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Recommended playback solution for Vista Media Center DVD Library?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I have a Vista Media Center running with the DVD Library enabled playing discs ripped in VIDEO_TS format. Playback works, it's decent, but not awesome.

I'd like to continue using the built-in functionality like DVD Library rather than installing additional plugins and services like My Movies (though I realize there are some benefits to them). I'm really trying to keep it simple - fewer "moving pieces" for me is better. Launching external programs with a bunch of add-ins and things that aren't terribly well integrated with Media Center... too many moving pieces.

My question: Are there improvements I can make to the built-in DVD Library playback?

For example, I see some folks like to install different codecs like PureVideo. Does that make all the difference? I've gathered that FFDShow can do some nice things for by adding post-processing, but from my research it doesn't look like you can get it running during DVD playback. (Maybe I'm wrong?) Registry tweaks or configuration settings I'm unaware of?
post #2 of 11
Have you tried MyMovies. I've been using it for about a year now and I have not had any problems. I have a 4.5 TB unraid server in my office, I have MyMovies server running on my office desktop with media center 2005. I have 2 HTPC's running media center 2005, and one laptop running vista as clients. I like the way it works. I launch MyMovies, it launches TheaterTek and the move plays. Let me now if you have any questions.

Gary Trudeau
post #3 of 11
I as well use MyMovies but a little differently.

I have VMC set to use the PDVD video codec via VMCD.EXE. Big difference in my scenerio.

I also use MyMovies for collection management, but I only put the DVD's in there to get the folder.jpg and the XML data. I then use the VMC DVD Library to access them.

I then delete the DVD's from collection management, since I use MyMovies specifially for HD content. Once DVD's are put in, they no longer need to be listed in collection management as the XML and folder info was already created to the correct location.

BD and HD are all I want showing in MyMovies, since I don't have to scroll through a ton of non-HD movies to find my HD content. The DVD Library has its place.

I then have HD content auto-mount with Daemon, and Auto-Start PDVD. All via VMC with a remote.
post #4 of 11
gunbunnysoulja,

If I remove the dvds from the collection management won't they come back?
I too use mymovies only for the xmls & jpegs and have to shift through tons of non-hd as you say to find my hd movies.
For non-hd I use dvd library like you.
I too used to use daemon tools & automount isos but then saw the light and use tmt with file mode no daemons since
Oh, and I also have a media center remote & run everything from there.

vmc without mymovies is like vista without vmc i.e. useless
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
I haven't installed MyMovies because I am really trying to limit the moving pieces. With DVD Library, I can rip the DVD, stick it on my Windows Home Server, throw a DVDID file in each folder, and when I pull up the DVD Library in Media Center, magic just happens and everything just works.

With MyMovies, there's a server component to it. (Where do I install that? I don't have a spare machine and I'm not anxious to install things on the Windows Home Server - trying to keep it super clean.) There's a client component to it (install on each Media Center PC). There's barely any documentation on it, and what there is is more "tribal knowledge" in forums and a partially-baked wiki (doesn't lend me a lot of confidence).

Then the whole point of even installing MyMovies would be to run an external DVD player like TheaterTek. So now you've got Media Center, MyMovies server, MyMovies client, TheaterTek DVD player... we're really getting into a lot of moving pieces.

Why am I so concerned with moving pieces? At one point in time, I'd have been fine with it because I had a lot of time to tinker with things and fiddle with them until they worked and keep up with every bug fix and hardware update and everything else required to be right there on the edge. Anymore, moving pieces mean time away from my family, additional wife-acceptance-factor issues, and pain.

If MyMovies really is literally the only way to improve performance and quality on the DVD playback, then I guess I'll invest the time, money, and energy into getting that set up. However, if there is something easy I can set in the registry, some hidden configuration console I don't know about, some Media Center product (with official support) that I can get, install, and have it just work magically without myriad tweaking... I'd rather go with the simple answer, assuming there is one.
  • Using the PowerDVD decoder instead of the built in one: easy. Does it really make a noticeable difference?
  • Can you use RegisterMCEApp with .MCL XML files to just register a different DVD player?
  • Is ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre any good? It appears to have decent, supported, one-stop integration.
  • Am I right when I surmise that FFDShow can't be installed using Media Control and just have that post-process? (Or is that dicier than installing all of the MyMovies/TheaterTek stuff?)

