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Some Questions From A Prospective User

Mar 10, 2011 at 12:59 AM
Edited Apr 2, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Hi.  I just downloaded your program for the first time and it looks great.  I was a huge Handbrake user for a quite some time.  I think it's an awesome piece of software.  However, they just recently dropped off target file size from their options.  Many people, including myself, are quite upset at the fact that they removed such a key feature that can be very useful at times.  Not to say I am opposed to crf.  I use crf for just about all of my movies.  I understand the many benefits of crf, but sometimes have the need to predict file size.  The only way to do that now in Handbrake is to come up with some complicated equation to use average bitrate.  I've tried a handful of the online bitrate/size calculators and they just don't get me as close to the target range as Handbrake used to.  In any event, that leads me to a couple questions from a prospective user...

1.  I know you pull the code directly from Handbrake.  So I imagine that this would mean some extra work from you since they have removed the code for target you plan on keeping the target size option with your next release?  It would really mean a lot to me (and I'm sure many others) if you would be willing to do this.  Although they sometimes come off a little "rough around the edges" in their forum posts, I do think the Handbrake developers are geniuses.  Their software is powerful, yet user friendly.  If you decide to keep target size, it would really be the best of both worlds.  Handbrake's code along with your slick user interface, and of course the missing target size option.  I'm sure you would gain many other "converts" besides myself.  There was quite a long thread on the Handbrake forum (before it was locked...doh!).  It was basically a petition to keep target file size...many people expressed their dismay.  And these are just the people on the forums who use the nightlies.  I imagine their will be another uproar once their next stable release comes out, minus this option.  One of the posters mentioned your software...that this could be an alternative, a solution to our woes.  Please, please tell me you will consider this.

2. How often do you "download" their code and release updates?  I see you don't do nightlies like Handbrake...after all, you are only one person (i think, right?).  But do you only use code from their stable releases?  I ask because stable releases are so few and far between.  I'm just wondering if you ever do any releases in between (with updated Handbrake code)?  If so, count me in on the next release (if you keep target size).  However, it looks like you are currently using the 0.95 code which still has the target size option anyway.  Either way, if you only use stable releases, I will at least definitely be coming back once 0.96 is released.

3. This is more a feature request instead of a question...I noticed that you don't display the fps that the encoder is running at.  It's always nice to see how quick it is going, especially if you want to compare speeds with different advanced settings (i.e., does changing this or that option speed up encoding fps, etc.)

4. This is kind of a feature request, but also more of a question...I'm currently running my first encode from your software.  It is a 2-pass, turbo mode, target size encode.  The progress bar says "task 1/1".  Do you not split up progress into the 2 different passes (tasks)?  Maybe I'm missing something, but if not, that would be nice to see as well.  Is the progress/percent/time-left indicator measuring the entire encode process from start to finish (i.e, both passes in one)?

Thanks again for you software, and please let me know what you think.  I will pass it on and let others know.

Mar 10, 2011 at 3:08 AM

in new zealand right now, typing on a phone that does not do capital letters in this rich text editor. i will get back to you in two weeks or so and give a proper response.

Mar 13, 2011 at 4:51 PM

I've been using your software for my latest encodes and I have to say, I really like it and am getting used to it over Handbrake.  I really hope you keep target file size.  In any event, I think I found my own answer to my #4 question above.  Once I added items to the queue, I now get what the "tasks" are.  They are individual encodes.  I got to say, I really like the fact that it gives you an estimated time of when the entire queue will be completed.  A nice feature that Handbrake doesn't have.  I also see that you do have a small progress bar to the right of each item in the queue that shows progress for individual items.  Now that I think about it, I don't think I really care about seeing the progress of each pass in a 2-pass encode.  But it would be nice to see estimated time of each item in the queue ALONG with the progress of the entire queue.  Maybe a percentage value and/or ETA of the single track it is currently working on.  And I think I mentioned it encoding fps speed would be nice too.

