Windows 7 Media Center : Setup Guide, Knowledge Base & Support - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 4662 Old 05-18-2010, 05:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Custom Installation Service / Live Tech Support. For donators of 20$ or more, i offer custom Windows 7 MEdia Center installs (everything in this guide) or live tech support via a remote desktop client (TeamViewer) over the internet. You can email me on my personal email adress for more info or so that we can schedule an appointment:

Since updating and offering troubleshooting support for this guide takes up time, if you find this guide & the support provided useful & want to help out the author, any donations are very welcomed :



Main Menu
I. Starting up
  1. Introducing Windows Media Center 7
  2. HTPC Basics : Audio-Video
II. Organizing your Movie/TV Show libraries
  1. Media Center Master - Automatic Movies/TV Shows library organization
II. The Frontend - Windows 7 Media Center
  1. Blu Ray & MKV playback
  2. Configuring an external player for playback (Media Player Classic Home Cinema)
  3. Media Browser
  4. Advanced Media Browser theme customization (Subdued theme)
  5. Windows 7 Media Center Themes
  6. Media Center Plugins & Addons
  7. AirPlay Client support for 7MC
  8. Blu Ray/DVD ripping from within Media Center





Tehnical specifications

Supported containers
  • MKV*, M2TS/TS, VOB, MPG, M4V, AVI, ASF, WMV, MP4, MOV, DVD disk
  • Physical Blu Ray disk, Blu Ray Folder Structure & Blu Ray ISO playback requires Total Media Theatre or Power DVD

Supported video decoders
  • H.264, VC-1, MPEG2,Xvid, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, WMV 9

Supported audio decoders
  • Dolby True HD*, DTS, Dolby Digital (AC3), LPCM, AAC, MP3, FLAC*, APE Audio, Vorbis

Audio passthrough (bitstreaming)
  • DTS-HD Master Audio*, Dolby True HD*, DTS*, Dolby Digital*, Dolby Digital Plus*, LPCM

Photo Formats
  • JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF, TIFF

Subtitle Formats
  • PGS, SRT, SUB/IDX, SSA

Hardware decoding on the GPU
  • Windows : DXVA (compatible with Nvidia/Ati/Intel graphic cards)

*Note : Requires Shark007 codec pack, installation instructions included in the guide

Interface (skins)
  • 15 beautiful themes (Subdued theme shown in the screenshots) for the Media Browser plugin, and 9 themes for the Media Center interface



Live TV support (PVR/DVR)
  • Best in class Live TV implementation
  • Wide array of tuner support, including support for the Ceton Cable Card tuner

Addons
  • A small selection of 3rd part addons, including Weather, Youtube, Email checker, Outlook, Remote Potato
  • Built in Netflix addon


Operating Sistem support : Windows 7
Windows 7 You can find and download the official Windows 7 ISO images directly from the MS Store, using these links. These ISO images are perfectly legal since they do not include any type of serial key.
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit : download
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit : download

The Windows 7 USB Tool from and use it to create a bootable USB drive ( a 3GB or more USB thumb drive is required) from which you can install Windows 7.
Drivers :

ATI/AMD : (download)
NVIDIA : (download)
Intel :
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post #2 of 4662 Old 05-18-2010, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
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HTPC Basics : Audio-Video


In this first section of the guide, we will discuss the basics of the home theater PC, like technical terms and acronims. The point is to familiarize newbies with technical terms and acronims used in the guide. If you`re not intrested in these tehnical matters, you can just skip this part.

Audio-Video codecs/containers/decoders
Containers (video & audio)
  • A container is a file format whose specification describes how different data elements and metadata coexist in a computer file. Simpler container formats can contain different types of audio formats, while more advanced container formats can support multiple audio and video streams, subtitles, chapter-information, and meta-data (tags). Some examples are MKV, M2TS, VOB.

Codecs/decoders (filters) (video & audio)
  • A codec is a device or computer program capable of encoding and/or decoding a digital data stream. Example of video encoding codecs are H.264 & VC-1 used in Blu ray material, and MPEG2 used in DVD content, and audio codecs such as MP3, DTS, Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio etc.

Splitter (video & audio)
  • A splitter is a software component that splits each individual data stream stream inside a container and send it to the appropiate decoder. Some examples would be the Haali Media Splitter or MPC-HC standalone splitters

Codec pack
  • A codec pack consists of various splitters/decoders in one single package that get installed on your computer via a single setup wizard, as opossed to manually installing each one individually. Windows uses DirectShow filters.

Outputting audio from your HTPC to your Audio-Video Receiver
There are 2 modes for connecting your HTPC to your AVR :

a) Bitstreaming via a digital connection

Bitstreaming (or pasthrough) means that the HTPC outputs the untouched audio stream to the Audi-Video receiver for decoding, and all of the decoding process is done on the AVR, nothing is being altered on the HTPC. DTS/DTS-HD Master Audio/Dolby Digital/Dolby Digital should appear on the display of the Audio-Video Receiver. Botstreming can be done via the 2 available digital connections :
  • Bitstreaming via HDMI - DTS-HD Master Audio*, Dolby TrueHD*, LPCM, DTS, Dolby Digital (AC3).
  • Bitstreaming via S/PDIF - DTS, Dolby Digital (AC3), 2 channel LPCM.

* Note : Only the following platforms can bitstream DTS-HD MA & TrueHD :
  • ATI/AMD HD5xxx/6xxx series graphic cards
  • Nvidia GT430 & GT520 graphic cards
  • Intel Core i3 with integrated Intel HD 1000/2000 GPU
  • Asus Xonar Hdav 1.3

b) Decoding the audio on the HTPC and outputting the audio either via an digital or analog connection

This is done by decoding the audio on your HTPC via a specific filter (XBMC internal decoders or the Total Media Theater 5 internal decoders) and outputting the analog signal via the analog connections of your soundcard to your amplifier/Audio-Video Receiver
  • FFdshow audio decoder : Can decode Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby TrueHD. Cannot decode DTS-HD Master Audio, it only decodes the "core" DTS stream
  • Total Media Theater 5 internal decoder : Can decode Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
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Organizing your Movie/TV Show libraries


Most programs like Media Browser and XBMC require the user to have a certain folder structure organization for their Movies and TV Shows so that the applications can use their internal metadata scrappers to identify the movies or TV Shows. Usually, also a proper name for the file + the year ( ex : Avatar (2009) ) are required.

