How to Use AVItools
Hopefully, most of the operations of AVItools are fairly intuitive. If you enable tool tips in the preference window or the help menu, then you'll see useful contextual help for key operations. Here is a general guide.
- Launch AVItools and open the file(s) you want to process. You can open files by either clicking the Open button, selecting “Open” from the file menu, or if you've registered the application, by dragging the file, or files to the table in the main window. The file you open must contain a video track.
- You should see a list of the media tracks contained in the video file as well as some information about each track.
- (Registered Version Only) If you drag multiple files, AVItools will display track information for the first file in the group. When you start the processing, every file in the group is added to the queue using the preset selections and preset settings you've defined in the presets area. Note, you will get a warning if either or both of the preset are set to "Manual".
The Main Window
The main window contains tabs for various types of processing. The following is available for all tab views.
- Track information for the file you have opened is displayed in the video information window. The leftmost column contains checkboxes that are used to select the tracks that you want to process. Note, many functions in AVItools will not be enabled until you have made appropriate track selections.
- Click on the "+" button if you want to add tracks to the window. This will allow you include additional, non-video tracks to the processing. For example, you might have the subtitles for a video in an external file, that you want to hard code into the video.
- Click on Play to open an ffplay window to preview the tracks you've selected. This can be useful to identify the file's tracks in case the track information is not clear. You can also use this as a movie player.
- Click on Watch Folder to start the watch mode of AVItools. See below for more details.
- The Presets area lets you select and define presets for both the selection of tracks for a video, and settings for the video. See below for more details.
The Main Window - Presets
Presets are collections of predefined or user defined rules for automatically making either track selections and/or process settings. When a new video is opened, the currently selected presets are automatically applied to the video.
For Registered Users: If a group of files are dragged to AVItools, then the presets are applied to every video in the group when you start the processing of the files. This will let you quickly load the queue with a number of files. In Watch Mode, the presets are applied to each video that is added to the defined watch folder. Note, neither of these modes will function if either preset is set to Manual.
To define your own preset, select the Edit Preset item from the appropriate preset pop up. The tool tips (turned on in the help menu) in the preset panels should help you with the options available to you. To simulate the Quick Tab found in the precious version of AVItools, use the Best Guess options in the settings presets.
The Main Window - AVI Tab
This tab will give you more control in the creation of AVI files. Note, while AVItools does a little bit of error checking and warning, you are free to make settings that will result in non-playable videos. So you do need to know a little bit about AVI video creation.
If an option is not selectable, then it is either not needed, or you have made some incompatible selection that you need to change. For example, you can only create AVI videos with one audio track. AVItools will color text red to warn you against options it thinks are a bad idea.
- Use the video radio buttons to choose what you want done to the selected video tracks.
- Pass Thru will copy the video track to the new file. This is a fairly quick process and is accomplished with no loss in quality. This would be the preferred option as long as the video codec is compatible with your hardware (e.g., Mpeg4 for a DVD player).
- If the video codec is not playable by your hardware device, then you’ll have to use either of the Mpeg4 re-encode options. Depending on your computer, this can be time consuming. The 2-pass will give better quality but will take twice as long.
- Use the audio radio buttons to choose what you want done to the selected audio tracks.
- Pass Thru will copy the audio track to the new file. This is a very quick process and is accomplished with no loss of quality. This would be the preferred option as long as the audio codec is mp3 or AC3.
- Mp3 will re-encode the audio into a 2-channel mp3 track.
- AC3 will re-encode the audio into a 6-channel AC3 track. Use only for 5.1 audio.
- The subtitles radio buttons will become enabled if you select a subtitle track.
- Burn “hard codes” the subtitles into the video track. The subtitles are a permanent part of the video and can’t be turned on or off. This requires the video to be re-encoded.
- Extract will create a separate subtitle file. Most DVD players will recognize this subtitle file if it has the same name as the AVI file it is included with. This option should let you turn subtitles on and off. Check your DVD player manual for more details.
- Note that subtitle preferences – font, size and location - can be set in the preferences window. See the Known Issues section for more on subtitles.
- The video bitrate and the horizontal resolution (in pixels) of the video is displayed for you. If you are not using pass thru for the video, then you can edit these values for the video you are creating. It is not a good idea to increase these values.
