Get Away To Wing Commander (July 25, 2005)

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
AD has spent quite a bit of time slicing and dicing apart the Wing Commander Movie to create an elaborate music video about the relationship between Maniac Marshall and Rosie Forbes. I suggested "Get Away" by Ja Rule and Christina Milian for the background music. The song fit the tone of the story pretty well, and hip-hop style tracks are a refreshing change. The download links are below. A decent looking wmv is available for dialup users. The 30 meg divx is even better, and there is a super high quality 124 meg version for people with a little more time to download.



Get Away in the key of Wing Commander. This video is an exploration of Maniac's motivations, desires and the events that help transform him into the disjointed, self-centered person you see in the games.


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Original update published on July 25, 2005
 
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BrynS

Mr Kat says...
Thanks AD!

Great editing as usual, with a clear progression of Maniac's "arc" while showcasing many of the film's excellent CGI shots, particularly the cockpit/hud animations. As Chris mentioned, the hip-hop audio track makes for a welcome change from the typical SciFi orchestral or techno fare.

My only minor criticism is the white saturation/colour bleed transition, which while very effective, crosses over into the uncropped black borders when viewing, although this is just me being pedanctic and is easily remedied by cropping the vertical resolution.

Cheers,


BrynS
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Thanks for the feedback BrynS.

BrynS said:
My only minor criticism is the white saturation/colour bleed transition, which while very effective, crosses over into the uncropped black borders when viewing, although this is just me being pedanctic and is easily remedied by cropping the vertical resolution.
BrynS
This is actually solved in the low res WMV because I cropped the file into the apropriate 2.4:1 ratio that the movie is filmed in. (black bars are added by your PC when played)

The only (lame) reason I didnt crop the divx's is because , first, the DVD is not anamorphic and in 4:3. Second, I made the horrible mistake of getting DivX 6. For some reason it disabled the ability to encode in DivX straight from my editor (including the options to crop, etc. which used to be in the codec settings)

Divx 6 produces great looking video but is horrible to use. It relies entirely on presets and therefore has a horrible autocropping that, for example, will cut the sides off of the last scene because the credits are almost all black.

Anyway I used a different program to encode them in divx 5 but this is an after the fact conversion. so the original file had the black bars encoded in too. (I couldnt find any cropping options in AutoGK)

However, I really am impressed with the features available in Windows Media Encoder . Not only is it free, the quality of the resulting videos is really good. Once you set up some initial tidbits with the wizard you can pretty much tinker with any option imaginable (by clicking the properties tab) and even have the ability to encode in wmvHD with 24bit 96khz 7.1 channel sound. (not worth it if the source isnt high quality).
 

Pedro

Admiral
Ahhh that autocropping is a real shame, now the video takes up only a tiny segment of my widescreen monitor.

But a great video, I was beginning to worry we'd seen the last.
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
Yeah, I was wondering if any of the other encodes were cropped; I only downloaded the high quality DivX.

I haven't tried out DivX 6 yet. Has the old Dr DivX application been integrated into DivX Create pack? I downloaded the DivX Helium codec from DivX Labs a while back, but haven't got round to testing it yet. I'm very happy with the results I'm getting from XviD 1.0.3 at the moment, although development seems to be winding down, with some developers leaving the project and the focus moving to various h.264 projects/codecs.

I haven't used AutoGK for a while either, although I think you can specify the width (horizontal resolution) and then the aspect ratio is maintained, but that's only useful for re-sizing. As you said, I can also recall various options for cropping, encoding interlaced or de-interlaced, etc in the DivX 5 codec cotrol panel -- hopefully those options are still accessible within the DivX 6 codec.

The latest Windows Media Encoder is surprisingly configurable and powerful -- if only the .wmv file container wasn't so...proprietory. :D The HD encoding options and mult-track audio are great features and addtions to a comprehensive a/v utility, I would think especially for professional content producers with access to high quality source materials. The audio options are particularly nifty as obtaining a similar level of functionality using open source applications is usually quite a convoluted process.

I've only used the WM Encoder a few times when I tried converting a brief 1080i MPEG2 sample to wmvHD. The codec produces good results at HD, but at very high bitrates (~8-12Mbps for 720p - 1080p), whereas in a few limited (subjective) tests I've done, I've achieved very acceptable results at 4-6Mbps with XviD, although I believe that the various h.264 codecs should achieve even greater efficiency as they mature. The wmv (VC-9) codec does perform very well IMO at bitrates below 1Mbps, especially sub 500kbps.

Have you seen the wmvHD Showcase?

On a related note regarding proprietory codecs, I'm can't wait until the day when broadcasters and other online media outlets drop the Real codec from their streaming content. BBC R&D have been working on a motion-compensated wavelet codec, called Dirac which became open source last year IIRC. It scales up to 1080p and beyond, although the developers are currently working on optimising the codec for low-bitrate video streaming -- a beta is due by the end of the year.

If it proves robust and versatile enough, it could revolutionise the online content delivery/streaming industry, as the usage licence stipulates that no charges or royalties are to be levied. The BBC intends to adopt it and it's likely that others will follow suit if the Beeb has a successful transition. No doubt Microsoft will offer a fight by either offering discounts and/or inducements or by dropping their charges/royalities completely.

