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Video Editors

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Happy Expat:
Hi there,
Anybody know of, or feel like writing a utility to scan video files MPEGs, AVIs etc for the gaps between "scenes".
The target market would be all amateur video photographers who tend to use their new toy more like a video snapshot camera and produce 90 minute tapes with loads of dross between the scenes.
That dross needs to be edited out and finding the stuff - almost frame by frame, takes an eternity.
These gaps are "normally" a few frames - or seconds, with the snowy interference pattern you get on a screen when the transmission ends but the TV is left on, or sometimes just black frames.
If the entire file could be scanned and an index built giving the position to within a couple of seconds, or frames - then it would make life so much easier.
I imagine it would be "simple" enough for the user to edit a few frames from an existing video containing nothing but the type of frame being sought and then saving this as a sample.
The sample would then contain a template of the data that triggers an entry into an index.
There are obviously dozens of CODECS but I think they are identifiable by the header and the saved sample would contain both the header and frame data.
I checked some commercial products with no success so it could be either too complex to incorporate into a sophisticated editing package or, hopefully, something nobody thought of writing as a simple standalone utility.
I would imagine a product like that could generate quite a lot of exposure for the originator.

This exists, I just forgot the name of the software that can do it.  Sorry, useless!!

Your best bet is probably to focus on finding a more general purpose editor that has such a feature (most of them do) and figuring out whether it can be tuned to do what you want.

The general feature you're looking for is typically called scene detection. Based on your description, though, your best bet would probably be finding an editor with specialized scene detection for identifying commercials. For example there's a standalone tool (only for MPEG 1 and 2 video IIRC and maybe only TS files) called ComSkip. It's also used (or was at one time) in at least one MPEG editor called VideoReDo.

If you can't find a simple solution there's always AviSynth. It's definitely the most capable tool for the job but the learning curve is steeper since it's script rather than GUI based. It does have the advantage of supporting nearly any video and/or audio format there is. If you end up going that route my advice would be to post a question over at Doom9's AviSynth user forum and you should be able to figure it out relatively quickly. When you setup an account there you have to wait 5 days before posting so plan accordingly.

Also you would probably want the 2.6.0 alpha 5 version rather than 2.5.8 stable. Despite the alpha designation it's actually considered more stable and also has a significant number of fixes and new features.

For AVISynth there's MSU TV Commercial Detector which will make using AVISynth (reasonably) easy.

Besides the normal black frame detection it can also analyse for the station logo, which tends to disappear during commercials so as not to annoy the sponsors.

The resulting .avs file, (which contains sections to keep/discard), can be used by any program that can make use of AVISynth or understand it's files, eg. VirtualDub, AVIDemux.

NOTE: VirtualDub is geared towards AVI media not using MPEG2, (due to licensing), but AVIDemux can handle most media codecs - there's also the offshoot VirtualDubMod which can handle MPEG2.

Don't know how accurate it's going to be, (I use VideoRedo, as Vurbal mentioned).

It's generally best to avoid VirtualDubMod now since it hasn't been updated in over a decade and there are plugins available to open pretty much everything under the sun in VirtualDub. That includes 1 or 2 formats that still give AviSynth fits. There's a list on the VirtualDub forums which also includes information about, or at least links to, some third party filters. I haven't heard of any commercial or scene detection filters but I use VirtualDub almost exclusively for previewing AviSynth scripts so I'm far from an expert.


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