HDTV Viewing through Firewire

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Lucky736, Aug 16, 2004.

  1. Lucky736 macrumors 6502a

    Lucky736

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    #1
    I know you can now record HDTV through your set top box Firewire. How do I go about just viewing HD Content through Firewire?

    Mike
     
  2. Chaszmyr macrumors 601

    Chaszmyr

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    #2
    I'm not sure what you mean. I don't think this can be done without a product like EyeTV 500.
     
  3. Lucky736 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Lucky736

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    #3
    Thyere is a porgram that allows you to just run a set top box, cocast HD box, to your mac and record through firewire. I just want to watch the HD in a small window and what wondering what program I would need to do this. Basically just stream it into my powerbook.

    Mike
     
  4. Chaszmyr macrumors 601

    Chaszmyr

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  5. Lucky736 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Lucky736

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  6. AliensAreFuzzy macrumors 68000

    AliensAreFuzzy

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    #6
    If your settop has firewire, your name describes you well.
     
  7. Whigga Spitta macrumors 6502

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    Can you say Chi-City??
    #7
  8. clr900 macrumors regular

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    Jan 25, 2004
    #8
    I also have an HDTV digital cable box from Comcast and it has two firewire ports. Can I use these to record shows to my computer without having to buy a program like eyetv or even just stream it like lucky is talking about?
     
  9. Lucky736 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Lucky736

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    #9
    That works fine for recording. I don't want to record I want to watch in a small window.
     
  10. live4ever macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    So far VLC is the only player that can handle the transport streams, a small window should be able to get decent frame rates - but this is dependent on CPU since it doesn't use the gfx card for hardware acceleration (this should become better with Tiger/QT7/CoreVideo hopefully).
     
  11. Lucky736 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Lucky736

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    #11
    So VLC will let me actually stream live? How do I do that?
     
  12. ddrueckhammer macrumors 65816

    ddrueckhammer

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    #12
    This is my first post on Macrumors because I find it to be an interesting subject...I tried this last weekend and it worked. I'm not sure...i didn't read it but I think the FCC made a law stating that cable companies must provide you with one of these firewire cable boxes if you request one...

    As stated earlier you can use VCL player to play back the content from the firewire port Also as stated earlier, there is a free program called VirtualDVHS which apple developed as an example to go into one of its firewire developer kits that you use to record what you are watching on VLC player. Pretty cool...I just tried this on my girlfriend's G5 and it worked fine...

    Here is the article
    http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20040426151111599&query=HDTV

    There was also an article at

    http://macteens.com/more.php?id=410_0_1_0_C

    Also, note there are already applescripts to get iCal to work as a scheduler to run Virtual DVHS for recording...all we need is script to automatically give you the option to run Virtual DVHS and stream the content on VLC player all at once...Maybe a central control app to run it all...
     
  13. clr900 macrumors regular

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    Jan 25, 2004
    #13
    I have managed to get files out of my cable box but VLC doesn't seem to be able to open it? Not sure why, I am going to download it again to make sure I have the latest version but other than that I am not sure what is wrong.
     
  14. clr900 macrumors regular

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    #14
    Oh I think I figured it out. I just recorded about 30 sec of video to test it out but I recorded a part of The Sopranos from HBO on demand. I just read that little part about some channels being encrypted which means no playback. I am going to try something from NBC right now to see if it works.
     
  15. Lucky736 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Lucky736

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    #15
    How are you setting the VLC to stream the video? What settings? It is way beyond me at that end of things to be able to set up. Help? :)
     
  16. clr900 macrumors regular

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    #16
    Lucky, from what I have read I don't think that there is a way to just stream the video without recording it. But I could be wrong.
     
  17. slughead macrumors 68030

    slughead

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    Apr 28, 2004
    #17
    I'm gonna post this here to save people time in clicking (from macosx hints):

    Want to enjoy HDTV, but haven't forked over the $21,999 for that 82'' LCOS Rear Projection HDTV yet? (Or even know what the heck that is!). Fear not, because with just about any Panther-capable Macintosh, you can enter the world of high definition recording and playback without breaking the bank... or buying a single new piece of hardware!

