Topfield PVR DVB-stream to DVD - Mac OS X HOWTO


This HOWTO shows you how to transfer your Topfield PVR-recordings to your Mac and a dvd, using mostly free/open source software. If you follow this HOWTO, it should leave you with a dvd that is compatible with most standalone dvd-players as well as all software decoders. This HOWTO assumes that you are familiar with using the Mac OS X command line and that you have all the required programs installed.

About My Setup

I have a Topfield TF5100PVRc dvb-recorder and an Apple PowerBook G4-computer with Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther). As far as I know these instructions are valid for the entire Topfield 5x00-series of PVR's.

Software used in this HOWTO

* To be able to view the recorded files in MPEG Streamclip the Apple Quicktime MPEG-2 Playback Component is required. It is still possible to transfer and demux the recordings without the MPEG-2 component but you will have to do the editing in the PVR.
** All of these programs are distributed as uncompiled source files. If you require precompiled binaries I suggest that you download ffmpegX (shareware) and copy these files from its Resources-directory. (Ctrl-click on the ffmpegX-file and choose Show Package Contents. The Resources-directory is located within the Contents-directory.)

Step 1: Edit, Transfer and De-multiplex

Connect the USB-cable between the PVR and your Mac, check that the PVR is turned on. Start MPEG Streamclip and open the Preferences-window, check Fix streams with data breaks and Enable Altair. Choose Files from the Altair-menu, select the file you want to transfer from the DataFiles-directory and click Open.

The file has not been transfered yet and any edits that you now do will not take place for real before you either Save As... or transfer the file. If you want to remove any excess material or commercials from the recording you can set the in- and out-points by moving the slider to the desired place and pressing either i or o. You can trim or cut the selected material by choosing one of these options from the Edit-menu.

When you have edited the material to your satisfaction, choose Demux to M2V and M1A...* from the File-menu. The program will ask you where you want to save the resulting files and then begin the process of demuxing your recording. (This might take a while, depending on the length of the material.)

* All the public channels in Finland broadcast their audio in the MP2 (MPEG-2) audio format. If your recording contains AC3 (Dolby Digital) audio you will need to select Demux to M2V and AC3... instead. You can check the audio encoding of the file by selecting Show Stream Info from the File-menu.

Step 2: Multiplex

Tip: Check that the combined filesize of your source files does not exceed the limit of what will fit on your dvd media (DVD-R approx. 4 700 000 000 bytes).

When the transfer has finished, you will be left with two files. The file with the .m2v-extension contains the video in MPEG-2-format, while the file with the .m1a-extension contains the MPEG-2-encoded audio track. Multiplex (join) the two files together in a dvd-compliant MPEG-2 file using mplex:

mplex -f 8 -o muxed-%d.mpg audio.m1a video.m2v

The -f 8 option specifies a dvd-compliant stream that is compatible with dvdauthor. The -o option specifies the outfile, you can substitute muxed-%d.mpg with a more descriptive name if you like. %d is expanded to a number if mplex decides to split the output to several files, this usually happens when the recording contains commercials and is nothing to worry about. Also substitute audio.m1a and video.m2v with the filenames of the demuxed files in Step 1.

Step 3: Author and Burn

After mplex has finished, you should be left with one or more files with an .mpg-extension. Use dvdauthor to create the file structure of your dvd:

dvdauthor -o DVD/ -v pal+16:9 muxed-1.mpg muxed-2.mpg

This time -o specifies the output directory the will be automatically created. The -v pal+16:9 option is optional, most of the time dvdauthor can guess all the correct settings from your files, but sometimes it needs a little help if the program contains (or has contained) material with varying aspect-ratios (i.e. commercials), dvdauthor -h lists all the possible options. muxed-1.mpg and muxed-2.mpg represents the files you created in Step 2, list all the .mpg-files in order, they will be joined again on the final dvd. It is possible to include more than one title on your dvd by repeating the command, but be vary that you do not exceed the space limit of your media.

Finish the dvd by writing the TOC (Table of Contents):

dvdauthor -o DVD/ -T

Now you should have a working dvd file structure in the output directory. You can test your dvd by opening the VIDEO_TS directory (contained inside the output directory) with the Apple DVD Player (Open VIDEO_TS Folder... in the File-menu).

If you have the Toast-program (version 6 or later) you can burn the dvd directly, just create a new UDF DVD and drag and drop the output directory to the dvd. Check that the name of the dvd is at most 8 characters long (only letters and digits are allowed) and that it is in UPPERCASE.

Step 4: Make ISO and Burn (optional)

If you don't have the Toast-program, you can create an ISO disk image, that you can burn with Apple's Disk Utility. Create the disk image with mkisofs:

mkisofs -dvd-video -o DVD.ISO -V DVD DVD/

Options: -dvd-video specifies a dvd compatible disk image, -o the outfile and -V the volume name (this is the name that is displayed when the disk is mounted). DVD/ is the input directory.

You can mount the image by double-clicking on it in the finder, or burn it by starting Disk Utility and selecting Burn... from the Images-menu.

2006-01-23 Copyright Mattias Wikström (email: me at domain)