Saturday, May 14, 2011

How To Transcode Media / Video Files Permanently With TVersity Media Server (PS3 Guide)

This is a simple fix to avoid transcoding / converting media multiple times. I've used the PS3 as the example playback device (because that's what I use), but this should work for any device capable of connecting to TVersity Media Server.

If you use TVersity Media Server with a PS3 (or 360), you might notice that some files are very stubborn to play, particularly if you attempt to fast forward or browse the video with the PS3's thumbnail browsing (i.e. pressing the square button during playback to browse specific intervals). Flash video (.FLV extension) is perhaps the most stubborn of all.

These problems are often caused by TVersity being unable to transcode the media quickly enough to provide the PS3 with the data requested. I've found the method described in this guide is particularly good for playing / transcoding flash video content into a format that will fast forward and rewind.

Be aware, some files might suffer a degradation in quality (as well as an increase in size) - however, for most downloaded content, there is little or no noticeable difference whatsoever. If you're just getting started with TVersity on the PS3, I highly recommend the post Optimizing TVersity for the PS3.

10 Steps To Permanently Transcode Media:

1. Place all of your stubborn media into a directory of your choice, e.g. C:\tmp

2. Share this directory in TVersity Media Server, with the setting "Always Transcode"

3. On the TVersity Settings tab, set Temporary Media Files to a nice big number (the default is 8192mb, I'd go for at least 20 or 30gb, depending on how much media you intend to transcode).

4. Browse to your newly-created directory on your PS3, and test that each file will play individually. If something refuses to play whatsoever, even with Transcode set to "Always", get it out of there. The file is either broken, or you don't have the correct codec to play it.

5. Ensure that the PS3 has Sequential Playback turned on (In the PS3 XMB, Settings -> Video Settings -> Sequential Playback).

6. Play the first file in the folder on the PS3, and sit back and relax. Turn off the TV if you like. All the files are going to have to play in their entirety, in real time (could be many hours depending on what you have queued up). This is a good thing to run overnight while sleeping, when the PS3 is not in use. You should ensure sequential playback is working; occasionally some files can cause playback to stop rather than continuing to the next file.

7. When the files have completed playing, browse to the temporary media folder on the PC running TVersity. The default locations are:
  • XP: C:\Program Files\TVersity\Media Server\data
  • Vista / 7:  C:\ProgramData\TVersity\Media Server\data
If you can't find the directory, simply click the "View Files" button under Temporary Media Files (see screenshot above).
    8. Look for files with the extension MPEG16 and a whole lotta characters after that. See screenshot below.

    9. Rename those files to their original names, changing the extension to .MPG.

    10. Move files to desired location, share (setting TVersity to Never transcode), and playback without the need to ever transcode them again. You'll find that not only will fast-forwarding / rewinding work much better, but you will experience less glitching over WiFi, and take a huge CPU/memory load off your PC.

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