Forum Spotlight: Hacking the HP Video Converter

by Alex Kuretz on April 23, 2009 · 43 comments

in Forum Spotlight

It only took a few hours after the release of the 2.5 Software Update for enterprising individuals to dig deep into the workings of the new software and find ways to tweak and improve the experience. New forum member “BigKahuna” dropped two big tutorials on us, the first of which describes how to install additional codec packs to increase the number of file formats able to be transcoded by the Video Converter, and the second describes how to tweak the Registry to improve the visual quality of the mobile resolution files created by the Converter.

I was very excited by the codec pack tutorial, due to the difficulties I experienced during my initial testing of the Video Converter, and so I took the opportunity to document BigKahuna’s steps, take screenshots, and create a Wiki tutorial page that captures the important details.

The biggest complaint I had was that the Video Converter would not convert the H.264 MP4 files recorded by my Sanyo digital camcorder. I have a lot of family videos recorded and stored on my Home Server that I would like to share with out of town family, and it was frustrating to not have these files able to be converted to the mobile format. I’m pleased to say that after installing the K Lite codec pack, these files were successfully converted by the Video Converter.

I also was very pleasantly surprised to see an MKV rip of a BluRay movie was successfully converted that had failed prior to installation of the codec pack. Upon closer inspection, however, I found that while the video converted well the audio was completely useless (it sounded a bit like random noise music from a Skinny Puppy album). If we can find a way to make this work for MKVs then those of you with large video libraries may have just found an easy way to get all those movies available to you when away from the home, as well as available to stream to more devices in the home since so many of them do not support MKV. You can be sure I’ll be doing some more experimenting and post updates to this blog entry with what I find.

MP4 successfully converted, MKV in progress!

MP4 successfully converted, MKV in progress!

There is an issue in that the mobile resolution forces the file to 320×240 which does not match the aspect ratio of the original file, and so it ends up looking squished. As I spend more time exploring the system I’ll be playing with the registry settings to see if I can improve this.

Another unfortunate issue that does not seemed to be resolved are the failures I experience attempting to convert my dvr_ms recorded TV content. If anyone has ideas on how to get this working I’d love to hear it!

Please note that these tutorials require some familiarity with Remote Desktop, installing software, and possibly editing the registry, so please do not follow them if you are not comfortable with these activities. If you do decide to try them out, please post in BigKahuna’s forum threads or here on the blog and let us know!

UPDATE: I have updated the Wiki article to include instructions for adding additional file types so that Video Converter can attempt to convert .mts and other files. Please let us know what additional types you are able to get working.





Article by

I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of MediaSmartServer.net. I was the Lead Test and Integration Engineer at HP for the MediaSmart Server until April 2008 when I moved on to other opportunities outside HP. I've kept active in the Windows Home Server community, creating several add-ins and helping users make the most of their Home Servers.


{ 41 comments }

BigKahuna April 23, 2009 at 8:29 am

I think the reason blu-ray rips (mkv) files have problems is that they are typically not stereo. The output is always stereo, and the converter seems to be confused with these type of multi-channel audio inputs.

(I had the same experience as you)

t-bone April 23, 2009 at 9:08 am

Try the CCCP pack, I personally use it and have had great luck. it is the only pack I have installed and use. There are quite a few settings to insure the best output results. Plus it is the official Pack for MKV’s

DamianP April 23, 2009 at 10:33 am

Any time you make a reference to a Skinny Puppy album, you know you have a winning post!!! I agree with BigKahuna, I would expect the multi channel audio to cause problems with the conversion process. Anyone try converting a Blu Ray mkv that only has 2 channel audio (demux, pull out the multi channel audio and throw in the 2 channel)?What type of load did the conversions put on the MSS? I would think converting anything Blu Ray related would require some serious horsepower.

Icompanion April 23, 2009 at 12:16 pm

BigKahuna, you’d have even more fans if you could get it to run on the 47X machines!

stogs April 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm

After applying this change, should the converted recognize file types m2ts or mts?

Alex Kuretz April 23, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Hi stogs,

Unfortunately no, not by default. However I have added the .mts extension to the SourceExtensions registry key and the Converter successfully converted several .mts AVCHD files from various camcorders.

I have updated the Wiki article to include this new tutorial. Please note that I have done very little testing of this, and only with .mts files at this time.

Damian – I was wondering if anyone else would know of them! :) I agree, testing with 2 channel mkv files could be interesting, as would trying another codec pack.

stogs April 23, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Thanks for the quick response! I made the change and it found my files.

DamianP April 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I would create a 2 channel mkv but unfortunately I am one of those pesky HP470 owners who isn’t entitled to this update yet :-(

Alex – if you are interested I can create a small mkv file with 2 channel audio for you to test out, let me know what you think?

Alex Kuretz April 23, 2009 at 3:24 pm

That would be helpful, Damian, send me mail to coordinate when you’ve got something available.

stewbacca April 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Before the update I could stream my music and find all my photos. Now, since the update, nothing. I even told the server to rebuild the database last night. I’m seriously displeased with the update at this point.

stewbacca April 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Oh, and fireplay still streams my music and photos, but the HP MediaSmart Streamer just tells me nothing is shared.

