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Record and playback high definition TV signals System
Want to enjoy HDTV, but haven't forked over the $21,999 for that 82'' LCOS Rear Projection HDTV yet? (Or even know what the heck that is!). Fear not, because with just about any Panther-capable Macintosh, you can enter the world of high definition recording and playback without breaking the bank... or buying a single new piece of hardware!

This 21st Century Holy Grail comes in the form of a recent FCC regulation requiring all cable companies to provide a Firewire-enabled Cable box to any customer who asks. (Yes, some government agencies are still on our side after all!) This law went into effect April 1st, and by now most Cable companies have complied.

Unlike regular TV, you cannot record HD with an analog VCR -- or even a standard issue Tivo. You must have a Firewire connection ... the very same Firewire that ships on every modern Mac. (bet you see where this is headed). You have the Mac, now all you need is the cable box and a pair of free programs: VirtualDVHS for recording, and VLC for playback!

Step 1 - Get the Cable Box!

If you have cable, your first step involves calling your provider and requesting a new "Firewire capable" or "IEEE 1394 enabled" HDTV cable box. Even if you don't own an HDTV, all these boxes have S-video out and work perfectly with regular TVs. Most cable companies charge a nominal monthly fee for the box, and provide local stations in high defenition for free (this is the only cost involved). For example, I am on Time Warner Cable, and I pay about $8.00 extra per month, which includes PBS, NBC, ABC, CBS and Discovery HD Theater. Plus, if you subscribe to any premium station, like HBO or Showtime, that price includes the high definition version!

Once your provider delivers the box, you just need a Firewire cable long enough to reach your Mac. Any Firewire cable (with the right connectors) will do. I actually used one of Apple's dainty-thin white iPod Firewire cables, and it worked like a charm when run to my Aluminum 15" PowerBook.

Step 2 - Get the Recording Software

VirtualDVHS. Remember that name! A free little piece of software that you can find in two different places. If you have the Developer Tools, VirtualDVHS comes in the Firewire SDK, available at Apple Developer Connection.

Far more conveniently, ninjamonkey provides a (very slightly) modified stand-alone version of VirtualDVHS [305KB download]. You probably won't notice any changes to the program, but not having to dig through a bunch of developer tools make this my favorite option for download.

Step 3 - Run the Recorder

You can follow the instructions on ninjamonkey's site, but since the software is really a developer example (not even beta quality), pay attention to these few pointers. First, create a new folder to store the recorded files into. Drag and drop this folder onto the D-VHS icon. You MUST do that drag and drop step, or your recordings will inexplicably fail. While presenting a somewhat daunting interface, just pay attention to the transport controls on the top right. The biggest trick is selecting the correct Firewire Channel for input. Most cable boxes will transmit on channel 63 (that's the "broadcast channel"). Also try channels 0 and 1 if 63 fails. To see if your channel works, just press the record button, and the "Bitrate" field takes off ... along with the recorded file size!

Step 4 - Playback

One word: VLC. Even if you don't plan to watch HD content, get the VideoLan Client. It rocks (beside the fact that it's free and open source)! AFAIK, VLC is the only client that can replay full-resolution high definition content in transport stream format -- what you get from VirtualDVHS.

If you're one of the lucky few and have an HDTV with a Firewire port, you can also use VirtualDVHS to play back directly to the TV. Just select the file, and use the transport controls on the left side of the interface. It's that easy!

A Few Caveats

Some cable companies encrypt HD content for copy protection. I put this caveat first because it's the biggest. Basically, if the content is encrypted, you cannot play it back. However, it's illegal for Cable companies to encrypt broadcast stations. So at the very least, you can record NBC, CBS, ABC, WB, UPN and PBS. If those are encrypted, a quick call (or two) to your cable provider should take care of it. If you're lucky, you will get subscription content like HBO in the clear ... but enjoy it while it lasts, because all Cable companies WILL implement copy protection sooner or later!

Now just a few notes on a bit more mundane issues...
  • HDTV basically comes in two resolutions: 1920x1080 and 1280x720. PBS, and most sporting events show at in 1280x720 (known as 720p). HBO, Shotime and broadcast stations like NBC and ABC use 1920x1080 (1080i). The Tonight Show was one of the first programs broadcast in HD, and if you're looking for a good test, that's your best bet.

  • VirtualDVHS stores files in MPEG2 Tranport Stream format. In the Windows world, this has an extension of ".ts" rather than the ".m2t" that VirtualDVHS uses. Transport Stream differs from standard MPEG2 files, like decrypted DVD (known as Program Stream), because it's packetized for transmission over a network.

  • HDTV recordings get huge. HUGE! Suffice it to say these constitute the largest single files I've ever worked with -- or seen!

