OT: Looking for video conversion help

A small part of my business requires that I take narrated videos when writing property condition reports, proposed repairs for out of town owners, etc.,
I take my own videos and use a couple of different programs, now mostly Nero to convert different formats to .vob and the embedded .bups and all the other files and embeds that allow different format files to play on a DVD player. Works like a champ. I edit, trim, adjust view angles, compress, transcode, convert, etc, and put the video on DVD with a menu.
Here's my problem. I have a video that has come my way from another contractor that does inspections, but anything on the computer other than emailing his grandkids is out of his skill or interest level. He has a video that he took of some questionable work that will need to be addressed, and the video is an important part of his case. However... it is impractical to think that everyone will have a computer, and since this will probably be going to court the courtroom will have a DVD player ready to go.
So motormouth (also known as me) tells his contractor buddy that "for a fee" I will convert his video, set up a logo background on his DVD, and include live menu buttons to access different job site areas. He is thrilled as the attorney he is doing this for wants to be able to distribute the DVD as a pre-emptive strike to all concerned parties to see if they can all settle out of court. So of course, he wants the most professional looking video possible.
The rub: Someway he has the only remaining copy of the on site video in .WMV format. He has a "hi res" (not hi def) cameral that takes roughly DVD quality, so a 30 minute video is about 60+ minutes to convert to DVD. That part isn't so bad; but the output is.
I have tried numerous other programs, since I had problems with Nero in the conversion. Nero did the best video conversion, but the actual sound won't sync 100% and ruins the narration - AND, to boot, one of the vid files was only 27 minutes ling and Nero took an hour and 40 minutes to transcode, build the DVD structure, file sturcture, the menu buttons and burn. Others are certainly faster, but the video on some, especially the fastest ones, really stinks.
I have tried pay programs, free programs, demos of high dollar programs, and none of them look very good to me. If the clarity is right, the colors are off. If the colors are good, the video will hiccup every once in a while. If the colors are good and there are no hiccups, the rendering will be fuzzy. I have even gone so far as to slow down the drive speed, change DVD blanks, and leave the computer to work on this as a single task after a hard boot with all other programs closed.
I am stumped. And I refuse to turn in a piece of crap that will embarrass me and my friend.
I have been doing this type of stuff as a hobby for years now and never had this much problems or such low quality output. Does anyone here have a favorite piece of software or pieces of software to get me out of this .WMV hell? I have tried about 6-7 different highly rated converters and am just about out of patience.
Any suggestions? Sure would like to hear from anyone with ideas....
Robert
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*snip: Video conversion and WMV problems*

One of your last resort approaches might be to play the video and re-record it back to the computer using a TV tuner card. This will give you the ability to save the video in a different format, at least.
Wish I could be more helpful, but the programs I use handle either MPEG or WMV, but not both. (Avidemux and Windows Movie Maker.) There's a WMV plugin for VirtualDub, but I haven't used it to know if it works.
Good luck!
Puckdropper
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If you're quiet, your teeth never touch your ankles.

To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

If you're running Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate, try Windows Movie Maker/Windows DVD Maker, that's included and is intended specifically to work with WMV.
Also, see if you can find out what brand and model of camera he's using and if so, see if the manufacturer has a conversion package.
It may just be a pathological file that can't be fixed without major effort.
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On Fri, 18 Jul 2008 07:30:05 -0400, "J. Clarke"

The Pinnacle Studio 11 software that I use handles this conversion.
You could also try running the .wmv file through a capture card/cable like the Pinnacle 710 USB, that will make the conversion from the source.
Regards, Tom.
Thos. J. Watson - Cabinetmaker http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 / tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet
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How is the quality? Does it actually come out in DVD (720 X 4XX) quality? That would be great if it did.

