VirtualDub

Published Date
01 - Sep - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Sep - 2007
 
VirtualDub



VirtualDub is used to encode videos. Video encoding isn't as diffficult as it is often made out to be.

Video encoding isn't as difficult as it is often made out to be. VirtualDub is a very popular software for the purpose. Encoding your videos brings down file sizes of your gaming videos, home videos recorded on your camcorder, etc. We look at some useful features in VirtualDub, as well as some finer tweaks. VirtualDub can be downloaded from, as expected,
http://www.virtualdub.org/.

Opening And Saving Rendered Image Sequences
When animations are rendered through 3D modelling software, for example, they can be rendered as a sequence of images. They are generally easier to handle in composition software. Using formats like TGA, for example, can store much better quality as well.

It is generally assumed that VirtualDub only allows importing and exporting of videos. But actually, VirtualDub can open up sequences of images as long as they are named with the standard convention, for example, RENDER001.TGA, RENDER002.TGA, RENDER003.TGA and so on. To open a sequence, select File > Open video file. Select the first file of the image sequence and click Open. The entire image sequence will be loaded as an animation. You can now do the same set of tasks with it like with any video file.

VirtualDub can import and export videos as sequence of images

In the same way, a video can be exported as a sequence of images. When you have a video opened in VirtualDub, select File > Save image sequence. Enter a filename prefix, the location where you want the sequence to be saved, and the format you want to save it in. If you choose JPEG, you are allowed to set compression levels, though TGA is preferred for best quality.

Encoding MP3 Audio Streams
Anyone using VirtualDub for the first time will immediately notice that audio encoding bit rates for MP3 will be limited to a maximum of 56 Kbps, whereas MP3 allows much higher bitrates. 56 Kbps is really low; to make sure you are limited to this bitrate, check by selecting Audio > Compression after switching to Full Processing mode from the same Audio menu.

Downloading a third-party MP3 codec such as LAME will allow you to encode at any bitrate up to 320 Kbps. You can download the LAME ACM codec from
http://rarewares.org/. Unzip the file to a suitable location. Go to that folder, right-click on the LameACM.inf file and select Install. Click on Continue Anyway when prompted. Start VirtualDub and under the Audio Compression settings, a LAME MP3 entry should have appeared. This allows the complete range of bitrates. 


Installing the LAME MP3 Codec



Once installed, LAME MP3 Codec gives you a much wider range of bitrates

Tweaking VirtualDub's Performance
Performance is key when you're talking about encoding large files, and this can take hours depending on the size of the video and the codecs used. VirtualDub allows you to make some small changes that can help boost performance.

Select Options > Performance. The sliders here can be used to change the amount of buffer for WAV and AVI output. Changing the buffer for AVI can help speed up performance while working with very large uncompressed files, although it must be said that making any drastic changes can cause major instability.

The other useful feature appears when the encoding process is on. You can use the drop-down from the processing window and change the processing thread priority. If you always want encoding to be set as high priority, select Options > Preferences. Under Dub defaults in the General section, set the process priority to the level you want. Setting it to Idle will allow you to work on other programs without VirtualDub taking up all the CPU. Setting it to Higher or Even Higher will not allow other programs to make use of the CPU, but performance can go up a little.

Combining Multiple AVIs
Home videos are most often multiple, small clips which we would like joined together as one contiguous video. VirtualDub allows you to add and then encode them as a single file. Just make sure the videos are AVIs.

First select File > Open video file. Choose the first video clip and click Open. Use the slider and move it to the absolute end of the video. Now select File > Append AVI Segment and choose the file you want to add to the end of the file. Follow the same steps for the rest of the clips before finally entering your encoder settings, then save the file.

Cutting Up Clips
You might want to know how to split videos and cut out unnecessary sections. Open the video that needs to be cut. Move the slider to the position of the start of the cut, and press the [Home] key or select Edit > Set selection start. Now move the slider to the end of the cut and click [End] (or select Edit > Set selection end). This creates a selection. Pressing [Delete] or selecting Edit > Delete will cut out the selection. You can also do other tasks like copying and pasting of selections in the same manner using the Edit menu.

If you want to quickly be able to select certain portions and output them to files, it can be done by creating selections using the steps we just mentioned. Now directly jump to setting up compression levels and codec settings, which can be accessed from the Audio and Video menus. Select File > Save as AVI. Only the selection will be exported.

Cropping Videos
Videos, depending on the source and aspect ratio, have black bands at the top and bottom. Unnecessary information such as logos and headers may be displayed in those areas, or the section might not be needed at all. You can crop out those areas using the Cropping feature. Open your video and select Video > Filter. Click Add, choose Null Transform, and click OK. 


