I’m always looking for ways to improve my home theater experience and after recently moving homes my setup changed a bit resulting in the need to covert my Windows Media Center (.wtv) recordings into another format. Much to my surprise a program called MCEBuddy could do this automatically along with other features such as removing the commercials, renaming and organizing freshly converted content while keeping it in-sync with the original; such as if you delete the converted content it will also delete the original.
The best thing about MCEBuddy is that it’s available for free, if you want access to early beta features you’ll want to join the early access program which offers features like – conversions of mp4 in HEVC (h.265) which pretty much is the same quality as a mp4 h.264 but about half the size as well as hardware conversion which converts 10x faster; to join the early access program you’ll need to make a donation of at least $15 after liking MCEBuddy on Facebook, a small price to pay.
Link to discounted price for Early Access Program:
Full list of features:
- Remove Commercials & Advertisements
- Convert Videos and TV Recordings (HDX/HD/SD)
- Convert WTV, DVR-MS, TS, MPG, MKV, MP4, AVI, WMV, TiVO (with MAK) and more
- Shrink TV Recordings & Videos
- Schedule Conversions
- Multiple Simultaneous Conversions
- Monitor Folders (runs in the background as a lightweight service even without user logon)
- Batch processing, queue files manually (drag and drop) or monitor folders for new files
- Multi-channel Audio Support (AC3, DTS, AAC)
- Multilingual Audio Language Selection
- Multiple Audio Tracks
- Simple Controls to Skip Cropping, Limit Video Width, Volume Adjustment, Quality Adjustment and more
- Extract and Embed Closed Captions, Teletext, DVB Subtitles and Subtitles, burn Subtitles into the Video
- Trim Videos
- Custom File and Folder Renaming
- eMail Notifications
- Creating Chapters as Commercial Markers instead of Cutting Commercials
- Archiving, Syncing Folders and Conversions
- International/Regional Languages Support (44+ languages) and Unicode files
- Support for Accessibility (Large Fonts / DPI Scaling)
- Import converted/processed files automatically into the iTunes library and Windows Media Player (WMP) Library with categorization (TV Shows, Movie etc based on metadata)
- Supports iTunes Metadata
- Supports IMDB, MovieDB, TVDB, TV.com and advanced Metadata processing
- Convert Windows Media Center, nPVR, Media Portal, Sage TV, Argus TV, ICE TV, PlayLater etc with metadata support
- Supports multiple displays (TV, Monitors etc) and ultra low resolution
- Converters include support for FFMPEG, Handbrake and MEncoder
- Supports QuickSync based hardware encoder and OpenCL for Intel, NVidia and ATI graphics cards
- Supports Comskip and ShowAnalyzer
- Write Custom Commands/Programs
- Manually mark sections of the video to cut, reads VideoRedo project files and save as an EDL file for automated processing
- Convert to WTV, MP4, MKV, AVI, M4V, TS, WMV, MPG and more
- Convert to Mobile/Portable devices (iPhone, iPad, Roku, TiVO, Kindle, FireTV, Samsung, Blackberry, Zune, iRiver, Nokia, Meizu, PSP, PS3, XBox, Zen etc)
- UPnP / NAT and Remote connections (control multiple engines from a mobile/desktop client remotely)
- Power Management Support (Allow Sleep / Prevent Sleep / Wake Up)
- Support for Windows XP (SP3), Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows 7 and Windows 8
How to Guide:
I would like to point out the default settings for MCEBuddy should have you up and running in no time but MCEBuddy also allows a lot of customization of how things are handled; this is what I’ve grown to like most about MCEBuddy – It’s as advanced as you’d like it to be or as simple as you want it to be.
- Download Stable Release or Download Early Access Program Release
- After downloading, run the normal install process, during that it will ask you if you’d like to also install ShowAnalyzer which is optional; some countries/providers work better with ShowAnalyzer vs the default Comskip. Personally installing it cannot hurt and you’ll be able to switch back and forth in the settings.
- After it’s installed MCEBuddy should open, otherwise open it up and click on Settings.
- Monitor Locations – This is where you set what you want MCEBuddy to watch for such as where Windows Media Center is dumping your recordings or where torrents are being dumped after downloading. Under expert settings you can select to archive or delete the original file.
- Conversion Tasks – This is where you tell MCEBuddy what to do with the files once their detected. I’ve got mine set to convert to High Quality MP4, remove ads using Comskip and under advanced settings I set my max video width to as high as it will go leaving the detect and optimize video quality ticked.
- General Settings – This is where global settings can be set for all monitor locations/conversion tasks. Here you can set various settings like deleting the original file or archiving it and if you want to keep them in sync. I set Min age before conversion to 1 because if you try to watch the whatever is recording while it’s being converted you’ll experience some issues. You can also schedule when you’d like conversions to take place based on a day/time schedule if you’d like. Concurrent conversions is how many conversions will take place at once, the more you select the bigger impact on performance will be felt on your HTPC.
- System Settings – If you’re working with limited space on your hard drive you might want to modify some of the folder management settings. For example, I point the temp and failed folders to my raid instead of my OS drive as I’ve got limited space on my OS drive. You can also setup remote access to MCEBuddy as well as making it use the recycle bin.
- After your settings are set, hit OK. You’ll see a “Start” button, click on that and the monitoring will begin depending upon your settings.
- Minimize MCEBuddy and it will run in the background. If you restart your computer it will startup with Windows and begin monitoring.
If you want to learn how to speed up conversions, check out the following – Speeding up MCEBuddy Conversion
For more info on MCEBuddy including known issues, guides, FAQ’s and more – MCEBuddy