Seamless branching is still a complicated thing for the hobbyists who partake in the fine art of fan restoration, but when you want multiple cuts of something and you want it done efficiently, seamless branching is the best option. Or, it would be, if there was a known easy way to do it.
This guide covers the easy part, which nets you a huge file equivalent in size to the files you join in this manner. I tested it yesterday, and the result played OK in Windows Media Player, but Media Player Classic had quite a few problems and VLC Media Player had artifacting at the start of each M2TS file that made up the MPLS file.
Anyway, here's the primitive method:
1. Download and open TSSplitter. You can find it on the VideoHelp forum, right here.
2. Open the File menu, and select "Open for Joining".
3. Click the Add button, and select the files you want to join together. You might want to look under "All files" instead of "TS files", as depending on how the TS files were produced they may not show up if you're looking under "TS files".
4. Once you've got everything, change the suffix from ".Joined.m2ts" to ".mpls", and click the Join! button.
Once I find a more advanced method of making an MPLS file which should bring the file size down significantly to that of a more traditional MPLS file, I'll make a follow-up thread. In the meantime, I'll continue my research on the subject of seamless branching.
Don't you think it would be pretty nice idea to add to our releases a short, Fanres intro for more people to join the website? I'm not saying like hardcoded into the video file, but for custom DVD/Blurays authoring.
Studing a good way to improve speed with avisynth, I tested some different path...
New CPU: obvious... but take in account the complete cpubenchmark score, not only the single thread - if, for example, your old dual core CPU has a single thread score of 500 and complete score of 1000, and the new quad core has a single thread score of 1000 and complete score of 4000, it will go four time faster, more or less!
Faster HDD (or better SSD): haven't tried an SSD yet, but I'm pretty sure this will not improve the overall speed.
Avisynth 64bit: could indeed improve speed, but it has quite few compatible plugins...
MT version and other multithread plugins: could work, but sometimes MT crashes, and other plugins didn't work - probably my fault
Parallel encoding: it works well! Follow me...
I tried this path in the latest days; I didn't dare to try it with my poor old dual core, dual threaded CPU, but with the new quad core, eight treaded one, I wanted to give it a try... and, oh boys, it works, very well!
How it works?
Well, just take your script, and "cut" it in several pieces - it seems that four pieces works well here, they run the CPU at around 80%, leaving some breath for surfing and other little things; probably it could work with more pieces, but your mileage can vary.
OK, so I've been thinking for some time, why not make a definitive edition of the Dollars Trilogy with all known official cuts, in English, Italian, French, German, and Spanish (and possibly even Japanese with the voice of the great Yasuo Yamada, the eternal voice of Lupin the Third, if someone can chip in in that regard)?
The way I see it, the goals of this project are:
To gather the five aforementioned languages, plus maybe even the Japanese audio, for all three films in the series (Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), and sync them to the best-looking video tracks for each of them;
To make both subtitles and dubtitles in each language, and sync them as with the audio. There will be at least four subtitle tracks and five dubtitle tracks, with the subtitle tracks all translating the original Italian (I may have the numbers or terminology flip-flopped, though, correct me if I do);
To restore the original opening credits and closing "THE END" screen (plus any other intertitles) for all languages;
To make a multi-audio version from each of the applicable audio tracks, with each audio track being active depending on the native language of each character's performer (e.g. for Fistful: English for Joe; Italian for Ramon Rojo, Doña Consuela and Antonio Baxter, and members of the Rojo gang; German for Marisol, Piripero, Esteban Rojo, and Sheriff John Baxter; and Spanish for Silvanito, Don Benito Rojo, Julián, Juan de Dios, Jesús, the cavalry captain, and members of the Baxter gang);
To make the applicable audio adjustments to each audio track (most notably at the very start of Fistful, where the overture music timing tends to vary between languages; namely, I'd like a unified timing for the overture music on each audio track);
To restore the different cuts for each release;
To find the best versions of scenes deleted from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly excluding those found on releases since 2003;
To make OAR and pan-and-scan versions; and
To restore different credits for certain of the cast and crew.
The cuts for each film will be as follows:
Fistful of Dollars:
Original theatrical cut
UK theatrical cut with restored UA Hexagon logo and credits for Bob Robertson, John Wells and Leo Nichols
Television cut with prologue featuring Harry Dean Stanton and credits for Bob Robertson, Johnny Wels and Dan Savio
For a Few Dollars More:
Original theatrical cut
UK theatrical cut with restored UA Hexagon logo
German theatrical cut
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Rome premiere cut
Original theatrical cut
International theatrical cut with Italian onscreen character designations during the first few scenes and at the end
UK theatrical cut with restored UA Transamerica T prototype logo (my best guess at this time based on its UK premiere date)
German theatrical cut (questionable, depends on if anyone can find the exact details of what was cut)
The sources I intend to use for the video base of each version:
Fistful of Dollars: Italian RHV Blu-ray
For a Few Dollars More: German Tobis Blu-ray
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: American 2014 Fox Blu-ray and/or the upcoming Kino Blu-ray
As I only have the Tobis Blu-ray of FAFDM out of the above, this may take a while, to say the least, while I acquire the remaining visual materials. In the meantime, any help in the creation or else acquisition of clean or upscaled HD footage would be well appreciated! On a side note, I might do a restored English credits sequence more closely matching that of the Italian original for TGTBATU. Also: I'm attaching some notes to follow in the restoration of each credits sequence, based on what I know from snooping around in various parts of the Internet.
I'll update this post as I can think of anything else, or else others suggest visual, aural or supplementary materials.
