VidCoder and the Future...

Nov 29, 2011 at 2:50 PM
Edited Nov 29, 2011 at 3:17 PM

This is a repost of some content previously posted in the Issue Tracker segment, I've edited it and updated it for clarity.  Many will join with me in congratulating RandomEngy on an excellent product.

Overall-
Again, product looks great...I see you are getting many more "custom" customer requests and although some are very specific and useful it's easy to begin the downward slide of total functionality vs. awkward jumbled interface.  From my experience, it might be useful when you have time to exercise your code skills and tackle them, and then place some of those features in a "special features/advanced" tab in the options dialogue. 

The naming conventions and scripting features for those of us that are doing mega encodes of libraries are very beneficial and make VidCoder the choice.  I've passed it along about 20 times now to those in my same spot with big libraries trying to digitize and the response has been great. 

Some thoughts- The future- a break down and feedback from a group of users I've given the program to:

The real kicker, the real meat of the issues I read here is that those with TV episode discs have no simple way to encode, process and name episodes.
Currently it's: (indulge me here)


Step 1:
Get Disc (copy to drive-prefered for queueing) via dvd43/anyDVD/dvdFAB...using a directory tree naming convention that is useful in VC -

ie: Seinfeld Season 7 Disc 1 becomes Seinfeld>S7D1 07>VIDEO_TS

Step 2:
Queue up files (multiple titles using VC check off list...(great!).  But Video_TS files have issues: same episode sometimes due to SAP or Special Features on the disc 2+ times, so what should be 8 episodes turns into 12 titles, so the numbering feature to queue disc to disc is now out the window.  So you over name the episodes using some naming conventions, and sort it out later in explorer.  Grrrrrrr. Of course this is the big pain, so what should be 24 episodes of Seinfeld on three discs turns into 42 titles made up of the S2D3 Special Features and 4 SAP's of episode S2D1E2 on disc 1, etc.  Turns into a longer encode of unwanted episodes which ultimately have to be watched in order to name them correctly so you can make some sense of them on a media player.

Step 3:
Now that you have a ton of episodes in each directory, you start the clearing of the dupes (the ones you couldn't tell reading the title list once in VC because some have same title run time, which isn't always a great indicator, because some discs have four 23:04 episodes (1-4), and the fourth is actually episode 2, with ironically the same run time.  Once you get the correct number of episodes, you start the renaming. 

So, in my case,  episode 1 encoded as {parent:2}\{parent}\{parent}.{title:2} , [{parent:2}] yields "S7D1 01.01 , [Seinfeld].mp4" and later is edited in explorer as: "07.01 The Engagement, [Seinfeld].mp4" when the episode title is added.  Of course you know the 0's have to added because PS3/WDLive and Xbox all sort the files numerically so 7.1 and 7.11 are next to each other in a list if your don't, and in the small directory displays on those devices facilitate having the name of the show at the end so you can actually read the episodes...otherwise you get "Seinfeld S7D2E1 The...." LOL.

Although VC has made this process FAR FAR less time consuming (awesome!), it's still a pain.  It's not VC's (or for that matter RandomEngy's fault) that VIDEO_TS files stink, have no episode names and all in all are becoming even more irritating with newer copy protections.

Solutions? Hmmm.
RandomEngy has the intimate knowledge of the code, so any immediate release improvements are deferred to RandomEngy -  even if they are possible, obviously, when you consider the limits of the most up to date HandBrake Engine.  Of all the software/Beta and open GNU style developer's I've dealt with in 30+ years in related industries, RandomEngy has shown to be an extremely responsive and accomodating author.  I've watched the forums, and even though there are often requests that are off the mark occasionally, RandomEngy has dutifully attempted to incorporate them.  Having user input helps improve the product and stretches the coding muscles of the author. 

What many don't know is that some features are limited by the design of the HandBrake CLI engine that VidCoder is "wrapped" around. 

Down the road? Well...

The key to any good piece of software is it's usability.  This process is either enhanced or curtailed by it's GUI (Graphic User Interface), which not entirely withstanding, is exactly what VidCoder does for HandBrake.

Where is the acorn in all this?

Easing the encode process involves seeing what's on the disc while trying to decide which titles to encode. 

The GUI concerning preview of each episode is currently not expediant or easy, and obviously relying on HB.  I assume using HB engine, each preview has to basically be encoded, temp filed and replayed.  The only real way to ensure you're encoding the correct episode, or if it's even an episode and not just a 26 min DVD menu you don't need or a 16 min special feature you really wanted,  is to watch the disc and mark down chapters (time consuming), or just encode it all and sort it out later (8 discs turn into 2 day encodes).

What some would love to see:  (RandomEngy's expert skill, desire to include and tight time budget aside)...my recommendations for the 'future' of VC:

  • Once the copy or disc file is 'scanned', the ability to pop open a dialog window of that source item, and manipulate it as a unique batch ('job') using an "Encode Item Sandbox" window. (see attached image)
    This involves dealing with each disc as a 'job' on a level where the file/folder/disc ('job') selected is now segregated into a dialog window...so only the specified job is being scrutinized for encode, and later to be added to a main encode queue...This allows for unique attributes to be applied for that 'job'.
  • On open, a Track list is presented, and selecting each track could generate a Preview very quickly...no more drop downs or dialog for multiple titles, because everything for that 'job' is in a list box and on the dialog window from the start.
  • Once the selected track is previewed, it's "to be written" info can be altered/edited and automatically sequentially numbered...and is then added to that unique "sandbox" job's queue ("Add to Job").
  • Then the next track (if applicable, ie. say a TV show multiple title or a special feature on a film) is selected, and it's "to be written" info can be altered/edited, and then also gets numbered in the next sequence and added to the "sandbox" job queue.
  • Any encode settings, numbering conventions, etc can be applied to each "sandbox" job queue, unique to this 'job', ie. TV format naming/encode presets vs. Movie format naming/encoding presets.
  • Once the user is done with that 'job', press "Add to Main Encode Queue" button and it is now dumped into the Main "Encode Queue" (kinda the original VC encode list) as a 'project'. If an 'job/project' in the Main Encode Queue needs to be edited, that 'job/project' is selected from the list, and then the sandbox queue dialog for all those items reopens, allowing changes to be applied to that job/batch. It seems this basically duplicates the basic coding procedure that's currently in VC, but changes an "item" on the main encode window to a "job/project" (a list of encoded items from a specific disc/file) and the main queue to a list of those "projects".
  • File Format naming options ({title}, etc.) could be saved to "Naming Presets" just like "Encoding Presets", so they can be also recalled to be used on each job/project batch.  Silly enough, but when you have 11-15 discs of some shows, the naming conventions ("Naming Presets") could also be a text file of the preset that we as users could create as a script, possibly with show names and styles of naming so VC didn't have to do anything but read it.  Then it would be easy to change between naming conventions for Movies versus TV shows. This makes it much more scriptable and customizable without VC having to be coded to accept everyone's wild ideas...you just give us the basic {language} and leave the rest to the user.
  • Pre-Naming the files (items in the job queue) with Episode names is a bit more difficult, but a text file window with those names we could generate (from netflix, imdb, etc) could be in the dialog as kind of a scratchpad so drag and drop could be enabled within the program to pull names into episodes for each item in the job - ("User Text Input")...it's just a text file that gives us the ability to keep things we want in a window we're already using.

I realize VC is a very usable and simple interface, and is gaining popularity because of this.  RadnomEngy's work has been excellent and the stability of the software built around HB has been first rate for the size of the audience.  These ideas are just an objective look at the interface from my perspective.  Take them for what they are worth...since 0.072 I've been using this product daily and love what it's been and what it's become. (Note for readers: I even have a dedicated PC running VC 24/7 <grin>)

I know ideas aren't openly solicited-I've been giving it some thought and that's where my thinking takes me.

Cheers.

Enclosed:  Interface Image - http://vidcoder.codeplex.com/Download/AttachmentDownload.ashx?ProjectName=vidcoder&WorkItemId=61&FileAttachmentId=308045

Coordinator
Nov 29, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Thanks for reposting this over here. It's great to see such enthusiasm and I appreciate the feedback.

