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MPEG-4 - Copying a DVD Video to CD-ROM

MPEG-4: Optimization of Picture Quality and Data Rate

Painting a New Picture of Pentium 4 - Tweaked MPEG4 Encoding

AMD vs. Intel: The best CPU for MPEG-4.

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MPEG-4: FlasK MPEG/Divx
Краткое содержание статьи: The new FlasK MPEG version and the expanded Divx codec now fully support command extensions like MMX, 3Dnow and SSE/SSE-2, a feature that AMD and Intel CPUs can benefit from as well. Speed has been increased by up to 30 percent in comparison to the previous version. However, we weren't able to determine whether FlasK MPEG delivers on its promise to operate on more than one processor.

MPEG-4: FlasK MPEG/Divx's Improved Coding


Редакция THG,  24 апреля 2001


FlasK MPEG - Faster and Easier to Handle!

FlasK MPEG - Faster and Easier to Handle!

The legendary cult program to convert MPEG-2 files to MPEG-4 ones is beginning to show its professional colors - version 0.6 of FlasK MPEG is visually more appealing and provides a graphical interface that's easier to handle. And that's not all! The first extensive tests with Windows 98 SE and Windows 2000 demonstrated that the tool is substantially more stable and less likely to crash than its predecessors.

The new program's real selling point, however, was supposed to be its ability to support dual processor functions. It should be obvious, however, that dual-processing capabilities are only possible with Windows 2000 or Windows NT 4.0.

FlasK MPEG - Faster and Easier to Handle!

Even at relatively low data rates, video quality is still quite satisfactory.

FlasK MPEG - Faster and Easier to Handle!, Continued

The new version really speeds up the process of copying a movie from DVD-ROM to CD-ROM, even though FlasK MPEG still only takes care of encoding to MPEG-4 files. If you want to transfer the video file to your hard drive, you still need an appropriate rip program, which will also remove the copy protection if need be.

In our many previous tests, we've explained MPEG-4s and copying a DVD to CD-ROM in detail. Detailed information on the impact of file size on encoding can be found in the article MPEG-4: Optimization of Picture Quality and Data Rate.

FlasK MPEG - Faster and Easier to Handle!, Continued

FlasK MPEG in Version 0.6. The additional profiles help beginners choose the correct video resolution.

FlasK MPEG - Faster and Easier to Handle!, Continued

FlasK MPEG - Faster and Easier to Handle!, Continued

Using the menu to adapt the picture more painlessly.

Expanded Support for AMD and Intel

Expanded Support for AMD and Intel
FlasK MPEG 0.6 supports seven different command extensions for iDCT.

FlasK MPEG provides several encoding algorithms for iDCT (inverse discrete cosine transformation) in the new version. All told, there are 7 different algorithms that support special processor command extensions.

For the AMD Athlon, there's the "AMD iDCT" routine (basically the optimized 3DNow), which, speed-wise, has quite a leg up on the standard "MMX iDCT" as far as MPEG-4 encoding goes.

Even the Intel Pentium III and the Pentium 4 benefit from specially adapted iDCT routines - the Pentium III works well with the "MMX-iDCT" code, while the Pentium 4 is considerably faster when used with the "Fast SSE2 iDCT" code. On the downside, "Reference iDCT SSE2" is weaker when it comes to increasing speed.

Expanded Support for AMD and Intel

FlasK MPEG queries for the functions of additional CPU command extensions.

Dual CPU Support: Not Yet Integrated

Dual CPU Support: Not Yet Integrated
The FlasK MPEG interface had several important features added to it.

Despite the claim made in the information that the new version of FlasK MPEG is supposed to support several processors, we weren't able to back that up in the test.

In Windows 2000 (multi-processor kernel), utilized CPU capacity was 52 percent for each processor. If you ignore a slight overhead of 1 or 2 percent, utilized system capacity is precisely 50 percent for each processor.

If FlasK MPEG really provided multi-processor support, the utilized system capacity would be 100 percent for both processors. We compared this scenario with a single processor setup - and FlasK MPEG obtains the same frame rates when encoding in single mode as in dual mode!

We still hope that the FlasK MPEG programmer will still manage to integrate dual CPU support. This kind of support would make it possible to encode in real time.

