I really like background music when I’m working in the office, at home or driving. I hate the commercials and announcers that won’t shut up and just play music on the radio. I had a Sirius satellite radio for 3 years and generally liked it. I did not like the channels that have commercials (Disney and talk channels), the annoying self advertising for other channels, and I didn’t care for the ones that had a DJ talking more than simply introducing a song with a quick background tidbit and the medium depth of playlists that did become repetitive. Unfortunately, a direct visual line of sight to a moving satellite is required (except in some large cities where there is a land based relay station) and rarely possible in an office setting. After experimenting with many forms of music players from cassette tapes to DVD ROMs, I discovered that having music videos playing on a small screen to glance at while my computer screen showed an hourglass was very welcome. The Sony PSP slim’s 11 cm480 x 272screen with 16 GB of memory is ideal for me. However, loading music videos into it is technically challenging and time consuming, but worth the effort.
There are five common sources of video content:
Video created using your own camera equipment or computer graphics software Video “ripped” from optical disks you have either purchased, rented or borrowed, such as DVDs. Video downloaded from the internet using P2P file sharing or shared by your friends through a sneakernet. There are often copyright violation issues involved, but some of the material may be offered for free as advertising promotional items. Videodownloaded from pay per download sites such as iTunes. Video downloaded from YouTube
Download From YouTube
Select a video onhttp://youtube.com(example: Katy Perry sings Hot N Cold with Elmo). Superimposed or starting ads not transfer into the downloaded file. Copy the address using either the Windows copy command or the short cut Ctrl-C (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHROHJlU_Ng) Paste the address into the middle of the window on the sitehttp://offliberty.com/and press the Enter key There will be an animated image presented and the word “Wait…” will show on the screen Eventually, the page will show “MP3” and “Video” you may have to select “I want video”. Select with yellow rectangles Right click inside the yellow box surrounding the words “Right-click here and ‘Save link as …’below “Video” and select a destination folder on your computer After the download completes, examine the file suffix. If it’s .mp4, it will probably be in a320 x 240resolution, but it will play in a small boxed window on a PSP. Convert this .mp4 intothe desired480 x 272 as described later. If the file suffix is .flv then it has to be converted again as described in the next section as PSPVideo Converter doesn’t accept it.
Converting .FLV To .AVI
Download “Free FLV Converter” fromhttp://www.koyotesoft.com/indexEn.html#and install it After starting the program, click the “Conversion From FLV” button near the middle of the upper menu bar Select the following options: Format AVI Video codec MS-Mpeg4-V2 Size 1920 x 1080 Bitrate (Kbps) 1200 Framerate 30 Aspect Auto Audio codec MP3 Frequency 44100 Channel mode stereo Bitrate (Kbps) 128
I use DVD Decrypter ( download link ) to transfer from a DVD onto a hard drive. This creates a new folder with the name of the DVD disc and a subfolderVIDEO_TS which containsabout ten .VOB files. These .VOB files need to be split apart to separate the individual music videos (or the target singing and dancing scenes from a long movie). The music videos may also break across two .VOB files that will have to be joined back together.
Edit Content (Optional)
The video content you have obtained may or may not be ready for direct conversion into the mp4 format required by the PSP. If you have ripped a DVD, it will be necessary to either strip out a short segment, such as a musical dance scene from a movie like Grease, or to add together parts of a scene that overlap two or more ripped files. Some downloaded music videos have extra introductions that you may wish to strip off. Others such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller have a long introduction before the music starts that you may not wish to watch as part of your background music playlist.
I recommend using VideoPad Video Editor. It uses the uncompressed avi format while making your desired changes to the video.
After downloading from http://www.nchsoftware.com/videopad/index.html and installing the program, run it. Click on the “Add Media” button near the top left of the window and navigate to the video file. The file will then be converted into the avi format and will eventually appear below in the “File List” column. Drag the file into the Video Track Sequence row. In the upper right square field click on the play button to verify that the video and sound is correctly displayed in this window and a vertical red line moves through the file in the horizontal row. Position the vertical red line at the desired start position and click on the “Split Clip” button at the left of the window about 70% down from the top. Delete the material to the left of the vertical red line. Position the vertical red line at the desired end position and click on the “Split Clip” button. Delete the material to the right of the vertical red line. Click on the “Create Movie” button on the top tool bar. Select windows PC as the output option. There is a poor option to save directly to a PSP with 320 x 240 resolution, but the video will appear as a tiny window on the PSP screen. Enter a new filename and browse to where it is to be saved. Next select the output resolution. I use 1920 x 1080 as my avi files may eventually be played on a High Definition television, with the native mp4 encoder set to an average and maximum bitrate of 4096 kbps with the mp3 sound encoder set to 128 kbps. Any resolution higher than 480 x 272 will work fine. Press the “OK” button to begin the conversion
Note: there appears to be a bug in version 2.01. Sometimes the video will commence playing, but there will not be any sound. Try pausing and restarting. Sometime there will be audio, but no video. Save the converted file(s) as a project, exit, restart and reload the project.
