I have totally hopped on board with the whole mobile video thing since I got my iPhone a couple months ago. My commute home is precisely the right length to knock out an hour-long TV show (sans commercials, of course). Instead of buying content from iTunes, however, I have been working with the tools I have at hand.
My old technique was roundabout and time-consuming. I would record TV shows (up this month: The Closer, The 4400, Rescue Me and Rock of Love with Bret Michaels) on my Series 2 Tivo, then transfer the shows to a PC via Tivo2Go. Then I would run the show through a DirectShow filter to remove the DRM.
To encode the shows to H.264 and strip out commercials, I would use Nero Vision — quite possibly the buggiest, most crash-prone piece of software I have ever run across. Nero does not yet have an iPhone encoding profile, so I do the highest resolution portable video one I can find and just live with the results.
But now, my life has gotten that much easier.
I’ve been monkeying around with SnapStream’s Beyond TV PVR software for the last year, using it to record and watch high-definition over-the-air content. In its most recent beta, however, SnapStream has added H.264 compression to its capabilities, making the transfer process to an iPhone incredibly easy.
Here’s the process in a nutshell:
A show gets recorded (my BTV box has 2 ATSC and 2 analog tuners, so the box can do a lot at once). Immediately after recording terminates, a post-processing event first does a SmartSkip analysis, identifying and marking likely commercials. Then ShowSqueeze automatically compresses the file to an iPhone-sized H.264 file and posts the new file to an RSS feed. With this profile, an hour-long show is around 400MB.
I have iTunes installed on another computer, so I configured iTunes to consume the feed as a podcast. Whenever the feed has a new item, iTunes automatically downloads a copy and puts it in my Podcast library. The next time I sync the iPhone, the show is automatically uploaded and is ready to watch.
Pretty. Damn. Sweet.
I can’t go into a whole lot more detail at this point, since I am under a nondisclosure agreement as part of the beta program. However, SnapStream already posted everything I’ve talked about, here. SnapStream says the company plans to sell the H.264 capabilities as part of a codec pack once Version 4.7 goes gold.
Tivo, you are on warning. You are right on the brink of losing a longtime customer.