Life, MPEG Streamclip, QuickTime and all that...

by Erica Sadun

So I'm still working on figuring out how to streamline the process of exporting from EyeTV into iTunes. Yes, in theory, you should only have to click iPod or Export let EyeTV do all the work. A few problems though: (1) I'm running EyeTV under a nonstandard version of the operating system (of which, I cannot say more without the Apple death squad visiting) and the Export/iPod functions simply do not work; and (2) EyeTV exports H.264/AVC 320x240, MPEG-4, which is not nearly the resolution I want to display on my upcoming AppleTV. So that leaves me working with things in a much more roundabout fashion.

So I thought, well, I'll just use MPEG Streamclip to export my video. Normally I use QuickTime Pro to create my iTunes video. So I opened up a video I'd recently converted, made sure I matched all the settings between the Streamclip output and the QuickTime output--same bitrates, audio, frame size, etc. I dove into the EyeTV bundles, created an alias for the raw MPEG-2 transport stream data, loaded it into Streamclip, converted it, and loaded it into iTunes, where it played fine.

And then I tried to sync my iPod. Bzzzzzzzzzt. No go. No luck. No how. Even though I kept every setting the same, even though everything seems to play identically in QuickTime, I apparently created a file that wasn't "blessed" enough to sync to my iPod. So I googled a lot. And I found out it wasn't just me. QuickTime just seems to be able to exceed the 768 kbps, 320x240 official specs, but Streamclip can't. See this video info? It syncs perfectly to my 30GB video iPod. And that's 1655.78 kbits/sec. By my reckoning (checks on fingers a few times) 1655 is bigger than 768. But when I try to sync a non-QuickTime file on iTunes, I get the dreaded "Your video cannot be played on this iPod" message. Grrrr!

RecentVideoQTime.jpg

So I decided to try converting with QuickTime instead. And this is a good example of barrelling forth with things about which you know better, but you get into a wrong thinking groove and then have a simpsonesque D'oh moment after. I decided to use Streamclip to convert the transport stream into a normal MPEG-2 file. It's fast and it's easy, even though it takes up extra disk space. I loaded it into QuickTime, I exported to "iPod". And there was no sound. D'oh! Damned multiplexed audio. I should have known better.

Now, it's not as if I can't export directly from Streamclip, keeping the settings to 320x240 and under 768 kbps and it will (in fact it did during my tests) sync to the iPod, but what's the point of playing 320x240 video on a 720p display--which is the intended endpoint of this exercise? So here's what I ended up doing for now:

Standard Def video: Open the EyeTV transport stream file in MPEG Streamclip and export to standard 320x240 iPod video.

High Def video: Open the EyeTV transport stream in MPEG Streamclip, export to a reasonably sized 16:9 format like 720x405 or 640x360. Open the converted video in QuickTime Pro and export using iPod settings.

Clearly, I've still got a ways to go here. I'm really hoping that the upcoming versions of QuickTime and iTunes hinted at in the AppleTV specs offer better video conversion and syncing capabilities to take better advantage of homebrew video resolution.

I'm also looking forward to some real highdef content over at the iTunes Store, but that's a whole 'nother matter.

10 Comments

Spot
2007-01-27 20:53:33
This might help you get to where you want to go..


http://www.ffmpegx.com/ipodh264hires.html


Erica Sadun
2007-01-27 20:59:17
I've now discovered the "magic hex sequence" of "6B 68 40 F2 5F 24 4F C5 BA 39 A5 1B CF 03 23 F3" as the UUID atom, but I'm still trying to figure out how to patch the atom into the video file...
Sören Kuklau
2007-01-28 00:28:33
Perhaps QuickTime uses the Baseline profile and MPEG Streamclip uses Main (or higher)? I believe the iPod only supports Baseline.
Iljitsch van Beijnum
2007-01-28 00:52:39
What I do is first export to an MPEG program stream and then use iSquint to convert to MPEG4 or H.264. iSquint is extremely easy to use and consistently bakes movies that play on the iPod. (Although recently my iTunes has been having trouble playing back MPEG4 files... H.264 is ok and both types play fine on the iPod.)


If you choose "Optimize for iPod" the result will be 320 pixels wide, if you choose "Optimize for TV" the resulting file will be 640 pixels wide or its original size if that is smaller. You can also modify some "advanced" settings. This is useful for removing some overscan pixels when converting from EyeTV. Don't forget to increase the quality level for H.264 or the files won't look all that good.

Josh Peters
2007-01-28 14:08:15
I'm with Spot, but I'd suggest using VisualHub to do the heavy lifting of ffmpeg. It's got a nice drag-and-drop interface with multiple presets (iPod, DVD, MP4, etc) and well worth the shareware price.


If you're really interested you can even export to FLV and then alongside FlowPlayer roll-you-own YouTube ;)

Erica Sadun
2007-01-28 17:23:28
Because we know that things are in a state of flux, and because new versions of iTunes and QuickTime are likely on the horizon (if you believe the requirements that were originally listed on the AppleTV page), I'm holding off on any software purchases. (I'm sure I'm going to kick myself for the hardware ones as well!)


Has anyone out there used Atomic Parsley to insert a generic (not metadata tag) UUID atom into MPEG-4 with any success?

jw
2007-01-29 01:46:33
i have found one way with my eyetv 200:
1. use mpeg4 encoding for recording (not available for all eyetv hardware)
2. export the recorded tv show/movie via the export menu using the "export without re-encoding" feature (i exported it to AVI) in eyetv 2.3.3 (this takes practically no time as it doesn't re-encode anything)
3. move the resulting avi file to the movies folder
front row recognizes and plays the recording without a problem at the highest possible quality.
caveat: it uses the same storage space on your hard drive as the original file. and you can't move it to itunes/ipod. (but all we wanted was front row (and thus hopefully apple tv) to recognize the file)


i'm still working on other options (if this stays the only one, i will automate the process either with applescript or with automator)

Benjamin Schollnick
2007-01-31 10:01:15
Erica,


Somethings wrong here.... and I'm afraid it might be you...


Check in your EyeTv Preferences, under General, and you'll see "IPod Button Export Format". One of the options will be 640x480 H.264.


While this isn't the speedest conversion, you can queue up several and just let it go.


Erica Sadun
2007-01-31 10:06:04
A quick reminder to you readers: I am using a non-standard operating system and EyeTV export just does not work for me. I talked about this in an earlier post.


Thanks for the tip, Benjamin.

Chris
2007-08-22 06:13:26
the new beta of MPEG StreamClip works a ton better and has individual settings for iPod, iPhone, 3G, and Apple TV at multiple sizes and aspect ratios. Just export to mp4 and click in the "iTunes" button next to the compression box and choose your preset