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Mpeg2 encoder hardware better than software AVI?

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ozzy0627

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2001
Hi does anyone know if a hardware encoder that does mpeg2 is better than raw avi software? The card im looking at wont do raw avi.


the card im looking at is wintv pvr 250

Here are the specs
http://www.hauppauge.com/html/wintvpvr250_datasheet.htm

Do you think this will capture better quality that lets say a card that captures in raw avi software?

All opinions welcome!

Thanks Ron
 

DaddyB

Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2002
Location
Toronto, Canada
MPEG2 wont really look quite as good as AVI can because it is compressed, AVI can be captured uncompressed which will give slightly better image qualiy and much larger file sizes. Even at 720x480 12Mbs MPEG2 will have slightly less quality.

Given the speed of your CPU the fact that this card has hardware MPEG2 encoding doesnt mean much, I mean you can capture MPEG2 of equal quality through software. The hardware encoder just means it will use the CPU less, any CPU over 800mhz should have no trouble capturing MPEG2 or AVI. Hardware encoding is more important for lower speed CPUs that cant handle capturing by themselves.

Capturing in MPEG2 does have advantages though, for one the file sizes will be MUCH smaller. Also capturing to MPEG2 means you can write the file to an SVCD (or DVD) for playback on your home DVD player if it supports SVCD format (you will also need a CD burning program capable of writting SVCDs, like Nero).

I always use MPEG2 for capturing cable TV and I use AVI (DV-AVI) for capturing video from my digital camcorder since cable TV is less then perfect to begin with.

That being said I dont think this card will give you better quality then a card without hardware encoding but it will definetly do what you want it to, I hear mostly good things about Hauppauge. Most if not all capture cards come with software that should allow you to capture in both MPEG2 and AVI (among other formats) so you can see for yourself.

The most important thing about getting something to capture TV is not to get a USB (1.0 or 1.1) capture device! A PCI card or IEEE 1394 Firewire device will give you much better quality... USB 2.0 devices should be OK if you have a USB 2.0 card (all USB capture devices are limited to something like 320x240 due to the limitations of USB bandwidth).
 

TheOneDonRamon

Registered
Joined
Jun 8, 2002
Location
Richmond,Va
Yeah i actually transfer all "my" movies from avi or dvd's to MPEG2 into a SVCD.I notice deal of quality change but its not that bad..about VCR quality.SVCDS work great in most stand alone DVD players too!If u want more info about burning into SVCD's and making them play on ur dvd player aim me at XDonRamonX!
-Peace
 
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ozzy0627

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2001
Thanks for the replies,

So what your saying is I should get a cheap software card for 60 bucks instead of the expensive hardware encoder that can't do avi?

ps. My brother computer is intel p4 2.45 ghz 512 cors
 

DaddyB

Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2002
Location
Toronto, Canada
Well Im saying you definetly dont need the card with hardware encoding. Im running my xp1800 at 1740mhz and watching TV on my AIW radeon makes the CPU utilization fluxuate between 2%-20%, while watching TV and recording (to MPEG2 720x480, 6Mbps) it at the same time causes the CPU to fluxuate between 50%-70% and pretty much never drops a single frame. With hardware encoding the % would be a little lower (i think 10%-15%, only one capture card that I know of does 100% of the encoding and AFAIK its not available yet). So your CPU can handle it without even being maxxed out, your brothers would handle it even better.

If you want to save some money and get the card that cant do hardware encoding you wont even notice the difference. The card with hardware encoding should still be able to capture to AVI format through software (I believe all of the PCI capture cards can), if you have the codec installed I believe (not 100% sure) you can even capture to divx with hauppauge's software.

Hardware encoding isnt a bad thing, it will take some of the load off the cpu but if you dont plan to be doing much (you should be able to surf the net and stuff while capturing w/out hardware encoding) on the comp while you capture TV then having it wont make a difference.
 

Mpegger

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2001
Just for abit of refference. Trying to capture video directly to MPEG2 format is VERY cpu dependent. While I had my P3 700 oc'd to 933, I could only manage 600x480 6000kbps I-frame only capture with 128kbps audio and a ATA66 drive.

Although I could lower the video kbps, the quality would suffer greatly. And b and P frames could only be done in real time when I captured at 320x240.

