Video Recording With My PC : Initial Thoughts

I got my PVR-150 TV Tuner card in the mail on Friday, and spent all last night and this morning working with it. I do have to say that I really like the Media Center software that comes included with the Vista Home Premium OS. It was really easy to use and setup my PVR card. I didn’t bother installing the 3rd-party software that was supplied with the Tuner card (probably junk, anyways). What’s really cool, is that the Media Center software has provisions for a program guide which it downloads from the Internet nightly. I can very easily select individual programs (or series) to record and it does so all in the background.

Note, that Media Center stores the recordings as DVR-MS files, which is a derivative of the MPEG2 format. Unfortunately, the Windows Encoder 9 Software that I’ve been using to convert files to WMV format for my Zune can’t handle that format, so I needed to find another way to convert the recorded video files. Luckily, I stumbled across a freeware application called DVRMSToolbox which does exactly what I need. It’s not the easiest program to set up, but after some configuring this is what I can do with it:

  • The Toolbox software will automatically monitor my “Recorded TV” folder, and for all new files that are generated the Tuner Card it will convert from DVR-MS to WMV format (using my Zune .prx profile file).
  • Toolbox will also automatically enter the meta data for the TV show (taken from the online program guide). This means the show title, episode name, text description, etc. are all included in the WMV file!
  • Toolbox will then move the WMV file to my Zune video sync folder, so the next time I sync my Zune it will have my new TV Show files.
  • All temp files that are created are automatically cleaned up and deleted.

I’ve got all of this working now, except I’m having a small problem with the converted video. The top of my video has a 2-pixel tall line of noise that changes in color, and it’s quite distracting. I need to find a way of clipping it out during the conversion, or maybe use a different converter inside of Toolbox. I’m investigating this now, and hopefully can find a good answer. If I do, then I’m all set with my automated system of getting recorded TV shows on my Zune!

After I’ve fully tested this procedure and setup, I’ll create a page on this blog that describes how I set up my system so others can learn from my success and mistakes!

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[Update 24 Feb 08]: I’ve been messing around with the DVRMSToolbox (DTB) for the last few days, and I still can’t find a way to easily crop the top 2 pixel lines from my processed video using their built-in utilities. It seems that I get this noise at the top edge of my video only on some recorded channels. To get around this, I wrote a DOS batch file that runs Windows Media Encoder 9 to process my video and crop out the top two pixel lines. It all works well, and best of all automatically! Here’s what it does:

  • The DTBWatcher utility runs in the background as a service and monitors my “Recorded TV” folder.
  • When a newly recorded video file (in DVR-MS format) appears in the monitored folder, DTB kicks off and processes a set of commands which do the following:
    • Searches and removes all commercials
    • Converts commercial-free video file from DVR-MS to MPEG2 format (very quick, since DVR-MS is basically MPEG2 format)
    • Runs an external DOS batch file that I created that uses Windows Media Encoder 9 to convert the MPEG2 file to WMV format (using my zune profile prx file)
    • Migrates the Metadata from the original DVR-MS file over to the newly created WMV file.
    • Moves the WMV file over to my Zune sync folder.
    • Cleans up all temp files, etc.

The auto commercial cutting is really a cool feature (I still need to view a few of the final WMV files to check that it works properly), and also the merging of metadata from the DVR-MS file to the WMV file is a time saver (this means I don’t need to use TigoTago or DSharpie to enter in all the TV Show info such as Title, Episode, Description, Date, etc.). All I do now, is select which shows I want to record in Windows Media Center and let DTB automatically do the rest.

Note, that DTB has a program called DVD2WMV that can convert the DVR-MS file to WMV format very effectively, but I have to use my DOS batch file with WME9 to crop out the 2-pixel line (a real overkill).

As I mentioned, once I work with this a while and get everything worked out, I’ll make a new page on this blog explaining how I did all this and provide links to other valuable resources that I discovered.

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4 thoughts on “Video Recording With My PC : Initial Thoughts

  1. Ben says:

    Looking forward to the subsequent post. I’ve been using MCE to get video for my zune, but I prefer to use MCEbuddy due to the simplicity. I keep DVRMS toolbox handy for customized jobs though.

  2. easymacfu says:

    DVRMSToolbox is better if you have a 30gb zune. MCE buddy is better for the 2nd gen zunes and video archiving. This is because DVT uses graphedit to convert to wmv files, which makes it compatible with the zune. MCEbuddy’s wmvs are not compatible with the zune without a reconversion with the zune software. However, the h.264s from mcebuddy are compatible with 2nd gen zunes.

  3. zunetips says:

    MCEBuddy seems easier to use, but DVRMSToolbox has more options and greater flexibility with manipulating the converted files. I especially like the fact that I can “migrate” the meta data from the DVR-MS file to the WMV file.

    If I can only figure out an effective way of removing the 2 pixel noise line at the top of the video image, I’ll be all set. I can do this in Windows Media Encoder, but I’d hate to have to use that to process the WMV file a second time just to get rid of the noise line. I’m thinking I could have DVRMSToolbox convert the DVR-MS file to MPEG2 format, then use the “Run External” option to run a DOS batch file to use WME9 to convert the MPEG2 file to WMV format (and cut the noise line out). That’s a roundabout way of doing it, so I’m still searching for a easier method within DVRMSToolbox.

  4. zunetips says:

    Note: I made a new blog page that discusses how to use DVRMSToolbox for converting DVR-MS video files to WMV format for the Zune. You can view that page here.

    I’ve also resolved the issues of having to use a DOS batch file to remove the top two pixel lines of my video source, which I discuss in this Forum posting.

    If you have a TV Tuner Card, I highly recommend you use Windows Vista Media Center or the GB-PVR software to record TV Shows and process them using the DTb tools.

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