Convert To MP4
I recommend PSP Video Converter ( download link ).
Select the local tab near the upper left of the window. Click on the video in button and browse to the file you wish to convert to mp4. Click on the video out button and browse to the folder you wish to output the file to.
In the preset field, change the default setting to 2 pass high quality with a 768 kbps video bitrate. To the right of the preset field is a button that looks like a piece of film: click on it to expand the audio and video options. In the video options, select the “Pad/Crop” tab and check the “Crop” box and ensure the radio button is selected for Auto: this will ensure the visible video is expanded to either the top and bottom or sides, depending upon the aspect ratio of the video, when viewed on your PSP. Press the start button near the bottom right of the window. It will take about 5 minutes to convert a standard 3 minute music video.
The maximum video bitrate is 768 kbps. Any higher bitrates will give an unsupported format error in the PSP.
Organize Your Content
There are many methods of organizing your files. The starting point is to settle upon a standardized file naming convention. I use “Group Name – Song Title” I don’t use the word “The” at the front of the Group Name, even if their official name includes it: “Who – Pinball Wizard” not “The Who – Pinball Wizard” I don’t use the album title, track number, decade etc, but you may wish to. If there are different versions of the song I enter short details in parenthesis after the song title “Darude – Sandstorm (Extended)”
After trying several organizational ideas, I settled upon separating music into perceived energy levels by file folder:
Extreme: very fast paced techno (Darude – Sandstorm) Energetic: fast paced dance (Madonna – Music Inferno) Hard: heavy metal and hard rock (Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train) Lively: quick paced pop music (Bananarama – Venus) Moderate: optimistic, but not fast (Julie Andrews – My Favorite Things) Easy: slower and laid back (Billy Joel – Piano Man) Relaxed: quiet unintrusive music that relieves stress (Henry Mancini – The Pink Panther) Slow: music that seems too slow to me (Enya – Braveheart Theme) Soft: very quiet meditation suitable to fall asleep to (Kitaro – Sounds Of Nature)
The PSP uses optional thumbnail images for display when you browse through the videos while selecting one to play. These images must be in .jpg format using a width of 160 pixels.
Upload To PSP
Update your PSP to the latest operating system: 6.39. Plug a USB cable from your computer into the top of your PSP slim. Turn the PSP on and navigate to the “USB Connection” under the “Settings” section. Press the “X” button to start the USB mode. The PSP screen should show “USB Mode” and your computer should recognize the connection. You may get a pop up asking if you want to scan and fix a removable drive. Select continue without scanning. An Autoplay window should pop up next. Select Open folder to view files. Your computer should now be displaying the file structure of your PSP. Double click on the “VIDEO” folder. If it isn’t present, create it with your computer. I place my organized folders directly under the “VIDEO” folder, but it is possible to place randomly organized .mp4 files here. The files will play in alphabetical order. Be sure to transfer the screen shot .jpg files with their identically named .mp4 files at the same time. The PSP ignores any deeper sub folders and will not play them.
Verify Screen Ratio And Quality
Start the video on your PSP to check that it plays correctly. A common problem is incorrect screen ratio or size. If the video appears small on the screen and there are black bars both above and to the sides, ensure you used the automatic crop option when converting the video to mp4. If the automatic feature doesn’t work properly, try using the manual crop option.
Since the built in speakers of the PSP are terrible, a set of headphones is required to hear the bass frequencies. In my office I plug into a small pair of amplified computer speakers and to the PSP charging power supply with the brightness set to the highest level. When driving, I plug in a small battery powered FM radio transmitter to direct the music to the vehicle’s FM radio, and place the pair inside a storage compartment between the seats.