Video editng, HTPC?, Media Server etc

Hi all,

New to the group and the whole Home Theater pc, DVD ripping, media server thing and I have a number of questions I wanted to put to the group for advice.

HTPC

  1. I am in the process of fine tuning an older Dell P4 PC as a HTPC, (I don’t need anything really high end). The Dell is a GX260 with 2GB of RAM. I have a Fusion FX5500, (Nvidia 256MB) PCI video card that I have put in the system for getting S-Video to the television, I have a 15 inch LCD as display 1 (VGA out) and the TV is display 2 (S-Video out). My TV is a Toshiba 52 Inch Rear Projection HD TV.

When I run a PC application on the TV the text is very blurred and while I expect degrading in the video, I can connect my HP NX9600 laptop up to the TV which has a 128MB ATI video on board with S-Video out and I get a much clearer display which I don’t understand, it would seem (at least to my noob sensibilities) that I would get better performance from a 256MB card than a 128MB card.

Q1. Is there something I need to do to adjust the setting etc on the Fusion to get better output?

Q2. Is the Fusion not a good card to use? Should I buy a different card? The Dell has PCI and AGP the AGP is half height so if I go the route of an AGP card it will have to be something like a GeForce 62000A.

Q3. Is the GeForce 6200A a good card for my purposes?

Media Server

I want to setup a media server environment to store all my movies, music and pictures.

I have several 2TB NAS’es that I am using to store my media. I have ripped all my CD’s (using WMP) to a NAS and I keep all my pictures on it and now want to rip all my DVD’s to the NAS. The DVD are NOT hi-def.

What I would like to accomplish is to setup a media server environment that will function like the ones in the hotels. Where I can turn on the TV I get a menu that pops up and will:

  1. Show a list of functions to select A. Movies Network B. Movies Netflix C. Music D. Internet Radio E. Games, (Mame) F. Pictures Then be able to select Movies and then list categories such as Sci-Fi, Action Adventure etc, the ability to watch trailers etc. The same for music with a list of types rock, oldies, new age etc, slideshow functionality. I know a lot to ask, I’m guessing that there isn’t a piece of software that can do all this, but maybe something that can tie the various pieces of software together so it looks seamless?

Q1. What is the best way to accomplish this? Via a software product that would reside on my NAS such as twonky media server? (Which I have but haven’t used yet so I don’t know the extent of it capabilities) or via a piece of software that sits on the HTPC or a combination of the two?

Q2. What product would you recommend to rip my DVD’s to the NAS and most importantly what format/resolution to rip them too that will look good on my TV without breaking the bank on disk space?

Q3. Since I doubt there is a single product that will accomplish the above functionality what products to you recommend?

Movie editing

My wife and I recently went and did a shark cage adventure, where they stick you in a cage and bring in a bunch of sharks. We have a video of it that some friends want a copy of. However, the video needs some cleanup, music added etc. I have never done video editing and don’t want to spend a lot of money as this is something I will only do once in a great while. The DVD is a mini DVD that is two sided one side is our shark cage adventure, the other side is footage from the companies other shark encounters.

What I want to do is

  1. Rip both sides of the DVD to my computer
  2. Combine both sides of the DVD to one
  3. Create menus
  4. Add Music
  5. Cut out bad (out of focus) parts of the shark footage
  6. Burn it back to a DVD for playing on a regular home DVD player

I have InterVideo WinDVD (came with my laptop), Nero 6 Ultra Edition, (retail edition) Windows Movie maker (of course), Any Video Converter, (freeware), Sonic RecordNow! (crippled version that came with the laptop).

I have tried ripping the DVD using Any Video Converter and then do the editing in Movie Maker, but I can’t get it to work worth a flip. AVC will rip it then WMM can’t open it or it’s audio only or it plays in hyper speed on WMM etc.

Q1. Is there a how-To that someone recommends for a complete noob:p?

Q2. Should I use the tools I have or download/buy something different?

Sorry for the long post and boatload of questions, I have been meaning to post a question or two as they came up, but just haven’t had the time and they’ve been accumulating in the back of my brain as I run into different issues. I figured I’d better post em before I have a memory overflow and forget.

Thanks for the help.

Regards,

Gordon