tovid 0.29 review

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The tovid suite is a collection of several components, each specialized for a certain task

License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
File size: 0K
Developer: Eric Pierce
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The tovid suite is a collection of several components, each specialized for a certain task. All suite components are written in plain-text scripting languages, making modification and patching relatively easy. The suite is released under the GNU General Public License.

tovid was born in May 2004 as a simple one-line script for converting video to VCD format. I had found that it was not terribly easy to remember the required commands and command-line options for converting video from one format to another, and getting the output video to be compliant with a strict standard like VCD was not trivial.

The need to convert and encode video became more urgent when my wife and I purchased a DVD-RW drive. Suddenly, the possibility of creating our own DVDs was a reality. Unfortunately, it appeared to be quite difficult to find software that could reliably convert from one video format to another, particularly when the result had to strictly comply with a specific bitrate, frame rate, resolution, and encoding format. VCD, SVCD, and DVD must all be in MPEG format, at predetermined resolutions and bit rates. Even in Windows, most of the freely-available tools for video disc authoring had serious limitations when it came to converting video, if indeed they did any conversion at all—many authoring programs require videos to already be compliant with the target format.

I tried several approaches, including ffmpeg and transcode, before settling on the use of mplayer and mjpegtools. While mplayer's mencoder was not particularly well-suited to actually encoding video to MPEG format, mplayer is the most robust video player I know of for the Linux platform. It can play nearly any video you can throw at it, regardless of format. The utilities included with mjpegtools were perfect for getting MPEG format within the right parameters. Coupling the two together was fairly easy, thanks to thorough documentation. I soon had a working video converter, designed to take arbitrary video and convert it to VCD. Whenever I needed to convert to a different format, I just edited the script. I soon had a small collection of conversion scripts with names like todvd, tovcd, and tosvcd.

The desire for additional flexibility eventually prompted me to write one script with a choice of output formats. Once I had my script into more-or-less usable form, I posted it to Soon after that, I was asked by a LinuxQuestions moderator if I'd be interested in posting the script in the LinuxAnswers section; I did, and soon received some feedback by other people who were using the script. With additional interest, I decided that it was worthwhile setting up a project. Interest has continued to grow, and there have been several official releases, each with new features and bugfixes based on feedback from other users, and from my own continued use of it.

What's New in This Release:
This release fixes bugs with creating menus and authoring/burning DVDs, problems with widescreen videos getting cropped on some TVs, and the infamous "bad substitution" error on Ubuntu.
"todisc" features new button effects and menu template choices, and better dvdauthor configurability.
"tovid" quality was tweaked to produce better results for ffmpeg-based encoding, and multitrack audio encoding is now possible.
The "libtovid" backend now has a Cairo-based rendering backend and a dvdauthor interface.

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