That pesky WTV file format.

By | June 7, 2016

I spent whole week trying to put something together that would do a job. Soccer tournament Euro 2016 is around a corner and I wanted to record games and test encoding files with Handbrake.

I have to say that this whole experience is really frustrating. Handbrake supports WTV files recorded with Windows Media Center, but every once a while Handbrake desktop app stops conversion process for no apparent reasons. It would seem that there might be issue with wtv itself. So out of 10 files, it is most likely that at least one of them would fail to complete. Similar things were happening while I was testing HandbrakeCLI on my HTPC computer. Console window would just stay open for hours and job would refuse to finish.

I tried different approach and converted WTV file to MPEG format using FFMPEG and setup a job for HandbrakeCLI. Again result is unpredictable. Some files would complete and some simply would refuse to continue.

Since Handbrake was giving me so much trouble, I decided to do conversion in FFMPEG only. First change WTV file to MPEG and then convert MPEG to MKV format. It seemed in the beginning that FFMPEG does a better job, but at some point it failed too. Encoding process stalled for hours.

At this point I had to revert to converting WTV file to DVR-MS format first using Microsoft built-in WTVConverter.exe . This actually reduced errors significantly. I believe that it happened only once or twice and after reboot of HTPC job started and continued until it was finish.

Both Handbrake and FFMPEG support WTV format, however it is better to use following path for unattended video conversion:

  • WTV to DVR-MS using WTVConverter.exe
  • DVR-MS to MPEG using FFMPEG
  • MPEG to MKV/MP4 using FFMPEG or HandbrakeCLI

Encoding is fairly fast. I would say about 1:1, but with additional conversion steps whole process takes longer. Initially I was copying WTV file to temp folder and then do conversion. Once I eliminated that step, process is little bit faster. Recording that is 2-3 hours long can take between 20GB to 30GB. When comes to HTPC performance while doing encoding job, I did not notice major impact on either watching Live or recorded TV show. My HTPC is not the most powerful PC. It uses quad core AMD processor of older generation. I would provide specs later.


EDIT: I did about 50 jobs of recorded games and so far I did not have any single failure.

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