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HTPC FRONT END SHOOTOUT: Show us your eye candy !

post #1 of 215
Thread Starter 
This thread is dedicated to showing off everything that is awesome about HTPC.

Please share screen shots of your HTPC set up and share with the community what you love about your set up.

I have wanted to do a thread like this for some time, and in partnership with a few AVS veterans who are also willing to participate... let the fun begin !
post #2 of 215
Thread Starter 
reserved 1 MB3 Classic

Also


THUMBS UP SOME OF THESE GUYS FOR POSTING UP THEIR SET UPS !



Edit #2: I still waiting to get my media server back up and running. I am being kicked out of my office, and I must relocate both my workstation and Flexraid media server because my wife has claimed my office for the new baby room (Twins due May 30th biggrin.gif ) Sorry for the delay in this process, I am unable to really showcase my set up (yet)

Here is some examples of some of the MBclassic options:

ROC


BREEZE:

CRYSTAL:

Live Video Backdrops on CRYSTAL

Edited by Mfusick - 12/14/13 at 12:17pm
post #3 of 215
Thread Starter 
reserved 2 MB theater

Edit: I am in the process of getting kicked out of my office eek.gif

Wifey is claiming it and making it a baby room. (We are pregnant with twins due May 30th biggrin.gif )

So my office since it's next to the bedroom is the most logical room for the babies. That means I need to move out mad.gif I am in the process of moving my server and my desktop workstation to a new location- I need to run COAX for the cable modem, and CAT6. It's going to be a few days before I can get my pictures up of my set up.

In the mean time here is the Youtube video I made as an example of LIVE VIDEO BACKDROPS in MBT to hold you over.

Note: This is an alpha build of MBtheater and not representative of the final product (it's already changed/improved since I made this) This was also a "fake" media library I made locally for a test. Anyways- you should get the idea.

From previously posted in the MB thread few weeks ago:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Yes. It works great for me. biggrin.gif
Yup I reposted it sorry... See below

For those of you that are interested:

I am working on posting a few demo videos of mine if you guys want to see this bad boy in action. Live video backdrops really make a difference. Keep in mind this is far from a complete project and there is still lots coming in the way of refinements, themes and skins, plugins and such.

Here is a quick one I just launched:


Here is another: #2


Just a showcase of the live video backdrop options. biggrin.gif


I can do a TV series demo too if you guys want to see it.

Here is a TV show demo: (note I created a fake demo library for these videos, and removed my real media folders from the config) I really just wanted to show off a little of the video backdrops.

Edited by Mfusick - 12/13/13 at 3:59pm
post #4 of 215
Thread Starter 
reserved
post #5 of 215
Here are some pictures of the new Plex Home Theater skin. I will post more information in a bit!





Edited by lockdown571 - 12/11/13 at 3:47pm
post #6 of 215
Finally smile.gif
























































Edited by Dark_Slayer - 12/14/13 at 7:52pm
post #7 of 215
Plexbmc

Here are some screenshots of Plex Home Theater to show my current library according to Plex (just did a delete re-add to modify scraper, etc as I only really use Plex for remote playback and don't keep track of watched status within PMS)

Channels

TV Shows

Movies


Now, to view the XBMC library with a Plexbmc compatible skin. It should be noticed that the plexbmc integration tool won't pull on deck to the main menu widget of any skin but Amber. The recently added won't pull to the main menu widgets of any skin but Quartz and Amber. Those two skins are basically the only real choices for Plexbmc if you want the home screen widgets. However, I've added the "All Movies" section of Plex within Plexbmc as a "video node" to the main menu of Aeon MQ5 and Aeon Nox without issue (though I couldn't get it working on the Gotham alpha version I had running on my notebook). So there are other skin options as long as you are fine without the "recently added" or "on deck" widgets on your home screen. (Though I tried this on the Gotham alpha on this notebook and it didn't work, while it has been working on Frodo installations when I checked)

New installation without any XBMC library (notice the empty Videos section)



Now the settings menu with the "Go Plex" option


After clicking "Go Plex" then you'll see the following

Channels


TV Shows


Movies



Notice the source in the Video Info view has "plugin://plugin.video.plexbmc" instead of any normal UNC server path. Also, the fanart downloader can't scrape discart and extrafanart for these titles. Actor thumbs don't pull in nor actor info for me. I deleted and rescraped my PMS just to verify that actors and descriptions, etc were available in Plex (which they are). If there is something I'm missing, please let me know how to add these sort of additions to the plexbmc plugin and I'll update this. AFAIK there is no way to add those extras to your Plex libraries in XBMC.

