What are do's and don'ts to when encoding dozens of hours of DV to h264?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by richisgame, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. richisgame macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2007
    Hi, and thanks in advance to all who help!

    I have captured 70 hours of DV footage from 50 old 8mm video tapes and need to convert them all into h264, mp4's for playback on a WDTV Live Hub, Media Player.

    This encoding is taking dozens of hours as well, of extremely processor intensive work, that has the fans on my Macbook Pro, whirring away at full blast. (Early 2011 17" MBP 16GB RAM, 240GB Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD. The video files are on a pair of external, bus powered, USB drives.)

    I am concerned whether relatively continuous encoding, (broken up only by setting up new encodes), may either, degrade performance, (and thereby take more time encoding than it should), or worse, be potentially injurious to my MBP.

    Are there any regular maintenance procedures that I should perform throughout this process, (such as restarts, shutdowns, resetting pram, Disk Utility, etc.), or is it ok to just let the machine whirr away hours and hours and hours at a time?

    Thanks again!
  2. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Make sure that the machine is cooled adequately, that the air ducts are not blocked, if possible place it in a cool room. Don't close the lid. As far as the rest goes... this is a computer, it should be able to handle some load.
  3. richisgame thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2007
  4. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 8, 2007
    Saratoga, CA
    I do lots of video encoding. Eventually, I got tired of my MBP being less responsive and the fans going at full blast, so I built an inexpensive quad-core PC just for this task. I'm very happy with the result.

    The machine also serves as a backup computer. This allowed me to keep working while I was waiting a few days for my rMBP's display to be replaced recently.
  5. marc11 macrumors 68000

    Mar 30, 2011
    NY USA
    I transfered about 80 hours worth of DV and old VHS home movie videos about a year ago. Like others said, I just made sure my MBP was able to keep cool and I let it do its thing alone. No other tasks running and I just transfered/encoded tape after tape.

    Not one problem, no issues, nothing, worked prefectly, just takes time...just make sure you have a large enough HDD to store it all and I would highly recommend you back up, on the fly if you can. I would transfer/encode a tape, back up the digital copy to a second HDD and then load the next. This way I was sure I had copies of my work, just in case one of the HDD's pooped the bed while transfering.
  6. w00t951 macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2009
    Pittsburgh, PA
    You want a good 24/7 encoding machine? Try building a cheap custom PC. You can use a miniATX case with liquid CPU cooling and a $200 AMD FX-8350 processor.

    • Case: $60
    • Motherboard: $120
    • RAM: $40
    • CPU: $200
    • PSU: $50
    • Liquid Cooler: $100
    • HDD: $50

    That processor with its insanely overclockable 8-cores of power will trump your MacBook any day. 8GB of RAM is OK and no video card is also OK. You don't seem to be storing any media on your computer itself, so a cheap HDD should be OK.
  7. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 8, 2007
    Saratoga, CA
    That sounds like a great system. However, if folks don't want to throw a lot of money at a PC, something very useful could be built for a lot less. I built mine almost 2 years ago around a $100 AMD Athlon II X4 CPU and a $50 motherboard. Total cost was just a bit over $300. It's still working fine for my purpose of ripping BluRays, DVD's, and HD programs that I record from my DVR.
  8. richisgame thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2007
    Thx for all the great suggestions!

    With my machine completely bogged down and whirring away hour after hour, I dare not touch it, even to read or send email, lest I see the progress bar grind to a halt.

    So, I have been thinking, as I am likely to be doing this regularly, that I need a dedicated machine for this task. And as you have pointed out one can build a PC that screams for a quarter to a third of what a comparable Mac costs, it would seem to be the way to go.

    The only thing is, I have been a die hard Mac user for the last twenty years and know nothing about PC's. But as I am pretty handy with my MBP, (installing my own HD's as well as replacing the optical drive with a second HD), I am confident I could build the PC. It's the software side of this plan I know nothing about.

    Also, I will also need some kind of FireWire pci card to capture the video, as well as a second RCA component video/audio in, pci card for VHS and the like. BTW, suggestions on these would be welcome too!

    So my next question is, once I have this reasonably priced PC built, what software will I need to:
    1.) capture the DV footage, through either the FW or RCA pci card, and
    2.) encode the DV to mp4/h264, as fast as possible

    On the MBP, encoding to h264 with QuickTime Pro, was unimpressive, at 1:1, (1hr of encoding time per hr of DV footage), on its best day, so I found a software called Wondershare Ultimate, that is yielding me better than .5:1, a >50% improvement over QT, I'm guessing because it takes advantage of the MBP's multiple processor threads.

