TySuiteJ and VLC: A Great Team

I started to write up a whole summary of the various video conversion tools I had tested, but after a while, it got very frustrating because none of them was working particularly well. I’m starting to think that it has more to do with the fact that I was trying to use the h264 codec instead of the normal MPEG4/xvid codec. h264 is slooooow to convert, and apparently my computer is too slow to keep up, which is why I think I was having audio sync problems.
At any rate, I’ve still got that post written up as a draft, so maybe I’ll do a little more work on that another day, this time without h264. For now though, here’s the very geeky explanation of how I got things working using TySuiteJ and VLC. Non-geeks are free to move on to something else now.
I started out using TySuiteJ to download my Tivo shows into MPEG2 format on my computer. I would then run these files through the converters and see how they would turn out. One of these converters was VLC. I’m actually using an old version (0.8.2) since the new one seems to not work as well, or at least, it slows down my computer significantly. It’s a little tricky to figure out how to use VLC to transcode, but I pretty much followed the guide found here. Right now, I’m playing with some settings to resize the video, but the 480×480 that the Tivo directly outputs seems to be okay, though possibly a little bit stretched.
After getting this working, I tried TySuiteJ’s web interface out. See, VLC can not only play a crapload of media files, it can also play (and thus capture) network streams. This is nice because it takes out the step where I have to download the MPG file from the Tivo. Instead, I give VLC the URL of the network stream provided by TySuiteJ, and use the same steps to transcode this stream into an iPod-friendly video.
It all seems to be working pretty well. It takes VLC about 30 minutes to stream and transcode a one hour TV show, whereas most of the converters I was using before took 45 minutes to an hour to convert, and that was after 8-10 minutes to copy the file from the Tivo to my computer. And VLC does all this without pegging my CPU at 100%, so I can do other things while it’s converting. And that makes it a big winner in my book.