Tools4Movies Newsletter 46
Thank you for reading the 46th Tools4Movies Newsletter,
A bit of a weird week regarding the weather. It truly feels like March. Among snowfall, thunder storms and heavy wind, we are now experiencing some nice spring weather. My pets are eagerly looking outside the window, so later today, I'll be taking my 2 dogs to the park. My cat will have to settle for a screened window though. All of them will be quite happy to get out of the place and get some nice fresh spring air into their noses.
Of course the big news this week was the official announcement of "the new iPad", but among the flood of articles and information on the web, a few gems appeared as well.
The new iPad, aka iPad HD, aka iPad3. Finally after months, the rumors and speculation regarding the new iPad all over the web were laid to rest. Apple's announcement on the 7th finally revealed what they have been cooking up over in Cupertino over the last year.
As many of you know, I was not impressed with the iPad2. Just some obvious upgrades under the hood made it feel like Apple was holding back. Now with the iPad3, I believe they truly revealed the real successor to the original iPad. Quad Core graphics and a Retina Display. More on that a bit later.
Of course DVD Catalyst 4 already includes profiles for the iPad3.
Aside from the iPad3 announcement, Apple also spent a small portion of its time on the upgraded Apple TV. Aside from a revamped interface, finally the Apple TV is capable of 1080p video playback. While a good thing, I doubt that many people would be making full use of 1080 versions of the movies and TV shows Apple offers due to the focus on cloud-storage.
I pre-ordered the new iPad and the Apple TV, so next weekend I will be locking myself in a cave in order to create the best possible DVD Catalyst profiles for both of them.
Because of Apple's announcements this week, it seems many companies decided to hold off on releases and announcements in fear of being buried underneath all the Apple-related news stories. A few things did shimmer through though.
Samsung announced the availability of ICS for the Galaxy S2 for tomorrow (March 10th), which should make quite a few people happy. For me, I'm not too sure yet. With my MovieGallery app, I had some battles with Samsung's Touchwiz interface, and with a new Android OS, it is likely they made some additional improvements that might cause some issues.
This week also saw a lot of UltraBook and Laptop news. Dell XPS13, Gigabyte, Acer etc. No new tablets, but it seems this week as a good time to try and counter the new iPad with devices that go just 1 step further, skinny yet powerful laptops, offering a full desktop experience in a similar size and weight as the iPad.
DVD Catalyst 4:
Starting with the 4.1.4 update, for the last 2 weeks I have been battling a bug regarding subtitles being randomly included in converted video files. An issue I could not replicate myself, however I had quite a few people contact me regarding the complication. After making some changes, I got reports from a few testers that I got it fixed and released DVD Catalyst 126.96.36.199, but unfortunately, other people were still experiencing subtitle issues, so after more testing and even reviving some of my antiquated systems (including my old Thinkpad T30 laptop) I managed to replicate the issue, and got it fixed in 188.8.131.52, which is currently available. Later today I'll update the release notes on the www.tools4movies.com website.
MovieGallery and ImageGallery:
I am still tweaking MovieGallery's scrolling smoothness in 3D view mode, and of course porting over the changes done to the image-loading part for MovieGallery into ImageGallery.
Some big articles this week. Aside from development, I finally posted up the CRF guide, and since I wanted to watch my Lord of the Rings Blurays, I posted up a guide on how to merge multi-part movies into a single file.
What is CRF?
Implemented a couple of updates ago, CRF has been my favorite setting in DVD Catalyst 4. It makes your video files smaller and it makes them look a lot better, it is a win-win situation. Of course there disadvantages to using CRF as well, such as an unpredictable file-size and, especially if you stream your videos, the possibility to run into limitations of the device or connectivity.
The CRF article explains what CRF is and how it works, what advantages and disadvantages there are and how to determine what works best for you. The article is a bit technical on some points though.
How to : Merge Multi-part Movie DVDs and Bluray (Method 1)
One of a few articles on how you can create a single video file from a movie that spans multiple discs. This article explains how to use DVD Catalyst 4's joining feature.
For the guide, I used Fellowship of the Ring, Extended Edition, Bluray.
This weekend I will be working on "Method 2", which will address a different approach on how to join the parts.
iPad3 Thoughts (short)
After the iPad3 announcement, I figured I'd share my thoughts on what Apple is offering in the new iPad. I skipped the iPad2 because I did not see it as a worthy upgrade over the iPad1 (which I also didn't get because it seemed to be a large iPod Touch rather than an actual tablet, and I already have 3 generations of the iTouch).
