I don’t know how to say this any clearer. MCE Buddy Rocks!. It is free, but they request a donation. I haven’t seen any nag-ware.
If you run Windows Media Center 7 and want to do anything with the TV tuner recorded files, check out MCEBuddy. It does the simple stuff by default. I suppose it will work with older versions of media center too, but cannot confirm that. What is the simple stuff?
Be certain to read the comments for more information. I’ve stopped using MCE Buddy.
- Convert from wtv to dvr-ms | you need this to do anything with the file. It converts over 20 formats.
- Run comskip on the dvr-ms files and have it output edl, txt and vpjr files. vprj files are good for VideoRedo.
- Convert the resulting file into almost any other video format – xvid, divx, mp4, x264, and others
- It watches directories that you specify (Recorded TV) and places the outputs where you specify (someplace else?)
- It runs as a service, so you need to manage the start/stop/manual/automatic settings in the normal Services panel.
- Controller icon sits in the System Tray
- The installation is trivial.
- The default settings are fine to get started.
- Commercial removal works well for the cheap, free cable channels. Not so good for mid and network channels with the default settings. I still need to figure out how to have different comskip.ini settings for different channels, but I’ve needed to do this for about 4 yrs.
A few months ago, I tried to use the more general MSDVRToolbox and failed. The complexity of the toolbox was beyond my desire to figure it out. It appears it can do anything, but it isn’t trivial to use. MCEBuddy is bonehead simple. I especially like that.
The three settings that I’d recommend changing at this point are
- the checkbox to remove commercials
- the default output format to either h.264 2-pass or mpeg
- in the comskip.ini, set the output_videoredo=1 setting; editing this file means fighting with administrator access – a normal user account doesn’t work.
Converting from .wtv to .drv-ms to .mpeg2 with my tuner does not change the quality of the video. Basically they are all mpeg2, just with a DRM/metadata wrapper around the real mpeg2 video. Any conversion beyond these 3 formats involves transcoding and should be avoided as much as possible. The last step for smaller files should be from mpeg2 with all commercials removed to h.264 using a 2 pass encode.
There are different downloads for the x32 and x64 versions of MCEBuddy. I initially grabbed the wrong version and the installation gave a nice, clear error. All my machines are x64 … except 7MC which is x32 (thanks to Microsoft for the free copy).
My Windows7 Media Center setup includes:
- Core 2 Duo CPU
- 2GB RAM
- 250GB HD most files are moved to a storage server after processing
- Win7 Ultimate includes Media Center with free schedule data thanks to MS
- Hauppauge 950Q USB ClearQAM TV Tuner
- About 100+ clearQAM channels over cable
- MCE Buddy
- VideoRedoPlus to validate commercial locations, cut them with single frame accuracy then output smaller mpeg2 files This program is the best $49 I’ve ever spent.
- mencoder to convert from mpeg2 files to xvid and x264 in the future
That’s it. I’m a noob using MCEBuddy so there are probably things I’m missing, like how to keep the intermediate dvr-ms files. It isn’t perfect, but it is the best solution set that I’ve found.
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