Breaking Eggs And Making Omelettes

Topics On Multimedia Technology and Reverse Engineering


Caimans Video Codec

October 5th, 2006 by Multimedia Mike

Going back through some old posts, I decided to follow up on a codec named Caiman’s Video Codec For Gameboy Advance (new MultimediaWiki page). The official site has a number of movie trailers and anime clips encoded with some custom video and audio codecs. The interesting thing is that the samples are encoded as .gba files which are apparently ROM images that are able to be played in an emulator such as VisualBoyAdvance. Therefore, there are no clean multimedia container files (e.g., AVI) for study.

Caiman's Video in VisualBoyAdvance

Unsurprisingly, very few technical details are available. The technology page brags about how tweakable the parameters are, but mentions nothing about coding algorithms. Still, it’s interesting that these A/V codecs were designed and optimized for the Gameboy Advance.

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My Very Own Search Engine

October 4th, 2006 by Multimedia Mike

Back in 1998, I started a web project called the Internet NES Database to catalog information about games for the greatest video game console system of all time, the Nintendo Entertainment System. I reasoned that a web database needed to be searchable but I couldn’t find any literature on exactly how to create a search engine. So I sat down and thought about it and came up with a solution. I eventually refined the idea and later wrote this article about the design decisions I made but never got around to publishing it anywhere. I came across the article on my hard drive recently and figured I may as well publish it in case someone, somewhere might find it interesting.

8-bit NES

It’s weird to think that I was building an elaborate search mechanism to index approximately 760 items (the total number of games in the database), though I had hoped to expand the database into something MobyGames-like in due time. Keep in mind that at the outset, while the data was managed in a MySQL database, the data was exposed online through a series of static HTML pages; this was 1998 and it was a little difficult and expensive to get database hosting on the internet. Thus, I could not directly query a database, and I had limited CGI scripting facilities.


I present the approach that I took in developing a simple search engine for the Internet NES Database as well as the thinking and reasoning behind the design decisions. It’s not highly sophisticated, but if you don’t know anything about search engine operation, this should give you a starting point.

When I started developing my video game database in early 1998 I knew that it would be much more usable if it featured a search engine. I had no idea how to write a search engine. Web searches on topics such as “search engine theory” turned up thousands of pages claiming to reveal the secrets of getting high ranks in popular search engines. I realized that I was on my own. So I sat down and thought really hard about how to write a search engine.

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Status Report

October 3rd, 2006 by Multimedia Mike

First off, check out Benjamin Larsson’s new blog: Random thoughts and random numbers. Benjamin is one of the open source community’s resident experts on perceptual audio coding concepts. His blog tracks items toward that end.

When I have time, I have been working on the Hachoir project. I finally contributed a parser for the ultra-fringe Spider-Man BIN format that I discovered a few weeks ago. Hey, it’s a start. As soon as I get the hang of the architecture and Python in general I can picture myself contributing a crazy number of format parsers.

As if I don’t have enough old CD-ROM games to process, I have taken to hunting down entire lots of CD-ROM games on eBay. The strategy is working well as my first lot just arrived. Now I have 50 more games to process for my Multimedia Exploration Journal. I just hope I have the opportunity to process them sometime before a year transpires.

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