Here`s a couple of examples of how the folder structures should look like

Movies
D:\\ Movies\\First Movie (2007)\\ First Movie.mkv
D:\\Movies\\ Second Movie (2008)\\ Second Movie.avi
D:\\Movies\\ Third Movie (2009)\\ BDVM\\ Certificate


TV Series
D:\\TV Shows\\ Great Show\\ Season 1\\ Great Show s01e01.avi, Great Show s01e02.avi etc.
D:\\TV Shows\\ Great Show\\ Season 2\\ Great Show s02e01.avi, Great Show s02e02.avi etc.


Local Movie Trailers
D:\\Movies \\First Movie (2007)\\ Trailers\\ trailer.avi
D:\\Movies\\ Second Movie (2008)\\ Trailers\\ trailer.mp4

Fortunatly, there are pieces of software like Media Center Master that can make this task really easy.

Using Media Center Master to organize your media library
Description

Media Center Master is metadata and movie collection management application. MCM is not mandatory for Media Browser or XBMC to get metadata, since these apps have their own built in metadata collection agents (or "scrappers") but it has some nice features that make managing your media collection easy. If you don`t need these features and you already have a proper file structure like the one i described above, you can skip MCM alltogether
  • It allows the users to more easily organize their media, by auto-renaming and auto-moving movies and TV shows in their proper folder structure
  • It stores metadata locally, inside each movie folder.
  • It allows you to easily select the desired backdrop/poster or edit movie information (synopsis and stuff like that) written in the MyMovie.xml of the movie, information that Media Browser will display. It also allows you to set the maximum number of backdrops to be downloaded, download trailers for your movie collection and other advanced features

Software
Configuration

Click Application -> Settings and preferences -> Renaming tab
  • Select "Rename folder during fetch" & "Rename files" too


Click Application -> Select "Use Auto-Scan"



Application -> Set scan folders (setting up the media library directories)
  • Select "Set Scan folders"
  • Select your media folders and then click "Done"



Now MCM will automatically start moving/renaming files to the proper folder structure and download metadata.


Using Media Center Master to modify existing metadata
1) Changing the default poster.
  • Right Click on the the desired movie name from the main list, and choose artwork manager
  • Select the folder.jpg option from the list and then click "Add from fetchers".
  • A thumbstrip with all available poster will show up, choose the one you like and press enter.




2) Changing/Editing the movie information (synopsis/plot etc.).
  • Right click on the movie you desire to edit and select the "Edit metadata" option from the menu

  • You will be presented with a menu where you can change every detail of the movie metadata. Once you`re finished, just click "Done"



Organizing your Music Library
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Getting started : Blu Ray & MKV playback


Introduction

By default Windows 7 Media Center only supports a limited number of video containers and cannot bitstream audio. It does not support MKV or FLAC for example, and cannot play Blu ray disks or Blu Ray ISO/Folder Structure rips. To enable playback of these file types and disks, we need to use a codec pack (the Shark 007 Win7 Pack) and/or an external player like Total Media Theater 5.
  • The Shark007 Codec Pack will allow 7 Media Center to playback MKV and FLAC, and enable bistreaming of DTS/DTS-HD Master Audio/Dolby Digital/Dolby TrueHD to a compatible Audio-Video Receiver from the MKV container.
  • Total Media Theater 5 will allow 7MC to playback Blu Ray disk and Blu Ray rips in ISO or folder structure format, with bitstreaming of DTS/DTS-HD Master audio/Dolby Digital/Dolby TrueHD from these formats
  • We also have the option to use Media Player Classic Home Cinema as an external player for MKV playback if we choose so.

1) Blu Ray playback


Software

Configuration

Install/update to the latest version.
Select the AV Center button -> Audio Output tab :
  • For bitstreaming : Select HDMI (or S/PDIF if your HTPC is connected via an S/PDIF port) and "Use primary audio only"
  • For analog audio : Choose your speaker configuration



2) MKV playback


Software
  • Shark007`s Win7 Codec Pack (download)
  • Shark007`s Win7 Codec Pack 64bit Components (download)

Installation
  • In case you are running a 64bit system, install the 32bit application first, then the 64bit components. Do not install just the 64bit components.
  • When starting the settings application from the Start Menu, right click and select Run as Administrator, in case you are not logged in as the admin account on your HTPC

Configuration

Audio tab
  • For bitstreaming audio : Check the boxe for DTS-HD MA and TrueHD if you are running a receiver that is compatible with these HD formats, or else check the AC3/DTS Only option.
  • For analog audio : Select your speaker configuration and make sure Bitstreaming is turned off.


H.264 Tab
  • Under "H264 Codec in Direct Show Players box" choose "Use FFdshow DXVA" button.


MKV Tab
  • Select "Use LAV Splitter"
  • Select "Disable thumbnails"


SWAP Tab
  • Select "Use FFdshow DXVA for WVC1 instead of Microsoft"


64bit Windows users only
  • Everything above + configure the 64bit components. To do that, go to Start Menu -> Shark 007 Codec, click "x64 settings" and do the same settings as you did with the 32bit configuration




External player playback : Media Player Classic Home Cinema


Introduction

In case you are somehow not satisfied with the default 7MC internal player for MKV playback, Media Browser has the option to use an external player like MPC-HC for playback, just like we used Total Media Theater in the above section for Blu ray folders/ISO images & disks.
In this case, we have 2 scenarios :
  • You already have the Shark007 Codec Pack installed, in which case you do NOT need to install the LAV Filters/LAV Audio decoder and LAV CUVID decoder since they are included in the codec pack. Only MadVR is required as a separate download.
  • You have not installed the Shark007 Codec Pack, in which case we need to install the LAV Filters and/or CUVID decoder + MadVR.