    This 21st Century Holy Grail comes in the form of a recent FCC regulation requiring all cable companies to provide a Firewire-enabled Cable box to any customer who asks. (Yes, some government agencies are still on our side after all!) This law went into effect April 1st, and by now most Cable companies have complied.

    Unlike regular TV, you cannot record HD with an analog VCR -- or even a standard issue Tivo. You must have a Firewire connection ... the very same Firewire that ships on every modern Mac. (bet you see where this is headed). You have the Mac, now all you need is the cable box and a pair of free programs: VirtualDVHS for recording, and VLC for playback!

    Step 1 - Get the Cable Box!

    If you have cable, your first step involves calling your provider and requesting a new "Firewire capable" or "IEEE 1394 enabled" HDTV cable box. Even if you don't own an HDTV, all these boxes have S-video out and work perfectly with regular TVs. Most cable companies charge a nominal monthly fee for the box, and provide local stations in high defenition for free (this is the only cost involved). For example, I am on Time Warner Cable, and I pay about $8.00 extra per month, which includes PBS, NBC, ABC, CBS and Discovery HD Theater. Plus, if you subscribe to any premium station, like HBO or Showtime, that price includes the high definition version!

    Once your provider delivers the box, you just need a Firewire cable long enough to reach your Mac. Any Firewire cable (with the right connectors) will do. I actually used one of Apple's dainty-thin white iPod Firewire cables, and it worked like a charm when run to my Aluminum 15" PowerBook.

    Step 2 - Get the Recording Software

    VirtualDVHS. Remember that name! A free little piece of software that you can find in two different places. If you have the Developer Tools, VirtualDVHS comes in the Firewire SDK, available at Apple Developer Connection.

    Far more conveniently, ninjamonkey provides a (very slightly) modified stand-alone version of VirtualDVHS [305KB download]. You probably won't notice any changes to the program, but not having to dig through a bunch of developer tools make this my favorite option for download.

    Step 3 - Run the Recorder

    You can follow the instructions on ninjamonkey's site, but since the software is really a developer example (not even beta quality), pay attention to these few pointers. First, create a new folder to store the recorded files into. Drag and drop this folder onto the D-VHS icon. You MUST do that drag and drop step, or your recordings will inexplicably fail. While presenting a somewhat daunting interface, just pay attention to the transport controls on the top right. The biggest trick is selecting the correct Firewire Channel for input. Most cable boxes will transmit on channel 63 (that's the "broadcast channel"). Also try channels 0 and 1 if 63 fails. To see if your channel works, just press the record button, and the "Bitrate" field takes off ... along with the recorded file size!

    Step 4 - Playback

    One word: VLC. Even if you don't plan to watch HD content, get the VideoLan Client. It rocks (beside the fact that it's free and open source)! AFAIK, VLC is the only client that can replay full-resolution high definition content in transport stream format -- what you get from VirtualDVHS.

    If you're one of the lucky few and have an HDTV with a Firewire port, you can also use VirtualDVHS to play back directly to the TV. Just select the file, and use the transport controls on the left side of the interface. It's that easy!

    A Few Caveats

    Some cable companies encrypt HD content for copy protection. I put this caveat first because it's the biggest. Basically, if the content is encrypted, you cannot play it back. However, it's illegal for Cable companies to encrypt broadcast stations. So at the very least, you can record NBC, CBS, ABC, WB, UPN and PBS. If those are encrypted, a quick call (or two) to your cable provider should take care of it. If you're lucky, you will get subscription content like HBO in the clear ... but enjoy it while it lasts, because all Cable companies WILL implement copy protection sooner or later!

    Now just a few notes on a bit more mundane issues...
    HDTV basically comes in two resolutions: 1920x1080 and 1280x720. PBS, and most sporting events show at in 1280x720 (known as 720p). HBO, Shotime and broadcast stations like NBC and ABC use 1920x1080 (1080i). The Tonight Show was one of the first programs broadcast in HD, and if you're looking for a good test, that's your best bet.


    VirtualDVHS stores files in MPEG2 Tranport Stream format. In the Windows world, this has an extension of ".ts" rather than the ".m2t" that VirtualDVHS uses. Transport Stream differs from standard MPEG2 files, like decrypted DVD (known as Program Stream), because it's packetized for transmission over a network.