"But Video_TS files have issues: same episode sometimes due to SAP or Special Features on the disc 2+ times..."

Not familiar with SAP here. But I get the basic issue: you don't know up front which are the real episodes.

So it looks like with the mockup you want to put the queue, menu and encode controls on the main window and move everything source-specific to a new window with 1-click title selection, a "sub-queue" and a place where you can enter episode names in batch and a naming presets option. A few quick notes:

  • I wouldn't call it a "job" because in both HandBrake and VidCoder, an individual queue item is already a "job". Maybe a "group" or something.
  • The preview is indeed limited by the HandBrake API. The static previews are generated during a scan and you can't create any more on demand, just look at the ones you've got. I don't see it terribly likely that I'll go beyond what is offered there. That's low-level work that requires knowledge of codecs, color spaces, etc.
  • Technically I'm not wrapping the CLI with VidCoder but the lower-level library: hb.dll . Both VidCoder and the actual HandBrake CLI call into this library to get work done. The CLI's interface is command line arguments while VidCoder's interface is graphical.
  • There's no DVD/Blu-ray database we can contact to find out what disc we have or what anything should be named. It would be nice but as far as I'm aware nothing like that exists right now. We have to rely on user input.

It's not clear to me what the Audio, Subtitles and Chapter Markers are applying to. Are they supposed to apply across all of the titles or just the selected one? If it's just the selected one you'd have to switch between all the different titles to check all the settings before hitting the "Add" button, and any changes would likely need to be made multiple times. In any case, the area of the UI that changes with the selected title and the area of the UI that applies across all titles should be clearly separated and be apparent which is which.

For the User Text Input I think I see what you're trying to do but a few points about it:

  • The term "User Text Input" is non-helpful. Nobody will be able to tell what it's for especially when presented with an empty text box.
  • It's not clear to the user what the format should be. I assume it's one file name (without extension) per line but the user won't know that.
  • It's not clear what the Browse button does.

The naming presets seem like a bit overkill. I might see having an option to override the naming scheme for the batch, and presenting a list of recently used naming schemes.

I assume the precedence of naming goes
Manually input file name -> "User text input" batch file name -> Automatic naming rules?

There also seems to be both checkmarks next to titles and a group holding queue, which is a bit confusing. I could understand just adding all the checked items, or going through the titles one by one and putting them in the holding queue, then adding the holding queue, but both? When I press "Add", do the checked files or the queue files get added?

Anyway, overall it seems this is recentering the entire program around the "add multiple titles" dialog. While this may be good for TV episodes on DVD, it doesn't hold true for everybody and I think we can solve some of the headaches around finding the right episodes without pulling the interface one step further away for people encoding movies or individual files.

I do like the idea of souping up the "add multiple titles" dialog somewhat. We could add:

  • The ability to paste in a list of file names to be used for the titles. That would be a time saver for TV episodes.
  • A quick static preview of the selected title. Like a miniature version of the Preview window. I'd probably have an option to turn it off in case it was causing crashes (the HandBrake preview API is not completely stable).
  • An option to override the currently selected naming scheme for this batch.

Subtitles, audio and the encode profile would still be determined automatically from what was selected in the main UI. The assumption is that they don't change episode to episode.

If you get it wrong you can delete all the queue items you just added and re-add them with different settings.

Nov 30, 2011 at 3:26 PM

I realize this is getting verbose, but for the sake of being clear, I'm breaking it down.  It's easy to get bogged down in details using written correspondence...I'll put off making a working demo model for now :).


"Not familiar with SAP here. But I get the basic issue: you don't know up front which are the real episodes."

SAP: Second Audio Program (another track) or Commentary.  Sometimes discs dupe the episode with different commentary, or rarely, the SAP is in two differnet titles, both same run time.

"So it looks like with the mockup you want to put the queue, menu and encode controls on the main window and move everything source-specific to a new window with 1-click title selection, a "sub-queue" and a place where you can enter episode names in batch and a naming presets option."

Yes.  It seems (to me) that this provides better flow for customization of each batch (any better than the word "job"?) and allows specific customization to that batch, which can be edited and controlled better since all presets/customization only affect that job (when created and later edited). (I should have stopped here, but I didn't...)

"I wouldn't call it a "job" because in both HandBrake and VidCoder, an individual queue item is already a "job". Maybe a "group" or something."

LOL...I had trouble with this one as well...not only from the user standpoint, but internal variable/module naming.  Let's see...Job, Project, Batch, Queulette, Biscuit, Cake, Order, Task...in the mean time for the sake of clarity, I'll use Queue Task/Group.

"The preview is indeed limited by the HandBrake API. The static previews are generated during a scan and you can't create any more on demand, just look at the ones you've got. I don't see it terribly likely that I'll go beyond what is offered there"

Lost here.  For two reasons-

Firstly, as we've chatted I realize this is a huge, repeat, huge chunk of code to do something...basically makes VC a 'player' as well, and I realize that's not it's intended use.  How to solve that simply is a tough nut to crack, and I'll give it some thought.  It's the crown jewel of the process though because it would make the encoding function completely user friendly and make VC different from the rest of the available programs.  So I'm lost for the moment as to how to assist in making this possible.

Secondly, The preview function I've seen is a 10 sec (or if selected more) cut that basically gets encoded out.  In the x86 XP version, I'm not aware of where to view the static previews generated during a scan unless you are refering to the Preview.  When VC is not encoding, these preview slices are pretty quick, but if you are adding files during an encode, it's pretty slow, and "playing" that essentially drops it into a mini-encoded file, no?.

Playing around with the Preview just now, I don't see why that window couldn't be the very same window in the mock-up...it is enough in support of your point, but opening yet another window gets cluttered.

"Technically I'm not wrapping the CLI with VidCoder but the lower-level library: hb.dll . Both VidCoder and the actual HandBrake CLI call into this library to get work done. The CLI's interface is command line arguments while VidCoder's interface is graphical."

I get this, I just overly simplified it...my mistake.  I misspoke as to CLI vs. .dll and the term wrap...well, to address that you don't need HB installed since it's engine is included with VC.

(sic)"For the User Text Input I think I see what you're trying to do but a few points about it:

The term "User Text Input" is non-helpful. Nobody will be able to tell what it's for especially when presented with an empty text box.
It's not clear to the user what the format should be. I assume it's one file name (without extension) per line but the user won't know that. "

"There's no DVD/Blu-ray database we can contact to find out what disc we have or what anything should be named. It would be nice but as far as I'm aware nothing like that exists right now. We have to rely on user input."

Well, in a very primative since there is...Netflix (subscription) has disc listings (both on the streaming and disc versions) and this can be simply copied and pasted in a text file.  I do this now.  When I encode discs from my collection, I simply call them up as a member of Netflix, highlight the season, and paste it into notepad.  I edit (quickly) the file into a line by line list of episode #'s and episode titles.  This is what I was referring to regarding the "User Text Input" box...the scratchpad.  It's a place to just pull up a .txt file that gives the user an "onboard" clipboard of info they can grab and place on the destination file name line, such as episode names.  Not everyone has 2-3 monitors, so including it in a VC window reduces the need to click in and out of the program.  Currently I do this with notepad up in the background (on another screen) when renaming in explorer, mostly because doing it in VC isn't possible during a batch 'enqueue multiple titles'.  (BTW...Working out something to pull the names from a text file into the 'enqueue multiple titles' process would be the bomb...no need to comment, I know the coding problems there, but they are not insumountable...kinda like importing a .cdtf into a database in excel or word for use as a mailing list...the user could pick and choose which title name goes where- not a coding issue, but something for the user to work out to make sure their file is in the right format.)

"It's not clear what the Browse button does."

So all in all the scratchpad is nothing more than a multiline textbox that reads a user created .txt file when the user "browses" for it.  Yes, it's something that is useful, if not for episode names, but for anything else we as users may want up in the window to drag and drap or cut and paste into a to be queued filename.