Data Rate vs. Video Quality

Data Rate vs. Video Quality

Top-notch video quality at a relatively high data rate and resolution.

Data Rate vs. Video Quality

Despite the fast motion, this sequence still demonstrates high video quality - thanks to the new Divx codec.

Potential video quality at a specified data rate, with the actual data rate consisting of combined video and audio data, is a very interesting and important topic. Generally, a video data rate of 1500 Kbit/s (equivalent to 187.5 KByte/s) and an audio data rate of 128 Kbit/s (equivalent to 16 KByte/s) produce quite high-quality video. Unfortunately, at a total data rate of 203.5 KByte/s (203.5=187.5+16), barely 55 minutes of video will fit on your average blank CD-ROM with 650 MB storage capacity.

Using a 700 MB medium only increases the time by less than 4 minutes, making for a total of 58 minutes of video. The options for reducing data volume have been thoroughly discussed in our previous article "MPEG-4: Optimizing Picture Quality and Data Rates".

In general, a slight reduction in your resolution while maintaining the same data rate will improve your video quality considerably.

Another option is to split the film up into several CD-ROMs. This latter method keeps the resolution and the video quality high, while the solution with lower resolution fits on one CD-ROM.

Data Rate vs. Video Quality

Best compromise between video quality and resolution - using the displayed data rate allows you to copy DVD sequences to CD-ROM.

Expanded Audio Functions: Increasing the Volume

Expanded Audio Functions: Increasing the Volume
A look at the special audio menu.

By integrating an audio player with numerous adjustment options, FlasK MPEG has done away with deficiencies in earlier versions. One essential function is increasing or compensating for the volume, which was often encoded to be much too quiet in earlier versions.

However, balancing volume takes up additional time for calculation. In addition, DVD movies with 4 or 5-channel audio can have the relationship between "front" and "back" changed. This function in particular improves the sound considerably, since sound output is in stereo anyway.

Also, the function "normalize" is very heavy on the calculating side, since it analyzes the entire video and audio data input and stores it on the hard drive with the new changes.

Improved MPEG-4 Codec: Divx 3.22

There's also some news on video codecs - in the 3.22 version, the new Divx codec is no longer separated into a slow and fast version. From now on, it only comes in one version.

Improved MPEG-4 Codec: Divx 3.22

Divx-Codec 3.22b.

Improved MPEG-4 Codec: Divx 3.22

The new 4.0 version of the Divx codec is still in its alpha phase and is still very slow when encoding.

Improved MPEG-4 Codec: Divx 3.22

The Divx-Codec 4.0 allows for improved adaptation to picture complexity by analyzing the frames forwards and backwards better..

Weaknesses - 4 GB Limit and No NFO Acceptance

The new version of FlasK MPEG still has some deficiencies - in Windows 98 SE, the maximum file size is limited to 4 GB. Files grow very quickly to this size if several VOB files are combined on the hard drive when ripping a DVD-ROM. Another of the new version's problems is its inability to process NFO files. This function was still available in the old FlasK MPEG version.

Weaknesses - 4 GB Limit and No NFO Acceptance

The new FlasK MPEG version processes more file formats, but can no longer read NFO files (scripts).

Weaknesses - 4 GB Limit and No NFO Acceptance

FlasK MPEG in action: Depending on CPU power, video sequences can be converted to MPEG-4 format at a specified frame rate.

Conclusion: FlasK MPEG - More Functions and Easier to Handle

The cult program FlasK MPEG is on its way to becoming a professional tool. More and more users are using FlasK MPEG either to save space by storing movies on the hard drive in MPEG-4 format or to burn private videos from a DV camera to a CD-ROM (in MPEG-4 format). The new version supports command structures for modern processors like AMD Athlon or Pentium 4.

Compared to earlier versions, the program's MPEG-4 encodes very rapidly. FlasK MPEG is also substantially more stable - in Windows 98 SE, the program crashes less often and in Windows 2000, it is almost totally stable. Individual settings for audio and video codecs still have to be set manually each time, whereas encoding could be faster and more painless if there was a save option for these settings. The most current versions of FlasK MPEG and the Divx codec can be found at the following links - FlasK MPEG and Divx.




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