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Posts Tagged ‘FFmbc’

Blackmagic Media Express Failure

July 21, 2011 4 comments

About one month ago I posted that we are now using a Blackmagic Decklink SDI card to capture via SDI in some workflows at The Station. Unfortunately it became clear quite quickly that the Media Express 2.3.1 software we were using, for capturing and controlling the decks, had some shortcomings.

Apparently the Linux version of this software does not support capture of VITC information where present. This made creating valid IMX50 (D10) files harder than it needed to be. We would capture the SD content from tape into 10-bit uncompressed at 720×576, then when transcoding using FFmbc, we needed to pad the top of the file with 36 lines of blanking, to create a valid IMX50 at 720×608. This process caused a few problems with the resulting files’ aspect ratio information.

After speaking with the support staff ot Blackmagic Design, it became clear the the Windows and Mac versions of Media Express 2.3.1 do support capture of VITC, just not the Linux version. The relevant API calls are exposed in the freely available SDK, but we would need to build our own application to take advantage of this.

My next hope was that the new version of Media Express would include this additional functionality on Linux. On April 11th 2011, Blackmagic published a press release stating that Media Express 3.0 would be available for Windows, Mac and Linux. The software would be available for free download from their website in June.

Today I went searching for the software but could not find it. Looking on the Blackmagic software download page, the latest Desktop Video download for Linux is 8.0.1 from May 13th, 2011. Clearly this would not include the new 3.0 version, as this file is what I downloaded a month ago to obtain version 2.3.1.

I phoned Blackmagic support again to enquire about where to find Media Express 3.0. They informed me that a beta version of this software was available for Mac platforms, but that was all. They were also unable to speculate regarding a formal release date for the software, nor whether the Linux version would be available at the same time as the Windows and Mac version. All in all, not very helpful.

June finished 21 days ago. I want my Media Express 3.0 software for Linux!

Blackmagic Decklink SDI and Linux

June 24, 2011 6 comments

Almost a year ago, I invested in a central London based post-production company. At the time, I had dreams of pushing open source software solutions into the professional post-production arena. Things haven’t quite worked out as planned, and I’ve made very limited headway on this project. Business imperatives took over and changing a whole ecosystem is a big job. I’ve continued to use Linux on my laptop and happily connect to printers and network drives, but that’s about all.

Recently I had an opportunity to change all that. We needed a tape digitisation solution, separate from our Avid editing suites, for a new project. I’ve know for a while that Blackmagic’s Decklink range of cards work with Linux and were pretty good for capturing from SDI. We purchased the basic Decklink SDI card, re-cycled an old machine onto which I installed Linux Mint Debian and away we went….

Things weren’t entirely smooth from the start. I upgraded the Mint Debian ISO, including the kernel to 2.6.39. This was my first mistake. The card was not recognised with this kernel. Booting into the original 2.6.32 kernel overcame this problem and the card was recognised. I had to download the relevant Linux software from the Blackmagic website, as the accompanying DVD only included Windows software. The available Linux software from Blackmagic included the relevant drivers, firmware and Media Express software. Unfortunately, other advertised items such as the drive speed test and alpha keying utilities are not available for Linux.

Once everything was up and running, it was time to capture. The Media Express 2.3.1 software was pretty straight forward to use. Setting in and out points allowed the software to control the J30 Digibeta deck and content was captured in Uncompressed 10-bit YUV formate. The other limited codec options included Uncompressed 8-bit YUV, RGB and MotionJPEG. This uncompressed file was then transcoded to IMX50 using FFMbc. The whole process seemed to work reasonably well, and I’m just now waiting to send the IMX50 sample off for technical inspection.

Unfortunately, the Media Express software as supplied did not provide options to change the SD captured frame size from 720×576 to anything else. Ideally I was looking for 720×608 so that VITC was also captured. A phone call to Blackmagic revealed that this was possible with the Windows and Mac version of their software, but not on Linux. Their Linux SDK did expose the necessary calls, but the software had not been written to include them. Essentially, if I wanted VITC, I’d need to write a capture utility myself. Somewhat disappointing.

Overall, I’m pleased that we now have an SDI capture solution running on Linux. However, the Blackmagic Decklink card still feels a little half baked and Linux was perhaps only an afterthought for them.

FFmbc v0.5 Available

November 16, 2010 1 comment

It has been announced as available for a while now, but only recently was the download made publically available again for FFmbc 0.5. Lead developer Baptiste is doing a super job moving this project forward, but really needs the support from more media professionals to fully realise the early promise of this open source, broadcast media focused, transcoding solution.

FFmbc 0.5 download available here.

FFmbc 0.5 feature updates include:

  • Sync on FFmpeg svn r25202.
  • Yadif video deinterlacing filter.
  • Overlay video filter.
  • Fade video filter.
  • HQDn3d video filter.
  • Rename ffmpeg binary to ffmbc.
  • FFmbc is now GPL only.
  • Disable shared libraries.
  • Remove -s resizing output cli option, use -vf scale.
  • 23.98 and 24 fps support in MXF muxer.
  • Mpeg-2 aspect ratio bitstream filter, to change aspect ratio without reencoding.
  • Fix an issue with -async and audiomerge.
  • Fix an issue with the fade filter.
  • Write interlacing information in mov files, fix deinterlacing with quicktime player.
  • Correctly support interlaced in yuv4mpeg and quicktime.
  • Display interlacing when printing information.
  • Fix an issue with resampling and audiomerge.

