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DVD Assist - VIDEO_TS playback for Front Row

post #1 of 499
Thread Starter 
This is a little Applescript applet I put together to integrate VIDEO_TS folder playback into Front Row.

The current version is 1.4.7. Please read the docs with each new revision. Additional help and clarifications are made to the docs with each revision of the program.

http://www.moonlightmac.com/Projects.html

Let me know what you think of this, and what improvements could be made.
post #2 of 499
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squished Squirre View Post

This is a little Applescript applet I put together to allow Front Row to seemlessly play VIDEO_TS folders from inside of Front Row. Please read the docs that come with it.

There is still a lot more that can be done, but I think this fleshes out the idea pretty well.

I don't have a good place to host this, so I'll put it on rapidshare.de to start with.

http://rapidshare.de/files/30614932/DVD_Assist.dmg.html

Hopefully noone will have problems figuring out how to download from rapidshare. Scroll down the page, and click the "free" button. Then you have to wait a few seconds and then you can click the download link.

Let me know what you think of this, and what improvements could be made.

Dude! That is so cool! Thanks very much! Only thing I did (since I'm such a dense dunce) was try to watch a DVD in Front Row ... no joy, but there they are in the Movies section of Front Row!!!! That is absolutely the best free deal I've ever taken advantage of. At least one person out here thanks you profusely for your efforts!!!
post #3 of 499
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by grubavs View Post

Dude! That is so cool! Thanks very much! Only thing I did (since I'm such a dense dunce) was try to watch a DVD in Front Row ... no joy, but there they are in the Movies section of Front Row!!!! That is absolutely the best free deal I've ever taken advantage of. At least one person out here thanks you profusely for your efforts!!!

I'm a little confused... what didn't work? Watching a real DVD, or watching a VIDEO_TS folder?

I did find one bug with watching real DVD's... I think I got that sorted. I'll put up a revised version.
post #4 of 499
It sounds like he was trying to use your script to actually play a VIDEO_TS within the Front Row application. Here's a quote from the readme file that addresses that topic:

"...it instructs DVD player to open that VIDEO_TS folder in DVD Player, and shuts down Front Row."

Is there a way for Front Row to re-launch via the Assist App after watching a movie through DVD Player or VLC? That would seem to complete the integration with Front Row.
post #5 of 499
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jwcrash View Post

Is there a way for Front Row to re-launch via the Assist App after watching a movie through DVD Player or VLC? That would seem to complete the integration with Front Row.

Technically, yes. DVD Assist could keep an eye on Apple DVD player, and fire up front row if it saw DVD Player stop. I'm not sure it would work with VLC... I don't think VLC supports reporting of playback status via Applescript.

In any case, when the VIDEO_TS folder is done playing, you should be able to hit the menu button on the remote and return to Front Row.
post #6 of 499
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squished Squirre View Post

In any case, when the VIDEO_TS folder is done playing, you should be able to hit the menu button on the remote and return to Front Row.

Excellent point...I forgot that button re-activates it.

Thanks!
post #7 of 499
This works exactly as advertised.

Thanks very much!
post #8 of 499
To avoid having to navigate down into the VIDEO_TS files:

- Give the "StartTheMovie.mov" file a more descriptive name (e.g., Finding Nemo.mov)
- Move an alias of the file into the ~/Movies folder

Now, selecting the alias file via FrontRow will start the movie.
post #9 of 499
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squished Squirre View Post

I'm a little confused... what didn't work? Watching a real DVD, or watching a VIDEO_TS folder?

I did find one bug with watching real DVD's... I think I got that sorted. I'll put up a revised version.

Hi, Sorry about that... I had to leave for a few hours.
There's no problem (except for me). What I meant was that the _ts folders don't show up in Front Row when you pick "DVD" in the opening menu. They show up in "VIDEOS" (or something like that, this computer doesn't have front row installed...). Anyway,it works perfectly.
Thanks again!!!
post #10 of 499
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by geoffo View Post

To avoid having to navigate down into the VIDEO_TS files:

- Give the "StartTheMovie.mov" file a more descriptive name (e.g., Finding Nemo.mov)
- Move an alias of the file into the ~/Movies folder

Now, selecting the alias file via FrontRow will start the movie.