The video cropping feature allows you to crop out unnecessary areas on-screen

The Null Transform filter is a filter that is meant to be used for changes like cropping, and serves no purpose other than that. Now click the Cropping button. Change the values of the Y offsets to crop the video vertically. (You can also crop the video horizontally using the X offsets if needed.)

Fixing Audio Sync Problems
Some videos have audio sync problems; you have a person saying something on-screen with his voice lagging a second or two behind the video. It can be the other way round as well.

To fix this, you need to compensate by shifting the audio a little behind or forward in time. Select Audio > Interleaving. Under Audio correction, you can enter a suitable value in ms. Add a positive value to have the video lagging and a negative value for the audio to lag. You will require some trial and error runs to get it spot on.

Changing Video Frame Rates
VirtualDub can change frame rates of video in order to fix audio sync or just to bring down file sizes. Be well aware that changing frame rates can create issues with already well-synced videos. Video frame rates can be changed by pressing [Ctrl] [R] or selecting Video > Frame Rate. Click the radio button for Change to (text entry box) frames per second and enter a suitable value.

Capturing Video
VirtualDub can be used to dump video streams using your TV-Tuner card to your hard disk. This is useful for recording video clips from your camera, for example, or TV channels. To start capturing, select File > Capture AVI. A different window will take the place of the usual VirtualDub interface. You need to first select a device: select the Device menu and choose from one of the devices. Then select a file where the video should be dumped. Select File > Set capture file, and set a file and location.

To start the capturing, you can click on Capture > Capture Video, or use the shortcuts [F5] or [F6]. To stop capturing, press [Esc]. Codecs and compression levels can also be set by clicking on Video and then on Compression before starting the capture. The same can be done with audio. It's best to have the uncompressed videos dumped on your hard disk first and then compressed at a later time.

Extracting Audio
Some videos have some great music playing; say you want to be able to save the music as an audio track. You can do this, too, in VirtualDub. Open the video file; click on the Audio menu and set it to Full Processing mode. Select File > Save WAV to save the file. Codec settings can then be set by selecting Audio > Compression if needed, or else, save the uncompressed WAV file and encode to MP3 (for example) using another program such as Winamp Pro or Foobar.

Free Download Manager 


Free Download Manager (FDM) has been gaining popularity for being a minimal and clean download manager that has some really useful features built into it. We look at some of FDM's unique features.

Limit The Speed For A Single Download
Speed limiting is a feature available in almost all download managers, but what makes FDM unique is its ability to limit speeds for one particular download. When you add a new download by selecting Downloads > Create new download, click on the Advanced button in the window. Click the Limit traffic checkbox and set the maximum bandwidth you want the download to use.

Check File Integrity
People normally use download managers to download files that usually would take much longer than five to 10 minutes. Some huge downloads like Linux distribution ISOs come along with a MD5 checksum value-an alphanumeric value that can be used to verify whether the download was completed without corruption.

Downloaded files can be verified using checksum values


Use the drop-down and choose the algorithm used to check the file. Under Checksum, copy and paste the value provided by the download site or developer. Click Check and you will get a confirmation on whether the download has any problems.

Remove The Advertisements
FDM has a small advertisement bar at the right top of the window, and that might turn some people off. You should know that it can be disabled by simply right-clicking on it and clicking Hide.

Better Browsing Speeds While Downloading
FDM gives you the option to use one of three bandwidth priority levels-Light, Medium, and Heavy. You can switch to any of them by pressing [Ctrl] [1] / [2] / [3] respectively. FDM even has an option that allows it to detect any browsing activity and reduce its download rates immediately. To enable this option, go to Options > Download options > Network tab. Check the box called Decrease traffic usage on browser activity. You can use the radio button to choose whether you want the bandwidth usage level to drop by one, or set it to Light mode.

Adding Comments To Filenames
Some of us need to add comments for downloaded files to avoid confusion due to odd naming conventions. FDM can rename your downloaded file with the comment appended to it. 

Comments for a download can be added to the downloaded file's name


To be able to set this option, you first enter a comment to a download that's about to begin. Select Downloads > Create new download. Enter, in the Comment text field, the text you want as the comment. Then select Advanced > Miscellaneous and click the box called Append comment to the file name when done. Click Apply and then OK.

Scheduling Selected Downloads
There may be scenarios when you want certain downloads to begin at a particular time and the rest to start a bit later. First create a schedule by clicking the Scheduler tab in the FDM window. Click the Scheduler menu and click Add task. Use the drop-down and click Start download. From the list of downloads that have been added, select the downloads you want to schedule. Click the "Up Arrow" button to add them to the schedule. Click on the Start time tab and select the schedule details. Click OK.

