27 April 2009

Some camcorders and compact digital cameras (e.g. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7), are capable of recording HD video which is saved in MTS files. Most of the video editing applications, such as the Apple's iMovie, can not read these files directly but a conversion is required. Fortunately, the free ffmpeg converter can take care of the conversion process. The prerequisite is that you have a recent ffmpeg version (e.g. April 2009) compiled and installed. See these instructions for details how to do it in Linux or Mac OS X. Then the MTS files can be converted conveniently to MPEG-4 as follows.

ffmpeg -i 00001.MTS -sameq 00001.mp4

24 April 2009

The free ffmpeg video converter is a very powerful command-line tool for converting and down-sampling videos. However, the latest development version is not provided in binary form and building it with the necessary codecs can be rather challenging and frustrating. Because the tool is of great use value for me, I set myself a task to automate the compilation with a reasonable set of codecs. Using the build-ffmpeg as a starting point, I created a GNU Makefile which I maintain within jpgind source code snapshot. Now compiling and installing ffmpeg in Linux is as simple as follows.

curl -O -L http://kamedata.googlecode.com/files/jpgind.tar.bz2
tar jxf jpgind.tar.bz2
cd jpgind
make -f ffmpeg.mk
cp ffmpeg ~/bin

The binary ffmpeg is statically linked to the codecs. This works in Mac OS X as well (tested with 10.4.11) but you must install the GNU Make and the GNU Wget from the Fink project.

14 April 2009

Cooking without a sharp kitchen knife is rather dull and uninspiring. In Japan, knife sharpening service, naturally for a small fee, is sometimes provided in conjunction with local neighbourhood festivals and flee markets. Yet once I saw an entrepreneur outside a supermarket providing knife sharpening while you waited. Ran home, took my chef's knife and had it sharpened for 600 yens in about ten minutes. The knife feels like a new now; it was well worth the investment.