A few people reported some complications with DVDs, so I updated the "Problem DVD" list.
The list contains DVDs (and some Blurays) reported to me as being somewhat problematic with DVD Catalyst 4. While there are some that are a little picky and need a small settings-change in order to convert properly, most of the complications people experienced were caused by something else, either a faulty drive or some conflicting software so most of the ones on this list work just fine.
New ones added this week:
Sweet Home Alabama (2002) DVD
Lord of the Rings Bluray The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition
Cast Away (2002) DVD
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) DVD (REGION 2-NL)
I always wanted to create a game. Nothing too fancy so no Doom 5 or World of StarCraft or something like that, but just something that looks cool and is fun to play. I have a lot of ideas, but the problem is always the underlying engine. Things like player-controls, object placement, world interaction (gravity, walking into walls etc) things you take for granted when you actually play a game, but these basics are among the most trickiest things when developing. Earlier this week, someone brought to my attention that Unity 3D, a powerful game engine, used for many games, decided to offer the basic iPhone and Android addons for it for free.
just select the free engine, and then add the free Android and/or iPhone add-ons.
For Android development you need to have the Android SDK installed, and for iOS development you will need to use a Mac for development.
Here is a screenshot of what it is capable of.
The screenshot above is from one of the sample games for it, Angry Bots, running on a Galaxy Nexus.
a screenshot of what the interface looks like.
Unity takes quite some time to get used to, and is not for the faint of heart. I spent a little time with it after someone told me that the mobile-addons are now free for a limited time, but I only managed to make a player move.
"The New iPad":
Of course. Even though I already wrote a small article on my thoughts of the iPad3, there is always more that can be said.
While the screen's Retina upgrade is, for me, the biggest enhancement that they could do, the one thing I find disappointing is the screen aspect ratio. If you look at the actual image Apple uses on their website to show the difference in size between 1080p and the iPad3 Screen resolution, it looks great:
but, if we actually display a 1080p movie on this screen, you end up with large black borders:
Of course you can zoom the video in on your iPad by double-tapping on it, but then you end up with a cropped image, parts of the sides will not be visible:
So the iPad3 is fully capable of displaying a HD video on its screen, it does not provide the same immersive experience you get with wide-screen tablets such as the Xoom / Transformer / Thrive etc.
Every recently released Apple device, including their desktop systems, notebooks, and even the iPod Touch and iPhone have wide-screens, so why is it that the iPad, now in its 3rd generation is still using a screen aspect ratio that has been marked as obsolete by the majority of the people who make use of these technologies? So yes, Apple is at the front of the pack with some of their ideas and designs, but with others they put themselves behind every other player in the market. Games, be it mobile or console/desktop based, people use wide-screens, some even use multi-screen setups to get a more immersive experience. With graphics work, wide-screens are used to provide instant access to options such as brushes and color swatches. With word-processing and web browsing, and even books themselves, all use a wide aspect ratio, so why Apple is holding on to the antiquated 4:3 aspect ratio for its flag-ship device is beyond me.
So, here is my prediction for "The Next iPad", the iPad4. An iPad3 with wide-screen.
Game of Thrones:
As I mentioned earlier, I am working on the join/merge guides for Lord of the Rings Extended Edition. To make sure the merging process works as it should, I only watch the merged versions to make sure that that part worked fine. I did get Two Towers merged, and will be writing the guide for it this weekend, but last night I ended up watching the first 2 episodes of Game of Thrones. I always enjoy the movies Sean Bean plays in, and I figured since I'm in the "Lord of the Rings" mood, I would give it a shot. I don't get HBO, so I never watched the show before, and I must say, it is intriguing. For only having watched 2 episodes (I converted the Bluray version and watched them on my Kindle Fire) I like how the story lines develop, and the hints of how the different parts are starting to work towards each other. Interesting for sure.
Jack and Jill:
Last night, my wife and I watched one of the latest Adam Sandler movies, Jack and Jill.
The last "Boat" movie we watched of Adam Sandler was one called Going Overboard, and that one left a lasting impression on us, basically condemning all movies that has Adam and a boat in it. Jack and Jill was not too bad though. Not my typical movie, but I had a few laughs, mainly due to Al Pachino. The movie itself felt a bit predictable.
That is it for this week. It is nice and sunny out, so I'll be taking the dogs out for a little walk in the park. Thank you for reading the newsletter, and have a nice weekend. See you next week,