The Site Manager
Many a time, a site will have a limitation on how many connections can be made simultaneously to it. Any more and you can end up banned or have the downloads stopped or delayed. The site manager is a list where you can add rules for your favourite sites. 

The Site Manager is useful in setting permissions and settings for sites


It allows you to add settings to be used while downloading, such as the maximum number of connections and authentication information. The site manager can be started by clicking the Site Manager tab in FDM. Here, right-click in the main window and click Add site. Enter the site address and input all the necessary settings. Click OK.

Quick Queuing Downloads
Pretty much every time you wish to download a file, you have to confirm it. The silent mode feature in FDM allows you start downloads in the background without popping up any windows. To enable Silent mode, go to Options > Download Options > Monitoring. Check the box for Silent monitoring. Click OK. Now every time you click on a downloadable file, FDM will automatically queue and start downloading them without asking you. If you want to avoid getting any unwanted files downloading by mistake, go back to the same window where you enabled Silent Monitoring. Check the  ALT must be pressed box. Click  OK. Now downloads will only be added if you have the [Alt] key held down while clicking.

Adding FDM Support For Firefox
If FDM hasn't integrated itself with Firefox, you'll have to manually add downloads. To enable integration for Firefox and any other browsers like Netscape, Opera, etc., select Options > Download Options. Click on Monitoring. Check the box for Firefox and any other browsers that you may have installed. Click  OK. A plugin will be installed into Firefox. You can now right-click on a link in Firefox and click Download with FDM to download it. You can also download all the links in a page using the same menu.



FlashGet

A few years ago, download managers were either ad-based or commercial software. FlashGet, Download Accelerator Pro, and GetRight were some that were used a lot despite them being shareware or adware. FlashGet, now, is totally free and ad-less. Support for some P2P protocols has been added as well in the latest release, which means FlashGet can become your universal downloading tool. We go through the latest version, FlashGet 1.9.2, looking at some of its key features.

Download Without Confirmation
Confirming every single download you add can be irritating. FlashGet has a workaround for this, which can be enabled with a couple of clicks. Select Tools > Options. Click Monitor in the left pane. Uncheck the boxes Add Job With Confirm for both the browser and the clipboard. FlashGet will now not pop up confirmation windows for adding downloads.

Adding Additional eMule Servers
FlashGet has added support for eDonkey servers and BitTorrent. A default set of eDonkey servers will already have been added when you install FlashGet. To add any favourite servers, go to Tools > Options > eMule. Click the Server List button. Enter a server name, its address, and the port provided by the site. Click Add and then OK.

Setting Up The Right Graph Scale
FlashGet's dropzone doubles up as a graph that shows the current download speed. The scale by default is set to 100 KB/s. This value needs to be changed to a suitable value for your connection; for example, a 256 Kbps connection would be 32 KB/s. To change the value, go to Tools > Options > Graph/Log. Under Scale, change the value to appropriately and click OK.

Connection Settings For Manual Speed Limits
FlashGet has a manual speed mode that allows you to limit the connection speed, which will help if you're also browsing, for example. With the latest few releases and updates of FlashGet, the speed limiting icon from the Desktop may not be visible in the toolbar. You can add it by right-clicking on the toolbar and clicking Buttons. Choose Speed from the Available toolbar buttons list and click Add and then Close. The button will appear on the toolbar. 

Limiting speed leaves bandwidth for other applications to use

To set the speed, go to Tools > Options > Connection. From the Connection Type/Speed drop-down, choose the type of connection you have. If it's not on the list, choose Other, and enter the speed in bytes per second. Click OK. When you have downloads on, click the Speed button in the toolbar and select Manual to set a limit. A slider will appear in the status bar below. Move it to set the appropriate speed to limit downloads to. To make it unlimited again, click the same button from the toolbar and click Unlimited.

Disabling P2P
Most of us might prefer using our favourite BitTorrent and eDonkey clients, like uTorrent and eMule, for example. You can stop FlashGet from being the default torrent client, and even disable the eMule component from FlashGet. Select Tools > Options. Click BT and uncheck the box Make FlashGet as default BitTorrent client. To disable eMule, click General and uncheck the box Enable eMule. Click OK. A restart of FlashGet might be required for the settings to take effect.

