Transcode from 1080i to DVD

FFmpeg logo

I’m getting rid of cable TV. There are still programs that I want to watch and since I often work at night I’m never around to watch primetime. I’m migrating my MythTV from analog cable encoding over to digital ATSC (over the air). I’ve built an HD antenna which I’ll share in another post, and I’ve picked up a Huappauge HVR-1250 ATSC tuner which I popped in and it immediately was picked up by my Ubuntu Karmic 9.10 box. The problem is I don’t care to upgrade storage space right now. 1080i recordings take up at least 6GB an hour so this will become an issue quickly.

I’m perfectly happy with the quality of DVD recordings on my HDTV so I’m going to downsample every recording to DVD size. I searched for help on this but there’s not much good information out there so I’m going to share what currently works for me. If you have a better method I’d love to hear about it so leave a comment.

I’m using ffmpeg to transcode my 1080i recordings down to DVD quality. Here’s the command line:

ffmpeg -i YOUR_INPUT_FILE.mpg -y -target ntsc-dvd -aspect 16:9 -ac 6 -sameq -copyts YOUR_OUTPUT_FILE.mpg

I had to add the “-ac 6” because I kept getting an error without it. It seems the output file was trying to encode 0 channels of audio. I haven’t extensively tested this yet but it worked on one recording. I’m writing a script that will take care of this for me. It will encode to a temporary file, delete the original, move the temp file to the original location, then rebuild the index file. Look for this in a future post.