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Month: June 2018

Distributed Video Encoding

So I’ve been struggling with 4k video encoding for Plex at home. It took me 16 days to encode Interstellar only to realize that I had Spanish subtitles enabled for some of the signage through Handbrake. I also realized that the format/container that Handbrake was outputting with h.265 was crashing my Chromecasts. It would stream through 1 of my smart TVs, but not the older one. Didn’t really matter what I was doing, but 16 days to find out something isn’t working properly or like I had intended wasn’t exactly the greatest thing in the world. So I started looking at ways to encode video across multiple hosts and stumbled across a project on GitHub here:

This had promise, but wasn’t working for me easily. I was able to get it to encode video slices on a single host that I had set up for encoding other videos. Trying to expand it out to multiple hosts resulted in a lot of failures. So I blew away my encoding VM and started over fresh. I started over with CentOS 7 minimal. I’m using static reservations with DHCP to make this easy to manage. In order to make this work for 4k encodes, I needed to enable epel-release, nux-desktop, and MKVToolNix. nux-desktop provides the needed libraries for ffmpeg. MKVToolNix will provide an updated release of mkvmerge that I use to slice video. Other required tools are parallel, rsync, and ffmpeg.

#!/bin/bash -e

set -e

# defaults for all configuration values
OPTS="-c:v libx265 -c:a libfdk_aac -vbr 1 -level 41 -crf ${CRF} -preset veryslow"
# This is to split out and copy attachment streams, like subtitles
# and fonts, so they only get copied once.
DATA_OPTS="-map 0 -c:s copy -c:t copy -c:d copy -vn -an"
OUTDIR=`mktemp -d`
# override defaults in a ~/.dverc file
if [ -f ~/.dverc ]; then
source ~/.dverc

function on_finish() {
echo "Cleaning up temporary working files"
cd "$CWD"
rm -rf "${OUTDIR}"/
echo "Finished cleaning"

function usage() {
cat << EOF
usage: $0 [options] filename
This script breaks a video file up into chunks and encodes them in parallel via SSH on
multiple hosts.
-h this help message.
-l comma separated list of hosts to use to encode. (default=${SERVERS})
-t rough length of individual video chunks, in seconds. (default=${LEN})
-o encoding options. (default=${OPTS})
-s output file suffix. (default=${SUFFIX})
-q video encoding quality, shortcut to use default encoding options with
a different CRF. (default=${CRF})
-v verbose job output. (default=false)

# check all required helper utils
function checkpaths() {
for cmd in parallel ffmpeg; do
if ! CMD=`which $cmd`; then
echo "$cmd not found in local path."
exit 1

while getopts “hl:t:o:s:q:v” OPTION; do
case $OPTION in
exit 1
OPTS="-map 0 -c:v libx264 -c:a aac -q:a 100 -strict -2 -level 41 -crf ${CRF} -preset veryslow"
shift $((OPTIND-1))

if [ $# -lt 1 ]; then
exit 1

trap on_finish EXIT


if ! mkdir -p ${OUTDIR}; then
echo "Couldn't create temp chunk output dir ${OUTDIR}."
exit 1

echo "Creating chunks to encode"
if [[ "$1" == *".AVI" || "$1" == *".avi" ]]; then
$ENC -fflags +genpts -i "$1" -map 0:a -map 0:v -codec copy -f segment -segment_time $LEN -segment_format matroska -v ${VERBOSE} "${OUTDIR}/chunk-%03d.orig"
mkvmerge --split $LEN -S "$1" -o "${OUTDIR}/chunk-%03d.orig"

echo "Copying file metadata"
DATA_IN="-i data.enc -map 1"
${ENC} -y -v ${VERBOSE} -i "$1" ${DATA_OPTS} -f matroska "${OUTDIR}/data.enc" ||
cd "$OUTDIR"

echo "Running parallel encoding jobs"
PAR_OPTS="--no-notice --gnu -j 1 -S ${SERVERS} --eta --retries 2 --nice 10"
PAR_OPTS="${PAR_OPTS} --workdir ... --transfer --return {.}.enc"
ENC_OPTS="-y -v ${VERBOSE} -i {} ${OPTS} -f matroska {.}.enc"

parallel ${PAR_OPTS} ${ENC} ${ENC_OPTS} ::: chunk-*.orig

echo "Combining chunks into final video file"
echo "ffconcat version 1.0" > concat.txt
for f in `ls chunk-*.enc | sort`; do
echo "file $f" >> concat.txt
BASE=`basename "$1"`
${ENC} -y -v ${VERBOSE} -f concat -i concat.txt ${DATA_IN} -map 0 -f matroska -c copy "${OUTFILE}"

This is what I’m currently using. There is no job checking and there is no error checking to ensure the hosts are online. I need to look into parallel more to see what I can do to check on the status of hosts and job completion in case anything drops offline. Parallel uses rsync to copy files between hosts as defined in SERVERS and ssh to execute commands between hosts. It also uses local copies of the executables on the hosts.

I’m pretty sure that this covers everything I’ve done to make this work. I’ll probably update this more as things go on because this was a first attempt at making it work.

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Internet Struggles

I’ve had my ISP on-site twice this week because their phone service people keep telling me that I have an inside wiring problem. I think I’ve had 4 or 5 service techs here over the last 2 years now tell me that nothing is wrong with the inside wiring, but they can’t nail down a problem other than it is further upstream.

It’s a bit frustrating. I work from home and sketchy Internet means that I wind up tethering to my phone to keep working. It’s even more fun whenever it’s a sporadic issue and it’s working by the time the techs show up. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case this week. It’s been broken both times the techs have shown up. I currently have a new ticket out there to have a new cable buried from my house to the demarcation point with Cox. The tech who re-ran that cable also said I had a trap at the demarc that he removed. He wanted to talk about it being a very old technological block that was used, but this house didn’t have cable when I moved here in 2014.

That, I guess, is whatever. I also have a second ticket open with Cox. I got an email alert after the second technician left that I had another scheduled appointment at 3PM on Sunday. I’m less thrilled that is how I was communicated with, but as long as it gets my long term issue resolved, that’s all I really care about.

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