Today look at MCEBuddy for Windows 7 Media Center. This handy app automatically takes your recorded TV files and converts them to MP4, AVI, WMV, or MPEG format. It even has the option to cut out those annoying commercials during the conversion process.
Installation and Configuration
Download and extract MCE Buddy. (Download link below) Run the setup.exe file and take all the default settings.
Open MCEBuddy Configuration by going to Start > All Programs > MCEBuddy > MCEBuddy Configuration.
The MCEBuddy application is comprised of a single window. The first step you’ll want to take is to define your Source and Destination paths. The “Source” will most likely be your Recorded TV directory. The Destination should NOT be the same as the Source folder.
Note: The Recorded TV directory in Windows 7 Media Center will only display and play WTV & DVR-MS files. To watch the converted MP4, AVI, WMV, or MPEG files in Windows Media Center you’ll need to add them to your Video Library or Movie Library.
Next, choose your preferred format for conversion from the “Convert to” drop down list. The default is MP4 with the H.264 codec. You’ll find a wide variety of formats. The first set of conversion options in the drop down list will resize the video to 720 pixels wide. The next two sections maintain the original size, and the final section is for a variety of portable devices.
Next, you’ll see a group of check boxes below the “Convert to” drop down list. The Commercial Skipping option will cut the commercials while converting the file. Sort By Series will create a sub-folder in your Destination folder for each TV show. Delete Original will delete the WTV file after conversion is complete. (This option is not recommended unless you are sure your files are converting properly and you no longer need the WTV file.) Start Minimized is ideal if you want to run MCEBuddy on Windows startup.
Note: MCEBuddy installs and uses Comskip for commercial cutting by default. However, if you have ShowAnalyzer installed, it will use that application instead.
To choose a specific time of day to perform the conversions, click the checkbox under the “Advanced Options,” and select the starting and ending times for conversion. For example, convert between 2 hours and 5 hours would be between 2 am and 5am. If you want MCEBuddy to constantly look for and immediately convert new recordings, leave the box unchecked.
The “Video age” option lets you choose a specific number of days to wait before performing the conversion. This can be useful if you want to watch the recordings first and delete those you don’t wish to convert. You can also choose the “Sub Directories” if you’d like MCEBuddy to convert files that are in a sub-folder in your “Source” directory.
As you might expect, this option allows MCEBuddy to perform a second conversion of your file. This can be useful if you want to use your first conversion to create a higher quality MP4 or AVI file for playback on a larger screen, and a second one for a portable device such as Zune or iPhone. The same options from the first conversion are also available for the second. You’ll want to choose a separate Destination folder for the second conversion.
Start and Monitor Progress
To start converting your video files, simply press the “Start” button at the bottom.
You’ll be able to follow the progress in the “Current Activity” section.
When all the video files have finished converting, or there are no current files to convert, MCEBuddy will display a “Started – Idle” status. Click “Stop” if you don’t want MCEBuddy to continue scanning for new files.
MCEBuddy 1.1 will convert all WTV files in it’s source folder. If you want to pick and choose which recordings to convert, you may want to define a source folder different than the Recorded TV folder and then just copy or move the files you wish to convert into the new source folder. The conversion process does take a good bit of time. If you choose the commercial skipping and second conversion options it can take several hours to fully convert one TV recording.
Overall, MCEBuddy makes a nice Media Center addition for those that want to save some space with smaller size files, convert Recorded TV files for their portable device, or automatically remove commercials. If you’re looking for a different method to skip commercials check out our post on how to skip commercials in Windows 7 Media Center.
Andrew is a media center geek with some serious Windows skills. He's never far from a WiFi connection or a great cup of coffee.
- Published 03/17/10