One other problem with capturing directly to MPEG2, is that the video will have macro block problems as compared to properly encoded (ie, DVD) video. Real time MPEG2 encoding is possible because of the speed of computers, but the quality still isn't as good as a 2-pass (slow) software encoding such as that used by TMPGEnc. I could easily get good quality capturing to avi first, encoding with TMPGEnc to MPEG2 at only around 1500-2500 (vbr) kbps, then I could trying to capture real-time at anything less then 6000kbps.
 
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ozzy0627

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2001
Do you guys know any video capture card that captures raw avi bigger than 3xx times 2xx ?

And all I really want to do is burn things to svcd. If you download to avi then convert to mpeg2 isn't that going to give you the same quality as straight encoding to mpeg2??

Thanks Ron
 

Mpegger

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2001
ozzy0627 said:
Do you guys know any video capture card that captures raw avi bigger than 3xx times 2xx ?

Even the cheap software based capture cards sould let you capture at higher resolutions. Normal NTSC resolution is 352x240. Since you want to make SVCDs, you'll need to capture at least at 480x480 (SVCD standard resolution). USB capture devices do not have the bandwidth to capture at that size, so dont even bother with them. I dont have any recommendations, but if CompUSA still has them, I/O Magic PC PVR is what I have. Its actually a rebadged Pinnacle capture card, and the PowerVCR software is not the OEM version as it says in the manual. :)

Supposedly with some other universal BT848 drivers, its capable of 720x480 (I think its 720) vid caps. But because of my slow computer, I only do 640x480. And that resolution is really all you need for regular broadcast TV. I capture at that resolution, then resize to 352x480 and encode with DivX5.

And all I really want to do is burn things to svcd. If you download to avi then convert to mpeg2 isn't that going to give you the same quality as straight encoding to mpeg2??

Nope. As I said in my previous post, with software capture MPEG2 at low bitrates, macroblocks will be a big problem. You'll end up having to capture at high bitrates, which of course are not SVCD compliant bitrates. So you'll have to convert the video again just to lower the bitrate. Not only that, but the only software I know of that can capture directly to MPEG2 are PowerVCR and some other one I forget, both of which cost $$. And PowerVCR doesn't capture at 480x480. Only 352x240, then straight to 640x480. So you'll still end up having to resize.

But there is hope. There are plenty of freeware and shareware utilities and programs available on the net that make video capture easy and give you better quality then you can with those "try to do all in one shot" programs. If you want a whole list of what I use, how I use it, and even some settings I use for certain software to clean up the video, just shoot me a private msg. All you'll need is a decent software based capture card and you'll be set.:santa:

Thanks Ron

Your welcome, but I'm not Ron.:beer:
 

stenchhunt

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2001
Location
Herts, SE, England
theres some software
out there called dvd2svcd (think thats right)

basically it converts avi to mpeg2 and splits it and creates an image for burning to cd, I have used it a few times and its great, even lets you put in chapters etc

do a search for it on google, it requires a plugin aswell but all are available either as freeware or trial

theres a few tutorials aswell for it on its own website (link comes with software)
 
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ozzy0627

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2001
Thanks Mpegger,

When you said software mpeg2 captures at high bit rate and I will have to convert to low bit rate.

Does that also go for any hardware mpeg2 encoder? The hauppauge pvr 250 has hardware mpeg2 encoder.

Here are the specs:

MPEG1 recording at 1150K bits/sec (Video CD data rate)

MPEG2 record datarates:
2MBit/sec, 4MBit/sec, 6Mbit/sec, 8Mbit/sec, 12Mbit/sec.
Selections for DVD Standard play (8MBitsec), DVD Long Play (4MBit/sec) and DVD Extra Long Play (2MBit/sec)

NTSC format* at 29.97fps: Full D1: 720x480, MPEG1: 352x240
PAL format* at 25fps: Full D1: 720x576, MPEG1: 352x288

Audio capture formats: 32/44.1/48 KHz, 16bit stereo, 192/224/384Kbits/sec

High quality MPEG1/MPEG2 video and audio encoder
dbx-TV stereo decoder (Nicam stereo decoder in Europe)

Chroma sampling: YUV 4:2:0
Video file format: .MPG
MPEG file tested compatible with: MediaStudio 6.0, MyDVD and DVD MovieFactory DVD authoring applications
 

Mpegger

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2001
ozzy0627 said:
Thanks Mpegger,

When you said software mpeg2 captures at high bit rate and I will have to convert to low bit rate.

Does that also go for any hardware mpeg2 encoder? The hauppauge pvr 250 has hardware mpeg2 encoder.

