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CONVERTING .AVR files to DIVX or XVID

When connecting up your Echostar PVR5020 to your PC using USB, you can transfer recorded broadcasts over to the hard disk in your PC. However, there are 2 problems:

  1. The USB connection sucks!
    It'll take probably a lot of time to transfer the data. This is a confirmed problem, and taking in account there have been plenty of firmware upgrades which all didn't solve this, I don't think Echostar will actually fix this. However it works.. just be patient
  2. The Recorded files are not playable on your PC!
    The AVR format is not recognized, and your media player will not understand what to do with it. Obviously, burning it to disk won't make it playable in either your DVD or DivX/Xvid player.

This page will give you a rather quick introduction on converting the AVR extension files to XVID, which most DIVX players support. Converting to DivX is similar, which I assume you will understand after reading these instructions.

You are probably wondering why converting to DIVX rather and not to regular DVD format (MPEG2)? Well, that's because my home system plays XVID/DIVX, which takes considerably smaller sizes -e.g. more to push on a disk. As we record basically small series and documentaries which we don't share with many others, I therefore see no reason to burn recorded broadcasts towards DVD.

Note: Although you nowadays can install a driver from Echostar to open up the AVR files directly, my experience is that it works fine for playing the files, but after testing dozens of 'one-click' conversion tools, none of them were able to match the easiness and quality of the instructions below. Most convertors still did not recognize the format, others gave simply poor results.[update Sept '07]

LINUX users:  A visitor of this site reported that the procedure below also works fine using Project X under Ubuntu. Use it to convert to .TS and then use winff convert to .avi/divx. Thanks Kasper for this tip ;)

Requirements:

  • java client : The Sun Microsystems Java runtime client is required to run Project X.
  • Xvid: Have the latest version of the Xvid drivers installed if you want to convert to Xvid. Xvid is my choice over Divx as Xvid is opensource.

  • PROJECT X (website): Project X will be able to read the AVR format and convert it easily. The software is open source, but probably due to legal issues, you won't be able to find an executable on their website. It however explains how you can compile the version using Java, but the package is also downloadable through the download section of  www.doom9.net. Just expand the zip file to a folder on your harddisk.
    Ensure you have the JAVA client installed!
  • Gordian Knot Rip Pack (doom9): This is the GordianKnot package with all tools you need for ripping (essentially from DVD) and converting video files. It can be safely installed under Windows XP & Vista.

Settings:

  • Configure your XviD settings. Click here...

Ripping / Demuxing your AVR file using Project X:

Step 1: Copy from recorder to PC

  • Connect the PVR to your PC using a USB connection (note: HDD timeshifting/recording won't work on your PVR anymore as long as it's connected to a PC!). The disk of your PVR will be available in your Explorer.
  • Copy the necessary AVR files to a folder your PC.

Step 2: Demux the Audio and Video

  • launch Project X through ProjextX.JAR", and click on the "+" sign at the bottom part of the screen (fig 1).
    Though the "+" or "-" you can add multiple AVR files to your project.

Main screen of ProjectX
Fig 1

In the example below (fig 2) I've added 2 AVR files to my project

fig 2

Step 3: Select parts of the video to export/demux
(note: this is optional!! - if you want to process the whole files, continue with step 4):

If you don't need all of the recorded program, you could choose to cut out bits and pieces at this stage. Anything cut out will shorten the conversion process later on, however you can choose to convert the complete file and cut or copy bits and pieces out of it when it's converted.

To select  bits and pieces to decode:

Use the "+" and "-" signs (1) and (2) on above window (fig 2) to set the markers. Red will be skipped, green will be written to your new file. In the example below (fig 3)you can see I cut out a bit in the middle and the end.


fig 3

Step 4: demux the files!

  • Click on the "Quickstart" button to start the demux process. A window (fig 4) will pop up with all kinds of info and probably here-and-there some warnings or errors.. Don't worry too much... let it continue.


fig 4

After this process, the file will be demuxed (video is split from audio in separate files). You can close Project X

 

Converting to Xvid using Gordian Knot

  • Open Gordian knot
  • Click [prepare the VOBs] (fig 5)


fig 5

This will bring up the DGINDEX frameserver (fig 6).

note: By detault, you don't have to adjust settings if you're working with PAL, but you can doublecheck that the output method is "demux all tracks".

  • Select [File]-[Open] and select the .M2V file that ProjectX created and click on [ADD].

Note - you can add multiple files by using the CTRL key.


fig 6

  • SAVE your project by pressing function key [F4]. This will be done in an instant.
  • Close the application

 

  • Open GordianKnot again.
  • Click [open] on the left bottom of the screen to open the newly generated .D2V project.


fig 6

From now on, changes you make within Gordian knot will be calculated throughout all fields, showing you impact of those changes. What we need to do is find the right setting to get our compression without sacrificing quality too much. You can theoretically use Gordianknot to make an exact 1 CD or DVD large file, but that's only interesting for DVD rips. In our project it doesn't matter that much.

  • Select the Xvid Codec under the Bitrate tab (fig 7)
  • Adjust the "total file size" (fig 7) to how large you want the file to become.
    Obviously, the larger the better, but notice the "bits/pixel*frame" (fig 8) changing when you adjust the allowed size. You notice it? Well, you might see colors actually warning you of a bad quality. I usually go for somewhere between 0.22 and 0.25 as end result.

fig 7


fig 8

 

  • Check the "resolution" tab (fig 9) - ensure "PAL" (1) is selected, assuming you use PAL of course ;)
  • Select he aspect ratio (2) (was it  a 16:9 or 4:3 ?).
    Tip: If you don't know for sure, in the preview window select select to show the movie example as "resized". then check if format is OK. -e.g focus on round objects if they are really round -e.g. wheel of a car-.
  • On the resolution tab you can also cut out (crop) edges, like the bottom and top black bars when watching a 16:9 broadcast. Use "Auto Crop" (3), or manually select. Through the preview window you will see what's happening.
  • Decide the output resolution (4) for the avi file. I usually select 640 or 720, but of course don't oversize (numbers will get red). Obviously, the smaller size, the more compact your files will become.


fig 9


fig 10

  • When you're satisfied on the resolution settings, double-check the bit rate and the pixel/frame ratio (fig 8) - is it still over 0.22?
  • Click on "Save & Encode" (2 in fig 10)
  • In the next window (fig 11) you don't have to adjust usually, so click "save & encode" again. Enter a location for the .AVS file and confirm.


fig 11


fig 12

Now you get to the encoding panel.

  • On the audio 1 tab (fig 13), select MP3, average bit rate and select the .MP2 file that was created by projectX (fig 14). This will transform the sound file into an MP3 file.


fig 13


fig 14

 

  • Click on the XviD tab (fig 12)
  • Ensure multiple pass is selected - otherwise you get bad quality
  • I'm assuming you've set the XviD options. You can double check the settings by pressing the first pass and second pass buttons

When all done, click "add job to encoding queue" and start the conversion process when you like to. You can select multiple projects, and let all run one after another like during the night. During the conversion process, the MP3 file is created, the video file is scanned, and a compressed copy is created. This requires CPU power and can take a rather long time.

When finished you will have a ready-to-play .AVI file.

Enjoy!

To cut and/or save scenes out of the generated .AVI file, click here...

 

 

 

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