Creating A Torrent
FlashGet acts as a full-fledged torrent client, allowing you to create torrent files and upload them to trackers. Select Tools > Make Torrent File. First add the file or directory you want to share by clicking the Browse button after choosing one of the two radio buttons called Single File and Directory. Choose a network type from the drop-down menu. Enter the address of the tracker in the text field. Entering multiple tracker addresses with allow you to have the torrent hosted on multiple trackers. Then, click Browse under Output to have the torrent file output to a different location (where the torrent file will be dumped for your friends). Click Make and then OK.

FlashGet can create and then seed torrents

Now that the torrent is created, you need to open the torrent file so you can upload data to other users. Select File > Open torrent file. Select the torrent file and click OK. Choose to save the file or folder to the same location from where you created the torrent file. Click OK.

 

 

Hacking Opera's INI Files

Opera and Firefox are nibbling away at IE's share of the browser market, as you very well know… Firefox has hundreds of downloadable add--ons if you need more features, whereas Opera comes preinstalled with many of them. Some of the features can be tweaked to become more useful, so we'll look at ways to customise the just-released Opera 9.3 using just its INI files.

Setting Up Fast Forward To Work Better
Opera has a feature called Fast Forward, which allows you to browse to the next page in sequence (for example, a sequence of pages in a Google search) without having to click the link. It works by using certain keywords or code in pages. Although it is a useful feature, it doesn't always seem to work as well as you want it to. You can add more or make changes to existing keywords to make this feature a little more useful.

The .ini file that contains the keywords is fastforward.ini, and is located in Opera's installed folder-usually C:Program FilesOpera. (We'll assume you've installed Opera on your C drive.) Open it in Notepad. Add suitable keywords to the list, for example, To Page.

Opera Customisation From A Single Page
Like in almost all browsers, the "about:" scheme is used to display features and other information about the browser in Opera. The about:config link, specifically, allows you to change a lot more settings than you normally get access to through the Preferences window. Click on the address bar and enter about:config and press Enter. Here you can expand each of the features and make changes to the settings. Most of the tips that we'll be talking of won't be there on this list. 


Most of Opera's fatures can be customized using about:config

Fight Ads Using Opera's Filter
Ads are everywhere on almost any site you visit. Firefox may have Adblock Plus, but Opera has its own ad blocking system in place. The file urlfilter.ini in C:Documents and SettingsYour_UsernameApplication DataOperaOperaprofile contains a list of sites to be blocked. Add site addresses and wildcards such as "*" (the Star) to block sites. There are several such lists available on the Internet ready for download. One such good list can be found at
www.fanboy.co.nz/adblock/. Just download the Opera list and copy the file to the given location or its contents to the file that already exists.

Modifying Tab Width Range
Tabbed browsing is a boon, but the use of too many tabs in Opera causes the names to be cropped off. This makes reading the tab headings close to impossible. You can set a limit to how small and how wide a tab can be allowed to be. Extract the skin.ini from the skin.zip from c:Program FilesOperaskin. Open skin.ini in Notepad and modify these lines
Pagebar max button width = ____
Pagebar min button width = ____
to suitable values. If the lines aren't present, create them and then save the file. Add the edited file back to the skin's ZIP file. Restart Opera and select the skin from Tools > Appearance.

Adding Program Shortcuts To Opera's Menu
Opera's menu can be used not just for browsing-related functions, it also allows you to start up Windows applications! First create a copy of your standard_menu.ini. 

Programs can be launched directly through the browser

Select Tools > Preferences. Click on Toolbars in the left pane. Click the lone Menu Setup, then click Duplicate. Now, you need to open the newly created duplicate standard_menu.ini in Notepad located at C:Documents and SettingsYour_UsernameApplication DataOperaOpera profilemenu. To create an entry, scroll down till you reach the [Document Popup Menu] section. Create entries using the following format. Here, we've created an entry for starting Notepad. 

Item, "Start Notepad" = "Execute Program, "Notepad.exe""
Save the file and restart Opera.

Adding Shortcuts To Execute Programs
Keyboard shortcuts can be used in Opera to quickly start programs to go to a particular site. The trick is to add shortcuts to the shortcut.ini file located at C:Documents and SettingsYour_Username Application DataOperaOpera profilekeyboard. Open it in Notepad. Creating shortcuts is done in manner similar to this:
G,G="Execute program, "c:WINDOWSNotepad.exe"

Here, typing [G] [G] will start Notepad. In a similar manner, the path of the program can be replaced with a site URL, for example, ="Execute program, "www.thinkdigit.com". Opera will load the site when you use the shortcuts.

Opening A Page In A Different Browser
If you're visiting a page and want it to be opened in a different browser, which is sometimes needed because Opera can't render it properly, you can create a new entry in the menu when you right-click. 