"It's not clear to me what the Audio, Subtitles and Chapter Markers are applying to. Are they supposed to apply across all of the titles or just the selected one? If it's just the selected one you'd have to switch between all the different titles to check all the settings before hitting the "Add" button, and any changes would likely need to be made multiple times. In any case, the area of the UI that changes with the selected title and the area of the UI that applies across all titles should be clearly separated and be apparent which is which."

Nothing changes here.  Those are on the main window and apply to each item added to the cue and the process is the same here.  They would apply to everythying in the group/task just like now.  Imagine if you will, VC as it stands now.  But instead of the Queue being a list of everything, it's a less cluttered simpler list of tasks/projects created by a pop-up window that is simlar to the current main VC window (which would become this pop-up 'task editor' window).

"The naming presets seem like a bit overkill. I might see having an option to override the naming scheme for the batch, and presenting a list of recently used naming schemes"

 I respectfully disagree.  Encode presets and Naming presets to me are equally important.  I virtually never change the encode preset, but change the naming depending on which type of disc is being encoded (TV series, Movie, Proprietary content disc...such as video training files I create).  Given the user can create a preset called "default", and then call it up as the default preset for naming (or encoding), overriding it by having to type one in is basically the same as it is now.  If the presets were selectable as shown, the users 'default' file would always be there by default but they would also be able to switch to other presets (enocde or naming) on the fly.

"I assume the precedence of naming goes
Manually input file name -> "User text input" batch file name -> Automatic naming rules?"

This is a good way of looking at it, although as it is now works...the user can batch add with auto naming and then edit.  Currently (and the reason to push for doing all this in a separate window), the user does this process now in the main window, and then dumps the files to be encoded into the list...hence that whole move up move down, edit and delete process, files can get out sequence, renaming/editing errors, and tagging a group to move, etc. gets cumbersome, especially when there are 50+ files/items. 

If it's down in a separate window (the sandbox/group task editor), you can tweak all of this before you dump it into the main encode queue.  Thus, the main encode window is less cluttered, only shows Queued Tasks (the 'jobs'...the 'groups' and the items they contain (only for reference), and any editing edits brings up the whole task for editing, not just one the item in the list of items from that disc/file.  I presume it's rare you'd want to apply a change to one episode of a TV series from a disc and not the rest.  Since Movies are basically a disc...a task, then they would be edited the same, and any special features or other extras from that movie disc would be kept in the same project as well.  This, along with naming presets, gives the user control over the disc/file as task/project instead of having to sift those files out of the queue as it stands now.  A main list with only tasks listted and a second column (collapsable) showing the items in the task would be desired.

"There also seems to be both checkmarks next to titles and a group holding queue, which is a bit confusing. I could understand just adding all the checked items, or going through the titles one by one and putting them in the holding queue, then adding the holding queue, but both? When I press "Add", do the checked files or the queue files get added?"

My mistake...that image was put togetther in about 10 minutes, just to give an overall representation of my boring long winded explanation (!).  Yes, there would be a batch add button, using the same process you use now on the 'enqueue multiple items' dialogue.  To clear it up, the user can either batch add then edit, or select a title in the list to preview (grrrr...) and/or add one at a time to the holding/task queue after naming like now. 

"Anyway, overall it seems this is recentering the entire program around the "add multiple titles" dialog. While this may be good for TV episodes on DVD, it doesn't hold true for everybody and I think we can solve some of the headaches around finding the right episodes without pulling the interface one step further away for people encoding movies or individual files."

It would seem that way, but it's not much different to create a movie file to encode than a TV series in the process I am suggesting, or as it is now.  Movie discs also have mutlitple titles, and if the user would like to preview them or customize the file names prior to adding them to a main queue, they can.  Any disc/file you encode simply becomes a task, even if there is only one item in that task.  Again if you see the current VC window with enhancements noted as the "sandbox/task/group" editor, and then have a main queue that lists those jobs/tasks/groups, you get my drift.  Everyone gets what they need, it's all in one basic task editor, and then the list of jobs/tasks/groups running becomes cleaner and easier to organize.  Think: Encoding is running, editing in the main encode window.  Move everything above the list of files currently encoding to a separate more enhanced window (when the user needs it) and you have less main window clutter.  You can combine some of these separate windows (multiple titles/mutiple files/preview) and their sub windows (track, settings, browse destination) to form the task editor.

"The ability to paste in a list of file names to be used for the titles. That would be a time saver for TV episodes. "          ------ YES.  Which looks like as many doing library collections are doing.

"A quick static preview of the selected title. Like a miniature version of the Preview window. I'd probably have an option to turn it off in case it was causing crashes (the HandBrake preview API is not completely stable).
"An option to override the currently selected naming scheme for this batch."      ------YES...as a preset...this is nothing more than similar code of the routines you call as encode presets, no?
"Subtitles, audio and the encode profile would still be determined automatically from what was selected in the main UI. The assumption is that they don't change episode to episode."      

--------YES, but now they are in the 'editor UI'

"If you get it wrong you can delete all the queue items you just added and re-add them with different settings."  ....as a new task.  and these tasks can be reordered like items currently...

Exactly.  That's the meat of moving towards the project/task concept vs. list of everything concept, since it simplifies the process of batch adding and batch editing.  I really see no major change to the current code to facilitate this (ha! if I could help I would), save the headache of combining dialogues, etc, since what you have as the main ui is bascially the engine + enhancements for the "task editor" window, and the main window/UI or module becomes the 'main queue'. only simplified  I've been out of the programming loop for many years now - although I still have MS Visual Studio 2005 still installed on my PC, (my past specialty is GUI efficiency and end user evaluation believe it or not....don't get me started on Vista again) but what I'm blabbing on about here is akin to having a main encode queue list window, and using the current main UI window (with combined enhancements) as the pop-up editor. 

Since we both agree more dialogues and more clutter makes it more bizarre, combine them, put them in one place (the "task" editor...the point which the user in charge of the creation of the file) and leave the main window to what VC does while you are asleep... a list of tasks running.  Where the "options" such as settings/tools are, I would assume still in the main window.  From what I see in the forums and talking with friends, editing items in the list or creating items for the list gets fuzzy.  Editing a group of items as a 'task" is easier since typically everything in that group shares settings.

Back to the video preview for a sec...yes, a slice by slice window like I showed in the example would be helpful if it gives the user enough of a preview to get past main intros and the like.  If there is a way to save those to a temp file per line item while the task editor is up (create them when a "Create Previews On Scan" check box is checked (an option in Tools>Options :) ) then the user can quickly see what's a special feature/dupe episode/Movie rather than slowing down the process for those that don't need them.

Again, on the surface it seems like a big change, a big overhaul, but from what's in my mind with the tidbits of memory I have of C# it's more of a reorganization and enhancement.  You've been very kind to entertain my ideas, and I'd rather be read as trying to encourage you rather than overwhelm you (Think: 3.0 LOL).  It will be interesting to see if anyone else chimes in with either support or condemnation of these suggestions.

Cheers!

Coordinator
Dec 1, 2011 at 4:22 PM

I'm going to get to combing through this post (and working on the next minor version of VidCoder) when I get a little less busy, by this weekend at least.

Dec 2, 2011 at 12:40 PM

I to have been using VC for a long time now.  And i have to say it is still by far the best encoder GUI out there.  I even made some suggestions for the enqueue multiple titles section (thanks).  I will give my views, suggestions and steps on how i use VC for TV series.

I've only encountered the issues with having more than one file for a single for one series.  There was the actual episode and also a directors commentary of the same episode.  So yes a preview of some sort would be great.

One suggestion would be to launch VLC player with the .vob file of the currently selected title.  It would save the hassle of playing the DVD and finding the correct title number.  You could put the preview button (that launches VLC) in the "Enqueue Multiple Titles" window.  The title list is already in there.  The title that's highlighted would be launched by preview button.

Now as for getting the correct episode and episode name saved as the filename with the least amount of effort.  This is what i do.

