Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Streaming video to VLC from MythWeb

After building and installing the latest MythTV version, I browsed through the mini-website, MythWeb, which gets installed and served by Apache. There is a page for all my previously recorded programming which comes up as a table:

It's a nice refinement from previous versions, but what caught my eye was this newly added icon:

Mousing over it gives a tooltip: "ASX Stream" and clicking on it causes a file to be downloaded with the double extension ".asx.asf". What is that? By default, on OS X, Quicktime was set to open .asf files, but Quicktime didn't know what to do with it. So, I reassigned the file type to the VLC player. Now opening the file (which you can do by right clicking on Safari's download window) launches VLC and starts playing the recorded program. No more relying on the, somewhat clunky, MythTV frontend for displaying recorded content. Instead, you can use the much more refined, and Mac-like VLC player in either windowed or full screen mode.

This is not perfect. VLC can't fast forward, jump forward, or scrub through the stream. So the MythTV frontend is still more functional, unless you want to watch commercials. OS X gives 5 applications which are registered to handle the .asf file type: VLC, MPlayer OSX, MPEG StreamClip, Windows Media Player, and WMV Player. Only VLC can actually use the file as generated by MythWeb.

I don't know what is missing from the stream (or VLC) but I wish somebody would add arbitrary scrubbing. It would be very cool to use VLC for my TV viewing. And it'd also be nice if MythWeb added a TV tuning page, and live TV streaming. And it would be even nicer if it the tuning page handed off my HDHomeRun's network stream directly to VLC instead of acting as a proxy.

Still, a really cool feature.

[Update: I couldn't actually watch a whole program without losing the stream, but it'd be cool if it worked.]