Also, I can't prevent this menu from showing up when clicking Movies from the main menu of Amber, even though there is a skin setting that I have enabled along the lines of "Home Shelf Movies default selection - All Movies"




Anyway, this is still a cool way to keep all of your plex libraries synchronized and harness the power of XBMCs addon library as well. With a few more tweaks to the capabilities of the "plugin" library you could have all the discart, spinning, clearart, etc eye candy that XBMC has in my post above. I don't think the capability is there at this time however, but I would *love* to be proven wrong. I'd go manually edit the watched status for every title and get rid of MySQL libraries if these eye candy extras were possible. As it stands, I've spent too much effort getting all these in place to give up on them for the nicety of Plexbmc integration. It's still a WIP, but the creators of this integration have really done a lot of work getting things this far and have plenty of talent
Edited by Dark_Slayer - 12/16/13 at 1:31am
post #8 of 215
Reserved MBC (Breeze)
post #9 of 215
I chose MediaBrowser with the Chocolate theme, Cover Art plugin, and the custom backdrop trick from Assassin's Guides.












The "eye candy appeal" is definitely worth the effort & money to me. I recently picked up a WD TV LIVE for the bedroom and it plays all files just fine but it lacks that WOW factor for the ultimate experience.
post #10 of 215
Very nice dropkick.
post #11 of 215
Reserve for something, something, something !! biggrin.gif


YES! That's some awesome skins WOW!


Djoel
post #12 of 215
OK, Well, I'll do XBMC with MQ5 skin smile.gif















Edited by sfhtpc - 12/11/13 at 8:44pm
post #13 of 215
XBMC with the Metropolis Skin and the Steampunk Theme:

Main Screen:

Genre Screen:

movie list screen:

movie detail:

actor detail:

movie search from actor detail:

Edited by robnix - 12/11/13 at 9:37pm
post #14 of 215
MeediOS
www.meedios.com







































Edited by ccrocker001 - 1/2/14 at 11:28pm
post #15 of 215
MediaPortal with Titan Skin









post #16 of 215
Stock Windows 7 Media Center with library menus by Media Browser 2.6 (Diamond theme)

One of my goals is to try in some ways to keep my system looking stock, but adding some nice touches. That's why I won't upgrade to Media Browser 3 - they removed the ability to launch directly into a "media collection."

I use my system for live tv and disc playback just as much as I do archived media. So I'm normally launching from the main menu of Windows Media Center. I thought having to leave that and then go into another, different menu interface to use Media Browser was a bit jarring.

When Media Browser 2.x crates a new "media collection" it also creates a unique entry point for that collection that can be manipulated in the registry. When I want to watch movies, I click an icon that looks like the default WMC movie library, but it launches me into Media Browser's movie library.



Inside the movie library it doesn't look much different than any other minimal Media Browser theme. I like how it handles tv shows though. A solution for shows and mini series like From the Earth to the Moon were my main impetus for ditching the default movie library:






and I like looking for unique movie posters to put in the gallery:




also created a library for concert videos that sits on the music strip, where I felt it was more appropriate. Most of them were recorded off Palladia and detelecined back to 1080p24 mkv files:






And my favorite reason for Media Browser entry points? My emulator collection made possible through the MB plugin called Game Browser:




Each game system has two icons - the console and the controller. The console is shown by default, but the controller is shown when you highlight it. All of this can be manipulated in the registry. And here is what happens when you select a console:









I play all my classic console games with a Wiimote. I use the basic Wiimote to play NES, the Classic Controller for SNES and Genesis, the nunchuk for Atari games, and I have yet to find a suitable N64/Gamecube solution. I have a PS2 style USB controller that I use for PC games like Vice City, but I don't like trying to use it with N64. Ive seen N64 style USB controllers. Ive also seen an Instructable to use my Ardunio as an N64 to usb adapter. I think after I visit my parents next week that I'll try finding my old green N64 remote and going the Arduino route. I should even be able to make it bluetooth wireless if I screw around with it long enough.

