Turn your PC into a DVD-quality video studio with these YUV utilities.

YUV video uses one carrier for luminance and two for chrominance to yield a better picture than other types of "component video," which are often mistaken for YUV. It's common in high-end video equipment as well as the MPEG-2 format used in DVDs. Sunray Images' YUVTools is a set of powerful utilities for playing, converting, analyzing, and editing YUV or RGB videos in their raw formats. It bundles the developer's YUVPlayer, YUVConverter, YUVAnalyzer, and YUVEditor, as well as other utilities such as two-way AVI-YUV conversion. The full-featured player accepts many different YUV/RGB file formats, including full analysis, conversion, joining, padding, merging, and editing functions.

YUVTools downloads as a ZIP file but requires no installation; it's ready to use as soon as it's extracted, which also makes it totally portable; you can take it with you on jobs, to remote locations, or for quick-fix missions when production deadlines loom. Each tool has its own efficient, businesslike interface with a family resemblance; each also offers impressive capabilities as well as too many extras to adequately describe. One literally eye-catching feature lets you play videos with two layers of grids overlaid to visually indicate macro block (MB) and block boundaries in MPEG 1, 2, and 4, and H.264 standards. There are additional Data Overlay options, too, including one- and two-dimensional information for each macroblock.

YUVTools is free to try for 30 days and costs $229. Considering what you're getting, it's probably cheaper than assembling the parts individually, and it's definitely easier to use.

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