So what are these LAV "thingies" ? Well, here`s a short summary :
  • MadVR is a high quality video renderer (GPU assisted), featuring high quality chroma upsampling, high quality scaling (bicubic, mitchell, lanczos, spline etc), high quality YCbCr -> RGB conversion, gamut & gamma correction for display calibration, full 16bit processing queue, final 16bit processing result is dithered down to RGB output bitdepth, bypasses graphics card's video algorithms, all work is done via GPU shaders, no shortcuts, highest quality has priority over anything else.

  • LAV CUVID is a Video Decoder for NVIDIA graphics cards. It utilizes the CUDA Video Decoding API (“CUVID”), sometimes also referred to as simply CUDA decoding. LAV CUVID can use both full decode off-loading and partial acceleration, depending on your Hardware. In addition to decoding, it can also use the full hardware deinterlacer on NVIDIA GPUs, giving you the best deinterlacing quality currently possible in your system.

  • LAV Audio is a multi-format audio decoder for DirectShow. It is based on ffmpeg and its main goal is to offer audio quality without compromise. LAV Audio supports Bitstreaming of DTS/DTS-HD Master Audio/Dolby Digital/Dolby TrueHD audio to a AV-Receiver through either HDMI or S/PDIF

As you may have noticed, LAV CUVID is only available for Nvidia GPUs. MadVR and DXVA are incompatible, so if you don`t have an Nvidia GPU to use LAV CUVID as a decoder, you need to use software decoding if you choose to use MadVR as the renderer.



A) Media Player Classic - Home Cinema + LAV Splitters & LAV Audio


Software

LAV Audio configuration
  • For LAV Audio, if you are bitstreaming, select DD/DTS/DTS-HD/TrueHD for passthrough


Media Player Classic - Home Cinema configuration :

External Filters tab
  • Using the add filter option, add LAV Audio decoder, LAV Source Splitter to the external filter list
  • Make sure you set each filter to preferred.



Filter list
  • Right click during playback, and mouse over filters. If you configuration is working properly the filter list should look like the one in the image below



Keys tab (Remote control button mapping)

Command -> App Command

Play -> Media_Play
Pause -> Media_Pause
Stop -> Media_Stop
Exit -> Browser_Back
Next Subtitle -> MCE_Red
Next Audio -> MCE_Blue
Increase Rate -> Media_Fast_Forward
Decrease Rate -> Media_Rewind




B) Media Player Classic - Home Cinema + MadVR, LAV Splitters, LAV Audio decoder & LAV CUVID decoder


Software
  • Media Player Classic Home Cinema (download)
  • LAV Splitters + Audio decoder & LAV CUVID decoder(download)
  • MadVR renderer (download)

Installing madVR
  • Unzip the madVR package into some folder in your C drive where it won`t bother you (i.e. you won`t delete it)
  • Run the "install.bat" and "installfilter.exe" files from the folder.
  • Leave it alone, do not delete the folder since the filter dlls are there.

LAV Splitters configuration
  • Under LAV Video select CUVID as the hardware decoder
  • For LAV Audio, if you are bitstreaming, select DD/DTS/DTS-HD/TrueHD for passthrough


Media Player Classic - Home Cinema configuration :

External Filters tab
  • Using the add filter option, add LAV Audio decoder, LAV Source Splitter and LAV CUVID decoder to the external filter list
  • Make sure you set each filter to preferred.


Output Tab
  • Select MadVR as the output renderer



Filter list
  • Right click during playback, and mouse over filters. If you configuration is working properly the filter list should look like the one in the image below


Keys tab (Remote control button mapping)

Command -> App Command

Play -> Media_Play
Pause -> Media_Pause
Stop -> Media_Stop
Exit -> Browser_Back
Next Subtitle -> MCE_Red
Next Audio -> MCE_Blue
Increase Rate -> Media_Fast_Forward
Decrease Rate -> Media_Rewind
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Media Browser : Basic configuration



Software
Description

Media browser is plugin for 7MC that replaces your native movie library with a more complete solution. The key features of Media Browser are :
  • Automatic metadata retrieval
  • Streaming latest online trailers
  • Media bookmarking (resume play)
  • Support for external players
  • Vodcast support (video rss feeds)
  • Third party plug-in architecture
  • Automatic updates
  • Custom view layouts
  • Multiple themes
  • Create random / full folder playlists

Media Browser configuration (click advanced)

Media collection tab
  • Add your media collection (movies/tv shows/documentaries etc.)
  • You can add multiple folders under one media collection
  • You can create separate media collections like "HD Movies", "Horror Movies" etc.


Setting up a Movies by Genre/Year/Actor collection :
  • Add a new Media Collection, pointing it to the same folder (or folders) as your normal movie collection. In our example here, this is “D:\\Movies". Give the collection a name of your choosing (as long as it is different then your other one) for example: "Movies by Genre”. After this, close the configurator. Start Media Browser and open the new “Movies by Genre” Media Collection. Set the view to group by “Genre”. This Media Collection will now show your Media grouped by genre. Going back to your original media collection it will still show it sorted however you have it setup.
  • If you want to add a custom poster for a specific movie or movie boxset, just put a poster named "folder.jpeg" or "folder.png" in the movie folder, and MB will use it instead of the default poster.
  • If you want to change the media collection icon, use the Change Icon button or put a folder.jpeg/folder.png in the main collection folder (Movies/TV Shows etc.)