1.  In VC, under Tools-->Options in "Custom format" i put "Seinfeld S01E{title:2}.  (Now this would work for all of Season 1 disks.)

2.  Open up DVD Folder of disk

3.  Then File--> "Enqueue Multiple Titles"

  • If this is the first disk i would set "Override title" to 1
  • Now lets say there were 4 title for disk one.  On disk 2 i would set "Override title" to 5.  On disk 2 there were 3 titles
  • After queuing disk 1 and 2 the results would be.

Seinfeld S01E01

Seinfeld S01E02

Seinfeld S01E03

Seinfeld S01E04

Seinfeld S01E05

Seinfeld S01E06

Seinfeld S01E07

  • I would do this for all of season 1 disk.  Then i would restart from step one and change "Custom format" to Seinfeld S02E{title:2} for season 2.  All of the episodes are in the same destination folder.  Even different series.  This is required for step 4.

4.  After the files are encoded i run "The Renamer"  http://www.therenamer.com/screenshots.html

This is the best FREE program i have found for TV shows.  As long as you have the series title "Seinfeld" and the season and episode "S01E01" it will go pull in the episode name from "the TVDB"  http://thetvdb.com/  It has been very accurate for me.  On the rare occasion it cannot find the show, you can go to the TVDB website and find the show manually and copy the IDcode and paste it into "the Renamer" to point to the list you want it to use.  Not only that but it will create a folder structure in the root folder you specify.  Like this.

D:\TV Shows Archive      (this is the root folder you specified in settings)

-Seinfeld     (from here down is automatically created)

    -Season 1

      -S01E01 - The Engagement.avi

      -S01E02 - The Postponement.avi

It has multiple options for naming the file and folder and gives you a preview in the setting window.  I use XBMC to play shows and this works great.

To me some of the suggestions seems to be overkill.  I like the simplicity of VC.  Maybe in options have an option to "Enable Advanced Features" or something so people could turn it on or off.  One thing that would be helpful would be to have the "Custom format" box (the one now currently in options) also in the "Enqueue Multiple Titles" window.  That way steps 1 and 2 could be combined together.  Could just start with step 2 and change the title in there if needed.  Maybe make the "Custom format" box in "Enqueue Multiple Titles" window override the one in options.  That would work out well.  Because the one in options could be setup for movies and the one in "Enqueue Multiple Titles" window would be for TV shows.  As it stands now, when you want to encode a movie you have to go back to options and set it back up for movies.

Dec 2, 2011 at 3:21 PM
Edited Dec 2, 2011 at 6:37 PM

I replied to this post (twice), but my ISP crashed and lost my reply.  I'm too busy to recreate it here, [this next sentence sounds too harsh given your interest in sharing here so I am editing it :) >so suffice it to say that your post didn't address the "future", merely a workaround to what exists.<  Your examples are mostly for what exists, but you do offer some suggestions about what could be...]

The method you describe is similar to what I already do, but is less efficient and requires more open windows.  Maybe others can benefit from your step by step procedure if you post it as a new discussion, [we all have a different way of storing files, media players, etc., and the ultimate result should be customizable from within the encoder in my opinion...].

[I don't use XBMC since our files are used across platforms, and we don't use a 'server' to maintain the VOD (video on demand) files, but an 8TB NAS array that servers, xbox's, ps3's, PC's and WD Live + devices access.  Since there is no 'software' to run, each device uses it's own 'player' either hardware or software to play the file.  WD2go now even allows us to play files via an iphone/ipad remotely, and also access them via the web via a browser.]

Having lost my message into cyberspace explorer reload land, I'm a little miffed right now so please don't take my reply too harshly. (the frown on my face is from my isp, not your reply)

All in all:  there are other programs that encode, preview and even edit the file for output, but don't use the HB engine or provide some of the more recent naming ability of VC. (check out iWisoft Video converter, WinX DVD Ripper for encoders, or TagScanner, Advanced Renamer or Mp3Tag for renaming/retagging with scripting ability).  Using 3-4 programs to encode something isn't my idea of simple.

My admiration for VC and it's author has been voiced previously many times and in no way are my suggestions a criticism of the current work.  The point was to propose changes down the road to keep in line with what other interfaces already do, and to incorporate features into VC that are beneficial to the user, in one interface (simple? that's subjective), with as few dialogues and windows as possible.

Some points made in my post that was lost:

-the idea that movie discs and TV show discs should be handled separately is lost on me...as it stands, I suppose VC is a "movie" disc encoder, with some TV show disc encode features hidden in menus.  To me, a disc is a disc is a disc.  To keep die hard movie disc encoders happy, should there be a release of a "movieVC" and a "tvshowVC"? LOL. You know "tvshowVC" would become more popular, since it has the features available and ability to encode both movies and tv shows in one UI since both types of discs have more than one title, why use the stripped down 'movie only' one?  I don't encode blu-ray at all but having it on the UI doesn't offend me.

-Keeping things simple means just use the HB UI or the HB CLI.  Silly...the point of VC if I understand it, was to add enhancements that HB didn't offer.  Functionality doesn't mean complex, and simple doesn't mean functional. 

My suggestion was basically (simply) moving the UI forward, combining functions and easing user interaction to manage and encode.

1. Main encode window with list of tasks and their respective items.

2. Task editor window with all features needed to build an enocde file(s) and rename/preview/augment these list of task of items.

3. Combine user defined settings into one preset, that the user can call up.  The user can create subsets on their own, which would include encoding/naming/subtitles etc.

Again...miffed that when I clicked "reply" i was greeted with "Internet Explorer cannot connect"....twice....thanks to our local access concentrator having power issues.  grrrrrrrrrrr.

Dec 2, 2011 at 9:13 PM

Again...miffed that when I clicked "reply" i was greeted with "Internet Explorer cannot connect"....twice....thanks to our local access concentrator having power issues.  grrrrrrrrrrr.

That has happen to me.  I've gotten into the habit of copying my post before submitting, especially for large post.  Saved me retyping a couple of times now.

The method you describe is similar to what I already do, but is less efficient and requires more open windows.

My above steps are using two programs, VC and "the Renamer".  Correct me if I'm wrong but the "User Text Input" seems to be more work to me.  You have to go out to some website, find the show to copy and paste the episode names.  "the Renamer" does this automatically.

-the idea that movie discs and TV show discs should be handled separately is lost on me...

I did not mean we need separate TV show and Movie UI.  What i was getting at was as it stands now if i want to switch from queuing up TV shows to queuing up MoviesI have to go back into options and change "Custom format:" from "Seinfeld S01E{title:2}" to "{title}" so it will pull the name from the DVD.  With my suggestion above you could leave "{title}" or any of the other available options ( {source}, {range} etc.) in the "Custom format:" under options.  When you are in "Enqueue Multiple Titles" you could override the default format.  The "Custom format" text in "Enqueue Multiple Titles" window would have to be saved so it would be there the next time you open that window.

I looked at your pic.  Yes the preview would be nice but from RandomEngy previous statement that sounds like a big undertaking.

RandomEngy said "The preview is indeed limited by the HandBrake API. The static previews are generated during a scan and you can't create any more on demand, just look at the ones you've got. I don't see it terribly likely that I'll go beyond what is offered there"

So my suggestion would make life a lot easier for us to preview the episodes.  And this may be a doable option.  I am trying to keep things simple for the programmer as well as get the features that make our life easier.  I just don't want RandomEngy to one day decide it is just not worth it anymore and stop supporting VC.  It has happen before with other free programs i have used.

The "Naming:" section.  Am i correct that it ties in with the "User Text Input" section?  If that's the case that would also be something that i would not use because i feel my current way would be faster than copying and pasting text from the web.

Dec 2, 2011 at 10:40 PM

"I've gotten into the habit of copying my post before submitting, especially for large post."

We think too much alike!  I did that...and on the third try to post it I had done something in the background and my clipboard info was something else....LOL. 