That was my original intent, but I couldn't find any way to determine if Front Row was in preview mode, or playback mode.

Notice that if you just let Front Row sit on the preview, DVD Assist will kick in... and that may not be the movie you intended to play.

I wish I could figure out a way to determine if Front Row was showing the preview or in full screen mode... until I do, I'll still recommend the layout I've suggested in the docs.
post #11 of 499
Can someone supply screenshots of how this works? I am still on the fence with a mac mini for HTPC and would like to see the integration, how the menu looks when browsing DVD's? Also, does DD5.1 pass through?

Thanks.
post #12 of 499
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by svtdougie View Post

Can someone supply screenshots of how this works? I am still on the fence with a mac mini for HTPC and would like to see the integration, how the menu looks when browsing DVD's? Also, does DD5.1 pass through?

Thanks.

I wouldn't base your decision on buying a Mac mini for an HTPC on this program. It is a bit of a hack... pretty well integrated, but a hack none-the-less.

If you buy a Mini, and you don't like Front Row, you always have other options... Center Stage, Media Central, etc.

If you can't find something you like on the Mac side, You can always install any one of a zillion PC media center packages, including Windows MCE (With help from the forums here.)

Ohh, since this uses DVD Player for playback, and not Front Row, it should honor your DVD Player digital audio settings.
post #13 of 499
Thread Starter 
I've put up a new version (v1.2).

VIDEO_TS folders didn't always play full screen. That shouldn't happen as often.

If you were using the VLC version of DVD Assist, and went back to Front Row after playing a movie, VLC continued to play in the background. Now it should stop.

Processor usage has been reduced a tiny bit more.

The download link is in the first post.
post #14 of 499
First of all, thank you very much for spending your time on this. Ever since I got a Mac Mini running Front Row, this topic has been on my mind. I've tried all the known 'solutions' available, and none of them have done it for me.

This is the closest anyone has come to making this happen in Front Row. One point I'd like to make is that it appears that you are looking at what files Front Row has open and seeing if any of them contain '/VIDEO_TS/' in their name. Would it be possible to get the path you are on in Front Row and append '/VIDEO_TS/' to that path, and then check to see if this path exists in Finder? My thinking is that you could prevent users from actually having to select the VIDEO_TS folder at all as your script would know if the path actually existed and simply play it in DVD Player/VLC. Does this make sense?

The only other issue and its really to do with the remote/Front Row integration, is that we cannot get back to the DVD menu by hitting the 'menu' button on the remote. In any event, this is a HUGE step forward.

Congratulations and thanks again.

Best,
Joseph
post #15 of 499
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jedakroub View Post

One point I'd like to make is that it appears that you are looking at what files Front Row has open and seeing if any of them contain '/VIDEO_TS/' in their name. Would it be possible to get the path you are on in Front Row and append '/VIDEO_TS/' to that path, and then check to see if this path exists in Finder? My thinking is that you could prevent users from actually having to select the VIDEO_TS folder at all as your script would know if the path actually existed and simply play it in DVD Player/VLC. Does this make sense?

Best,
Joseph

Unfortunately, no. There is no sure-fire way to tell what path Front Row is looking in, unless it is playing or previewing a file. I could look at all the files Front Row has open in the "~/Movies/" path, and possibly predict where it is looking, but it would still require that a movie be placed at the same level as the VIDEO_TS folder... and it might not get it right 100% of the time.

The ultimate solution will come when I can determine if Front Row is playing a preview, or if it is playing in full screen. If I can crack that nut, then DVD Assist will be much better integrated. At that point, you would just need a .mov placeholder for each movie (Which DVD Assist could generate for you.) and when the placeholder was selected to play full screen, it would switch over to DVD player. But... I can't seem to find any way to determine what mode Front Row is in... especially a way that is not easily broken by Apple in future revisions to Front Row.
post #16 of 499
Just downloaded your little program. Pretty cool. I can only play movies that are sitting in the Movies folder of OSX. Is their a way to get this to work with movies sitting on a NAS?
post #17 of 499
^^
create an alias of your NAS into the Movies folder? i don't have front row on my imac, so i can't test that.
post #18 of 499
Thanks, I thought about that as soon as I hit the send button for reply. There is a program called distantDVD that does a very good job of DVD Management. It costs $15US. It displays all the cover art of the movies. Another program as well is Media Central 2.0. In my opinion, MC will be much superior to Front Row IF, and I do mean IF, they ever figure out how to have 5.1 Audio work. Other than that, it is just as user friendly, plus it has some great added features, like streaming IP Radio, TV recordings, Skype, etc.