Or would everyone really, truly recommend that seriously the only way to get better quality is MyMovies/TheaterTek?
post #6 of 11
Playing movies in PowerDVD is much better quality than through MyMovies in VMC IMO. I like MyMovies collection management and interface so I've tried using vmcd.exe to switch to the PowerDVD codec in VMC.

It does change the codec but when I play something in VMC now it comes up with black bars above and below and left and right even for 16:9 content. It totally stumped me so I switched back to the MS codecs.

If you guys got VMC to use the PowerDVD codecs then I'd dealy love to know how. Any idea why I'm not getting full screen video in VMC?
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by 720p View Post

gunbunnysoulja,

If I remove the dvds from the collection management won't they come back?
I too use mymovies only for the xmls & jpegs and have to shift through tons of non-hd as you say to find my hd movies.
For non-hd I use dvd library like you.
I too used to use daemon tools & automount isos but then saw the light and use tmt with file mode no daemons since
Oh, and I also have a media center remote & run everything from there.

vmc without mymovies is like vista without vmc i.e. useless

The movies won't come back if you turn off folder monitoring.

The nice thing about My Movies is that you can use filters to only show blu-ray and/or HD HDDVD.

Basically you could have a HD filter and a SD filter so just show the format you want.
post #8 of 11
My Movies will act like an integrated piece of Vista Media Center, You can add it's own menu bar to the main menu of VMC or Put it in with the Rest of the TV & Movies line.

You Don't have to use an external DVD playing application with My Movies you can use the default VMC one...and then use vmcd.exe or whatever it is to force Vista to use diffrent decoders as stated above.

You DO NOT have to have the Server based install for My Movies you can just run each client individually, so if you only need it on one then only run it on one. The only time this becomes a problem is if you are running more than one client you have to update each one manually if I remember correctly (not sure how the folder monitoring works in My Movies, I never used it )

I would say just give My Movies a try and see how you like it you never know it may work out well for you and be less of a hassle then you are making it out to be.
post #9 of 11
I use DVD Library Manager, it works very well, it's free and simple to use.
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by tillig View Post

With MyMovies, there's a server component to it. (Where do I install that? I don't have a spare machine and I'm not anxious to install things on the Windows Home Server - trying to keep it super clean.)

Your running WHS right? well MyMovies has just released the "server" part of MyMovies to run on WHS, and its works soooo damn nice, I just installed it, and so I have the MyMovies "server" running on WHS, then I run the MyMovies Client on my HTPC.

Works great, and the best part about MyMovies is that is catalogs more than just DVD's, it also does, MKV's, WMV's, Divx, anything.

WHS is extremely robust, it doesn't install Add-ins like applications, its not like your going to kill your box running the MyMovies add-in on your WHS box.

Also you can rip dvd's straight to your WHS box, as long as it has a dvd drive, so you don't need to rip it with your pc, or your htpc, it can be ripped directly to your WHS PC, and it automatically gets the data and add's it to your movie pool, really nice and simple feature, wish they had it long ago.

Quote:


There's a client component to it (install on each Media Center PC). There's barely any documentation on it, and what there is is more "tribal knowledge" in forums and a partially-baked wiki (doesn't lend me a lot of confidence).

there are "read me" files that come with it, but honestly it is pretty damn straight forward, you install the "server" on WHS box, install the "client" on your htpc, and the client part the first time you run it, run it from your desktop, and you run the "collection manager" it asks for the server info, put in the pc name or IP address of your WHS box, it connects and your done.

then when you load up VMC, the MyMovies client asks how you want to see it in the menuing system, then asks you a few other questions, and your done.

simple as that.

Quote:


Then the whole point of even installing MyMovies would be to run an external DVD player like TheaterTek. So now you've got Media Center, MyMovies server, MyMovies client, TheaterTek DVD player... we're really getting into a lot of moving pieces.

actually no, its NOT, the whole point to my movies is to have a more robust cataloging system than what you get from DVD Library, but other features like being able to use the third party dvd player like Theatertek or PowerDVD or TMT are added benefits.

don't under stand why you call it "moving pieces" it really isn't. Theatertek, PowerDVD and TMT all play nicely with the MCE remote, meaning NO programing or third party IR software needed to run those apps. Also how Theatertek and TMT run, is that you can close the app from the MCE remote by using the "back" arrow button, and it closes the apps and goes right back into MCE. Again Pretty Straight forward if you ask me.

