App Note:
Encoding with Main Concept Reference
Using the Main Concept Reference Software to Encode Video for Alcorn McBride Video Products

Main Concept Reference is an extremely versatile and inexpensive encoding software package. This software is capable of encoding video using various Standard-Definition(SD) and High-Definition(HD) video formats, including the popular MPEG-2 and H.264 codecs used by Alcorn McBride's video products.

One of the greatest advantages to using this software is that the demo version of Reference is free and fully-functional. The free version only limits you by applying a Main Concept logo in the corner of the output video. In other words, you can be sure that the encoded video works properly on our video products before purchasing any encoding software.

Because this software works so well with our video products and is easy to use, we highly recommend it on a regular basis. This application note is intended to go a step further and show you exactly how to use this software to produce great high-quality video for your Alcorn McBride products using the Main Concept Reference software.

NOTE: This guide and the included presets work with Main Concept's newest version of this software, which has been renamed to TotalCode Studio.

Installing Main Concept Reference

Before you get started with this application note, you'll need to have the Main Concept Reference software installed on your computer. Currently, Main Concept has versions of Reference available for both Mac and PC. If you do not already have this software, you should first download and install Reference from the Main Concept Website:

Download Main Concept Reference

Design Engineer
Video DVM-7400
  Video Binloop
  Digital Binloop
  Digital Binloop HD

Main Concept Reference


Installing the Alcorn McBride Presets

To make encoding with Main Concept Reference even easier, we have created presets for our various video products. These presets are contained in files that can be downloaded from links on this page. Before moving on, please download the preset file for your Alcorn McBride product:

DVM-7400 - MCR_DVM7400.ZIP
DVM-8400 - MCR_DVM8400.ZIP
DVM-8500 - MCR_DVM8500.ZIP
Video Binloop - MCR_BINLOOP.ZIP
Digital Binloop - MCR_BINLOOP.ZIP
Digital Binloop HD - MCR_BINLOOPHD.ZIP

Once you have download the correct file, you must extract the zip file to your computer. Inside this ZIP file you will see several MCS preset files for Main Concept Reference organized by CODEC and video format. Choose the appropriate file(s) based on your region and preferences and then import the MCS file(s) into Reference using the Preset Manager. To do this, launch Reference and then select Windows-->Preset Manager... from the menu.

When the Preset Manager is open, click on the Import button and then select the Alcorn McBride preset file you downloaded earlier. Once you have done this, you will see new presets appear in the Preset Manager. Click on the Close button to return to the main screen.


Selecting a Preset

Now that you have loaded our presets into Reference, you are ready to use them to encode a video file for your Alcorn McBride video player. The Output section at the bottom-right corner of the Reference software has a box for selecting a preset. Click this box and browse all the way to the bottom of the preset list to the My Presets section. This is where you will find the Alcorn McBride presets organized by product name and basic preset information.

Custom Preset List

The first thing you'll notice is that your product has several presets to choose from. Any of these presets will work, but some may be more ideal for your video. For example, say your source video uses a PAL framerate (25FPS). You could select an NTSC preset and Reference will convert your source video to an NTSC format (29.97FPS). However, if your intention is to play the encoded clip at it's native PAL framerate on one of our products, this would be a very poor choice!

Depending on the product, there may be other considerations as well. For our High-Definition players, you may want to pick a specific HD video format (i.e. 1080i or 720p) and/or codec (MPEG-2 or H264).


Selecting Video and Audio Sources

Once you have selected a preset, the next step is to select the video and audio sources you are going to encode. To add a source file, click on the Open Media icon or select File-->Open Media... from the program menu. Select your source media file, and then click the Open button.

Example - Combined Video and Audio Source

Example - Separate Video and Audio Sources

Your media file should now appear in the Input list. Information about the contents of this media file will be visible in the Input list. If this file contains video, audio, or both, this will be clearly indicated. You'll notice below the Input section is the Output section. The idea is that you must click and drag audio and video sources from the Input section to the Output section in order to specify the media you wish to encode.

At this point, be aware that the preset you have selected most likely requires an audio track. If audio is described in the preset name, THIS MEANS YOU MUST PROVIDE AN AUDIO SOURCE!!! This applies even if your application does not require audio. If you find yourself in this situation, you must generate a blank audio track (WAV, AIF, MP3, etc.) that is identical in length to the video source, add it to the Input list of Reference, and drag it to the Output list to be included in the encoded file.


Encoding the Video

You're almost ready, but before you start the encoding process you must first choose a path and location to put the encoded file. This is done using the Browse for Output File icon at the bottom of the Output section of reference. If you don't like the default path and filename, click on the icon and choose a new one.

Output Filename Box

Now is a good time to double-check a few things:

1. Make sure the preset you have selected is for the correct Alcorn McBride product.

2. Determine whether the preset you have chosen needs video-only, or both video and audio.

3. If the preset needs video-only, verify that 1 video track has been specified in the Output list, and 0 audio tracks are specified.

4. If the preset needs video and audio, verify that 1 video track and 1 audio track have been specified in the Output list.

5. Verify the output filename and path so you know where to look when the encoding process is finished.

Now, click the Start Transcoding icon or select Transcode-->Start Transcoding from the menu. When the encoding is complete, you will have a file that is playable on your Alcorn McBride product. The only thing left to do is make sure the encoded file is named properly for your Alcorn McBride video player. Each player is a little different in this regard, so be sure to refer to the file naming information for your specific product.


Naming the Output File

The file extension that Reference assigns the output file may vary based on your preset selection. However, it is recommended in all cases that you rename the file extension to .MPG. Beyond that, each product has other features that are accessible by appropriately naming the file. For example, it is possible to give a file a special name so that it is played automatically upon powerup. It is also possible to name a file so that it is easily associated with a number (i.e. File #1). More information on file naming can be found in the User's Guides of our video products.



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