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HTPC Video Capture to DVD-R

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Turl, Jan 15, 2003.

  1. Turl

    Turl
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    Hi,

    Although I've been into AV and PC's for many years the subject of successful and reliable video capture still confuses me.

    Can someone tell me the most reliable way (with good picture quality at full screen) to capture video from say Sky+ to my PC so that I can then burn the video to DVD for archiving?.

    Do I need a dedicated capture card or are there any external devices that can capture video in MPEG 2 and input to the PC via Firewire or USB 2.0?.

    Are product like the Hauppage PVR able to do this and output the captured video as good as SKY+?.

    Many thanks for your help.

    Turl :confused:
     
  2. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    I haven't heard of any mods for the Sky+ boxes to allow digital output.

    Apparently there are SDI mods and hacks for TiVO's to allow getting at the digital picture quality, but I've never heard about similar for Sky boxes.

    So, unfortunately I think you'll be capturing the analog video output.

    a) If you are happy with real-time constant quality compression, then the domestic DVD-R (or DVD+R/RW) recorders look to be becoming surprisingly arrtactive and I think some include RGB enabled Euro-SCART inputs. I haven't seen the results, but I bet these are pretty clean for about £400.

    IMHO, I think for best DVD quality, 2-pass variable-bitrate compression encoding is required which rules out any real-time DVD burning. I capture first to AVI, use AVIsynth to apply cropping, letterboxing, colour adjustment and timing correction and video temporal and spatial noise reduction, etc. Then I use TMPGenc Plus to encode to MPEG2 ready for DVD authoring. For this you need the HTPC, and 80GB+ drive and 2x 15 hour overnight processing runs per DVD...

    b) RGB Component - I think the very best you can do is to capture RGB component output. This will require a js-tech or Keene RGB-to-Component adapter ~£130? and a capture card capable of capturing Component (I think this is what the Plasma folks do to get a good quality picture).

    I've only heard of one card, the £650 Holo3dgraph that does Component input in to a HTPC, and even then it is only supported for it's TV viewing app or DScaler, they don't encourage or support capture because the card also features SDI digital video input.

    c) S-Video - Does Sky+ provide S-Video output?
    If not, then RGB-to-Svideo converters from jstech or Keene are available, I think there was a used one of this forum's classifieds recently.

    Now all you need is a capture card capable of S-Video, of which most are. I bought a Pinnacle MiroVIDEO dc30 which is an older semi-pro 6mbps MJPEG input card which works well with WinME and the excellent free VirtualDub video app. Expect to pay about £70 for one off ebay, but it wont work with Dscaler for real-time onscreen scaling.

    I have also tried an £45 MSI tv@nywhere input card which uses a newer 10-bit CX23881 chip, like the Xcapture card that are quite clean (using a Dscaler alpha test release which isn't totally stable, but does show how good the picture can be; nice work John!). It's hardware is a tiny bit cleaner than the bt878 cards, even the IDS Falcon.

    regards,
    Rob.
     
  3. MAW

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    Hauppage do a usb tv/capture box, even comes with pvr software. I've got 2, as it happens..... They do work, but authoring a dvd from the mpeg2 results will take a little time, as Rob says! The box retails@199, I hadn't given much thought to selling one, pehaps I should?
     
  4. Turl

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    Thanks for the info guys,

    It seems that capturing video to the PC and then burning to DVD isn't as straight forward as I thought :(

    Even with all this hassle are the results as good as the original broadcast/source?.

    Apart from the high res output of a PC this was going to be my main reason for building a HTPC!. Maybe I'll opt for a Panasonic E30 instead. :)

    Cheers,

    Turl
     
  5. owain_thomas

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    Hi Turl,

    Have a look at www.showshifter.com this software allows you to use a cheap capture card (no more than about £30) with svid input such as a pinnacle rave TV to capture TV and record it in any format you want.

    A lot of people on their boards use it to capture with a no/low loss format, then recompress the file to something else, eg DIVX or WMV9. It would be fairly easy to recompress to MPEG2 and burn this onto DVDs, although it is never going to be as straightforward as using a domestic DVD recorder, it will be a lot more flexible.