  • Last but not least ... You MUST store your recordings on an HFS+ formatted volume. UFS has a 4GB limit to file size, while standard HFS is similar (2GB I believe). Plain and simply, anything over 15 minutes will overflow this limit. For example, my copy of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones clocks in at 12GB. And that's not even my biggest file!
Recording HD content has been one of the coolest things I've ever done on my Mac! It's awesome, and if you're friends don't have Mac envy yet, wait till they see a movie playing back on your G5 at 1920x1080 resolution!
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Record and playback high definition TV signals | 72 comments | Create New Account
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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: dave@mmu on Apr 28, '04 12:25:47PM

Oh and live in the US of A of course! No such luck for us brits!

Dave

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Dave L



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Record and playback high definition TV signals. UK workaround (sorta)
Authored by: ibroughton on Apr 29, '04 03:03:24AM

I agree, once again we lag so far behind the technology availible in the US. I can't even begin to imagine a company like Sky or NTL providing firewire enabled boxes in this country! The easiest way I have found to rip programs in the UK (Lets face it, that's basically what this hint is) is to get a stand alone DVD recorder and record direct from your provider (Don't do it via a Tivo because the multiple layers of compression make for bad picture quality) then use something like DVDxDVPro to extract it onto your Mac. I know this is slightly off topic, but it's the best us Brits are going to get for a while I think!

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The server is up but the site is down and I don't know which direction you are trying to go



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Record and playback high definition TV signals. UK workaround (sorta)
Authored by: el bid on Apr 30, '04 05:06:50AM

> I agree, once again we lag so far behind the technology
> availible in the US.

Eh? FreeView? DAB? GSM? The BBC and its Audio Webcasting?



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el bid



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Record and playback high definition TV signals. UK workaround (sorta)
Authored by: ibroughton on May 14, '04 06:54:01AM

Yes, like I said, far behind.

Freeview = The third reincarnation/rehash of failed OnDigital/ITVDigital
DAB = Radio where the quality of signal is so dire (if you live outside of say, London) you might as well pick up an old transistor radio instead, and there is virtually 0% support for Mac users.
Audio webcasting = Streaming audio, not exactly difficult in this day and age.
Not exactly advanced now is it? Please be serious, we can't even get proper support for Tivo in this country. How much further ahead is the US in this technology? Answer is.... LOTS.

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The server is up but the site is down and I don't know which direction you are trying to go



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Record and playback high definition TV signals. UK workaround (sorta)
Authored by: tkld on Jul 16, '04 04:47:53AM

What about El Gato's Eye TV 400?

http://www.elgato.com/index.php?file=products_eyetv400

Freeview receiver with firewire connection (not USB). Proper timeshifting of anamorphic widescreen digital TV.

Think you need to subscribe to TVTV's web service to get the full effect, perhaps this will change when Freeview finally start broadcasting the 7 day EPG for the whole country instead of just test regions.

Not sure if it has a smart card slot to get TopupTV's pay service as well (but their channels are all pants anyway :-)



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: el bid on Apr 30, '04 04:27:41AM

Yup, I often think our US cousins read "World Wide Web" as meaning, geez, it stretches all the way from San Francisco to New York. This submission could usefully have begun "Here in the States, if you want to enjoy HDTV..." etc.

Here in the UK, we have FreeView. I have a Nebula USB box (http://www.nebula-electronics.com) on my network (admittedly, it needs to be attached to a Windows machine), recording transmission-stream digital TV. Stuff I want to keep gets edited and crunched with XviD, and so can be viewed right across the network on pretty much any operating system. A FreeView box is a one-off purchase (entry level is about GBP40.00 these days, and the Nebula box is in the area of GBP120.00, including a very classy remote control.)

The Nebula box can steam over the networks, but ATM only to another Windows machine. I haven't yet managed to persuade VLC on the Mac to run the Nebula-recorded transmission stream, in realtime or recorded -- I've reported this to the Nebula folks. In any case, they tell me that an upcoming version of the (frequently updated) Nebula software will be able to record in programme stream MPEG2, which should make this work.

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el bid

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el bid



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how to transcode m2t files?
Authored by: lateplate on May 07, '04 06:48:01PM

i saw a previous comment from rtucker that say to transcode the ts format to ps format, and then squash it down into another format. has anyone had any luck with this? can someone provide the command to perform the transcode process? thanks!

also, thanks to pie for the little hint with playback with vlc...had the same problem, and it did the trick



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G3 B&W VirtualDVHS Crash
Authored by: eac1218 on Jun 11, '04 09:30:23PM

Has anyone else run into the problem where VirtualDVHS crashes a G3 B&W? I have two G3 B&Ws a ver 1 and ver 2 motherboard, and both exhibit the same problem. You launch the application, and it loads, but when it looks for devices the system locks up and requires a hard reboot.