Categories: FFmbc, FFmpeg, Video Tags: , ,

FFMBC 0.4 Now Available

June 25, 2010 Leave a comment

A little over one month since the release candidate was made available, FFMBC has officially rolled our version 0.4. Lots of useful and interesting updates for our favourite open source video transcoding tool:

- Sync on FFmpeg svn r21845.
- Full support for reading and writing covert art in mp3 and iTunes m4a,m4v,mp4.
- “-coverfile” commandline option to set a cover file. png,jpg,bmp supported.
- Correctly write Quicktime metadata as utf-8.
- Fixed a bug with temporal offset when muxing mpeg-2 long gop in MXF.
- Huge speedup when opening Quicktime and mpeg-4 files.
- Timecode for Quicktime and MXF files can now be set when stream copying.
- Added x264 sources in contrib directory, git 5b86182d1240b441f28462abf3d40b7371de5ba3
- Enable pthreads by default.
- Fixed a bug with interlaced VC-3 decoding.
- Integrate libavfilter. New commandline option -vf, see doc/libavfiter.texi
- Auto-rotate iPhone 3GS files.
- Support lyrics in mp3 and iTunes m4a,m4v,mp4.
- Automatically set current UTC time in created files.
- New AVFMT_HAS_PTS flag in AVInputFormat to specify that format has pts.
- Write and read metadata “reel_name” in mov timecode track if present.
- MPEG TS muxer now produces streams playable by VLC and Quicktime.
For me, the two most interesting updates in this list are the fixed VC-3 bug and the ability to now set timecode when copying QuickTime and MXF files.
FFMBC version 0.4 can be directly downloaded from here.
Categories: FFmbc, Video Tags: , , ,

New FFmbc Release 0.3

November 19, 2009 1 comment

Just days after I first wrote about FFmbc (FFMedia Broadcast) the team have released a new version, marked as 0.3.

Enhancements in this version include:
  • Sync on FFmpeg svn r20539.
  • Write Quicktime timecode track.
  • Set closed gop flag for first gop when encoding with b frames.
  • Search relative path when opening Quicktime reference files.
Download the latest source, or a Windows binary, from the project homepage.
Also now included on the FFmbc wiki is a list of requested enhancements. These include support for additional codecs, bitstream validation for MPEG2 files and support for DNxHD 10-bit files. Go to the requested enhancements page to review and add your own requests to the FFmbc-user discussion group.
Categories: FFmbc, Video Tags: , ,

FFmbc – A Broadcast Media Alternative to FFmpeg

November 12, 2009 Leave a comment

FFmbc (FFMedia Broadcast) is an off-shoot of the FFmpeg project that is targeted squarely at the broadcast media world. The project while still in its infancy, but available for around 6 months already, is currently at release version 0.2. Launched and managed by Baptiste Coudurier, well known for his work on the FFmpeg project, FFmbc rolls out the following enhancements:

Import your files in Final Cut Pro or AVID Media Composer by

Creating XDCAM HD422 files in .mov or .mxf

Creating XDCAM IMX/D-10 files in .mov or .mxf
Creating AVID DNxHD files in .mov

Transcode your MPEG-2 4:2:2 Tranport stream files containing S302M audio.
Transcode your AVCHD Camera files correctly.
Merge and split your audio tracks.
Create Quicktime files containing time code tracks.
Advanced Metadata support.

ID3v2 complete support.
Itunes complete support.

We’ve been meaning to test some of FFmbc’s functionality for a while now and after a couple of false starts, we’ve been successfully able to convert a generic MPEG2 50i (50Mbps all Intra-Frame) 4:2:2 Transport Stream to IMX D-10 in a .mov container. This file contained PCM audio, which version 0.1 of FFmbc baulked at, but the latest version handled perfectly. The output IMX D10 file was imported without error directly into Final Cut Pro for editing. FFmbc has not yet renamed any FFmpeg libraries, so the same conversion syntax and commands can be used across both. Although, be careful as this may create some library conflicts if you try to have both FFmbc and FFmpeg installed at the same time.
Why would we want to use an Open Source transcoding tool in a predominantly proprietary video production environment? The answer is simple. Every commercial product we’ve investigated (Telestream’s Episode Engine and Flip Factory, Rhozet’s Carbon Coder, Digital Rapid’s Streamz) wanted to transcode our MPEG2 source file to IMX, rather than simply re-wrap the essence into IMX. Transcoding takes a considerable amount of time and will always lower the quality of the final output, no matter how minutely. FFmbc instead took our video and audio essence, extracted it from the MPEG2 Transport Stream and re-wrapped it all to IMX D10. 
Our 30 minute test file was around 16GB in size. Our test machine was a puny eeePC, with an Intel Atom N280 1.66Ghx processor, running Ubuntu Karmic Koala Netbook remix (hardly ideal for transcoding video). The entire conversion process took a little over 7 minutes, at a rate of approximately 110fps (frames per second). Pretty impressive!
There are a couple of caveats to mention with regards to FFmbc. The software is very new and Baptiste is very busy. I’m sure more developers would be a welcome addition to the project. We used the earlier Stream#0 tutorial for installing FFmpeg to achieve the same for FFmbc. However, FFmbc v0.2 didn’t like the latest SVN of x264, which is a bug that won’t be fixed until the next FFmbc release. Instead, we used the packaged libx264 from the Ubuntu repository. FFmbc then compiled and installed without error. Checking out the latest FFmbc from GIT also caused some issues The source compilation complained and failed regarding the absence of swscale. However, working around these small issues, we’ve achieved our goal – a quick conversion of a generic MPEG2 file to something that can be edited using Final Cut Pro.
FFmbc is an exciting prospect, targeted directly at the broadcast media world. If you’re looking for an open source file transcoding solution, to integrate with your Avid or Final Cut Pro editing environment, give FFmbc a chance to prove itself.
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