Plugins tab : Other
  • MediaInfo - Displays information about your movie, resolution, aspect ratio, bitrate, video codec, audio codec/channels in the movie description.
  • Highquality thumbnails - Generates thumbnails for those items that do not have an online thumbnail from the pulled metadata
  • CovertArt - Plugin that applies custom covers or other effects for your covers of your movies, TV shows, without any other effort on your part. It will treat all items whether you have local images or not.
  • Subtitle Provider - Automatically downloads subtitles for your movies in the language/s you have predefined
  • Music Support - Explained in Part 3
  • Favorites - Creates a new top-level folder in your MediaBrowser library into which you can dynamically add items you would like to view together at some point in time
  • Films Like this - Allows you to select “Like This…” on a movie and it will return similar movies (based on metadata)
  • IBN People Provider - Adds photos to your actors/director section.
  • MB Trailers - HD 1080p/720p trailers streamed from providers like Apple trailers

Here are the plugins i use for my setup :


Plugins Tab : Themes
  • Lotus
  • Pearl
  • Subdued -> Used in the guide
  • Diamond
  • Chocolate
  • Simplicity
  • Carbon

Display/Playback tab
  • Customize the appereance of Media Browser, including media tracking, enhanced home screen, and the theme used.
  • Untick "Dim unselected posters".
  • Select "Hide Focus frame" & "Show Clock"


Podcasts tab
  • This is where you can add your favorite podcasts so you can view them directly from the Media Browser interface


Extenders/ISO tab
  • (for ISO playback) Select the mounting software, Virtual Clone Drive, the VCDMount.exe located in C:\\Program Files\\Elaborate Bytes\\VirtualCloneDrive (32bit Windows) or C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Elaborate Bytes\\VirtualCloneDrive (64 bit Windows)
  • Select the drive letter, and tick Auto-play


External Players tab
  • Here you can configure external players to be used with Media Browser for certain file type. You can add Total Media Theater 3/5* for Blu Ray and/or DVD types, and you can also add Media Player Classic Home Cinema for stuff like MKV.
    * Note : For Total Media Theater 3, add the uMCEDVD.exe and for Total Media Theater 5 add UMCEDVDPlayer5.exe, not the normal TMT3/5.exe files.





Advanced theme customization (Subdued theme)


Subdued configuration

Enter Media Browser from the Windows 7 Media Center menu shortcut. Click on the wheel icon in the top right corner and select Configure


Subdued General tab
  • Select Theme Style : Spy vs Spy 1
  • Media Info icon sets : Mono
  • Start Rating Style : Numeric
  • Select : Show Clock/Config , Show Media info, Show End time and (Un)Watched indicator on Movies


Subdued Views tab
  • Select Coverflow Rotation : To Right



Media Browser Customization

The ImagesByName folder allows you to customize Media Browser even further. The IBN folder can be found in C:\\ProgramData:\\MediaBrowser . By default, it does not exist, so you have to create it yourself, a folder called "ImagesByName". Please note that you have to have "show hidden files & folders" selected in the files & folder options, or else the ProgramData will not appear.


a) Adding custom backgrounds for the Main Media Browser menu ro each collection category (Movies/TVShows/Favorites/MBTrailers)
  • Go to C:\\ProgramData\\MediaBrowser. In the ImagesbyName folder create a new folder called General.
  • In that General folder, create sub-folder named after your media collection (Movie/TVShows/MBTrailers/Favorites).
  • To put a custom background, place the desired pic named as backdrop.jpg or backdrop.png into the appropiate sub-folder.
  • You can download custom backgrounds from here : (download link)



b) Adding custom icons for the main Media Browser menu items (Movies/TVShows/Favorites/MBTrailers)
  • Go to C:\\ProgramData\\MediaBrowser. In the ImagesbyName folder go into the previously created folder called General.
  • In that General folder, go into the previously sub-folder named after your media collection (Movie/TV Shows/MB Trailers/Favorites)
  • To put a custom icon, place the desired pic named as folder.jpg or folder.png into the appropiate sub-folder.

c) Adding custom studio logos for the movie/tv show information
  • Go to C:\\ProgramData\\MediaBrowser. In the ImagesbyName folder create a new folder called Studio
  • Here is a complete set of 1100 color studio icons (download). Just unrar and drop them into the Studio folder.
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Windows 7 Media Center themes & customization




Software :

Themes
Installing a theme
  • First of all, you need to install Media Center Themer. This application does not have a graphical user interface, so changing themes would require a manual method, extracting the contents of an .mct file with WinRAR and copy/pasting it to ProgramData/MediaCenterThemer/Theme. To make this easy, the MCE Reset Toolbox application provides an user interface for Media Center Themer, where importing a theme is an easy operation. So after you installed MCE Reset Toolbox, open it up (a shortcut will be created on your desktop, btw).
  • On the top bar of the application, you will find an "Import theme option", like in the picture below.



  • Use it to navigate to the folder where you saved your downloaded themes. To see you .mct themes, you need to select "Media Center Themes" from the right menu option, right after the name filed, like below.



  • After you have clicked "Open". you should see you new theme in the "Available Themes" category. Select the theme and click Apply.

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Setting up Youtube in Windows Media Center


Software
Installation
  • After you have installed the MacroTube version required for your system, go to C:\\ProgramData\\Jasmio\\MacroTube\\Providers and replace the existing Youtube and Youtube HD xml files with the ones provided in the 3rd download link above, and make sure you rename them to Youtube.xml and YoutubeHD.xml, basically removing the date from the file name. This step is necessary to ensure playback.



Plugins for Windows Media Center


Media Center Mail (download)
  • With Media Center Mail you can read your e-mails on your Media Center TV. Media Center Mail comes with its own mail system for receiving e-mails from POP3 servers

Media Center RSS Reader (download)
  • With Media Center RSS Reader you can read news items from any RSS feed on your Media Center TV. Moreover, you can use it to listen to podcasts or to watch vodcasts (video blogs).The content that Media Center RSS Reader displays is the same as displayed in Internet Explorer.

Media Center Outlook (download)
  • With Media Center Outlook you can read your e-mails, consult your calendar, see information about your contacts, watch your tasks and read your notes. Media Center Outlook retrieves all this information from Microsoft Outlook and displays it on your Media Center TV.