Cheers,


BrynS
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Pedro said:
But a great video, I was beginning to worry we'd seen the last.
We should have at least one more in the next week or two. Not as elaborate as AD's, though pretty impressive technically and fun to watch.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
BrynS said:
I haven't tried out DivX 6 yet. Has the old Dr DivX application been integrated into DivX Create pack?
No... But I was checking in to the problem yesterday and there is a way to adjust Dr. DivX so that it uses 6.0 but I havent tried it yet. Divx 6 is a new beast though and no longer uses the avi extension either but rather *.divx I cant remember if you can even watch them with media player or whether or not you need to download the divx player (that part is free at least). It does allow DVD-like features though such as multiple audio tracks, menus, and subtitles.

BrynS said:
As you said, I can also recall various options for cropping, encoding interlaced or de-interlaced, etc in the DivX 5 codec cotrol panel -- hopefully those options are still accessible within the DivX 6 codec.
Not that I could find so far. Maybe I'm not looking in the right place. But so far it seems to be all presets... streaming, home theater, HD...

EDIT: Oh Crap... I managed to get to the codec settings using virtualdub... Serves me right. I guess its just the converter that comes with the create bundle that has it's hands tied behind it's back.


BrynS said:
Yes! :)

Dirac sounds neat.

Hey, If you dont mind my asking BrynS, are you in the industry? you seem very knowledgable about video codecs and encoding.

So far it's just a hobby for me (I'm more interested in the creative aspect and knowing the technical stuff is a neccessity for making sure the end product that I share is how I want others to see it. It took me forever to get that grainy-old-film effect from the flashback parts to show up adequatly enough in the lower res versions of my prophecy video. With a lot of compression it would tend to disapear.)
 
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BrynS

Mr Kat says...
AD said:
...Divx 6 is a new beast though and no longer uses the avi extension either but rather *.divx I cant remember if you can even watch them with media player or whether or not you need to download the divx player (that part is free at least). It does allow DVD-like features though such as multiple audio tracks, menus, and subtitles...
Yeah, the demo videos they released a month or two back, showcasing these features, were impressive. IIRC, they implemented the .divx extension briefly during the DivX 4.x era, but it was more of a branding exercise than anything else and it was subsequently dropped, whereas with DivX 6 the .divx extension appears to be a whole new container like .avi ; .mkv (Matroska) ; .mp4 ; .wmv ; etc. This allows DivX to add much more functionality to the codec as you mentioned, i.e. menus, subtitles, etc. Some of these features were possible to do with the .avi container (e.g. up to two audio tracks and a set of subtitles), but of all of them are essentially hacks and continuing within the .avi framework wouldn't be viable for DivX if they wanted to include these features.

Just had a quick gander at the Doom9 forums and a lot of the guys seem impressed by the new quality improvements in the codec, so I'm probably going to give the Helium build a bash tomorrow.


AD said:
...Hey, If you dont mind my asking BrynS, are you in the industry? you seem very knowledgable about video codecs and encoding...
Thanks. No, I'm not in the industry, although it's something I wouldn't mind doing in the future. It's basically a hobby I started a couple of years ago after I bought my first 3D graphics card in 1999, which included an S-Video IN connection on the card, and I started experimenting with capturing portions of some VHS tapes (mostly the original Star Wars trilogy :D). The codecs with the included software were fairly limited, so I had a look around on the net and discovered VirtualDub and the original DivX 3.11 Alpha, which was basically a hack of questionable origins of Microsoft's early MPEG4 codec and was split into a high and low motion version. AFAIK, the codec has since been entirely re-written and DivX control their own intellectual property, although the DivX codec is still based on the MPEG4 ASP framework.

Since then, I pretty much try to stay up-to-date on most of the major developments -- Doom9 and their guides and forums being one of, if not, the best resources around. I haven't really been keeping abreast of developments in the Doom9 forums at all over the past few months and currently feel very much out of the loop. It can be quite daunting sometimes just trying to keep up with specific programme GUI and frontend versions, especially some of the more prolific open source tools, which can sometimes span two or three minor updates within a day, especially as I generally like to try out and evaluate a range of tools within each area. However, saying that, once you find a codec and a complimentary application that you are happy with, you can usually stick with it and continue to get good results provided it's updated on a regular basis. If you like trying obscure, often unstable, quirky and sometimes brilliant solutions then the field doesn't disappoint either. It's just one of those fields that's constantly evolving as more efficient codecs and optimisations come online.


AD said:
...So far it's just a hobby for me (I'm more interested in the creative aspect and knowing the technical stuff is a neccessity for making sure the end product that I share is how I want others to see it...
Given the wide range of content you have made for the WC community, the encoding aspect is definately something that you will continue to pick up quickly. However, all of your videos have been competently encoded and the creative talent and desire is clear to see and I'm sure they have spurred on many others as well. I thought that your WC4 DVD music video with the Leroy/New World track was particularly well composed and it really inspired me to consider creating some WC-themed videos as well. I need to work on my editing skills first and get a bit more organised in my free time, but hopefully something will happen in the next few months.


AD said:
...It took me forever to get that grainy-old-film effect from the flashback parts to show up adequatly enough in the lower res versions of my prophecy video. With a lot of compression it would tend to disapear.)
Yeah, unfortunately that kind of effect tends to get lost when encoding at such a low res (320x160?), even with a fairly high bitrate and a decent codec, although the source material (Prophecy CD) doesn't help either and the (lack of) effect is further magnified when stretching the video (100-500%) to full-screen while viewing. The WM9 codec also tends to smooth out/blur at low-res/-bitrate, which on the one-hand mostly counteracts the noticable blocking from the original Prophecy source, while eliminating a lot of the detail and sharpness. It's a compromise which quite often has to be made, although it can be minimised to varying extents.

Anyway, thanks again for the great videos AD!

Cheers,


BrynS
 
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