Video to Video review

vbimport

#1

Over the last year or so, I have been recommending a free video conversion program in our forums called Video to Video. It is a GUI for the open source project, FFmpeg, a tremendously versatile, cross platform program, designed to work with virtually any video and audio codec. Video to Video provides a convenient way of working with FFmpeg, and puts that powerful conversion engine under your control.

In this review I hope to hit some of the highlights of the program, though I will not be able to cover all of its capabilities without writing a small novel. That’s not going to happen, so if there is any part of the program you wish to discuss, please feel free to add your comments at the end of the review.

We’ll start with the Video to Video website: http://www.videotovideo.org/

You can download and use this program for free. There are no strings attached, and no “add-ons” to be wary of in the installer. Two versions are available, one which installs into your Programs list in a normal fashion, and another version which is a portable, “stand-alone” program, that runs from within the folder you place it in.


#2

Here is the main window of Video to Video:

You’ll notice that there is a bar at the top of the window with various commands: File, Convert, Tools, Options, Language, View and Help.

I’ll start with File. This is one of the methods used to import your video into the program, and is the best way to import a DVD. Video to Video will work with an encrypted DVD in an optical drive, ripped DVD folders on the hard drive, or with an ISO file of the DVD.

If you are going to use Video to Video to decrypt a DVD as it converts, I would suggest using it only on those that have simple CSS encryption. Anything more complex will cause issues.




#3

Now we move on to the other controls I’ve listed.

Convert is just the executable for the program, used when you are ready to start your conversion. You can also pause or stop the conversion from here.

Tools has a very long drop down list as you can see in this snapshot:

You can join video and audio files of similar characteristics, split files, burn DVDs, take snapshots, and even remove commercials from video captured from tv broadcasts.

Clicking on Options brings up the Settings window and from here you can set up a permanent spot to output your videos on the hard drive, adjust subtitle fonts and colors, set the program working priority, etc. Here is the Settings Window and the various tabs it contains:

The other commands at the top of the window are self evident, where you can select the preferred language used in the program, or view logs of your process and there is even a help section.




#4

As we look at other sections of the main window, you can see a line of icons which perform much the same functions as the commands we have already examined. There is also a Preview icon, which allows you to see how your output will look after being re-encoded. The Preview button only works after you start the encode.

On the right side of the window you can see the container format you will be using, and options in the video and audio codecs. All of these can be adjusted by clicking on them. But let’s not get too far ahead. Time to import a video for conversion.


#5

I’m going to convert a DVD-video that is already decrypted and ripped, as files on the hard drive. Clicking on File–> Add DVD–> Select DVD Folder gives me the option to navigate to the folder. When you select the folder you will see this window:

Click OK and you will see a new window, with a very large selection of possible formats you can convert to.

If you look through the tabs shown in this last picture you will see there is an enormous number of possible outputs. Each tab contains at least half a dozen choices, and the total number is probably closer to two hundred different specialized combinations. The mobile tab, for phones, has by far the most options.

But for my example, I’m going to make a simple AVI file using the Xvid video codec and mp3 sound. This is a common format for many DVD players released in the last ten years, but has been mostly supplanted by H264 MP4.




#6

So, what did I have to do to make my Xvid AVI file? I chose AVI in the Video Profiles, then looked at the settings on the right-hand side of the window. MP3 was already selected as the audio, but only at 128kbps bitrate, so I moved that up to 192.

Under Quality, I changed it from Same as Source to High. This increases bitrate, and will also make the file larger, but I don’t mind slightly larger sized files if it will give excellent quality results.

I clicked on Convert and waited about 8 or 9 minutes for the result.


#7

While the video produced by this process was perfectly good, and about 1.5gb in size, I was less than pleased by the black bars on the sides, and decided to re-encode it a little more carefully.

This time I set the resolution to 640 x 344, but all other settings remained the same as the first encode. Why 640 x 344? That is because the DVD I was working with was originally shot in 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, and 640 x 344 is one choice that fits that aspect ratio well when re-encoding.

The 2nd encode is very good quality and doesn’t have the pillar-boxed sides. The original DVD was 4.06gb in size, and this new Xvid AVI is 1.07gb.
Here is a snapshot:



#8

When using one of the presets for specific hardware, the program will custom tailor your resolutions and other specifications of the video to suit the device selected. So it isn’t necessary to have knowledge of aspect ratios or other video details in order to use this program. But it does provide a flexibility that many commercial programs do not. It is this versatility that makes the program attractive to both beginners and more advanced users.

