Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Apple TV Runs converted AVI files using AirPlayer, Air Video Server, and AirFlick

Although I knew that the AirFlick video tool I posted about earlier today could theoretically pass transcoded video streams to Apple TV for playback, my initial attempts with VideoLAN Client transcoding more or less went nowhere. Then, Greenpois0n reader BC reposted a comment earlier this evening that he originally left on the MacRumors forums.

In that comment, he discussed how to add live conversion to my AirFlick app by using the server component of AirVideo, a video streaming solution that allows your Mac to serve video to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Although I had previously attempted to play back AirVideo m3u8 playlists on the Mac without success, BC suggested that the Apple TV supported them.

He was right. Video proof follows after the break.

After a little experimentation I was live streaming transcoded AVI files from my Mac's AirVideo Server to Apple TV via AirFlick, as the video here shows. Instead of using BC's method (which appears on the earlier AirFlick post), I grabbed the m3u8 URL by temporarily streaming from Air Video on my Mac to my iPad.

That allowed me to pull off the core index file name (in my case, that was index_68c17927-5f43-4176-ba5e-7fc91b48b050.m3u8) and construct a URL to enter into AirFlick, namely http://MY_LOCAL_IP_ADDRESS:45631/live-playback-2.4.0/INDEX_FILE.m3u8. Substitute your own IP address and the actual index m3u8 playlist name.

You can also grab the UUID from the command line by doing a ps -ax with a very very wide window, to grab the conversion id from the process list, which is a ffmpeg process; e.g. 1124 ?? 2:49.79 /Applications/Air Video Server.app/Contents/Resources/ffmpeg --conversion-id 68c17927-5f43-4176-ba5e-7fc91b48b050 --port-number 46631 -threads 4 -flags2 +fast -flags +loop -g 30 -keyint_min 1 -bf 0 -b_strategy 0 -flags2 -wpred-dct8x8 -cmp +chroma -deblo

If you, like my family and so many other people, own a compact USB video camera, it's nice to know that you can play home movies directly to Apple TV without having to convert them into an iTunes-compatible format, and without having to jailbreak. The same goes for anyone whose PVR system records to AVI files rather than some OS X standard video format.

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