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Monday, April 30, 2007

My over the top home theater setup, converting HD content for AppleTV

OK, the home theater itself is not all that great, but baby, I got INFRASTRUCTURE.

Aside from the G5 with a 2TB RAID that has 200 GB of MP3s, AACs, pictures, TV shows and movies, I've got three uncompressed HD editing stations in the next room all routed and connected to/from the home theater stuff in the next room.

And a couple of thousand feet of cable tying it all together. The linked article above is on my HD for Indies blog, which is (in part) about making independent films with your own gear in your home, so I was showing what all can be involved in getting that all up and working correctly.

Just for kicks, I fed some HD-DVD content over the analog outputs into the studio and captured it, stripped out the 3:2 pulldown, and used Compressor to write it out as AppleTV spec 720p24 H.264. Took a LOOOOONG time and doesn't look anywhere near as good as the HD-DVD source (spaceship battle sequence from Serenity). Technically, that is a violation of the DMCA, even though for private purposes (media shifting).

More interesting would be if I could record HD cable content and convert it for AppleTV playback - HDNet has been running Blade Runner in high def, and it isn't available any other way. While I could make an HD-DVD of it (DVD Studio Pro can burn HD-DVD content on dual layer DVD-R media) which would look better than the AppleTV approach (twice the bitrate for same size & codec), it wouldn't be AppleTV navigable/surfable/easy.

It is inefficient as hell though - takes lots of CPU horsepower, gear, disk space, processing time, etc. Certainly more than is an efficient use of time.

-mike

36 comments:

Stan said...

So Mike, have you encoded for Apple TV any "original" HD source material you may have on hand? I could see how re-encoding might not look terrific but a master file encoded directly to the Apple TVs H.264 spec should look "OK" yes/no?

Stan
Pollywog Theater LLC
www.pollywogtheater.com

rob said...

Mike,

Yes I would like to see some footage it you have

rob

Mike Curtis said...

Stan - I did some tests of camera original material (even uncompressed HD straight off camera never compressed off a $100K Sony Cinealta) for HD-DVD, but not AppleTV yet.

I have a bunch of footage that was shot 35mm and scanned at 2K scaled to HD res, I've done HD-DVD tests but I should do AppleTV tests.

All in my abundant (ha) spare time.

-mike

Steve Speed said...

Why start a blog if you don't have time for it?

witke said...

Here's a music video I shot on a sony Z1 and converted to view from my appletv to my 720p projector....

http://www.witzke-studio.com/hd/dyingindiana720.mov

I'd love to here how it looks on your rig!

file specs; sony Z1, 60i/1/60th sec, 0 gain, nattress bleach, nattress smart deinterlace, export quicktime h264 1280X720 24p.

I only spend an hour shooting the band and about 4 hours in post (FCP)

witzke said...

oops.... that's the .mov file.... here's the appletv export file....

http://www.witzke-studio.com/hd/dyingindiana720.m4v

Mike Curtis said...

Steve - I chip away at it as I have time for fun.

Linking to other folks' stuff, doing my own testing as I can, all fun stuff.

I'd be perfectly happy to see anybody else's test footage and link to it, or print their R&D efforts - I don't have to be the only one working on this.

Steve - keep in mind the nature of this endeavor - it is free to read (and nobody's forcing you to).

-mike the blogger

Mike Curtis said...

Witzke - downloading now, I'll check it out.

Mike Curtis said...

Witzke - the appletv one just gives me text gob - please reformat your link or something to make that easier to get.

witzke said...

hmm.... I guess those m4v files need to be zipped or stuffed to be webported.... ( files same size as unzipped... so am I hurting it any? )

so here it be....

http://www.witzke-studio.com/hd/dyingindiana720.m4v.zip

and here's some footage of some vintage arcade machines shot with same cam....

http://www.witzke-studio.com/hd/arcade.mov.zip

smokeonit said...

the compressed cable HD stuff must look horrible when encoded... did you do 2 pass??? also h264 has a problem with 1080i interlaced stuff, the 720p footage from ABC/FOX is better with h264... there should be a huge difference when comapring nbc/cbs/mynetwork/pbs to abc/fox stuff!

Eric Peacock said...

You can let the m4v as text download to a window, and when done do a save as and then remove the .txt that will be appended to the .m4v. That should work.

When media files come show up in a browser as text it means your web host doesn't have proper MIME types for that type of media set up. It's fairly common with .m4v, but I've seen it with other formats as well.

The zip will save the headache though, so no worries.

witzke said...

thanks for the tip!

I'm amazed at how good the mv4 files look considering there reduced size....

let me know how it looks on your end!

Anonymous said...

I have had FANTASTIC results converting footage. Yes, it takes a long time to convert, but I did a 4.2 Gig file and it turned out about 85 Megs after conversion using QT's export to AppleTV setting.

The source footage was from some park footage I shot in the fall with the Canon A1. The footage looked incredible on the AppleTV...very little compression added from I could see, though I know it's there.

KW

Stephan Fleet said...

Hey guys, I worked on the Ghost Whisperer Webisode series, we shot on the HVX at 720p24p with Mini35 adaptors and zeiss lenses.

Just for kicks I cut out a 720p Trailer that totally works on the Apple TV! I put it on mine and blasted it on my 120" projection screen and it looked amazing!

So here you go:

http://www.fansofgw.com/tostrailer/images/TOS_Trailer_720p.mov

Please note, this is NOT an ad. This is just a guy geeking out over the Apple TV that happens to have original content!

I'm thinking of doing a VODcast feed to, to make it easier to download!

Wiley said...

I posted a brief how-to on encoding divx with .srt subtitles for Apple TV on MacRumors:

http://forums.macrumors.com/newreply.php?do=postreply&t=289747

If anyone can find an easier way, please let me know!

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