Another Digital Content Source – HD Screen Grabs

Letterman HD

I’m in the experimental stage with the high def stuff (won’t I always be?), but I did a screen grab of the Letterman show to see how it looked. Well, just WOW!

There’s a bit of a back story. How do you do screen grabbing of HD anyway? I’ll give you the setup shortly, but I’ll start by saying that I get my HD feed from Cox Cable of Fredericksburg. The story behind why I have cable HD is a funny one, but for the sake of this post, I’ll summarize. Pre-HD I had Direct TV. In the mean time, my neighbor put an addition on his house (an addition upward). Next, I wanted HD from Direct TV. Nope! Line of sight to HD satellite is blocked by neighbor’s addition. Hello Cox!

Now back to the setup – Cox cable HD. The box they provide (Scientific Atlanta Explorer 3250HD for those HD geeks out there) has 2 Firewire ports on the back of it. I have a basic Firewire card in my PC (the Dell that runs my Beyond TV setup). A while back I tried connecting the port to see if I could get a signal, but I couldn’t get it to use a proper driver. I forgot about it for a while. Then thanks to a blog I read called HD Beat, I found this post about Firewire ports on set-top boxes. It lead me to this article where I got the drivers (sorry, registration required) for essentially a Panasonic D-VHS deck. The instructions were great and soon I was digitizing 1920×1080 video! It does stress out a computer trying to capture 30 frames per second at that size. Anyway the final piece, the screen grab, is accomplished with Nero Showtime. Now I have a 1920×1080 bitmap image of Letterman, which I reduce down to 400×227 to fit on this page. I’ve only just gotten started and suddenly a 250 GB hard drive is tiny!


4 Responses

  1. Interesting!

    My setup is a little different. In my PC, I have an ATI HDTV Wonder card with a built-in ATSC tuner (Philips). Since my Dish receiver has a built-on OTA HD receiver built in, I’ve been using a Zenith Silver Sensor indoor antenna to pull in the DC HD stations. (Works pretty well, depending on weather.) When I got the HDTV card, I got an antenna amplifier that I use to split the signal from the Zenith antenna and send one feed to the Dish box and one feed to the tuner on my PC. It’s only OTA stuff–I can’t get any satellite HD or SD that way–but it works very well, even for full-motion recording.

    The key here is the ability not only to record–there are HD DVRs offered by several manufacturers–but to be able to get the content out of the box and onto different media. And that, of course, is what the DRM-hungry content providers are worried about! Hacks and workarounds will have to do until someone gets a better idea about protecting content. (Like, don’t?)

    And yes, it sure does eat up the hard drive space. I’ve got well over a terabyte on my prime computer at home and it’s getting crowded. 🙂

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