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G3 B&W VirtualDVHS Crash
Authored by: daylight28 on Aug 13, '04 07:02:13AM

i think you would need a AGP card which g3 and early g4s do not have. you can't incode mpeg 2 with out an agp card so i read with other apple software (dvd studio pro,FCP, etc)



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G3 B&W VirtualDVHS Crash
Authored by: xpander on Aug 20, '04 08:03:48PM

That's bull. The guy that has the modified app ran it on a beige g3 266, which either has a 2mb or 4mb built in video card, or a PCI alternative. So I imagine that a B&W (which i have, and does not crash) would be able to run it.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: yubbie2 on Apr 28, '04 12:28:52PM

Cox communications (out here in Phoenix AZ) charges an additional $10/month for the HD box, and although they don't "support or recommend" the firewire connection, they do offer it. They suggest using the DVI connection instead - even though it only transmits video, not audio!!

The woman I spoke with had *no* clue what I was talking about, so you might have better luck speaking with a tech support rep - he knew right away what I was going for.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: junebug172 on May 01, '04 04:18:36PM

Did you get your setup to record?



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: interesting123 on Jul 02, '08 04:28:57PM
This problem comes up from time to time--watching versus recording. Here's how to just watch it.

Quote:
QUESTION for my fellow AVers. What if I simply want to watch live TV via firewire on my mac? Does anyone know of any software that will display the current stream?
Try the following modified version of AVCBrowser in conjunction with VLC.

http://www.yanoweb.com/AVCBrowser_2_2.zip

Get a copy of VLC and copy it to your Applications folder.
Run AVCBrowser.
Find the source device in the AVCBrowser window, and open the device control panel.
"Open" the device using the upper-right button in the device control window.
Select the "Panel" tab on the device control window.
Push the "Start Viewer" button.
Watch TV.
You can use the other Panel control buttons to change the channel on the source device, etc.

What AVCBrowser does is:
Launch VLC and have it listen on a particlar UDP port.
Makes a connection to the source device's firewire output, and starts receiving a stream.
Opens an IP socket on the local-node/port.
Streams the data over to VLC.

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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: paseng on Apr 28, '04 12:29:35PM

What if you have a big screen with a built in tuner and a fire wire port on it? Can you attach your mac to that and record the output? Its a Mitsubishi HDTV.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: dreimiller on Apr 28, '04 04:08:15PM
I believe so. Check out this thread from Slashdot last month.

There was also some useful info on this web page (broken link) until recently, but that page is gone now. It is still in Google's cache, however.

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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: EatingPie on Apr 29, '04 10:48:54AM

The short answer to this is... YES!!!!

I have a Mitsubishi, and my first test was with it's internal tuner before I received my cable box.

You must plug the Mac in via Firewire, start up VirtualDVHS, then NetCommand will recognize the device. I set it up and even called it PBOOK. Then you can use NetComand to schedule a recording, and it will even automatically start VirtualDVHS recording!

-Pie

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-Pie
<http://www.storybytes.com>



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Record and playback high definition - Problem with Mitsubishi TV
Authored by: trugel on Sep 25, '04 09:07:59PM

I'm hoping you can help me since you also have a Mitsubishi TV. I was able to record and play HDTV recording all of this week having my Powerbook connected to my Mitsubishi WS55613 tv via firewire. However, tonight it doesn't work. Netcommand recognizes the Powerbook via the firewire connection but when I attempt to play a recorded show from the DVHS application, I get the follwowing error message "The digital link for HDPC (what I have labeled my Powerbook connection to the Mitsubishi) & TV has been disconnected"

Has this happened to you? How did you fix it? Please send me an email to trugel@optonline at your earliest convenience.

I am very excited about being able to record and play back HDTV. I'm hoping you can help me.

Thanks,

Tom Rugel



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: daylight28 on Sep 28, '04 05:08:24PM

i have a toshiba hdtv with built in tuner with firewire, my mac see it but does not recieve any signal from the tv. Help!



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: trugel on Oct 04, '04 11:13:35AM

Does your TV see the Mac? I have a Mistusibhi with a user interface called Netcommand that gives me a listing of all components connected to the TV. Once I connect my Mac the TV asks me to define this new device and then it will show it as an available component. Once the connection is made, I can schedule recording from the TV and record from an off-air antenna to the Mac.

Email me if you have not been able to make this work with Virtual DVHS running on the Mac while connected to your tv. My email address is trugel@optonline.net.