    HDTV recordings get huge. HUGE! Suffice it to say these constitute the largest single files I've ever worked with -- or seen!


    Last but not least ... You MUST store your recordings on an HFS+ formatted volume. UFS has a 4GB limit to file size, while standard HFS is similar (2GB I believe). Plain and simply, anything over 15 minutes will overflow this limit. For example, my copy of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones clocks in at 12GB. And that's not even my biggest file!
    Recording HD content has been one of the coolest things I've ever done on my Mac! It's awesome, and if you're friends don't have Mac envy yet, wait till they see a movie playing back on your G5 at 1920x1080 resolution!
     
  18. ddrueckhammer macrumors 65816

    ddrueckhammer

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    #18
    Sorry for the miscommunication...Transport stream is just the format Virtual DVHS saves in...I didn't find a way to stream the content directly off of the box yet....I have only recorded and watched programs so far...My idea is to write an apple script that does the following.

    You execute the script and

    1. Virtual DVHS begins recording content.
    2. a set time period later Virtual DVHS saves the content and begins recording to a new file.
    3. VLC launches and runs this file.
    4. This process would repeat continously with Virtual DVHS going back and recording over the file unless you specify otherwise....

    I havn't checked to see if it is possible but I think that you may even be able to watch files before they are finished recording so theoretically you could just write an apple script to have VLC run what ever file you have Virtual DVHS recording to. Combine this with iCal scheduling and you have a pretty neat free program...or you could spend $350 on a EyeTV200 and be able to record regular tv more easily.
     
  19. BrianKonarsMac macrumors 65816

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    Apr 28, 2004
    #19
    no way to stream yet (QT 7?). you would need a 9800 minimum to run HD in a small window, and i bet it would still be choppy. your only option at the present is to use an external hard disk to store HD content for playback, although i bet there will be a freeware HD streaming app in the near future :D.
     
  20. Lucky736 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Lucky736

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    #20
    Yep the record has been working for me. But I'd rather just be able to watch it live in a small window.

    You won't need anything close to a 9800 to watch HD unless your planning on outputting it to a projector through an external connector or to an external source. I am willing to bet even the 6MB Video, if upgraded to 6MB, in a Beige G3 could handle an HD stream, albeit in a small window, in thr corner of the screen.

    An HD stream is more dependent on RAM, what is open in the background, and how efficient the processor is at streaming it through. It is just a feed thats all.
     
  21. SamMiller0 macrumors member

    SamMiller0

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    Aug 17, 2004
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    San Jose, CA
    #21
    The HD signal sent over firewire is compressed, to watch it somewhat-live you'll need to decode it using MPEG-2 software like VLC. I don't know how to setup VLC to watch a stream though. I must ask, if you want to watch live HD shows, why do you want to watch them in such a small window?

    I use a beige G3 to record HD content from my motorola 6208, it most certainly cannot playback HD material. My G4 dual 1GHz can barely do that at around 22fps.

    There is a long topic about recording HD to a mac through firewire on avsforum.com, They will probably have much more information available.
     
  22. mybook43 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    #22
    I Know this thread is pretty old, but...

    I have found a get around for viewing stream HDTV. I don't think a lot of people read this thread very carefully. The user knows he can record HDTV through firewire, but he DOES NOT want to record. He just wants to view streaming HD through firewire. I wanted to do the same thing (the scaler on my monitor sucks and my video card is much better at rendering HD). If you are will to spare a set amount of disk space, you could do the following:

    Set up AVC VideoCap to start recording like normal. Set it to record about 1/2 an hour (about 3~4 gigs). As soon as you start the recording, open the file in VLC. The time information will definitely be messed up, but you will be able to view (almost) live HDTV. The two downsides are working your hard drive, and having 3~4 gigs available. Someone with a decent amount of programming experience should definitely write an app that stores the output of AVC VideoCap to a set ram buffer (100megs maybe) and then plays this content at the same time (VLC is open source, so someone could create an alternate version of it). If I had more programming experience I would definitely do it.
     

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