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Create menus on flash drive?

A new addition to Muvipix, with support and discussion of Sony's DVD Architect Studio.

Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Ken Jarstad » Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:17 pm

Hi guys! It has been quite awhile since I have been on here. My question seems to defy a proper category since I have not been using Microsoft products - switched to Linux four years ago. In my old age I am finally editing all the old family videos made on Hi8 and HDV. I am using FOSS editors, mainly Shotcut. I posted the following first on Reddit but haven't gotten any responses yet. Maybe you guys can help.

For my granddaughter's wedding, eight years ago, I shot, edited and produced a Blu-ray album complete with cover art, disk art and menus using DVD Architect software. I consider it to be quite an accomplishment, as beautiful as any commercial offering. Today I am told that no one does this any more and I should produce gift albums on flash drives. Which brings me to my question:

I have found presentation quality flash drive boxes https://www.amazon.com/Elite-Flash-Drive-Box-Photo/dp/B00FS0SKYA but I am having trouble finding any FOSS (free open source software) to create suitable menus on flash drives. The software needs to work on TVs or PCs. Am I asking in the right forum?

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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Steve Grisetti » Sun Dec 09, 2018 8:48 am

I know of no way to create a disc menu structure that will work on a flash drive, Ken.
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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Chris B » Sun Dec 09, 2018 10:30 am

Hmm. Just thinking out loud here. TVs are probably never going to play nicely and probably never present you with your menus. Here are some other thoughts in no particular order if things you might do:

  • Provide an Iso on the flash drive. Most modern OSs will read these by default and should have some sort of player. There would be a couple of loops to jump through but it might give you all your menus.
  • Name the files descriptively with a number at the start. An OS (and probably a TV) would present them to the user in that order. Not pretty - but probably universal.
  • Provide a web page with CSS/And or Javascript as your menu. Modern browsers should be able to play video inside an HTML5 element. This would allow nicer menus - probably wouldn't work on a TV though.
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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Peru » Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:29 am

Have a look at this:
http://tmpgenc.pegasys-inc.com/en/product/tpxc.html

You could use it on a laptop connected to a TV via HDMI.
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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Bob » Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:34 pm

I wouldn't use the tmpgenc solution for something intended for someone else. It's proprietary and platform dependent.

Now a days, most people I know mainly view videos on their HDTV's or mobile devices. DVD and BluRays are decoded by the disc player. Drop the disc and the TV wont know what to do it. You pretty much are committed to making a standard single file video file with no menus. You can extract or create an ISO. But, the TV won't decode that natively. I think the VLC mobile app can decode and play an ISO, I haven't tried it, so there is a possibility it could be mirrored or cast from the mobile device to the TV. Most TVs are rather fussy about what they will read from the usb. I think it would be best to simply make a standard MP4 (h.264 AVC with AAC audio). Most recent HDTVs can play those as well as mobile devices and computers. It's the closest thing to universal right now.
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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Ken Jarstad » Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:25 pm

Hey gang, thanks for weighing in. Steve, Chris B, Peru, Bob, it's good to hear from you again. You guys have been faithfully contributing here for over ten years. Wonderful!

Well, it seems we are in a fine mess, technologically. I have been told my wedding album disks may be unreadable in just a few short years. And yet we really don't have anything that is as good, feature wise, to replace them. So, it seems we have a market here, begging for innovation. Have you ever wanted to be on the cutting edge? Just develop an elegant solution that is universal and easier to use.

Peru, the tmpgenc product looks like a fine solution, if you use Microsoft Windows and don't mind paying the prices. That company has developed from a hobby into a full-fledged business. And yes Bob, I have found that my two HDTVs are very fussy about what flash drives and formats will play. My recent Samsung Blu-ray purchase accepts a wider variety of drives/formats but - we are still using the BD player for this.

I really didn't know where I was going to go in this reply post but as I have been writing it occured to me that lots of people are using TV set-top boxes or sticks these days. My Android TV Box has a USB port and a micro-SD port. Hmmmmm - maybe........?

Can you feature this: a gift, presentation box, complete with an appropriate photo and text on the outside. On the inside, a custom (or generic for that matter) wi-fi TV stick with usb or flash storage, containing event videos which has been preprogrammed to autostart a GUI complete with customized menus and all the goodness (and more!) we have been trying to provide for years.

This is now the only solution I can think of. What do you say about that?

