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  1. Member
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    Hello all,

    New user but have lurked for a long time. Thanks to this community for all the help thus far.

    I recently started helping friends and family convert their old VHS tapes to video files. Key for them is manageable file size. Quality not so important as long as it reliably plays. So i am trying to find a codec to use that satisfies these requirements:

    - Plays on a clean install of Windows XP with WMP 9
    - Plays on a clean install of Mac OS X
    - Can specify a bitrate for the new video file (so that I can give them manageable file sizes)

    I am starting out with DV/AVI files straight from a Canopus which is plugged into my VCR. Any thoughts?

    Alternatively, what are the easiest codecs to download and install on both Mac and PC?

    Any thoughts or advice on where else to look on the internetz would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks everyone!
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  2. Member yoda313's Avatar
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    First thought is h264 in an mp4 file.

    But your clean install requirement throws that off a little bit.

    Wmv or vcd (aka mpg level 1) would work for windows but only vcd would also work with mac - not sure if wmv is natively supported by mac.

    Basically anybody can install a player like windows media player classic or vlc on their system in no time at all and play just about anything you give them. As long as you give them standard def files virtually any computer from the last six years or so will play it without a problem - probably older too if its mpeg2 dvd standard not h264 - that might require a little more horsepower than mpeg2. ALso depends on their video card equipment.

    But again depends on how recent their computers are.

    Standard def mpeg2 or h264 standard def in a mp4 file are your two best bets.

    If all else fails and you are not 100% certain author the videos to dvds and mail them. - edit - the clean install requirement hurts this a little as I don't think win xp comes with mpeg2 dvd codecs pre installed - not sure about mac either as I don't have mac. But if they have a standard dvd player hooked up to a tv they are set to go. Just burn with imgburn and use good blanks like taiyo yuden or verbatim (not life series) and you are good to go. edit - in other words capture as mpeg2 and author to dvd with something like avstodvd and burn the video_ts folder with imgburn.

    Edit - I think they have "portable" versions of mpch and vlc that can play from flash drives. I think that would load them into the computer without installing them if that is the concern of your "clean" install requirement. Though I'm not a 100% certain that is how that works. Google "portable" installation and you should find more about it - like "portable firefox" and that type.
    Last edited by yoda313; 15th Aug 2012 at 21:09.
    Donatello - The Shredder? Michelangelo - Maybe all that hardware is for making coleslaw?
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    Hey yoda313,

    This is EXTREMELY helpful. Thanks for helping me out.

    I initially thought the MPEG2 codec was my best bet but it wouldn't play on my friend's MacBook Air. So I passed on it. Maybe there was support in older versions (I know Apple sometimes drops support for old stuff) but it doesnt seem to work these days.

    Is there a difference between what you describe below as the MPEG2 DVD standard and what I get when I use SUPER to encode to an MPG container using the MPEG-II codec? If so, what software can I use to encode to the other MPEG2 codec? And while I'm at it, does it matter if I use an MPG or an AVI container in terms of compatibility? (I have tried MPEG-II in an AVI container on the MacBook Air but not an MPEG-II in an MPG container)

    I will also look into the portable versions, that sounds promising.

    Also, might as well also ask if SUPER is the best software for making these conversions?

    Thanks again for the help!
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  4. Win XP doesn't come with MPEG2 or h.264 decoders, and it doesn't include an MP4 file reader/splitter.

    About the only thing that will play on all those platforms without installing additional software is MPEG 1 in an MPG container.
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  5. Member yoda313's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jagabo
    About the only thing that will play on all those platforms without installing additional software is MPEG 1 in an MPG container.
    I kinda figured that. Seemed to be the least common denominator for the two platforms.

    Originally Posted by jagabo
    Win XP doesn't come with MPEG2 or h.264 decoders, and it doesn't include an MP4 file reader/splitter.
    Thanks for the confirmation. I haven't had a "clean" install of xp in years so I have no idea what a plain vanilla xp does and doesn't run other than a vague inkling. (ie I still have xp on one of my computers but "knock on wood" its the same installation for several years so I haven't had to redo it).

