AMV CONVERSION GUIDE 1: MAKING BETTER AMV'S
Hello! Bon Jour! I have a green Chinese-made MP4 player in the second-generation iPod Nano style. I am writing this guide to convey some techniques that have work for me on this player. I hope that these suggestions will help you, especially if you have been puzzled by the manual included with the player. I believe that this MP4 player is pretty cool, and would like to help people get the most out of it.
I use the "MP3 Player Utilities 4.15" that was provided with the player on a 3" CD. My OS is Windows 2000 and I have Media Player 9, DivX 6.x, and Xvid installed. I have also installed the "K-Lite Codec Pack." I downloaded K-Lite from the web. As far as I know this tutorial does not require K-Lite. I hope to write another tutorial on uses for K-Lite later on. For the purposes of this tutorial, I will assume that you have the codecs you need installed. Basically, this means that the source video will play correctly in the Windows Media Player.
TYPE OF SOURCE VIDEO
Okay, you are reading this because you have some AVI video files that you wish to convert to AMV format to play on your MP4 player. Speaking generally, these videos can be divided into three types:
1. Full-screen TV format. These are AVI files of standard TV programs, such as most anime programs, which are formatted as more-or-less 4-by-3 videos.
2. Wide-screen movie format. These are AVI files that are formatted as wide-screen to simulate the original movie experience. This type of file does not have black matting at the top and bottom of the screen.
3. Ultra-wide-screen movie format. These are AVI files that are formatted as REALLY wide-screen to simulate the original movie experience. This type of file does not have black matting at the top and bottom of the screen.
To know which type of AVI format you are dealing with, just open the file in Windows Media Player and use your best judgement. If you look at the "properties" of the video you are playing it will tell you the exact resolution. However, I do not think it is important to be exact as long as you are happy with the results (see below).
If you are working with a source AVI file that has black matting at the top and bottom of the screen, you should probably select the Full-Screen TV format. Such a file has a wide screen image displayed within a full-screen 4-by-3 file. If you are making the source AVI file, don't do it this way for use with MP4 players because it drives the file size up.
PLAYER SCREEN FORMAT
One of the goofy things about this MP4 player is that none of its documentation and none of the on-line advertisements for it actually say what its screen resolution is! My Chinese MP4 player's screen measures 1.8 inches diagonally. I have spent some time experimenting and have concluded that its screen resolution is pretty close to 160 wide by 128 tall.
FIXING THE AMVCONVERTER PROGRAM
The version of AMVConverter that shipped with my player supports conversion resolutions of 128X128, 160X120, 176X128, plus others. But it does not support the 160X128 that I want. No problem! You can fix the software by editing the file AmvTransform.ini in the folder C:\Program Files\MP3 Player Utilities 4.15\AMVConverter. Be sure to make a backup copy of the AmvTransform.ini file before you make any changes.
I suggest that you replace this line in AmvTransform.ini---
VIDEOSIZE=96X64(0;16;0),128X96(0;16;0),128X128(0;1 6;0),160X120(0;16;0),176X128(0;16;0),176X144(0;12; 0),192X160(0;12;0),208X120(0;12;0),208X160(0;10;0) ,208X176(0;10;0)
With this line---
VIDEOSIZE=96X64(0;16;0),128X96(0;16;0),128X128(0;1 6;0),160X64(0;16;0),160X96(0;16;0),160X120(0;16;0) ,160X128(0;16;0),176X128(0;16;0),176X144(0;12;0),1 92X160(0;12;0),208X120(0;12;0),208X160(0;10;0),208 X176(0;10;0)
Please note that this is JUST ONE line, regardless of how many lines it wraps to here! If you look close you will see that I have added the formats 160X64, 160X96, and 160X128. AMVConverter is not too fussy about changes to this line, but it will only support certain resolutions and combinations. The techniques in this tutorial worked for me. Your mileage may vary!
GETTING THE CONVERSIONS DONE
I expect that my children will convert their own videos for use with the MP4 player, so it is important to me that the job get done in one step. Let's assume that you have some AVI files in your "My Videos" folder, and you would like to output your converted AMV videos to your "AMV Movies" folder. (You can make these folders or equivalent folders within your "My Documents" folder if you do not have them already.)
