Changing the Startup/ Intro movie on an AppleTV Take 2

The original AppleTV software had a beautiful startup movie ( that I loved. It, along with many other nice features of 1.x were replaced in the Take Two update. Granted Take Two brought a lot of new functionality with it, but I still mourn the simplicity and elegance of the 1.x software. The new startup movie (Intro.m4v) particularly bugs me. So I decided to do something about it.
First, I found and extracted the original from my AppleTV before I upgrade to Take Two. Then I went hunting for where Apple had stashed its replacement in the Take Two OS Install. You can find it here:
Note that they moved from using an MOV to using an M4V file for the movie. I messed around with trying to convert the original MOV into an M4V, but everything I tried was too lossy. By the way, the “Export for AppleTV” setting you find in Mac software that supports it does not export to the highest bit rate that the AppleTV is capable of — it actually can handle up to a 6500MBPS combined bit rate.
So I tried Export in QuickTime, I tried all the different settings in FFMPEG, but I still wasn’t happy with the result. So I decided I’d try a Symlink instead, to fool the AppleTV into playing the file I wanted. Note that you could do this with any movie file the AppleTV is capable of playing, so you can customize your start-up to your heart’s content! Here’s the steps I took. You’ll obviously need a patch-sticked AppleTV to do these steps:

  • Copy over (using SCP/Fugu/WinSCP) the file
  • SSH into your AppleTV
  • sudo bash
  • mount -uw /
  • cp ~/ /System/Library/CoreServices/
  • cd /System/Library/CoreServices/
  • mv Intro.m4v Intro-Take2.m4v
  • chown root:wheel
  • ln -s Intro.m4v
  • reboot

When its done booting, you should see the new (old) startup movie! All we’re doing here is copying in the original movie, backing up the existing one, fixing any permission problems, and creating a Symlink so that when the boot process goes to open Intro.m4v its redirected to!
Symlinks have to be one of the coolest things about using a Unix-based OS…

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