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Capturing HD from Moto 3400 cable box

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Hi all, not been in here for a while.

I have been using a video converter (component in, s-vid out) and Magnavox DVD recorder for a while to record some shows off the cable box to MPEG2 (DVD).

Now we have a couple of WD TV Live media players and I have a networked PC storing/serving up video, I am converting a lot of MPEG2 material to Xvid to save on space. MPEG2 stuff that originally came from DVD looks great after conversion. But the stuff that came from cable > video converter > DVD Recorder > ripped to PC > converted from MPEG2 to Xvid - does not look so hot.

I have a media PC which sits behind the TV stack and is a quad-core Q6700, with 8GB RAM, 1TB drive and Windows 7 x64. At present there is no capture hardware, but I do have a PCI-E firewire card, if that helps.

I was hoping for some advice on what I could buy for the media PC to capture from the cable box (component out) to end up with files of good video quality on the media PC, at which point I can edit on my master PC upstairs (i7-2600k, 16GB, 128GB SSD+2TB spinny drive, Win 7 x64) and convert if needed to the final format (x264?).

I did a search on the forum and the Hauppauge 1212 is mentioned in a few places but that seems to be a few years old now and I was wondering if there is something better or more cost effective. My knowledge of PC hardware and software in general is very high but I've lost touch with current capture hardware options.

Looking to spend maybe up to $200-ish.

TIA!
post #2 of 43
Hauppauge 1212 works well yet and on sale at BB for $169, great if you have component. Or there is the newer model or collosus that uses hdmi - note I have the newer hauppage gaming edition that uses hdmi and it is really hard (unless using xbox) to capture with hdmi due to hdcp - most players trip it even when it isn't hdcp protected content.
The 1212 also will capture 5.1 DD via optical where the newer gamer model will not.
post #3 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by pacofortacos View Post

Hauppauge 1212 works well yet and on sale at BB for $169, great if you have component. Or there is the newer model or collosus that uses hdmi - note I have the newer hauppage gaming edition that uses hdmi and it is really hard (unless using xbox) to capture with hdmi due to hdcp - most players trip it even when it isn't hdcp protected content.
The 1212 also will capture 5.1 DD via optical where the newer gamer model will not.

I strongly agree that it is very hard to use the Colossus to capture HDMI. This is not Hauppauge's fault, as they are required to prevent HDCP protected content from being recorded. But the fact remains that you will find little use for the HDMI recording capabilities of the Colossus unless you use a method that removes HDCP (good luck with that, we're not even allowed to talk about it.)

I really, really like both the Hauppauge HD-PVR 1212 and the Hauppauge Colossus. I own both. But if you're going to be using Component video (because of the reasons stated above), I think it makes more sense to get the Hauppauge HD-PVR 1212 because it is portable. It is an exteneral USB device (a smallish box about a foot wide, 4 inches tall and 8 inches deep, and it is very light weight.)

One issue I have seen is that you may need to reinstall Windows on the machine you intend to use for captures because if you have a lot of junk on there (iTunes, VMware Workstation, etc.) you probably have too many USB filter drivers that will sort of destabilize your captures. If you perform a clean install of Windows, you'll probably have no issues performing captures.
post #4 of 43
I say go with the Colossus over the HD PVR 1212. The 1212 has been known to have power supply issues and the fact that it's an external box that takes up extra space and another power plug to use makes the decision easy in my eyes. The colossus is an internal PCI-Express card that adds the capability of recording from the HDMI. I don't know about most cable boxes, but I have no problem recording through the HDMI with my Directv HD DVR. Most channels are not encrypted except for the PPVs. Even if you have an issue, you can just record with the component dongle cable that comes packaged with the Colossus.

I generally record football games from the OTA and Sunday ticket channels and have never had a problem using the Colossus. Plus, it's quite a bit cheaper than the HD PVR 1212. I've had it for two years and have been very satisfied with the results.

Get the Colossus, plug it right into your motherboard and never have to worry about USB filter drivers.
Edited by DeanP66 - 4/2/13 at 12:39am
post #5 of 43
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys.

To be honest after 10 days of no replies I thought the thread had died, and for some reason I got no notifications when the replies came.

I will probably go for the colossus using the AV adapter cable.

Anyone any comments on the software that's bundled?

