advanced users, you’ll find that there are a variety of configuration options, but for the non-techy people, don’t worry about it!  Just install it and play your media files.

Keep in mind that the program automatically uninstalls other popular codec packages.

If you have a 64-bit version of Windows 7, you can install the x64 Components addon on top of the 32-bit installation.

This program is 100% free.  Thanks, Sharky.

Windows 7 Will be Popular

Remember Microsoft 3.1?  I don’t.  And let’s not forget Bob (not really an operating system, but a beautiful software flop).  Windows 95 hit the scene and experienced massive success.  Cool.  Windows 98 enjoyed its time in the spotlight too.  But then, oh woe of woes, Windows ME arrived.  Oh, that sucked.  Yes, indeed.  After that?  XP.  The stability king.  Vista paraded onto the scene next.  Another flop.

Apparently Microsoft can’t handle too much success at once.  They have a need to throw a loser into the mix once in a while.  After being embarrassed, they figure out how to produce a winner.  Most people have branded Vista a major piece of trash, therefore I pronouce Windows 7 Microsoft’s upcoming beauty queen.

Windows 7 Prices

Windows 7 officially hits store shelves on October 22, 2009.

Microsoft kindly announced prices and surprisingly, they’re not too bad.

  Upgrade Retail Prices  
  Windows 7 Home Premium     $119  
  Windows 7 Professional     $199  
  Windows 7 Ultimate     $219  

 

  Full Retail Prices  
  Windows 7 Home Premium     $199  
  Windows 7 Professional     $299  
  Windows 7 Ultimate     $319  

 
If you purchase Windows 7 in between June 26 and July 11 (in the U.S.), you’ll pay $49.99 for Home Premium, and $99.99 for Professional. These prices are for upgrade versions.

Windows 7 Versions

Windows 7 has struck, as most of us already know. But which version of Windows 7 will fit your needs?

You can find information on the different versions here.