Tag Archives: dvr

the saga continues

Well, I have found yet another utility that promises to solve my DVR-MS woes. It is a very poorly written little monster, but it does simple batch conversion of the files into good old fashioned mpeg video/audio streams. As far as I am able to tell, Microsoft is actually only using dvd-style mpeg compression for them in the first place.

This means that once I have extracted things, I can use anything I feel like to process them further. This also means that I should hopefully be producing higher quality results than in my attempts that stopped by at WM9 along the way.

Tarma is churning out a split M2V/M2A pair of files in under 4 minutes per 1.6-1.8gb episode, so not bad. Of the 9 episodes that I am working on right now, it has already completed 4 (one while I have typed this).

Time passes… and all episodes are done in under half an hour. I can play them with mplayer just fine. However, no other application on this machine is willing to touch the files, and mencoder actually crashes when trying to mux them together.

So, I guess it’s either back to ye olde drawing boarde or off to see if I can get transcode or something on here. But since it’s a source-only release, and I really don’t feel like putting Cygwin on the machine, I might have to find something else.

mplayer adventures continued

Ok, so I am back on Tarma and am about to make what I (probably vainly) hope is my final attack on the MPlayer versus Windows Media Center Edition DVR problem.

The DLL in question that I am led to believe will decode this file is stored in C:\Program Files\CyberLink\Shared Files\VideoFilter\CLVSD.ax on my machine. We shall update the codecs.conf file and see what happens, no? 🙂

And failure. I edited the file, copied the DLL into C:\mplayer\codecs, and tried to play a video. What happened was this:

And thus, the investigation continues.

adding dvr support to mplayer

Ok, since I still cannot sleep, I am pondering all of the little projects I’ve started over the last few days… and I keep coming back to the MPlayer issue; my Good Eats episodes need re-encoding 😉

I think I am going to try to add the codec manually in stead of submitting a help request. That way I can hopefully submit a working patch in stead of just a bug report. Following the instructions on the site, I think I have the following codec entry to test out.

Feh. I have installed MPlayer, created a working codecs.conf file, and have installed a huge bundle of codecs onto Rincewind – only to realize that I don’t have a video to test with. Tarma is asleep right now and I don’t want to go in and wake up Penny, just in order to play with this (get a file to play with and possibly a dll). So, it looks like we will have to test this later on tomorrow.

Also, it looks like my audit report finally made its way through the mail server, so that’s good.

I think it is finally bed time.

video archival 101

Today begins (resumes?) my great adventure in the wonderful world of trying to make archival quality copies of my favorite television episodes. When we replaced our bedroom television with Tarma, the machine’s primary selling point was her TV tuner card and WinXP Media Center Edition. Aside from some general instability issues – attributed to heat, generally flaky operating system, and possibly issues with the Gateway motherboard – the box has served us quite faithfully.

I tell it, “record Good Eats!” and lo, Good Eats is recorded.

The only problem with this whole idyllic situation is that it isn’t. Each half-hour episode of the show occupies roughly 1.5-1.8 gig of space. But, Ammon! Don’t you complain about half-hours taking up more than 175mb? That’s right. Any good mpeg4 codec should be able to achieve under 400mb/hour of watchable goodness. Therein lies the problem. MCE does not record in a good mpeg4 codec.

Windows Media Center saves its files with an MS-DVR extension. These files are in reality not very different than MS’s previous wrapper formats ASF and WMV (some extra meta-data is included I think, but that’s about it). So, what I really get is some WM9 encoded cruft that is completely unwieldy.

I can’t edit the stuff nicely, and I can’t even export it into a better wrapper format conveniently – since WMV really seems to dislike being stuffed into AVI’s in my experience. If I was happy with the Windows Media format, I could probably turn the quality setting down on the DVR software and see a dramatic decrease in file size – but I am still guessing that they’d be giving me 300-500mb episodes, and that just won’t do.

So, we need to get the files out of that vile MS-DVR format first. I seem to have two options when it comes to this. First, the .NET platform naturally supports all of their wrapper formats so writing something that converts this wierd wrapper into something slightly more friendly (WMV) is trivial. People have done this, and I am currently employing a moderately unreliable program that cunches my episodes down to 400mb and wraps them in an WMV file.

My second option would be preferrable if I could argue the thing into working. MPlayer has support for the wrapper format. However, when I try to play a video, I get this:

As per the MPlayer guys’ instructions, I have investigated the filter that Windows uses on the thing and get this:

CyberLink Video/SP Decoder

The codec status page doesn’t list this as being a supported format. So… I think I am going to be checking the mailing list archives a bit and then submitting a feature request 😉

Anyways, so MPlayer isn’t an option and I’m suffering with DVR2WMV. I could write my own version of the DVR conversion utility, but I doubt I would get any substantial gain out of it – the only thing I could possibly do is try to figure out how to go directly to an mpeg4 AVI file or something.

Oh well, so I have 400mb WMV’s floating around. There are precious few programs that are able to get stuff out of WMV format. The one I am using right now is Blaze Media Pro. It seems to be doing the job well enough. My stack of large WMV’s is rapidly turning into a stack of XviD encoded AVI’s that only occupy 210-270mb.

Here is my current stumbling block. I would REALLY love to be able to turn them into Ogg files. Vorbis is an incredibly wonderful audio format and I enjoy the patent-free wrapper format as well… but this is apparently not meant to be.

In order to make these files into XviD/Vorbis encoded OGM bundles of joy, I would have to re-encode the video yet again (for those of you who are counting, that would make a grand total of 4 re-compressions). This is probably tollerable since I am starting at such a high quality (80,000kbps) video to start with, but it irks me.

Sigh, I think I just might have to go ahead and settle for that, since I am going to have to edit BlazeMP’s output files anyways if I want to trim the credits and commercials (dropping episode duration down to 20:45 and filesize down to under 150mb). Normally, I would just have Avidemux output a new file without actually re-encoding things (it would just skip the parts I cut out and regenerate the keyframe index). But for some reason that is a just beyond the horizon of my knowledge on this subject, the files that they are outputting break when I try to do this.

I wonder if I should go all out, crop the edges, and shrink the frames a tad – from 640×480 to 512×384? I could probably get episodes that are perfectly watchable full screen and take up less than 100mb each. I think I will try just that.