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Working with Those Pesky MPEGs

It's common knowledge that the Standard Definition DVD format is MPEG-2 video with 48khz audio. That's the wrapper you must work with if you want to put anything on this very popular (and pervasive) format. Encoding times, however, can take awhile (even on a fast computer) and tie up your system. Suppose your video is already an MPEG (as in a DVD or hard drive camera) and all you want to do is trim the thing? Do you have to drop it into your editor and re-encode the entire video? There has to be a better way!

Many years ago I was looking for a way to work with files created by the ReplayTV (former competitor to Tivo) that happened to be MPEGs. I stumbled across an excellent MPEG editor that allows basic editing features (like triming and joining) without re-encoding. It's called MPEG-VCR from Womble Multimedia and I love it. The features are super simple and easy to learn and when your done, laying it back to a file you can burn takes minutes instead of hours.

It also reads DVD .VOB files, so after your rip a disk to your computer (like from a DVD camera) you can easily convert the .VOB to the much more friendly MPEG format. Again, this process takes minutes. I love watching that progress bar zip on by!

MPEG-VCR isn't free, but it almost is. At a paltry $20, it is an absolute steal and belongs in every video editor's toolbox. When I first bought it to use with the ReplayTV files I had to shell out $249 and it was worth every penny. It's improved it bit over the years (and there's a flashier version that does a few extra things), but has retained the simple interface and powerful toolset. As long as standard-def DVDs are around (and it's MPEG cohort), this software will always have a home on my computer.



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