Tuesday, November 15, 2005

MacOnMacs: MPEG tools without the command line

Unix has a variety of great command line tools (i.e. tools that are activated by entering text in the Terminal) to perform simple tasks on MPEG files. Well, given that MPEG is such a popular file format for videos, it would be great if someone wrapped all these commands up into a little interface so that those not quite comfortable using the Terminal (or too lazy, like me ;-) ) could access them easily. Well, they have and it's free!

mpgtx is an MPEG toolbox that allows users to access commands to split, join, demux, and get info on most MPEG files through a simple user interface. After downloading the file from the link above, you will have a folder with the mpgtxwrap app in it. When you launch this, you will be presented with the GUI and some simple instructions. The GUI, though much appreciated, has some idiosyncrasies, which I'll mention below.

The GUI allows you to specify the number of chunks you'd like to split a file into if, for example, you're trying to write a large MPEG file across multiple CDs, or you can specify exactly where you'd like to split the file to do things like remove commercials from a video or the like. One strange thing about this application is that if you are dragging and dropping a number of files to join them, for example, you actually drag them onto the "File-List->" button, which is a little odd to say the least. This action will open a drawer to the side of the GUI and will then allow you to reorder the files by dragging and dropping them within the list or ordering by name, etc. The "Basename", which is the prefix of split files or the name of joined files, can be changed through the "change" checkbox beside this text area, although I'm unsure why an additional element is needed to do this. The "mpgtx output" box is useful to help isolate any difficulties, and selecting "desperate mode" can help when all else fails (though I've yet to have to use this). One final remark: depending on the player that is used, you may see some artifacts (e.g. video distortion) right at the join point in your resultant files - these are pretty easy to live with but I thought I should mention them so that you don't think you're doing something wrong should they appear ;-) . The FAQ for this app may be of further help.

PS: Gumby is another free app that manipulates MPEG, DVD, SVCD, PS2, ISO, and RAR images/files. I haven't used this one, and apparently it doesn't work on as many types of MPEG files (e.g. MPEG-2 files from TiVo) as mpgtx does, but it might be of interest to some of you.
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11/15/2005 06:29:00 p.m.  


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