Talk about beating your head against the wall! The hours figuring this out though was time well spent. To recap, I was capturing video with my video capture card, then editing out commercials and then compressing the output to a file to be stored and streamed to my tv.
The movies would play fine to a point then the audio would go out of sync and the video would go wacky. My goal was to get the file size down to under 1GB for a 90 minute movie. Acomplishing all this takes several steps and involves several processes to actually accomplish the task. Narrowing down where the process was breaking down though was the dilemma.
What turned out to be the problem was the source files I created in my video capturing process. I have several options to select as far as the type of capture file I want to create. Basically it just regulates the frame size and compression of the file that is created during the capture. The smaller the file, the tighter the compression.
Trying to compress the capture to the max was the actual problem. Discovering this though was difficult as all the capture files played on the pc end to end with no issues. But streaming them to the tv was another matter. I could even use the trancoder that comes with the media server to prep the file and that would play fine...it just doesn't do any compression. Setting my capture card to 12mb /sec CBR stream was the key. Since the files are .mpg files, they don't suffer the 4mb limit of AVI files imposed by the Windows VFW codec. So a 90 min movie captures to over 10GB.
It was very confusing to say the least to try to compress a capture file that would trancode and play fine without additional compression. I spent a lot of time looking at the two codecs I was using. Between DivX and XVid, I settled on Divx. Mainly because of the availability of support since it is a commercial codec. Both codecs yield close to the same results when you get the process right.
Anyway, re-capturing movies I had already burned to DVD is rather time consuming. I have an cheap stand-alone DVD player attached to my capture card. But this was better than trying to capture something off the tv to try to figure out where the problem was. At least, I could use the same source many times and measure the results start to finish. Must be the scientist in me.
Of course, re-capturing movies from DVD is not the optimal way to get a movie off the DVD in the long run. I don't really need to actually capture. I just need to put the DVD's I've already created into my DVD burner and copy the movie files to the HD and merge the files into a single video file. Then import it into my video editor and export to an AVI file using Divx. On a 90 min movie, this cuts down the processing time by about 80 minutes because I don't have to re-capture or do any actual editing.
I actually had a pretty good Idea this process would work so I focused on the making the capturing process work. Now I don't have to commit a video I capture to DVD when all I really want to do is capture something and store it on my media server....AND optimize the space for more movies than you can shake a stick at. Current count is almost 1300 and is only half full.
Another cool thing I setup today is a little webserver that is running on my pc to access all my video's and music over the Internet. So when I'm on the road I can ferret through the list easily. Otherwise I can use my remote access software to do the same thing basically. The difference is I can stream my music. The vids don't stream though.
I did install some streaming software on my system and was able to stream, but it kept buffering after about 2 seconds. I think the problem there is that the files are not actually encoded properly to do that over the Internet. And the streaming software doesn't do any transcoding. The same company makes a live-streaming software though that supposedly could possibly access my video capture card and stream live tv to my laptop. This might come in handy if the local cable doesn't carry the same channels I have on the satellite dish.
Since my Internet is actually fast enough, I might explore streaming video from my pc in more depth at some point.