For a long time I’ve been aware that Apple’s Firewire SDK contains applications that allow you capture MPEG video streams over firewire from a digital video source. This means that if you have a digital/HD television or set-top box with a firewire port, you can capture that HD content onto your Mac. I’ve never bothered trying it because I assumed my Time Warner 8300HD would have it’s firewire ports disabled. Then, one night I was bored and decided to reasearch it some more. I found out that it is a FCC regulation that cable operators are not allowed to disable the firewire ports on any of their STBs. So, armed with that knowledge, I connected my MacBook to my 8300HD using their firewire ports, and was successful in capturing HD content. There are 2 ways you can this. With the VirtualDVHS application, or the AVCVideoCap application. Use the VirtualDVHS steps below if your TV or STB doesn’t support AV/C. Use the AVCVideoCap steps if your TV or STB supports AV/C.
Virtual DVHS :
1) Download and install Apple’s Firewire SDK found HERE.
2) Connect your Mac to either firewire port located at the back of the 8300HD while the Mac is off.
3) Power on the Mac
4) Tune to the HD channel you wish to capture. (On your STB)
5) Run the AVCBrowser application located under /Developer/FirewireSDK22/Applications/
6) In the Output section of the AVCBrowser’s UI, select channel 63.
7) Run the VirtualDVHS app. (found under the same path in step 5)
8) Set VirtualDVHS’ record channel to 63.
9) Click the connect button in the output section of the AVCBrowser’s UI.
10) Make sure you have the VirtualDVHS’ “Stats Drawer” open and click the record button in the VirtualDVHS UI.
11) Recording should begin, and you should see the Bitrate, Packets, and Resolution stats start chugging away.
1a) Perform steps 1-4 from above.
2a) Run the AVCVideoCap app located under the same path as stated in step 5.
3a) Select your device in the AVCVideoCap UI.
4a) Click the Capture from Device button.
5a) Choose where you want the video saved.
6a) Enter how long you want to capture in minutes.
7a) Hit continue.
8a) Capturing occurs!
1) If you see a lot of “Overruns” occur in AVCVideoCap or if you only see bitrate and packets being populated with data in VirtualDVHS, then your capture won’t be playable. It is most likely because the channel you are viewing is being encrypted by Time Warner. For the most part, local HD stations don’t encrypt their content so give those a try.
2) I recommend using VLC or MPEG Streamclip for playing back your video captures in M2V format. (You’ll have to buy the Apple MPEG-2 Quicktime plugin from Apple if you want to use MPEG Streamclip to convert your M2V into Quicktime or MPEG format.)