Breaking Eggs And Making Omelettes

Topics On Multimedia Technology and Reverse Engineering


PAVC: Framework Progress

July 30th, 2005 by Multimedia Mike

Today’s project involved transitioning from a passthrough codec to one that does some minimal amount of coding. This version determines the number of unique colors that a frame uses, codes the palette, and codes the palette indices using the minimum number of of bits necessary. For example, if there are 16 unique colors, only 4 bits are needed to code each pixel. If there are 18 colors, 5 bits are needed. Both of these are common situations for my basic test case:

The Adventure Of Lolo
The Adventures of Lolo, NES

According to my AVI frame-tallying tool:

Assuming 60 frames/sec:
  952 video frames, 0m15s running time, 30263114 total video bytes
  2017540 avg video bytes/sec, 31788 avg video bytes/frame
  min video frame = 5 bytes, max video frame = 35905 bytes

This compression scheme is all keyframes so far. While 30 MB is better than 218 MB, which is the original size of the movie, this is far from an optimal coding. The best compression at this point comes from single-color frames. The next phase is to try some different compression techniques and see which one yields the best nominal result.

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Intel Syntax Using ‘objdump’

July 29th, 2005 by Multimedia Mike

At first I was planning to conduct a survey of binary disassemblers just to find one that could disassemble a Linux ELF binary and show the machine instructions in Intel format instead of AT&T format. However, a little man page perusal revealed that the standard objdump utility– part of the GNU binutils suite– knows how to disassemble into this syntax. For the curious, the extra command line parameter that will do this is ‘-M intel’. There it is! No more ugly AT&T ASM syntax.

Just a little FYI.

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PAVC: Basic Testbed Implemented

July 28th, 2005 by Multimedia Mike

I got the basic codec infrastructure working correctly tonight. This is simply an FFmpeg module that “codes” the raw RGBA32 data by passing it through untouched and “decodes” it by doing the same. Hey, it still felt like a major achievement.

Next goal is a basic palette coding model.

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Implementing A Testbed For The Palettized Animation Video Codec

July 27th, 2005 by Multimedia Mike

I decided it is time to stop talking about what I going do and start talking about how I am going to do it. I want to try my hand at creating a new video codec. This is my first attempt at such a feat. I need to write both the encoder and decoder simultaneously. I need to develop some idea about which coding theories I wish to test and how I will go about testing them. I need test vectors for encoding.

But first and foremost, I need a name for this new codec. I have decided on “Palettized Animation Video Codec.” That is what its name shall be unless someone can come up with a better name. The fourcc shall be ‘PAVC’ which is yet unclaimed (although ‘PDVC’ is claimed according to Since this is an article about PAVC, I need to lead in with some cool shots of old video games, if only as a reminder of this endeavor’s challenge:

Crystalis, NES
Widely regarded as the finest video game ever produced

Solar Jetman

Solar Jetman, NES
Perhaps the toughest Nintendo game to get the hang of

Read the rest of this entry »

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