Norm April 24, 2009 at 4:27 am

Icompanion – with a little bit of work I was able to update the client side portion. but it loads it says that you have to update your server. and of course not all features are available becuase the server is not upgraded. I am working on the server portion now.. but it looks like a challenge.

Alex Kuretz April 24, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Thanks to Damian sending me a test mkv file, the Converter successfully converted a 2-ch audio mkv file to MP4 for Remote streaming, it worked great!

Jorge April 30, 2009 at 11:01 am

Great info: I am milking my HPMedia Server investment to the max.

Huge issue: When I use converter with 16:9 files it lost the original aspect ratio (SD AVIs from my Sony Camcorder).
Does anyone know how to the keep the original aspect ratio?

Jorge

Alex Kuretz April 30, 2009 at 11:48 am

Hi Jorge,

You just mean with the mobile versions, right? The HQ version should retain the aspect ration. The problem with the mobile versions is that they are all transcoded to a 320×240 format. You can modify the registry settings as described in the Wiki article to change that for mobile output if you only convert 16×9 content.

Jorge May 1, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Alex:
Thanks for the reply. No, the problem is with the HQ version. Somehow my relatively old Sony miniDV cam films in SD but 16:9 that I thought was a very cool way to have our home videos.

I have been able to manipulate this video and even make DVDs keeping the 16:9 aspect ratio with no distortion.

Somehow the Converter distorts the image. It is not exactly 16:9 but I think not 4:3 either. Quicktime says the original AVI has a normal size of 853×480 (16×9) and the converted 720×480.
Now, to make things more weird, Windows File Explorer, Properties says that the original file is 720×480 but when it plays on any player, it plays 16×9

Even the AVIs that I recorded in 4:3 get distorted to something a bit more elongated. Looking at the info Quicktime gives me for both files reads as follows: The AVI “Normal Size 640×480″ and the converted MP4 “Normal Size 720×480″. Windows properties also reports the original AVI as 720×480 but plays it as 4:3. What the heck!!??

any ideas? Have you converted DVDS in 2.40×1 or 16×9 and came out as the original??

thanks for your help. I really would like to keep the original aspect ratio for movies and home movies.

Jorge

RJ May 3, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Seems I am able to convert dvr-ms recorded from my 2005 MCE box. However, the conversion comes out all green and pixelated. Sounds OK, but not very nice to watch. Alex, I noticed that you said that yoru dvr-ms files didn’t covert. Did they not convert at all or did they and you are just getting a garbled video conversion?

Outside of that, the tips with the codec packs, etc work great. I’m able to convert previously h.264 files to smaller mobile versions. Very happy with that… Now only if I can get the recorded tv to convert, my wife will let me buy all the other electronic toys I want… :)

Anyone out there with a fully working dvr-ms conversion?

Alex Kuretz May 4, 2009 at 10:11 am

@Jorge: My understanding is that the HQ version retains the size and aspect ratio and simply encodes the file to the MP4 format. I’m not sure why yours are having an issue, sorry. :(

@RJ: My dvr-ms files don’t convert at all, the converter simply fails. These were recorded on my Vista Media Center PC and are standard TV broadcasts. I’ve found the lack of logging from the converter to be disappointing. I’ve got a request into HP on how to figure out why they are failing.

Mike G July 16, 2009 at 11:03 am

Ddi you ever get a response from HP about DVR-MS?

Alex Kuretz July 16, 2009 at 11:33 am

Hi Mike,

I did, apparently there is some driver compatibility issue with the way my capture card stores the dvr-ms files. We were not able to come up with a resolution, unfortunately. :(

Alex

Docles December 15, 2009 at 11:18 am

Hi, your all site is incredibly rich and addresses all questions, pending points you may experience with those already excellent products.

Regarding this HP Converter tweaking guide, it seems not being relevant for the new E49x serie. For exemple, I can’t find the HP Transcoding Service in the service application.

Any recommendation ?

THanks again

Docles

Alex Kuretz December 15, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Hi Docles, the Converter was updated in the 3.0 software that shipped with the EX49x servers so I would try out what you are wanting to accomplish first, then if it’s not working use the tutorial as a guide to make changes. The registry settings are the same, I believe, and the Transcoding service is now contained inside the general “HPMediaSmartService”.

I hope this helps.

Docles December 15, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Alex,

I just want to change some settings in the conversion for full HD especially, extend codec for video and change bitrate ratio for audio.

Currently the settings do not work with my Samsung LED 8000 DLNA TV.

Docles

Alex Kuretz December 15, 2009 at 2:37 pm

The Registry keys for all the Video Converter settings are located in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Hewlett-Packard\HP MediaSmart Server\Transcoder.

TwoFN January 31, 2010 at 8:59 am

I have a 495 and I just recently followed your converter update instructions using KLite and my converter is not finding my .mts files. I changed the Mediasmartserver Services to Admin and changed the registry settings to add .mts to my custom converter profiles. Does this not work for 49xs? Is the transcoding service located somewhere else?