    This is what I am planning on doing soon (hopefully ;-))

    Owain
     
  6. Rob.Screene

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    I think it depends on if you want ok quality or great quality. If you have a projector, then you'll probably appreciate the latter.

    I think the real-time encoding approaches have the following disadvantages:

    1. MPEG2 software codec can only be 1-pass constant quality or usually constant bit-rate. This can make fitting a 2-hour movie onto a 4.5GB DVD-R too tight a squeeze and quality suffers.
    2. Currently not enough performance to do video noise reduction AND compression encoding in real-time on today's CPU's.
    3. Don't know is any software codec that does inverse 2-3 pulldown before recording NTSC film material, so wastes bandwidth. This doesn't apply to any PAL sources though.
    4. Lossy software codecs like DivX or low rate MJPEG add artefacts which will reduce later re-encoded DVD quality.

    If you don't mind the above, and many don't, then I've read showshifter recommended a number if times.

    Personally, I'd rather use a £200 domestic TiVO PVR or a £400 domestic DVD-Recorder if I was happy with the above points 1-3.

    I mainly backup my Laserdiscs that I can't replace on DVD. They can look good, I mean really good! It can be a lot of work though and require a 100GB hard disc space for a 2 hour movie.

    I use the freeware Huffyuv lossless codec during capture, when using a good framegrabber card like the IDS Falcon. Well actually I now use a semi-pro MJPEG hardware codec at 6MB/sec on the Pinnacle Miro dc30 as the hardware codec cannot be bypassed.

    Both result in no capture artefacts, just video noise mainly off the Laserdisc itself and a tiny bit off the S-Video cable and capture card.

    This gets me a 40GB-ish set of 2GB .avi files to work with for a 2 hour movie.

    I use freeware AVIsynth with a guavacomb plug-in (excellent free software 3D comb filter) to clean-up the captured video and crop letterbox areas and trim out the side turns.

    It can also do great invese telecine to remove 3-2 pulldown releated fields from NTSC film material, but isn't needed for any PAL stuff.

    Guavacomb stops colour saturated titles flickering on the opening and ending credits. This, combined with mild spatial and temporal video noise reduction plug-ins result in video that looks much BETTER than the original laserdisc. Then 15 hours of 2GHz cpu later, out plops another 40GB-ish huffyuv lossless codec .AVI file all cleaned-up.

    The 2-pass TMPGenc encoder can use this second file because without it all the above work cleaning processing would be done twice, once in each pass.

    It also allows me to encode films (another 15 hours processing!) as progressive scan flagged DVD-R discs that saves compression needed and don't need de-interlacing when played onto my high-def projector.

    They look like average-good hollywood made DVD's on the projector and are indistinguishable on our 32-inch widescreen telly.

    There is also a trick that allows Dolby Digital 5.1 to be recorded bitperfectly and mastered on to the DVD, but it's complicated and requires complex editing and lip-sync skills to match up with the captured video, but it can be done. I've done it with my Star Wars SE laserdisc and will soon do the others.

    regards,
    Rob.
     
  7. MAW

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    Those fateful words. I didn't mention them and I thought I'd got away with it. Lipsynch.... The bane of the digital recording and compressing world.
     
  8. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    I find VirtualDub works brilliantly, keeping SP/DIF or analog 48KHz 16-bit audio in sync with the video forever! Trouble is it only captures from an older VideoForWindows type capture card driver (IDS Falcon or any other BT878 card springs to mind, or the Pinnacle Miro dc30 :cool: ).

    I'd say if you are running Win9x (i.e. not Win2000 or WinXP) then a secondhand dc30 works brilliantly with VirtualDub capture. It even has on-board sync locked sound capture, but apparently it adds a little analog distirtion, so I prefer to use my Audiophile 2496 soundcard when capturing.

    The newer CX23381 type cards only come with WDM capture driver (no VFW support) which only work with DirectShow capture apps and I don't think there is anything out there as good as VirtualDub, and I've tried several.

    cheers,
    rob.
     

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