Tag Archives: tools

Converting AVCHD files to MPEG-2, MPEG-4, AVI or WMV

2011-05-08

It so happens that my Panasonic GH-1 is capable of spitting out so-called AVCHD files (with the extension .MTS). AVCHD is supposedly superior to older video encoding formats, but a lot of old software (such as Adobe Premiere Elements 3) cannot process it.

Being a strong proponent of not touching a working system, and seeing that Premiere Elements 3 still works quite well for me (except for, ahem, AVCHD import), I looked for inexpensive ways to convert such files to MPEG-2. And, lo and behold, I was successful:

There is a freeware that does the trick quite neatly, the aptly called Free-HD-Converter. Now, be careful: This piece of software is indeed free, but during installation it tries to install rather spammy looking browser toolbars. I unchecked these options (one cunningly starts with ‘accept terms and conditions’ … of the toolbar, that is).

If you avoid these toolbars, everything else seems rather fine. The user interface is very straightforward, there are several options with regard to the output format, and that’s about it. Conversion is taking some time, on my (admittedly rather old) system, the conversion frame rate is about 3 fps, which means that one minute of video takes about 10 minutes to convert.

Converting CorelDraw to GSD files

2011-02-19

Craft Robo’s aptly named control software Robo Master uses a proprietary file format ‘GSD’. I work with CorelDraw, and while CDR is perfect for cutting directly (and in my opinion much better suited for complex Craft Robo projects than Robo Master), there is no way around the GSD format if you want to pass on designs to other people.

The way I do the conversion is as follows:

First, I split the art to be printed and the cutting outlines. The art to be printed goes into a PDF file, and the cutting outlines into a GSD. The reason behind this is that complex artwork does not convert correctly to GSD – only very simple shapes do.

Now, in order for this to work we need to make sure that the registration marks are included in the PDF and that they align with the registration marks used by Robo Master.

I have prepared a Corel Draw file with registration marks at the exact same positions as the default positions in Robo Master.

Using this file, these are the steps I follow:

  1. Position the artwork and cutting outlines inside the registration marks
  2. Move the cutting outlines to an invisible layer or delete them temporarily
  3. Export the document as a PDF
  4. Make the cutting outlines visible again or restore them. Delete everything else (make sure that the cutting outlines are ungrouped and are all in a single layer. This should be the only layer in the document)
  5. Due to a bizarre behaviour of Robo Master, where imported DXF files have their center at the lower left corner of the page, we need to add an offset to the outlines. Go to ‘Arrange-> Transformation -> Position’, and enter 148.5 and 105 mm (half the page size for an A4 page). I have prepared a macro included in the template mentioned above you can use for that: Go to “Tools -> Visual Basic -> Play” and select RecordedMacros.dxfoffset
  6. Now go to “File -> Save as…”, select as file type ‘DXF – AutoCAD’
  7. In the AutoCAD export window, select “AutoCAD R13″ as the export version, and select “Millimeters” as the export unit.
  8. Open Robo Master, go to “File -> Load DXF…”
  9. Save the file as a GSD file.

Paper weight and measurements

2011-02-17

Ok, so this is one more thing where the shadow world government has failed miserably: Paper weight (technically, grammage) and dimension units, or – even worse – paper size standards. There is the big divide between continental Europe and the British empire, including its overseas colonies, but then there is also a whole mess of local customs, regional deviations, and odd preferences.

It seems nobody can agree on what size paper should come in, and how to measure its dimensions. Luckily, here is a convenient table for everything, and here is the Wikipedia article on the same topic.

Most projects described on this website will be based on190g-300g DIN A4 paper, which corresponds to 53 -82 lb bond/ledger and 8.27″ x 11.69″.  Using US letter format should be fine, but you should slightly scale the templates to fit on the page before printing. If you are unsure about the grammage, just use sturdy carton which is still flexible and thin enough to be easily cut and folded.

If you use a Craft Robo, you have probably already found the thickest paper you can still cut through, and that should work fine for the projects on this site. If you are unsure about what the Craft Robo can digest, I suggest that you do some quick experiments. Note that there is a huge difference between a sharp new blade and a blade that has cut through a couple of dozen sheets already, so try to use a fresh blade.