Alex Kuretz February 2, 2010 at 2:42 pm

The guide was written for the 2.5 software on the EX48x servers, I’ve not experimented much with the new 3.0 version on the EX49x servers.

JP July 4, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Hi Alex, I just found this post. Have you found any new information on how to get EX495 to work with .mts files? I noticed others in this forum have not had any luck so far as the service is different. Please let me know if you have any new information on this. I know that CCCP is great for MKV, but what is the best codec to install for .mts?

Alex Kuretz July 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Sorry, no, you are best off posting in the forums to see if anyone has had any luck with that.

Tom Wynne March 31, 2010 at 12:52 am

MKV files: Use a program called MKV2VOB. In the configuration tab, select ‘always transcode DTS’, that will remove your static from your movie files.
This program muxes the MKV into an MPG file. It does this fairly quickly without the need to transcode the whole video file. I use this to convert all my mkv files to mpg format and store them on the media smart server. The PS3 will play these back beautifully straight off the server. The HP Video Converter will also convert these files without issue and they play well on my iPhone.

Manish May 22, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Loads of good info., thank you. I had a question about the HP MediaSmart Video software that came with my HP Desktop (Win7). It does not recognize .mts files recorded by my jvc camcorder. Is there any way to update/tweak this software to make it work with mts files?

Thanks a lot.

Manish

Alex Kuretz May 23, 2010 at 8:24 am

Manish, I don’t know what software you are referring to on your Desktop, the only Video features with the MediaSmart Server that I’m aware of reside on the server itself. Can you give more detail, or better yet post in the forums with screenshots that show what you’re using?

Manish May 23, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Alex,

A few months ago, I purchased HP Pavilion p6210y Desktop with Windows 7 pre-installed. HP includes MediaSmart software for Photo/Music/video/DVD player/editors. When you click on MediaSmart Video, the Video editor software opens up which allows selecting various video file formats but does not recognize mts files.

Manish

Alex Kuretz May 23, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Sorry, I’m not familiar with those tools.

Scott June 10, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Alex,

Have you heard of any issues trying to get the converter to run on a EX470? I have 2GB ram and LE-1640 proccesor. When the converter runs, it will runn for a few minutes then shutdown the server. Any ideas?

Scott

Alex Kuretz June 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Scott, most likely the video converter is putting a heavy enough load on the server to cause an overload of the system with your upgraded CPU. The EX470′s electronics are relatively fragile in this way.

NaticeCanadian June 12, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Have you heard of any issues trying to get the converter to run on a EX470? I have 2GB ram and LE-1640 proccesor. When the converter runs, it will runn for a few minutes then shutdown the server. Any ideas?

I had the same issue, I coulcn’t even get into video converter without the whole remote secssion locking up with a 100% cpu.

I was getting so fed up, I was going to do a recovery and try to shut it down on the new install, but I left it running for about 2 days, not accessing it, and it settled out, I have the same upgrades as you.

Personally, I am trying to set it up again, and have had only one shut down, but if it keeps up, I will use tversity to try transcode on the fly.

If you check your cpu it will be HOT like 56 and up, but once it settles out it will be abou 36.

Twonky is a hog at first too.

mike June 24, 2010 at 9:38 pm

thanks for all the great input i have a ex495 and tryed k-lite cccp and ac3 codec packs i can convert .mkv divx file but the audio is all funky any ideas on how to get the audio issue right any help would be great the only codec in stalled on the server is cccp its a new hp version 3 i think

Francesca July 10, 2010 at 6:42 am

Hi
I bought an HP notebook Pavillion back earlier this year of 2010.
My daughter is using it.
She is having a problem convertering.
A friend did a video on a Panasonic HVX 2000 … P2 based product
with MXF ( material exchange format)
She can’t seem to convert this format with the media smart
I believe she down loaded Quick Time but still is having problems converting the digital camera MXF so she can see the video and do some editing maybe before she passes it to another editor
Should she buy a Ansoft converter or a Brorsoft converter
I am not sure what advise to give her because the converters just mention seem to be for MAC … she want input and output capability I am pretty sure
Can you please help?

Alex Kuretz July 10, 2010 at 9:02 am

Francesca, MXF is a professional video format and not supported by the MediaSmart Server Video Converter. It looks like it is supported by higher end video tools like Adobe Premier and After Affects, there’s some more info on the Wikipedia page.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Material_Exchange_Format

Francesa July 10, 2010 at 9:36 am

I called up Abobe Premiere Pro and a discount is as much as $100.00
The After Affects seems to be more for special effects since she mostly just want to be able to open the file and see the video and maybe do some editing.
Anything more complexed with special affects she will leave up to the editor.
the Brorsoft video converter or the Aunsoft video converter would not be appropriate for an HP notebook to convert the MXF ?
The price would be easier to pay….. $35.00

thank you for responding.

Kevin May 17, 2011 at 9:35 am

I have a ex495 and was wondering if anyone figure out how to fix the MKV audio on conversions?

Comments are closed, visit the forums to continue the discussion.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: