The fact that it was painless for you does not mean it was painless for me.
I do not understand why that bothers you. I already said I have spent many hours with this so I definitely fall in that category. I am saying that Gordian Knot had --for me-- a very steep and frustrating learning curve.
I am not complaining about Gordian Knot. It is not a product intended for sale for a price; it is something developed by geeks, for geeks. It cost me nothing and it’s worth the price. I definitely would not pay for it.
It is not like I am computer illiterate. I work my way around DOS and Windows pretty well. I have assembled quite a few computer systems and I am familiar with the hardware. I have taught myself to use many programs just by using them. I have learnt to use MS Word, Excel, Photodeluxe, Irfanview, and dozens of other programs just by using them. I have over 120 folders with different programs in my programs folder. I have taught myself HTML just by reading the source code from web pages and I have manually coded at least a couple hundred HTML pages. So you could say I am fairly geeky but Gordian Knot is in a category by itself. Let me give you just a few anecdotes.
I install GN. I try to start messing with it. I get some errors. It seems I have to give it the path to all the underlying programs it has just installed. Does this make sense? It just installed the programs and the first thing it does is ask me where the programs are?
Ok, so I try to find the paths and I put them there. I get a different error. Some DLL not found. After much fumbling and scratching my head I figure out what is happening. Where it says “Where is the plugin directory for Avisynth?” I put the directory “Avisynth\plugins” but that does not work because the installation did not place the Avisynth plugins there but in the Gordian Knot folder. So I finally change the path to point at the Gordian Knot directory and that error goes away.
Then I am having a problem with DVD2AVI. I ask around and someone tells me to click here and there . . . except that I do not have those options in my program. Again, after much frustration and scratching of head I finally figure out what has happened. Gordian Knot installed two versions of DVD2AVI and I had linked to the first one I found which happens to be the older one. You need to link to the new one.
Then I try to encode a movie to DivX but the result is all garbled. I even posted the question here but nobody has been able to explain why. After much frustration and more scratching of head I figured out that some resolutions just do that and cannot be used but others will work correctly. Nobody has been able to explain that to me. The only way is to keep trying things and see what will work. Every time I try something new I run into more problems.
At first, it did not matter what resolution I set, the movie would come out at 640x480. I went crazy searching for information about Aspect Ratios. It turns out the DivX 5 configuration applet has a couple of boxes in the second page (tab) which I need to uncheck. I have no idea why Gordian knot checks them but I have to remember to uncheck them every time. Every single one of these things took countless hours to figure out.
Choosing the subtitles gives me some obscure error so I have just forgotten about that.
The audio part is another source of frustration. Open up the BeSweet GUI and tell me if that is intuitive. Give it to anyone and say: here is an MP3 file @ 128 Kbps, please convert to 64 Kbps. (I am trying to do exactly that as I prepare this post. It is fucking frustrating.) The Besweet GUI is an abomination. It has a million things which I have no idea what they are for but it does not have anywhere to select the parameters I want. Generally, with other programs, you would open a file and then “save as” and choose your new parameters there. Besweet is the most counter-intuitive thing I have ever seen. I tried using other audio programs but then the audio was out of sync with the movie. Every experiment is hours and hours only to find out what doesn’t work.
I tried to enroll a friend into playing with Gordian Knot so we could learn together and learn from each other. I have just spent an hour on the phone with him and he has fallen into pretty much the same pits. He is lucky that I am helping him. I just told him right now about using the latest version of DVD2AVI because he was going crazy that he could not find the “demux all” in the menu.
At the Doom site people are geeks who are familiar with countless versions of every program and the instructions and tutorials are often for versions different from what I have. In any case they do not address the countless errors I am encountering.
Most of the time the encoding produces a file which does not match the size I set. I have no idea why. Often the program aborts after some obscure glitch. Every experiment takes many hours. Forget about ripping the VOBs to disk as that is quite straightforward. For me it takes long time because I need to transfer them over the network but that is the easiest and most straightforward part. Here is the summary of the encoding log of a successful job:
1:03:53 AM: Started Transcoding Audio.
1:38:25 AM: Finished. Duration: 34 minutes, 32 seconds.
1:38:25 AM: Started DivX5-First Pass: D:\Emperor\Emperor.avs
4:57:15 AM: Finished DivX5-First Pass: Duration: 3 hours, 18 minutes, 48 seconds.
4:57:15 AM: Started DivX5 - Pass: 2: D:\Emperor\Emperor.avs
8:14:30 AM: Finished DivX5 - Pass: 2: Duration: 3 hours, 17 minutes, 14 seconds.
8:14:30 AM: Speed: 15.852 Frames per Second.
8:14:30 AM: Started Muxing Audio.: D:\Emperor\Emperor_Movie.avi
8:17:38 AM: Finished Muxing Audio.: Duration: 3 minutes, 8 seconds.
8:17:43 AM: Total File Size is: 1389 Mb
8:17:43 AM: Started Splitting final file
8:22:21 AM: Finished Splitting final file
Total Encoding Time: 7 hours, 18 minutes, 28 seconds.
That is not a long movie. I have done movies which were quite a bit longer. This is an Athlon 1800 XP. I have a couple of slower systems (a Pentium III 700 Mhz and an Athlon 900) and they take correspondingly longer. My problem is not with the time it takes but with the fact that I have to wait so many hours to see if I got what I wanted (which is not often) or if I got nothing (quite often). If the process was slow but reliable I would have no problem. But having to wait 8 or 10 hours to find out you got nothing is too frustrating. I have had all three systems processing stuff and get nothing useful in the end. Too frustrating. I have had a problem in one computer and thought it was specific to that computer so I’d waste a couple of hours transferring Gigabites of VOBs to another computer only to find out it has the same glitch.
I use other programs like Tsunami Tempgenc, Davideo, DivXMachine and others and they are all much easier and much more intuitive to use. They are more limited in what they can do but they work fine if that is all you want.
I could go on and on and never finish. Countless options in Gordian Knot generate countless errors. Once I have done a movie and taken notes of everything I would hope I can repeat the same thing again but the minute I change the smallest thing I will probably get some error. The whole thing is a big PITA. I have gone to the Doom9 forums and seen people ask about some of the errors I have seen and most often there are no answers. Error: “you cannot use crop to enlarge”. Fine, except that I am not cropping or enlarging. After hours of trying to figure it out I realized only one computer was doing that so I reinstalled Gordian Knot in that computer and the error went away.
Believe me, you are going to spend way more time messing with Gordian Knot than watching movies.So, my point is that if you are doing it for the fun of learning and tinkering then go for it like I have done. But if you are not interested in the tinkering and you just want quick results you might want to consider saving yourself the trouble.
I have a very long list of problems and unanswered questions and I would welcome some answers. Why do some output resolutions work while others generate garbage? How can I use Besweet to compress a 128 Kbps audio file down to 64 Kbps? Why does the DivX codec window show up with those tho checkboxes already checked? Why am I often getting final AVI files which are way larger than the size I set in the beginning? Why does it not adhere to the set bitrate?
In fact, I have often gotten to the point where I have separate Audio and Avi files of the correct size and all I need to do is combine (multiplex) them. I have fumbled with Virtual Dubmod for hours and I still cannot do that.