Or what to use to transcode the output from the colossus to high quality Xvid?
post #6 of 43
Why are you using XviD? If you're going to the trouble of doing this, you might as well use AVC.
post #7 of 43
In your OP you make the following statements in which you refer to capturing from "the cable box"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loobster View Post

I have been using a video converter (component in, s-vid out) and Magnavox DVD recorder for a while to record some shows off the cable box to MPEG2 (DVD).

I have a media PC which sits behind the TV stack and is a quad-core Q6700, with 8GB RAM, 1TB drive and Windows 7 x64. At present there is no capture hardware, but I do have a PCI-E firewire card, if that helps.

I was hoping for some advice on what I could buy for the media PC to capture from the cable box (component out) to end up with files of good video quality on the media PC, at which point I can edit on my master PC upstairs . . . .
Could you please define what you mean by "the cable box"?
Are you talking about capturing recordings made on a cable company DVR or are you talking about captures made from a standard STB.

Because if you are talking about capturing from an STB, my recommendations would be completely different and not involve either the Hauppauge Colossus or HD-PVR 1212 (or 1512).
post #8 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loobster View Post

I will probably go for the colossus using the AV adapter cable.

Anyone any comments on the software that's bundled?

Or what to use to transcode the output from the colossus to high quality Xvid?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post

Why are you using XviD? If you're going to the trouble of doing this, you might as well use AVC.
As Aleron implies, forget XviD. Should you eventually go the Hauppauge route, the capture devices have hardware H.264 encoders built in and the capture software allows setting a bitrate parameter so the recordings will be captured to the quality/filesize wanted without the need for further encoding. Save the resulting HD video stream in an .m2ts container, then use Video ReDo H.264 to edit the commercials (frame accurate editing with local recoding) and save as an .m2ts file for streaming to the WD Live. The WD Live is most happy with .m2ts files and delivers flawless performance. It is least happy with MKV.
post #9 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

In your OP you make the following statements in which you refer to capturing from "the cable box"
Could you please define what you mean by "the cable box"?
Are you talking about capturing recordings made on a cable company DVR or are you talking about captures made from a standard STB.

As the thread title suggests, it's from a Motorola 3400 DVR. I have HD recordings on there that I'd like to archive.
post #10 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post


As Aleron implies, forget XviD. Should you eventually go the Hauppauge route, the capture devices have hardware H.264 encoders built in and the capture software allows setting a bitrate parameter so the recordings will be captured to the quality/filesize wanted without the need for further encoding. Save the resulting HD video stream in an .m2ts container, then use Video ReDo H.264 to edit the commercials (frame accurate editing with local recoding) and save as an .m2ts file for streaming to the WD Live. The WD Live is most happy with .m2ts files and delivers flawless performance. It is least happy with MKV.

I see. I guess I hadn't really looked at what kind of disk space is used by the .m2ts file format.

I have noticed that the WD TV Live box plays pretty much anything, but I haven't had many .m2ts or .mkv files to try with it.
post #11 of 43
M2TS and MKV are just containers; they can hold different video and audio formats. XviD is less efficient than AVC, so if you have XviD and AVC at the same bitrate, XviD will offer worse quality. If you have XviD and AVC with the same quality, the AVC file will have a lower bitrate.

@ Kelson

Do the hardware AVC encoders allow you to use CRF, or can you only define a bitrate? I'd say the ideal situation would be to capture uncompressed video through HDMI and then use x264's CRF mode to transcode it, assuming quality is the primary goal.
post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post

@ Kelson

Do the hardware AVC encoders allow you to use CRF, or can you only define a bitrate? I'd say the ideal situation would be to capture uncompressed video through HDMI and then use x264's CRF mode to transcode it, assuming quality is the primary goal.
1) Don't know if the encoders allow CRF because I don't have one of these.

2) Capturing HDMI is not ideal. What is transmitted over HDMI are the rendered frames from the transport stream. The transport stream is a lossy MPEG-2 codec. You are then going to re-compress the rendered frames with another lossy codec. That is a generation loss. Ideal would be capturing the transport stream by using a TiVo or a cable-card PC tuner.
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loobster View Post

As the thread title suggests, it's from a Motorola 3400 DVR.
The title says nothing about DVR and I have no idea what a Moto 3400 is since I don't have cable -- hence my question.
post #14 of 43
@ Kelson

That would only be ideal if you intended to archive the original MPEG-2 footage and didn't have any space constraints. Since the OP intends to transcode to a more efficient format anyway, capturing the decompressed video through HDMI and transcoding to XviD or AVC ought to yield the same result as copying the MPEG-2 TS to the PC, since it will get decoded before being encoded again either way.
post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post

