Download page for HC Companion 2.7 [HCC]

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OVERVIEW
Video Encoding, HCenc, HC Encoder, HCenc_025, Video converting, Audio Encoding, MPG, MP4, AVI, AVISynth, ffmpeg, batch, batch processing,  crop, rotate, borders, margins, mplex, custom resolution, volume control, video re-encoding,, sample rate, bitrate, AC3, M2V, batch process, multiple videos, process many videos at once,

What HCC DOESN'T Do

This program DOES NOT allow you to edit video or audio files. In fact, this program doesn't do much of anything EXCEPT ONE THING. It allows you to re-encode video clips using the HC_023 or later program. The HC program by Hank315 is a wonderful encoder that maintains super high quality while reducing the bitrate so that your reencoded videos are much smaller.

What HCC DOES Do

This program allows you to re-encode video files with the HC Encoder program (HCenc_023.exe).  If you have used the HC Encoder program, you will quickly realize that it produces super high quality video. But there are TWO LIMITATIONS that are annoying, when using the HC Encoder program. NOTE: For those that do NOT currently use the HC Encoder by Hank315, I will tell you that if you are trying to reencode videos with a small bitrate (smaller than 2500kbps) then you will notice that the HC Encoder program is by far the BEST FREE encoder out there. In fact it rivals those that cost a pretty penny. Also, it's better than a lot of those that charge money. That is why I only use the HC Encoder program when I need smaller bitrates. As a comparison.... If I use the HC Encoder to reduce the bitrate down to 800kbps, it can actually create a better looking video than Cyberlinks Power Director program using almost twice the bitrate. So, what does this mean. It means you can have BETTER looking videos while taking LESS SPACE so that you can cram more videos on your drive or DVD that you may be authoring. As a special added bonus, you can CROP or ADD BORDERS or ROTATE your videos using our HC Companion program and you can change the audio settings like (volume, bitrate, stereo/mono/Dolby5.1 etc, ). So, basically our HC Companion program provides a nice easy to use interface to BATCH encode your videos and our program then uses a few external utilities to perform the actual work. So, we utilize the HC_02x.exe program for encoding, the FFMPEG.exe program for creating the audio files and the MPLEX.exe program to merge the newly created video and audio files into a final MPEG file, and the AVISynth program so that HC_02x program can read in the source video files. Without the AVISynth program installed, then NONE of this cool stuff will happen. So, make sure you install the AVISynth program. This program will read a variety of video formats and then it outputs a standard video stream that HC_02x can then read. See, the HC_02x program can only read in a standard video stream. There are other programs other than AVISynth that can do this task, but AVISynth is pretty much the best for a variety of reasons (price, configurability, speed, compatability, etc).

batch, batch processing,  crop, rotate, borders, margins, mplex, custom resolution, volume control, video re-encoding,, sample rate, bitrate, AC3, M2V, batch process, multiple videos, process many videos at once, Video Encoding, HCenc, HC Encoder, HCenc_025, Video converting, Audio Encoding,, MPG, MP4, AVI, AVISynth, ffmpeg,

HC Companion 2.7 Is Shareware

Download it and run it for as long as you like. No trial period. There IS a nag screen to remind you to register if you really like the program. Feel free to copy it and give it to ALL of your friends. It's simple, yet effective and most of all, EASY.

What do I do now to get started?

What do I do now to get going?
If you haven't read the OVERVIEW yet, then do it now so you will have a good understanding of how our HC Companion program works.

HINT: The MPLEX and FFMPEG and HCenc_02x programs are built into our HC Companion install program, so you don't need to do anything special to install them.

NOTE: If you want the full capability and documentation for these programs (mplex, ffmpeg, hcenc_02x, then you should DOWNLOAD them separately, since the downloads have the complete package for each utility. You can find the downloads on this web page.

What do I download?
Of course as mentioned above, you need the AVISynth and HC Companion install downloads. Once you have downloaded them, then run the setup programs.