Good luck,

Tom R.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: joemaller on Apr 28, '04 01:08:03PM

Um... wow. I'm calling TWC now.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: phlavor on Apr 28, '04 01:37:10PM

I would like to hear if anyone has tried this with Comcast. The last I heard they would not install a HD box without the presence of an HD set and would not release one to a customer for self installation. Frustrating, considering that their HD box is the only one with 5.1 outputs. Grrrrrr.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: cudaboy_71 on Apr 28, '04 02:36:48PM

i've not yet. but, you can bet i'll be trying it when i get home tonite. i havent ooked at the back of my hd converter since they dropped it off--but i seem to recall only seeing component and svideo ports. i'll be very happy if there is a firewire port. if not, i'll be calling comcast for an upgrade.

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if it aint broke, break it!



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: osxpounder on Apr 28, '04 02:50:13PM

I'll be moving house soon, and if Comcast doesn't want to provide me a Firewire box for my new home, I think I'll just tell them to take their cable and shove it.

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osxpounder



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: MacOSXAddict on Apr 28, '04 03:19:40PM

I'm on Comcrap also. I'll be ordering the HD upgrade this afternoon. I hope it works good with my Dual g5, and 23'HD lcd.

Bob

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Bob



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: cudaboy_71 on Apr 28, '04 07:55:11PM

well, i got home to check my unit. its got a firewire label, but just a blank under the label. i'll have to call tomorrow to see if i can get a firewire enabled box.

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if it aint broke, break it!



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: opalinteractive on Apr 29, '04 06:40:19AM

what about just playback of the firewire input, instead of record/playback,
what would you use?

my guess is either imovie, final cut express ... or some web cam software... would work correct?



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: cudaboy_71 on Apr 29, '04 11:21:01AM

i'm curious what you'd use playback only for with firewire.

the DVI and component outs already provide that feature. do you have some display device that ONLY has firewire inputs?

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if it aint broke, break it!



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Playback Over Firewire
Authored by: EatingPie on Apr 29, '04 02:11:26PM

There's only two ways to playback over firewire.

(1) If your TV has a firewire port on it -- all Mitsubishis, Some Sony's, etc... -- you just connect your Mac, use VirtualDVHS and you're done.

(2) You need an external device that (a) has a Firewire port, (b) can decode MPEG2 TS, and (c) has HD Component video out. Basically, this includes the JVC 30000U and JVC 40000U D-VHS players... and nothing else!

The Cable box is an output-only Firewire, so it will NOT accept Firewire in and decode for you.

-Pie

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-Pie
<http://www.storybytes.com>



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: rtucker on Apr 28, '04 04:49:13PM

I currently have Motorola 5100 STB through Comcast without the firewire port. The customer service rep said it was no problem to upgrade to a box with a firewire port (Moto 6200).

One caveat, they don't stock hdtv boxes in the central office (Lowell, MA), so they are sending a guy around tomorrow to install the box ($15 charge). If it works I'd say it's worth it.

For the record, I already have a Sony HDTV, so I can't comment on their willingness to install the 6200 in a location with only SDTV.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: reeses on Apr 28, '04 05:57:42PM

In my market (Bethesda, MD) the DVR is the same as the HD box, and it includes the fw port and 5.1 audio.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Re: Comcast - Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: macslut on Apr 28, '04 09:26:52PM

I have Comcast cable in Palo Alto, CA. They won't give you a box, they want to come and install it for you, but there was no way I was going to let someone touch my system. The cable guy was cool with just handing me the box and cables. I told him I wouldn't need any help given my background, but he kinda insisted (nicely) on giving me a brief rundown and even gave me a card with his cell phone so I could call him if I had any questions. The quality of the picture varies greatly. Sometimes it looks awesome, while other times the compression artifacts are very noticeable.

I'll be testing with my Mac soon.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: dcottle on May 06, '04 03:47:02PM

I got the box from comcast, it has the firewire ports, they charge an extra $5 a month. They asked if I had an HD TV and I said yes (the computer). I've connected it and tried VirtualDVHS on channels 0, 1, and 63. No luck.



[ Reply to This | # ]
COMCAST: Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: uurf on May 08, '04 07:55:07PM

So I tried Channels 0-63, no luck.

I called Comcast and asked them to "enable my FireWire port" since I had just purchased a HD monitor with a FW interface.

They said OK, and remote reset the cable box. They didn't know which FireWire Channel I could expect to find the signal on.

I'm supposed to wait 5-10 minutes, but so far still no luck on ch. 0, 1, or 63; I'm going to wait until I put my wrist through setting each channel and trying it.



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COMCAST: Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: dcottle on May 11, '04 06:59:12PM

I just got off the phone with Comcast and finally got someone who seemed like they knew what they were talking about. They said I needed the 6200 box, not the 5100, which I have. He had me set the box into diagnostic mode (power button, then select) and looked at a bunch of data confirming I do have 7.07 and one screen with I/O information and he said the firewire is working. So it must be the software end. I'm stuck.



