3. Pending issues3.1 Blu-ray ISO playback
According to what I've read Plex does and most likely never will not officially support any kind of image based media to be streamed. This includes iso-images and also VIDEO_TS. Having said that the VIDEO_TS playback works on a Windows setup where the Media Server and Media Center are installed on the same machine. I haven't tested VIDEO_TS playback on another pc yet but it should fail. There is a way to utilise an external application to do the playback (and image mounting). This is accomplished by creating a custom playercorefactory.xml configuration file (see here)
. It would at the same time seem to solve the missing HD Audio problem. There are some outstanding issues like media meta data not being passed correctly.
However there is one big caveat in the above solution; it's basicly only supported on Windows playback platforms leaving things like iDevices and external devices out of the picture. An alternative solution is to convert all my Blu-rays and DVDs to MKV-format. This is what I'm currently now testing. I've downloaded MakeMKV (see here
) and converting some Blu-rays to do testing of 1080p24 streaming and also streaming with transcoding to mobile devices.
Tried a few Blu-rays converted to MKV, conversion took ~30minutes / movie (25-40GB). I enabled DXVA2, set display refresh to match video and "Sync Playback to Display" = "Audio Clock". On the first run I got a picture with black bars all around the video. Took me a while to realise it was nothing to do with Plex but ATI underscan settings which is wrongly set by default (see here
). Once that was fixed I really got to do some testing. I was really amazed, audio sync seemed perfect, no dropped frames, no microstutter on panning scenes, no tearing, no apparent video/audio problems. On my previous setup even with ReClock I wasn't even close to this kind of video quality. Still this is just initial impressions but it all seem very promising. Previously I had quite a bunch of different pieces of software in the display chain, now one seems to do all the work. CPU-load hoovered around 20% and this in a temporary setup where the server and client are on the same system.
I'll continue converting more movies to MKV and do some real life movie watching.3.2 DVD Profiler support
Though online meta data scrapers are nice and really save time, they will always have been the following two limitations for me:
- Some, especially foreign, content is not available in the free online databases. In my case I have over 300 movie titles which were not available in the DVD Profiler databases so I have manually added them. Most of them are localised children movies.
- The meta data is usually stored in some application's database and suspect to change whenever the online data changes. Sometimes there are ways to export/backup this data but like with Plex this isn't at least officially supported. So if the database gets corrupted and the online service is not any more available (anything can happen in 2-5 years), my valuable meta data is gone. Backups can help on this one but migrating to another media center software will still not be easy.
So what makes DVD Profiler any different from media centers' media managers? Well few things, for one it is independent and has extensive export capabilities. Second, it has a built in mechanism to combine online and end user meta data and protect end user contributed parts. Sure it has it's limitations like no fanart and no direct support for online media (ie. scanning directories) but there is only a very limited amount of things I *truely* need to be in the meta data.
Yet I would like to take the DVD Profiler information as the basis and then enhance it with scraped data. I have found two ways to accomplish this:
- Use a meta data agent which directly uses xml exported from DVD Profiler when it scans online media. This is pretty much what XML2Mee plugin did for Meedio. Unfortunately nothing like this seems to exist so I would have to develop it my self. Though I might be able to pull it off, it will not be a small task and I would hate to be doing anything in this "low" level.
- Manipulate the DVD Profiler exported meta data in a way that existing meta data agents can utilise it. More specifically create XBMC-like nfo.files and then use the only known to work agent (see here). The files must created within the media directory structure so also this will require some non-trivial coding.
So I'm now working on the second option. There are different approaches: use a DVD Profiler plugin called (see here
) DVDProfilerLoop which goes through collection (or subset of it) and launches a given application/script for each movie passing selected attributes as parameters. To have sufficient robustness a Windows Scripting Host language like VBScript should be used at least (instead of batch script). I've done some experimenting on this approach and the interface seems to work nicely. The other approach is to write an independent application which will take the whole xml-export file. The latter part of the code will be exactly same, generating the nfo and poster files.
I'll report back when I've some success on this one.3.3 Remote control (Harmony)
I have not had time to investigate this too much but stumbled on this
wiki-article which seems to provide a comprehensive quide for setting up Harmony remotes. Even the model 525 matches mine.3.4 Batch conversion of Blu-rays in ISO-format and DVDs in Video_TS-format to MKV using makemkvcon
All my online movies are in either ISO or Video_TS formats which are not properly supported by Plex. The same applies to many other currently available media center software so I decided to start converting my movies to MKV-format. As a bonus I would save quite a bit of disk space when all the extra-material is removed in the process. For DVDs I have always preferred and been able to rip only the main movie with correct languages (Finnish and English audio, Finnish subtitles) when using FabHDDecrypter. For Blu-rays I've been using AnyDVDHD which does not support movie-only ripping so some of my BR-rips take almost twice the disk space actually needed.
So started researching this and found quite many similar requests but to my amazement no direct support within MakeMKV and no proper plugin, extension or external application to do the batch conversion. I found one (1) GUI based batch tool (see here
) and couple batch script based solutions using the makemkvcon/makemkvcon64 command line interface. The GUI based is very simple; you start as many MakeMKV instances you want, make the settings for each conversion and then let the tool run each of them sequentically. This works rather well but is far from true automated batch conversion (ie. no human input required at all in any stage).
Then I tried the batch script approach. I modified some of available scripts to my liking and let it run over night on couple of movie titles. The results were varying; on some titles there was only one mkv file produced (filtered by the minlength=1800 setting) but for others like Wall-E I got several almost identical mkv files. I think these are due to localisation of some video material (eg. a note is visualised in your selected language) and in my mind almost always totally unnecessary. I suspect the first title of these kind to be the original (usually the English) one.
The story continues here
. I'll continue posting on that thread until I reasonable solution for batch conversion of my ISO Blu-ray rips is found and then make a clean up description here.3.x Other pending issues
- User defined media filters/queries
- Purchase date support
- Parental controls
- Multi-user support for watched
- HD bitstream audio support