PDA

View Full Version : Any simplified utility for extracting and converting video?



RJacobson
06-14-2003, 06:10 PM
Hi all,

I finally installed a TurboNet card on my Philips Series 1 standalone TiVo. My main goal with it was to use it to transfer MPEG's to my PC, and thus basically use the PC as a second TiVo. (A poor man's Home Media Option.)

I've been playing with both TyStudio and TyTool. Although they work, I have to say that neither is particularly user-friendly for newbies like me. Both programs seem more complex (in both user interface and options) than is necessary for many users, and it hasn't been fun trying to get either set up and working.

Has anyone considered building a "lite" version of either TyStudio or TyTool that offers a more streamlined interface? It would be great if it could be as elegant as TiVo itself -- something simple enough for Mom to use. From my perspective, a great utility could consist of just the following:

1. A selectable list of all shows available in Now Showing. (Ideally, the list should be automatically populated when the application loads, without using a "connect" button.)

2. A "Download" button that extracts the video and converts it to MPEG in a single pass. When the button is clicked, there should be a dialog box that prompts for the destination directory and the conversion format. The format options should have defaults that are fairly basic -- e.g., "DVD format," "Video CD format," "Windows Media Player format."

3. A progress bar that shows the status of the downloading/extraction (like TyStudio), without any verbosity.

4. A simplified Windows installer that automatically installs and registers the necessary server files on the TiVo. (I assume this could be done through DOS-based telnet and FTP commands.)

I really appreciate all the work that people have contributed to programs like TyStudio and TyTool, so please don't take this as a flame. I just think it would be great to have a utility that was a little less "hardcore."


Thanks,
Robert Jacobson

Fugg
06-14-2003, 06:42 PM
I'll give this a shot, as it relates to TyTool7r3, anyway.....

"1. A selectable list of all shows available in Now Showing. (Ideally, the list should be automatically populated when the application loads, without using a "connect" button.)"

Using TyTool, you have to start the server on the tivo via a telnet session. I really like it this way, as I only want the server running when I'm extracting vids and I can see it's status via the telnet window, but I guess I can see your point. On the TyTool windows app, the "Refresh" button will get the list from the server and display it.

"2. A "Download" button that extracts the video and converts it to MPEG in a single pass. When the button is clicked, there should be a dialog box that prompts for the destination directory and the conversion format. The format options should have defaults that are fairly basic -- e.g., "DVD format," "Video CD format," "Windows Media Player format.""

In TyTool, it's there.

The "destination directory" is the directory that's in the "Local Dir" box at the top of the TyTool window. If you want all of your mpegs in the "C:\Vids" directory, put "C:\Vids" in the box. Simple as that.

The "format options"? Click on "File" then put a checkmark on "Multiplex Mode" under "Network Options". This has TyTool outputting complete mpeg files, ready to go. You want them in "SVCD" format? Click on "Options" then put a check mark next to "VCD/SVCD Mux Output" and your outputted mpeg files will be muxed to the VCD/SVCD standard(?). DVD format? Heck, follow the directions in the sticky's to have TyTools output a complete dvd directory structure with simple menus. But, we're going way past simple with a dvd, don'cha think?;)

"3. A progress bar that shows the status of the downloading/extraction (like TyStudio), without any verbosity."

Heay, whacha' got against verbosity???;)

"4. A simplified Windows installer that automatically installs and registers the necessary server files on the TiVo. (I assume this could be done through DOS-based telnet and FTP commands.)"

To install:

Unzip archive into the directory of your choice. Copy server and NowShowing.tcl to the tivo. Run programs.

Hummmm.... Don't seem too hard.....

I'm kinda poking fun at you here, I hope you don't mind. But you REALLY should have seen what we had to go through a couple of years ago to do this. Every release is makeing it eaiser.

Actually, the 7th of this month was the 2 year anniversary of the first public release of "Extractstream". (God Bless You, nickhull, wherever you are!!) Ya wanna learn to use netcat or set up a tivo samba client? Now THAT was "Hard Core", but it damn sure was interesting!!

:)

edit:
OK guys, don't laugh at me for refering to "learn to use netcat or set up a tivo samba client" as hard core, but come on .....
He want's an extraction tool that Mom can use!;)

RJacobson
06-14-2003, 09:28 PM
Thanks for your quick response, Fugg. Believe me -- I can appreciate just how far this has come. While searching for extraction resources, I came across some "easy 19 step guides" to extracting/converting files the old way, using FTP/Telnet etc.... it sounded like it could take hours just to download one Simpsons episode. :)

But now that these technical issues have mostly been overcome, why not consider improved usability? TyTools can certainly get the job done, but can you honestly say that its user interface is easy to understand? (I don't mean to pick on TyTools, but I'm just responding to your examples.)