[ Reply to This | # ]
COMCAST: Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: uurf on May 12, '04 05:10:52PM
Last night I tried to record using AV/C Browser enhanced, and was successful. I didn't try VirtualDVHS again, but will later tonight. So my 6200, Comcast in San Jose, works - I was pretty excited.

[ Reply to This | # ]
COMCAST: Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: xgrep on Jul 15, '04 03:45:06PM

I had my Comcast Moto HD box swapped yesterday for a firewire-enabled job, and did manage to get it to work, though for a while I thought I had cooked the firewire ports or something. I could see it in AVCbrowser (channel 0) but not get it in virtualDVHS, then not see it in AVCbrowser even after various reboots and power-offs. But after some combination of diddling I did get it to record reliably (haven't tried to program any timers, though).

All I can say is "awesome (with reservations below)". I had previously successfully used a Samsung SIR-T165 with virtualDVHS, but returned it because I couldn't get enough stations at my location to justify keeping the box (tried too many antenna configurations to describe). With my minimum Comcast subscription (basic service @ $12.60 plus $5 for the HD box), I currently get 8 HD channels (4 SF Bay Area locals plus ESPN, 2 INHD, and Discovery). It's very interesting to see the different bitrates on different channels. Discovery is almost always around 20Mbps while KQED-HD (PBS) is typically around 13Mbps (which it was OTA, too - no surprise). The others vary depending on content being broadcast, a lot of which is just resized SD (and Seinfeld reruns aren't great source to begin with).

Frankly, though, from a practical perspective, using my Mac to timeshift HD isn't wonderful. For one thing, it's nowhere near as convenient as a dedicated box would be (like a DVHS unit). But mainly, disk space is a problem. Even with a 250GB drive, I can't keep much content for very long. I'm seriously considering one of the new 1.6TB drives (Seagate, Lacie), but this is getting to be an expensive habit. And until a blu-ray recorder shows up under the xmas tree, there's no archival possible. But it's progress. Big progress.

By the way, on my 800MHz G4, VLC playback of HD has jumpy video (audio is fine). This is with the internal hard drive. I'm figuring probably an 800MHz G4 is underpowered, but has anyone else seen this and solved it on this (or a slower) processor?

cheers,

x



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: ClarkGoble on Apr 28, '04 02:51:58PM

Anyone know if the Dish HDTV receiver has firewire out on it?



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: RodK on Apr 28, '04 08:06:47PM

It does NOT. I have the Dish 811 and it has every audio/video connector you can imagine, but there's no FireWire port.

As an aside: The Dish 811 is a good system badly in need of a software update. I was assured by Dish tech support that said update should be forthcoming in the next month.



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Dish and Firewire... UGH!
Authored by: EatingPie on Apr 29, '04 02:15:46PM

To make matters worse, the Dish 921 HD-DVR was supposed to have firewire enabled this Spring. Two weeks ago, they cancelled it, and new 921 units ship with the firewire port covered up!

There is a company that hacks the Dish 6000 to include a Firewire port, but it's colossally expensive ($1000 to $2000 total).

<http://www.196time.com>

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-Pie
<http://www.storybytes.com>



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: zgafford on Apr 28, '04 03:26:43PM

Just incase anyone wants to know what the actual law says here it is:

"...To accommodate these interfaces, effective April 1, 2004, upon consumer request, MSOs must provide functional 1394 outputs to HD STBs, either by downloading the necessary software to STBs with existing 1394 ports, or by replacing a deployed HD STB for one which includes 1394. These leased HD STBs must be controllable by a TV or other device equipped with a 1394 port for the tune function, mute function, restore volume function, power on, power off, and status inquiry.  (Under the MOU, the STB will be provided at no additional cost to the customer, but MSOs may charge, as appropriate, for delivery and installation of the new STB.)..."



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: kenandles on Apr 29, '04 11:15:34AM

Doesn't my iMac(17" flat panel) qualify as such a device i have cable tv to it with Eyetv, will comcast not let me have my box because i don't have a HDTV



[ Reply to This | # ]
Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: dustin5 on Apr 28, '04 03:48:41PM

Exactly which FCC ruling made this mandatory? Can you give a link to some more info. Trying to find anything relevant and comprehensible on the FCC website is nearly impossible.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: daveschroeder on Apr 29, '04 01:27:22AM
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-03-225A1.pdf

The actual "law" is Section 304 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, but the above FCC rule action is the actual practical interpretation of that section, and is what says that all cable operators must provide a set top box with 1394 (FireWire) to a customer upon request after 1 April 2004, and by 1 July 2005 all STBs must have 1394 and either HDMI or DVI.

