Sam­sung HMX-​H200 cam­corder

My wife de­cided that we need a cam­corder. As I am a good hus­band, I do not com­plain (she pays 😀 ).

There was an of­fer in a su­per mar­ket nearby. Not as low as you can find in the in­ter­net, but if there is a prob­lem, it is much more easy to com­plain. For some­thing like this, I/​we prefer this and am-​are OK to spend a little bit more money for this con­veni­ence.

This cam­corder is re­cord­ing to SDHC cards. Such cards have a speed rat­ing, and you need to take some min–speed one, to be able to re­cord videos with a cam­corder. Un­for­tu­nately Sam­sung does not list the speed rat­ing some­where. I searched on the Sam­sung site in the spe­cific­a­tions and in the FAQ. Noth­ing. After a little bit of googling I at least found a re­view where the re­cord­ing time for spe­cific card-​sizes where lis­ted.

So I took the card-​size in MB, di­vided it by the re­cord­ing time in seconds, and got the data trans­fer rate per second for the spe­cified res­ol­u­tions. The 1080i res­ol­u­tion has the highest trans­fer rate and as such it is the most in­ter­est­ing one to de­cide what kind of card one needs.

The highest trans­fer rate seems to be less than 2.2 MB/​s, so a class 4 SDHC card should be enough.

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Sony Bravia and HD videos (via DLNA)

I made some more tests which video res­ol­u­tions my TV ac­cepts via DLNA. While I was look­ing be­fore a SD res­ol­u­tions, this time I took care about some HD res­ol­u­tions.

As the Sin­tel video in the 1024×436 res­ol­u­tion did not play, I tried to reen­code it to 1024×720 (for the en­abled x264 op­tions see be­low). This did not work either. After that I went to the of­fi­cial res­ol­u­tion of 1280×720, and this works. Ini­tially this video was en­coded as High@L3.1, but with this the TV pro­duced some ar­ti­facts on play­back. After chan­ging this to High@L4.0 (simply by re­mux­ing in­stead of reen­cod­ing), the play­back was fine (warn­ing: in­creas­ing the H.264 level is OK, de­creas­ing it if the video does not com­ply to the lowered level, may cause prob­lems). I miss a set­ting in avidemux for the level, it would be nice if there would be the pos­sib­il­ity to set it.

I also tested if the 1280×544 ver­sion of the Sin­tel video plays fine on the TV or not. It does not play fine, so there is prob­ably a hard re­quire­ment on the com­plete res­ol­u­tion for HD video.

While do­ing this I no­ticed that ts­MuxeR is trun­cat­ing the au­dio, in­stead of the 6 chan­nel au­dio it was be­fore, the re­muxed file has only two chan­nels.

As I did not want to al­ways go through all the set­tings to enter what I want, I made a little avidemux-​script to setup (ECMA script + xml) everything for me. This was easy, I just took an ex­ist­ing one (the Sony PSP one) as a base and changed the en­cod­ing op­tions and the tar­get con­tainer (un­luck­ily avidemux 2.5.4 does not sup­port H.264 in MPEG-​TS yet, so I have to use a MP4 con­tainer and re­mux it into the MPEG-​TS stream af­ter­wards).

The op­tions I used for the x264-​reencoding are –8x8dct –ana­lyse all –mixed-​refs –bime –weightb –subme 9 –b-​rdo –ref 4 –b-​adapt 2 –bframes 4 –dir­ect auto –me umh (this in­cludes b-​pyramid, for which there are re­ports that it does not work).

Stream­ing video to a Sony Bravia (via DLNA)

I have a Sony Bravia TV with a net­work (eth­er­net) con­nec­tion. Let­ting aside the fact that he is in an­other sub­net than my NAS and as such I can not use a DLNA (UPnP-​AV) server (it is us­ing mul­tic­ast and the Simple Ser­vice Dis­cov­ery Pro­tocol (SSDP) which is not tra­vers­ing sub­nets in the WLAN-​LAN-​ADSL-​router I use), there is no good ex­plan­a­tion from Sony what I can feed to the TV.

When search­ing the net I can find some ob­scure sug­ges­tions and de­scrip­tions, but not all of them work for all people which try them. So it seems I have to re­search this my­self. Luck­ily my router has a build-​in UPnP-​AV server which I can use to play around (the file size is lim­ited to the size of the USB memory stick I have con­nec­ted to the router, as he can not stream con­tent which is avail­able in a NAS in the net­work).

Sony tells the TV is able to re­ceive MPEG2 TS and PS con­tain­ers. MPEG2 PS is more or less what you have on DVD. It is able to play SD and HD con­tent from the PS con­tainer, and the video format needs to be MPEG2. They do not ex­plain what SD or HD means in this con­text (the valid res­ol­u­tions), and they do not tell what kind of au­dio is al­lowed.

For the MPEG2 TS con­tainer they ad­di­tion­ally al­low H.264 video, and they spe­cify EU, EU-​T and EU-​ISO as sup­por­ted in this case. Again, they do not ex­plain what those EU* parts are sup­posed to mean.