    Originally Posted by chrisam84
    This is EXTREMELY helpful. Thanks for helping me out.
    Glad to help.

    Originally Posted by chrisam84
    I will also look into the portable versions, that sounds promising.
    No promises there. Its only what I've read online and I haven't tested anything personally. I don't know if they do it for video players. It might only be web browsers that have a portable version. Though I don't know for sure - won't hurt to look for it however.

    Originally Posted by chrisam84
    what you describe below as the MPEG2 DVD standard and what I get when I use SUPER to encode to an MPG container using the MPEG-II codec?
    Technically they should be the same thing. If you mean dvd standard to mean the video_ts folder structure than yes essentially they are the same. However a properly authored dvd is a mpeg 2 file wrapped in a vob container (.vob file) with the proper playback instructions embedded in the layout - be it a simple play command to fancy menus and the works.

    Originally Posted by chrisam84
    might as well also ask if SUPER is the best software for making these conversions?
    As long as it is still being updated then it should be ok. But personally I use format factory and avstodvd for most of my conversion needs. Avstodvd is a great freeware dvd authoring program. It can take practically any video file and let you create a real dvd out of it ready for burning.

    Format factory is good for file to file conversions. Also good is handbrake.

    Originally Posted by chrisam84
    but it wouldn't play on my friend's MacBook Air.
    Sorry I don't own any mac computers so I can't help there. But again there have to be freeware video players these people can use. If they are totally computer noobs and you are physically there while they are watching the videos you could of course install some player for them and if they are totally freaked about leaving it on you could uninstall before you go.

    Another option I think I neglected to mention is xvid or divx. Though not as popular overall as they used to be for standard def they are just fine. Although I think the "current" divx is really a variant of h264 instead of the mpeg4 stuff (not the container but the rival mpeg4 that was there before avc if I understand all those different versions correctly). These can be in an avi container.
    Donatello - The Shredder? Michelangelo - Maybe all that hardware is for making coleslaw?
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  6. I know this is old, but in the case someone later reads this:
    Originally Posted by chrisam84 View Post
    I initially thought the MPEG2 codec was my best bet but it wouldn't play on my friend's MacBook Air. So I passed on it.
    I think 1999 Quicktime still supported mpeg2 on Macs...

    A clean install of Mac OS X will come with "Quicktime" (can't play mpeg2, mpeg2-TS, mpeg2-PS) and "DVD-Player"-App, the latter can play mpeg2-standard DVD (i.e. those that have .vob files in TS_video and TS_audio folders.

    But, just install VLC and you will be able to play everything including mpeg2 / TS / PS / MTS... (mind, if the files come from a PVR set top box, you will have to rename them first).

    If you will not be allowed to install it on their system just include it on every DVD.

    The next step, if you encounter unplayable video, is installing perian plugin on Macs. (This is really helpful, same as VLC and actually there is no reasonable reason to not wanting to install it, despite, if you have it from an unknown source perhaps, but they are still on their developer sites. Also VLC offers versions for all flavours of Mac OS X.
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    You know this is questionable but felt compelled to do it anyway. If you plan to make a habit of "updating" old threads to "improve" them for hypothetical future readers, even the moderators may take a dim view of that.
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  8. OK, I will stop wit it sorry. But, if I don't in this case here, people will think "oh, crappy Mac" and go on without knowing that there was actually an answer to it, but there was no Mac user at the time.

    How old should a thread be at maximum, so that it is still "legal" to post to it (e.g. when I have the same question etc.).
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    I would say that as a rule of thumb, after one year of inactivity, a thread should be considered dead. If someone created a guide and updates it or is involved in a long term project and feels the need to add an outcome, that might be an exception. ..and few people object if a new member adds a question, since a great many new members do not create their own thread for some reason.

    My point is that the information in a high percentage of dead threads is incomplete, inaccurate or destined to become out of date and digging these threads up to correct them or update them for the benefit of future readers (who may never turn up) is a waste of forum resources. If someone wants help related to an old thread, they will probably post there and ask for it.
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