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Making a Ca3DE demo video

Posted: 2009-03-31, 16:23
by Carsten
It was recently suggested that making a Ca3DE Demo Video would be highly desirable and beneficial for any visitors to the Ca3D-Engine website, licensees, customers, etc.

As our previous experience with making computer videos was little to nil, and/or restricted to some specific C/C++ programming APIs (e.g. the Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora containers and formats), we started to search, read and experiment.

This post briefly summarizes our findings:
  1. Fraps
    We use (registered version) for recording the source footage.
    Fraps works well, but remember:
    • Fraps is a great tool, is easy and reliable to use, and generally does the job well.
    • Computer performance (and thus Ca3DE FPS) drops dramatically as soon as movie recording is started.
      The resulting stuttering can make precise player control very difficult.
    • For playback of the generated .avi files on another computer, Fraps must be installed there, too (free or registered version). This is due to the custom Fraps FPS1 codec that is used in the .avi container.
    In theory, an alternative for making the source footage is to employ dedicated hardware in a second computer that is able to record the digital video output of the first. (Any other alternatives?)
  2. Windows Movie Maker "WMM"
    The Fraps .avi files must be further processed / compressed / encoded / etc.
    When only a conversion is desired, the Fraps Support website suggests VirtualDub, tmpgenc (Tsunami Mpeg Encoder), or avisynth.

    None of these is a video editor though, and we found that the Windows Movie Maker "WMM" (free download for WinXP, included with WinVista) is a great program that makes creating great videos easy!
    :tv: The WMM generates by default .wmv output in a good quality:

    We could peacefully stop and be done at this point, but consider:
    • Although download and playback of .wmv files is possible under Linux (tested with ubuntu), it's not the ideal cross-platform format.
    • I've not been able to enter an URL ending with .wmv in the Firefox address bar and save the file locally: Both under Win and Linux it always attempts to open the file inline in the related plugin.
    • Embedding such a video in a webpage is either not possible, or restricted to Microsoft browser plugins.
  3. :arrow: YouTube
    Finished video, additional / alternative action #1: Youtube upload.
    Done that, it's very straightforward and simple, performance is great, but honestly, the quality is poor, despite good quality source footage for upload [EDIT: There is a new HQ button, see errata below!]:
  4. :arrow: ffdshow
    Finished video, additional / alternative action #2: Use ffdshow-tryouts with WMM. ffdshow allows WMM to save videos in many other formats [EDIT: Not true, see errata below!]. A good choice seems to be MP4 with h.264 video codec, as it is modern, good quality, an ISO/IEC standard, and can be played back by the Adobe Flash player - see next item.
  5. JW FLV Player
    As the above .mp4 file can be handled by the Adobe Flash player, we can now embed it into the website.
    "Raw" embedding is (apparently) possible, but leaves us without any player controls for "play", "pause", "rewind", etc.

    Player controls are added by .swf Shockwave flash programs, obtained e.g. from: Both look good! :cheesy:
Until now, we've successfully implemented everything in this list except for the last two items (MP4 and website embedding). We're working to complete these two, too, hopefully finishing them in the next few days.

In the meanwhile, watch the Ca3DE .wmw demo clips: :wohow:

Re: Making a Ca3DE demo video

Posted: 2009-04-04, 13:31
by Carsten
Addendum and Errata:
  • The video quality at YouTube is better than I initially thought:
    They recently introduced a new high quality streaming format that is available when the uploaded source footage is of high quality as well.
    It takes them several hours after uploading for processing and re-rendering the video, but then users can activate the HQ button in the player for a much better playback quality:
    This in turn makes our lives much easier: As they readily accept .wmv files as generated by Windows Movie Maker, we just upload these files and are done. :up:
  • The alternative without YouTube is attractive as well, and the right tool for the job is not fddshow, but ffmpeg: Good news is that when you use ffmpeg, you don't need any of the graphical front ends, like WinFF, tmpgenc, Super, Avanti, AutoFF, Xpegt, etc.
  • The real problem in the queue "fraps > Movie Maker > ffmpeg > .mp4 > JW FLV Player" is (lo and behold!) the Windows Movie Maker:
    Although it is great for editing movies, it is very difficult (even with custom media profiles!) to have it generate lossless output that is optimal input for ffmpeg.
    If the YouTube path didn't work so well, we'd switch to another video editor just for having more movie export alternatives.


Working with WMM and YouTube is easy and provides satisfactory quality:
Click the movie image above in order to get to our results site, where you can play the final movie directly in the browser or download the .wmv footage! :up: :wohow: