How To Download Real Media Streams

Some sites provide archived video webcasts in the form of .rm streams. These are fairly difficult to download and use for editing and are difficult to view because it is hard to skip around. Downloading is not difficult, but does require some doing. In the example below, we will use the specific example of the videos made available at the California Public Utilities Commission.

  1. Locate the source of the archived videos
  2. Get the rtsp: link.
    • Right Click on one of the links.
      • "open with" and choose a text editor, like notepad++ OR save link as, and use the name but change the extension to .txt, then open in a text editor.
      • The content of this file will be a URL like this:
        rtsp://208.105.130.170:554/cpuc/CPUC EH 102513-1.rm
      • Copy that string and paste it in a working text file.
      • Generally, once you can get one, you can figure out other similar files. Note that the stream name, CPUC_EH102513-1.rm, is the same in both the html URL and the rstp URL.
  3. Install MPlayer
    • MPlayer is an open-source media player that runs from a command line.
    • You will need to use a command console. I recommend using Console2 which is better than the crappy one provided by Microsoft.
    • Access it at this site: http://www.mplayerhq.hu
    • Download MPlayer and install it, which amounts to unzipping it. You may need to also install 7zip to do so.
    • Unzip MPlayer to your C: drive.
    • Also download and unzip the Codec packages. I suggest you place this in C:\Codecs.
  4. Use MPlayer on the command line to download the videos and translate into .MP4 video format.
    • cd to the mplayer directory.
    • In general, the form of the command is like this:
      • mplayer -codecpath c:\Codecs -dumpstream -dumpfile (OUTPUTFILEPATH.mp4) (RTSP URL)
    • For example, here is an example:
      • mplayer -codecpath c:\Codecs -dumpstream -dumpfile c:\Temp\CPUC_EH102513-2.mp4 rtsp://208.105.130.170:554/cpuc/CPUC_EH102513-2.rm?cloakport=80,554
    • You can paste a bunch of commands into the Console and have them queued up if you have many to convert.
    • Can also start many separate consoles and start a separate download in each one.

Recent successful conversions

The following command strings are examples of successful conversions.
  • CPUC 2014-05-14 Evidentiary Hearing
mplayer -codecpath c:\Codecs -dumpstream -dumpfile c:\Temp\CPUC_EH051414-1.mp4 rtsp://208.105.130.170:554/cpuc/CPUC_EH051414-1.rm?cloakport=80,554

-- Raymond Lutz - 2014-01-02
Topic revision: r3 - 2014-05-15, RaymondLutz
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