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Showshifter

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by owain_thomas, Dec 22, 2002.

  1. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Does anyone have any experience of using showshifter as a PVR/media centre. It is upto version 2 now and looks like it could be what I'm after, but I need to know what the quality of video would be like when fed from my sky digital box (by RGB to svideo conversion, if that would be the best quality). What video capture cards have people used with it?

    Thanks,
    Owain
     
  2. Gerbil

    Gerbil
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    Yep, I've used ShowShifter although I'd class myself at the still experimenting stage.

    On a P3 1Ghz I can capture at 768x576 using the MJPEG codec at Quality 18. The picture quality is fine, my wife actually thinks it looks better than the video.

    The card I use is a Pinnacle PC TV Rave as it was the cheapest thing around with an SVideo input. Luckily my Sky box is a Grundig and already has an SVideo output so I didn't need a RGB-SVideo converter. I did struggle to capture at a reasonable resolution to start off with until I installed the Pinnacle PPE utility that alters the bus master timing on the PCI bus, but once that's done its fine.

    It's worth getting a subscription to DigiGuide as the integration with Showshifter works really well. Just right click on a programme in DigiGuide and choose 'Record this in ShowShifter'.

    The biggest things stopping me using ShowShifter more often is that I still haven't got round to programming the Irman to control it and I really want to get something like a RedRat so ShowShifter can switch channels on the Sky box automatically.
     
  3. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    cheers for the reply, do you find any issues with audio sync? I've read a few people having problems with this.

    How big are the files when you capture at that rate (what sort of size is say and hours worth?).

    I'd definitely be interested in getting that IR transmitter that you linked to, that'd make the system perfect if it worked OK, do you know of any one who's tried it?

    Owain

    Edited for typos
     
  4. Gerbil

    Gerbil
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    The audio sync is out very slightly, almost unnoticeable really.

    At that resolution and with the MJPEG codec you're looking at about 7GB an hour. It sounds a lot, but hard drive prices are coming down and most programs you'll probably watch fairly shortly after recording them anyway.

    The consensus of opinion seems to be that its better to capture with a low loss codec like MJPEG that doesn't use too much CPU time and then recompress as part of batch process later if you intend to keep the recording. Showshifter is setup to make the recompression easy, you can either arrange to have it done automatically when the recording ends or you can add it to a batch queue manually.

    With the profiles supplied you can get an hours worth down to more like 700-800Mb using DivX5 or you're free to use any other codec that takes your fancy (like XVid).

    If you've got the CPU power to spare there's nothing to stop you capturing with DivX or XVid on the fly, but you might have to drop the resolution. For example I can only manage 480x352 capturing directly to XVid.

    ShowShifter recommend the RedRat on their web page. If you've got some specific questions it might be worth asking in the ShowShifter forum (under support at www.showshifter.com). Someone there mighgt actually have one and be able to answer in more detail.

    The most important thing is to get yourself a decent SVideo cable that's properly screened. The first cable I bought was a cheapy thing from Dixons and the results weren't pretty with noise bars all over the capture. I bought a decent screened cable off the net and things improved dramatically.

    Out of interest, what are you going to be playing back these captures on? The reason I ask that if you're going to be using a progressive display (plasma, projector etc) then you'll probably get some interlacing artifacts. Showshifter can deinterlace for you if you've got a powerful enough processor. It uses the deinterlacing routines from DScaler. Unfortunatley I've only got a PCI graphics card in the PC I've got connected to the TV so DScaler is out of the question and I just live with the interlacing artifacts.

    Maybe an upgrade in the New Year...
     
  5. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    cheers again for the info,

    I'll be using my new toshiba WS CRT to display the pictures, this will be fed a progressive signal through its component inputs, so I'd be very interested in using something like Dscaler. is there any way to adjust the audio sync, I find it SO annoying when this isn't right.

    Do you think there's any real advantage to getting one of the more expensive capture cards? If I can do all this for £30 I'd be very impressed.

    BTW, what model of digibox have you got? it might be cheaper to get a second hand one of those instead of buying an RGB to svid convertor.

    Have a good Christmas,

    Owain
     
  6. Gerbil

    Gerbil
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    Nothing I've found so far in showshifter allows any changes to the audio sync. If you set the capture to just compress the video and leave the audio as uncompressed then I'd say its pretty much in sync. I sometimes think its slightly out, but it might just be my imagination, my wife hasn't complained and she'd normally notice these things.