Media Center Twitter (download)
  • With Media Center Twitter you can read the messages your friends and idols posted on Twitter, but you can also post your own status updates. All on your Media Center TV.

Media Center Stocks (download)
  • With Media Center Stocks you can see the current prices of stocks of your choice.
    Moreover you can see graphs of their historic prices. All on your Media Center TV.

In The Movies for MCE (download)
  • In The Movies for MCE covers information about movies in theaters. The current features are "Now Playing" which shows you the movies that are currently playing in theaters. "Show Times" which gives you movie showtimes from your local theaters. "Coming Soon" a quick look at the up and coming movies. "Box Office" the weekend box office top 50 movies

Kylo Web Browser (download)
  • Big screen Web browser with MCE integration

Tuner Salad (download)
  • Increases the number of supported tuners for 7MC to an unlimited number. The default limit is 4.

Remote Potato (download)
  • Remote Potato is the missing part of Windows 7 Media Center. You can manage and watch your recordings over the Internet from any web browser. Record shows, watch shows, manage recordings, browse the EPG. Home late from the office? No problem, just open a web browser and tell your Media Center PC to record that sitcom, so it's waiting for you when you get in. On holiday? Stream that sitcom you recorded direct to your hotel room!

My Channel Logos (download)
  • Now available is an application that pulls up your channel listings, and automatically adds logos for those listings. In just a minute, I went from a guide with all text to a guide with over 350 beautiful logos.

Songler (download)
  • Songler is an add-in for Windows Media Center for playing music content from multiple legal streaming music providers - currently Spotify, Last.fm and YouTube. It allows both free and premium Spotify subscribers you to play any of Spotify's 6 million tracks instantly, directly from your Media Center, all controlled with your remote. It also allows you to scrobble the tracks that you are playing in Songler to last.fm to build up your music profile, and last.fm subscribers can stream all of their radio stations too.

Power Manager (download)
  • With Power Manager you can tell other PC's in your network to wake-up or to go into hibernation. You can do so from a PC or even from a Windows Mobile phone!

More can be found here :
-> http://www.mcezone.com/plugins.php
-> http://www.oabsoftware.nl/
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AirPlay Target support for Windows 7 Media Center


Software

Install Bonjour first, then the AirPlay plugin. No other configuration is required. Once you are done with the installation, try streaming a video from your iDevice (has to be on the same wireless network as your HTPC) to your Windows Media Center HTPC (7MC needs to be running or else you will not have the option to stream).




Automatic Blu Ray ripping on your HTPC


Software This plugin can copy your entire Blu Ray disk to your hardrive (iso or BD folder structure), or just the main movie, you can select/deselect audio tracks, subtitles etc. Even remux it to an .mkv container. All directly from your Media Center Interface.


Apendix : Video & Audio test samples

Video samples :
  • 1080p video (download)
  • Color Levels test (download) : To ensure you are getting the proper color levels (no double expansion or washed out colors), you can use the test after you finished setting up your playback software.[/b]

Audio samples :




I. Basic Ripping


1) Ripping to Blu Ray folder structures/ISO

Software :
Description

DVD Fab HD Decrypter is the free version of DVD Fab, with basic ripping options (main movie or full movie) for DVD and Blu Ray disks

-> Select Blu Ray Copy from the left menu and select either Full movie or Main Movie if you just want the movie without menus and extra features
-> Under Source select your Blu Ray disk drive letter and for Output select a path where you want to put the ripped movies. DVD Fab will automatically create a folder inside it named after your movie name.
-> After you click Analyze, DVD Fab will take between 20 seconds or so to analyze the disk. After that, from the right menu you can disable the unecesarry audio tracks and if you only want the lossy DTS/DD core from the HD audio tracks there is a "remove HD audio" for this.
-> Select Next and Start.



2) Ripping to MKV

Software
-> Upon first run of MakeMKV you will have the option to choose the source you want to use. If you have a disc in your ROM drive you can simply select the correct ROM drive from the Source and click the DVD disc icon. If the source is files already saved on your computer you will need to select from “File” on the toolbar.
-> Once MakeMKV is done analyzing the disc, a list of all available titles to choose from will appear. The longest title (and the ones with most chapters) is the main movie based on the description. Uncheck the rest of the titles.
-> For audio, select the lossless DTS-HD/True HD track or the lossye DTS core if you don have a HD audio capable receiver + the subtitles you need.
-> Under the output folder select the location you want to have the movie MKV stored, a drive with enough space available
-> Press the "MakeMKV button" on the right, and the demuxing/remuxing process will begin

Special thanks to dbone @ mediasmartserver for providing the information for this guide




Part 1 : Ripping to Blu Ray folder structure/Blu ray ISO images

Software :
  • Clown_BD (download) - Download the nr 3 link, it`s the entire package (eac3to/tsmuxer/bd2sup)
  • DVD Passkey (download) or AnyDVD HD (download)
  • (Optional]) ImBurn (download) - for ISO burning, if you plan to use BR folder structures directly on the HDD, don`t download.

Important Notes :
-You need to have Java installed for BD2Sup to work
-You need to have DVD Decryter/AnyDVD HD running in the background. BD_Clown does not remove BD protection, so you need DVD Passkey or AnyDVD HD.


Next up is the initial setup :

Options screen

-> Select the TSMuxer & EAC3To locations (execs) & the ImgBurn location (if you want to rip to ISO, otherwise disable it)

Step 1

-> Select your Demux and Remux locations. These are the places where Clown_BD stores the demuxed files and the final output file. Be careful, the demuxed files can take up even 30-40GB (depending on BR size) and the resulting BD folder/image the same. Have these on a drive with some 80-90Gb free.
-> Movie location is the drive where you have your Blu Ray inserted.
-> Choose Next
-> Now Clown_BD will analyze the disk

Step 2


-> You will be presented with a playlist selection screen . The first one should be the Main Movie. For box sets with indiviual episodes (TV Series like True Blood for ex), choose the episodes you need.