@ Kelson

That would only be ideal if you intended to archive the original MPEG-2 footage and didn't have any space constraints. Since the OP intends to transcode to a more efficient format anyway, capturing the decompressed video through HDMI and transcoding to XviD or AVC ought to yield the same result as copying the MPEG-2 TS to the PC, since it will get decoded before being encoded again either way.
Yes, in his specific situation that would be the best way since he has a DVR as his starting point. The likelihood of his cable DVR transmitting a non-HDCP protected stream is low. He will probably end up capturing through component HD.
post #16 of 43
Thread Starter 
Yeah that's the plan, to capture from the DVR using component and transcode in one shot to the final file format.

I need to open up the PC and make sure there's a PCI-E slot free that isn't right next to the video card, before I order the Colossus.

Thanks for the assistance so far guys.

So:

Capture from DVR > Colossus via component
Save as .m2ts
Use Video ReDo H.264 to edit (which will not re-encode) and re-save, again as .m2ts
Play on WD TV Live

Saw that Video Redo is almost $100. I may try the free trial of DVD Movie Factory Pro which advertises that is can handle AVCHD including "captured HD" material. That's only $50 if I buy it, and I've used earlier versions of their product with great success. Also, I already have Womble DVD 5.0 which I notice accepts .m2ts files, I have used that a lot with DVD stuff, I may try that. I am downloading a movie trailer now to see if it accepts the 1080i file and lets me chop it up.

Could I also ask about what kind of file sizes I should expect. I presume that you can choose what bitrate to capture at, and obviously this has a bearing on the filesize of the original capture.

What software would be best to use for transcoding if I wanted to lower the resolution a bit to save on space, and would it be worth it?
Edited by Loobster - 4/6/13 at 6:01pm
post #17 of 43
I would not go any less than 10 Mbps for H.264 encoded 1080i video and would probably stay around 12-13Mbps. That should give you a ~5GB/hr file before commercials are edited out. Don't trans-code a second time. It will probably take less time to just re-capture it with new settings than trans-code it anyway. How much compression you can tolerate depends on your display size and quality and your personal tolerance.
post #18 of 43
If you want to pull out all the stops, you can run 1080i video through an IVTC filter to restore the progressive 24 fps film rate. If quality is important to you, you shouldn't really use CBR for your transcodes; try something like CRF 19 to start, then decrease the value further if you're not satisfied with the results.
post #19 of 43
Thread Starter 
Another question:

For material that I want to archive and for which lower filesize is more important than retaining HD resolutions (read: the wife's cooking shows biggrin.gif), is it possible with the Colossus [and accompanying software] to capture directly (from 1080i input via component) in resolutions like 720x400? So that I can just remove ads without re-encoding, and retain DivX-type resolution/quality but with much lower filesizes than HD?

Or is that exactly what was meant by:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post


Should you eventually go the Hauppauge route, the capture devices have hardware H.264 encoders built in and the capture software allows setting a bitrate parameter so the recordings will be captured to the quality/filesize wanted without the need for further encoding.
post #20 of 43
Thread Starter 
Is anyone who has the colossus able to answer the above question for me?
post #21 of 43
I have to ask why in the world do you go to all this trouble when a cable card tuner is such a simple solution.
post #22 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

I have to ask why in the world do you go to all this trouble when a cable card tuner is such a simple solution.

I guess he wants to transfer/save his previous records from the DVR cable box. Anyway, the information that we have about the Colossus is the same that we have about the HD PVR 2 = Amazon Reviews cool.gif

post #23 of 43
Thread Starter 
Yeah I want to be able to time shift but still archive off HD material.

Does anyone have any suggestions about what bitrate to use at say, 640x400? (for less important material). I am wondering if there is a sweet spot.

I just installed the Colossus this evening, it was a breeze. Had a quick play with Arcsoft for capturing, about to do a few more tests now.
post #24 of 43
720x480 is SD resolution. A DVD Recorder set for 2hr mode (2 hr video on a DVD-R) will encode at ~4Mbps in MPEG-2 and give a very nice rendering with good SD PQ from a digital quality source. H.264/AVC is a more efficient codec -- meaning you can get equivalent PQ at a lower bitrate -- but not a miracle codec. I and others generally find a 30% reduction of bitrate to yield PQ equivalent to the MPEG-2 encoding. Others will strongly disagree and insist they can reduce bitrate by 75%.

