Using ProgDVB as a PVR and how to prepare content for Video CD, DVD or archiving



Working with recorded PVR content

Most people well know how to operate a VCR to record or archive their favourite TV programs. However VCRs do have their drawbacks also. If the recording is scheduled, then there is likely to be ads or other content present before and after the intended programme as well as ads in-between, such as a recording made from a commercial TV channel. On top of that, VHS has reached its age now and has only half the quality of broadcast content.

One way to get around the extra content issue is to get another VCR, join the two and record from one to the other apart from the unwanted content. However this method has several other drawbacks, including loss of quality from re-taping as well as a lot of time spent re-recording the content unless one intends watching it while recording.

Set-top digital PVR’s are now here to overcome the VHS issue, but these are rather expensive and versions with a built in DVD recorder are required to make a physical archive to avoid the issue should the PVR break down or be replaced at a later stage.

This is where satellite TV on a PC becomes useful. It is just a matter of getting a DVB PCI card (with CAM support for subscription content), replacing the satellite LNB with a dual-out and bringing a second line to the PC. If the PC and set-top satellite receiver will be used with only one system in use at a time, then an A-B switch will allow the existing signal cable from the dish to be split between the PC and receiver.

Note that as the Videoguard encryption requires a proprietary set-top box (no videoguard CAM available), broadcasters that use this system cannot be picked up on a PC, for example Sky Digital in the UK. :confused:

The following information has been based on using the ProgDVB software for making recordings, however most the steps will also work with recorded content make by other DVB software. Once ProgDVB fixes its issues with HDTV recording, these steps will apply to making HDTV recordings also. For slower PC’s (under 1.2GHz), I would recommend disabling the preview screen during schedules to free up the CPU for the recording. To do this, click the ‘File’ Menu, choose ‘TimeShift buffer status’ and tick the field ‘Disable mpeg2 decoder for low CPU use’. Remember to uncheck this field later to be able to watch satellite TV again!

ProgDVB Warning: ProgDVB test versions 4.38.6 to 4.40.2 seem to have a recording issue where the video does not appear to be properly synchronised with the audio. When a recording from either version is played back in PowerDVD or Windows Media player (using the Elecard codec), the video gets very jumpy. :confused:

ProgDVB 4.26.4 and earlier versions as well as the recent version 4.42.4 does not have this issue. :slight_smile:

Preparing storage for recorded content

I would recommend getting a large second hard drive for making recordings. ProgDVB will work using the boot-up hard drive for recordings, but any serious fragmentation or HDD access will cause dropped frames or worse still cause the sound going out of sync with the video. No re-encoding takes place while recording since the stream received is piped into a file. As a result, the recording size per hour will vary depending on the bit-rate of the channel and no quality is lost due to a 2nd lossy encoding process. :smiley:

Entertainment channels such as music and news channels with a resolution of 528x576 take around 1.25GB per hour. Higher quality channels such as commercial TV with a resolution of 720x576 will take around 2GB per hour. Once ProgDVB’s recording issue for HDTV content is fixed, please allow about 8GB per hour. Radio stations use the same spaces as with 128kbps to 192kbps music.

ProgDVB does not like dealing with huge files over 4GB, so when making extended recordings such as over night recordings, it is necessary to select an option split files after between 2GB and 4GB. In ProgDVB, select the ‘Service’ menu -> ‘Record Options’, then select the option ‘Split file by size’ and enter a desired split size such as ‘2048’ in its field.

Setting up ProgDVB to make scheduled recordings

There are three different ways of recording content in ProgDVB. These are immediate record, scheduled record and selected programme record (like a Sky+ box).

Note that when making scheduled recordings, no two schedules can overlap! :eek:

Immediate Recording

To make an immediate recording, simply select the channel to record from the left column and press the record icon. Press the record icon again to stop the recording when desired.

User set time based scheduled recording(s)

To set-up a simple scheduled recording, tune to the channel to record from. Click the ‘Service’ menu, select ‘Scheduler’ and click ‘Add’ on the scheduler box. Select a date to record (if not today), enter a time in 24h format (e.g. 20:00 for 8pm), select ‘Start Record’ from the drop-down field and click ‘OK’. Click the ‘Add’ button again, select the date to stop recording (if not today), enter a stop time in 24h format, select ‘Stop Record’ from the drop-down field and click ‘OK’.

