Creating a Compressed Copy with TV Archive on a Friday night

This weekend fellow UWHS writer fasthair gave me the secret decoder ring for our AC3 filter issue. After a quick installation, my WHS was creating copies of new Recorded TV for my Zune and placing them in my WHS Videos folder. The functionality of Windows Media Center, Windows Home Server and Zune is now working! Thank you fasthair!

Background – The AC3 Issue

With WHS, WMC and TV Archive we want to integrate our portable media. Microsoft has given us the tools but we all have the same unfortunate issue.

The issue: We cannot use the “create a compressed copy” feature for WHS. The check box is there but it will not work. Huh?

Let me explain…

Once your TV show has recorded in WMC, WHS and TV Archive will copy the file to your Recorded TV folder. As added functionality, if you want WHS to create a smaller version of the show for your portable device, you can choose in the settings to have WHS save this smaller copy to the Videos folder. This is a great idea but it does not work.

Let me explain further…

Again, the functionality of saving a smaller copy does not work. What basically happens is that TV Archive will start to process the Recorded TV show, and if the show has AC3 audio like most shows, the process will stall. Your recordings will never make it to your WHS. Microsoft did not include the ability to decode the AC3 audio stream so WHS will just stop and not process any of the files. With the functionality turned off the TV Archive functions properly and does not stall.

Many of us have been frustrated by this issue and have not a solution for getting Recorded TV to our mobile devices.

Mental note: I guess if the show did not have AC3 audio then it would work but most shows have it.

 

 

Solution

There have a been a few other options for a solution to our issue recently but none have been as easy as what you about to read about!

fasthair sent me message over the weekend saying he had found a fix for the AC3 encoding issues we have all had when trying to create compressed copies. You can read about the fix directly at:

Problems Transcoding Recorded HDTV and Window 7 Media Center TV Archive

http://connecteddigitalworld.com/2009/12/20/problems-transcoding-recorded-hdtv-and-window-7-media-center-tv-archive/

A big thank you to fasthair for finding this quick and easy solution!

AC3 Filter Installation

According to the website http://code.google.com/p/ac3filter/

“AC3Filter is a high quality free audio decoder and processor filter. It allows media players to playback movies with AC3 and DTS audio tracks. Also it can process any audio track, much of processing options allows to adjust the sound in almost any way. It is possible to upmix any audio source to 6 channels. Filter can do multi-channel and digital (SPDIF) output. It can encode any audio source to AC3 on-the-fly and send it over SPDIF to the receiver.”

The site is a part of http://ac3filter.net/ although at the time of writing this I could not access the site.

Download the file from: http://ac3filter.googlecode.com/files/ac3filter_1_63b.exe

Installation is quick and easy. Close Windows Media Center and download the file.

Click on Next.

AC3Filter

Click on Next.

AC3Filter

Click on Next.

AC3Filter

Click on Next.

AC3Filter

Click on Next.

AC3Filter

Click on Finish. All done!

AC3Filter

Creating a Compressed Copy Video

Below is the video for the setup.

 

File Now in Zune

If you have not already done so, map your WHS Videos folder to your Zune so you can view the compressed files immediately!

Zune Videos

I have my video files set to manual so to add it to my Zune I just right mouse-click and select Sync with jpltim30.

Zune Videos

After a couple of minutes to Sync I am ready to take my Recorded TV shows on the road!

Zune Videos

Compressed Copies and Copy Protection

If the show you are recording is NOT protected then the compressed copy is created right after the show finishes recording. I recorded the jury part of Survivor last night and WHS created my Zune file.

TV Archive

For some reason the second part of Survivor was “Copy Protected”. You can see the notation on the bottom of the screen. If a Recorded show is Copy Protected is will NOT create a compressed copy.

TV Archive

You can see my video folder has the first Survivor show but not the second copy protected show. The files are much smaller and the video quality is great.

TV Archive

Now, why one show was protected and the other was not does not make sense, but it is Charter and CBS that make that determination. Most of the shows on Charter are not protected so I can still enjoy most of my shows on Zune.

 

Conclusion

This solution works great. Thank you fasthair again for finding this easy filter for the AC3 issue. If you have not tried this functionality I would seriously suggest trying it!

See you next Friday night,

Tim

  • diehard

    Thanks Tim,

    Chris brought this up on a previous podcast on HHS when he was getting used to his newly purchased HTPC and used PP3's conpression for his Zune, it was frustrating. Glad to see UWHS come to the rescue.

  • http://bjdraw.com Ben

    Does this work if you just have the Zune software, or only with WHS?

  • Timothy Daleo

    The TV Archive and compression is only installed with WHS.

    However…

    I made a video to show how to do the conversion without WHS.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubQRH0Lw-y4

    Let me know how it works for you!

    Tim

  • Marcel Good

    So, what is the deal with AC3 and Windows? Both Windows Vista and Windows 7 are supposed to have an AC3 decoder. Afterall, these HDTV recordings play just fine in media center and media player. Why is it that we need to install AC3filter to transcode files containing AC3 audio or even playback .avi files with AC3 audio. I've been looking for an answer to this for a while now, but I haven't found anything.

  • Timothy Daleo

    As you mentioned, AC3 and WMC sound fine. The issue is when you try and use the WHS compression that the AC3 decode does not work. In addition, (without compression) if Zune does recognize a wtv file with AC3 you will end up with muted audio.

    http://hd.engadget.com/2009/08/14/zune-4-0-softwa

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  • yums

    Does anyone know how this works with the Shark007 Win7Codec pack? Will this conflict with that package?

    Any input would be appreciated.

  • Timothy Daleo

    I am not familiar with that package. Does Shark007 enable AC3 audio?

    Tim

  • yums

    Good question. I don't think the package includes any additional AC3 audio bits, but I could be totally wrong.

    http://www.shark007.net

    The Win7Codec pack is definitely one of the most popular packages for Media Center users as it allows more file types to play back natively in MC. Check it out.

    Adding codecs seems like a slippery slope and I don't like to mess with them if possible.

  • Timothy Daleo

    Just run with the AC3 codec we wrote about and you should be fine. I have been stable 100% since the install.

    Tim

  • yums

    Thanks Tim. I was actually able to get this working without downloading the additional AC3 filter, and just changing some options in the Shark007 Codec pack.

    For anyone already using Shark's codec pack, all I needed to do was uncheck the "Disable AC3Filter" option under the Config tab in Shark007 Settings app.

    TV Archive is now backing up and working great on my Zune. Thanks for the tips.

  • magron

    I need to try this when Im back home. This wouldnt help the transcoding in the actual zune software by any chance would it?

  • Timothy Daleo

    The AC3 fix will allow the compression to Zune size. I compress to my Zune all the time now.

    Tim

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  • Jim (jam3ohio)

    Tim–

    Many thanks for documenting this one. Installed this on my machine last night and presto! archiving and copying up to the server works now.

    Jim