UGH! Is there a solution? Or is my apple tv going back?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by guidoverduci, Apr 23, 2010.

  1. guidoverduci macrumors member

    Oct 17, 2008
    Okay I've been searching and trying for days and can't get it to work. All I want is to be able to use the apple tv interface, not boxee or xmbc, and watch my itunes library via apple tv. All my media plays fine in itunes, but I can't get it on apple tv. 90% of the files are avi with a .mov reference file in itunes. The files are all on my external hard drive which is attached to my airport extreme. Why is this so difficult? I have no problem hacking the atv, i've installed perian, I'm able to get boxee and xmbc working for the most part... But I just want to be able to use the apple tv interface. Anyone???? PLEASE!!
  2. NightStorm macrumors 68000

    Jan 26, 2006
    Whitehouse, OH
    Sounds like you bought the completely wrong product.
  3. guidoverduci thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 17, 2008
    I think you're right. Although I thought it was possible to do what I need.
  4. iowamensan macrumors 6502

    Feb 19, 2006
    you could use VisualHub to convert all your .avi files to .mp4
    That's what I do.
  5. guidoverduci thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 17, 2008
    That's another debate I'm having... is it worth it to convert 250 movies and 800 tv shows... that's gonna take a long time.
  6. fastgraham macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2008
    why so much?

    Why do you need to have 800 tv shows on your hard drive? If you want to watch a movie, download it, convert it to mp4, watch it and delete it. With basic cable modem, I can download a movie in 15 minutes.

    I don't want to be a typical basher on this website, but, if you have 1000 movies on your local hard drive, perhaps you should go outside a little bit more.
  7. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    So, just in case it's not clear, your problem is that :apple:TV can't play your .avi format. If you want them all to play using that :apple:TV interface, they must all be converted to a format compatible with :apple:TV.

    iTunes is more flexible about this because it uses Quicktime as its base, so pretty much anything that plays in Quicktime will play in iTunes (including .avi files). You also have the horsepower in a laptop or desktop to handle dealing with various formats, and/or resolution and other video settings beyond what :apple:TV's old and tired hardware can handle. For example, iTunes can play 1080i or 1080p HD video you might shoot with an HD camcorder, render in iMovie or FC, import into iTunes, and watch it there just fine. But that won't play via :apple:TV, because the latter can only handle a relatively limited incarnation of 720p HD at best.

    As someone else offered, you could set up a batch process (easy with visual hub) to convert your .avi files to .mp4 files friendly with :apple:TV. But as you properly surmise, so many conversions will take a long time- even on fast hardware. And you'll lose some image quality going from one format to another.

    Still, the UI is one of just a few remaining benefits that makes the :apple:TV great (IMO), so if you want to use it to serve up your library on your TV, conversion is pretty much the only way to go.

    If the old version of it's interface is good enough (front row), you could pick up a Mac Mini and use Front Row as your :apple:TV interface. I've also seen reference to some kind of hack that can get the :apple:TV interface running on a Mac Mini, but I don't know if that is true or not. Mac Mini's are pretty cheap on Ebay and similar, so that could be a way to go and save yourself all those conversions. I'm pretty sure Front Row is more flexible about what it can play (though I would test it with an .avi to be sure) before you go this way.
  8. jzuena macrumors 6502a


    Feb 21, 2007
    Lexington, MA, USA
    I know its still not the stock :apple:TV interface, but Sapphire is able to play avi files and is much closer to looking stock. This is what I use to play movies located on an external file server.
  9. guidoverduci thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 17, 2008
    I'm gonna give that a shot, thanks.
  10. BertyBoy macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2009
    Looks like your decision is made, but over time I've gone with the conversion route. Some 420 movies ripped from DVD and some 910+ TV shows converted from AVI.

    Batched them up on my Mac Pro in visual hub, takes about 6 minutes a TV show, so the whole lot would have been done in 4 days.
    If I had to do it all again I would, but I'd get real. Don't bother with the one-watch TV shows (like CSI or similar - once you've seen who does it and how they get caught, it's dull to watch it again).
    But things like Lost, or FlashForward or 24 may be worth converting if you want to go back and see an important point.

    Ripping the movie DVDs took a little longer, and it's an ongoing task as I buy new material, but just prioritise and commit to doing one per day, 4 per day at the weekends - the longest part is the reading of the DVDs for which you don't have to present.

    And get real with your conversion options, sure, convert your favourite movies at 4000kbps video and 256kbps audio (or whatever you like), but for the dire movies you wish you'd never bought, bring it way down to something worthy of their artistic quality, or just don't convert them at all. No point wasting disk space on rubbish.
  11. guidoverduci thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 17, 2008
    You know, after looking at my movies, I think I'm gonna stick with it. There are multiple movies I'll never watch again, same as tv shows, like you pointed out. I'll just convert all the kid shows for my daughter.. those get watched all the time!

    Apple you win again. I hate you with your outdated hardware and lack of support for anything outside your world... But it's too late, I drank the kool-aid. Damn you!
  12. Billy Boo Bob macrumors 6502

    Billy Boo Bob

    Jun 6, 2005
    Dark Side Of The Moon
    It's easy. And it adds metadata.

    Reference files won't get your files to show on ATV. It needs to have at least the first video and audio tracks to be compatible.

    Not intending to start a flame war between it and MetaX, I've been using iFlicks. There's a prefs setting to "Make compatible with hacked ATV". While I don't like their approach as much as another app (who's name escapes me at the moment), what it does it takes the first few seconds of the film, converts it to a compatible format, makes a new movie from it, then adds the rest of the original to the movie as an additional tracks. It bundles it all up in a .mov container and adds them to iTunes. All you have to wait for is the time it takes to re-write the file. You have the option to delete the original or not. As a bonus, it collects loads of metadata about the file.

    In your ATV you need to make one setting change to use English instead of Default for sound track.

    I've been working up an app with SuperCard that does similar, but it doesn't chop the first few seconds off. Instead, it launches QT Pro 7 (the classic player app in SL) and runs an AppleScript to drive it. It adds a one second compatible video and audio track, and also copies (adds) the original tracks. With the short one second tracks in a compatible format, it'll allow the movie to show on ATV, but then after it ends, the original tracks take over. My own app needs a few more options added before I could release it, though. Still thinking of doing it as freebie. Maybe someday, but for now iFlicks (or MetaX, if you end up preferring it) should do ya. There's still a couple of little quirks that could use some help, and some things I would have done differently, but it's ok for what you want.

    Also, if your files are already compatible, all it does is add the metadata and copies it over to the destination folder, while again adding it to iTunes. With my little tool I make the .mov files, then run them through iFlicks to gather the metadata and add to iTunes. My MKVs I'll run through Handbrake, then process the resulting .m4v with iFlicks.
  13. BertyBoy macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2009
    Good call. And you've nailed it again with converting the kids stuff. I do that too.
    If we're on our travels, the AppleTV comes with us, with an HDMI cable. So if my family is with me in the US, or Middle East, or Singapore, or South America, or the Antipodes, we have all their Bob The Builder and In The Night Garden shows with us. As well as a few series of Sex and The City for Mrs Bertyboy and Breaking Bad for me.

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