- If you are not using pass thru for the audio, then you can set an audio bitrate from the popup button.
- Click on Convert to start the conversion process. The file(s) will be added to the queue.
The Main Window - Edit Tracks Tab
This tab will allow manipulation of AVI videos at the track level. The current options are:
- Extract Tracks will create a separate file for each of the tracks that are selected in the track window.
- Add Audio Tracks will create a new AVI file with additional audio tracks. To use, you must first add external audio files to the track table by using the "+" button. Check with your hardware player's manual os see if it will support multiple audio tracks.
The Main Window - Edit Files Tab
This tab will allow manipulation of AVI videos at the file level. Note, the main table now displays a list of AVI files, not tracks. If multiple files have been dragged to AVItools, then the selected edits will be applied to every file in the group.
- There are two ways that you can Segment AVI video(s). For both methods, the original videos are maintained. The accuracy of the location of the cuts can vary greatly depending on the properties of the original video.
- If you choose Time, then you specify a start time and an end time for the desired segment.
- If you choose Size, then you specify the size and the number of segments.
- AVItools can Join AVI files listed in the file table. Note that the more the properties of the files vary, the less likely it will be that results are satisfactory,.
The Queue Drawer
- The Queue Drawer opens to display any completed, running or queued processes. It also shows the progress of the current job.
- If you have registered AVItools, then you can add more than one process to the queue at a time. Or you can add files to the queue in batches if you've dragged multiple files to AVItools. So you can load the queue and then let AVItools run all night, Jobs will be handled in the order that they are entered in the queue.
- You can delete individual processes in the Queue Drawer by selecting the X button for a particular process.
- Click on Clear to delete all completed processes from the Queue Drawer.
- You can click on the Pause/Restart button to pause the processing. This can be helpful on slow computers when you temporarily need to focus the cpu on another task.
Watch Mode (Registered Users Only)
Press the Watch Folder button to enter the watch mode. Note, this button is not selectable if either of the preset pop ups are set to Manual. The main window will be replaced by the watch mode window. Here you can define the folder that you want watched. Once defined, AVItools periodically checks the content of the folder for videos that are added to it, and then adds the video(s) to the queue using the current presets. Click on the Stop Watching button to return to normal operations.
Some things to be aware of:
- Only videos added to the folder after entering watch mode are processed.
- AVItools only checks the watch folder every few seconds, so there will be a small delay before the processing starts.
- AVItools monitors the size of files added to the watch folder. So if a large file is copied to the folder, or a video is being downloaded directly to the folder, AVItools will wait until the file size remains constant before it starts to process the video. This adds to the delay that you will see before videos are processed. This may also be a problem if you have unreliable or slow internet connections, or you experience pauses in the downloading of files.
- You can let AVItools run in the background during watch mode.
- Videos already in the queue, stay in the queue when you start Watch Mode. Videos added to the queue in Watch Mode, stay in the queue once you return to normal operations.
Your Username and Registration Code (if registered) are displayed at the top of the window.
- If you don't want to save the files produced by AVItools at the same location as the original, then you can enter a new save folder/location.
- You have some general option that you can set.
- If Show Tool Tips is checked, then when you hold the cursor over certain elements of AVItools, you will see a helpful description of the particular element.
- If Keep Log/Temp Files is checked then, the temporary files that are created during processing are not deleted. This can useful if you encounter an error during the processing of your file. The log files typically contain error messages. You can also use this to keep the track files that are created during some jobs.
- You have some control over how the fonts will appear during playback within AVItools, or for subtitles that are "burned" into the video.
- Select the font to use when embedding subtitles or playing videos. Note, when you first launch AVItools, it tries to find your Arial.ttf font. If it can not do so, then the text field will be blank and you'll have to Change the font.
- You can also specify both the Subtitle Position as measured from the bottom of the video and the Subtitle Size. Both values are given as a percentage of the video height. Use the the Play button to preview what the subtitles will look like.
- Subtitles can be problematic. See the Known Issues page for more on this
- The ffplay window is a full blown movie player. Here are some basic commands for controlling playback:
- Use the left/ right arrow keys, or the up/down arrow keys to skip forward and backwards in the video.
- The space bar toggles pauses and play.
- Command-F toggles full screen playback.
- Q or Esc will quit ffplay and return control to AVItools.