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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Steve Grisetti » Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:45 pm

Sounds like a great idea, Ken! I like it!
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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Chris B » Mon Dec 10, 2018 2:41 am

I think you'd be better with an HDMI port (like the TV sticks tend to use). However - I think it's also a lost cause. The once ubiquitous DVD player is now being resigned to history. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45950477) and there was never a generic Hi-Def replacement. How many VHS wedding videos are now unreadable, gathering dust in cupboards? For better or worse I think we've sold ourselves to the cloud for now. Is it now up to a dedicated few, like us, to maintain these digital artefacts so that they can be viewed by future generations? - Wow - I'm in a depressing mood for a Monday morning...

I mean - nice idea - neat concept - but - how do I watch it on my iPhone?
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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Ken Jarstad » Mon Dec 10, 2018 2:55 am

Hi Chris! Yes, I'm thinking an Android TV stick - with a micro SD slot and/or usb connection. Google Play has quite a number of alternative TV launcher apps. It looks like that is the only way to do this. I would be looking for something that will auto run, something like the Kodi launchers do.

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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Ken Jarstad » Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:08 am

Since this idea hatched while asking all of you about it I will brainstorm a solution here with your suggestions. We need something more modern to replace DVD and Blu-ray projects.

I recently replaced a defective Blu-ray player and I found that the USB port will accept flash drives of greater variety and codec support than my two HDTVs but it still requires an external device - and the Blu-ray player has to be navigated to the proper menu - and it only gives a list of filenames. Works - but can't we come up with a more "elegant" way?

Android TV boxes used to cost over $100 usd but now you can find them for much less, quite easily on Amazon. There are probably millions of people using these for the media streaming app named Kodi. Here is a low cost TV box I just found for $23.99. https://www.amazon.com/Edal-Android-RK3229-2-4GHz-Support/dp/B01MTAO5FF/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1544431492&sr=1-1&keywords=android+tv+box That is a lot more reasonable!

I can lay out the logical steps to do this - the actual code may be much harder for me. Perhaps some of you can contribute here.
1) TV box connects to HDTV HDMI port. Before switching on Power, you plug in either a flash drive or a micro-SD card.
2) Power on starts the TV Box boot process and uses CEC function to automatically switch TV input to the TV Box.
3) TV Box boots to Android OS and autoruns app (may require coding) or autoruns a local web page which looks for an external memory device in one of its ports.
4) If it finds a memory device then it looks for a "Menu" file named Menu.html or something similar.
5) If it finds a Menu file it runs that file, providing a web page with backgrounds, music and menus for our video project - very much like we are used to in DVD Architect or similar.
6) The project would likely have to have a file for each "chapter" in the video project.
7) An option should be provided for shutting down the TV Box so the memory device can be safely removed.

If we design the Menu web page properly it could also work on a PC. PC's don't autorun these days - to prevent bad stuff from running but selecting the Menu file from the device ought to give us the same capabilities.

Not sure how to provide "play all" capability.

What do you think of that design?

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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Chuck Engels » Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:00 pm

Hey Ken !! So great to see you back at Muvipix posting again. Hope all is well with you and your family. So nice to see some of the originals back for a visit, must be Christmas time :)
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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Ken Jarstad » Mon Dec 10, 2018 7:08 pm

Hi Chuck! It's good to hear from you again. Speaking of Christmas I heard that some snow might be headed your way. So, yes, an early Merry Christmas to you.

I have been hanging out in the Shotcut Forum and some of the guys with IT experience tell me that 80 percent of their optical disk backups became unreadable after ten years! I was advised not to trust even the newer M series. It seems a shame to put all that work into our video memories and discover one day that Alzheimer's has set in! And we don't have a ready alternative. I hope you and the gang can suggest some solutions.

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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Chris B » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:07 am

I keep the ISOs on various hard drives as well. In fact that the method we use to play them these days rather than on optical disk. I also have the original footage and project files so worst case could re-create them (probably).
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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Chuck Engels » Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:49 pm

Everything I have is on a hard drive(s) backup, using backup software and usually the original uncompressed files as well. The cost of disk space is cheap these days and I have at least a dozen 1TB or larger drives now. Backups of backups, lots of redundancy :)
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Re: Create menus on flash drive?

Postby Ken Jarstad » Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:45 pm

Thanks for the discussion everybody. I am re-thinking this project. I just looked into HTML coding and decided the css and html5 is just too complicated for my spending any more time on it right now. I'm getting too old for this stuff!

I think the concept of a simple media player for the HDTV is a good idea as a replacement for an optical disk player since it would support a wide variety of high def codecs, containers and storage devices, even the portable HDDs that are cheaper than flash drives.

Perhaps I will pick up this topic at a later time. Merry Christmas!

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