Conversion performance & speed
Along with the screen resolution and black bar removal, conversion speed is also one of the most asked questions people ask me. With this article I will try to explain what all affects the conversion speed, and what you can do in order to make the conversion process go faster.
So what affects the conversion speed?
*The processor. DVD Catalyst 4 uses the processor of your computer for its conversions, so the faster your processor, the faster the conversions. DVD Catalyst uses multi-core for most of its conversions, so your conversion speed benefits greatly from a nice quad-core or hex-core processor.
With many conversion tools advertising about video acceleration, I have had quite a few questions regarding CUDA and DXVA, which basically means that part of the conversion process runs on the video card in your system. Unfortunately, while this gives a performance boost, it does affect the quality of your video as well. While we are working on implementing some form of GPU-acceleration, during our tests, we found the quality of video files produced by different CUDA-enabled converters to be less than that of what DVD Catalyst produces when similar settings are used.
*The video you are converting. Video conversion is a process that basically reads (decodes) the video file, similar to what a video player application does, and the decoded video is converted to the selected format. Different video formats have different requirements in order to be decoded. MPEG2, the format used for DVDs, is fairly light, however, H264, commonly used in Bluray as well as MKV, is a lot more demanding. Since the processor is shared for both decoding and encoding the video, a more demanding video format in your source video will affect the conversion speed.
*The format you are converting to. Similar to the source video, the difference between video formats will play a major role in the conversion speed. Converting from MPEG2 to MPEG2 will require next to nothing, however, if you are converting from H264 to H264, the processor will be quite busy.
*The video resolution. The higher the resolution of your source video, the more power is needed to decode the video file. The higher the resolution settings for the video file you have DVD Catalyst create, the more power is needed to store and convert the video.
*The video location. You can use a nice 8-core processor, but if you are using an older, slow DVD drive for your conversions, the conversion speed is limited by the DVD drive. If you convert video files from a network share/NAS (note, the network drive needs to be mounted to a drive letter) the network speed can also play a limiting factor on your conversion speed.
*The video destination (output folder) Similar to the above. If you tell DVD Catalyst to store your video files on a slow hard-drive, directly on a memory-card or on a network drive, the conversion can only create the file as fast as your drive will be able to write the file.
How can you speed up your conversions?
* The processor on your computer plays the biggest part. If you are looking for a new computer, selecting one with the biggest, baddest processor will produce the best results.
*If you convert from DVDs, use a fast drive. Laptops often ship with slower DVD drives to preserve battery life. If you are converting a lot of movies, it might be a good idea to pick up a fast external DVD drive to use that instead. If you do, don’t go for a slim-drive:
but pick up a desktop-sized one. These often offer better performance.
*If you convert video files, convert from one drive to another if possible. If your computer hard-drive is fast (7200rpm), it should not affect the conversion speed that much, but if you have 2 hard drives (or an USB2 external drive or a 100Mbit NAS) you can gain some speed there.
*Convert your videos using the resolution you need. Many devices are capable of playing video files that are larger than the device resolution. An iPod Touch 4 can play video’s of nearly double its resolution, and while great for TV playback, if you never use this, there is no need to convert your videos to this. The same with some recent Honeycomb Tablets. Even though the Tegra2 can handle 1080p video, the screen itself is not 1080, and in most cases, the HDMI (TV)-out is limited to 720p anyway, so why use 1080p?
*Use quality settings to your own liking. For many devices, DVD Catalyst includes multiple profiles. Most people automatically select the HQ profiles without even trying the standard profile. While the HQ profiles produce better looking video files, in many cases, people don’t really notice the difference between HQ or standard. Try the standard profile, and see how that works for you. Besides faster conversions, you end up with smaller file-sizes as well. They work great for me
Video quality is something I see as individual. You can find plenty of guides on the web that provide the “best settings”, but in the end, its you that is actually watching the video. Some people like to have their movies look identical to that of the source video, but for others, just the fact that they have a movie on their phone to entertain them while waiting for an appointment is good enough. I can fit 10 movies on an 8GB memory-card in good quality and perfectly enjoyable to watch using the standard settings. If I would use higher quality settings, the video would look (slightly) better in some areas, but I would only be able to fit 5 movies on the same 8GB memory-card.
So try a few different profiles for your device, and find out what you are comfortable with. It might save you from having to purchase a 32GB card to store your movies.