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How to record the past with EyeTV

A few minutes ago I was watching a show about German comedy (“Komisches Deutschland”) on ARD, the first German TV channel. When watching TV, which doesn’t happen too often, I mostly use my Mac with a Terratec T2 DVB-T USB 2.0-receiver powered by Elgato’s excellent EyeTV software. EyeTV makes your Mac to a full-fletched digital video recorder with all its benefits. However, one option is missing.

After watching “Komisches Deutschland” for several minutes I decided that I wanted to record it but also realized that there is no option in EyeTV to include the past of the currently broadcasted show into the recording that starts when pressing the Record button. This past is normally buffered in EyeTV’s Live TV Buffer.eyetv package inside the EyeTV Archive directory and is used for jumping back in time in the “live stream”. So the data is there, just the software doesn’t allow you to get it.

So if you want to record a show but realize it only when it has already started it is best not to click the Record button (as this ends your Live TV Buffer.eyetv recording and also introduces a break of a couple of seconds) but just let it be recorded into the Live TV Buffer.eyetv. When the show is finished you must not quit EyeTV.app as Live TV Buffer.eyetv is deleted on quit. Instead just close your TV window go to your EyeTV Archive (which is the one that you specify in the preferences as the directory where EyeTV saves its recordings), locate the Live TV Buffer.eyetv and copy it to some place outside EyeTV Archive. The whole show can now be found as the .mpg file inside the Live TV Buffer.eyetv package.

And if you want to edit that show…? Well… That’s a bit more difficult as EyeTV doesn’t recognize .eyetv packages inside EyeTV Archive unless they are described in the EyeTV Archive.xml file in the same directory. But naively editing EyeTV Archive.xml unfortunately isn’t the easy solution as EyeTV will just ignore incorrect entries in the XML file and delete those lines when the application is quit. I’m trying to find out how to persuade EyeTV to accept such a package until the weekend sometime, but if anyone has any tips please feel free to comment on this post…

Update (24.09.2007): “Recording the past” is now possible with the latest EyeTV 2.5 upgrade (free for EyeTV 2 owners)!

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