The problem with both software and hardware real-time encoders, is that thier very prone to having alot of macroblocks in the video. FYI, macroblocks are the video artifacts that look like small squares of color. A poorly encoded mpeg video will have alot of macroblocks. Very low bitrates also cause macroblocks.

If you try to capture video at the bitrate for used for VCD (1500) in real-time, the video will come out with about 2x as many macroblocks as compared to one that was captured to a near lossless avi format, then recompressed with a software mpeg compresser. In order to reduce the macroblock problem, you would have to capture at higher bitrates, which you would then still have to convert to the smaller VCD bitrate.

So the best method (imo) is to just capture straight to AVI, clean up the video and make it easier for the mpeg format to compress, and then just convert it to mpeg. If I had my web server up, I'd show you some examples of what I mean, but its down for the count (registry somehow got all screwed up and wont boot into Windoze anymore :confused: ).

One other problem. Hardware encoders almost always have the codec built into the card, as well as limited capture resolutions and bitrates and the capture program that comes with is, is sometimes the only program you can use with it. So the codec cant be upgraded, and not all bitrates can be used for all capture sizes. Whatever quality you can get from it (good or bad), that all you'll be able to get from it.

With a software encoder, so long as you use a compatible program (WDM or VXD based), you can pretty much use any codec, bitrate, and resolution (limited by the capture chip) you want.

One more item I'd like to add. Hardware encoding is good and simple if you just want to capture vid and burn right away. Software is best, if you have the space, time, and want for the best capture you could possible get. Although you can clean up video made by hardware encoders, there are alot more utilities for the avi format.

Choose wisely ozzy-son.:beer:
 
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ozzy0627

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2001
Yes Master :) I shall hope to choose wisely,

Well I know earlier you said you didn't have any good recommendations but maybe just name off some ones you have heard are good :).

I want to spend around 150 on my brother for x-mas. He has a a couple 80 gig'ers p4 2.4 and patienence up the *** :).

The software cards I have been looking at are:

PINNACLE VIDEO CAPTURE MODEL PCTV - RETAIL
$62 dollars
raw avi- yes
DVD-SVCD-VCD
mono-remote-svideo in- composite in- tv tuner
www.newegg.com

TV LEADTEK WINFAST "DELUXE" TV2000XP TV/FM MULTIMEDIA CARD
DVD-SVCD-VCD
raw avi -yes
mono-remote-svideo in- composite in- tv tuner
www.newegg.com

WinTV-radio Hauppauge
Raw avi- yes
setero
stero-remote-svideo in- composite in- tv tuner
I think the software cards only catch video at 320x288

Asus TV Tuner Card/Video Capture Card, PCI Retail
TV/Tuner
mono-remote-svideo in- composite in- tv tuner
Doesnt say anything about raw.avi capture...
 
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ozzy0627

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2001
Yes, This is for my brother for x-mas though :)


I never used the one on my card, dont care about catpuring video :).
 

angeltazman

Registered
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Location
philippines
hello!..... i just would like to ask if u can help me with my PINNACLE PCTV, i'm having problem with syncronizing the video and audio, i've notice that audio is ahead of the video 1 or 2 seconds....... and i'm also having problems with my remote, sometimes it works and in few minutes its not gonna work, i'm also experiencing delays with my remote, for example i'm watching tv on channel 31 for 5 mins and then decided to change the channel and then what will happen is, its not changing channels and then after pressing my remote so many times the channel will change and then becomes unstable and then i have to CTRL+ALT+DEL just to close the PCTV APPLICATION........ and i've notice the PCTV APPLICATION is loosing its focus, so sometimes what i do, is i use the my mouse and click the application so that the remote will work........... can u help me with my problem? hope i make sense........ i just bought the product and new with this stuff.......

my system setup:
1.1ghz AMD Athlon
EP-8KTA3L+ w/ built-in Audio(Epox motherboard)
Inno3d Geforce 2 mx-400 64mb (videocard)
512mb SDRAM (2 pcs of 128mb and 1 pc of 256mb PQI PC133)
20gig Seagate harddisk
56k internal modem.
Intel Pc camera Pro Pack (webcam)
Flight2000 F-23 (Joystick 8 buttons, Genius)
C20ux Epson (printer)
1236p ScanAce (scanner)
Pinnacle PCTV
16x/12x/40x CyberDrive
52x LG cd-rom
1.91 Vcore
200 FSB
Win98 SE
DirectX 8.1



Mpegger said:
Just for abit of refference. Trying to capture video directly to MPEG2 format is VERY cpu dependent. While I had my P3 700 oc'd to 933, I could only manage 600x480 6000kbps I-frame only capture with 128kbps audio and a ATA66 drive.