To make two or more recordings from independent channels, follow the above steps to schedule the first recording, then do another ‘Add’ on the scheduler box, enter the date and time one minute before the second (or later) recording and choose ‘Change Channel’ from the drop-down field and enter the name of the channel in the channel name field. Then follow the steps above for making a simple schedule for the second recording.

Recording a program using EPG (Electronic Programming Guide)

Choose the channel from the left column to schedule a recording for. Click the ‘i’ EPG icon to bring up the TV Guide for that channel. If no information is shown, then this channel does not use EPG. In this case, follow the steps above for “User set time based scheduled recording(s)”. Select the programme to record, click ‘For Record’ and click ‘OK’ to confirm. To record other programmes (even from other channels), repeat these steps for each recording.

To cancel a schedule, click the ‘Service’ menu, select ‘Scheduler’ and remove the three entries (change channel, start record and stop record) for the schedule to cancel.


Working with recorded content

Like a VHS recording, the user has the option of either playing back their recording, archiving it for later use or preparing it for transfer to optical disc. :smiley:

ProgDVB stores recording in the format “Channel Name – Month Day Hour Minute Second_File Set.mpg”. The recording is an MPEG2 file which is similar to a VOB file from a DVD. If the recording is intended to archiving, it may be worth while cutting of the extra content before and after the recorded programme.

One useful tool for doing this is MPEG2Cut. This is probably the best freeware utility I know for chopping up satellite PVR content. Visit the author’s website here:

To chop off the start/ending or even extract a portion such as a music video, simply follow these steps:

[li]Run MPEG2Cut
[/li][li]Click File -> Open
[/li][li]Choose the recording to work on and click ‘Open’
[/li][li]Click the ‘Video’ menu -> ‘iDCT Algorithm’ and ensure that ‘32-bit SSE MMX’ is Checked.
[/li][li]Click the ‘Video’ menu -> ‘Field Operation’ and ensure that ‘None’ is checked.
[/li][li]The ‘Video’ -> ‘Color Space’ options only affect the preview window. For a clearer preview, choose ‘RGB 24-bit’.
[/li][li]Click the ‘Video’ menu -> ‘YUV’ -> ‘RGB’ and ensure ‘PC Scale’ is checked.
[/li][li]If necessary, choose the desired options from the ‘Audio’ menu. The default options should leave the audio untouched. Note that I have not tested any of these options.
[/li][li]Drag the slider at the bottom of the screen to choose the scene to start at. Press F5 to play from this position. Note that the displayed aspect ratio may be unusually tall (like 3:4!), but has no effect on the resulting edit.
[/li][li]Another option to navigate is to use the arrow keys on the keyboard. Press left and right to jump in steps of 30 seconds. Press up and down to jump in steps of key frames.
[/li][li]When a desired start point has been chosen, click the ‘[‘ button to mark the start point or press the ‘[‘ key on the keyboard.
[/li][li]Repeat steps 9 and 10 to find the desired stop point and click the ‘]’ button to mark the stop point or press the ‘]’ key on the keyboard.
[/li][li]Click ‘File’ -> ‘Save Selection’ (or F4 on the keyboard), enter the desired name for the recording and click ‘OK’.
[/li][li]To further extractions, repeat steps 9 to 13 for each part. Note that the stop point cannot be chosen before the start point. This may sound obvious, but becomes quite annoying when making several extractions, i.e. since MPEG2Cut will not allow a new start point after the original last end point, it will be necessary to choose the end point first on the second cut.
[/li][li]Rename the extension of the extracted content from ‘.VOB’ to ‘.MPG’

Steps 4 to 8 only need to be performed once upon the initial use of MPEG2Cut or where changed for another purpose. Some settings will return to default upon opening a new file, however the settings that do revert back only affect the preview window and not the output file.

Recording to DVD or Video-DVD

To record content to DVD for later playback on a PC only, it is just a matter of recording a data DVD in the same way as recording other files to DVD. It may be worth creating a playlist beforehand using DVD-playback software and put this on the DVD along with the MPG files.

Most Video-DVD authoring software such as Ulead DVD and Cyberlink Power producer will accept the recorded MPG files as video for the disc. Note that as PVR content is not DVD compliant, even if an appropriate resolution and bit-rate, the DVD authoring software will need to re-encode the video prior to recording. For recordings with non-standard DVD resolutions such as 528x768, this will result in some distortion during the conversion process.

