I've been looking for a program to create video files from recordings with the commercials permanently removed (so they can be burned to DVDs, for instance). I discovered a program called MCE Buddy that works well for a completely automated solution. It even looks up your recordings in the TVDB or IMDB on the Internet and inserts season & episode numbers into the converted file, so you can watch the shows in the order they aired originally even if the recording lacks the original air date (as happens occasionally). The only problem is that it's a bit too
automated for my taste: I'd prefer to tweak the commercial edits discovered by Show Analyzer before creating an edited file, but MCE Buddy is designed to convert the files as soon as they're recorded.
Another possibility was the video editor included in DVRMS Toolbox (henceforth DTB). It looked just about perfect for tweaking Show Analyzer's edits and writing a new video file. Unfortunately it seems rather buggy, and it's even more poorly documented than the rest of DTB. I couldn't even get the latest version (22.214.171.124) to open .WTV files, although it would open, say, .TS files OK. I tried earlier versions and discovered that if I went back to version 126.96.36.199 it would open .WTV files, but I could only output the edited file as a .MKV, and I had audio/video sync problems to boot. But
I discovered I can use the DTB video editor just to tweak the commercial edits and write the tweaked .EDL files, then use MCE Buddy to produce the final edited video.
It's a bit cumbersome but here's what I did:
- Set up DTB to run ShowAnalyzer automatically on all recordings, just as you would for skipping commercials during playback. This produces a "first draft" of commercial edits
- Created a "to be converted" folder and set MCE Buddy up to monitor and convert files found there (removing commercials of course)
Then I follow these steps for each recording:
- Load the recording into the DTB video editor (version 188.8.131.52). It automatically loads ShowAnalyzer's edits
- Tweak the commercial edits as needed
- Click the "Save .EDL" button to save the tweaked edits
- Copy/move the .EDL file to my "to be converted" folder
- Copy/move the corresponding .WTV file
- Wait for MCE Buddy to do the conversion, then remove the files from "to be converted"
If this is all you use MCE Buddy for, you could configure it to delete the video files from "to be converted" automatically after converting them. But the "delete after converting" option is global and I've started using MCE Buddy for other conversion tasks too, so I clean up my "to be converted" folder manually. (I'd have to manually delete the .EDL files anyhow.)
In steps 4 & 5, I typically copy the files rather than moving them, so I can still watch them in WMC's Recorded TV. But I noticed the DTB commercial-skip add-in doesn't read the edited .EDL files. Instead it reads the .chapters.XML files that ShowAnalyzer also creates. That means my tweaks have no effect when watching in Recorded TV; the "first draft" edits discovered by ShowAnalyzer are used instead. But the converted files that MCE Buddy creates do use the tweaked edits, so they're suitable, e.g., for burning to DVD.
Tweaking ShowAnalyzer's edits with the DTB video editor is the most cumbersome step, but it's the only free, simple video editor I've found that reads & writes Show Analyzer's .EDL files. Besides, it's not too bad once you get the hang of it, as long as you only have a few shows each week to edit.