I tried that before, and the quality of the video was greatly reduced. I think the converting of formats on the fly was more than the card could handle. It worked great for archiving VHS as the output looked the same as input. Not so good in the all digital side.
I would be interested in what you think of the Pinnacle conversion software feature though. Does it maintain a clear high res picture after format conversion?
Robert
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On Fri, 18 Jul 2008 10:00:24 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

All I can offer you is an analogy. One of the reasons I bought the software/hardware combo was to convert all of my old VHS stuff to digital (DVD output) before the last VHS machine in the world stopped blinking 12:00 12:00 12:00. I had to spend a fair amount of time tweaking settings to get what I considered to be adequate output.
I also converted some old files made with WMM and again had to test and retest before 'nailing' it.
It seems that translating formats is kind of like language translation. A perfect result is elusive to the point of nonexistence and you wind up just doing the best you can.
Here's a link to the trial version. It says it is a rescticted version but does not go into detai about said restrictions.
http://cdn.pinnaclesys.com/Supportfiles/Studio10Trial.exe Regards, Tom.
Thos. J. Watson - Cabinetmaker http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 / tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet
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In some cases, I think you are right. In this case though, you may be spot on. It is disappointing though that in this day and age someone can't come up with a program that manages the little Xs and 0s that make up digital code into something easy to use with a good output.

Thanks for the input and response, Tom.
Robert
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On Fri, 18 Jul 2008 20:38:03 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

My pleasure.
I'll be interested to see how it turns out.
Some of my most frustrating moments have involved dealing with video.
Regards, Tom.
Thos. J. Watson - Cabinetmaker http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 / tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet
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On Fri, 18 Jul 2008 10:00:24 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

In Pinnacle you can slow down the conversion process in the hope of reducing errors.
I'm not saying that it's a panacea but it does help.
Regards, Tom.
Thos. J. Watson - Cabinetmaker http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 / tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet
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There's a thought...
I haven't changed to Vista, but I have a computer with Windows Media Center on it, which has WMM. That's one I haven't tried. Already have it, too....

All he got with his cam was transfer software from some company as a promo, with no transcoding capabilities.

Sadly, after using the dedicated programs that I have on this movie, I am beginning to think I am asking too much. Further readings have revealed that not only am I asking the software to transcode to a different format and file structure, but it is decompressing and compressing a LOT more than I thought it was.
I am not ready to chalk this one up to a learning experience, but I may never get what I want for the final product due to the limits of the original format. I am remembering the old saying "you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear".
It looks great on the computer, but there really isn't much of a point in shooting in high res WMV if you can only watch it on a computer or on a computer based display system.
Robert
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On Fri, 18 Jul 2008 07:30:05 -0400, "J. Clarke"

I've used WMM for this task frequently with generally good results. The only red flag that I see is that when a file has un-synced audio it usually remains that way. I convert from WMV to the highest resolution AVI than use something else to get from AVI to DVD (MPEG2?).
WMM is slow, however.
-- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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If the video is on a web site, I think you can download it in a compressed or alternate format using the most recent RealPlayer... But I'm not sure and furthermore, not sure that would help any.
Regards, Joe Agro, Jr. (800) 871-5022 01.908.542.0244 Automatic / Pneumatic Drills: http://www.AutoDrill.com Multiple Spindle Drills: http://www.Multi-Drill.com
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I use Snagit and convert to a AVI file.
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AVIs don't work in a DVD formatted for a player. They will work on a computer, as will the original format of .WMV.
I need high quality .vob, with .bup indexing.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Not sure if this will help, but if you know someone with a mac, you might try mac the ripper, then iMovie and iDVD. It may be that would give you the control you need.
--
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In article
<snippity snip>

<more snippage>

<And more...you know>
DVD drive speed etc. isn't going to affect video quality/clarity. There's no harm in fiddling, but nothing to gain unless you're burning coasters when you really wanted DVDs.