Creating MPEG1 files for Video CD

Most everyday recordings such as soaps, comedies, short sports events, news items and even music videos will happily fit on a Video CD. Even most music videos supplied as a bonus with music CDs are even in the video CD format.

First, prepare the video by cutting out the un-necessary starting and ending content (see the section Working with recorded content). When cutting out parts out of programme to avoid the in-between ads, the DVD2Avi utility below can join them back together by repeating steps 3 & 4 below. To convert an recording to MPEG1, follow these steps:

[li]Run the program ‘DVD2Avi’
[/li][li]Click the ‘File’ menu -> ‘Open’
[/li][li]Choose a recording to convert and click ‘OK’.
[/li][li]Click ‘Add’ to join several recordings together.
[/li][li]Ensure the following options are checked under the Video Menu:
[/li]‘iDCT Algorithm’ -> ’32-bit SSE MMX’
‘Field Operation’ -> ‘None’
‘Color Space’ -> ‘RGB 24-bit’
‘YUV -> RGB’ -> ‘PC Scale’.
[li]Ensure the following options are checked under the Audio Menu:
[/li]‘Track Number’ -> ‘Track 1’
‘Output Method’ -> ‘Demux All Tracks (AC3, MPA, DTS)’
'48 -> 44.1kHz’ -> ‘Off’.
[li]Click the ‘File’ menu -> ‘Save Project’ or press F4 on the keyboard
[/li][li]Enter a name to save the temporary project file as an click ‘Save’.
[/li][li]Exit out of DVD2Avi and start up TMPGEnc.
[/li][li]Click ‘Browse’ for the Video source field and choose the saved DVD2Avi project file.
[/li][li]Click ‘Browse’ for the Audio source field and choose matching ‘.mpa’ file for the DVD2Avi project file. This has the same name with “T01 DELAY –xxms” appended and a .mpa extension. If the file is not shown, enter ‘*.mpa’ in the File Name field and click ‘Open’ to show the file.
[/li][li]Click the ‘Load’ button under ‘Stream type’ and select ‘VideoCD (PAL).mcf’ or ‘VideoCD (NTSC).mcf’ depending on your TV standard.
[/li][li]Click the ‘Setting’ button under the stream type section.
[/li][li]Click ‘Video’ tab if not already shown.
[/li][li]Choose an option for the ‘Motion search precision’. Normal will suit most users although it may be necessary to choose a higher quality setting for recordings containing significant action or motion.
[/li][li]Goto the ‘Advanced’ tab.
[/li][li]Choose ‘Interlace’ for the ‘Video Source Type’ field.
[/li][li]Choose ‘Top field first (field A)’ for the ‘Field order’ field.
[/li][li]Choose ‘1:1 (VGA)’ for the ‘Source aspect ratio’ field.
[/li][li]Choose ‘Full screen’ for the ‘Video arrange Method’.
[/li][li]Ensure all check boxes below are cleared unless for a desired reason such as syncing audio with the video (Source Range option).
[/li][li]Click ‘OK’
[/li][li]Click ‘Browse’ for the ‘Output file name’ field and enter a desired name to give the resulting MPEG1 file.
[/li][li]Click ‘Start’ to begin :slight_smile:

For making further recordings, skip steps 5, 6 and 12-20 as DVD2Avi and TMPGEnc will keep custom settings. The project file and .mpa files created by DVD2Avi may be deleted once the conversion process has completed.

Finally, launch Nero or your favourite CD burning software, choose Video-CD, import the converted videos, pop in a CD-R and click ‘Burn’. :cool:

Converting recordings to other formats (DivX, XviD, VP6, etc.)

As the MPEG2 recordings can be treated as decrypted VOB files from a DVD, see our Transcoding software forum for details on how to convert your recorded content into other video formats.

The other option is to save time by getting a huge hard drive (external recommended) for storing your collection. For example a 250GB external hard drive has enough capacity to store between 300 and 500 hours of standard definition PVR content without conversion!

For HDTV content (when ProgDVB fixes its recording bug on HDTV channels), I would recommend conversion as the same 250GB hard drive would only hold around 30 hours of HDTV content (going by the bit-rate of Euro1080 :eek: ). :stuck_out_tongue: