Using VideoReDo to Edit Video From TiVoToGo

Got a TiVo Series 2 DVR? Then you already have the tools necessary to copy recorded shows from TiVo to your PC using TiVo's "TiVoToGo" functionality. No hacked TiVo required - just a Series 2 or later TiVo with the TiVoToGo functionality. (If you have a Series 1 or DirecTV TiVo, which doesn't support TiVoToGo, all is not lost. You can also use VideoReDo with your hacked TiVo S1.)

So, you've got your favorite shows recorded on your TiVo. Wouldn't it be great if you could easily edit those video files - cutting out commercials, adding DVD chapter files, and saving in your format of choice? This is where VideoReDo comes into play ... giving you powerful, easy-to-use editing capability for those TiVoToGo files. This article offers a step-by-step look at how to pull shows from TiVo using TiVoToGo and then edit those files in VideoReDo.

Let's begin with what you'll need to make this work:

  1. A Series 2 or later TiVo. Series 1 and the old DirecTV TiVo's don't support TiVoToGo. But no worries... If this is you, then you just have to modify your TiVo, and follow a slightly different set of instructions.
  2. A network adapter to connect your TiVo to your home network. TiVo offers installation instructions for setting up either a wired or a wireless network connection to your TiVo DVR.
  3. A copy of the TiVo Desktop software, which is available free from TiVo here.
  4. A copy of the VideoReDo Plus software. You can download a free trial or purchase the registered version for $49.99.

Before you begin, you'll need to make sure your TiVo DVR is networked and has been set to "Allow Transfers" from your DVR. If you need help networking your DVR and preparing it for TiVoToGo, TiVo offers a guide to get you going. You'll also need to install the TiVo Desktop software. The installation process will require you to enter your "Media Access Key" which can be found on your TiVo's "Messages & Settings" / "Account & System Information" menu or online at tivo.com/manage.

We begin by opening the TiVo Desktop software on our PC. Click on "Pick Recordings to Transfer". The software establishes a connection with your TiVo and brings up a list of all the recorded programs on your DVR.

(Click on the following images to see them full-sized...)

VideoReDo Screenshot - Click to enlarge

Select one or more recordings and click the "Start Transfer" button to start copying the shows to your PC. On my network, using a wired network connection to my TiVo, a 30-minute "High Quality" recording takes roughly 40 minutes to transfer. By default, TiVo puts everything in a folder called "My TiVo Recordings" in your "My Documents" folder. This can be changed in the File->Preferences menu.

Newer versions of TiVo Desktop also offer an "Auto-Transfer" option. Using this feature, you can specify an entire series to be transferred. As new episodes of that series are recorded on your TiVo, the TiVo Desktop software will automatically copy the new shows to your PC (think "Season Pass" for TiVo Desktop). Be careful with this option as it could quickly max out your hard drive with the very large ".tivo" video files.

Transferred programs will show up on the "Now Playing" screen in TiVo Desktop. Once you've transferred the programs you care about, we can move on to editing them with VideoReDo.

When you install VideoReDo, the setup wizard will ask you two TiVo-related questions. First, it will ask you if you intend to open TiVoToGo programs. Answering "Yes" to this question allows you to open files with the .tivo extension (i.e. the file type used by TiVo Desktop). The second question is whether you'd like to place a shortcut to the default TiVo recordings directory. Selecting 'Yes' will put a convenient TiVo icon in the "open" menu of VideoReDo (see screenshot below). Just be sure to set your default directory preference in TiVo Desktop before you run the VideoReDo install.

VideoReDo Screenshot - Click to enlarge

Open VideoReDo, click the "Open Video" button on the front page, and select a video from your "My TiVo Recordings" directory. The video opens in the VideoReDo editor and begins playing.

Let's start our editing by having VideoReDo attempt to remove the commercials for us. Select "Start Ad-Detective Scan" from the Ad-Detective menu.

VideoReDo Screenshot - Click to enlarge

VideoReDo will start scanning through the video looking for empty black frames that mark transitions between commercials and your show. It took about 2 minutes to scan my 30-minute episode. At each detected break, it put a red scene marker on the timeline. It also made a guess at which scenes were to be kept (marked green) and which were to be cut (marked red).

VideoReDo Screenshot - Click to enlarge

In my experience, the Ad-Detection Scan provided an excellent starting place to do my edits and saved me a lot of time, but its guesses didn't mesh 100% with where I wanted to make cuts. It marked the opening sequence of my show as a commercial and it left two short commercials included in my show. That said, I was able to quickly and easily correct those places in the timeline that needed a little tweak.

Manually adjusting the edits is easy. Use the F5 and F6 keys to jump between the scene markers that Ad-Detection placed on the timeline. Use the VideoReDo - Check Previous Frame and VideoReDo - Check Next Frame buttons to check the frames on either side of the scene marker. If you need to add another scene marker or delete an existing one, the "A" hotkey will add or remove scene markers.

It's important to note here that scene markers are merely placeholders on the timeline. They don't mark any parts of the video in or out. To do that, you need to use the selection start and end bracket markers. Once you have scene markers on each of your important transitions, use F5 and F6 to navigate to a scene marker that marks the beginning of a cut. Put the selection start bracket there by clicking the "Sel. Start" button. Then use F5 and F6 to navigate to the end of your cut and click "Sel. End" to add the end bracket. Now that your selection is defined, you can mark the section as a cut by clicking the "Cut Selection" button, turning the selection red. Alternately, you could mark a selection back in by clicking "Trim Unselect", turning that portion of the timeline green again.

VideoReDo Screenshot - Click to enlarge

Once you've marked all your cuts, you can switch VideoReDo to preview mode by clicking the VideoReDo - Filmstrip Preview Mode filmstrip button. Preview mode removes all cuts from the timeline. This allows you to play through your transitions to make sure they're clean. If your transitions need additional tweaking, just switch back to edit mode and make the adjustments.

Once you're satisfied with your edited video, click the "Save As..." button, select the video type for your output video, and save your commercial-free video.

VideoReDo Screenshot - Click to enlarge

The edited video saves very quickly. In my experience, it takes less than a minute to save off a new MPEG file from my 30-minute episode.

And there you have it... VideoReDo + TiVoToGo = my favorite TV shows on my PC with no commercials. It was fairly simple to make happen, didn't take a lot of time, and gives me ultimate power over my shows ... how TV and PC technology that were made to go together!