Saturday, May 21, 2005

More Quicktime fun

The newest version of the Eye TV software, 1.8, has a H.264 preset. The starting quality settings are too high, but I found that if I dial it down enough it can do the encoding in a fairly reasonable time and it looks darn good. I’m using 1024 x 576 resolution, 2000 kbits/sec, and 29.97 fps. A 40 minute t.v. show comes out just over 600 MB. Sweet!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

EyeTV 500

MrLittlePants and I jumped on the EyeTV bandwagon last week, deciding that we need to see Alias just as soon as anyone else. If you’re entering the HDTV world for the first time, be prepared for some orientation — it's not as simple as you’d like. The highest quality resolution is enormously huge, with more horizontal pixels than a 20-inch iMac has. Furthermore, it takes a surprising amount of processing power just to display that many pixels in motion; again, more than the iMac has. The HD broadcasts that we’re getting aren’t that big. They’re 1280x720. Even so, the EyeTV software drops half the pixels to make sure it can display the stream smoothly. I think this is unnecessary, at least with the increased effeciency of Quicktime 7, and I hope that future EyeTV software upgrades allow me to watch MPEG-2 streams at that resolution in full quality. Until then, here’s a trick to get that quality without even having to buy the Quicktime MPEG-2 decoder:
  1. Export the recording from EyeTV.
  2. Choose Quicktime as the format.
  3. In the Quicktime options, verify that MPEG-4 is the codec and change key frames to automatic.
  4. Export that ho.
I wish that H.264 didn't take so long to encode. I tried using that and gave up after 24 hours. Yikes. That's so strangely long, I feel like something is just broken. But with these settings, it encodes in about 3 times the playback time. The size, unfortunately, is only a little smaller than the original MPEG-2 stream. I tried 3ivx and it didn't look as good. Anyway, we got the hardware. Now we’re just waiting for ever smoother software from Elgato and Apple.