So, I would suggest you start with a bitrate of ~2.8Mbps. Do a couple encodes and see how you like it. One of the characteristics of H.264/AVC vs. MPEG-2 is how it handles bit-starving the encodings. MPEG-2 PQ falls off quickly when bit-starved yielding visible artifacts like macro-blocking. With H.264 the PQ degrades gradually -- the picture gets softer with loss of fine detail, especially shadow detail. Depending on your display and viewing environment, you may not notice these effects of lowering the H.264 bitrate further -- or you may not care. In which case you may be able to lower the H.264 encoding bitrate further and still be perfectly happy with the result.

So start with 2.8Mbps for H.264 and do encodings with higher and lower bitrates to see what you like for that type of program.
post #25 of 43
Thread Starter 
Ok great, thanks Kelson.

I was looking at a couple of downloaded mp4 and even some AVI files, and they are 640x400 (ish) and the bitrates are 1Mbit/sec or less ... but still look pretty good on the TV, and are 165-175MB for a 21 minute show or 320-350MB for a 42 minute show. How do they get such good PQ with such a low bitrate? Do they capture in HD then use better software to re-encode (maybe 2 or 3 pass) to get the quality so good?

I tried with 1.2Mbit and could not get the quality close to the download, but the filesize was much bigger.
post #26 of 43
Using CRF mode with the x264 encoder allows you to target a specific quality level, rather than a specific bitrate, which provides better results with H.264 than using CBR. The downside of maintaining constant quality is that filesize becomes somewhat unpredictable, but it's still relatively stable when using the same CRF value across multiple files.

Video quality comprises multiple metrics. SD can look good with very low bitrates, as there aren't that many pixels to encode compared to HD. Raising the resolution requires a similar increase in bitrate in order to prevent visual artifacts, such as blocking and banding, from appearing. H.264 is twice as efficient as H.262 (the same MPEG-2 format used in ATSC/DVD), so it can achieve quality nearly equal to the original broadcast with half the bitrate (assuming ideal settings are employed). Using CBR or other sub-optimal settings can have significant impacts on encoding quality (e.g. using diamond search instead of uneven multi-hexagon search for motion detection). As a result, resolution alone is not a good indicator of video quality, as a HD video full of blocking and banding (e.g. most YouTube videos) may look inferior to SD encodes without such artifacts.
post #27 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loobster View Post

Ok great, thanks Kelson.

I was looking at a couple of downloaded mp4 and even some AVI files, and they are 640x400 (ish) and the bitrates are 1Mbit/sec or less ... but still look pretty good on the TV, and are 165-175MB for a 21 minute show or 320-350MB for a 42 minute show. How do they get such good PQ with such a low bitrate? Do they capture in HD then use better software to re-encode (maybe 2 or 3 pass) to get the quality so good?

I tried with 1.2Mbit and could not get the quality close to the download, but the filesize was much bigger.

Anyone got any comment on this question please?
post #28 of 43
They capture the original bitstream (bit for bit identical to the source) and then offline re-encode the content using variable bitrate/multipass (software) encoders.
OTOH You are using a realtime hardware encoder which takes the uncompressed video & audio signal and re-encodes it back to the compressed state to re-create a bitstream.
The best quality with your hardware will to be to capture at max-bitrate the hardware device allows you to select, and then offline re-encode to a lower bitrate & resolution with a software encoder.
You may not want to invest that kind of effort / time, or you may be satisfied with one of the profiles offered by your hardware device?
post #29 of 43
Thread Starter 
Thanks for that.

I'm willing to put plenty of CPU time into it (and to a certain extent, money for software) to achieve significantly better results, if anyone has any suggestions on what good transcoding software would be.

So basically capture in 1080i and software re-encode with multiple passes. It's kind of what I have done before with other stuff using Xvid (albeit not from a HD source), so I guess my new procedure should include x264 instead?
post #30 of 43
CRF mode doesn't require multiple passes, and while x264 can do multi-pass encoding, CRF mode produces superior results. Multi-pass encoding is used for XviD encoders, which don't have a CRF mode. The best H.264 encoder is x264, and it's thankfully FOSS. Recording from component output will always yield inferior results to using the original bitstream (in an absolute sense), but whether you could see a difference in the results is uncertain.
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