Re-encoding with MCE Buddy - Quality vs Time Expectations

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Re-encoding with MCE Buddy - Quality vs Time Expectations

Post#1 » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:07 pm

So I tried MCE buddy a while ago and it just took way to long or looked crappy. Surely I am doing something wrong...

My primary goal is to create files that Plex or Media Browser 3 can play via a Roku. And do it automatically. Right now the size of the files is irrelevant to me.

A lot of the tutorials I've seen seem to be for older versions. I've purchased the 'early access' and as far as I know am running the latest version (downloaded a few days ago)

Running mp4 'fast' and sliding the width all the way to the right (unlimited) resulted in horrible quality huge files.
My best results so far have actually been with the "Xbox" profile, but it's pretty fuzzy on a big screen

I've also tried mp4 'normal' and 'high quality' --- My PC is an AMD A-10 3.8ghz quad core. My os drive is an SSD and the files being converted reside locally. How long should I expect 'normal' or 'high' to take? I've read the latest version of MCE buddy is FAST. 2 or 8 hours to convert a 1 hour show isn't fast to me.

I know fast <> quality ... but what is a realistic expectation for one hour of HD TV? If I could convert it to DVD quality that would be good enough.
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ThePaladinTech
 
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Post#2 » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:07 pm

Edited to talk about 'show type'.

I have an i3-4130T (35 watts woot!) with 4 gb ram and a single 1TB HDD and I use MCEBuddy 2.13 (the last free version) to convert for my Roku 3 played via Plex. FYI I use the free Plex channel. :)

First, a note about doing it 'automatically': With plex it's best to keep movies and TV shows in separate folders. If the 'Thor' movie is in my TV Shows folder, Plex will think it's a 1980's cartoon. You need to make a 'movies' folder and a 'TV' folder for Plex. You need to make two conversion tasks in MCEBuddy. They can be identical, except for one difference: in one task, under advanced settings set 'show type' to 'movies' and set the destination to your 'movies' folder'. In the other task, set 'show type' to 'shows' and set the destination to your 'TV' folder. This way, everything is available on the Roku without intervention. I have never used the 'show types' setting, I just learned about it while responding to your post. :mrgreen: Of course, you can set up those two conversion tasks with other differences, as I describe below. Personally, I don't have my shows convert automatically. I plan in deleting some shows as soon as I watch them, and I watch them through WMC, so I don't want to use the resources needed to re-encode them. I have folders named 'Convert me TV MP4' or 'Convert me Movies MKV' and I cut/paste programs into those folders when I want them reencoded. Then I have separate conversion tasks that watch for files in specific folders, convert them to the desired format, and save them to the correct folder for Plex. But now that I know about the 'show types' setting, I may choose to do things differently for a completely automated system. Also check off 'Rename and Sort by Video Information' and 'Use MC Compatible Naming' so the files will be named and saved for Plex or XBMC.

I use the MP4 High Quality profile and I DO NOT select the 'Multi channel' audio. I set the width to about 1400 (I forget exactly). This creates MP4 files with 720P h.264 and stereo AAC audio. If the broadcast was in 5.1, it will be re-encoded to stereo. I do this because the Roku and my kid's iPad can natively play this format without forcing my PC to transcode on the fly. The iPad can only handle MP4 with h.264 and AAC (no MKV and no AC3), and the Roku can either handle MP4 with h.264 and AAC stereo, or MKV with h.264 and AC3 multi-channel audio, but the Roku can NOT natively play MP4 with AAC 6 channel (5.1) audio. The Roku may be able to handle other container/audio formats, but those two work for me.

If I want surround/5.1 audio (i.e. dad's action movies), I convert them to MKV and I select 'multi-channel audio'. This creates MKV files with 720P h.264 and 5.1 AC4 audio.The Roku will then play the file natively without transcoding on the server, and I get surround sound explosions, but the kids can't watch it on the iPad unless they transcode.

Going from a WTV file to a MP4 takes at least twice as long as the program length. 2 hours for a 1 hour show is on the fast side for my system, but then again my system is designed to be cool and quiet. I will check my logs tonight and get back to you. I set the MCEBuddy priority to 'Medium'. It makes WMC a little sluggish but I mostly use the Roku for the front end so a sluggish PC doesn't matter. I have a single HDD for storage. A second HDD and a system SDD are on my wish list. When transcoding my CPU usage is about 90%, disk queue length is 0.1 or less, and out of 4 GB memory I have about 1.5 gb available so it's fair to say that the CPU is the limiting factor in my build. I have a SD HDHomerun Prime and my computer has recorded 2 TV shows while MCEBuddy is re-encoding on that same single HDD with no problems. If I set the priority to low, a half-hour show might take 6 hours.

