Sunday, November 25, 2007

weekend projects: slides to dvd and batch encoding of videos

happy belated turkey day to everyone! 

like most that work in the retail sector, i sadly had to work this weekend also (oncall but still working imo).  so since i had to be around my pc all weekend anyways, i figured i'd pick up on a few projects i've been meaning to get done.

my first and now-bigger-than-i-thought-it-would-be project is turning out to be quite the task.  my mom had a ton of slides from back in the 1960s of her trips across the USA.   being the geek and good son i am, i told her that for part of her xmas present, i would scan about 1000 of them in and make a DVD video showing them (thinking it would be a weekend project only).

well, after about 5, 3 hour sessions of scanning, i got the images scanned in and also named the images w/the descriptions.  i also setup a very nice folder structure based on what the slides/images were of (categorized mainly by trip).

so this weekend it was off to the dvd/slideshow creation part.  i've used several good programs to do this but this would be the first time i would do a 'real' dvd and in turn create chapter points, submenus and also link each section together to be seamless and easy (my parents are in their 60+ years and aren't the most technologically advanced, still pretty techy for their age ie has a wii and pc and digital camera).

i ended up using NeroVisionExpress to make the slideshow video part.  basically what i did was use the wizard to create a slideshow dvd and then i burned the disc to a folder on my harddrive. 

after burning to a dvd on my harddrive (ie created full vob file structures, not mpg or avi), i had to then convert the vob files to mpg.  i found the greatest vob to mpg conversion program ever, VOB2MPG v2.5.  the best part is that its freeware.  get it here:

so now i finally had my photos into slideshow form and also in an editable form, mpg. 

now i wanted to master the video and also add in titles/music.  i decided i'd use my Sony Vegas 6.0 to do this since it does a pretty good job of rendering wmv and i also planned to use Sony DVD Architect 2.0 to create the actual disc and menu's.

Both are very powerful pieces of software that are a bit hard to get a grasp on initially. so after about 4 hours of playing, i had one video ready to be rendered.  rendering took about an hour but my file size was cut in half w/no video degradation (resized to 640x480, standard dvd since i was almost over a single layer dvd w/the current mpg video however dual layer may be the way i have to go to keep the resolution and text readable).

so after about 40+ hours of work, i have a 10 minute video.. :)  however, its all downhill from here, just need to save the projects in Vegas and then run a batch render at night and perhaps even setup my living room PC as a network renderer to help. 

but when it all comes down to it, it will be worth it to see the look on my mom's face when she pops in the dvd.

 my second project involved creating a good batch script to do batch file converting of movies/videos.  it seems to be a challenge to find a good and free batch converting software so i thought i'd see if i could make my own using my batch scripting skillz.

previously, i have created quite a few very complex batch files to do similar type of conversions.  one i made i used in SageTV to autoconvert mpgs to wmv and then in turn create a very basic webportal page, embedding each video into a page.  i was pretty proud of that one, it can be found over at the SageTV forums:

however, with the purchase of my zune, i realized most of my music videos were in mpg form and not readable by the zune software and in turn needed to be converted.  i hate do it manually one-at-a-time so i decided to modify my batch file and make it much easier (just click a batch file and voila, all mpgs in a folder converted to wmv).

i think i finally have a solution and will be posting it to soon. :) i just need to test and make sure it does not break anything.