How-to Setup Automatic Commercial Skipping in Windows Media Center

Nov 29, 2010 by

One of the biggest advantages to using a computer as the basis of your of your living room DVR is the ability to automate commercial skipping. Everyone remembers when they got their first DVR, and how great it was to be able to fast-forward through commercials. Well combining Windows Media Center, Show Analyzer, and DvrmsToolbox allows you to take commercial skipping to the next level. In this article I’ll show you how to setup these pieces of software to automatically detect the location of commercials within recorded TV, and then to automatically skip past them. You won’t even need to pick up the remote control once this is all setup.

Once you have your Windows Media Center properly setup to record TV you’ll need two additional pieces of software. One, DvrmsToolbox, is free, the other, Show Analyzer, is not. Show Analyzer will only set you back $29.98. A fair price to pay considering you won’t need to watch commercials anymore!

Summary

First you’re going to install Show Analyzer. This software scans recorded TV shows for commercials. It then saves the location of the commercials in a file. Then you will install DvrmsToolbox (DTB), and the DTB Media Center add-in. After being configured these two make the rest of the commercial skipping mgaic happen. When you start watching a recorded TV show the add-in will look to see if Show Analyzer has already scanned it for commercials. If it hasn’t, it will ask you if you would like it to. If it has, then the show will continue to play as normal, except that when you get to the beginning of a commercial break the add-in will automatically jump to the end of the break! You don’t need to hit fast-forward. You don’t even need to pick up the remote. The other really nice feature of the system being configured this way is that even if the commercial detection wasn’t perfect, you can still fast-forward, or rewind, to compensate. Follow the steps below to configure your system accordingly.

Step 1: Purchase and install Show Analyzer

Head on over to Dragon Global and purchase a copy of Show Analyzer. Once you have it, run the very simple setup utility, and for good measure, reboot your machine. The way that you will configure everything to work doesn’t require you to do any more configuration of Show Analyzer.

Step 2 : Download DvrmsToolbox and the Media Center Add-In

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Go to the downloads section for DvrmsToolbox at Babgvant.com and download the item called DVRMSToolbox. The current version as of this writing is 1.2.2.2. You also need to download DTBAddin. The current version is 1.0.0.6. Install the main DvrmsToolbox first. When you get to the setup screen for Optional Components you should uncheck “Download/Install ShowAnalyzer” as you will have already installed it. Make sure to leave “Run the DTB File Watcher as a service” checked.

Once DTB is installed, you need to install the DTB Addin. The zip file contains multiple install files. There is one for 32 bit versions of Windows 7, and one for 64 bit version. If you’re not sure which version you have go to the control panel, then System and Security, then System. Under System type it will say either 32-bit or 64-bit. If you have 32-bit run W7DTBAddinSetupX86.msi, if you have 64-bit run W7DTBAddinSetupX64.msi. After installation is complete, restart your computer.

Step 3 : Configure DvrmsToolbox

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DTB does a lot more than just skip commercials, so the settings application can be a little daunting. To configure DTB launch DVRMStoMPEGSettings from the DVRMSToolbox group in the Start menu. The first screen, DVRMSToolbox, only has a couple of options, you’ll want to leave the default settings.

  • Default Priority – Below Normal
  • Preferred Analyzer – Automatic

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On the second tab, File Watcher, there are a lot of options, but you only need to verify a few of them.

  • Watched Directories – Just ensure that this is where your recorded tv .wtv files are. By default they are stored in C:\Users\Public\Recorded TV. I’ve moved mine to D:\Recordd TV\ so it is modified in my screenshot.
  • Watched Ext – Ensure that .wtv is in the list. It should be a default though.
  • Video Types – Ensure that this list also contains .wtv
  • Process Files Missing Artifacts – If you leave this checked it will automatically begin processing the files you already have recorded. If you have a lot of shows, this could take a VERY LONG time.

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On the third tab, MC Addin, you will find the settings for Media Center Add-in. This is the piece that controls how to actually skip past the commercials when you’re watching tv.

  • Skip Commercials – If you don’t have this checked, it wont’s skip the commercials
  • Handle Keys – I would recommend unchecking this. If you leave it checked then the add-in will cause Media Center to do other things when buttons are pressed on the remote while watching tv. If you’re the only one using the Media Center then feel free to play around with this, but if you have other family members using it also you probably won’t want to give them a 45 minute lecture explaining to them all the things that are different.

There are a lot of other options, but you can just leave them as default, or as I’ve demonstrated in the screenshot.

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The fourth tab, Commercial Skip, also has a couple of important settings. All of the settings at the top can be left alone, especially if you unchcked the Handle Keys option on the previous tab.

  • Auto Skip – Make sure this is checked. It will then cause it to automatically skip past commercials when they are found
  • Suppress Skip Dialog – Check this box. If this is not checked you might see annoying pop-up boxes while watching tv that is still scanning for commercials.
  • Suppress Not Found – Leave this unchecked. If you go to watch something that hasn’t been scanned for commercials it will prompt you with a simple Yes or No dialog asking if you would like to begin scanning that show.

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The last tab that should be looked at for commercial skipping is the Processing tab.There are only two settings to verify though:

  • Delay Processing : FindCommercials
  • Detection Profile : Find Commercials in DVR-MS

Conclusion

It may seem like a lot, but in the end it will be worth it. If there’s anything that we’ve missed, or you still have other questions, please leave a comment on the post and we’ll update the post.

FAQ

Q – Can copy-protected recordings be scanned for commercials?

A – No. ShowAnalyzer would need to purchase a PlayReady license from Microsoft to be able to scan copy-protected content. To learn more about copy-protection, check out this article we wrote.

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