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Mythtranscode is the internal process used by the front end to transcode MythTV recordings.


Usage: mythtranscode <--chanid <channelid>>
        <--starttime <starttime>> <--profile <profile>>

        --mpeg2          or -m: Perform MPEG2 to MPEG2 transcode.
        --chanid         or -c: Takes a channel id. REQUIRED
        --starttime      or -s: Takes a starttime for the
                                recording. REQUIRED
        --infile         or -i: Input file (Alternative to -c and -s)
        --outfile        or -o: Output file
        --profile        or -p: Takes a profile number or 'autodetect'
                                recording profile. REQUIRED
        --honorcutlist   or -l: Specifies whether to use the cutlist.
        --allkeys        or -k: Specifies that the output file
                                should be made entirely of keyframes.
        --fifodir        or -f: Directory to write fifos to
                                If --fifodir is specified, 'audout' and 'vidout'

                                will be created in the specified directory
        --fifosync            : Enforce fifo sync
        --buildindex     or -b: Build a new keyframe index
                                (use only if audio and video fifos are read independantly)
        --showprogress        : Display status info to the stdout
        --verbose level  or -v: Use '-v help' for level info
        --help           or -h: Prints this help statement.

Choosing a Recording

Two methods are available to choose which recording to work on. The first is to specify the channelid and start time,

--chanid 1067 --starttime 20080109223000

The other method is to specify the file,

--infile /MythTV/tv/1856_20060425200000.mpg

Important.png Note: Specifying the filepath only works if the recording's filename is formatted the default way.

When using the --infile option, mythtranscode will use the filename to lookup the recordings in the recorded table and find the corresponding chanid and start-time. Non-default filenames, such as those renamed with, prevent mythtranscode from doing so (and it complains of this), but it still proceeds with the transcode anyway, confusing the user. The resulting mythtranscode run is useless because the utility doesn't know what seektable to update with the data it found by scanning through the recording. The only way around this and have the transcoding succeed is:

  1. First rename the recording back to the default format, or
  2. Instead of using the more-convenient --infile, manually specify the data mythtranscode needs with -c and -s.

--honorcutlist Limitation

--honorcutlist only seems to work (0.19-fixes [9938]) with the "-c -s" switch combo, NOT with a specified input (-i) file, even if that file is in the mythconverg database.

Using the --buildindex Option

The --buildindex option can be used for rebuilding/repairing the seektable.

Using the --mpeg2 Option for (Virtually) Lossless MPEG2 Transcode

New in 0.19 is a virtually lossless MPEG2 transcode. What this does is let you select cut points and mythtranscode will only re-encode the frames that need to be, copying the rest directly from the stream. If you are using this to cut commercials and you cut at the black frames of a fade to black (or white of a fade to white), what you get is basically a perfect stream copy of the video with no loss to the frames that matter.

This also has some side benefits,

  • Converts the mpeg2 from a TS stream to a PS stream, possibly saving up to 20% of the file size!
  • Fixes Audio/Video sync issues in a similar fashion to ProjectX.


Remove commercials from an MPEG2 recording

First, set a cutlist for the show. Then:

mythtranscode --chanid 1017 --starttime 2006-12-16-20-00-00 --mpeg2 --honorcutlist

This will drop the cut version beside the original, but with an added .tmp extension. I'm not exactly sure what it does to the database. It seems to keep the cutpoints and points at the old .mpg file, but shortens how long it thinks the movie is to the size of the .tmp file.


Every once in a while, something will happen and transcoding will not be able to complete. When this happens, the Job Queue will indicate the failure by turning the job title red in color. It will also say "Job: Transcode Status: Errored", and will follow with the line "Transcode failed with status: ###"

When this happens, you can often find information in the backend logs.. otherwise you can check this list to see if your error status matches any that others have encountered:

Error Status Possible Causes References
139 "Maximum simultaneous jobs on this backend:" set to 2 or more. mythtranscode does not yet handle simultaneous jobs on the same backend, at least on AMD64 X2 dual core processors. none. Conclusion based on trial and error. ymmv.
235 Cutlist contains a cut zone with a beginning but no ending (often at the very end of the recording) none
242 File is on a remote filesystem. mythtranscode does not yet handle these files. Check if the Job runs on a slave backend. none
247 From the source, exit 247 is a GENERIC_EXIT_UNKNOWN_ERROR. Check the end of /var/log/mythtv/mythbackend.log for more details. or