Category Archives: TiVo2Podcast

TiVo2Podcast update

It’s been a long time since I’ve put a new version of TiVo2Podcast out there for people to play with.  I’ve made a lot of changes and tightened things up alot.  There’s still a lot of things I want to do but haven’t gotten to, but I did finally put up a public git repository in case others wanted to join in the fun.

The major changes in this release:

  • Commercials are detected and chapters are added around them.
  • Added “clean up” functionality so that you can deleted unneeded files and the database and rss feeds can reflect that.
  • Increased the wait time for locating the tivo from 2 seconds to 5.
  • Fixed problem created by quotes in the show description.
  • Attempt to avoid re-encoding dupes by checking the program id.
  • Lost of behind the scenes refactoring.

The first item I consider a major enhancement, so I put it in italics.  To make that work, you’ll need to get wine, comskip, and build a helper app.  The documentation is in the hastily wrote README. (A reminder, this is intended for PERSONAL USE ONLY, do not set up podcast feeds and violate the ethics (and also the laws) of copyright left and right.)

As always, this has run daily for months and months on linux. It should work on other UNIXes just fine. On Windows, I have no idea.

Download: tivoscripts-20110123.tar.gz

Addings chapters to an existing mp4/m4v file

In the process of working on my TiVo to Video Podcast stuff I finally got to the point where I wanted to do something about commercials.  The ideal solution would be callable from ruby or at least the command line so that it can be used in an automated manner.  After a few weeks or research and playing around I found a workable solution that required me writing some code.

Early on I made the design decision to put chapter markers in around the commercials rather than cut them out.  The main reason for this is “What if the detection is wrong?”  For a 30 minute show, you’d end up missing more than half it in a worse case scenario.  Since its easy to jump ahead to the next chapter on my iPhone and iPad this seemed like a good decision.

Here’s the three most important facts I learned in my research…

  1. Commercial detection: No question, comskip is the right tool to use here.  The downside is that by default its a windows-only command line tool.  It works perfectly under wine, so that mitigates it.  Right now I use it via wine, but the source is available, so in the long run it would be good to have a native linux binary to call.  Comskip creates a variety of output formats, so I picked one that seemed to be the easiest to work with.
  2. There is no good command line tool to add chapters to an existing mp4/m4v file: I dug around and found a lot of potential solutions, but the all were either not on linux, couldn’t take the resultant files that comskip spit out, or just not a good fit for what I was doing.
  3. The MP4v2 library had primitives for adding the chapters: From this point forward, it was just writing some code that did exactly what I wanted.

The code below expects three arguments: 1) The video file to work on, 2) The chapter file output from comskip in ZoomPlayer chapter format, 3) and the total length in seconds of the video file.  The last one I might be able to remove once I have more brain time to devote to this.

#include <fstream>
#include <string>
#include <boost/lexical_cast.hpp>
#include <boost/regex.hpp>
#include <mp4v2/mp4v2.h>
// Compile with something like: g++  AddChapterInfo.cpp -o AddChapterInfo -lmp4v2 -lboost_regex
int main(int argc, char *argv[])
    char *m4vfilename = argv[1];
    char *chapfilename = argv[2];
    uint32_t total_length = boost::lexical_cast<uint32_t>(argv[3]);
    std::ifstream chapfile(chapfilename);
    MP4FileHandle m4vfile = MP4Modify(m4vfilename);
    // Add the chapter track, have it reference the first track
    // (should be the video) and set the "clock ticks per second" to 1.
    // (We may want to set that to 1000 to go into milliseconds.)
    MP4TrackId chapter_track = MP4AddChapterTextTrack(m4vfile, 1, 1000);
    boost::regex chpre("^AddChapterBySecond\\((\\d+),");
    boost::smatch rem;
    std::string s;
    uint32_t last_time = 0;
    while (getline(chapfile, s))
        if (boost::regex_search(s, rem, chpre))
            uint32_t t = boost::lexical_cast<int>(rem[1]) * 1000;
            if (t > 0)
                MP4AddChapter(m4vfile, chapter_track, t - last_time);
                last_time = t;
    if (total_length - last_time > 0)
        MP4AddChapter(m4vfile, chapter_track, total_length - last_time);
    return 0;

I’ve been using this code for over two weeks straight and has been operating perfectly, but obviously this code could be made a lot more robust, especially in the areas of error handling. I’ve only run into issues when comskip guesses commercials wrong, which is only payoff for putting chapters in instead of nuking the commercials all together.

In the long run, I should either write and release a generic tool that helps the next poor sap like me or work on using swig bindings to mp4v2 so I could just do the calls in ruby.

Tivo2Podcast update

I’ve made a few updates since my last release a few weeks ago. I thought I’d toss an updated version out there.  What’s new in this version:

  • Duration is no longer hard-coded to 32:00 and actually reflects the duration of the show
  • The script will attempt to find the TiVo via Bonjour/mDNS/ZeroConf/DNS-SD/whatever unless passed a -t flag with the TiVo’s IP address. If you have more than one TiVo, it will go with the first one it finds.
  • Moved the stuff in lib to lib/tivo so the package is more easier sucked in by something like encap or stow

Download: tivoscripts-20100314.tar.gz

When I get some motivation later in the week, I’ll put the git archive online, incase anyone wants to clone it and do some development on it.

TiVo -> Video Podcast

Previously on “You can imagine where it goes from here”: We released a script to download stuff from the tivo, and then made some improvements to it.

After two years of saying I was going to fully automate the process of downloading and transcoding shows for my iPhone, I finally got off my ass and did it.  The script is called TiVo2Podcast and it not only does the downloading and transcoding, but it stuffs the resultant video into a an RSS feed for easy consumption/playback by a podcatcher such as iTunes. I’m now automatically getting the shows off my TiVo and onto my iPhone for easy commute-time consumption. (I commute by train, I do not recommend commute-time consumption if you are driving.)

The ruby script wraps tivodecode, HandbrakeCLI, and AtomicParsley and is intended to be run from cron.  I’ve tested this on Linux, but it should run on any UNIX-alike, but it won’t run on windows since I make liberal use of the system() call. Also, this is intended for PERSONAL USE ONLY, do not set up podcast feeds and violate the ethics (and also the laws) of copyright left and right.

This is a very early version and can certainly use some tweaks and enhancements, primarily in configuring the shows you want to capture.  Right now, configuration is in the form of doing INSERT statements in SQLite.  Not very friendly, but it gets the job done until I can make a quick and dirty question based TUI. Here’s an example of setting up getting the best fucking news team on the planet:

INSERT INTO configs (config_name, show_name, rss_filename, rss_link,
                     rss_baseurl, rss_ownername, rss_owneremail, ep_to_keep, encode_decomb)
            VALUES ('tds', 'The Daily Show', 'tds.xml', '', 
                    '', 'Keith T. Garner', '', 4, 1);

Download tivoscripts-20100304.tar.gz and let me know what you think. Make sure you read the README!

[Update 3/5: Forgot to add that all the code I wrote is under the Simplified BSD License, so have at it.]