Another thing I like is that when you go to rename the destination file, it automatically highlights the generated name so you can just paste the desired name without having to manually highlight the generated name.'s a little thing, but it's the little things that make it.  Now if you would only keep target size : ) ...did I mention I like that feature...LoL.

Thanks for your efforts!!  Looking forward to your response.  New!  That is pretty cool.  Enjoy your trip.

Mar 13, 2011 at 4:58 PM

DOH!  I just saw another thing that I missed.  It looks like you DO have the encoding fps.  I accidentally hovered over the main progress bar and it displayed both current and average fps.  So ignore that request.  I still think it wouldn't hurt to display these all the time instead of in a "tool-tip" like way. Thanks again.

Mar 26, 2011 at 11:58 PM
Edited Mar 27, 2011 at 8:46 PM

Thanks. New Zealand was great fun.

1. (Target Size) I'll see what I can do here. I don't know if it's being removed from the core API yet. If it's just removed from the CLI and the GUIs I may still be able to access it. If it's removed entirely I suppose I could come up with some code that could set an average bit rate and approximate it based on the audio size. It would never be exact, due to subtitle sizes, duration bugs and ABR audio but I can definitely see good uses for the feature. I'll definitely make an effort to keep it around.

2. I don't update to the latest HandBrake nightly on every release, but I do so much more often than the official HandBrake releases. Maybe it happens every 1-2 months. Right now VidCoder happens to be on the 0.9.5 official release core. I'd been considering how I want to handle VidCoder coming out of beta and whether that means I want to only build off of stable releases. I think I'll keep on pulling from the nightlies, since those are usually in pretty good shape and I can smoke test them before releasing VidCoder. Anyway as for your concern I'll have to see how far down the removal went, but I'll try to keep the feature around.

3. The current encoding speed in FPS was a statistic that I didn't think really needed "monitoring". If you were interested, you could check it, but after seeing it once it doesn't really help you anymore, and was actually a little bit distracting to have flickering about during an encode. I decided to move it out from the main window to reduce the clutter and visual noise a bit.

I'll see about getting the individual item ETA. It does make sense to separately and explicitly show the individual item and queue ETA.

Mar 27, 2011 at 7:49 PM

1. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure it has been removed from the core API.  For a little while I used to just add the -s switch to a custom generated query.  That worked for a little bit.  But in the latest nightlies, that no longer works.  If you would be willing to come up with the code, it would be greatly appreciated (I'm sure by more than just myself).  I'm pretty sure Handbrake users who used to use target size are either staying at 0.95 or are calculating avg bit-rate themselves.  I've tried various avg bit-rate/size calculators on the internet, but none of them seem to get it right.  I can pretty much create my own calculator in, say, excel, but even then, I can't seem to get the size as close as Handbrake used to (plus or minus 1mb - 2mb).  Even if I did perfect the calculator, it is a pain to have to look up the audio bit-rate, plug in the time, etc. for each and every encode.  To have it integrated right into the interface saves a lot of trouble and extra work...especially, say when you are doing an entire t.v. series.  I wonder if the code that they used is available somewhere.  I'd like to take a look at it, to see what variables they used in their calculation.  Someone on their forum mentioned that you have to figure in the container overhead along with the video length and audio bit-rate.  It's little things like that which makes it hard for me to get as close as Handbrake used to.

Apparently Handbrake's calculation was never perfect either (although it just about always was for me) as long as you can make yours as good as their's...i think you're in good shape, and nobody can complain if it's ever off due to impossible factors (such as VBR audio).  No one is expecting the size to be exactly correct every time due to your mentioned reasons.  That's one of the reasons that the Handbrake developers said why they took it out...because it wasn't always correct.  However, I never had it off any more than 2mb (usually 1) from my desired size.  It is understood that it may not be exact if certain variables are present.