"Correct me if I'm wrong but the "User Text Input" seems to be more work to me"

It's a simple way to allow a user to input info to a scratchpad and use it...like a script/text file...keep in mind that not all titles are available 'online' via a web database like The Renamer or Netflix.  When I convert DVD's, sometimes it's proprietary training DVD's or user created DVD's that there is no reference for, with the exception of a text file.  Picture this...watching the DVD's, building a title log, and then copying it to disk for later encode.  When adding the 'job' (one of many) to the encode,  I pull up the text file I stored in the same directory as the copied files, and viola!  Names/Titles right there so I can add them to each title on the task list to encode if I wish.  Again, from my past experience, it's an easy thing to add in code, and it puts more customization in the window...have it as a feature that one can turn off?  Maybe? it's just a suggestion for a need I have.  Using the renamer isn't bullet proof, since you have to have the episodes in the correct order and properly identified by episode ahead of time.  I find it amazing that you haven't come across that many discs with multiple titles of the same episode.  About 6 out of 10 are for me...try Seinfeld, Taxi, Cheers...you'll find 6 episodes has about 9 titles on a disc, 1 as "play all", some special features (usually >5 min) and at least 2-3 episodes burned as SAP or commentary.

 http://vidcoder.codeplex.com/Download/AttachmentDownload.ashx?ProjectName=vidcoder&WorkItemId=61&FileAttachmentId=309423 is an example of a current file I am encoding.  It has 4 episodes, but shows 10, 1 is the play all, but 5 and 6 are the same episode.  Star Trek was bad for this as was Seinfeld and Frasier.

"I did not mean we need separate TV show and Movie UI"

Was just taking the point to an extreme...didn't mean to imply that you implied that.  It was more addressing Random's comments in general.  It seems the TV show portion is a red-headed step child <grin>.  You and I agree on this, and in another post I came to the conclusion that a 'preset' could save all variables the user sets...and the user could save them in the program to call up...say you encode everything to .avi with certain settings and subtitles...but TV shows get named differently than Movies...so you have one "Movie" and one "TVshow" preset, so you don't have to do what we both mention.  Currently I save those "naming" convention defaults ({language}) to a text file, and each time I want to change the type of naming, I just cut and past the one I saved previously.  Others have mentioned they need different subtitle usage, and others have mentioned they want different encode rates...if everything was saved in one preset scheme file (like an .ini file), then it would be easier to change the preset for what we're talking about...  I think we agree on this.

The preview thing is already there in iWisoft and Winx...but they use a different engine than HB and are not batch or naming oriented.  If you read my previous post a day or so ago, there is some room to speed up the preview box, a way to place it in a dialog like I've shown instead of yet another window.  My blathering was more towards cleaning up the multi-dialogue approach to these things ('multiple titles', 'preview', etc.) and putting it all in one dialogue with the user so any file read can be manipulated in any way they choose.

I think I addressed the naming thing above, but in any event giving the user control over line item or batch naming would be desired. 

"Custom format:" from "Seinfeld S01E{title:2}" to "{title}"  -

FYI, I find that instead of placing the show name in the custom format field, I simply name the parent folder of the disc the show name and that way I can have multiple shows encoded if copied to the drive.  Not sure if you are already doing that, for clarification, read back a few posts, I think I described how I do it...if it's something you're doing, disregard, if not, try it, it may be a bit easier on the custom format naming side for you.

On an aside...it's import to note that I am not pushing for a quick change or update.  I am just comparing things in VC that I find useful in other wares, and my responses here shouldn't be viewed as defending or demanding anything on my position...It's important to me (and I would think others) that the points or suggestions made are clearly understood before they are dismissed. 

RandomEngy (I could be wrong) has been wholely in support of VC the entire time I've used it...something that is a tad different than most projects, but I feel at this stage, the program has just begun to grow, and has room for lots of refinement and progress...this isn't a criticism, it's because people have new ideas of how to use it, it's growing in popularity, and because as long as there are challenges to undertake that make the software more refined, there is typically eagerness in a developer to continue.  When VC get's to ver 10.3.5, that may not be the case! LOL

DSL is up again, and it's nice to have the same IP for more than 5 mins....<grin>

 

 

Dec 3, 2011 at 2:00 AM
Edited Dec 3, 2011 at 2:11 AM

"There's no DVD/Blu-ray database we can contact to find out what disc we have or what anything should be named. It would be nice but as far as I'm aware nothing like that exists right now. We have to rely on user input."

RandomE-  I did see that http://thetvdb.com/ as wisfalls points out, does offer an API .  It's been awhile since I looked at that site/software, but in ref. to our exchange, and somewhat a surprise to us both, there is a site that provides this info that can be accessed via code.

The 'user text input' scratchpad could be checkbox populated with this or a user could load a .txt file there for cross naming and batch naming could result?

Dec 3, 2011 at 8:19 AM
Edited Dec 3, 2011 at 9:14 AM

It's a simple way to allow a user to input info to a scratchpad and use it...like a script/text file

ah, that paragraph explains it a lot better.  I can see how some people could have a use for it.

I find it amazing that you haven't come across that many discs with multiple titles of the same episode.

I have come across the "play all" and special features, but the play time on those is either very long or short so they are easy to see.  Its the ones with the commentary and SAP that are the main problem (I do recall having a couple duplicates with SAP).  That is why i suggested the launching of a player.  At this point in time if it would be quicker, simpler to do it this way i would be perfectly happy with it.  At least we would have a way to preview the titles from VC.  Maybe instead of launching VLC he could just launch the default player.  That way people would not have to install a specific player just to preview.

It seems the TV show portion is a red-headed step child <grin>.  You and I agree on this

Yes we do :)

I find that instead of placing the show name in the custom format field, I simply name the parent folder of the disc the show name and that way I can have multiple shows encoded if copied to the drive.

I did not noticed the {parent} option (did not realize that had been added).  That works as long as the folder is named like "Smallville S10", then the custom format would be {parent}E{title:2}.  That works great.  But i still have to remove the E{title:2} when encoding movies.  By adding a custom format input in the "Enqueue Multiple Titles" window that overrides the default only when using "Enqueue Multiple Titles" i could leave the default custom format in options as {parent}.  Thanks for the suggestion.

Oh i was wrong "TheRenamer" uses more than just "TVDB".  It uses the following sites for TV shows.

theTVDB.com

IMDb.com

TV.com

Epguides.com

Wikipedia for Mixed Martial Arts

On an aside...it's import to note that I am not pushing for a quick change or update.  I am just comparing things in VC that I find useful in other wares, and my responses here shouldn't be viewed as defending or demanding anything on my position...It's important to me (and I would think others) that the points or suggestions made are clearly understood before they are dismissed.

I did not perceive your posts as demanding.  I was simply stating what i have seen in the past as an explanation why i was giving an alternative option.  I'm referring to the preview.  I feel (and i think you would agree) that having the ability to preview a title within VC by launching an external player would be better than no preview at all.  I would like to see a preview within VC also but I would still be happy to preview it in an external player that was launched from VC.

Glad to here your DSL is back up.  Ah modern technology can't live with it can't live without it.

Good dialog going here.  Looks like RandomEngy has a lot to read this weekend :)

Dec 3, 2011 at 9:02 PM
Edited Dec 3, 2011 at 9:03 PM

Yes, I see the scratchpad as the input box for something an API from a database could provide as well a file a user could input there...some sort of "check it and correct it before it batch names episodes" kinda window or the likes if that function were available.

Preview as it stands in VC would actually be acceptable if the time slices could be customized (10-40 seconds, 3,6,9,18,60 or 1-20 seconds, etc) and just those .jpg type of slices strung together in a slider bar preview box as shown.  Yes, the ability to specify an external player within VC's user settings would be a quick if not simple meantime fix as well, but ultimately it would be nice to have the preview incorporated into some sort task editor.