As much as it is cool that we can now watch movies in Front Row, it would be fantastic if this little program could be polished a little bit. Some suggestions would be:
1. When you select the movie, you don't see the audio & video ts files, rather, it would just jump to the movie. Seeing these files looks a little industrial. Check out how distantDVD & Media Central works and you will see the difference.
2. Cover Art. When scrolling thru your selection, having the cover art displayed would be a very nice feature. Once again, see the way these other 2 software programs do it if you are interested.

Other than that, this little Applescript is definitely headed in the right direction.
post #19 of 499
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmternes View Post

As much as it is cool that we can now watch movies in Front Row, it would be fantastic if this little program could be polished a little bit. Some suggestions would be:
1. When you select the movie, you don't see the audio & video ts files, rather, it would just jump to the movie. Seeing these files looks a little industrial. Check out how distantDVD & Media Central works and you will see the difference.
2. Cover Art. When scrolling thru your selection, having the cover art displayed would be a very nice feature. Once again, see the way these other 2 software programs do it if you are interested.

Other than that, this little Applescript is definitely headed in the right direction.

The problem is, I have no control over Front Row at all. The best I can do is look over its shoulder and see what it has open. This severely limits how much I can do to affect how the interface looks. If the Apple MPEG2 codec is removed (Not a real good option) then the VOB files are no longer listed.

Cover Art is a possibility by creating customized movie placeholders, however until other problems are solved first, it will have to wait.
post #20 of 499
Thanks for the great script. This works great. I finally got rid of my Windows XP bootcamp partition on my Mac Mini since I can now play back all my archived DVD's.

For our Macs, all we have to worry about now, is improving picture quality (TheaterTek +ffdshow) . That of course is a different topic.

I can't thank you enough for this great feature. I read your notes about possibly implementing Aspect Ratio Zoom capabilities while in DVD Player. I would really love to figure this out. It would be nice to toggle through with keyboard shortcuts similar to Zoom Player or TheaterTek and have it remember per-movie basis.
post #21 of 499
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vertigo View Post

I finally got rid of my Windows XP bootcamp partition on my Mac Mini since I can now play back all my archived DVD's.

Wow! What a testimonial... it's gotta make you feel good.
post #22 of 499
One more thing. Can the custom Starthemovie.mov file you created be modified by Quicktime Pro? Where I am going with this, is to see if I can add jpg files (cover art of movie) to the begining of that file. That way, when you browse the movies by name, you will see the cover art on the left side in Front Row (similar to movie preview). Don't get me wrong, I love the clip you put together where it shows the countdown to the movie, but would love some kind of cover art.

Right now, I have created folder names in my Movies folder with the name of the feature. Inside each folder, I have an alias file pointing to the Starthemovie.mov file. In this case, a network drive that has all the movies with VIDEO_TS folders.

I also renamed the Starthemovie.movie file to Now Starting (without an extension), that way when I browse at each folder in Front Row and click on it, it goes to the next screen where the file Now Starting is. The hack then starts the movie after a couple of seconds.

What I would like to do, is to just copy alias files to Movies directory and rename them to movie name. The problem when this is done, is that when you go to Movies directory, the first alias file will start playing automatically. The cool thing would be to disable the auto play function the hack provides. Maybe start the movie when you click on the actual file. Does that make sense? Let me know what you think.

Thanks again!
post #23 of 499
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacHound View Post

Wow! What a testimonial... it's gotta make you feel good.

Yep ;-)
post #24 of 499
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vertigo View Post

One more thing. Can the custom Starthemovie.mov file you created be modified by Quicktime Pro? Where I am going with this, is to see if I can add jpg files (cover art of movie) to the begining of that file. That way, when you browse the movies by name, you will see the cover art on the left side in Front Row (similar to movie preview). Don't get me wrong, I love the clip you put together where it shows the countdown to the movie, but would love some kind of cover art.

