I recently purchased a Hauppauge PVR-150 TV Tuner card for my PC to record TV Shows. Since I have Windows Vista Home Premium, the Vista Media Center (VMC) software was included. VMC saves recordings in DVR-MS format (a container for the standard MPEG2 format), and I can easily replay videos inside of VMC. But how can I convert these recordings to WMV format for my Zune? Unfortunately, VMC doesn’t have any provisions for creating WMV files, so I needed to find an alternative method for getting recorded TV shows on my Zune.
Luckily, I stumbled upon a wonderful freeware utility called DVRMSToolbox, which was designed for processing DVR-MS formatted files. Typically, people use DVRMSToolbox (DTb) for automatically editing out commercials and conversion to MPEG2, or other video formats. It has similar functionality to the software called ZuneTVWatcher, but DTb has much more capabilities and can be configured to do multiple tasks.
DTb uses defined “actions” to do certain operations on DVR-MS files, such as:
- Scan through a DVR-MS file using 3rd-party applications (ComSkip and ShowAnalyzer) to identify commercials
- Cut out commercials from the DVR-MS file
- Convert DVR-MS file to a different video format (e.g., MPEG2, WMV, AVI, etc.)
- Merge meta data from original DVR-MS file to the edited DVR-MS file or converted WMV file
What’s nice, is all of this can be done automatically. DTb has a “watcher” service that runs in the backgound and monitors a defined PC folder (usually the folder that Vista Media Center stores recordings) and when it finds a completed recording it begins to process it based on certain parameters that you define. This is very handy, since it eliminates the need to manually edit or convert recorded video files.
Since my main goal is to have DTb process my new recordings such that I can watch them on my Zune 80, so I created a profile set for DTb to do the following:
- Automatically detect new recordings in the C:\TV Recordings folder and begin the processing steps
- Identify all commercials in the DVR-MS file
- Cut out commercials from the DVR-MS file
- Convert the DVR-MS file to WMV format (using a Windows Media Encoder .prx profile file that I defined)
- Merge the MetaData from the original DVR-MS file to the newly created WMV file
- Move the WMV file over to my Zune sync folder
- Copy the edited DVR-MS file (commercial-free) to my 2nd hard-drive in the E:\PVR_Recordings
- Delete all temp files that are created in this process
All of the above happens automatically, so I just need to sync my Zune to my Desktop PC in the morning and I have all of previous day’s TV shows on my Zune. Since the MetaData for the TV shows are automatically merged to the newly created WMV files, you don’t need to use a MetaData editor (like TigoTago or dSharpie) to manually enter the show title, description, etc. Everything is handled automatically which is absolutely wonderful!
I’ve also set up certain process conditions in DTb which will process recordings differently based on certain criteria. For example, I want most recorded TV shows to be converted to WMV format and moved to my Zune sync folder, but for some TV shows (such as the Max and Ruby cartoon) I want DTb to cut out the commercials and save the edited DVR-MS file in a different folder on my PC. Again, all of this is being done automatically so I don’t need to spend time pretending to be a video editor.
Installation and Setup
The actual installation is very straightforward. You simply download the latest version available on the http://www.babgvant.com web site (note, there’s a different version for the Vista and XP Operating System). After the installation, you’ll find four application links in your Start Menu:
- DVRMSFileWatcher – This application launches a background process that monitors the a defined folder for new recordings.
- DVRMStoMPEGSettings – A user-friendly interface for setting various parameters for the DTb application.
- DVRMStoMPEGGUI – This is a user-friendly interface that allows you to manually process selected files or files in a specified folder. Very useful when creating and debugging custom profiles.
- ProcessConditionEditor – A utility to create various process conditions which defines how specific video files are processed.
On my Vista System, the FileWatcher application was already running as a background service after I installed DTb, so I didn’t need to start this application manually.
The DVRMStoMPEGSettings‘ Toolbox tab is the location where you will find predefined “profiles” (which contain “actions” to do video processing) to do various things like cut out commercials, convert to MPEG2 format, etc. You can either use these predefined profiles as-is, or use them as a basis to create your own custom profiles. Examining the contents of the various profiles is a good way to learn how they work and what you can do with DTb. To save everyone time, I’m posting my custom DTb profile at the bottom of this page for download. All you need to do is take this profile file (cutcommtozunewmv.dpc) and copy it to the c:\Program Files\DVRMSToolbox\profiles folder on your system. You can then start up the DVRMStoMPEGSettings application and find it listed here:
If you open this profile for editing, you’ll see the following actions defined:
It all should be self-explanatory, where you can edit some of the obvious folder locations to match what’s on your system. If you select the “Convert DVR-MS file to WMV using DVD2WMV” action and click the “Configure” button you will see that I’m using the zune_profile.prx file to define the WMV file’s video size, bit rates, etc. (the same .prx file I used with Windows Media Encoder 9).
For DTb to find this file, you’ll need to download it (from the link at the bottom of this page) and copy it to the C:\Program Windows\DVRMSToolbox\prx folder on your system.
The File Watcher tab is where you define settings for the FileWatcher monitoring service. In my case, I used the default settings as they all appeared to be applicable.
For the last three tabs I left everything as-is using the default settings.
The DVRMSToMPEGGUI application is a user-friendly interface to manually process video files. To do so, under the “Process File” tab you can select the DVR-MS input file, define an output file, and pick which profile you want to use (see image below).
When you initiate the processing, you will see various output being displayed in the windowed area. Once the processing is completed, you should see a popup dialog box asking if you want to save the log file. Similarly, you can convert all files in a specified folder under the “Process directory” tab.
Finally, there’s the ProcessConditionEditor application which allows you to defined different conditions to be checked regarding a to-be processed video file, and use a specific profile based on the conditional test.
For example, I adjusted the “Every File” condition to process all video files except those with the show title containing the word “Ruby” using my special Zune profile called “Cut Commercials, Zune WMV” (image below):
The next condition called “No Zune Conversion” will process video files that contain the word “Ruby” using the special profile called “DF Cut Commercial, save MPEG to Alex Folder”.
The conditions are processed from the top down, so once a condition is identified as a match the video file is processes only using that particular profile. So the order in which the conditions are listed is important.
The instructions that I provided may seem a bit complicated, but if you set up everything as I described it should work for you. You might need to adjust some of the different file folder locations to match your system, but most of the defaults in DTb matched my system perfectly.
It certainly is worth the effort to spend 1 or 2 hours getting everything setup since it will undoubtedly save you many hours in the future for having to manually process videos for your Zune.
You can download the DTb profile I used above as well as the Zune .prx file here.
Related Reference Links
In my description above, I covered just enough information so you can get DTb set up on your system for processing video files for your Zune. For more details on how you can use DTb for other tasks, you can check out these links:
Note, that the developer of DTb is very active in it’s development. I had a few questions regarding various actions, and the developer promptly responded to all of my questions on his forum.