Although get_iplayer was dropped by its author around 3 months ago, until recently it had continued to work. But a change on iPlayer a couple of weeks stopped it working. Luckily, several people have taken it upon themselves to continue to maintain the code. One of these seems to have turned into a project to entirely rewrite it (which seems rather unnecessary), but another has successfully fixed the problems caused by the recent changes.
So get_iplayer v2.78 is now available, which is fantastic news. There is also a Windows installer which gets all the necessary supporting applications, although I’ve never tried this (don’t have any Windows machines any more).
I’ve also noticed that the iPlayer Downloader app Christine Caulfield built on top of get_iplayer has also been removed. This is a shame, because it’s very much my favourite way of using get_iplayer. But the good news is that if you substitute the latest version of get_iplayer into the package, it still works.
Earlier this month, Phil Lewis announced that he was dropping his excellent get_iplayer application due to the attitude of the BBC towards open source iPlayer clients. I was desperately disappointed by this, but completely understand and respect his reasoning.
Like much of the development of the iPlayer, the logic behind the BBC’s ban on open source clients is so bad it’s almost funny, but the result is that we are left without what was a fantastic way of using iPlayer.
Luckily, I do have a complete copy of the get_iplayer code repository. I’ve put it on Google Code at get-iplayer-lives.googlecode.com. As the latest version of get_iplayer does still work, all most people are likely to want is perl script itself; you can find that here: get_iplayer.
Of course, the BBC may make changes that break get_iplayer. If that’s the case, I’m not confident that I would know how to fix it. But I would be very happy to give access to the repository for anyone who does feel they would be able to – drop me a private message via the feedback tab if you want to do this.
I was really disappointed to learn today that Phil Lewis has decided to drop get_iplayer in response to BBC’s lack of support for open source software. He explains his reasons here, which are completely understandable. In recent weeks, the BBC have made changes to make it more difficult for open source software to use iPlayer – see the links from Phil’s article for more details.
One of my biggest complaints about BBC iPlayer is that I vastly prefer watching TV on a TV, not on a computer. So I was pleased to see this article on the BBC Internet Blog describing their plans in this area.
Would this remove the need for me to use tools like get_iplayer to download the programmes? No, probably not, I suppose. Still, interesting to see how iPlayer is evolving.
For anyone interested in the details and formats of the audio used by the BBC, this is a fascinating article. It explains the various different stages the audio from The Proms goes through and the format it is delivered in to each channel.
iPlayer Downloader has been updated to be able to handle the higher resolution formats on BBC iPlayer (it previously just downloaded the default). It also allows you to select multiple programmes to be downloaded sequentially.
With these changes, this is very much my preferred way of downloading from iPlayer now.
The current version is Intel-only, but I do now (finally) have a PPC version of rtmpdump which will enable a PPC version of iPlayer Downloader as well. I’ll put this on the download page when I get back from holiday.
A lot of the visitors to this site seem to be looking for information about downloading and converting video from BBC iPlayer. So I’ve updated and extended my pages about this. I hope you find them useful – all comments gratefully received.
There have been several improvements to get_iplayer recently. It can now download HD video from BBC HD (1280×720 resolution, 3.2Mbps), and can also do Channels 4 and 5. So that means it can do all UK terrestrial channels.
Looks like my iPlayer page needs updating – get_iplayer is, without a doubt, the definitive UK video downloader now.
I’ve always got on very well with iplayer-dl as a means of downloading the iPhone versions of videos from BBC iPlayer. But I recently discovered get_iplayer, which does the same thing with several notable additions:
- It can download the higher resolution Flash streaming video, not just the iPhone version. The flash version is 640×360 whereas the iPhone version is 480×272.
- It can download ITV programmes.
- It can search schedules (so you can use it to find what to download, instead of the iPlayer web page).
- It feels a bit faster than iplayer-dl, at least for downloading the iPhone versions.
It’s the first of these which is most interesting to me. But in order to get get_iplayer to download the Flash stream, you need two additional tools: rtmpdump and ffmpeg.
rtmpdump is used to capture the Flash stream. This is potentially rather handy for other things, so a useful tool to have around. I’ve compiled a version for Mac OS X 10.5 and put it on the download page.
ffmpeg is, of course, the video conversion tool used in SmallDVD and discussed in many articles on this site. get_iplayer uses it to convert the container format of the downloaded video from Flash to MP4 to make it easier to play (the actual video is H.264, so compatible with both containers).
I realised that the version of ffmpeg included in SmallDVD was actually compiled around two years ago, and is now a very long way from being up to date. So I’ve compiled a new one and put it on the download page. I also realised that this is the first time I’ve compiled one of the binaries for SmallDVD since I upgraded to 10.5, and that they are not downward-compatible with 10.4. So for the moment this version is only for Intel & Mac OS X 10.5.
It also made me realise how old many of the other packaged versions of ffmpeg included in other apps are. ffmpegX’s version was compiled in April 2006; PunyVid’s in September 2006. If you read the news and changelog for ffmpeg, you see that there have been a lot of new formats supported since then, such as the later versions of Flash and WMV. So if you are having trouble getting ffmpeg to read your file, try the latest version.
The BBC iPlayer was recently upgraded to allow Mac and Linux machines to download files for later playback. Previously you could only stream directly from the server, which I often found would stall in the middle of a programme, making it unusable.
To access the download functionality, you need to sign up for access to the iPlayer “labs”, but it’s very simple and instantaneous to do this. The iPlayer Desktop app is built with Adobe AIR, and integrates reasonably well with browsing the iPlayer site in a web browser.
The advantages of this approach over downloading files with iPlayer Downloader (discussed here) are that you get a fairly nice GUI for managing the files, and (more importantly) higher quality video. The files I’ve seen are 640×360, whereas the iPhone versions acquired by the iPlayer Downloader are 480×272.
However… (and it’s a big however) they are also infected with DRM encoding to limit playback to a certain time period. This also prevents them being played with any video player other than the iPlayer Desktop. I can’t see any obvious way of removing this. ffmpeg is able to report on the file statistics, but not able to convert it. Media Info Mac (which I’ve just discovered) is also able to read the stats. And none of VLC, MPEGStreamClip or Quicktime are able to play it.
So while it’s nice of the BBC to think of us Mac users, it still fails my basic requirement of watching TV on a TV, not a computer (is this really such a strange request???). So I’m sticking to iPlayer Downloader for now. Needless to say, any suggestions on how to remove the DRM, very gratefully received.