When you select PLAY on a game Game Browser uses the same logic to launch an emulator for a given rom type that MB uses to launch an external player for a given video file type. To close the game and go back I've mapped several of the buttons inside the emulator setup to ALT+F4. Pressing those two together allows me to immediately close the emulator and go back into Game Browser

One of the emulator benefits over consoles is the ability to apply various upscaling filters. They work to smooth out the jagged/pixelated sprites. Heres a screen grab from Mega Man 2:



Even with archived discs and rom files I still use a lot of physical media - I'm a bit surprised WMC actually doesn't support CDs. One of the things I've been doing is using my HTPC to digitally capture old home movies for my parents. That same software (ATI's Catalyst Media Center- it came bundled with my first tuner) also lets me record my favorite talk radio show every day. It drops it into a folder that I can easily access on my phone.



After I launch the VHS capture frontend my remote controls the power, play, stop, fast forward, and rewind buttons on the VCR. On the PC it controls the directional navigation, record, stop record, and rewind/fast forward of the video capture stream. Screen captures of Catalyst Media Center (the software I'm using) didn't work out well with a tape playing, but you can imagine how it looks:





Speaking of radio, I run FM thru my HTPC too:



Ive used my Xbox 360 in extender mode to send the local fm broadcast audio from Steeler, Penguin, and Pitt Panther games to my stereo while my HTPC shows video on my tv.

For new discs I just can't wait to rip, things from the library, or "making of" special feature discs I use Arcsoft Total Media Theater 5. I've ripped out all the PNG files that have a default blue WMCesque background and replaced it with ones that mirror the Mobius theme I'm using




One of the reason I love HTPC is that you don't have to change tv/receiver inputs to use different kinds of media. I've created some MCL files to allow me to access streaming media sites inside WMC without leaving the frontend:








As for tv/dvr usage I organized my guide by channel name and added the wonderful program My Channel Logos. Since I organize by name I don't have to try memorizing channels. If I'm on Root Sports, and I want to watch Turner Classic Movies, I go down. I also got rid of sd channels and anything I won't watch to keep the guide clean.



For DVR control I definitely recommend Ceton's excellent My Media Center app, which is available on most (all?) mobile platforms for a few dollars. Makes finding things to record more fun and also is great for scheduling remotely when you're not at home:


Edited by pittsoccer33 - 2/20/14 at 12:53pm
post #17 of 215
Thread Starter 
Wow ! The Game Browser set up for MediaBrowser looks awesome ! VHS , FM, Live TV, custom entry points - custom artwork , I can see why you are not too quick to change! Nice job !
post #18 of 215

@pittsoccer33 -- How many hours did you spend getting all of that setup!!! Very cool!

 

Everyone's front ends in this thread look great...next time someone says "my apple TV is soooo great"  point them to this thread and laugh at them...

post #19 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bizzy G.L.X. View Post

@pittsoccer33
 -- How many hours did you spend getting all of that setup!!! Very cool!

Everyone's front ends in this thread look great...next time someone says "my apple TV is soooo great"  point them to this thread and laugh at them...

It's a cool thread that's making me want to look at some other front ends and software suites as well.
post #20 of 215
pittsoccer33 that is one IMPRESSIVE setup you having going there, I am truly eek.gif

Bill
post #21 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bizzy G.L.X. View Post

@pittsoccer33
 -- How many hours did you spend getting all of that setup!!! Very cool!

For the longest time I just changed the background of WMC and used everything as stock as possible - the movie library, the music library, and TMT5 inside WMC (which I still use), albeit modified as I showed above. I had tried Media Browser before and without knowing much about metadata scrapping I thought it looked ugly. I just wasn't ready to commit to figuring it all out.

Here are some old screen shots of how I had altered the WMC movie library





You need a dvdid.xml file for each movie to fill out the covers. I actually stll save those locally in the same folder as the movie even though I'm using Media Browser. Heres the advantage: if I'm watching something I launched from Media Browser, say...Its a Wonderful Life, and I'd like to see other movies by Capra or featuring Jimmy Stewart I can press the "INFO" button on my remote and bring up cast and crew data provided by that dvdid.xml file. With that I can see other movies by Capra and set my DVR to record It Happened One Night or Mr Deeds Goes to Town the next time TCM airs them.