Once you have installed both of these, then you are ready to start using our HC Companion program to re-encode your videos.

How do I use it once I've installed it?
You can read the program description below by clicking here. This tells you how to run the program and other interesting notes.
 
 

REQUIRED Download Files List:

After you have downloaded the SetupHCC_2.7.exe and AVISynth_258.exe installation programs, then install them by running them. Then you can go to the installation folder for the HCC Companion program and run the HCC.EXE program and you are off and running ;)

Download our SetupHCC_2.7.EXE:
Click on the following link.

DOWNLOAD the HC Companion 2.7 program file.(about 7 MB)

Install:
1. Installing HC Companion:
    a)  Just download the SetupHCC.exe file and SAVE it to your desktop folder or any folder of your choice.
    b)  Double-Click on the SetupHCC.exe file to INSTALL IT
    c)  That's it. You are done.
 

Download Problems:
When you click on the above link to download, your browser usually gives a couple of methods for downloading:

    1)  Open it  (or)  Open this file from its current location
    2)  Save to disk (or) Save this file to disk

ALWAYS choose method 2  ("Save this file to disk"). That's how you save the downloaded file. Don't choose method 1 because, before opening the file, it gets saved into some hidden temporary internet folder that most users can't get access to.
 

Download AVISYNTH_258.EXE
DOWNLOAD the AVISynth_258.exe program file.(about 7 MB)
Run the AVISynth_258.exe setup program to install the AVISynth program. This program is required for the HC Encoder program to be able to run.
Visit the AVISynth home page on the Internet
Install:
1. Installing AVISynth:
    a)  Just download the AVISynth_258.exe file and SAVE it to your desktop folder or any folder of your choice.
    b)  Double-Click on the AVISynth_258.exe file to INSTALL IT
    c)  That's it. You are done.
 
 

Other Downloadable Files List:

Download HC023.ZIP (Older version)
DOWNLOAD the HCEnc_023.exe program file.(about 7 MB)
The HC Encoder download is a ZIP file and not a setup EXE program. You need to take the ZIP file and UNZIP it into some folder of your choice. It could be a new folder that you create on your desktop, or anywhere else for that matter. Just make sure you unzip it in such a manner that all of the subfolders that are in the ZIP file are kept in tact.
Visit the HCenc home page on the Internet

Download HC025.ZIP (Latest Release)
DOWNLOAD the HCEnc_025.exe program file.(about 7 MB)
The HC Encoder download is a ZIP file and not a setup EXE program. You need to take the ZIP file and UNZIP it into some folder of your choice. It could be a new folder that you create on your desktop, or anywhere else for that matter. Just make sure you unzip it in such a manner that all of the subfolders that are in the ZIP file are kept in tact.
Visit the HCenc home page on the Internet

Download FFMPEG.rev13665.zip (Last version that worked with Windows 98)
DOWNLOAD the FFMPEG.rev13665.zip program file.(about 7 MB)
This is the very last version of the ffmpeg program that was able to run on a Windows 98 machine. It's because the ffmpeg program needed the PThreadGC2.DLL file and the newer versions of ffmpeg do NOT contain this DLL. It's because the newer versions use features of Windows XP and above to perform the same functionality that the DLL provided. Hence, the newer versions of ffmpeg can NOT run on Windows 98.
Visit the FFMPeg home page on the Internet

Download FFmpeg-svn-22140.zip (Latest Release)
DOWNLOAD the FFmpeg-svn-22140.zip program file.(about 7 MB)
This is the latest version of ffmpeg. We suggest that if you have Windows XP, to use this version. If a later version comes out, you can try it, BUT we can't know in advance if the new version will work properly ;(  This version has some improvements over the Windows 98 version listed above, so we do NOT recommend using the Win98 version of ffmpeg.
Visit the FFMPeg home page on the Internet

