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We have all been there: we have our entire movie collection (ISO files) cataloged and wishing we could launch our Blu-Ray players with our remote controls and use it like we use VMC. Or at least get it to the point where non-technical people (girlfriends, wives, children) can use it and not require a thorough orientation.
The dilemma remains, how to integrate HD playback in VMC?
TMT is the only program to have integration in VMC that I know of. PowerDVD can be launched via 'My Movies' or via Windows itself. The simplest way is to use Windows. Click on Start Menu and Choose Default Programs. Go into the list and select your program from the drop-down list for Blu-Ray and/or HD-DVD and Windows will do the work for you.
A few days ago I came across this fantastic program : MC Menu Mender. This allows users to customize the VMC menu as they wish. Here's the link to the original post
This little gem of a program allows users to modify and create their own buttons and launch external programs. So I played around with it and here's the result.
Goal: To be the consummate couch potato.
Requirements: Windows Vista Media Center, PowerDVD (or any other program), Daemon Tools
(or any image mounting program), RC6 USB Remote Control for MC, Media Browser
(or My Movies), MC Menu Mender
, Music Browser
Media Browser is a great program to read meta-data and display it in VMC.
Music Browser allows VMC music to be browsed folder-wise and relieves us of the ‘Album Artist’ tag preferred by MS.
MC Menu Mender: A great program to change and customize Vista Media Center as you wish. It doesn’t work in Windows 7 yet, however I believe the programmer is currently working on something for Win 7.
Remote Control: An RC6 remote control as pictured. The one on the left is by MS (works in Win XP Pro and Vista) and the other one is by Anyware (works only on Vista). An irTrans or Imon system will not work since they do not work with PowerDVD. RC6 remotes are the only ones that work natively with PowerDVD. It may be possible to use AutoHotKey to make others work though.
Assumption: The system is currently in use as a HD HTPC and all the relevant programs are installed; i.e. an image mounter (Daemon Tools/Virtual Clone Drive), BD/HD-DVD player (PowerDVD/TMT/WinDVD) etc. This procedure has only been tested and implemented with PowerDVD but there is no reason why it shouldn’t work with any other program.
The flow of command:
Media Center => Media Browser => Daemon Tools => Mount ISO.
Media Center => PowerDVD => Play
Ok, first thing to do is to create a Restore Point. That way if something goes wrong in Menu Mender, you can come back in time. It did happen to me since I checked a ‘Close’ button on one of the icons and deleted it from MC. I used System Restore to get it back.
Note: You cannot delete any official icons of MC, you can only choose to not display it by clearing a check box next to the icon. This will cause MC to not display the icon. You can only delete an icon added by you. I mistakenly deleted the Media Browser icon and couldn’t get it back. In any case System Restore did the trick.
So here goes:
Install Media Browser and Music Browser (if you wish). Open VMC and navigate to Media Browser and check to see if it works correctly. Run its settings and configure it to mount ‘iso’ files using the program of your choice. My Movies does this automatically.
Install MC Menu Mender and run the program.
At the top left in the window, click on ‘New Custom Strip’ (button encircled).
This creates a Custom Line in the Media Center and is called ‘Custom Menu’ by default.
Move your cursor over the strip and a few options come up. There are arrows on either side to move it up and down, a check box with a Tick Mark, a cross sign (to remove the item) and one button to the right of the item name. Clicking on this button allows you to rename the item to whatever you choose.
Now click on the circled button in the top left corner (second), this button creates a new entry point in the MC.
A window opens up called as Entry Point Properties. It is here where you define and link the external program that you wish to open through MC.
Browse to the program that you wish to launch and give it a custom name in ‘Title’. In my case I wanted to launch ‘PowerDVD 7’ for HD-DVD and ‘PowerDVD 8’ for Blu-Ray. So I created two buttons each linked to the respective programs. Fill the rest as shown. At the bottom, make sure to check the two boxes. This allows you to close the external program by clicking the ‘Back’ button on the MC remote.
After filling the information, click ‘OK’. Clicking ‘OK’ creates the Entry Point and adds it to the list which opens up automatically.
Now, click & drag the new icon to the Custom Menu. As soon as you start to click and drag the Custom Menu will light up with a green ‘+’ sign below it. This indicates that an entry point may be placed there. Create all the entry points you wish to and add them to the custom strip. After which it should look something like this.
Note: I have added ‘Media Browser’ and ‘Music Browser’ points here too and renamed them as ‘MOVIES’ and ‘MUSIC’ respectively. Now save it and close the program.
Start Media Center. If everything went well you should be able to see the new buttons you created.
Using the remote control, test all the buttons. When ‘Blu-Ray’ is clicked, MC minimizes itself and launches PowerDVD 8. Click settings in PowerDVD and check the box ‘Run at full screen’.
Now click on the back button, this should close the program and maximize Media Center. Click on HD-DVD and the same procedure should take place and now PowerDVD 7 should open up. Click settings and check the box ‘Run full screen’.
Click on Movies (Media Browser). I have listed my collection as DVD, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.
Using the remote control’s arrow keys, select Blu-Ray.
Select the movie and click on ‘Play’. If Media Browser encounters a DVD, clicking ‘Play’ will play the DVD (using VMC), however when an ‘iso’ file is encountered, it will simply mount the image according to the settings in Media Browser.
Once the file is mounted, go back to the main screen of MC (press the 'Green' button) and click on ‘Blu-Ray’ to launch PowerDVD 8. VMC minimizes itself and PowerDVD is launched.
Click ‘Play’ on the Remote Control and it will start playing. PowerDVD will open in a normal window but as soon as the movie starts it will maximize itself to run full screen.
Grab a beer, sit back, relax and enjoy the show!