Right now, I have created folder names in my Movies folder with the name of the feature. Inside each folder, I have an alias file pointing to the Starthemovie.mov file. In this case, a network drive that has all the movies with VIDEO_TS folders.

I also renamed the Starthemovie.movie file to Now Starting (without an extension), that way when I browse at each folder in Front Row and click on it, it goes to the next screen where the file Now Starting is. The hack then starts the movie after a couple of seconds.

What I would like to do, is to just copy alias files to Movies directory and rename them to movie name. The problem when this is done, is that when you go to Movies directory, the first alias file will start playing automatically. The cool thing would be to disable the auto play function the hack provides. Maybe start the movie when you click on the actual file. Does that make sense? Let me know what you think.

Thanks again!

The custom movie can be anything at all. It is just necessary for those who don't have the Apple MPEG2 codec, so that there is *something* in the VIDEO_TS folder that Front Row can play.

Yep... the playback starting while in preview mode is killing me. I'm looking anywhere I can to find something that is different between preview mode and playback mode.

I thought I had it solved with Live Stage Pro. It lets you embed scripts into a Quicktime movie. The scripts have the ability to determine the window size that the movie is currently playing in... So I thought: Problem solved! But no... when the movie plays in Front Row, the movie thinks it is playing in a 64*48 pixel window, even when playing back full screen. Drat that Apple!
post #25 of 499
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vertigo View Post

I can't thank you enough for this great feature. I read your notes about possibly implementing Aspect Ratio Zoom capabilities while in DVD Player. I would really love to figure this out. It would be nice to toggle through with keyboard shortcuts similar to Zoom Player or TheaterTek and have it remember per-movie basis.

What I had in mind was to look at the filename of the movie placeholder, and based on something in that filename, DVD Assist would then tell DVD Player to use one of the Zoom presets. I have a "Fill" preset for 4:3 movies to fill a 16:9 screen (Stretches horizontally), as well as a zoom preset to fix movies that were encoded 16:9 in a 4:3 (black bars on all sides.) And one final preset to zoom 2.35:1 movies out to 16:9 (cropping the sides slightly.)

You can create your own Zoom presets in DVD Player, although you can't toggle through them with the Apple Remote.

edit: I was loopy. It appears you can't change zoom presets from Applescript. However, the presets appear to be on a disc by disc basis. So, that is even better.
post #26 of 499
Thanks for the follow-up. That gives me a lot of information to see what I can do to help out some more.
post #27 of 499
Thread Starter 
I think I may have found a way to determine if Front Row is in preview mode or Playback mode. Problem is, my C skills are a little rusty, so I'm having to plunk away at this line by line.
post #28 of 499
I hope people understand what a huge step forward this is for Front Row users...people have been complaining about the unreliability of QT's MPEG2 plugin forever. And it was the only option for people who had backed-up DVD folders. This changes everything for a lot of Mac users trying to put together a cohesive HTPC. Accessing VIDEO_TS folders was the last bridge to create in FR.

This thread is going to get looooong with accolades as people discover DVD Assist!

And the StartMovie file is a lot more elegant than anyone had the right to wish for...I would have been ecstatic with just the functionality. But now everything is beautiful and seamless!
post #29 of 499
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jwcrash View Post

I hope people understand what a huge step forward this is for Front Row users...people have been complaining about the unreliability of QT's MPEG2 plugin forever. And it was the only option for people who had backed-up DVD folders. This changes everything for a lot of Mac users trying to put together a cohesive HTPC. Accessing VIDEO_TS folders was the last bridge to create in FR.

This thread is going to get looooong with accolades as people discover DVD Assist!

And the StartMovie file is a lot more elegant than anyone had the right to wish for...I would have been ecstatic with just the functionality. But now everything is beautiful and seamless!

Thanks for the praise.

Just made a BIG step forward today. Made a little C command line program that can tell me if front row is in preview mode, or actually playing the movie. With this fix in place, we can just put aliases of the movie placeholders into the Movies folder. Neat... clean... you don't even have to see the VIDEO_TS folder or its structure.

I need a while longer to bundle this all up and test a bit more.

And as long as DVD Assist is sitting in your dock, I added the ability to just drag any folder on its icon, and it will play the first VIDEO_TS folder it finds.
post #30 of 499
That sounds sweet - talk about total integration.

Thanks again...can't wait to try the new version out!

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