Download mjpegtools-1.9.0-mingw-bin.zip (Latest Release)
DOWNLOAD the mjpegtools-1.9.0-mingw-bin.zip program file.(about 7 MB)
This is the latest version of the mjpegtools library. It contains a ton of cool utilities that are free to use. We of course use the MPLEX.EXE program from it. But there's many more, if you are an advanced user.
Visit the mjpegtools home page on the Internet
 
 

Screen Snap Shots


Main Screen


Video Options Settings


Cropping and Borders and Rotate Settings


Applying some settings to ALL or some other videos in your project list


BATCH Status screen shows what project entries are to be proceessed and a nice progress meter

Video Encoding, HCenc, HC Encoder, HCenc_025, Video converting, Audio Encoding, MPG, MP4, AVI, AVISynth, ffmpeg, batch, batch processing,   AC3, M2V, batch process, multiple videos, process many videos at once, crop, rotate, borders, margins, mplex, custom resolution, volume control, video re-encoding,, sample rate, bitrate,

DESCRIPTION

Basic program description:

The HC Encoder is a wonderful encoder because it's relatively fast and produces very high quality video when compared to other similar products. So, even if HC Encoder wasn't free, it would still be worth it.
 

GENERAL BACKGROUND

Using the HC Encoder is NOT a joyful experience, if you have many videos to encode. If you need just one or two at a time, no big deal. But when you have many, then it becomes a real chore to set up all the AVS files and the INI files in order to run it from a BATCH file.

That's where HC Companion comes in. It sets up all the AVS and INI files automatically. And can execute the batch automatically for you. Another problem about HC Encoder is that it just encodes video. The Audio stream is totally left out and so the resulting M2V file is video only. That's where the HC Companion program comes in. Our HC Companion program will automatically produce a new MPG file that uses the video output from HC Encoder AND it has the AUDIO stream from the original video and optionally re-encoded with specified bitrates and sample rates and volume control etc... So, this HC Companion program saves the user a lot of time messing around with AVS files and INI files and M2V files and AC3 files and navigating through multiple utility programs to get the job done. The HC Companion will easily allow you to pick a video or many videos and you specify your encoding options and then click the "RUN BATCH" button and then you are done. After all the magic is done, you will have a new MPG file in a folder of your choice. It's just that easy.

If you have downloaded this program, you probably understand all of what I just mentioned above. Okay, now on to all the cool options that we provide.
 

What Do I Need To Get Started?

This paragraph will describe what you need for everything to work as expected. Of course all the creating, encoding and merging is all done behind the scenes so that the user only sees a progress bar indicating how far along in the process the re-encoding has completed. But just so you know what's happening behind the scenes, here's a brief description. In order for all this to work, the system needs to have the HC Encoder program to re-encode your videos. The HC Encoder program REQUIRES that you have AVISYNTH program installed. Once you have the video encoded (M2V). You need the FFMPEG program to get the audio from the source video (AC3). Then you need to merge the video file (M2V) with the audio file (AC3) with the MPLEX program to create your final re-encoded video file.

HCENC_023.EXE or HCENC_024.EXE
This is the HC Encoder program. The encoder engine comes with our HC Companion installer. If you want the full blown HC Encoder program that comes with it's own user interface, you can download it from our web site at www.smatters.com/hccompanion. Of course you can scour the Internet to find the latest version if you wish.

AVISYNTH
This is the AVISYNTH program that allows the HC Encoder program to read most video formats including of course MPG files. This program can be downloaded from our web site at www.smatters.com/hccompanion. Of course you can scour the Internet to find the latest version if you wish.

FFMPEG.EXE
This program comes with our HC Companion program. We have the last version of FFMPEG that worked with Win98 and we also have the latest current version as well.  They are located in our program folder as FFMPEG98.EXE and FFMPEGNT.EXE.  The reason we keep both is because the current version does NOT work with Win98. So, if we determine that you are running Win98, we run the old FFMPEG program, otherwise we run the latest version of FFMPEG. Of course you can scour the Internet to find the latest version if you wish.