Step 3


-> You will be presented with a list of video/audio/subtitle stream available in the movie.
-> Select the video/audio/subtitle stream and the chapters you want to keep in the rip. For example the main English DTS-HD Master Audio or TrueHD tracks and the English subtitles.
-> The Output Audio Format offers a range of options :
  • Unconverted -> This will keep the audio selected as is.
  • Core -> Select this if you want to extract the DTS or AC3 core from a the DTS-HD/True HD tracks.
  • AC3 -> Select this if you want to convert the selected audio stream(s) to AC3.
  • DTS -> Select this if you want to convert the selected audio stream(s) to DTS.

-> The Movie Output option allows you to select the type of structure or container you will output.
-> For Blu Ray folder structures select Blu Ray, for Blu Ray ISO images select Blu Ray + ISO/
-> Click next and Clown_BD will start processing. The main GUI dissapears and a couple of progress bars will appear, first the eac3to bar, then the TS muxer bar.

Once Clown_BD is finished navigate to your selected output folder and get your movie.

Important note : Clown_BD does not delete the temporary files, so you have to do it manualy


Special thanks to dbone @ mediasmartserver for providing this useful info
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post #9 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 07:48 AM
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I tried using ffdshow and haali and it didnt work for me at all. Also the first section is huge and "bloated" to use your words whereas installing shark codec pack worked for me and all I have to do is check a box and it works for every file I have. How is that bloated? Bloated as in a few more Mb? I think my hard drive has enough space. I also tried just FFDshow and the sound levels were terrible. I am sure there is some setting in there that would fix it but its highly complicated.
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post #10 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 11:11 AM
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This is a lot of info. I'm already planning to do some things with 7MC once the TV season ends in another week.

- Getting FLAC to work correctly (7MC sees but won't play FLAC songs)
- Installing Media Browser
- Ripping Blu Ray movies (got info from another thread)

And maybe a few more things. I normally use SageTV for recording shows via OTA (up to 4 channels at once) but I'm considering trying out 7MC for the next season. Too bad I was never able to resolve the Win7 wake/sleep issues.

I wish this could get sticked for a while so I don't have to keep searching for it.
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post #11 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ogormask View Post

I tried using ffdshow and haali and it didnt work for me at all. Also the first section is huge and "bloated" to use your words whereas installing shark codec pack worked for me and all I have to do is check a box and it works for every file I have. How is that bloated? Bloated as in a few more Mb? I think my hard drive has enough space. I also tried just FFDshow and the sound levels were terrible. I am sure there is some setting in there that would fix it but its highly complicated.

agreed. i use shark007 and have never had a problem with any file i've tried playing. they all work fine.
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post #12 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 11:59 AM
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This is some serious good work, I spend a lot of time getting all these information together by myself! This really is some kind of beautiful - tears of joy in my eyes thinking about the people that are starting their own HTPC Project and finding this guide!!!

Keep up the good work!!!
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post #13 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

Maybe point out early on or in the title that this is a guide for bitstreaming with an ATI card. Or add notes on the steps to skip and what to change if you don't have HD audio bitstreaming hardware.

Bitstreaming on Intel Core ix should be setup the same way. But thanks, i`m going to add a few notes t complete the guide.
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post #14 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ogormask View Post

I tried using ffdshow and haali and it didnt work for me at all. Also the first section is huge and "bloated" to use your words whereas installing shark codec pack worked for me and all I have to do is check a box and it works for every file I have. How is that bloated? Bloated as in a few more Mb? I think my hard drive has enough space. I also tried just FFDshow and the sound levels were terrible. I am sure there is some setting in there that would fix it but its highly complicated.

Bloated = Installs more than 10 codecs when you only need 2-3. My guide install 2 codecs and 1 player and plays everything.

Shark installs more than 20 codecs and splitters : http://shark007.net/description7.txt

That`s bloated. The more codecs, the more chances that something craps out on you. The less codecs, the less chances something craps out on you or causes instability. I`ve only recomended codecs and players that have been proven to work, and considered the best by a lot of AVS forum members (some more with more experience than me).

But for the sake of it, i`ll add a remark for using Shark 007`s codec pack with a custom/minimum install
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post #15 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenEyez View Post

Bloated = Installs more than 10 codecs when you only need 2-3. My guide install 2 codecs and 1 player and plays everything.

Shark installs more than 20 codecs and splitters : http://shark007.net/description7.txt

That`s bloated. The more codecs, the more chances that something craps out on you. The less codecs, the less chances something craps out on you or causes instability. I`ve only recomended codecs and players that have been proven to work, and considered the best by a lot of AVS forum members (some more with more experience than me).

But for the sake of it, i`ll add a remark for using Shark 007`s codec pack with a custom/minimum install

The difference between your process and the process for Sharks is that shark's process installs and associates the filters to media center, your process doesn't explain how to associate the codecs/filters/splitters with media center to get easy to use, out of the box playback of all video files.

If you want to add to your guide here: http://www.mnmaven.com/2010/03/20/co...list-approach/ I wrote that back in march, and it walks through how to do a custom install of Sharks pack what to install, what not to install, what settings to enable and what to not enable, ect...

the thing that you are taking a little out of proportion when you say "20 codecs" is that 15 of them are from FFDshow alone. The only additional ones that shark's pack installs is:

- AC3 Filer
- Xvid
- Divx media foundation (aka Divx Tech Preivew)
- Real media

the others like directvobsub, Gabest, haali are all splitters and not really codecs. So again when you are nit picking about codecs, there really isn't much additional codecs being installed with Shark's pack vs. FFDshow.

I like using Sharks because it auto registers the codecs inside of media center, it allows you to over take priority in codecs in media center/media foundation when you want to get DXVA support for h.264/VC-1/MP4 based videos in media center. Normally media center codecs take priority in media center because of media foundation, and the microsoft mpeg4 decoder isn't DXVA.