    It seems to be that playing with audio compression is what throws the sync out. I played with the audio settings a couple of days ago to try and generate some slightly smaller files and only discovered problems with the audio sync after recording something last night.

    You may be lucky, but based on my experience I'd leave any audio compression to a separate batch task if you need to save space.

    I'm not sure of the model number of the Grundig Sky box, but I got it from a local company, their web page says its the Grundig 310/2. Take a look here . I'm sure they'd be helpful if you gave them a ring, they sorted me out when Sky refused to help when my original box went kaput right when the warranty expired.

    According to this page they have a second hand one for £179, but that seems a bit steep for a box with a three month warranty :-( Looks like there's some on ebay that are a bit more reasonable.

    The Pinnacle card gets recommended a lot because its cheap and does the job. The only downside I guess is that the onboard tuner isn't Nicam, but since you're not going to be using it anyway, why worry? You could certainly do a lot worse and it works well with DScaler apparently (not that I've tried). Avoid the Pinnacle drivers and use the Open Source ones here which offer a few more features.

    What's your net connection like? I could always make a minutes worth of capture available for you to download and view before you part with any hard earned cash if you like.

    Have a good XMas too!
     
  7. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Thanks again mate,

    I have an ADSL connnection at home (I'm with the parents at the moment, back home on Friday), so a sample video would be REALLY useful. Let me know how you want to transfer it and I'll have a look at the end of the week.

    I've had a good read of the forums on the SS site and it all looks quite promising, if the quality on your sample is up to scratch I might be spending some money come the new year :)

    Shame theres no way of using the serial port on the back of the digibox to control the channel changes, that would seem a lot less flakey and complicated than using an IR emitter, people seem to have a lot of complaints about the redrat.

    I'll PM you my email address, let me know how you want to send this sample.

    Thanks again
    Owain (off to open a beer for the festive period)
     
  8. andybryant

    andybryant
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    Hi chaps,

    I've just scanned through this post, and thought I'd contribute my experiences.

    I've just bought a Shuttle SB51G with a 2G P4 as a HTPC. I'm using the following components
    Radeon VE graphics card - seems fine and doesn't require a fan!
    Hauppague WinTV FM Stereo - works on SVideo input from digibox, but picks up lots of noise when using the internal tuner
    UIRT2 IR kit and Girder for IR control - works well as a PC controlled learning remote, and can be driven from showshifter on channel changes
    Digiguide + DGShow driving Showshifter for recordings
    Onboard sound from the SB51 (ALC650) fed through SPDIF to a Yamaha DSP-A1.
    Panasonic 28" TV.

    The only niggle I've got at the moment is that when you switch from UHF to SVideo, the sound input follows correctly for viewing TV, but fails when you try to record. It seems to get stuck on the SVideo i/p. Not a big deal because the UHF is pretty crap anyway.

    I have heard that sound sync issues are unlikley if you've got a motherboard integrated sound card. I've also not experienced any on this system.

    On my previous system with a SoundBlaster Live 5.1, I did get terrible sync issues when recording in certain formats, and compressing the sound. I also got really nasty clicks, which have disappeared now that I'm on a Intel chipset mbo, and integrated sound.

    A.
     
  9. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Thanks for the input andy,

    it's good to know that there are a few satisfied customers out there, I am convinced now that this is the way for me to go.

    How much was you WinTV card and where did you get it from? I'm having trouble finding the pinnacle card that gerbil has, does any one have any links?

    Thanks,
    Owain
     
  10. Gerbil

    Gerbil
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    Dabs list them as available in 1-3 days or is the money burning a hole in your pocket ;-)

    Dabs Quicklinx code 218WWS
     
  11. andybryant

    andybryant
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    The faq tells us that the VE doesn't support non standard resolutions, so it isn't much good for projectors / plasma screens. Since I don't have one of those yet, I haven't tried it.

    I think I got the WinTV card from PCWorld, but they should be widely available...

    A.
     
  12. Branxx

    Branxx
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    I am using Radeon VE for more than a year and exclusively with non-standard resolution. Mine is 1368x1024@75Hz.

    I never has a problem creating non-standard resolutions on any ATI Radeon card.
     

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