Quote:


Why am I so concerned with moving pieces? At one point in time, I'd have been fine with it because I had a lot of time to tinker with things and fiddle with them until they worked and keep up with every bug fix and hardware update and everything else required to be right there on the edge. Anymore, moving pieces mean time away from my family, additional wife-acceptance-factor issues, and pain.

While I can respect that, its honestly much much better from the last time you've tried it, with TMT for example, if you have a ripped blu ray or hd dvd, cataloged in MyMovies, you choose the movie, click play, it loads up TMT and starts playing, seemlessly, no issues, nothing. When its done you click the "back" button, and it goes right back to VMC where you left it.

Same goes for Theatertek.

From the sounds of it, from your first post, your whole issue is playback quality right?

well with VMC your using the default Mpeg2 decoders unless you have powerdvd or theatertek or tmt installed and have used the vista decoder checker to change the default decoders.

honestly the defualt decoders (microsoft decoders) are pretty blah, and produce a soft picture, IMHO. so changing the default decoder is one option.

you can't use FFDshow as you need a player with direct show filter capabilities, which is were using something like Theatertek comes into play where you can add post processing with TT.

Quote:


If MyMovies really is literally the only way to improve performance and quality on the DVD playback, then I guess I'll invest the time, money, and energy into getting that set up. However, if there is something easy I can set in the registry, some hidden configuration console I don't know about, some Media Center product (with official support) that I can get, install, and have it just work magically without myriad tweaking... I'd rather go with the simple answer, assuming there is one.

because vista doesn't allow you to easily edit the direct show filters for it, and the rendering it uses for playback, you would need to write your own direct show filter to use something like FFDshow for post processing dvd's. I've been there, and tried that, and have had no luck, others have been successful but they have more time than me

thats why I opted for MyMovies + Theatertek for dvd playback and MyMovies + Arcsoft Total Media Theatre for Blu Ray and HD DVD playback.

works great, and does what it is suppose to do, and even the wife can use it on her own while I am not home.


Quote:


  • Using the PowerDVD decoder instead of the built in one: easy. Does it really make a noticeable difference?

  • I currently have PowerDVD decoder set as the default mpeg2 decoder, does it make a difference?, slight, but not by much.

    Quote:


  • Can you use RegisterMCEApp with .MCL XML files to just register a different DVD player?
    not that I am aware of.

    Quote:


  • Is ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre any good? It appears to have decent, supported, one-stop integration.
    TMT is all I use for HD DVD and Blu Ray playback, but I still prefer Theatertek for dvd playback.

    Quote:


  • Am I right when I surmise that FFDShow can't be installed using Media Control
    out of the box, and easy to setup yes, if you have the time to fiddle and learn how to create your own direct show filters it could be done.

    Quote:


    and just have that post-process? (Or is that dicier than installing all of the MyMovies/TheaterTek stuff?)

I'd say its "dicier" than installing MyMovies and Theatertek.

Quote:


Or would everyone really, truly recommend that seriously the only way to get better quality is MyMovies/TheaterTek?

as already said I prefer the latter and use mymovies with external player.

- Josh
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by gunbunnysoulja View Post

I as well use MyMovies but a little differently.

I have VMC set to use the PDVD video codec via VMCD.EXE. Big difference in my scenerio.

I also use MyMovies for collection management, but I only put the DVD's in there to get the folder.jpg and the XML data. I then use the VMC DVD Library to access them.

I then delete the DVD's from collection management, since I use MyMovies specifially for HD content. Once DVD's are put in, they no longer need to be listed in collection management as the XML and folder info was already created to the correct location.

BD and HD are all I want showing in MyMovies, since I don't have to scroll through a ton of non-HD movies to find my HD content. The DVD Library has its place.

I then have HD content auto-mount with Daemon, and Auto-Start PDVD. All via VMC with a remote.

Deleting your non-HD content out is one way to go. FWIW, I decided to just set up a category (I think that's the free one, other wise it's the filter). In any event, in genreal all I care about is HD content, so I go into My Movies and pick a category and all the SD content is filtered out and I only get a list of my HD movies.
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