So say what you will but sharks, if used properly is a far superior utility than trying to accomplish registering codecs and setting priorities in media center and it doesn't require the need to use players like MPC-HC outside of meida center at all.

- Josh
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post #16 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
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a)Yes, i am very picky about unecesasy codecs, because i have gone (like you) through codecs packs hell, and this guide is aimed at newbies in the HTPC universe, and i don`t want them to have a unrealiable sistem due to codec conflicts and whatnot.
Also, since Media Player Classic Home Cinema will be handling most of the media , ffdshow will only be used :
- as an audio decoder/audio parser for bitstreaming. (depends on the users hardware)
- as a backup decoder for h.264/VC-1 in case you have an non-DXVA compatible video file.

So you don`t need to asociate codecs and priorities. If you want to asociate ffdshow with h.264/VC-1 streams for use outside of MPC-HC you can use Win7DS Filter, a very easy to use program, My bad was that i did not add it to the Guide, i`ll add it now.

b) MPC-HC allows DXVA with subtitles, you can`t get that using any other player. ffdshow DXVA (which allows for subtitles and DXVA) is in the "experimental" stage and is still inferior to the ffmpeg-mt software decoder, PQ wise. Using the MPC DXVA decoder outside of MPC-Home Cinema disables DXVA when used with a subtitle filter like VobSub, same goes for the DivX decoder, same goes for the MS h.264 decoder (which btw, supports DXVA).

Also, Shark does not update his pack with the latest versions of the decoders.

I`ve read your guide and added it to my guide as an alternative route, i like the fact that you kept the number of filters to minimum, but my guide will remain the MPC-HC + ffdshow route because that`s what i have tested so far on a couple of HTPC`s i`ve build and worked flawlessy with DXVA & subtitles & great picture quality.
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post #17 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 02:55 PM
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Well if the guide is aimed at newbies then pointing them to sharks is and pressing 2 buttons one to install and one to select recommended settings seems a whole lot easier than a guide that seems rather complicated.

Not to mention you cant go wrong with sharks because all you have to do is press another button to unassociate the settings and you cant break anything either that way. Thats why its a good codec pack vs the rest.
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post #18 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 08:39 PM
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GreenEyze,
I admire what you are trying to do here, been there done that, and its always evolving. Not trying to throw down what you are doing, I respect the "minimalist" approach, I've been around the block a few times and have had all these issues before, and I can honestly say that Sharks Codecs is NOT like the others, its not like CCCP for example.

If this guide really is for the minimalist/newb approach why are you having them use MPC-HC outside of media center? Why not do something they can use within media center 100% of the time?

While I like what media browser does, your guide doesn't explain that you need to install media browser in order to load MPC-HC if you want that "easy to use" "great looking" interface that media browser and media center give you.

as far as codec conflicts, I've NEVER had a single one becuase with my guide I wrote, it only installs FFDshow and MPC-HC's dxva codecs and with sharks gui you set the priority and your done.

Also last time I checked I am getting sub titles now with 7MC + sharks using mpc-hc dxva codecs and it works flawlessly inside of media center. Not sure how you say you can't get dxva support outside of mpc-hc app, cuz it works for me right now.

lastly what I don't like and what many others won't like is the fact that you are going out side of a gui, a "true" htpc interface to get playback. Noobs or veterans like myself want it simple, remote control only use, no keyboards or mice in my living room.

- Josh
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post #19 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by umdivx View Post

the others like directvobsub, Gabest, haali are all splitters and not really codecs. So again when you are nit picking about codecs, there really isn't much additional codecs being installed with Shark's pack vs. FFDshow.

They are all still directshow filters that can interfere with playback if merits start conflicting. ANY additional directshow filter that can be loaded into the playback graph chain can cause issues, be it a source filter, demux filter, renderer filter, etc. Decoders are not the only filters that affect playback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by umdivx View Post

I like using Sharks because it auto registers the codecs inside of media center

Just to be clear, there is no such thing as "registering codecs inside of media center". Filters (including codec filters) are registered with the entire system. You can then override the Media Center defaults of always using it own filters to allow the use of the filters you registered with the system.
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post #20 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 10:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

Just to be clear, there is no such thing as "registering codecs inside of media center". Filters (including codec filters) are registered with the entire system. You can then override the Media Center defaults of always using it own filters to allow the use of the filters you registered with the system.

ok yes, to be clear is what I meant was that if you just install FFDshow, and a splitter like haali, you are not registering it so that direct show players like media center won't out of the box play back an mkv like you can when using Sharks setup is the point I was trying to make.

- Josh
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post #21 of 4662 Old 05-19-2010, 11:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by umdivx View Post

GreenEyze,
I admire what you are trying to do here, been there done that, and its always evolving. Not trying to throw down what you are doing, I respect the "minimalist" approach, I've been around the block a few times and have had all these issues before, and I can honestly say that Sharks Codecs is NOT like the others, its not like CCCP for example.

If this guide really is for the minimalist/newb approach why are you having them use MPC-HC outside of media center? Why not do something they can use within media center 100% of the time?

Because MPC-HC has better PQ then the standard WMP12 (in WMP the picture seems too "soft"), and was the only player that had DXVA and subs at the same time that i knew of (i`m going to get back on that below..)

The guide is for newbies, but i also want t get the best PQ possible.
Quote:


While I like what media browser does, your guide doesn't explain that you need to install media browser in order to load MPC-HC if you want that "easy to use" "great looking" interface that media browser and media center give you.

Yes i did, Part 2 explains how to setup MPC-HC and TMT3 as an external player.
Quote:


as far as codec conflicts, I've NEVER had a single one becuase with my guide I wrote, it only installs FFDshow and MPC-HC's dxva codecs and with sharks gui you set the priority and your done.