Converting between video formats and codecs is a big pain, no doubt about it. My "computer video swiss army knife" program of choice is the free command line ffmpeg program. Getting a copy compiled can be an ordeal, although I suspect you'd be able to find prebuilt versions for Windows without too much trouble.
ffmpeg is pretty quick and generally can manage to do a fairly decent job. In this case, I'd probably try using it to convert to some minimally compressed intermediate format (say, dv) and then let Nero or whatever create the DVD stuff at its leisure.
And for what it's worth, 1/3 realtime speed to do a decent MPEG2 DVD compression doesn't sound all that outrageous to me.
Hope that helps.
--
Andrew Erickson

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot
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wrote:
<snip>

Hi Robert,
I use Super (c) video encoder. It's basically a menu based front end for utilities like ffmpeg that Andrew mentioned. Much easier to use. You can pretty much convert any format to any other format. It won't burn the DVD for you but it will create DVD compatible VOB files. You'll still need software to build your menu and burn the disc. I use Super (c) all the time. Best part: it's absolutely FREE. Go here to get it:
http://www.erightsoft.com/SUPER.html
The web site navagation is goofy and a real pain. But, it's well worth the effort.
Ed Bennett www.tablesawalignment.com
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I use Pinnacle Studio 9+ or something like that. I generally convert "problem" files to the highest res .avi I can make and then go from there. Is it possible that the problem is in the limitations of your graphics card, not the software? This is not a personal challenge, just a thought. The last time I upgraded my Video software, I found that, even though is was supposed to run on W2000, it would barely work at all. So I had to get XP. Then I found that the computer would barely run XP, so guess what was next?
Pete Stanaitis --------------------------
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

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Pinnacle Studio v. 11 or v.12 will handle wmv's exactly like an mpg with no problem BUT(!) (IMHO Studio is the best of consumer-grade software. And it's a $100 or so. Pro-grade software rambles upwards towards a $1000 a copy, real quick)
1. There is a learning curve... 2. If the original input is screwed, the output will be screwed...For instance, those FLV files on YouTube are compressed as hell when they are created, and a simple conversion to another format is not going to increase quality. 3. If the audio is out of sync, it can be re-synced BUT it's a time consuming process.. (If the out of sync audio gets "progressively" worse through out the video, you have to go back and "slice" the file into very small pieces and then reset each audio track to each visual track. If the the entire video is out of sync, say a half second slow, you can reset the entire audio track at one time.) 4. If there is a color shift, it can be partially adjusted by Pinnacle, but NOTHING is automatic... One of the Studio plugins will allow the application of each color filter, BUT, it's very touchy and the results are rarely fully satisfactory.. 5. Did I mention there is a learning curve? 6. If you're intent on adding menu's chapters, then adjusting the color, and the sound, remember that every single frame has to be completely rebuilt and it's going to take lots of clock-cycles. Lots and lots of cycles. 7. For some of this stuff, you'd better have a pretty good video card installed, otherwise, "hiccups" will be a constant plague.* 8. Studio handles WMV exactly like MPEG's. No conversion necessary. And it'll create either a raw MPEG or a DVD-ready VOB disk on output. (Some DVD players will play MPEG's direct. Some won't) 9. Some DVD players just don't like home-created DVD-R disks. Some DVD players don't care. (My high-end Samsung resolutely refuses the -R disks, but the super-cheap APEX will happily play them with nary a hiccup. Both will play a +R disk recorded on the same machine, using the same software and burner....go figure) 10. There is a VAST difference in the quality of the DVD disks, even among the name-brands. Price is not a reliable indicator. I've ran up to a 25% failure to burn rate with Memorex. Verbatim (In my experience) have about a 2% failure to burn rate. 11. The better the software, the longer the learning curve... 12. There is a difference between DVD-Menu's (which are used to select various videos to play on a single disk) and Scene (Chapter) selection menus for jumping around inside a single video. Sometimes it is preferable to take a single video and then break it up into several small videos.
*High end video cards are not a suggestion, they are a requirement.....
I know this is not quite what you wanted to hear, but video editing is like woodworking...sometimes there is just no easy answer...
James... BTW, Mac's are an entirely different universe..............
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