I’m not sure I would choose this program for my own personal use when making MKV or MP4 files using the H264 codec. That is because I have gotten so accustomed to using Vidcoder, and I tend to use tools that I know well. But Video to Video offers many more formats for output, so in those cases where I need something out of the ordinary, it would be a fine choice.

And that’s my overview of the program. Please feel free to comment in the thread.


#11

Thanks for this review, I need to get around to trying out the commercial remover one of these days.


#12

I’ve used the commercial remover & although it takes some manual dexterity it works fairly well.
I have an old western series that has commercials that I’m trying it with.
What I can’t figure out is how to put several episodes in a DVD compliant Folder That has each episode as a seperate titlle with or without menu.
I usually use DVDShrink to do this . VtoV would eliminate a few steps if it will do this.
I may still use it for commercial removal . Then use IfoEdit like I do with DVDShrink once I use VobEdit or VobMerge to create a single vob. Then DVDshrink will “join” them into what I want. Then TitleWriter will create a menu.
I have also used AVStoDVD to “join” the files with a menu.
It is slower but produces better quality.
I’ve found DVDShrink is as good for old B&W western series though.

So will VtoV do what I am trying ?


#13

Cholla, if your input files share the same characteristics (file type, resolution, codecs, frame rate, etc), you can join them and convert to DVD-video in one step. This won’t give you a menu though, and the episodes will run together. So, I don’t think Video to Video is the best choice for this type of conversion.

AVStoDVD is better set up to deal with this particular task, and would be my first choice.

Good to hear you’ve used the commercial remover in VtoV with success, as it is not something I can test. I haven’t got any captures left with commercials.


#14

Thanks Kerry , I had already tried the join & convert. It worked exactly as you posted.
VtoV will create a very simple menu for a DVD. Basically background with a “Play” button.
Where I think it will be easier for me is the commercial remover.
I can remove the commercials from one episode & select OK.
This creates a single file.
Say there are three commercial sections removed. When I use DVDShrink it creates 3 titles. The vobs from those then have to be joined. VtoV will eliminate this extra step. From that point on it will be about the same process for me.
Create the IFOs & BUPs with IfoEdit . Then use DVDShrink to create a DVD folder from several episodes. Each episode is a separate title that way. Then a menu with TitleWriter.
The alternative is AVStoDVD the commercial remover “joined file”(several) can be added directly it.Then a DVD created with menu. This would be better if quality was an issue or a different resolution.
When I used VtoV & set a different resolution ]it changed it for what MediaInfo detected but the picture was the same size when played.
DVDShrink doesn’t have any resolution settings.

I don’t have VideoRedo & I haven’t used the trial for it. I may do that sometime.


#15

Excellent stuff Kerry!

I think this is a great guide to the program.

[B]Wombler[/B]


#16

Before someone tries it IfoEdit doesn’t work correctly with the VtoV .vob created with Commercial Remover.
AVStoDVD works fine with it .


#17

There is one annoying feature about Video to Video that I have run into a couple of times. If you are starting with a DVD that has subtitles, the automatic setting in VtoV is to burn the subtitles into your video file. This is a permanent encoding and cannot be turned off in playback.

To keep the program from doing this, you have to disable Subtitles in the window that first comes up when you import the DVD (first image in post #5 of this thread). It is possible to add a soft subtitle stream later, when you select your output format. You would need the subtitle stream already separate from the DVD however.


#18

[QUOTE=Kerry56;2727139]There is one annoying feature about Video to Video that I have run into a couple of times. If you are starting with a DVD that has subtitles, the automatic setting in VtoV is to burn the subtitles into your video file. This is a permanent encoding and cannot be turned off in playback.

To keep the program from doing this, you have to disable Subtitles in the window that first comes up when you import the DVD (first image in post #5 of this thread). It is possible to add a soft subtitle stream later, when you select your output format. You would need the subtitle stream already separate from the DVD however.[/QUOTE]

I also tried it strait from a decrypted & burned DVD with the same subtitle results as Kerry had.
Funny thing when I used the “Join Video Files” function from the same DVD it didn’t have the hardcoded subtitles in the .avi file. It didn’t have any subtitles.

The “Commercial Remover” is going to be useful for what I’m doing .
I just need to use AVStoDVD to process whole episode “clips” back into a dvd . It also can create a menu for selecting each episode or I can create one with TitleWriter . I will try AVStoDVD’s menu first & see how I like it.