Attempts to make my PS3 a multimedia powerhouse

Reason #2 why Brent hasn’t been posting: I have a Miglia TVMini HD dongle that lets my Mac record QAM TV signals, and I have a PS3 attached to my TV that has a hard drive and should be able to play a video file. Match made in heaven? Not yet!

For starters, the PS3 is quite particular about the video formats it will play. My TV recordings appear to be MPEG-2 video paired with A52 (the modern version of AC-3, or so I read) audio; the PS3 will only play MPEG-2 video paired with MP2 audio. I could convert my shows into a different format, but converting an hour-long HDTV show isn’t exactly my idea of a good time—it takes for-bloody-ever.

So, after playing around—and failing—with all the GUI tools at my disposal, I rolled up my sleeves and downloaded the source code for ffmpeg, a command-line video/audio converter. After compiling (a process I’m virtually clueless about, save that it involves me typing “./configure”, “make”, and “sudo make install” in that order), I managed to convert the audio of a standard-definition TV show into a format that plays on the PS3. Turns out that converting audio is nowhere near as painful as converting video. Woo.

You know I’m in a bad spot when I resort to command-line tools to try and get things done. I can, and I will… but I use a Mac for a reason.

HDTV remains a thorn in my side, however. After trying and failing to watch an episode of House I recorded, I discovered that the PS3 currently has a 4GB file size limit on video files it is willing to play. My HDTV recordings are more along the lines of 6 GB. Suck.

And in case this sounds like something that took me a couple days, let me disabuse you of that notion now. I’ve been hitting my head against this for a month, frequently staying up into the wee hours of the morning hoping that something would give.

My favorite memory is of staying up until 4:00 am reading about various flags I could pass to ffmpeg. It’s a nifty, complicated program.

Something did eventually give—me. I’m now holding out for the fabled March firmware, ETA sometime next week, which is supposed to do everything from making Final Fantasy XII look purty* (examples one, two, and three) to making downloading not so painful (via a marvel known as background downloading).

*In case you’re wondering what the big deal is: Final Fantasy XII on HDTV looks completely ass-tastic. These pictures look absolutely gorgeous in comparison.

Maybe it’ll ease that file size restriction, too. A man can hope, right?

The easy part of this whole process was getting my files copied to the PS3. Turn on my computer’s built-in web server, craft a little HTML file that links to the files I want downloaded, and then point the PS3’s browser to that page. Easy! The download time isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s still infinitely better than watching my computer choke on converting video.

 

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