Converting MPEG2 to MPEG4

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by PenguinMac, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. PenguinMac macrumors member

    May 21, 2010
    I have 4TB of old movies recorded from television without commercials, a collection that I expect will entertain my wife and I into our old age (and we're not that far from that now). They were recorded on Panasonic and Magnavox hard drive recorders in DVD format, which is SD 720x480 with NTSC pixel ratio 10:11, meaning they are all 4:3 aspect ratio in spite of the 720x480 resolution.

    Now I would like to convert these to MPEG4 H.264 to save space on my HTPC, a 2010 Mac Mini that I have on order. My main PC is now a Dell, but will be a Mac Pro if they ever update it, so I'm keeping my originals in MPEG2 just in case I make a mistake in the conversion. I'd like to save at least 1TB of space, and in testing some conversions I can do that with H.264 640x480 with pixel ratio 1:1. If I try to keep the video at 720x480 so as not to lose any resolution from the original, the video is played "stretched" at an aspect ratio of 3:2 instead of 4:3 because the MPEG4 file doesn't recognize the 10:11 pixel ratio of NTSC SD.

    So, is there a work-around to save the full resolution of the originals, or do I have to use 640x480? Just for laughs, I tried 720x540 (4:3 with pixel ratio 1:1), and the videos looked very good and displayed correctly. But can I use my own "invented" resolution to play movies on OS X?
  2. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    Yes, you can. As in Windows, Mac OS X is capable of displaying any video resolution you like, even 256 x 1 or 4 x 2560.

    So if that workaround works with your footage, go for it.

    Btw, players like VLC allow you to set the aspect ratio and let you even define your own aspect ratios.
  3. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    You might have lost the will to live before you're half way through that lot. When VLC can play them with such little fuss, I would never consider transcoding them all.
  4. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    Especially since external storage is so cheap.

    What are you going to watch them on, a TV or a monitor?
  5. PenguinMac thread starter macrumors member

    May 21, 2010
    Ok, you're right, I may not live long enough to complete the conversion :)! And we watch these movies on a 32" 1080p Sony HDTV - big enough to enjoy the movie, but not so big that it blows up an SD video to the point of pixelation.

    I wanted to reduce the number of drives I need to stand beside the Mac Mini HTPC. I now need 2 2TB, using the Mini's 1TB to store our 22 years of home videos (including the last 5 years of HDV and AVCHD), plus our home photos. Seagate has announced a 3TB drive which would allow me to keep 2 3TB drives beside the Mini, but even better would be to reduce that to 1 3TB drive. But your answers may have brought me to my senses about this idea. Even a new Mac Pro can't break the laws of space and time!
  6. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    Sounds like a plan. With all this talk of storage, I can't help but saying
    I really hope you have a back up of those home movies. For the sake of your family, you might consider buying another set of drives and duplicating your home movies and putting them in a safe deposit box or something.
  7. PenguinMac thread starter macrumors member

    May 21, 2010
    Thanks for the advice. I have all of the movies backed up to my desktop PC in my home office, and another set in a safe deposit box as you suggested. While of course the first priority in a fire or other home disaster is to get your loved ones out, I couldn't risk losing all this work (ok, not REAL work, but a fun hobby) to such an event. Of course only the home movies are irreplacable, but the old movie recordings have taken enough of my time to be treated the same way.

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