MPLEX.EXE
This program comes with our HC Companion program. Of course you can scour the Internet to find the latest version if you wish.

VIDEOS
You of course need some video files to re-encode ;)

So, basically, once you have installed the AVISYNTH program and the HC Encoder and HC Companion, you are all set to rock and roll.
 

Creating or Editing Projects

All project files are stored in the AllUsers \ Application Data \ HCCompanion   folder. A project file contains all the info about a project. Such as what source movies you are re-encoding and what the NEW MPG filenames should be and of course all of the video options and audio options that you have selected. By saving this info into a project file, you can come back at a later date and real quickly make a few small changes, like a different bit rate, and then click the "RUN BATCH" button and you are off and running quickly. If you want special customizations, you can click "CREATE BATCH" and it creates all of the AVS and INI files for you and of course the BATCH file (HC_BATCH.BAT) that executes the project. You can edit these files to your liking before running the batch file.
 

Encoding Options

We DO NOT provide all the possible options that the HC Encoder program has at its disposal. We DO however provide ALL of the basic needs like BITRATE and ASPECT and RESOLUTION. If you want to tweak some custom settings for the HC Encoder program, then you can use this program to create all the AVS and INI files and the final HC_BATCH.BAT file as well. Then you could manually edit the INI files to your liking so that the HC Encoder does exactly what you want. This way, at least 80% of the work is already done for you by HC Companion.

PATH SETTINGS
Source Video File:
This is where you select a video file to re-encode with the HC Encoder. Just browse to a valid movie file. It works best if your videos are MPG, although it does work with other formats like FLV etc... Some formats just simply do not work.

Dest Video File:
This is where you select a FOLDER that specifies where the resulting re-encoded MPG video file will be saved. By default, the destination folder will be the SAME as the source folder. This is not a problem because the filename has ".NEW.MPG" appended to the source filename. If however, your source folder doesn't have enough disk space free, you can specify a different folder for the outputs. It's up to you. If you have a bunch of videos from a lot of various folders and you want to work with the re-encoded files, it's probably easier to specify the same destination path for all of your videos in your project.

VIDEO OPTIONS
VIDEO QUALITY:
MAX BITRATE:
There are two main methods of encoding videos. One is bit rate based and the other is quality based. The bit rate method allows only so many kilobits of data per second of video. You can predict what resulting file size you will have for a re-encoded video file pretty easy with a calculator. The bit rate method is not a constant bit rate. It uses a VARIABLE bit rate. That means low motion scenes get less bits while the fast motion areas get more bits. So, if you specified a value of 1000 for the bit rate, then portions of the movie might be encoded with 500 while other portions might be encoded with 1500. The HC Encoder is smart enough to make it so that by the time the whole video is done re-encoding, it would have used an AVERAGE of 1000 for the file. As a rule of thumb, a high quality movie can be re-encoded with a value of 1800 for the MAX BITRATE and still look very very nice. Values around 1100 are pretty decent and 800 gives you videos that are acceptable and around 600 you start to get in the realm of noticeable quality loss. It's all personal opinion.
NOTE: You can specify a CUSTOM bit rate that's not listed in the pulldown list. You can also bring up the CUSTOM bit rate feature by clicking on the bit rate text box.

QUALITY:
The quality based method allows you to pick what quality you want to preserve in the video. So, what does this mean? It means that the encoder NOR YOU can predict a resulting file size. It also means that low motion scenes will get just enough bits to achieve the desired quality and the high motion scenes of course will require much more bits to achieve the same specified quality. So, what does this mean? It means that if you are concerned with file sizes AND you want good quality in low motion scenes, then you can control this by selecting a decent quality setting (0 thru 10) AND set your MAX BITRATE to a value that's low enough to cause the high motion scenes to not gobble up tons of disk space, but yet high enough for the low motion scenes to attain their desired quality. This may take a little trial and error. Quality values that are 10 thru 21 give you lower quality.