Although I could lower the video kbps, the quality would suffer greatly. And b and P frames could only be done in real time when I captured at 320x240.

One other problem with capturing directly to MPEG2, is that the video will have macro block problems as compared to properly encoded (ie, DVD) video. Real time MPEG2 encoding is possible because of the speed of computers, but the quality still isn't as good as a 2-pass (slow) software encoding such as that used by TMPGEnc. I could easily get good quality capturing to avi first, encoding with TMPGEnc to MPEG2 at only around 1500-2500 (vbr) kbps, then I could trying to capture real-time at anything less then 6000kbps.
 
Last edited:

Mpegger

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2001
Ah! Thats the same card I have except mine was sold under a different name. If I'm not mistaken, the Pinnacle boxed version comes with its own MPEG recording software right? If its anything like PowerVCR, I sould be able to help you.

Video and audio de-synchronizing is usually because your computer is not fast enough for the codec and video size your capturing at. Certain codecs are cpu intensive, such as MPEG2, and trying to capture video at large resolutions will result in dropped frames because there isn't enough time for the card to capture the frame, transfer the information to ram, let the cpu compress the frame, and then copy the compressed frame to disk. Bear in mind, that the sound card is also being used to capture the audio at the same time. You sould trying reducing the resolution your capturing at. If you'r already capturing at 320x240 or close to that, trying raising the bitrate. This will result in larger files, but the cpu will use less compression per frame. Finally, if your using MPEG2, capture only I-frames which are full frames. Again, this will result in larger files, but B and P frames take more cpu time to compress. I think regular MPEG also has the option for B and P frames, so use only I-frames for it as well.

I'm not sure why your program is running so poorly, but make sure you have the latest version. Other then that, I wouldn't have a clue as I'm not sure exactly what program your using for your capture card.
 

stenchhunt

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2001
Location
Herts, SE, England
A380, good choice, like I stated earlier dvd2svcd uses tempgenc or cinemacraft encoder,takes a while but the quality is excellent (source dependent of course)

I use TEMPGEnc to split the file (for 2 disks) and then encode each one using dvd2svcd, creates all the files to burn, just load up in a virtual drive (such as Daemon) and cd copy using nero and the virtual drive as the source

result... a top quality svcd/vcd with chapters, intro scene music, etc, whatever you choose :D
 

angeltazman

Registered
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Location
philippines
yup! pinnacle comes with its own MPEG recording(VCD, SVCD, DVD, AVI, DV, miroXL and MS Video) and T-REX(video converter)

my problem with synchronizing is when i'm watching tv, i'm not recording or anything, just watching TV, i've notice that the AUDIO is ahead VIDEO by 1 or 2 seconds, don't know how to fix this but i'm open for suggestion.....

my next problem is the remote, its not working properly, it has delays or sometimes it doesn't work at all......

forgive me of my ignorance, but whats I-frames? and what b and p frames?





Mpegger said:
Ah! Thats the same card I have except mine was sold under a different name. If I'm not mistaken, the Pinnacle boxed version comes with its own MPEG recording software right? If its anything like PowerVCR, I sould be able to help you.

Video and audio de-synchronizing is usually because your computer is not fast enough for the codec and video size your capturing at. Certain codecs are cpu intensive, such as MPEG2, and trying to capture video at large resolutions will result in dropped frames because there isn't enough time for the card to capture the frame, transfer the information to ram, let the cpu compress the frame, and then copy the compressed frame to disk. Bear in mind, that the sound card is also being used to capture the audio at the same time. You sould trying reducing the resolution your capturing at. If you'r already capturing at 320x240 or close to that, trying raising the bitrate. This will result in larger files, but the cpu will use less compression per frame. Finally, if your using MPEG2, capture only I-frames which are full frames. Again, this will result in larger files, but B and P frames take more cpu time to compress. I think regular MPEG also has the option for B and P frames, so use only I-frames for it as well.

I'm not sure why your program is running so poorly, but make sure you have the latest version. Other then that, I wouldn't have a clue as I'm not sure exactly what program your using for your capture card.