Ramblings on technology with a dash of social commentary
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  • How to embed Windows Media Files on your Website

    Posted on November 7th, 2010 phpguru No comments

    This article over at Microsoft explains how to embed .WMV (Windows Media Video) as well as .ASF files on the web.

    The thing is, their method seems crippled (even wrong) as it explains how to create an additional text file for every WMV video, and to save it with a .wvx or .asx extension… which is quite strange, in addition to being totally time consuming and redundant.

    While that may be the official method, I found this post at MediaCollege which has a simple object embed tag for WMV, but it doesn’t validate, since <embed> tags are deprecated.

    In the end, I went with this technique at A List Apart . You may want to try this one first, because it’s more effective in more browsers, and is the only way to do it if you want your document to validate under a strict XHTML doc type.

    Now you know how to embed .wmv — the right way. Enjoy!

  • AVI to ASF Video Conversion

    Posted on June 17th, 2009 phpguru No comments

    One of the websites I redesigned last year has quite a bit of video content stored in ASF format. I was a Mac guy turned Flash & PHP guy, turned Linux guy, so I know very little (nothing) about Windows Media formats. The client sent me a new DVD, so I figured I try to match the existing file format as closely as possible. I started by converting the .VOB to .AVI using HandBrake. I needed to edit out a 3 minute segment from an hour long video and perform some corrections using AfterEffects. The source footage turned out to be over 7GB.

    Now I need to figure out how to conver the uncompressed AVI to I can’t imagine finding a better post on this topic than this forum thread at videohelp.com: Convert AVI to ASF.

    One of the recommended tools in the above post is called MediaCoder. The poster gives a link to download the program, along with settings to use. It seemed straightforward enough, so I decided to give it a try.

    As it turns out, VideoHelp is a stupendously helfpul resource when it comes to the dizzying array of video conversion issues, formats and software to use to convert video. Another post said to re-compress your .AVI using VirtualDubMod, so I tried that, too.

    Well, after trying both VirtualDubMod and MediaCoder, I got really frustrated. MediaCoder has to be one of the most annoying softwares ever created. When you install the program and run it, it opens their website with a button you have to click to open the program’s main window. What a joke. Half of the menus in the program are designed to display website pages which show ads to download AVS Video Converter.  The whole “digital video conversion” shareware arena is a complete scam-fest nightmare. There’s no less than a dozen tools in the $40 to $80 range that claim to be the easiest, best, fastest, greatest everything-to-everything converter. I really don’t understand why there has to be 27 gazillion video file formats.

    Anyway, I installed and ran AVS too. Upon launch it opens the registration page with a $39 one-year license or a $59 unlimited license. I tried it in demo mode, and it did work great, but it created a watermark in the middle of my video. Rats. Not even one free encode from these guys. In all fairness, AVS does seem to be the simplest, quickest tool for the most common video conversion formats, but I just didn’t feel like coughing up $40+.

    I read on the FFMpeg site (a server-based tool for command-line media conversion on Linux) that ASF is generally to be avoided, and a post on another site recommended to use WMV using the Windows Media Encoder is free from Microsoft. I decided to switch to Windows Media. It is free and worked fine.  And as it turned out, I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out settings for ASF files to work in MediaCoder. I never did get it to encode anything correctly – lol. Uninstall.

    Assuming you have Windows Genuine, and I know you all do, all you have to do is encode to WMV using Windows Media Encoder and when the file’s done, change the file extension from .WMV to .ASF. Duh! That makes sense… not.  But it works, and I’m tired, so I don’t care.

  • HandBrake: How to convert VOB to AVI, MP4, M4V

    Posted on May 15th, 2009 phpguru 5 comments

    A client recently sent me a DVD with some clips they wanted for their Website. It had been a while since I converted DVD video for the web, and before I’d been using AVS Video Converter, which is a really simple $49 shareware app that works great and supports a ton of video file formats.

    For this project, though, I happened to be on my laptop and didn’t feel like spending any money, so I figured I’d see what free open-source video conversion tools were out there.

    Well, I just discovered the best free video converter for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux and I must say, it is truly impressive. It is called HandBrake. HandBrake is a GPL-Licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder. I tested version 0.9.3 on Windows XP.

    HandBrake converts video from VOB and nearly every other source file format to a handful of modern codecs, including AVI, MP4, M4V, MKV, and OGM. It reads DVDs and outputs digital video files you can playback in Windows Media Player, DiVX Player or QuickTime Movie Player with just a few clicks. You can set up multiple video files to convert in a queue and process a batch of video clips without babysitting your box.

    It has built-in presets for QuickTime H.264, iPod, iPhone, iPod Touch and Apple TV, both legacy and newer formats. It has high profile conversion presets for animation, constant quality bit rate, film and television. It also has presets for gaming consoles, PSP, PS3 and Xbox 360.


    The HandBrake GUI on Windows XP

    You can fine-tune any preset with the advanced settings – and there’s a ton of them on 6 different tabs from the main interface.

    You can crop the source and resize. You can detelecine, decomb, deinterlace, denoise and deblock. You can change the aspect ratio and go from non-square to square pixels and vice-versa. You can do video and audio together or separately. You can select fom multiple audio tracks and use AC3 or MP3 audio.

    All the settings you define for a video conversion job can be named and saved for later, and what’s more, you can see the command line parameters you’re actually setting up by generating the output to the query editor. You can then use the generated query via the command line interface to the tool to use in .bat files, AppleScript, or even from a PHP or Python application via CLI.

    Overall, this software is truly an awesome piece of work and it seems like the perfect freeware for all your video conversion needs.