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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: readparse on Apr 28, '04 05:43:42PM

This is a super cool hint, but I was wondering if you MUST have HDTV signal from your cable company to watch TV on your computer. I just picked up a new box today for a completely unrelated reason and it happens to have firewire output, but I have not subscribed to HDTV content. Obviously HD will look better, but is it necessary?

Thanks,
RP



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: gqmacguy on Apr 28, '04 08:35:28PM

Yeah I am wondering the same thing (was just about to post the same question, but then i refreshed). Is it required to have HD to record. I am goin to call TWC - Kansas City- when i get home, but was wondering if it could record other than just HDTV. (also, wouldnt this kinda defeat the purpose of eyeTV??)



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: fool41 on Apr 29, '04 11:46:13AM

Seriously, though, I'm sure it was that one that was also drafted on April 1st.

Anyone remember what day April 1st is?



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: readparse on Apr 29, '04 11:47:11AM

Sure, I'll go ahead and reply to my own comment... as lame as that might seem. Here's the rub. Sure, recording is cool. I actually just want to WATCH my TV on my Mac. Yeah, I could go buy a card, but with a firewire out on my cable box, it makes me think I could hook the sucker up and watch away.

The only reason I don't just try it is because firewire cables ain't the cheapest and I have to buy a 6-pin to 6-pin cable. The only one I have is 6-to-4. Before I spend the $35 or so, I'd be curious about what I'm up against.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: g4zilla on Apr 30, '04 04:40:24AM

I picked up a 15 foot cable for $10.95:
http://www.buyextras.com/6fii13ca15fe.html

Even with $5 shipping, that's still cheap! (Oh, and I use the cable regularly; FW disk mode, hooking up the company Nikon, etc.--no problems!)



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You CAN Record Regular TV (SDTV)... IF...
Authored by: EatingPie on Apr 29, '04 02:22:25PM

You CAN record SDTV (regular TV), but ONLY from digital channels. The statations must be digital in order for them to go out over the firewire port.

Digital stations and HDTV are in the same format coming over the firewire.... MPEG2 Transport Stream. The HD content is just higher resolution, and a lot more data.

-Pie

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-Pie
<http://www.storybytes.com>



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You CAN Record Regular TV (SDTV)... IF...
Authored by: gqmacguy on Apr 30, '04 12:16:23PM

So basically if i have Time Warner Digital Cable, or Everest Digital Cable, i just need to call and request to have a new digital cable box sent out with the firewire option. then i could record non-HDTV programming for personal viewing (i.e., high tech dvr). Hmmmm, DEF something to look into!



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: SAMouzon on Oct 12, '04 06:11:22PM

I simply want to play the signal in real time. The shareware utilities mentioned here are useful for recording and playing back, but don't seem to work for simply viewing. Any idea what might work for viewing? One post suggested iMovie, but that does not work.

Thanks!



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: vansie on Apr 28, '04 07:11:26PM
I've had a DCT 6200 box from Comcast for about 2 months now and have been able to make recordings off it over its firewire connection since I got it. The only thing you have to check for is that the firmware of the box is at least 7.07 and preferably at 7.10. Once that's set, you can record HD (1080i, 720p, 480p) or SD (regular 480i) content alike to any Mac with a firewire connection and the VirtualDHVS software from Apple. You'll also need the AVCBrowser tool that comes with the FW SDK to properly setup the 6200 to record, it involves prepping the proper channel number on the FW bus for VDHVS. You can find all the info and discussion on this thread I started at AVSForum, as well as this more Mac-centric one.

On another note, playback with VLC of 720p or 1080i content is going to need a *hefty* CPU and probably won't play on anything but the latest and greatest G5's. With bitrates anywhere between 11 and 19 mbit, there's a lot of number crunching to be done. If you are lucky enough to have an STB or HDTV with firewire input I would strongly suggest you use that since those devices have built in mpeg2 decoders and they will have no issues playing your recordings back.
The encryption scheme agreed on by all parties involved is called 4C, and is similar in limitations to the HDCP scheme used on DVI connections on cable boxes, DVD players and displays.

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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: tommymontana on May 06, '04 12:03:16PM

i have the dct6200 on comcast (boston) what channel do you set the "recorder" on? how do i upgrade (if i need to) my firmware? thanks in advance.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: asan102 on Apr 29, '04 01:22:34AM

Can you get a firewire box from your satellite provider as well? Or is this only for cable?



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: joshX on Apr 30, '04 06:04:35AM

Try EyeTV from Elgato. There are som missing features in the software but they are working on it.

http://www.elgato.com

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Where I lay my @ there's my home!