On the folder/anyDVD thing...yes, I opted for dvdFab lifetime (it was $20 less than anyDVD was for 1 year) and it does a similar thing when I use it.  Since I still run corporate XP, dvd43 (free) works on 98% of the discs I use, and it's a simple copy and paste function in explorer from my DVD drive rather than a 'transfer' type of process that happens in any/dvd/fab.  Again, you could just simply rename those folders in explorer before enocoding the lot, so your tvshow default naming doesn't need to be changed that often in VC.  Which is "simpler" by definition I leave to you.

Which brings me to another item to discuss...it would be an advantage to have VC read a disc (for those that encode from disc, I don't since I batch about 10 dvd's a night from my hard drive) and then interpret the disc name from the disc and use a case/truncate/mod function similar to that in tagging programs so the disc name would result in a name for the file(s) or at least a snipet that a user could call up via a {disc_name_snipet} call or the like.  As you see, the possibility of using {language} is endless I'm sure, as are the functions for VC we could dream up.  RandomEngy:  I'll help write the user manual when the time comes if you'd like the assistance!

Yes, good discussion, glad we're seeing some interest in the future of VidCoder.  Cheers!

Dec 3, 2011 at 9:59 PM

One thing I'm not clear on.  If you use the ".jpg type of slices strung together in a slider bar preview box" would there be sound?  If not then that would not help to determine if a title has SAP or commentary.

Dec 3, 2011 at 11:35 PM

Well, the preview would probably not have sound as the current one does not unless you process the preview encode (I think?  Haven't relied on it much since it is very slow), but from a user's perspective, at least you would be able to discern that the title in question was a duplicate (since preview slice would show it was identical to previous previewed title at the same time mark...perhaps the commentary/SAP concern could also be resolved by previewing one of the menu titles to learn which episode has a commentary/SAP and thereby properly encoded.

One thing that I've learned in 30 years of software: you never know how you are going to use a feature or what it yields until you have it to use.  I remember using HAL in Lotus...we built an entire automated invoicing and AR system around it and it did more and worked simpler than off the shelf ware at the time. :)

 

Coordinator
Dec 3, 2011 at 11:58 PM
Edited Dec 4, 2011 at 12:00 AM

Lost here.  For two reasons-

Firstly, as we've chatted I realize this is a huge, repeat, huge chunk of code to do something...basically makes VC a 'player' as well, and I realize that's not it's intended use.  How to solve that simply is a tough nut to crack, and I'll give it some thought.  It's the crown jewel of the process though because it would make the encoding function completely user friendly and make VC different from the rest of the available programs.  So I'm lost for the moment as to how to assist in making this possible.

Secondly, The preview function I've seen is a 10 sec (or if selected more) cut that basically gets encoded out.  In the x86 XP version, I'm not aware of where to view the static previews generated during a scan unless you are refering to the Preview.  When VC is not encoding, these preview slices are pretty quick, but if you are adding files during an encode, it's pretty slow, and "playing" that essentially drops it into a mini-encoded file, no?.

The "static previews" are what currently shows up in the preview window. They slow down when encodes are happening due to CPU and disk contention. And yes, playing live previews of the source material within VidCoder could be the scope of another project entirely. I would only consider it if someone else owned the code. Or else I would have to spend all day fixing bugs from obscure video formats.

It is somewhat plausible to pass off playback of a particular title to an external video player. However there's a couple snags: first the HandBrake API doesn't tell you which file the title comes from and second, a single title can be split across multiple files. The most plausible thing I could think of would be an added method on the HandBrake API that gives you the frame from an exact time in the video. Then you could set start/end points based on it and get a better idea of the content of the video.

Well, in a very primative since there is...Netflix (subscription) has disc listings (both on the streaming and disc versions) and this can be simply copied and pasted in a text file.  I do this now.  When I encode discs from my collection, I simply call them up as a member of Netflix, highlight the season, and paste it into notepad.  I edit (quickly) the file into a line by line list of episode #'s and episode titles.

Hmm. I couldn't find any copy/pasteable episode listing on Netflix. Anyway, I guess the idea is that each line will be an output file name, one corresponding to each selected title? That might be a worthwhile feature. I would probably label it "Override Names (one per line)".

Nothing changes here.  Those are on the main window and apply to each item added to the cue and the process is the same here.  They would apply to everythying in the group/task just like now.  Imagine if you will, VC as it stands now.  But instead of the Queue being a list of everything, it's a less cluttered simpler list of tasks/projects created by a pop-up window that is simlar to the current main VC window (which would become this pop-up 'task editor' window).

How are they going to apply to everything? You're not guaranteed to have the same audio tracks, subtitles and chapters on every title.

I respectfully disagree.  Encode presets and Naming presets to me are equally important.  I virtually never change the encode preset, but change the naming depending on which type of disc is being encoded (TV series, Movie, Proprietary content disc...such as video training files I create).  Given the user can create a preset called "default", and then call it up as the default preset for naming (or encoding), overriding it by having to type one in is basically the same as it is now.  If the presets were selectable as shown, the users 'default' file would always be there by default but they would also be able to switch to other presets (enocde or naming) on the fly.

I didn't say it was less important, I just thought something that accomplishes what you're trying to do might be done with much less overhead. It seems like if you had a list of recently used naming schemes as an override on the "enqueue multiple titles" dialog you'd still be able to quickly pick the naming convention you wanted. An encoding profile is making a string shorthand for a raft of settings. A naming profile is making a string shorthand for another string.

It would seem that way, but it's not much different to create a movie file to encode than a TV series in the process I am suggesting, or as it is now.  Movie discs also have mutlitple titles, and if the user would like to preview them or customize the file names prior to adding them to a main queue, they can.  Any disc/file you encode simply becomes a task, even if there is only one item in that task.  Again if you see the current VC window with enhancements noted as the "sandbox/task/group" editor, and then have a main queue that lists those jobs/tasks/groups, you get my drift.  Everyone gets what they need, it's all in one basic task editor, and then the list of jobs/tasks/groups running becomes cleaner and easier to organize.  Think: Encoding is running, editing in the main encode window.

There would be a cost. Essential UI for determining what audio track to use, where to output, subtitles, etc are all now one level further down. These are basic elements and I don't want to pull them away from the user. Furthermore, I'm not sure what this setup gains you. You still only have to set settings once and can add multiple titles in one go. If you need to change it you can delete those items and re-queue them with the right settings. You can move them all around with drag and drop. The only things missing are previews and naming convention/overrides when choosing which titles to add. You could add those in without introducing a grouping/sub-queue concept.

Move everything above the list of files currently encoding to a separate more enhanced window (when the user needs it) and you have less main window clutter.  You can combine some of these separate windows (multiple titles/mutiple files/preview) and their sub windows (track, settings, browse destination) to form the task editor.

Multiple files and browse destination are native re-used Open File/Save File dialogs that I can't just incorporate into a window.

The Settings I want in their own window for a few reasons. First, they don't necessarily need to change after they've been settled on, so you can close it and get them out of your way for a normal "rip this DVD" workflow. Second, they hide settings that some users may not care about or understand. They just want to boot up, encode some videos for their Android device and be on their way. Finally, it provides a clear line of separation of what an encoding profile consists of. If you edit something in that window, it will get saved as part of the preset. If it's not in the window, it wont.

Anyway I did not see the settings dialog fused in with your mockup.

The preview window, maybe. I've toyed with trying to get a miniature version of it included in the main window but I never really had the room. Plus since historically I've gotten some native crashes from preview generation I wanted give the flexibility to leave the window closed and avoid them. I could see adding a mini-preview pane to the Enqueue multiple titles dialog, so you could see what's in a title before you decide to check or uncheck it.

After the files are encoded i run "The Renamer"  http://www.therenamer.com/screenshots.html

This looks pretty handy. What I usually do is encode everything and fix the names after the fact, manually. This would speed things up considerably.

One thing that would be helpful would be to have the "Custom format" box (the one now currently in options) also in the "Enqueue Multiple Titles" window.  That way steps 1 and 2 could be combined together.  Could just start with step 2 and change the title in there if needed.  Maybe make the "Custom format" box in "Enqueue Multiple Titles" window override the one in options.  That would work out well.  Because the one in options could be setup for movies and the one in "Enqueue Multiple Titles" window would be for TV shows.  As it stands now, when you want to encode a movie you have to go back to options and set it back up for movies.

