The first update for this year, and its a big one.
Of course, the update includes some new device profiles. I probably forgot to include a few new devices, but there are quite a few new profiles.
One in particular is a big one this time. The VTech InnoTab Learning Tablet. Its a cool little tablet, but unfortunately, its a bit picky with video files, so I picked one up myself, and made a few profiles for it. For instructions on how to use DVD Catalyst 4 with the InnoTab, have a look here: www.tools4movies.com/2012/01/dvd-to-vtech-innotab-media-format-converter/
The DVD Catalyst LOG (help > view log in the top-menu) has been updated and now includes a bit more information. Detected video and audio formats, as well as screen resolution and other information is now displayed in the Log.
*Removable drive warning
Recently added in DVD Catalyst, a warning message would appear if you selected a removable drive to use as an output location for the conversions. Mainly intended to warn people when they select a device directly, or something like a memory-card, because this will result in super-slow conversions, however, if you use an external harddrive, it does not affect the conversion as much. While enabled by default, you can now turn off the warning message in (enable Power User) Global Settings > General.
*Same bitrate setting for AVI files:
On various web forums, people are running into avi video file conversions that, due to a quality profile that was selected, that result in files that are larger than the original avi file. This setting looks at the bitrate used for the file and the setting used in the selected profile, and if the profile is set higher, it will use the setting used in the original file, so the created video files will not be larger than the original avi files. Found in (enable Power User) Global Settings > Tweaks, and enabled by default.
*CRF, Constant Rate Factor:
A little more on this further down, but this is a long-requested feature that finally made it into DVD Catalyst 4. CRF enables you to set a visual quality-value for your conversions rather than a bitrate-based quality setting, enabling you to use one setting for whatever kind of movies you convert without creating video files that get too large. The filesize of video files created using CRF are unpredictable, but in return you can end up with a 700MB MP4 file from a 2 hour DVD movie that looks similar in quality as one done using a fixed HQ profile. This setting is not enabled by default.
*DVD Catalyst Startup time:
Due to the large amount of profiles, DVD Catalyst 4 had a slow-start issue on some older computers. Some of the code internally has been rewritten to reduce this loading time by about half. In addition, if you experienced some lag with selecting profiles, this has also been reduced a bit.
*SRT/MKV/Closed Caption font-size:
The previous version had some issues with adjusting the size of certain (text-based) subtitles. This has been fixed.
There were a few profiles that were switched (Thrive & Thrive HQXT). this has been fixed as well.
More on CRF:
CRF converts your videos using a fixed visual quality setting, rather than a fixed bitrate, so the bitrate is automatically adjusted to whatever is needed. The file-size of a video file is determined by the playlength of the video as well as the bitrate used for video and audio. Regardless of screen resolution. If you convert a low resolution (DVD for example) and a high resolution version (Bluray for example) of the same movie using the same settings, the file size for both files will be pretty much the same. However, the visual quality is considerably different between the 2 files. Depending on the bitrate used for the video compression, the high resolution version has a lot more pixels that share the amount of Kb that was made available for the conversion.
CRF works different. It lets you select a visual quality setting (16-35, default 26) that is used for the conversion. In order to make sure that the video has the quality you desire, it automatically adjusts the bitrate to whatever is needed, resulting in a lower bitrate for slow-moving scenes, and a higher bitrate for fast-moving scenes, whatever is needed it will use.
Unfortunately, because the bitrate changes according to the scene activity, it is impossible to predict the file size of the video. If you convert a romance movie, your movie will end up pretty small, but if you convert an action movie of the same length, the file will be larger in size. But, due to the way CRF works, you usually end up with smaller video files that look better than when you use a fixed bitrate.
By default, the CRF setting is set to a value of 26. The lower the value, the better the quality, but also the larger the file. Using this, a conversion of the movie Rio ended up with a video file that looks virtually identical to the actual DVD, but ended up being 650MB in size. The same settings used for Cars 2 resulted in a 700MB movie, both of which actually looked a lot better than when you use a fixed bitrate conversion of 1500Kbps. A few nights ago, I ran a test with Iron Man 1, and using CRF 20, I ended up with a file of about 1600MB in size, and it looked just like the DVD. I also used a setting of CRF 25, which produced a 675MB, and it looked very close to the CRF20 file, considering it was less than half the size. Lastly I did the same movie on CRF30, which produced a video file of 389MB (!).
I compared all 3 on my Acer A100 tablet, and while there was a difference noticeable between the files, after about 45 minutes, I had enough of switching between the 3 files, and continued to watch the CRF30 file. Below some screenshots of the 3. Please keep in mind that in motion, the video looks a lot better.
(tap on the images to see the full size)
Of course there is a risk involved when you enable CRF. Because the bitrate fluctuates depending on the scene activity, especially older devices such as older generation iPhones and iPods, as well as the weaker/cheaper tablets, it is possible the bitrate exceeds the capability of the device. When you notice that fast-moving scenes either lag or stutter, or maybe right before a fast-moving scene, the video suddenly stops with an “Unplayable Video” message, your device is having issues with the higher bitrate.