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Stream Live HDTV from Your Mac
Pages: 1, 2

Step 3: Use VLC's Streaming Wizard to Create Your Stream

On the sending Macintosh, launch VLC. Select File -> Streaming/Exporting Wizard (Command-Shift-W). The Streaming/Transcoding Wizard window opens:

  1. Select "Stream to network." This option is selected as the default. Click Next.
  2. Select your stream. With "Select a stream" selected, click Choose. A file selection dialog opens. Navigate to the alias you created on your desktop. Select it and choose Open. Click Next.
  3. Tip: When you select several files (or aliases) at once, VLC creates a playlist of those videos. The web interface you add in Step 5 allows you to select from that playlist and choose which video you want to watch. Very convenient!

  4. Choose your streaming method and destination. Make sure that UDP Unicast is selected and enter the IP address for the computer you wish to stream to (Figure 4). Click Next.

  5. Select Destination
    Figure 4. It is vital to connect to the proper address while streaming. Make sure you correctly enter the Destination address. On the Mac, you can find out the address for your computer by opening System Preferences and selecting the Network settings pane.

  6. Do not transcode. Leave both boxes unchecked on the Transcode page. Click Next.
  7. Use MPEG TS encapsulation. MPEG TS refers to MPEG transport stream. Click Next.
  8. Leave the additional options alone. Keep the Time-To-Live, SAP Announce, and Local Playback settings exactly as is, and click Next.
  9. Check the summary. The final page of the Streaming/Transcoding Wizard lists all the settings you've chosen. Make sure you're streaming UDB-Unicast to the proper destination with no transcoding and MPEG TS encapsulation. Click Finish. A new VLC Controller opens on your sending computer (Figure 5).

  10. VLC Controller
    Figure 5. After finishing the Streaming/Transcoding Wizard, this new controller appears in VLC. Just let it be.

Step 4: Watch Video on Your Receiving Computer

With VLC running on your destination computer, select File -> Open Network (Command-N). If you're not on a Mac, the Linux and Windows versions use essentially the same function, but I believe it's called "Open Network Stream" instead of "Open Network." On a Mac, the dialog shown in Figure 6 opens. All the default settings apply. Just click OK.

Open Source window
Figure 6. Use the default settings in the Open Source window. Just click OK to start watching your streaming EyeTV video.

Assuming you've set everything up correctly--and really, there's not a lot of rocket science here so you probably did--your video will start playing. Figure 7 shows the video playing on my old and cranky 733 G4.

Open Source window
Figure 7. If you pay attention, you'll notice an "HD" icon in the lower-left of this image. This is not a transcode. That's actual HD streaming from my Mac mini to my G4. You can view a full-size screen shot here. The video was so large, it ended up crossing from one of my two screens to the other. Fortunately, my SnapzPro screenshot utility was able to snap both screens at once to produce this image. The video played back with few jumps or delays. (Turning off extraneous programs like email is a big help in keeping the playback smooth!)

Step 5: Add a Web-based Remote Control

The web-based remote is one of VLC's least-trumpeted features, and this really shouldn't be the case. It's very cool. The remote allows you to control your VLC playback from another computer, in this case the one receiving the video you're streaming. To enable this feature, you'll need to return to the computer of origin, the one that's streaming the video.

  1. Enable the web interface. In VLC on the sending computer, choose VLC -> Add Interface -> Web Interface. Unfortunately, there will be no feedback that you've accomplished anything at all. The submenu will not be checked, and there will be no other visual confirmation whatsoever. However, once you've enabled this interface, you can move over to the destination computer and access it right away, so that's confirmation of a sort.
  2. Connect to the web interface. On the receiving computer, launch your favorite web browser and connect to port 8080 at the address of the sending computer, e.g., http://192.168.1.101:8080/. (Obviously, this will vary according to your local network.)
  3. Click Help. You'll find the Help button beside the words "VLC media player" at the top of the page. This option adds words to all the little icons and makes them a lot easier to use, as Figure 8 shows. Use the icons on this virtual remote to start, stop, and otherwise control your video stream experience.

VLC web interface
Figure 8. If you enable the VLC web interface, you can control your VLC stream directly from your remote computer. Very convenient!

CyTV

CyTV is another network streaming solution for EyeTV; it is still in beta development. Like the VLC solution discussed earlier in this article, it allows you to watch EyeTV content over a network. In fact, it even uses VLC to display its video.

CyTV ships with a CyTV client and a CyTV server to run on the two computers you're connecting. When running, the server controls EyeTV on the sending computer. Figure 9 shows the client in action.

CyTV
Figure 9. CyTV offers many of the same features as VLC streaming with a nicer interface, but actual performance takes a huge hit. Video delivery is slow and hesitant.

Although CyTV shows great promise, it's still in early development. When I tested it, response time was unacceptably slow. I could barely watch a standard definition TV stream on my G4. There were many halts and hesitations while streaming. High definition streams were out of the question. On the bright side, whereas VLC allows you to switch programs when you load items into its play lists, CyTV was designed to allow you to switch channels in real time, although I was unable to make this feature work in my tests.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You've just built a remote video streaming solution that you can use to watch video as it records in another room. You've learned how to access EyeTV's raw MPEG transport streams, create an alias that links to them, use VLC to stream that MPEG, and watch the video on another computer. It only takes a few simple steps to put all of this together and make it work. Best of all, outside of your initial investment in EyeTV, you can build this setup using equipment you already own and with free open source software.

Thanks to Nicholas Freeman and Adam Steinberg of Elgato for their technical insights during the preparation of this article.

Erica Sadun has written, co-written, and contributed to almost two dozen books about technology, particularly in the areas of programming, digital video, and digital photography.


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