That sounds like a good idea. I'll put it in the backlog.

-the idea that movie discs and TV show discs should be handled separately is lost on me...as it stands, I suppose VC is a "movie" disc encoder, with some TV show disc encode features hidden in menus.  To me, a disc is a disc is a disc.  To keep die hard movie disc encoders happy, should there be a release of a "movieVC" and a "tvshowVC"? LOL. You know "tvshowVC" would become more popular, since it has the features available and ability to encode both movies and tv shows in one UI since both types of discs have more than one title, why use the stripped down 'movie only' one?  I don't encode blu-ray at all but having it on the UI doesn't offend me.

VidCoder's beginnings are indeed rooted in the HandBrake UI. The basic concept of opening a source file, picking a title, choosing some options and encoding/enqueuing do come from there. The "multiple titles" dialog was added to it to deal with the sillyness of clicking too much to get all the TV episodes you wanted. I understand the mentality here: you just want to load a disc in, pick titles and be done, but there's an extra dialog you need to open to do this. There may be a good way to solve it but it would need to involve a UI that could aggregate collections of subtitle choices and convey information like "There were Portugese subtitles on 3 of the 4 titles that are selected, but an extra Portugese subtitle on one of them". It would also have to offer some way to resolve these inconsistencies. Having audio/subtitles/chapters that apply to one title is simple and straightforward. Anyway, I think that souping up the "add multiple titles" dialog might not completely make TV show ripping/grouping a first class citizen, but it should be pretty close.

So my suggestion would make life a lot easier for us to preview the episodes.  And this may be a doable option.  I am trying to keep things simple for the programmer as well as get the features that make our life easier.  I just don't want RandomEngy to one day decide it is just not worth it anymore and stop supporting VC.  It has happen before with other free programs i have used.

Coming back around to this one. I previously mentioned difficulties in getting the .VOB file name or figuring out which .VOBs comprise a title. But there may be some video player that takes command line arguments like "Play Title 4 from this DVD directory". If so I could add support for that.

RandomE-  I did see that http://thetvdb.com/ as wisfalls points out, does offer an API .  It's been awhile since I looked at that site/software, but in ref. to our exchange, and somewhat a surprise to us both, there is a site that provides this info that can be accessed via code.

The trick with that would be to take something from the DVD like the disc name or some other identifying piece of data and get back a proper series name and a list of titles and their corresponding season/episode numbers. I don't know of any service that does that.

Which brings me to another item to discuss...it would be an advantage to have VC read a disc (for those that encode from disc, I don't since I batch about 10 dvd's a night from my hard drive) and then interpret the disc name from the disc and use a case/truncate/mod function similar to that in tagging programs so the disc name would result in a name for the file(s) or at least a snipet that a user could call up via a {disc_name_snipet} call or the like.  As you see, the possibility of using {language} is endless I'm sure, as are the functions for VC we could dream up.

{source} is populated from the disc name for DVDs.

RandomEngy:  I'll help write the user manual when the time comes if you'd like the assistance!

I've got a few pages of documentation out but more are always welcome. If you want to write more pages covering different aspects the program, that would be great. Or if you want to really get your hands dirty, tooltips inside the program. I've got some tooltips but there's always plenty of UI that could do with some more explaining.

Dec 4, 2011 at 2:53 AM

The Settings I want in their own window for a few reasons. First, they don't necessarily need to change after they've been settled on, so you can close it and get them out of your way for a normal "rip this DVD" workflow. Second, they hide settings that some users may not care about or understand. They just want to boot up, encode some videos for their Android device and be on their way. Finally, it provides a clear line of separation of what an encoding profile consists of. If you edit something in that window, it will get saved as part of the preset. If it's not in the window, it wont.

We agree on this.  This goes back to my comment on keeping it as simple as possible while incorporating the features people want.

The "multiple titles" dialog was added to it to deal with the sillyness of clicking too much to get all the TV episodes you wanted. I understand the mentality here: you just want to load a disc in, pick titles and be done, but there's an extra dialog you need to open to do this.

Yes, and it was greatly appreciated.  It saves a load of time.  And i don't mind opening up a different window as long as everything that pertains to "Enqueue Multiple Titles" is in that window.  Like the stuff currently there, in addition to a preview window or preview button that launches an external player and the custom format input.

That sounds like a good idea. I'll put it in the backlog.

Pertaining to the custom format in "Enqueue Multiple Titles".  That's great.  No more changing when switching from TV to Movie encoding.  In case you missed it, the custom format input inside "Enqueue Multiple Titles" would need to be saved each time the window is closed or if you like when it is changed.  I mentioned that in a previous post.

Coming back around to this one. I previously mentioned difficulties in getting the .VOB file name or figuring out which .VOBs comprise a title. But there may be some video player that takes command line arguments like "Play Title 4 from this DVD directory". If so I could add support for that.

It just happens that VLC will do this.  I went to VLC and did some digging.  With VLC i opened up a DVD from the harddrive and played an episode and looked up the title #.  I then entered the following code in a command prompt and it started playing the same episode.

vlc.exe DVD://"J:\DVD Rips\Smallville S10\Smallville_Season_10_Disc_1\VIDEO_TS"@5

Should be obvious, the @5 is the title #.  You can also tell it which chapter and or angle to start the specified title at.  Here is a link to the webpage.

http://wiki.videolan.org/Documentation:Play_HowTo/Advanced_Use_of_VLC

Dec 4, 2011 at 1:46 PM

I think there is some confusion here as to what is combined into an task editor window and the like.  My suggestion to split the interface into two portions is to make the user less overwhelmed by what's initially loaded.  (even HB's own page tells users not be afraid of their UI).  There are no changes in the function of how those tasks are created from now to the task editor/running tasks concept.  I keep seeing references to difficulties in what settings get applied, and it seems the concept is being overly complicated.

Too much confusion over custom naming format.  Again, the custom naming function is already there, just add it to the encoding settings preset file.  In my suggestion, the user defined settings currently under "Tools>Options doesn't change, with the exception that the naming formats may change to the Windows>Encode Settings so that custom naming presets can be saved to the same custom encoding presets file the user can create.  An encode setting is disc/file type specific at this point, and so the default custom naming is as well in my opinion.  How many the user chooses to create is up to them, even if they are just slighly different.  Currently, the main UI contains a dropdown labled as "Preset".  Just have that preset also contain the custom naming format.  If the user wants all the encode settings the same but with different custom naming...they'll figure out what to call their presets.

The Preview window discussion is getting too complicated.  Adding a preview window and other things you see as beefing up the "Mutliple Titles Window" makes that window a "task editor" window ultimately, and since many of the things that would now be contained in that window are redundant of what the main window does for single files.  You can easily see why I suggested just putting everything into a task editor window from the main UI, and just have the main UI be a list of the projects running- thus splitting the operation into two parts...a things you are doing window and a window to create the things you are doing.  The rest of the Tools/Windows dialogues are still part of the main UI.

I don't understand why there is so much confusion on how a job is created and what settings apply, since that's already solved and handled now...nothing would change.  In my opinon it makes work flow simpler.  If splitting the interface into two windows doesn't appeal to you, farbeit for me to push that point- it's just an opinion and ultimately you are responsible for the work.

Too much emphasis in the discussion is being put on automatic naming.  The suggestion I made was to allow the user to at least have somewhere to cut and paste within the program (if not temporarily until some sort of automatic naming/scripting can be worked out).  Netflix has a listing for each disc.  You select it with your mouse pointer, copy it into notepad, and then edit it to suit you.  There is a debate as to whether this is more difficult or simpler than using an external program like TheRenamer, but since I prefer to format my files for my media NAS differently than others, starting out with a rigid file name in order to get another database to rename them and then changing them again in order to view the names properly isn't for me. I prefer to just use a text string and paste it into the custom name format VC creates.  Using a user created text string (even if it comes from a database) is simple.  Inserting it where I want it on each episode title either before or after encode is a matter of keystrokes...if those could be automated, hooray.