When you mentioned ABR audio, did you mean VBR instead?  Isn't ABR = average bit-rate which is easier to predict size with?  I would think VBR would be the one to mess it up?  I never use the subtitle feature in Handbrake (always do that part seperately if need be) so I'm not (and probably most people aren't) worried about that.

2.  I think every 1-2 months is perfect.  It wouldn't make sense for you to update every night like they do.  It seems it takes about 1-2 months anyway, for enough worthwhile features to be updated (x264 bumps, bug fixes, enhancements, etc.).  However the "stable" releases are put out so infrequently.  And like you said, the nightilies are usually in pretty good shape.  I hope you will consider continuing with every 1-2 month releases.  This, and keeping/implementing some kind of target size feature, would definitely make me a convert.

3. I see what you are saying about FPS and visual noise..  Once I realized I could still get that info in a tooltip, I was more than happy.

Thank you for considering my requests.  I encode pretty much around the clock.  So if you ever need me to test anything out, I'd be more than happy to.

Keep me updated with how you are going to proceed with target size.  It's come up more than once in the handbrake forums.  I would love to offer people a real answer to their question, instead of just..."too bad, use crf, it's better".  While I do use crf quite often, there are always going to be applications that call controlling the size of your file.

Thanks again !!!

Mar 27, 2011 at 8:44 PM

Actually all I need for the target size to keep working is hb_calc_bitrate() in the core HandBrake library. I just updated to the latest SVN source and it still exists. It was just removed in the GUIs and the CLI (which also uses the core libraries). So it should be fine for now. Also the logic used to calculate it looks fairly simple so if it's removed I should be able to re-create it in VidCoder without any issue.

Mar 28, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Awesome...that's great news!! I have subscribed to your project and am looking forward to your next release.  I hope (and would imagine that) this brings more people to your program.  Thanks again!!

Apr 2, 2011 at 2:13 PM

@matchorno - Target filesize is still available at the CLI (Capital -S)

It's not been decided yet whether it'll be removed from the CLI yet. There are a number of features that are CLI-only, so it may well stay.

May 28, 2011 at 3:31 AM
s55 wrote:

@matchorno - Target filesize is still available at the CLI (Capital -S)

It's not been decided yet whether it'll be removed from the CLI yet. There are a number of features that are CLI-only, so it may well stay.

Looks like it was removed from the CLI.  The -S switch no longer works.  It just bonks out.  So it looks like Vidcoder has officially taken it's rightful place as the #1 encoding tool.  Handbrake has quickly become irrelevant to me (except for the fact that it plays a role in Vidcoder).  I will most likely be using Vidcoder exclusively from now on.  RandomEngy: thank you soooo much for actually "listening" to your users and keeping a feature that's not all that unreasonable of a request.  Handbrake may be the only encoder in the world that doesn't have a target size option.  I'm not saying target size is always the way to go.  But it certainly has it's applications.  So I thank you for not only seeing that, but for thinking about the users.

I've seen many forum posts of Handbrake developers basically saying that (paraphrasing here) 'they couldn't care less if no one in the world ever used their program.  It is their own project for their own use and if some other people can get some benefit from it, then that's fine too.'  Well it shows.  I've seen more feature requests implemented here by this one developer in one release, than Handbrake's team of programmers implement in a year.  O.k...maybe I'm exaggerating...but you get the point.  I'm not asking for every unreasonable request to make it in.  But the attitude and atmosphere over here is just a lot different.  I don't want to completely bash Handbrake.  We wouldn't really have Vidcoder without it.  They are obviously very talented programmers.  But I'm just glad there is an alternative that meets my needs.  A friendlier atmosphere, and I really like the improvements that have been made to the program over the last few updates.  Keeping target size is at the top of the list.  However, I really like your interface.  It is growing on me the more and more I use it.  Thank you again!!!!!!!

Aug 30, 2012 at 5:21 PM

See here for a batch file that uses handbrake to transcode mkv to a certain file size (audio unchanged).