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simple conversion and editing of .rec files


Standard Member
Hello all,

I have a problem that I would much appreciate some help with...

I've had a Toppy 5800 for a few years and I'm happy. However, I want to get programmes off it and onto my NAS so that I can view them from different tellies in the house. I also want to do some *very* basic editing on the files (basically top and tail them - lots of episodes of Peppa Pig for my kids that are about 18 minutes long but the program is actually 10 at most). I want the resulting files to be in a format and file wrapper that is standard but likely to be outdated in the near future. I want good quality but I'm not obsessed by it; we're talking about Peppa Pig here!
My editing requirements are very slim and I don't want any bloat-ware and I don't want highly geeky tools that look like an aeroplane cockpit. Consequently I'm more than happy with simple, intuitive freeware.

I've done a fair bit of research and I've so far done the following:

- Used Altair to copy the .rec files from Toppy to NAS, no problems so far

- Downloaded the free VLC Media Player that seems to get very positive reviews, is nice and simple to use and not at all bloated. I'm very happy with that and can play the .rec files no problem.

- To edit the files (top and tail, maybe cut adverts if I can be bothered) and get them in a more universally accepted format I've used Handbrake. I've tried both the 'classic' and the 'standard' presets, trying both FFmpeg and H.264 as encoders and tried .avi, .mp4 and .m4v as wrappers.

- The resultant files (FFmpeg wrapped in mp4 say) seem fine and play on the VLC Media Player no problem. So far, so good....

- A bit of research has shown that the best free editor, for simple, quick editing are perhaps either Avidemux or Virtualdub. I don't want to import a library of files, I don't want a myriad of features, I just want to open a file, trim it and save it. This basic trim ideally shouldn't need to decode recode either, just a minute or so a file to top, tail and save.

HOWEVER.... Neither Avidemux nor Virtualdub can open the files I've created with Handbrake. I've tried different encoders and wrappers and tried forcing the framerate to be fixed rather than 'same as source' but whatever options I try Avidemux just says "Cannot open file".

The thing is, the .mp4 file plays fine on VLC Media Player and I can open it another "free trial" editor (can't remember the name, sorry). However, this free trial editor wants to create a whole library of my files yadda yadda and all sorts of stuff. It's really bloaty, takes ages to start and isn't the quick and simple solution I want.

For the same reason I really, really don't want to go back to ProjectX, and have to demux the .rec file before combining it back to a .mp4 or .avi. This is way too techy and is too many steps. I'm really happy with Handbrake which has just converted the .rec file to a .mp4 file in ONE CLICK and the resulting file plays fine on VLC Media Player. BUT, the question is, why can't Avidemux open it?

So what I really want to know is what settings do I need on Handbrake in order to create a file that Avidemux can handle?

If it turns out this is impossible, which seems bizarre, then I would appreciate the suggestion of an alternative pair of tools to convert to .mp4 and to edit. The key is though, the conversion to .mp4 must be a one click solution that doesn't require me to do things like pick which audio track I want to keep.

All advice most gratefully received.
Hugo Read.


Distinguished Member
The .rec files are MPEG2 (transport stream).
VLC can convert these to .MPG (programme stream) but it may not be the best tool, probably Format Factory would be better(?).
You should top/tail these with your tools first (IIRC Format Factory can do that too).
Only then convert the fully edited videos to compressed .AVI or .mp4

General rule of thumb. All editing on source quality material. Only change compression at the last stage.
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Distinguished Member
Project-X (portable if you don't have Java installed) - you can open the .rec files, trim them and save them back out with a .m2p (.mpg) header and wrapper. No transcoding done, so still quite large. From there you can bring them into Handbrake or VirtualDub for transcoding if required.

ProjectX - Video software and downloads - VideoHelp.com

EDIT: Oops - just read more and see you don't like ProjectX - not sure why as I used that to trim up The Wire recently from BBC2 for my Archos and it is very straighforward.

use CutControl window to choose in and out points of file. When you click prepare choose to M2P rather than Demux option.
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Standard Member
Thanks guys for your advice. I'll give both options a go and then post back to see how I got on. So I'd summarise an overview of what you've both said as:

A Toppy file (.rec) is a mpeg 2 transport stream. This can be cut and converted to a program stream and then transcoded to a .mp4 file afterwards. Rule of thumb: edit on original quality and transcode afterwards. So…

    : Convert files to program stream using VLC, Format Factory or ProjectX, saving as .m2p or .mpg

    : Top and tail using editing software (hopefully Avidemux)

    : Convert to .mp4 using Handbrake

Note that steps one and two can be reversed and both done in ProjectX; cutting the files and then saving them in the one operation. You need to use the CutControl window to prepare in and out points and then click ‘prepare’ and then choose M2P instead of Demux.

The issue I have with ProjectX is that it looks like a flight deck and the front end is clearly not designed by someone who is well versed in user-friendly UI. If I tried to give it to my wife to have a quick edit of a file her eyes would glaze over at best and she's probably have a heart attack. It's a shame there doesn't appear to be one really simple nicely designed tool that can cover the three steps together. The process seems unneccesarily laborious.


Distinguished Member
It's a shame there doesn't appear to be one really simple nicely designed tool that can cover the three steps together. The process seems unneccesarily laborious.
There is, VideoRedo (for editing MPEG2 files) and VideoRedo TV Suite (for creating DVD-video).
IIRC it can take a .rec file, I use it for .ts (downloaded from a Humax PVR) and it can output an edited (top/tail/ad removal) .mpg movie including all keystrokes in a couple of minutes (it doesn't convert to .mp4 though).
Unfortunately, it is payware - although a fully-functioning 30day trial is available.


Standard Member
Thanks nvingo and thanks also to scumball (it sounds strange thanking someone whlist also calling them scumball).

I actually found and tried VideoRedo last night and as you say, it clips and converts into a program stream mpg file in one easy package that my wife can use without getting hot under the collar.

As you say, shame it's payware! I guess there isn't a similar freeware option yet other than ProjectX? I also gave ProjectX a go and managed to do it in that too, although it took a little while to work out how to mark up and cut (I've not done any editing before at all).

Interestingly, out of the dozen or so episodes of Pingu (very highbrow I know) I was converting from .rec files, two didn't pick up any audio from ProjectX but converted fine with sound using VideoRedo. I don't really want to have to 'choose' the audio; surely it should just work? Or is that too simplistic. On the other hand, one of the episodes wouldn't open with VideoRedo nor with VLC Media Player, but it would open with ProjectX (the last bit was corrupted). So between the two programs I managed to convert all the episodes, all be it a bit clunkily.

On the audio stream issue in ProjectX, is there a way to pick which audio stream you want to use when saving the file as a program stream? I just couldn't work it out and couldn't find the appropriate help, and I work in computer interface design!



Distinguished Member
Some broadcasters transmit 2 audio channels - standard stereo audio and a lower bitrate audio description channel (which is sometimes empty).

I'm not at my PC so am trying to remember this, but here goes:

Sometimes these are put the wrong way round in the file e.g. AD on 1&2, programme material on 3&4, but are transmitted correctly using PIDs

In ProjectX

Click on the name of the file in FileTable tab
You should see the PID details of the transport stream (.rec) file in the main picture window
Copy the 0x numbers of the video and the lowest audio into the PIDlist on the FilterControl tab

That should be it - the rest should be the same...

Editing in ProjectX is straightforward - go to the CutControl tab, use the slider to find an in point and press the cutpoint icon with a + on it. Do this at each in and out point. The bits in Green will be kept and the bits in Red will be cut out...
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