Didn't dare to do this with the old PC - when just one instance would crash, sometime... but now I dare, oh yeah, and I like it! :D :D
FIVE - I say 5 VirtualDub instances at the same time (with related AviSynth scripts) - four for a single project, split in four parts, and one for another project, that can't be split easily; and, as the CPU is from 80 to 90%, I think I reach the top... so, I've found the right way to speed up the encoding process!!!
...and meanwhile, I'm surfing the web, and listening to a CD (old dinosaur, I know!)
After having left the computer hardware topic apart for a long time, lately - thanks to the brand new used PC - I found that there is still some interest in me about this... so, I want to share some of my thoughts, mainly focused on using the PC to restore movies - of course, this could also apply to other uses like surf the web, watch movies, make simple audio editing etc. but not playing games; that is another world I don't want to put my nose in...
In 2017 still many software don't make use of multicore CPUs and, the ones which do that, usually stops at two or four cores; so, IMHO, better to stay with the fastest (in GHz) CPUs - for example, a 4.0GHz as the old Intel i7 4790K or newer i7 7700K at 4.2GHz, even if "only" four cores, are almost always faster than 3.5GHz exa/octa/deca cores; plus, the K versions are overclockable, and a 4.8/5GHz with liquid cooling for daily usage is not that unusual.
I still prefer CPUs without integrated graphics, though. The new Ryzen 1800X seems very interesting, as the Intel X series.
Mine is TUF, and that's great; I expect it to last for a long time; also, with dust covers and forced air circulation over it, it's my preferred version. I'd go with similar features, with the most possible ports and max RAM, according to the chosen CPU.
Solid state drives still cost 8/10 times the old mechanical drives for the same size; for "mere mortals" like us, I think that 2TB SSDs at around 1000 bucks are not the best option; waiting for their prices to be similar, or better lower than actual HDDs, for the moment the best solution would be a small SSD (120/240GB) for the OS, and one or more big HDDs (1TB and more) for data. Also, they are prone to lose data when not used for a long time - someone wrote that, if put in a fridge, they will retain data for a looong time!
Still my preferred cost-for-gigabyte storage system, great to retain data for a long time - at a normal room temperature... the speed is way higher than even the most simple encoding task, so no need for SSD speed. Also, I should add that it's possible to get nearly SSD speed (sequential read/write) using multiple HDDs in RAID0; risky, but could be possible to get 10x size and similar speed at the same cost of a single SSD - or same size at 1/10th of the price... perfect for temporary files, I think I would give it a try using three old 250GB HDDs!
I'm no expert here, but again it seems no many softwares (apart games, of course) would benefit from an high end video card... for "normal" usage, a cheap new one - or an used, older generation but higher quality - that is capable of 4K would do.
It seems that this hardware is not that important nowadays; but I think it is for us, in particular for capture, where many integrated audio chips, albeit quite good, do not have digital inputs - needed for laserdisc audio, and not only - and the ADC sometimes is not that good... still better to go with a good quality internal card - I do not like external ones, but maybe it's just a problem of mine - preferably with digital, and RCA analog inputs and outputs.
Video capture card
Old state of the art capture cards, that used to cost several hundred, if not thousand, bucks, now could be found for a tiny fraction of their original price, so I can't see any reason to not buy one; even if you have your faithful DVD recorder, remember that capture lossless and encoding later is always better than capture lossy, even without further conversions...
Still don't get it the fact I should pay thousand bucks for a relatively small monitor - albeit capable of high fps and perfect color space representation - when I could get a bigger HDTV with the same color quality, at a lower price; at the end, films are still at 24fps (rounded) and almost none at 48fps... so, I should not need a 144fps monitor.
Fianl speed/price ratio considerations
Take in account I'm still using avisynth for all my projects - even if I must admit I'm open to try new software, now that I have a powerful computer; but this considerations should apply also to other softwares.
The PC I'm using now got a fairly good CPU, a non-overclockable Intel i7 4770 at 3.4GHz/3.9GHz turbo. Not bad. The best compatible CPU with my mobo is the i7 4790K that is 4.0GHz stock, 4.4GHz turbo, and could go up to 4.8GHz and more with overclock. That is a minimum of 11% speed increase, up to more than 20%. That's for about 300 quids, but I would probably get back around 200 selling my actual CPU.
An i7 7700K stays at 4.2GHz/4.5GHz (overclockable at around 5GHz); price is almost the same of the 4790K, but I should also buy a new mobo, so add another 150/200 quids - still, could try to sell mine for half that price. Speed increase would likely be around 25%.
Is that really needed? Spend 300/500 to get a "simple" 25% speed increase, while I could spend around 600 to get a 100% and more? How? Simple, get a second PC with similar features! It's not a crazy idea, after all... I know I can run multiple instances on my actual multicore/multithreading computer - I'm doing it right now - but there is always a limit; having a second PC would double that limit...
Buy an used computer, that has a CPU with six, eight, ten cores, at lower clock, at double the price (if not more) than one similar to mine, because its fancy video card and top-of-the-line SSDs would be not a smart move now.
Buy an used computer with a 4770K/4790K/6700K/7700K, a simple video card, no SSD, would be a better move IMHO.
Just hypothetical at the moment for me, but could be an idea to follow.
I'm fondling the idea of color regrading The Terminator Blu-Ray to theatrical look in the future but I have no idea if there is any kind of 35mm reference around. I have the DVD release, video capture from the Italian laserdisc (thanks to SpoRv), early TV recordings but no idea if the color of any of these are anywhere near its theatrical incarnation.
I remember a color regrade by kk650 from some years ago (and I probably still have it) but I'm not sure if it was based on any kind of visual reference.
Any 35mm frames going around? Are lobby cards a valid source? I think I have a couple of them from 1984.