Tuesday, November 11, 2008

30,000 Words per Second

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, it follows that video is worth roughly 30,000 words per second, right? (Which means that my S.B. thesis could have been summarized with approximately 7/10ths of a second of well-thought-out video.) I have been capturing my projects on video since I got my first DV camera in 11th grade. Short of a live demonstration, it's really the best way to show somebody what I've been working on. In fact, contrary to the rumors that I have turned into an Apple fanatic, the main reason I bought an iPod Touch is because I can now show people my pictures and video without taking out my laptop. That, and episodes of House look better on it than on TV.

But there are so many video formats: MPEG-2 from my camera, MOV and MPEG4 for iTunes, H.264, WMV for editing and showing my Windows friends. And occassionally I like to edit frame-by-frame with my own software. I have fought with codecs for years and previously used at least three different third-party tools to do video conversion. No more! The long weekend inspired me to take on one of my rare pure-software projects. (Last time this happened, I wrote a program to create photomosaics.) I think there is still a CS person hiding in the back of my head. Anyway, I present SCV, which, if you want, stands for "Shane Converts Video."

It's an MPlayer/MEncoder front-end. MEncoder is a great piece of software that was suggested to me for my video editing needs since it can convert between virtually any format. The one downside, for me anyway, was that it is made for/by Linux losers with nothing better to do than run things from the command line. Hear me out: In the 21st century, we have GUIs. So this simple VB (yes, VB) program takes care of all the command line switching and lets me get on with my life.

Ooooooh, code. It can handle the formats I work with most often (WMV, MPEG) in different flavors (AVI, MP4). It can actually make video that works on an iPod. It can both extract frames to JPEGs and recombine JPEG folders into video. It can trim clips. And it can strip/merge audio. I'm sure there's tons more I could do with it, but that's all I need and my software projects are pretty much driven by necessity. If you want to play around with the source or somehow think the executable will actually run on your machine (needs .NET Framwork 2.0 and a working version of MPlayer, at least), here they are:


And if you want to see why I spent part of a four day weekend coding, check out my TechTV collection:


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