Sites can be viewed on different browsers if needed

Browse to C:Documents and SettingsYour_Username Application DataOperaOpera profilemenu. Open the standard_menu.ini file in Notepad. Create an entry in the [Link Popup Menu] in the following format:

Item, "Open link in Firefox" = Execute program, "firefox","%l"
You can use a similar format for Internet Explorer. Save the file and restart Opera.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Rockstar has built a reputation of making some of the most controversial games ever but which are, quite frankly, highly entertaining. The last instalment of the Grand Theft Auto series-San Andreas-was no different in this regard. A great game it was, but today, we look at some things you might not have noticed. Now there are many cheat codes, but here are some of the funniest ones that should give anyone a hearty laugh-or at least a giggle. There are also a couple of tweaks and mods to try out.

Your Personal Radio Station In GTA!
GTA has a large collection of radio stations of all sorts of genres, but you can also create your own if things get boring. Simply dump your music to your My DocumentsGTA San Andreas User FilesUser Tracks folder. Start GTA: SA and go to Options > Audio Setup > User Track Options. Here, put on Automatic media scan. You can have your music folder scanned as well and change the mode of playback from sequential to random.

GTA Multiplayer?
GTA has never had multiplayer, but some developers have created multiplayer modes which a whole load of people play. Probably the only one and the most played is SA: MP (San Andreas: Multiplayer). Download it from
http://www.sa-mp.com/. Install it to your game folder. Run the newly-installed program, and you can connect to a huge list of servers. You can also download a server program from the same site and have friends connect to it through a network or the Internet.

Altering Car Handling
All the cars in GTA: San Andreas can be modified to behave in a different manner. The file that contains all the parameters for all the vehicles is handling.cfg in the {your game folder}data folder. Open the file in Notepad. The mass, transmission, and brakes settings are just some of the parameters that can be modified.

Flying Cars!
You can have cars flying around like planes in GTA: SA. While playing, type in RIPAZHA. After the message saying Cheats activated appears at the top left of the screen, jump into any car and accelerate down a road and your car will automatically take off like a plane! Be sure to have the throttle pressed-otherwise your car will drop from the sky. 




Find a clear strip of road and take off with your four-wheeler!

Fast Cars
Typically, most cars in GTA:SA are painfully slow; faster cars are rare to come by. The cheat EVERYONEISRICH gives all the people on the streets faster cars to drive.

Exploding Cars
The cheat code ALLCARSGOBOOM explodes all the vehicles in your region. Enter it to witness an interesting fireworks display!

Adrenaline Mode
One of the best cheats for GTA: SA has got to be the so-called Adrenaline mode. The cheat gives you the power of a superhuman. In-game, type in MUNASEF. You also get something on the lines of bullet time from the Matrix with time slowing down for everyone but you. Another cheat that goes along well this is the single punch cheat. Type in IAVENJQ. 


Use tank to wreak havoc on the streets...

Here on, you will be able to knock out people with a single punch. You can have people flying off for metres together with a single punch.

Spawning Vehicles
Quite a few vehicles can be got in GTA: SA-everything from monster trucks to helicopters and tanks. Here are a few selected ones.

Tank: To have a tank spawn in front of you, enter in AIWPRTON. Use the mouse now to move the cannon around and the usual movement keys for driving the tank all over the place. It can be used to run over pretty much everything.

Helicopter: There's an attack helicopter complete with rockets, and you can play with it. Type in OHDUDE and you'll have it in front of you. The controls are pretty straightforward, and it's fun to fly it around! Use the [W] and [S] keys to throttle up and down. Use [A] and [D]-or the arrow keys-to tilt from side to side. The Up and Down arrow keys tilt the chopper forward and backward. 

Or attack from the air using a chopper armed with rockets!

Jetpack: Yet another nice little vehicle. Type in YECGAA to get the jetpack spawned in front of you. Use the spacebar to throttle up and rise. The other movement keys are used as usual.

Crazy People!
You can have the crowds of people go completely berserk! The main cheat here is CRAZYTOWN, where all the people turn into clowns of sorts, wearing costumes. IOJUFZN turns on riot mode, and you find yourself between a war zone filled with masses of people fighting amongst themselves. To make the scenario even more hostile, type in FOOOXFT. This will get everybody armed.

Serious Note: Cheats and unlocks are meant for fun and laughs. The square thing is to finish this great game without any cheats or unlocks. We don't use them here at Digit!

Team DigitTeam Digit  teamdigit@digit.in

All of us are better than one of us.