    What windows software is there that can do both of these things impressively without costing too much!?
  9. snoylekim macrumors member

    Aug 7, 2011
    if you want to build a rendering PC, some of the suggestions offered are OK, but my suggestion would be to visit the Anandtech forum , 'General Hardware' forum , and post your requirements/wishes via their questionnaire .. you'll get two or three good, cost-effective suggestions for the hardware needed ..
    I built a rendering/photo processing machine, but I went high end on a few things ..suffice to say I would have no problem with it transcoding/rendering for 70 hours ..I would not use my macbook pro for it , even though the processor is up to the task, I personally don't thing the thermals of an MBP were designed for days straight of 100% CPU on all cores :) ..
    I mostly use Handbrake or the Sony Vegas/Movie Studio to transcode ..w/ an I7 3770 processor , i get between 1;1 and 2:1 w/ HD content , and 4 or 5 to 1 w standard def ( DV) content , and the machine stays at about 60 degrees C with all 8 cores flying ..
  10. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    Use compressor and any and all macs in your proximity!
  11. snoylekim macrumors member

    Aug 7, 2011
    yes .. Compressor is pretty decent, and you can manage the cores on one ( or more) Macs .. I've had it running 4 cores on a 2011 Mac Mini + 2 Cores on a 2009 Mac mIni transcoding all at one .. does speed things up a bit .. Does the OP have another mac or two :)
  12. richisgame thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2007
    Compressor has always been my first choice with m2v conversion. I set it up with Qmaster which sees my threaded Quad core as having 8 processors. However, it has always been stubborn with h264 conversion. And, this time, it was taking forever, 1:2 or worse.

    However, this Wondershare converter is taking me 44 minutes to do a 122 minute encode with cropping, and deinterlacing. Not too shabby.

    I guess I will figure out what software to use on this PC once I build it.

    Thanks All!
  13. lwilliams macrumors 6502


    Nov 27, 2012
    Athens, GA
    I have been doing the same for the last year and a half. It is much easier to import into the PC. Two weeks ago built a new sys to do this with. i&-3770K, 16gb Corsair Vengeance, with 18tb of storage.

    The key with firewire cards on a PC, for audio/video is to make sure the card has a Texas Instruments chip. That takes some searching. The one I found is: SIIG NN-E20012-2

    The for Composite, Component, and S-video input, I use the Hauppauge HD-PVR. I have been using it for 2 years and it was a little tricky on an underpowered sys, but on the new one it really rocks. Imports and stores to .mts as a native format.

    I use Pinnacle Studio HD v14 for the editing. But I am looking for something easier to use. I have Vegas and don't like it. I am thinking of trying Final Cut on my Mac.
  14. richisgame thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2007
    Thanks for the input!

    Looking into the i7 3770 series, I noticed that the difference between the i7 3770, and the i7 3770K, is both run at 3.9Ghz, but that the i7-3770 is locked at that speed, while the i7-3770K has a unlocked CPU multiplier which allows for over clocking, supposedly up to 6.0Ghz, perhaps with a more exotic version of the liquid cooler mentioned by a contributor who chose the AMX FX-8350, (w00t951), above. There is a question of stability with all four cores at that speed though.
    But, both the AMX and Intel models appear to be stable at the same 4.8Ghz.

    However, the i7-3770, although locked at 3.9Ghz, has a feature called, Intel® Quick Sync Video, which their site says, "Intel® Quick Sync Video delivers fast conversion of video for portable media players," which is exactly what this thread is about.

    It begs the question of whether this feature trumps the extra 1.0Ghz that the over clocked version offers.

    So what is faster at video encoding of DV to mp4/h264?

    An i7-3770, running at 3.9Ghz with, Intel® Quick Sync Video, or the i7-3770K overclocked to 4.8Ghz?

    Thanks again!
  15. snoylekim macrumors member

    Aug 7, 2011
    Depends on the software that will leverage quicksync .. I haven't used it , but understand that emphasis is on speed versus quality .. I run my 3770K stock , and encode speeds w/o quicksync are fine .. Overclocking is an art/science that would require an upgrade to the motherboard ( Z77 chips) , and knowing what you're doing to maintain stability .. There isn't very much software (yet) that leverages quicksync .. The other variation for transcoding is software that will try to leverage OpenCL on a graphics card to augment processing .. Sony Movie Studio will do this w/ some codec ..
  16. richisgame thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2007
    I bet!
    Even though I am relatively handy with my Mac, I am not terribly confident tackling everything required to get overclocking working stably, as I have never built a PC before.

    I missed your question from before.
    I used to have a 2008 Intel Core 2 Duo MBP, and a 2008 Quad Core Mac Pro, but short of cash, I sold both to upgrade to the 2011 17" i7 2.2 Ghz MBP I am using today. Amazingly, as far as video encoding goes, my 2011 MBP is as fast, if not faster than my old Mac Pro was.

    If cash was no object here, I would probably just buy a new iMac and be done with it, but at 3-4x the price of a build your own PC, for the moment I just can't go there.

    As to Compressor, it used to be quite reliable for me, and for some reason although properly seeing all 8 of my core/threads, it is quite sluggish. I wonder if Mountain Lion just isn't playing well with Compressor 3.5, and would fare better if I used 4.0?

    But as this Wondershare converter seems to be doing such a good job at the task, there is no need to look back. It seems they have a PC version as well, so once I get around to actually building this thing, I should be set in the encoding department. As to capturing / editing, I am now thinking of Premiere for the PC.

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