Commercial skipping in Windows 7 Media Center for UK users

Commercial skipping in Windows 7 Media Center for UK users

When WTV became the default container for Windows Media Center recorded content it broke all of the methods of skipping and cutting commercials from our recordings. Since those early days many have worked hard to include WTV support in their applications and several have fallen by the way side.

 

Finally Jere Jones of DragonGlobal had a breakthrough and updated his ShowAnalyzer software to support WTV. I am a supporter of ShowAnalyzer, I have it installed, fully registered, keep it fully updated and test my recordings with it regularly. It is a great tool and in conjunction with DVRMSToolbox and it 7MC addin makes commercial skipping in Windows Media Center an effortless process for the most part. Unfortunately I am based in the UK and even with tweaking and tinkering I simply cannot get ShowAnalyzer to accurately find my commercials.

 

This has led me on a quest to find the next best alternative to easily identify commercials with as little user interaction as possible. The only other major player  in commercial skipping software is Comskip which comes bundled with DVRMSToolbox and I have found it to be extremely accurate at identifying UK commercials but unfortunately it has yet to be updated to work with WTV. Luckily Microsoft had the wisdom to include a ‘WTV Converter’ executable in Windows 7 that will happily convert your Mpeg2 WTV files into DVR-MS format. What happened next was an influx of DVRMSToobox profiles and standalone applications that tried to solve the problem.

I tried ‘WTV Watcher’ that automated the conversion to DVR-MS and breathed new life into ‘LifeXtender’ . This method introduced it’s own problems for me (LifeXtender would fail constantly and randomly) so I decided to look at DVRMSToolbox to emulate the whole process and use only one tool instead of two. One gentlemen that has put a lot of time into create various elaborate profiles in an attempt to automate is much of the process as possible is Anthony J. Buttino or  ‘Abuttino’ over at the DVRMSToolbox forums and his profiles can be found here.

 

All the above solutions did the job but I still wasn’t happy for several reasons:

1) These processes CUT commercials from your files. If the cuts are not accurate you will lose part of your recording.

2) At least in my experience 7MC does not like DVR-MS files! I use extenders exclusively and DVR-MS files take a couple of seconds to start playing audio where WTV files audio is immediate for example. I also find that Media Center slows down when DVR-MS is used.

3) It is overly complicated. Files have to be converted, then scanned for commercials, then renamed, then replaced, some deleted etc. All this is a drag on your system resources.

 

I have found that the simplest method is to utilise DVRMSToolbox and the 7MC commercial skip addin but use Comskip to scan temporary DVR-MS versions of your recorded content.

 

What you need:

 

DVRMSToolbox

DVRMSToolbox 7MC commercial skip addin

The DVRMSToolbox profile attached to this post. – place ‘Commercial Skip – temp dvr-ms v2.dcp’ into the DVRMSToolbox ‘profiles’ folder

note: the profile is set to point to ‘H:\TVScanFolder’ as the temporary folder where most of the work is done. You need to change this to point to a folder of your choice or create this exact location on your system.

 

How it works:

 

Simply, a copy of your WTV recording is converted to DVR-MS and then scanned by Comskip to create the xml file used by the DVRMSToolbox commercial skip addin. Your original file never moves!

 

1) WTV copied to temp folder

2) WTV file converted to DVR-MS file

3) DVR-MS file scanned by Comskip, commercials identified and xml file created

4) Copy of WTV file and DVR-MS file deleted from temp folder

5) Commercial skip addin skips your commercials!

 

You will need basic knowledge of DVRMSToolbox if you need to edit the profile. The software and advice can be found here. I used the standard Comskip settings in the version bundled with DVRMSToolbox with one exception. I changed the ‘detect_method’ setting in the ‘comskip.ini’ from ‘127’ to ‘111’. I would say I get about 95% accuracy with these settings.

Since changing to this method I have found the stability and speed of my system have noticibly improved. If you have any questions please follow me on Twitter.

 post edited on 30/01/2010

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

The above article had previously been removed from publication at the request of Mr. Abuttino because he had claimed that I had stolen his profile and renamed it as my own. He even made his accusation public before I had a chance to contact him and resolve the matter and his post can be found here.

I have responded to the accusation both publically and privately with the following statement:

 

“Sir,
It was not my intention to steal anything. I am guilty of not crediting you by name on the article for your profiles (I did mention that people had been working on some). Yes, I tested your profiles in the past but could never get them to work 100% to my satisfaction which led me to experiment with those methods. The profile was written from scratch not copied from your work directly but I must admit your work and articles did give me the ability to be able to understand how to compile these profiles, the syntax to use etc and for omitting to mention this I do sincerely apologise and I am most grateful for your efforts. It is true that i would not have had the ability to product any DTB profiles without researching yours and others’ work.

As you can probably tell from the post I am not a professional blogger, I am not involved in the computer / IT industry at all, in fact I am probably what you may describe as a blue collar worker and just an enthusiast and in my enthusiasm that the solution was working well for me I have failed to follow ‘nettiquette’ as it were.

I have nothing to gain, just trying to help the community that has helped me so many times in the past.”

 

It was not my intention to imply that my profile was anything unique or that I am the first to ‘discover’ this method. This is my mistake and I hold my hand up to it. Perhaps this can be accreditted to Mr Abuttino, perhaps not. In my inexperience as a blogger I assumed that because it was so simple I did not need to state this, coupled with the fact it only uses built in DVRMSToolbox commands. There are probably people out there using the exact same instructions to perform this task because it cannot by done differently as it is so GENERIC. My only intention is to help others in the Media Center community who may have similar problems with skipping commercials, nothing more.

 

I have since edited the above article to make it perfectly clear that I did test Mr. Abuttino’s profiles specifically in my search for a suitable solution. The crux of the misunderstanding seems to stem from the use of a directory name in my profile that has the same name as one in Mr. Abuttino’s profiles, specifically ‘ProcessingShow’. There is a very simple explanation for this. The directory was created for use with Mr. Abuttino’s profile and when I discontinued using his profile I simply carried on using the directory as it had a perfectly sensible name!

Anybody familiar with DVRMSToolbox will see that the profile I knocked up is a very BASIC profile (as I will illustrate later) and to perform the function it is designed for it cannot be very different when put together by one individual or another and there is no basis for copyright infringement. The basic commands are built into DVRMSToolbox.

 

Example ‘A’

The original profile:

 

Every line in this profile are standard DVRMSToolbox commands strung together to perform the task required and do not contain any proprietary ‘code’. As indicated earlier it uses a directory name that was included in Mr. Abuttino’s profile. Line 5 runs the external program ‘wtvconverter.exe’ written by Microsoft.

 

Example ‘B’

The revised profile:

 

I have removed the offending reference to the directory used by Mr. Abuttino and replaced it with the directory named ‘TVScanFolder’.

 

I would like to end this article by crediting individuals who have inspired me. Andy VT (the maintainer and owner of DVRMSToolbox), Ben Drawbaugh of Engdget HD who has written some very helpful articles and profiles for DVRMSToolbox,  Andres Echevarria of the My Network Project blog and of course Mr. Anthony J. Buttino.

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