RESOLUTION:
The resolution option is straightforward. Pick one that suits you. Keep in mind that only 720x480, 352x480, 352x240 are DVD compliant. So, if you are making a DVD out of these files, then pick one of those resolutions. Also keep in mind that if you are interested in smaller file sizes, then pick 352x480. It's half the resolution of the 720x480, BUT you get far better quality for the same bit rate. For example: a 720x480 video encoded with 800kbps will look WORSE than the same video encoded with 352x480 and 800kbps. Now if you go smaller and use 352x240 it starts looking noticeably less sharp.

ASPECT RATIO:
The ASPECT ratio is a no brainer. If you don't know what an aspect ratio is, then you probably shouldn't be using this program ;)   4:3 is the standard TV Letterbox aspect, and 16:9 is the WideScreen aspect.

AUDIO OPTIONS
BITRATE:
This allows you to select the AUDIO encoding bit rate. A value of 192 is a good default to use. If you are re-encoding a high quality movie that has a sound track encoded with 384, then you will probably want to select the same bit rate. But if you are interested in saving space, then 192 is very good. You can go lower if you wish, but realize that once you get around 64kbps, then the sound starts to sound fuzzy (distorted). You can counteract this by choosing MONO instead of STEREO. Of course you won't get the stereo effect, but at least it won't be fuzzy. You can also counteract the distortion by using a smaller SAMPLE RATE. So, instead of 48Khz, you could go down to 22Khz. But again, although the fuzziness will go away, it will start to sound more and more muffled. So, you decide what's more important, file size or sound reproduction quality.

CHANNELS:
You can pick from MONO and STEREO. No great explanation needed here, except that if you are getting fuzziness (distortion) in the sound DUE TO LOW BITRATE, you can switch to mono.

SAMPLE RATE:
If you expect your re-encoded videos to be burned onto a playable DVD, then you MUST use 48Khz. No if ands or buts. If you don't plan to use them on a DVD player, then you can feel free to use whatever sample rate you want. Just beware that as you lower the sample rate, the sound becomes more and more muffled, BUT you can also use a lower bit rate without getting the distortion. So, it's a give and take.

VOLUME %:
This option allows you to make the sound LOUDER or QUIETER. A value of 100% means no change in the volume. A value of 200% means to double the volume and a value of 50% means to cut the volume in half. NOTE: If you increase the volume too much, you may start to hear distortion in the audio, so be careful.
 

SPECIAL EFFECTS
BORDERS (BLACK MARGINS):
BORDERS MODE:
There are many options for settings up borders. Let's say you have a video that is SQUARE visually. If you want to create a video that is a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect, then of course you will need to add some black stripes on the sides of the video. OR you could just STRETCH (fatten) the video to fit into the 4:3 or 16:9 output video. So, here are the available border options.


PIXEL UNITS:
If you picked CUSTOM BORDERS, then you need to enter the 4 values for Left, Top, Right, Bottom. The larger the numbers you enter, the thicker the border margin.

ROTATE:
You can rotate the video left or right or 180 degrees if you wish. It's most useful if you have a video that was recorded in a ROTATED fashion and you want to un-rotate it ;)  Example: I had shot a video with my Canon Sure Shot camera of a real nice fireworks display. I had the camera rotated as I was videoing. When I went to play it back on my computer, I realized that I had to tilt my head in order to watch it on my computer. I was dissappointed, but now I can rotate the video so that it's back to normal again ;) Yippie!!!!

CROP SOURCE PIXELS:
Sometimes you may have a video in which the important part is only a small area of the video (maybe just the upper right area).. Also, you may have a video that LOOOOOKS like it's a 4:3 video when in fact it's a 16:9 video. IE: The video has thick black bars on the left and right sides. Well, it would be DUMB to reencode the video with those black bars. You may as well chop them off so that all your bit rates is going to work for the real video area ;)  So, you can CROP the video by using this option. HINT: You can use the "Preview Borders/Crops" feature to get a visual idea of how your settings will affect the final mpg output video.