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Tivo to iMovie

I can't believe how difficult this is. I just want to take video off my tivo, clip out a 5-minute segment, and save it to a file that QuickTime (or any viewer that works on Mac and Windows) can view.

I use the official Tivo "Tivo Transfer" app for the Mac to get the file.
I use "tivodecode" to decode the file. The output is "MPEG sequence, v2, program multiplex".
I run it through mencode and get a file that is "ISO Media, MPEG v4 system, version 1".
Sadly, iMovie can only read version 2 format ("ISO Media, MPEG v4 system, version 2").

Does anyone have an easy way to either generate a version 2 file, or do the clipping on one of the earlier formats?


P.S. I am on a Mac.

  • 1 might help you get to where you want to go.

Btw, for uploading stuff to your tivo, take a look at

OK, you have the file on your machine? You can use MPEG Streamclip to cut it, which will help you a lot.

It can edit a mpeg2 stream directly, IIRC. And then you can save it as a h.264 or mpge4 file, etc.

I also use other things to work w/ the Tivo, but have found extracting video to be too slow over wireless.

One nice trick to getting stuff onto the tivo easily: I use Vuze as a bit torrent client, and it just added an ability to actually transcode and insert things onto the tivo pretty much seamlessly. Works great, actually. looks very nice on even the standard 367M files played full screen on the HD tivo.

(I've done a lot of work w/ the tivo in the past years- i've had one for 10 years now.)

BTW- I've done this. It works. It's free, and easy, and you clip seamlessly.

(Deleted comment)
I know you're not afraid of the command line, so just use ffmpeg (easily obtained through MacPorts) after tivodecode'ing to MPEG2.

I've heard of ffmpeg but I haven't used it. Is there an obvious set of command line options that output the right format? ("-target dv"?)

$ ffmpeg -i infile.mpg -f dv -vcodec dvvideo -b 25000 -aspect 4:3 -s 720x576 -r ntsc -g 240 -qmin 2 -qmax 15 -acodec pcm_s16le -ab 1411 -ar 48000 -ac 2 outfile.dv

Give that a try - you may need to change "-aspect 4:3" to "-aspect 16:9" or whatever is appropriate for your needs.

You're making this way too hard.

Grab and decode the file from the tivo. Open it in Quicktime Pro. Clip out and save the segment you want.

At this point, you're potentially just done, although the file may be a little large. If you want to shrink it, use Handbrake to convert it to an mpeg4 file.

Ah! So I need to purchase QT Pro! I'm willing to do that.

If you're running Snow Leopard, QT pro is free, although you may need to go back to the install disks to grab the old QT7Pro app. (Not sure if the new QTX player can do cutting/clipping.)

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