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: opalinteractive on Apr 29, '04 06:42:40AM

what about just playback of the firewire input, instead of record/playback,
what would you use?

my guess is either imovie, final cut express ... or some web cam software... would either of these work correct ... is there a more elegant solution?



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: EatingPie on Apr 29, '04 03:14:12PM

Just a few quick answers to some questions raised before....

> "Can you get a firewire box from your satellite provider as well? Or is this only for cable?"

The FCC mandate only applies to cable operators. And to date, no satellite providers have firewire implemented yet. Dish was going to but cancelled it, VOOM has no plans, and I'm not sure what's up with DirectTV.

A company called 169time.com will hack certain Dish and DirectTV equipment to give you firewire out, but the price ain't cheap.

> "what about just playback of the firewire input, instead of record/playback,
what would you use?"

You'd have to go trial / error on this. The new Final Cut HD *may* do this, but that depends on its ability to understand MPEG2 TS data... I would say the same for iMovie as well.

> "The last I heard they would not install a HD box without the presence of an HD set and would not release one to a customer for self installation."

Plain and simple, LIE! Worse thing that can happen, the guy won't install the box. If your installer hooms and haws, just say you're GETTING the HDTV "this week" and wanted the box ahead of time. As long as you've got an S-Video out on the box, it will work with a regular SDTV (though you won't see the HDTV channels).

I am not one for deception, but sometimes hard and fast rules are unfair... I'd only lie if you, the customer, understand that you'll get no support from your provider if something gets horked.

> "The encryption scheme agreed on by all parties involved is called 4C..."

Actually, it's 5C. Also known as DTCP.

Just a little nitpicking. :)

In my area, Time Warner kept referring to "DTCP" and I thought they meant "HDCP." My reply was "Um, that's for DVI, not Firewire." (I always knew it as just "5C") Fortunately, I eventually realized I was wrong and apologized.

Firewire, IEEE 1394, 5C, DTCP, DTLA, DVI, HDCP, HDMI, SA, Moto, MPEG2 TS, MPEG2 PS, SDTV, HDTV...

No. It's not confusing. Not at allllllll..... :)

-Pie

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-Pie
<http://www.storybytes.com>



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: vansie on Apr 29, '04 08:29:19PM

> Actually, it's 5C. Also known as DTCP.

They're so damn close together those keys, eh =P I didn't even notice my typo until later. 5C it is.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: trugel on Dec 18, '04 12:42:56AM

You seem to really know your stuff so I'm hoping you can help.

I have been able to follow this site's instructions and can record from an over-the-air antenna connected to my Mitsubishi firewire equiped tv connected to my powerbook G4. However, I now want to be able to record from my cable box (Cablevision). I have a Scientific Atlanta Explorer 4200 HD. The recorded program is about 1Gig smaller than the programs that I've recorded from the over-the-air antenna and it does not play back correctly (synching, pixalization, data overruns, etc.). Any ideas on how to fix this?

Thanks,

trugel@optonline.net



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: jonahlee on Apr 29, '04 09:00:52PM

My question is what happened to the Firewire SDK. All I see is IP over firewire. Do they not offer the SDK anymore.

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- Jonah Lee



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: rtucker on Apr 29, '04 10:14:16PM
You can grab it from the anonymous ftp site at:

ftp://ftp.apple.com/developer/Development_Kits/XFireWireSDK19e.dmg.bin

You can type

ftp ftp://ftp.apple.com/developer/Development_Kits/XFireWireSDK19e.dmg.bin
in the terminal and it should download.

Alternatively you can try a modified version called AV/C Browser Enhanced that combines the two programs. It works great with my Moto 6200 through Comcast. Had it up and running 30 minutes after the install today. Yay me!

http://home.comcast.net/~macpvr/avcbrowser.html

Now how to edit these huge .m2t files... Anyone know how to transcode to a format that plays in real time on my now "wimpy" 1 GHz 15" Powerbook? Recording works fine to the internal 60 hard drive. The only program I've found is DiVA, but it doesn't handle audio.

http://diva.3ivx.com/

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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: vansie on Apr 29, '04 11:07:59PM

VLC can transcode from TS to PS, which you can then use with something like Diva or alike to squash it down to something smaller. The raw .m2t files that come out of VDVHS do not play well with any of the codecs and compression apps I've tried. So make sure you do a TS to PS first. Incidentally, the only way you will get proper playback on an HD device like an STB or firewire enabled display you'll have to keep the files in their original mpeg2 TS format. Divx or other codecs will not play through them.



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VLC Commands to Transcode?
Authored by: EatingPie on Apr 30, '04 06:33:07AM

I've had really rotten luck trying to transcode the TS to PS via VLC. :)

Can you give a run-thru on what settings you use to accomplish this?

