Using Video Game Footage - Part 2 Addenum
Advanced Video Game Ripping
The Sony Playstation is...well, all the superlatives have been used up. It's a popular platform with an equally popular amount of footage. However, it's not as easy to get data off of a PSX CD as it is a Saturn CD. Why?
Well, Playstation discs use what's called XA, or Mode 2, format. This is an interleaving method that was used as an interim method between the Yellow Book standard(data CDs) and Phillips' CD-i standard(Green Book, previously discussed). Among other things, it can produce more space on a CD by using less error-correction(for nice but gruesome detail, check out http://www.cdrfaq.org, notably sections 2 and 3).
Why is this important? Well, almost all CD drives built within the past few years can read XA formatted discs and a host of other standards. However, most of the time the Windows data system is only barely keeping up with the disc. Forget trying to simply copy files from the disc to your harddrive--you'll end up with weirdly corrupted files. To deal with this sort of thing, most PSX ripper programmers go directly to access the CD, instead of through Windows. However, not every drive can perfectly read XA. Sometimes the standard Windows CD drivers aren't enough. Sometimes you're using Windows NT(which, unlike Windows2000, is very anal about unauthorized accesses to the CD drive). And sometimes your drive is simply the spawn of Satan and doesn't play nice with PSMplay(like mine ;_;).
In that case, we may need to use other tools. And maybe we need to go back to the granddaddy of PSX ripping tools--PSXVideo!
Grab the PSXVideo package from http://www.zophar.net/utilities/psxutil.html. Again, read the enclosed readme first. It explains a lot of the peripheral options in the program itself(although curiously, the person doesn't seem to know what Video for Windows is, and believes that the output codecs are native to the program).
There's actually a lot of programs in the package. We're interested in CDXA(and optionally CDXAFIND), as well as PSXVideo itself. Note that we're not interested in XAEX(another XA decoder, but intended for XA audio files, not video files). Get ready--we're going back to DOS.
Open up a command prompt of your choosing. Navigate to the directory CDXA is in. Make sure your Playstation disc is in the drive, and simply issue:
CDXA [sourcefile] [destination-file]
It's advised that you use absolute pathnames and keep file extensions--if the original file was I:\XA\COOLMOV.STR for example, specify D:\MYVIDEO\COOLMOV.STR as the destination. CDXA will grind up the drive, and tell you when it's complete. Keep the DOS box active while it's ripping--sometimes, the program will receive no priority in the background, and it won't ever finish. Also, once the program is complete, check the file size of the convert. If it's a few megabytes smaller that's OK, but if it's drastically smaller then the translation process probably failed. Problems of this sort may be local to the disc, or your drive may simply not be up to snuff(in which case you might as well chuck it and get a cheap IDE CD drive). CDXAFIND is supposed to search through large STR files(such as the movies on Metal Gear Solid or Tekken 3) and individually convert all STRs it finds(effectively the equilivent of PSMplay's Analyze function). I've never been able to test it, so it may or may not work for you.
We've finished converting the STR, so go ahead and open up PSXVideo(you did set it up previously, correct?). It's relatively simple to use. "Option" provides most of the standard options, including gamma correction and a host of others. Note that you want to leave most set to default--Convert Speed to "middle", Convert Mode to "Normal"("FF7" is a hack to work on FF7 movies), Frame Rate to "auto", etc. Video Size Correct will pop up a dialog box if the STR is outside of normal limits. The only important option we're interested in is Convert Option--this will open up a standard Video for Windows dialog box to pick your compression standard(as if we needed to recommend HuffYUV at this point).
Once you've set options, open the converted STR with the Open dialog box. Pick it, and PSXVideo will automatically ask where you want to save it. Choose that, and let PSXVideo work its magic. Voila!
There are a host of other tools to fiddle with PSX CDs(the outcome of introducing the Playstation to a large community of eager hackers). If one tool doesn't work for you, go right ahead and try another. There's never any harm in experimenting. Among the other tools(available from the sites on Quu's handy list are:
Well, that's it for the addenum. You should be able to be a bit more versatile when ripping/converting Saturn and PSX files now. Hurry up back to Quu's article to learn how to clean up the files!