For the un­spe­cified au­dio I as­sume this means AC-​3, AAC and MPEG Au­dio Layer 2 (some people use MP2 to de­scribe this au­dio format). I suc­cess­fully tested AAC and AC-​3, and I have read that MP2 works too. Based upon my ex­per­i­ences with the video part (more be­low) I as­sume the sampling rate and bitwidth mat­ter. So far I tried with 48 kHz and 16 bit per chan­nel.

For the EU* parts I have not found any trust­worthy ref­er­ence what this could mean, but it looks this refers to some as­pects of DVB/DVB-T/DVB-S(2) as it is used in Europe. I guess this is a bit linked with valid res­ol­u­tions the TV is able to handle.

For the video part I have found mixed re­ports. From hat I have read in the Wiki­pe­dia page of the H.264 video format, I as­sumed the fail­ures are re­lated to a wrong res­ol­u­tion and maybe the fact that some parts of the video do not con­form to spe­cific “levels” of the H.264 format. Some tell you are not al­lowed to use more than X ref­er­ence frames, some tell you can not use ad­vanced fea­ture Y.

The first test I did was to take the Sin­tel video from Blender. I down­loaded the MP4 ver­sion and re­muxed it into a MPEG2-​TS con­tainer (I used ts­MuxeR to do this). The TV was able to play the AAC au­dio, but it did not show the video. When I look at the video prop­er­ties, I see that it has a res­ol­u­tion of 1280×544 at 24 FPS. For H.264 videos which use the “High” pro­file and are com­pat­ible up to level 4.1, I do not see this res­ol­u­tion lis­ted as valid in the Wiki­pe­dia page. Valid res­ol­u­tions are 1280×720 at 30, 60 and 68.3 FPS, and 1280×1024 at 42.2 FPS. This could ex­plain why it is not work­ing.

As a second test I took a video res­ized it to 624×256 (I did not pay much at­ten­tion to the scale in the pro­gram I used to test this, I just hoped it takes a good one, now that I try to sum­mar­ize what I in­vest­ig­ated so far, I see that this size is not one of the valid sizes lis­ted in the levels for H.264) at 23.976 FPS and reen­coded it with the de­fault op­tions of the x264 en­coder. The res­ult­ing video played just fine on the TV.

My third test was to en­code a res­ized (from 640×272 to 640×480) video at 23.976 FPS with weighted, upto 4 ad­apt­ive B-​frames, mixed ref­er­ences, 4 ref­er­ence frames, and some other op­tions (this in­cludes B-​pyramid, which seems to be en­abled by de­fault). And again, the res­ult­ing video played just fine (des­pite the fact that I found com­ments in the net which sug­gest that B-​pyramid needs to be dis­abled…).

I still have to test some HD sizes, but it looks like one key as­pect for com­pat­ib­il­ity is that the video is en­coded with the right res­ol­u­tion (I have to ad­mit, I do not really know what this means, as one video had a res­ol­u­tion which was dif­fer­ent from what the valid sizes for the H.264 levels are) and com­plies to only level 4.1 (or 4) and be­low (ba­sic­ally this means to obey some bitrate lim­it­a­tions and the num­ber of max. ref­er­ence frames for the given res­ol­u­tion). The 23.976 FPS I men­tioned above are not lis­ted as one of the valid FPS in the levels for H.264, so I do not think the FPS have to strictly con­form to what is spe­cified for the levels. It looks more this is just an up­per limit so that the video could also use some lower FPS.

So far I took the sin­tel video and ad­ded some black bor­ders on top and be­low to get to the 1080×720 res­ol­u­tion. I used avidemux 2.5.4 for this. The ver­sion I tried can only pro­duce a MP4 con­tainer with this video/​audio com­bin­a­tion, and my hope was to re­mux it with ts­MuxeR to a MPEG2-​TS, but ts­MuxeR does not find a valid video or au­dio stream in­side the MP4 con­tainer. I am still search­ing for a pro­gram which is able to re­mux the res­ult­ing MP4 into a MPEG2-​TS. I found a tool which ex­tracts the streams from the MP4 con­tainer, but the only free MPEG2-​TS muxer seems to be ts­MuxeR, which I was not able to con­vince to mux the two streams into a MPEG2-​TS file. It seems I have either to wait un­til avidemux knows how to gen­er­ate MPEG2-​TS streams with H.264 and AAC, or un­til it gen­er­ates a MP4 con­tainer with H.264 and AAC which ts­MuxeR is able to handle.

What I also want to test is, if I can use the open-​gop op­tions (either in “nor­mal” or in “bluray” mode), but I did not took the time to test this.

The only think I can tell defin­it­ively ATM is, that des­pite to all the in­form­a­tion I found in the net about this, noth­ing can be told about the hard re­quire­ments ex­cept, that the video en­cod­ing can not ex­ceed level 4.1 (or 4), be­cause so far no hard­ware de­coder chip seems to sup­port a higher level. It seems I can use more or less all op­tions avail­able for the H.264 en­cod­ing, and the res­ol­u­tion and FPS does not seem to mat­ter that much. I looks more that you have to find a ver­sion of an H.264 en­coder which works for you, and after that you can more or less do what you want.