Yes, because you made the minimalist aproach, but by default instalation Sharks codec pack is too bloated for my tastes. The way you set it up is perfect (from what i have read in the guide).
Quote:


Also last time I checked I am getting sub titles now with 7MC + sharks using mpc-hc dxva codecs and it works flawlessly inside of media center. Not sure how you say you can't get dxva support outside of mpc-hc app, cuz it works for me right now.

Traditionally you cannot put any filter (VobSub is a filter) between the decoder (DXVA capable decoder) and rendered (EVR) without breaking DXVA. MPC-HC uses an internal "hack" to bypass this limitation. Maybe Shark did something that bypassed this limitation also, or there were recent changes in the MPC DXVA decoder that allowed this. i`m going to investigate and see what`s up.
Quote:


lastly what I don't like and what many others won't like is the fact that you are going out side of a gui, a "true" htpc interface to get playback. Noobs or veterans like myself want it simple, remote control only use, no keyboards or mice in my living room.

I explained how to map in Part 2 of the guide your remote buttons for MPC. It takes 1 second for 7MCE to minimize and for MPC-HC to come up in fullscreen. From there on you can control MPC-HC by remote (depends on what/how you mapped your buttons), and close it (and automatically return to the MCE interface, that`s a feature of MB), by remote.

Anyway, i`m going to toy around with your guide & Sharks codec pack today, and if i get satisfactory results i`ll split up the Part 1 of the guide in 2 sections -> One with my aproach, One with Shark and the internal 7MCE player, and the reader can choose what he wants.

Also, does anybody know what moderator should i contact to request a sticky for the thread , since there is one about the hardware side, and 1 about MediaPortal, i think one specific to 7MCE whould be an ok ideea (that`s why i made it in the first place )?
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post #22 of 4662 Old 05-20-2010, 12:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ogormask View Post

I tried using ffdshow and haali and it didnt work for me at all. Also the first section is huge and "bloated" to use your words whereas installing shark codec pack worked for me and all I have to do is check a box and it works for every file I have. How is that bloated? Bloated as in a few more Mb? I think my hard drive has enough space. I also tried just FFDshow and the sound levels were terrible. I am sure there is some setting in there that would fix it but its highly complicated.

The shark codec pack has ffdshow and haali, FYI. You probably use ffdshow for your audio. To say that ffdshow and haali didn't work but the shark codec pack does is counter productive to arguing the shark codec pack is a better solution. It only proves that you didn't know how to setup ffdshow and haali.

I have to admit the shark codec pack presents all the settings in one location that is nice, easy to understand, and simple.
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post #23 of 4662 Old 05-20-2010, 02:00 AM
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MPC-HC remote control setup/key mapping :

Keys Tab -> select the remote buttons you whould like to use for specific tasks. By default Play/Pause fast/backward works, you only need to map 2 other keys, one for subtitle switching, and one for audio stream switching. Also, Map the "browser bakward" comand to the return key, so you just have to press the backward/return key on the remote to close MPC-HC and get back to the 7MCE interface.

What remote are you using? I use my logitech harmony as an mce remote in iMon and the keys DON'T work. What do I need to assign them to, and how?

Could be useful for others too to know what you are aiming at...
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post #24 of 4662 Old 05-20-2010, 03:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenEyez View Post


It takes 1 second for 7MCE to minimize and ...

internal 7MCE player, and the reader can ...

i think one specific to 7MCE would be ...

Please don't call it 7MCE. The "E" is only in the XP version. Just 7MC. Makes google/bing searches better.
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post #25 of 4662 Old 05-20-2010, 06:23 AM
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I plugged in a few things last night and now I can listen to FLAC files in WMP and 7MC. I installed the trial of the Trailer and In The Movies and I think I may go to the full versions. I already had the Weather plugin but next will probably be the Media Browser app.

I have no intentions of installing all of that Haali and ffdshow stuff. My movies run just fine, even the DVD rips. I haven't tested a BR rip in a long time but I'm setting up that Autorip app and Make MKV or I will try to set them up since I installed them last night. Once I get those few things setup I think I'll be ok with 7MC until I get into changing the themes. A few hard ware changes like changing the storage drive from 1tb to 2tb and maybe exploring an external media server and I should be good for a some time to come.
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post #26 of 4662 Old 05-20-2010, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackal55 View Post

I have no intentions of installing all of that Haali and ffdshow stuff.

...

I haven't tested a BR rip in a long time but I'm setting up that Autorip app and Make MKV or I will try to set them up since I installed them last night.

Good luck getting your mkvs to play without a Haali type splitter.

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post #27 of 4662 Old 05-20-2010, 06:58 AM
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Good luck getting your mkvs to play without a Haali type splitter.

So it's actually needed and not optional for playing ripped BRs? I like to keep as little as possible on my drive but I guess if I have to use it then I'll use it.
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post #28 of 4662 Old 05-20-2010, 07:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackal55 View Post

So it's actually needed and not optional for playing ripped BRs? I like to keep as little as possible on my drive but I guess if I have to use it then I'll use it.

It is needed for playing mkv files. If you do a direct BR rip then no, you don't need it. If you convert it to mkv then you'll need a splitter. The default MS codecs more than likely can play the audio and video inside the mkv, but it has no way to pull out the a/v without a third party splitter.

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post #29 of 4662 Old 05-20-2010, 08:01 AM
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Thanks for the heads up. I'm not sure if I'll be ripping to iso or MKV yet. I'll probably try both ways but I'd prefer no compression or the least amount of compression as possible.
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post #30 of 4662 Old 05-20-2010, 10:31 AM
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Thank you GreenEyez!! This is definitely perfect for me. I'm a HTPC newbie and I just got my PC 2 weeks ago. I am already much in awe with 7WMC but when i saw your guide now I'm more excited of what improvements i can do to my HTPC.

This week, I just figured out how to set-up my TV tuner, record live HD OTA TV shows and mapped out my Harmony remote to it. Also trouble shoot that blinking IR receiver.

I'm most interested in blu-ray ripping my collection to my hard drive and the bitstreaming of HD audio! This will relegate my PS3 to just play games afterwards.
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