Leonard Cohen @ Austin City Limits 1988 - "enhanced" PBS version
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Leonard Cohen @ Austin City Limits 1988 - "enhanced" PBS version
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As luck would have it, a single person had the forseight to tape the archive replaying of ACL's 1988 Cohen performance just as it would also have that that single person knew about as much about digitizing media as myself (ie. zero).
So that recording is a disaster and hardly worth watching. It is in Svcd format supported by maybe 2 media players and is pixelated, scan-line ridden, completely dark and just generally a mess. But nevertheless, God bless 'em, he tried. At least he (or she) bloody tried. Well knowing nothing, just as our friend whoever he or she might be, never stopped me from trying either, which is what this sample and explanation are for and about. Making an attempt to do something while everyone in the world sits around waiting for someone else to do it. The original source file name I have forgotten. A friend found it using eMule, hence on one of those "e-donkey" networks many years ago. I have not seen it on any torrent sites... BUT I have seen a conversion of it to a strange mpeg format here. I'm not sure which mpeg format it happens to be but it does not work for me for my purposes. It does play using VLC Media Player but that is of no use for editing. So here goes:
What I have learned, and a sample of the result is this file. Complete file not finished. At 20k I can get it up in a few days (I have a 10 hr restriction on internet use, per day. That's 10 hours per day, at 20k ok?)
Poor man's Digital Remastering from Svcd.avi source (850 megs - unavailable via. torrent P2P, try eMule)
Univeral Codec (what I call UNICODEC) "K-Lite Codec Pack" and "File Format Converters" (ffdshow audio & video) - Freeware
- This allows any media format to be used with Windows Media tools such as
Windows Media Player and Movie Maker although it can lead to some confusion
as the file extension becomes essentially meaningless. Everything may be
renamed to mpeg and no codec-based media player can tell the difference.
Other programs which interpret the data without recourse to built-in decoders
will fail as usual. Perhaps DivX Player can be used to determine a file
format if you've renamed a file and forgotten what format it actually is.
A media file conversion utility such as "Digital Media Converter" (cheap and versatile).
LeonardCohen1988Svcd.avi --> CohenAustinCityLimits1988.wmv (MPEG-2 video I guess) using Virtual Dub 8.8
Depending on resources, you may have to split the file up into chunks. Glitches will not appear visually however audio is a problem since it is frequency based. Hence if splitting the file, try to split on a moment of near-silence.
Step 1. Loading Svcd source into Virtual Dub 8.8 (Vdub) which does not
recognize this or MPEG-2 format.
1.1 We wish to convert the file to an avi format recognizable to Vdub. As
well, since 99% of the time one intends to split the file into chunks, we
also need to do some pre-editing. So the first step is to rename the
source to LeonardCohen1988Svcd.mpeg and drop it into Movie Maker
1.2 Use clipping feature to select out a particular chunk of the file. Keep
track of your timeline as Movie Maker will not seek properly unless the
file's header is loaded. So after clipping and saving a chunk, you must A)
undo the clipping, B) find and clip the end of the next chunk, then C)
clip the head from the last tail position. Save each chunk as "Video for
Fullscreen Playback 1.5 Mbps" to avoid any data loss. A handy trick is to
create a file called movie.txt in your destination folder and then they
will come out auto-numbered as movie_0000.wmv, movie_0001.wmv, etc...
Note: You must always keep the aspect ratio at 4:3. Even though the
Svcd source claims 480x480 as it's dimensions it actually renders at
4:3 aspect. It is *not* meant to be rendered rectangularly, and
ffdshow video decoder recognizes this fact. The only other tool I
know of which will render Svcd.avi is VLC Media Player which has no
1.3 Convert the resulting wmv file(s) to a standard avi format (DivX
If you do not have a DivX encoder, again the ffdshow will come to the
rescue. If using Digital Media Converter, select target format to avi
and compressor to "Indeo video 5.10". For speedy conversion, set
compression to 100 (no video compression) and MPEG-3 audio compression.
This will produce an avi 4.65 times larger than the wmv source. Typical
size for a one minute segment of video is about 11 Megs as wmv and hence
about 52 Megs as avi. Segments will be about 6 mins each so expect your avi
pre-source to be about 350Megs ~6mins.
Step 2. Vdub "remastering" from avi source.
2.1 This is obviously where there is some room for experimentation. However,
the first thing you will want to do is make sure Vdub is set to full
processing mode for both audio and video. Again, the compressor is your
choice and again DivX is preferred. However lacking that (as I am) you
should select Indeo video 5.10 again as the compressing agent. Place
key frames about once every 4 or 5 frames and compression to about 50.
There should be no noticeable loss at this level, but file size will be
comperable to the original wmv.
2.2 Setup filtering sequence as desired. The settings I chose were these,
and in this order:
2. brightness/contrast (+32, +20)
3. "levels" : Luminosity gradient over the input (now brighter) to
de-select range of near blackness which would otherwise wind
up as "brightened black" or visible greyness (due to step 2).
Used second slide bar to even out the input luminosity over
the remaining range.
4. "smoother:800" (softens the output image slightly reducing side-
effects due to increase in contrast)
[Notice that steps 3 and 4 are *corrections* to the undesired effects
of step 2]
More Specifically, here are the settings I used as a vcf file
(Processor Configuration file for Vdub 8.8):
VirtualDub.audio.SetCompressionWithHint(85,44100,2,0,12000,1,12,"AQACAAAAOQEBAHEF","MPEG Layer-3 Codec ");
2.3 Save as avi. WARNING! Be careful here as Vdub will initially set the
output filename the same as the input. Changing the "save" directory
will avoid that danger for this and every subsequent save.
Step 3. Rebuild output as standard avi or mpeg/wmv file.
After converting all segments to avi and applying the desired filters, you
can concatenate them as avi, or as in my case, convert them back to MPEG-2
format using MovieMaker. I chose this option because I have no tool which
can concatenate avi files and the conversion to WMV reduced much of the pixelation in the avi's created above.
And that's it. The only non-free tool used was Digital Media Converter™ which sells for about $25.00
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