TIA.

-Pie

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-Pie
<http://www.storybytes.com>



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Encryption of HD over cable
Authored by: fredEFF on May 04, '04 01:54:31PM

As the author mentioned, many cable companies are encrypting their HD content for "content protection" purposes. He's wrong, however, when he says that it is illegal to encrypt broadcast stations (NBC, ABC, WB, etc) when carried on cable. This is true for analog cable, but the rules are unclear for digital cable (where all the HD is carried).

This issue is before the FCC right now, thanks in large part to my employer, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). EFF has urged the FCC to apply the same rules to digital cable that apply to analog cable (no scrambling of broadcast programs). Here's a link to EFF's comments to the FCC.

It's no surprise that the MPAA is asking the FCC to require encryption of all HD content over cable. The cable and satellite companies, meanwhile, are urging the FCC to leave the decision up to them.

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VLC Setup
Authored by: EatingPie on May 05, '04 03:01:35PM

Just a little additonal note.

VLC on my 15'' 1.25Ghz PB hosed up the played back 1080i content. I fixed this by going into Preferences, and...

Click "Advanced" (on bottom of window).
Uncollapse "Modules"
Uncollapse "Interface"
Select "macosx"

When the interface appears, select "Use OpenGL" to make sure it's on.

The video now displays correctly on my PB, and I seem to have gotten a speed increase to boot.

-Pie

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-Pie
<http://www.storybytes.com>



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transcode ts to ps with vlc
Authored by: lateplate on May 07, '04 06:49:52PM

thanks pie for this hint...i was having the same problem.

any luck transcoding from ts to ps using vlc? anyone have any helpful hints on how to do this with vlc?



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Useful URL on AVSForum
Authored by: robg on May 10, '04 08:17:33AM
According to an email I received, this thread on AVSForum is where this discussion originated and continued -- it's a long thread with a ton of good info if you're interested in HD recording...

-rob.

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Yeah --- Good Thead!
Authored by: EatingPie on May 10, '04 11:42:42PM

Yep that's where I learned how to do this (until my cable company enacted 5C copy protection and locked me out of all the good stuff).

Keep an eye out for the Time Shifting applescripts that work with VirtualDVHS and the Motorola 6200 Cable Box. I don't have that box, and thought it would make the hint too long (er... too longer!). But based on the positive feedback they received, I definitely recommend these scripts.

-Pie

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-Pie
<http://www.storybytes.com>



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: Zim on Jan 14, '08 05:21:59AM

As others have said, see the AVS forum thread

This subject is more complicated than this hint suggests. TWC (in NC at least) does NOT stream live broadcast out the 1394 port.. you must 1st record to DVR... the act of recording consumes the "copy once" flag (if it is set), and thus you cannot then record it to your Mac as you should be able to (if the streaming feature worked)

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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: borna.houman on Nov 22, '08 11:24:22AM

Hi thanx sooo much. By the way can u use a mini dvi to hdmi adaptor and then use an hdmi cable or do u have 2 use a firewire cable? If you have to use a firewire cable can u send me which one u have 2 use? My email is borna.houman@gmail.com



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Trouble with recording and playing back high definition TV recordings
Authored by: LawrenceW on Dec 10, '08 05:52:46PM

I am having a bit of an issue with recording shows from CBS-HD using VirtualDVHS.

So when it's recording, the Bitrate and Packets are running, but frames, frame rate, H-Res, V-Res stay at 0. But and a m2t file is created and growing in size, roughly 5GB for about 40 minutes. However, once I finish recording and try to open that m2t file in MPEG Streamclip, I get an error message "File open error: can't find video or audio tracks" and some error in VLC... basically the 5GB file will not open.

However, I can record other channels like DiscoveryHD and NBC, and everything runs while it's recording (bitrate, frame, packets... H-Res, V-Res, and Frame Rate are detected.)

Are CBS signals encrypted? I thought it's illegal. Anyone else having similar issues? It only happens for CBS shows.



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Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: washkow on Dec 17, '09 06:14:06AM

I plugged a firewire (the old one that came with the iPod from back in the day) into the cable box and then into both my iMac and MacBook (both with Intels) and opened the AVC Browser. It seems to recognize the box (a time warner cable SA 8300HDC from New York City), and when I go to look at the viewer, it properly opens VLC and gives me a UDP address, and occasionally, when I reset the box or turn it on and then off, it shows me a very very choppy picture for one second, but then it stalls and I am left looking at a static choppy picture. Is something the matter? I have tried this both with cable channels and regular network, both HD and SD. I also know that the computer is able to change channels on the cable box, so something is going on, but no picture. Can I get my computer to at least show the picture? Recording would be awesome too!



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