Monday, November 01, 2004

Getting Channel 9 Videos onto my iPaq.

For those who don't know... has some very cool videos of interviews with Microsoft Staffers. I've always enjoyed watching these videos, but have never had enough time to do so. Then I remembered the one biggest activity that causes time to move slowly... exercizing at the gym.

I have an iPaq 5550 that will play wmv files with the built in Windows Media Player, but for some reason I couldn't get the channel 9 videos to play. A quick email conversation with Scoble pointed me to some ideas. It sounds like they are doing multiple bit rates, as well as variable bit rates. I went off and downloaded the windows media encoder so that I could transcode the videos to a more ipaq friendly format.

Here's the process.

Visited the video forum on channel9

I used the "downloadthemall" plugin for firefox to grab all the windows media files (this was a little tough because they have links to both the streaming and download videos which share the wmv extension. I had to manually weed out the ones that were streaming)

Download the windows media encoder

I used the profile editor to create a new profile that was suitable for my ipaq
32kbps, 44khz, mono CBR for audio. Since this is primarily about the audio, I didn't want to be stingy with the audio bit-rate.

5 second buffer
video smoothness of 75

This produces files that are about 1/4 the size of the originals. I'm definitely losing quality, and doing a transcode instead of a second encoding of the original material doesn't help. It would be nice if they would start producing 2 videos, one that was CBR and smaller to fit on my iPaq... but so far this seems like it will work.

To do the encoding I've downloaded all the files into one directory and then use the batch encoder to encode them.
This is the command string I'm using:

cscript.exe WMCmd.vbs -input "c:\MSDN Videos" -output "c:\MSDN Videos\Converted" -loadprofile "c:\MSDN Videos\pocketpc.prx"

In the future I'll just watch the videos XML feed and download those... although it would be nice to setup the podcasting stuff. That will probably be the next step... setup ipodder to download the videos (does the channel9 video feed support ipodder?) and then afterwards run a bat file to transcode and delete the videos.

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