Heres a video showing how that works. I play my copy of X-Men First Class and I look for similar movies that will air soon. I see both Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk will be on tv soon, so I am prompted to set WMC to record - perfect integration of the Media Browser library and WMC player/guide/recorder:




I do still keep the movie library active in WMC, just incase something happens in Media Browser or in my registry to invalidate my entry points. Its happened once or twice. This way I have a backup to launch everything should that happen and I'm not home/have time to fix it.

I used Catalyst Media Center while I was in college to record analog standard def cable and send it out of my PC to my television via s video. That was 10 years ago. I eventually moved to WMC on Vista. I still didn't archive many movies, mostly just used it like a VCR to record certain programs. In late 09-10 I moved to Windows 7 and decided I could build everything around it.

It wasn't until May 2012 that I installed Media Browser for good. I think it took me a weekend of tinkering to figure out the quirks of the metadata scrapper and understand how the entry points work. I only had one collection - MOVIES - so why leave WMC to go inside MB just to go to the movie library? I never cared for the newely added or never watched categories in MB, so figuring out entry points was exactly what I wanted.

My first attempt with integrating the VCR was to run coaxial cable from my VCR to the analog tuner, thus sending an NTSC signal on channel 3 to the tuner. I set up a manual channel in WMC - I called it VCR - and used it that way. I manually recorded programs by pressing play on the VCR and record inside WMC - it used the MPEG2 encoder on the tv tuner to create a DVD ready file. I can enable control of the tape deck via my Harmony remote activity, so controlling it isn't a problem.

After a while of using it that way I thought of going back to my old Catalyst Media Center. There are a couple of ways to launch the CMC.EXE file from WMC - truth be told I forget which one I used! I told CMC I have a cable set top box, and I send my VCR to it via composite cables. Its a tad higher quality, which is good for capturing old files. I know I could trick WMC into thinking my VCR is a cable box, but I don't have any usb based IR blasters, which WMC requires. But in general I like how I can go into CMC, start capturing a home movie, and then go back into WMC and watch tv or do whatever without hogging the interface. After the tape is done I can use Video Redo's commercial detector to look for new segments in the recording and edit it that way.

The emulator set up was another weekend of work. I did that after I picked up Wreck it Ralph last spring and got the itch to play Ducktales on NES. The first few hours was figuring out how the emulator settings worked on their own - how to get full screen when opening a rom, how to keep the aspect ratio correct, how to upscale, etc.

The second part was figuring out a piece of software called GlovePIE to interface the Wiimote with the PC. The Wiimote connects via bluetooth, but then I use Glovepie to map all the controller buttons to keyboard keys. Inside the emulators they think I'm using a keyboard and mouse as my controller. That way I can map the Wii buttons to any keys I want, and then map any key I want to an emulator control. That was a few hours worth of tinkering.

Then I installed Game Browser. Their website has some great tutorials on getting that all set up, so it was much quicker and easier than I thought it would be. I just needed to figure how to launch full screen, and then how to close and return to WMC. After that I finally got to play Ducktales smile.gif
Edited by pittsoccer33 - 12/12/13 at 4:55pm
post #22 of 215
Thread Starter 
One of the things I think is great to see that one of the oldest front ends getting so much love. MediaBrowser2 might be oldschool (and technically replaced by MB3) but it's certainly not dead! You are showing this. I find it ironic (and awesome) that in a thread dedicated to showing off some of the newest, latest and greatest advancements in HTPC front ends one of the oldest is shining so bright !

I just finished upgrading the SSD drive in my server last night; I clean installed Windows Home Server and Flexraid. My Flexraid media server is back up and running and my XBMC, PLEX and MB3 are scanning as we speak! (it takes a while for a big library) It looks like I have some catching up to do in this thread eek.gif I am glad I reserved my spot tongue.gif I should have some screen shots up soon. I might do a video (youtube) since there is somethings I like about my set up that are specific to me - and they are hard to see in still photos as it's more how things operate I like most. Sounds like you are along the same lines as me, as you seem to have taken some extra steps and work to get your HTPC to work exactly like you want. The hard work shows! Nice job PittSoccer.