From NetFlix (http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/NewsRadio_Season_5_Disc_3/70062559, "Episodes On Disc" selected:

"This disc includes the following episodes: "Office Feud," "Our Fiftieth Episode," "Sleeping," "The Real Deal," "Mistake," "Space" and "The Injury."".

 Pretty simple.  My suggestions about using another API for naming are based on where the discussion had drifted.  I care less about automatic naming than I do about saving naming formats and batch manipulating episode title info.

The preview window discussed is way too complicated.  Previewing is alread title based- the user tells the software what title (the markers/position etc)...and currently you open another window to view it.  My suggestion was to combine that into one interface.  A preview window already exists in WinX and iWisoft VC, but they don't have name formating, but do have multiple title enqueue as well.  Since they don't use the HB engine, their encoding is different, and jobs take more or less time on some files.  I suggest you take a look at those projects to get a feel for what else is out there.

The topic was intended to discuss versions down the road, not immediate changes.  All in all, if you can't see it, then you can't see it.  I understand how difficult it is to make changes to something that you've crafted...it's like throwing it out and starting over.  From my perspective, the basic functions you've created and instituted are excellent and would form the foundation of a UI that just has a different work flow. 

From here I'll step aside and watch to see what happens in the future and let others participate or comment here...

Coordinator
Dec 4, 2011 at 5:26 PM

It just happens that VLC will do this.  I went to VLC and did some digging.  With VLC i opened up a DVD from the harddrive and played an episode and looked up the title #.  I then entered the following code in a command prompt and it started playing the same episode.

vlc.exe DVD://"J:\DVD Rips\Smallville S10\Smallville_Season_10_Disc_1\VIDEO_TS"@5

Should be obvious, the @5 is the title #.  You can also tell it which chapter and or angle to start the specified title at.  Here is a link to the webpage.

http://wiki.videolan.org/Documentation:Play_HowTo/Advanced_Use_of_VLC

That's good to know. Though currently you don't need to have any specific player installed for any VidCoder feature to work. Zoom Player must allow this as well; maybe I could have this work for both players. I should look for some registry settings or something to automatically determine if they're installed and their executable locations.

My suggestion to split the interface into two portions is to make the user less overwhelmed by what's initially loaded.

I don't think that's currently a problem. When you first open VidCoder there's only a handful of options that don't directly pertain to finding the source file, which should be their first task. And it hasn't been a problem in my usability tests.

I would hesitate to add custom naming format to the main UI since it takes up space and a relatively small number of people would need it on a regular basis. Maybe on a "batch queue" dialog but I don't think on the main one.

I don't understand why there is so much confusion on how a job is created and what settings apply, since that's already solved and handled now...nothing would change.  In my opinon it makes work flow simpler.  If splitting the interface into two windows doesn't appeal to you, farbeit for me to push that point- it's just an opinion and ultimately you are responsible for the work.

It's all about handling inconsistencies in audio/subtitles. Currently when you batch some files it will make the best guess for what you wanted based on the current choices, but you can always go back and edit the things that didn't work out, or go back and the items one at a time instead. If you have an array of different subtitles and audio tracks over a bunch of different titles, how can you pick and choose what goes to what when you only have one setting for everything? You might be able to cook up something that works for the majority of cases but not for all cases.

A preview window already exists in WinX and iWisoft VC...

I'll check that out, but what exactly from the design should I be looking for? The preview being integrated with the main window? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Though I would point out that since the window remembers being open and its size and location, you can just leave it up right next to the main UI and treat it as an optional "extension" to the window. Or were you just repeating a request to have the preview in the batch dialog?

All in all, if you can't see it, then you can't see it.

What has given you the impression that I don't see your points? There are specific usability issues with your proposed UI (increased distance from the UI for simple encode cases), and there's a lot of handwaving for how it will handle inconsistent data among items in your encode groups, which I do not believe has an elegant solution. Even if I had infinite time to rewrite it, I wouldn't want it to act that way.

But you did bring up valid points about how batching titles can be a pain, so I think I've gotten some good backlog items out of this.

Dec 5, 2011 at 2:00 AM

That's good to know. Though currently you don't need to have any specific player installed for any VidCoder feature to work. Zoom Player must allow this as well; maybe I could have this work for both players.

I have found 3 players that have a command line option to start a dvd with a specific title.  Unfortunately Zoom Player is not one of them.  Here is a link to Zoom Players command line options, maybe i missed it.

http://www.inmatrix.com/zplayer/parameters.shtml

The 3 players i found are:

  • smplayer (the windows version of mplayer)
    • smplayer.exe dvd://5/"path to dvd folder on hard drive"
  • Media Player Classic Home Cinema  (Support for the original Media Player Classic discontinued, someone picked it up and made improvements)
    • mpc-hc64.exe "path to dvd folder on hard drive" /dvdpos 5
  • VLC
    • vlc.exe DVD://"Path to dvd folder on hard drive"@5

With all of these you only need to go to the parent of VIDEO_TS.  Although my original post included the VIDEO_TS folder in the path, i have since discovered that it is not needed.  I have installed and tried all of these and they all work. 

 

Coordinator
Feb 13, 2012 at 12:26 AM

An update on this long and interesting discussion:

1.3.0 adds a few requested features to the Queue Multiple Titles dialog: the static preview and the ability to play the DVD source. I hooked it up to work with VLC and MPC-HC. I didn't find anything that worked for Blu-ray playback.

I also added the requested name format override option.

Feb 17, 2012 at 9:01 PM

a quick question.

 

How do you play the DVD source from the Queue Multiple Titles dialog.  I have tried to double click and right click on the picture and from the title list.  I have found no way to open in external player.  I have both MPC-HC and VLC installed, could this be why?

Coordinator
Feb 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM

It should work if you have both installed (via the installer, not unzipped). You should see a "Play Source" button below the picture when you've selected a title.

Feb 20, 2012 at 7:19 AM

Yes they are both installed via the installer.  I can uninstall them thru Programs and Features.  I originally had VLC 1.1.11 installed.  I installed 2.0.  MPC-HC 1.5.2.3456 x64 is installed.  Still did not work after installing VLC 2.0.  No button below picture.  My OS is Windows 7 x64, would 64bit make a difference?  I am running the 64bit version of VidCoder.

Coordinator
Feb 20, 2012 at 7:49 AM

That's odd, it's working for me on Win 7 x64 and the x64 build of VidCoder. I'm checking these registry values to detect if they are installed:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Gabest\Media Player Classic\ExePath

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\VideoLan\VLC\(Default)

(also check in SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node for VLC)

Do you have those keys? (can check with start->run regedit)

Feb 20, 2012 at 6:45 PM

This is what i  found.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Gabest\Media Player Classic\ExePath

Yes.  Is there with correct path.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\VideoLan\VLC\(Default)

No.  Is not there.

(also check in SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node for VLC)

Yes.  Is there with correct path.

Feb 20, 2012 at 6:52 PM

I added the missing key and rebooted the PC.  Still no button.

Coordinator
Feb 20, 2012 at 7:06 PM

Hmm, that's what I expected for your setup. A couple more things to check:

  1. Only one title is selected
  2. The source path ends in VIDEO_TS
Feb 20, 2012 at 7:15 PM

I installed Vidcoder 32bit on a different PC that has VLC installed.  Same thing, no button.

Coordinator
Feb 20, 2012 at 7:20 PM

I don't think the program path detection is the problem. I think it's one of the two things I just mentioned. What is your source path?

Feb 20, 2012 at 7:25 PM

#2 did it.  I have always selected the root of the folder with VIDEO_TS in it but never VIDEO_TS itself.

thanks

Coordinator
Feb 20, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Hmm, I guess I made a bad assumption that you had to pick the VIDEO_TS folder for the DVD scan to work. I'll fix it for the next version so you don't have to select the VIDEO_TS folder.