Open the AMVConverter program. Click the green-and-white icon to the right of the Input File text box. Select the AVI file that you wish to convert (for example, "Golden Compass.avi" in "My Videos.") Click the red-and-white icon to the right of the Output File text box. Select the output folder, such as "AMV Movies," that you wish to use.
At this point the file you selected should appear in the list at the bottom of the window. Click to select the file, and notice that the gear icon next to the E. Time text box lights up in yellow. Click the yellow gear icon to view the settings dialog box for your video.
In the settings dialog box, click the Cut Source Video Settings checkbox at the top. In the three start time boxes, enter 00-07-00, to represent 00 hours, 07 minutes, and 00 seconds. In the three end time boxes, enter 00-08-00, to represent 00 hours, 08 minutes, and 00 seconds. Now, these numbers are completely arbitrary. What you want to do is to convert one minute of your video from the middle, in a section that is well past the opening credits and that shows several people.
Also in the settings dialog box, select the Screen Width and Height from the pull-down. If you have a player like mine, you should use:
160X128 for TYPE 1 or FULL-SCREEN 4-BY-3 videos
160x96 for TYPE 2 or WIDE-SCREEN videos
160x64 for TYPE 3 or ULTRA-WIDE-SCREEN videos
Leave the other settings in the dialog box at their default values. As far as I know, these are Video Convert=normal, Image Quality=high, Synchronized Video=checked, and Overwrite File=checked. If you check Playback after converting, the video will open and play as soon as the conversion is finished. Click the OK button to save your settings.
Click the diagonal-up-arrow/diagonal-down-arrow button to execute your trial conversion. When the AMV conversion is complete, look at it carefully. Take a careful look at the actors' heads. If they have pencil-heads (too tall and narrow), your Screen Width and Height choice was too narrow. Try going from TYPE 1 to TYPE 2, or from TYPE 2 to TYPE 3. If the actors have melon heads (too wide), your Screen Width and Height choice was too wide. Try going from TYPE 3 to TYPE 2, or from TYPE 2 to TYPE 1.
Hopefully, you managed to get the Screen Width and Height choice correct on the first go. If not, change the properties and run the conversion again until you have it right (or as close as you can manage). Once you have type Screen Width and Height setting right, remove the Cut Source Video Settings checkbox and convert your full video. I hope you are happy with it!
AUDIO TIMING PROBLEMS
My son has noticed that the sound gets out of synch on some conversions. He usually tries running the conversion again to correct the problem. Try running the conversion either with the Synchronize Audio check box checked or unchecked to correct the problem (at the bottom of the properties dialog). I usually leave Synchronize Audio checked. If this does not work for you, here is a workaround. In the properties dialog box, click the yellow-and-white folder icon to select a replacement audio file for your conversion. The replacement audio file must be a WAV file of the audio from your video clip. One program that can make this for you is VirtualDub.
If you use VirtualDub to create a separate audio file, you will need to open the AVI file, then change Direct Stream Copy to Full Processing Mode on the Audio menu. If you forget this step, you will have a WAV file that requires a compression codec, and such a file will cause AMVConverter to bomb out. To create an uncompressed WAV file, select Compression on VirtualDub's Audio menu, and select No Compression PCM in the dialog box. Then select click Save WAV on the File menu to create your sound file.
The most important thing when you create a batch of videos is to be 100% sure that you will not have timing errors (mismatch of video and sound) in your finished AMV files. The extra step of using a separate WAV file for the sound has, so far, given me a 100% success rate. The extra trouble is worth it, just to know you will not have to check your files.
ADDITIONAL NOTES AND COMMENTS
I hope this tutorial has been helpful. I have three additional tutorials planned, should I have the time to write them.
AMV CONVERSION GUIDE 2: YOUTUBE VIDEOS ON MP4 PLAYERS
This guide will describe how to pull any YouTube video onto your MP4 player without having to convert your video file twice.
AMV CONVERSION GUIDE 3: SINGLE-PASS IMAGE ENANCEMENT
This guide will explain some easy ways to improve your image brightness and definition, while still performing your conversion in one step.
AMV CONVERSION GUIDE 4: SUBTITLES ON MP4 PLAYERS
This guide will describe a couple of techniques for making subtitles a little more legible when viewed on MP4 player screens. This will be of interest to Anime fans who enjoy fansubs.
December 26, 2007
No warranty is expressed or implied in this document. Use at your own risk.