-- A mux? What the heck is a mux? Why should the user care?Likewise, what is "multiplex mode"? (And why place it under "network options," which makes it sound like a TCP/IP option?) If the user picks the wrong option (or doesn't pick any option, as I did the first time around) he'll waste 20 minutes downloading an unusuable file.

-- Easy install? The current TyTool 7r3 archive has seven different executable files, two versions of NowShowing.tcl, and five "readme" files." (However, none of the readme's explains how to install NowShowing.tcl.) If the user gets past those issues, he'll have to be comfortable with Telneting and FTPing to a Linux box. It's not rocket science, of course, but if the installation can be simplified to a one-click installation package, why not?

-- Why should the user know or care whether the server is running? It would be simple for an application to send a telnet command to TiVo to start the server when the application starts, and to stop the server when the application exits. These are the sort of details that the user shouldn't have to worry about.

-- What's up with the weird menu structures?

Just for way of background, I'm a full time Windows application developer (C#/VB.Net.) I'm not opposed to complex interfaces, but I also believe in the principle of "Keep it simple, stupid" -- never make something more complex than it needs to me, or assume too much knowledge on the part of your users. :)

The existing extraction programs work, but they seem more cumbersome than they need to be. If they can be simpler to use, why not make them so?

Fugg
06-15-2003, 12:05 AM
I'll tackle the rest tomorrow and take a little mystery out of what you've got, but for now....


"The existing extraction programs work, but they seem more cumbersome than they need to be. If they can be simpler to use, why not make them so?"

The authors of the extraction tools have spent the greatest portion of their time making sure that we get good files out, even when the input ty files are hosed up pretty bad.

Another hurdle has been the internal muxing, which is the joining of the audio and video stream "elementals" while keeping a/v sync.

Not to mention the simple editing functions that each tool has built in these days.

While were at it, let's not forget the work and reverse engineering that has gone into figuring out how to get good "dvd ready" files out of the mess that is a dtv transport stream.

Why has the work been concentrated on these items and not a clean and simple user interface that even grandma can use?

Because that's not what the majority of folks here have been asking for. Not by any strech of imagination.

We want good, clean, quality files that we can do anything we want with and not run into compatability problems. And, by god, we're almost there.

TyTool has been around for not even a half a year now. And keep in mind, all the development on it has been a one man job!!!!!! (he want's to do it that way, and his work is too good for anyone to argue with him)

Realisticly speaking, TyStudio has just begun development. Which is, btw, a gpl'd open source project.

This has left very little time to deal with a user interface. We really have not seen the end of either set of tools, and if you want to help, I'm sure the TyStudio developers would love to have someone working on the interface for the project.

Please dude, don't fuss at the mechanic who is building you a car that even now before it's finished will run a mile in 6 seconds just because you have to open the door with a screwdriver!;)

So give 'em some time, they've just gotten started. If you can't wait, step up and help!!

:D

lmurray
06-15-2003, 09:33 AM
Originally posted by Fugg
I'll give this a shot, as it relates to TyTool7r3, anyway.....

--cut--

edit:
OK guys, don't laugh at me for refering to "learn to use netcat or set up a tivo samba client" as hard core, but come on .....
He want's an extraction tool that Mom can use!;)

From someone that has used those tools... you're right. --AND--
you forgot the 6-8 hours to transcode the video to the format you really want....

And... BTW, my wife can pull video from the damn tivo. Tytools IS that easy. Just get a workflow down, and go.

-lloyd-


P.S. Can I get tytools to allow me to drag a show to my burner and have it burn on the fly ?

:)

RJacobson
06-15-2003, 02:06 PM
Point taken Fugg. As I emphasized in the first post, I appreciate all of the hard work that went into making these various tools. I'm not trying to criticize -- just offer some thoughts to improve the end-user experience.

If jdiner wants a hand with the user interface, I'll gladly offer it. I'm not a C++ coder (I assume that he's using that for TyTool), but it would be fairly trivial to code a front-end in C# that hooked into the core through COM. Otherwise, I might play with the TyStudio code. I can be reached via e-mail at rjacobson_at_oddpost_dot_com.