DVD to Mpeg drama – solved

Intro
My trusty and now old Sony Handycam is still a darn capable recoding device. But how to get one of its videos onto YouTube? Everything’s changed since I bought it. Still, you’d think this would be dead easy, right? It really wasn’t.

The details
I also happen to have a Sony DVDirect to create DVDs from my recorded tapes. That works quite well in fact. But the DVDs it creates, which play just great on a standard DVD player, have strange files when examined on the computer. a couple huge VOB files plus some smaller ones.

I tried DVDx.. Failed miserably. It started up OK but it just refused to do anything with my DVD.

Then I saw some forums with those DVDx problems mentioning using good old AutoGK. They kindly provided a link. That, in turn, led to the kind of installation experience I have learned to dread.It proposed to install some spyware and change my search engine – all very bad signs. When I selected Advance options I could turn all that off, so I continued. Then it proposed to install more spyware. Turn off. Then some more. Finally there was what I think was a spyware installation offer which only provided two choices: agree to continue or disagree and exit the installation. I exited the installation.

A friend suggested Camtasia, but to buy is $300 and I just couldn’t see it. And I hate to get comfortable with something for a 30 day trial period and then not be able to re-use it later.

I wondered if my DVD player software, PowerDVD, might be able to do it, at least in the purchased version – the free version doesn’t seem to be able to. I never did figure that out – it wasn’t obvious from the documentation.

In the past I had streamed directly from the Camcorder to my old computer using Sony’s supplied USB cable. But there is no default driver for Windows 7 that can capture that stream. In the past I had used Sony’s suggested program, Imagemixer. I’ve long since lost the CD, if it would even work on Windows 7. Imagemixer was long ago replaced by Pixela. Sony’s site kindly informs that neither is supported and they don’t offer a download any longer. Instead they have some other software, Picture Motion Browser, which wasn’t clearly going to work anyways. But when you try to download it it asks for a CD key. Huh?

So by now I felt like this simple chore was quite the quest, you see.

Frustrated, I decided to look at Microsoft MovieMaker. I actually didn’t think it was going to be able to read my DVD at first since it doesn’t even have those file types in its default search. But switching to browse all files I clicked on one of my VOB files and it read it in!

I was quickly able to cut some from the beginning and some form the end and save it to my computer. I tihnk technically it thereby converted it from an essentially MPEG-2 format to MPEG-4 format. There was a built-in YouTube button, so you think, Cool, I can directly upload it to YouTube. But that required a Microsoft account. Huh? I don’t need yet another account lying around the Internet for no good reason. So I didn’t bother with that.

So we just logged on to YouTube and uploaded it. It’s kind of large-ish (140 MB) so the upload is of course slow on a DSL line. But at least it did work.

I looked again and found a real company that I trust and recognize that has an economical media converter just like I was looking. Arcsoft has its Media Converter for about $27. I’ll probably try that one next time. I don’t mind paying a modest amount for software that does what I want it to.

Conclusion
I’ve documented a simple requirement that turned into a quest. Of course this kind of thing happens frequently. Maybe my quest will help someone else. But even if not, I think this will serve as a nice journalled account which will help me next time I want to post from my Camcorder to YouTube.

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