Keith Combs' Blahg

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Converting .DVR-MS to MPEG4 for use on a Playstation Portable (PSP)

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PSP BackDo you have a Sony PSP?  If you are also lucky enough to have Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, you might be considering converting a few of those recorded television programs into a format that can be viewed on your new toy.  Fortunately, there are a number of ways to do that.

The biggest challenge you face is converting the MCE file format to something other converters can understand.  The .DVR-MS file contains XML for information related to the date the program was recorded, channel recorded on, etc.  Many of the video converters have no knowledge of this XML wrapper so they cannot convert correctly. 

If you really want to know the gory details of the .DVR-MS format, see the Smart Client Development Center article, “Fun with DVR-MS”, by Stephen Toub.  This is a great little article for you propeller heads.

For those of us that like to install and run, Sony created a nice little software program called Image Converter 2.  I like this program for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s relatively inexpensive at $19.99 US.  The second reason I like it is because it works.  In fact, this program will take a .dvr-ms file and convert it to the required PSP MPEG4 format in one step. 

Image Converter 2 is simple to use and isn’t overly cluttered with a vast array of settings.  You can pick from four different output formats.  I settled on the 192kbps setting until I get some larger memory sticks.  I’ll likely move to the 384k setting later.  At first I was put off by not having a bunch of settings to mess with, then I realized I really don’t need any.  The program works, and it’s VERY fast.

There was one thing I didn’t like about the program.  By default, Image Converter 2 will automatically break the output into chunks if the movie is over 120 minutes.  You can alter this behaviour by changing the following registry setting:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Sony Corporation\Image Converter 2\2.1]
"MAX_MOVIE_SIZE"=dword:00003840

I doubled the setting for my machine (as shown above in hex) and will probably increase it again if I decide to convert a really long movie. 

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  • Do you know if there are any free converters?

  • Have you seen http://www.pspvideo9.com/ ???

  • Yes, I looked at PSP Video 9 and a number of other tools. My requirements might be different than yours but I could not find a free utility that would do the .dvr-ms conversion. Some tools would strip the XML. Many tools would convert from MPEG2 to MPEG4.

    Sony won my mini evaluation.

  • Does the Sony tool downsize the output to fit 480x272? I believe the PSP will do it at runtime, but this results in files that are much bigger than they need to be. If it doesn't, you may want to look at the PSP Video 9 as a 2nd step to format the mp4 into a smaller format.

  • As far as I can tell, Image Converter does not convert the aspect ratio. There are no settings available like the ones you see with PSP 9.

  • Contrary to recent pontifications, black is still the elegant device color of choice for many of us.