FYI if I encode to a MP4 with h.264 and AAC stereo audio, CPU utilization is about 1-3% when Plex is serving up the file to the Roku, programs start playing very fast on the Roku, and I can use the Roku remote to very quickly skip ahead through commercials. If I press the right side of the 'cross' on the remote, the program will skip ahead 15 seconds (or whatever amount of time) and resume playing in about a second; or if I press to the right 6 times, it will advance 1 1/2 minutes and resume playing almost instantly, etc.

But if I encode to a MP4 with h.264 and AAC 5.1 audio, CPU utilization is about 90% (2 cores/4 threads) when Plex is transcoding/serving up the file to the Roku, programs take several seconds to start, and using the Roku remote to skip ahead through commercials is painfully slow. Audio is also very poor. And I'm afraid that if my computer tries to record 2 or 3 programs while transcoding on the fly, a show may not be recorded.
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Post#3 » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:52 pm

ThePaladinTech wrote:I've also tried mp4 'normal' and 'high quality' --- My PC is an AMD A-10 3.8ghz quad core. My os drive is an SSD and the files being converted reside locally. How long should I expect 'normal' or 'high' to take? I've read the latest version of MCE buddy is FAST. 2 or 8 hours to convert a 1 hour show isn't fast to me.

I know fast <> quality ... but what is a realistic expectation for one hour of HD TV? If I could convert it to DVD quality that would be good enough.
I'm not sure which CPU you have, but if it's a 4300 or 5800K it's probably a little faster than mine, at least according to some benchmark sites.

I checked my logs last night. Converting a 1-hour show from WTV to a MP4 with h.264/720P and AAC stereo typically takes 1 hour 50 minutes, and that's with commercial removal via comskip, so only about 43 minutes of the show needed to be transcoded. This was done while the PC was recording shows, acting as a Plex server (serving but not transcoding on the fly) and being used to play shows on a local TV. So if I have transcoding working in the background it will transcode about 12, 1 hour shows per day.

There is another thread where someone listed the relative times needed to transcode to various audio/video formats. I can't find it but if I do I will post a link.
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Post#4 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:57 am

Thanks for the replies... Some clever things I will try :)
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Post#5 » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:19 pm

mike_ekim wrote:There is another thread where someone listed the relative times needed to transcode to various audio/video formats. I can't find it but if I do I will post a link.

I stumbled across that other thread. There are two posts with relative transcoding times. The first post is by someone who appears to have a PC a little faster than mine, and the second is by someone with a computer more than three times as fast as mine. :D https://mcebuddy2x.codeplex.com/discussions/395633
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Post#6 » Sat May 23, 2015 8:05 am

mike_ekim wrote:I use the MP4 High Quality profile and I DO NOT select the 'Multi channel' audio. I set the width to about 1400 (I forget exactly). This creates MP4 files with 720P h.264 and stereo AAC audio. If the broadcast was in 5.1, it will be re-encoded to stereo. I do this because the Roku and my kid's iPad can natively play this format without forcing my PC to transcode on the fly. The iPad can only handle MP4 with h.264 and AAC (no MKV and no AC3), and the Roku can either handle MP4 with h.264 and AAC stereo, or MKV with h.264 and AC3 multi-channel audio, but the Roku can NOT natively play MP4 with AAC 6 channel (5.1) audio. The Roku may be able to handle other container/audio formats, but those two work for me.

If I want surround/5.1 audio (i.e. dad's action movies), I convert them to MKV and I select 'multi-channel audio'. This creates MKV files with 720P h.264 and 5.1 AC4 audio. The Roku will then play the file natively without transcoding on the server, and I get surround sound explosions, but the kids can't watch it on the iPad unless they transcode.

A slight correction. Roku does "support" DD and DTS in MKV and DD in MP4 via pass through if you're connected via HDMI to a device that supports them: http://support.roku.com/entries/423946-What-media-file-types-does-the-Roku-Media-Player-channel-support-

My Core i3 4330 with 12 GB RAM server has no problems doing FreeNAS/ZFS file serving while running two jails. One for Plex and the other for Windows 7 Media Center running in a VirtualBox VM (1 core, 3GB RAM - which is the max RAM that the FreeNAS port of VirtualBox allows) recording TV (up to 3 shows at a time) with post processing by MCEBuddy2 (paid for version, HQ, max width, no commercial skipping, all audio, preserve multi-channel audio, low priority). Even tossing in transcoding of WTV containers that MCEBuddy hasn't gotten to on top of that doesn't cause it to hiccup.

I don't care (alot) about file size, the reason I remux and transcode WTV/MPEG2 to MP4/h.264 is to get usable forward and backward skipping via Direct Play.
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