In general,

I am really happy to see this thread take off so much even before I got a chance to get my own post up ! ALL OF THE FRONT ENDS POSTED LOOK ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! Seriously - this is showing why AVS is still one of the best places for HTPC around. Very well done by everyone! Great job AVS!
post #23 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bizzy G.L.X. View Post

@pittsoccer33
 -- How many hours did you spend getting all of that setup!!! Very cool!

Everyone's front ends in this thread look great...next time someone says "my apple TV is soooo great"  point them to this thread and laugh at them...

Loving the "and laugh at them".

As I get older I find more and more people who amply deserve proper ridicule. smile.gifwink.gif

At this point I know just enough to be dangerous- and still deeply stupid, but it looks like I should perhaps check out mediabrowser- I would LOVE to be able to play older games- you know, the ones that were just FUN and didn't require 3 joysticks and 13 buttons. tongue.gif

DUCKTALES by the way?! I remember my brother taking plenty of fists for me to play that game. Oh, the memories.

Thanks everyone for these pics, it helps the uninformed like me.

James
Edited by mastermaybe - 12/12/13 at 9:00am
post #24 of 215
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

Loving the "and laugh at them".

As I get older I find more and more people who amply deserve proper ridicule. smile.gif

James

Well the design and goal of this thread is not to laugh at anyone, rather just show case some of the "awesome" that is with all the different options. There is some cool stuff you can do with an AppleTV (Jailbrake it, upgrade with SSD, run OpenELEC /XBMC and really do some trick things for cheap). While I have personally tried this and found HTPC to be superior in many ways (mostly in performance) I still respect someone who does this - (as opposed to a stock apple TV where the owner doesn't even understand what the are missing) I've actually invited someone (CBers) to showcase ROKU and MB3 for ROKU if possible.
post #25 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post


DUCKTALES by the way?! I remember my brother taking plenty of fists for me to play that game. Oh, the memories.

Do you happen to have a newer console? Was released for the PC too:


Edited by pittsoccer33 - 12/27/13 at 7:27pm
post #26 of 215

Don't see Jriver here yet so.... reserved for Jriver.

post #27 of 215
^ I am now console-free and living happier. I gave them and the newer games more time than I ever should have and came to this conclusion: they simply do not interest me. I DID like the wii for the old games but even that was gathering dust. That said, if I can integrate older titles into a media array like pittsoccers rolling with, I am certain they would offer superb value for the $.

James
post #28 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Well the design and goal of this thread is not to laugh at anyone, rather just show case some of the "awesome" that is with all the different options. There is some cool stuff you can do with an AppleTV (Jailbrake it, upgrade with SSD, run OpenELEC /XBMC and really do some trick things for cheap). While I have personally tried this and found HTPC to be superior in many ways (mostly in performance) I still respect someone who does this - (as opposed to a stock apple TV where the owner doesn't even understand what the are missing) I've actually invited someone (CBers) to showcase ROKU and MB3 for ROKU if possible.

Yes, I was being a bit tongue in cheek. Everyone has different goals and some can actually be more satisfied with less...horses for courses.

James
post #29 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

Here are some pictures of the new Plex Home Theater skin. I will post more information in a bit!



This is exactly what the Google TV Plex app looks like. Anyone with a GTV should buy the Plex app.
post #30 of 215
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

Yes, I was being a bit tongue in cheek. Everyone has different goals and some can actually be more satisfied with less...horses for courses.

James

Yeah for sure! This isn't me of coarse. I want it all. Too much is almost enough biggrin.gif

That said, you are 100% right that less is more sometimes. Especially in set up and ease of use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

This is exactly what the Google TV Plex app looks like. Anyone with a GTV should buy the Plex app.

I like the PLEX app on ipad. I have an ipad 3 64GB (retina) that is jailbroken on iOS6.xx and the MB3 app only works on iOS7 (My iphone runs it) so I use PLEX often (almost daily) but mostly with the ipad app - not on the actual HTPC (which does have it installed but I just prefer MB3)

PLEX has some unique features that really puts it at the head of the class in some areas (especially sharing servers, viewing away from home, transcoding options, local sync for traveling, cloud storage accounts, Chromecast support etc..)
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