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Tutorials

6 to 12 March 2016, we hardly knew ye..

I’ve been playing lots of Far Cry Primal since it came out last week. It’s been jolly good fun tooling around the Stone Age on Easy difficulty, lobbing spears and cave bears and bees at conveniently colour-coded baddies.

A Moment In The Sun meanwhile is back in active development. I’ve written a much tighter synopsis along with some handy character rules that should help keep me on track. Easter’s coming up weekend after next (not next weekend, derp), so if I get my act together I’ll have a good run of days for doing some rough layout. 🙂

There’s two animated shows in particular whose feel I like for AMITS, both kids’ shows – Pocoyo and Kaeloo. I’ve recorded both of them off free to air TV down here but I end up with WTV files. Neither VLC nor Blender load WTV files natively, and WTV files (here in Australia at least) are also stupidly big because our digital TV broadcasters are still using old inefficient codecs to maintain compatibility with old hardware.

Anyway, here’s a mini-tutorial on turning WTV files into MP4 files using open source software. Mainly writing this so I don’t forget the commands for FFmpeg or the keystrokes for Avidemux. 🙂

Step 1: Record your show using Windows Media Center (sp). Make sure you’ve got a buffer of around 5 minutes either side of the show starting and finishing because TV schedules are not exact. Free-to-air TV in Australia doesn’t apply any kinds of extra DRM – other countries may vary. You will end up with a stupidly big file.

Step 2 – conversion: For this you’ll need FFMpeg.

  • Start the FFMpeg shell batch file. You will get a DOS prompt. Don’t be scared.
  • Change directory to where your recordings are, so cd C:Recorded TV by default.
  • Execute the following command: ffmpeg -i tvshow.wtv -strict -2 -deinterlace tvshow.mp4
  • There is a way to batchconvert a whole directory using a single line of code – sadly, * doesn’t work. Personally I cheat by booting into Linux and using bash. 🙂
  • Once FFMpeg is going, wait a bit. It will do Things.
  • You will have a file which is much smaller but about the same quality.

Step 3 – topping and tailing unwanted bits without recompressing. For this you’ll need Avidemux. Manipulating the MP4 stream directly means there’s no extra quality lost through recompression. Also Avidemux is much quicker to use with hotkeys instead of clicking icons.

  • Load your fresh new MP4 into Avidemux.
  • Keep hitting the up arrow key until you can see your show starting. Press [ to mark the in point.
  • Hit the up arrow key some more until your show ends. Hit down arrow if it skips past the end of the show. Find the keyrame closest to after the program ends then keep hitting left arrow key until you’re at the last frame of the show. Hit ] to mark the out point.
  • Choose your Output format (AVI or MP4 is fine), then hit Ctrl-S to Save!
  • You will now have a nice small file with just the bits you want. Mostly.

Having done all that, I can then pull the video into Blender’s Video Sequence Editor and examine it frame by frame to learn precious animation secrets… mm… secrets..

You could also use Avidemuxer for datamoshing too. 🙂

That’s it for this week!

By quollism

A creator of quollity stuff.