Recording the Olympics, Part II

Alex has looked into more of the technical details behind how NBC is streaming the Olympics, and has made an interesting discovery. Apparently the stream formats are different for live streams vs. pre-recorded streams. This means that you can make digital recordings of live events, and record from the screen for “rewind” or cached events. Below is his technical summary.

The Silverlight NBC Olympics server uses Windows Media Player for live streams and VP7 for prerecorded videos. VP7 is the format used by web sites like abc.com or fox.com and can provide very high quality (lossless) video compression including HD. The problem with this format is that it cannot be reliably streamed for longer periods of time like the live broadcasts. The math used to compress the video and the audio does not allow recovery when packets are lost which results in out of sync audio. Currently Windows Media Player is the only format that can do this. The live stream Olympics can be recorded with WM Recorder or Replay Media Catcher but the prerecorded clips can only be recorded with WM Capture.

Recording The Olympics Online

This year NBC has teamed up with Microsoft (MSFT) to provide a wealth of Olympics footage at NBCOlympics.com. If you’re really into specific events that aren’t shown over your broadcast TV station, then you can likely watch them online. Very cool.

The Microsoft contribution is via the Silverlight video player, which you must install in order to watch video. Few video providers use Silverlight, which is why there are no programs (yet) that can record those feeds via stream capture.
If you’re looking to record some of these events and save them forever, the best program to use is WM Capture. This on-screen recorder makes great quality videos from the Olympic feeds.

To burn these recordings to DVD, try the new Replay Converter 3.0, which is currently in beta. You can also make iPod format videos, or AVI files to import them into your favorite video editor.

Oh yeah – Go Team USA!

UPDATE: I noticed that you need to enter a zip code and your Cable provider to watch some online feeds. Try 94118 and ComCast Digital if you’re disallowed access.

New User Forums!

We have just launched our brand spankin new user forums. We are excited to offer this forum to all owners of the Replay Capture Suite.

When purchasing the Replay Capture Suite you automatically become a member of the new Applian Advantage Club. Club members can read and post in the forums and receive special discounts on Applian software for their friends and family.

If you are currently an owner of the Replay Capture Suite, join us in the new forums today! Just register using your email address and your Replay Capture Suite activation code.
See you in the forums!

3 Cheers for Podomatic

There are times when we run into technical problems relating to our products interfacing with those of another company. Often a subtle form of fingerpointing or passing the buck occurs. So it was delightful to work with Podomatic, a popular free Podcast hosting service, today to fix a problem with Replay A/V accessing their Podcasts. With one call, I was able to locate the lead engineer, and in a few minutes we were able to access their entire library of Podcasts again. Yippee!.
Podomatic has a pretty cool service – you can start your own Podcast with just a PC, a microphone, and an internet connection. Just go to their site, speak your Podcast, and it’s uploaded and added to their directory. And it’s free. Pretty awesome.
Thanks again Justin!

Clip & Sling II

A quick correction on my previous post regarding Clip & Sling. I went back to the main Sling booth again and learned the following:
1. You can record up to 2 minutes from any source without a content redistribution contract. However, your clips are only accessible to you.
2. All recorded clips are automatically uploaded to the Sling server. There is no local file storage for your own clips.
The concept of “fair use” is still foreign to these guys. By playing the content owners game, they are digging themselves into a hole for the future.

Clip & Sling – The Ugly Truth

In keeping with my unhealthy obsession with Slingbox, I talked to a representative today here at CES regarding their “recording” feature in the upcoming SlingPlayer 2.0 called Clip & Sling. As we suspected, it’s not pretty.

Turns out Sling has had to reach content redistribution deals with EVERY TV content owner on the planet for this feature. Each content owner must explicitly give Sling permission to record, and then sets the time limit – some may allow 15 seconds, some four minutes, etc. No agreement: no recording.

This is an INSANE amount of work for a feature with dubious value to customers. From our perspective it’s great news, as SlingPlayer 2.0 will NOT have any significant recording options.

At-Large Recorder (and every other Applian product) is all about recording for personal use. You’ve paid for the content already, you can record it. Just don’t redistribute it to others.

Breakthrough Recording XM & Sirius Online

Replay A/V 8.4 is now available! This version is an exciting breakthrough for XM & Sirius customers. Now you can automatically schedule and record using Stream Capture, which lets you record two or more shows simultaneously, with perfect quality, and eliminates many tuning errors or problems with an “Are You Listening” prompt. No other software can do this.

If you’re into recording Howard Stern, Martha Stewart, Opie and Anthony, or any of the other XM and Sirius shows you should give Replay A/V 8.4 a try!

Techware Slingbox Hosting Service

In spite of the fact we’ve been dissed by Sling in the past, I continue to be fascinated with the SlingBox, and how it disrupts the media business.

The latest cool service is the Techware Slingbox Hosting Service. These guys will host a Sling Box for you, and let you stream cable TV from Wisconsin to anywhere in the world. It’s not cheap at $45/month, but it appears legit as far as not redistributing cable TV or satellite feeds.

If you’re a Packers fan, for example, this is one great way to catch all the action. Not sure how pleased the NFL is with this arrangement though.

You can read more about it here.

Replay Music 3 Public Beta Available

Music lovers rejoice! Even though Microsoft has tried their best to restrict your ability to record audio in Windows Vista, our software engineers have developed the coolest version of Replay Music ever! It will work with any sound card, and yes, with Windows Vista too. No silly workarounds needed. Just install and start recording music from your favorite online sources.
Here’s the spiffy new Replay Music user interface:
Replay Music 3
Replay Music 3 will be a free upgrade for all Replay Music 2 owners. Please download the public beta and take it out for a test drive. We’d love to hear your feedback.
UPDATE: Please report any problems to the Replay Music Technical Support Department (not the blog comments here). This will assure that Replay Music’s developer is made aware of all issues in this beta.
Click here to report a problem with Replay Music 3
Click here to read the Replay Music 3 FAQ.