AVS Forum banner
1 - 20 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,


I know that codec's and decoders are covered pretty extensively in this forum. Some require extensive setup, some are just packs that install in minutes and off you go. I'm not trying to beat a dead horse here but I have just had plain bad luck with trying to outfit my htpc with what I consider a good setup.


Let me say that what I have tried thus far ranges from installing Sharks Codec Pack - to lesser codec packs - to ffdshow/avisynth/matroska splitter/etc. I always seem to end up back at one spot, a hodge podge of stuff loaded on my htpc. Things that worked for some files, but not all. Or - not working at all and requiring a reload.


The "decoder" is probably the single most frustrating thing for me with regard to my HTPC. What I am looking for is what most are looking for: the ability to play ripped dvd's in higher quality then I will get with the 7MC decoder built-in. And, play my MKV's, avi's, divx, etc. AND - I want to set it up once, and be done. I don't want to constantly have to open up a configuration interface to fine tune for a file that doesn't play. Maybe this takes me the codec pack route, maybe it doesn't.


As of now I have followed, yet another guide, that details how to set up ffdshow, avisynth, reclock, etc. I have used the graphstudio utility to determine that my audio and video decoder is in fact ffdshow. When I go to play a dvd in MCE I get a decoder error. If I use the MCE decoder utility to re-enable the built-in decoder dvd's play again.

I can use Media Player classic to do some quality testing and I must say, it is difficult at best to discern any difference between MCE playing the dvd with its built-in decoder and Media Player Classic playing the same dvd through ffdshow.


How much difference is there really with ffdshow, set up properly, vs the built-in 7mc decoder with regard to playing dvd's? Closer to 5% or 50%?


Is there a better alternative than ffdshow that utilizes hardware? (I have an Nvidia 8800gt in my HTPC)


Can ffdshow be a "set-it-and-forget-it" option or is that unrealistic?


I'm not incredibly satisfied with the quality of my dvd's played back on my 60" 1080p plasma in MCE. This is why I am trying to figure out the best course but there are so many different pieces of advice, setups, and decoders. Any help would be much appreciated.


Scott
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,822 Posts
I know as far as codec packs Sharks is popular.


I prefer to skip codecs all together and just use MPC as an external player from WMC + MediaBrowser
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bi_Polar /forum/post/18200945


Hello all,


I know that codec's and decoders are covered pretty extensively in this forum. Some require extensive setup, some are just packs that install in minutes and off you go. I'm not trying to beat a dead horse here but I have just had plain bad luck with trying to outfit my htpc with what I consider a good setup.


Let me say that what I have tried thus far ranges from installing Sharks Codec Pack - to lesser codec packs - to ffdshow/avisynth/matroska splitter/etc. I always seem to end up back at one spot, a hodge podge of stuff loaded on my htpc. Things that worked for some files, but not all. Or - not working at all and requiring a reload.


The "decoder" is probably the single most frustrating thing for me with regard to my HTPC. What I am looking for is what most are looking for: the ability to play ripped dvd's in higher quality then I will get with the 7MC decoder built-in. And, play my MKV's, avi's, divx, etc. AND - I want to set it up once, and be done. I don't want to constantly have to open up a configuration interface to fine tune for a file that doesn't play. Maybe this takes me the codec pack route, maybe it doesn't.


As of now I have followed, yet another guide, that details how to set up ffdshow, avisynth, reclock, etc. I have used the graphstudio utility to determine that my audio and video decoder is in fact ffdshow. When I go to play a dvd in MCE I get a decoder error. If I use the MCE decoder utility to re-enable the built-in decoder dvd's play again.

I can use Media Player classic to do some quality testing and I must say, it is difficult at best to discern any difference between MCE playing the dvd with its built-in decoder and Media Player Classic playing the same dvd through ffdshow.


How much difference is there really with ffdshow, set up properly, vs the built-in 7mc decoder with regard to playing dvd's? Closer to 5% or 50%?


Is there a better alternative than ffdshow that utilizes hardware? (I have an Nvidia 8800gt in my HTPC)


Can ffdshow be a "set-it-and-forget-it" option or is that unrealistic?


I'm not incredibly satisfied with the quality of my dvd's played back on my 60" 1080p plasma in MCE. This is why I am trying to figure out the best course but there are so many different pieces of advice, setups, and decoders. Any help would be much appreciated.


Scott

The hodgepodge of media you have on your hands is not uncommon. TV Shows, DVD movies, BluRays, and whatever comes next make for a huge variety in codecs, formats, and the requirements to play them back. Unfortunately, MCE just isn't an ideal media front end for this. Managing codecs on your own is painful too. If you want some insight into how this works - grab a copy of an application called GraphStudio. When playing a movie in MediaPlayer Classic, have Graphstudio connect to the stream and map the codec routes the playback takes. There's a lot to it! The interaction between filters is complex - from file sources to containers to subtitle streams, and the video / audio as well.


You need a front end with a lot more sophistication. Get a copy of XBMC or Mediaportal. These are the only two solutions worth looking at - that's not flame bait, its just the truth. HUGE effort has been put into both apps (they do share common genesis) in terms of managing dissimilar media sets. And by dissimilar I mean: locations, filetypes, container types, video / audio formats, movies vs music vs tv show metadata, etc. Anything MCE claims to do, they do better. Most of the functionality you find in a $30k Kalidescape system can be done in one of these two (some of the contributors worked on this system, so no doubt were inspired a bit by it)


You could use FFDshow tryouts which now offer DXVA acceleration on several of the HD video types, with SPDIF pass-thru of the surround sound audio formats. This is still a bit limiting, and somewhat painful to set up.


Both XBMC and MediaPortal have excellent configuration management for codec deployment and implementation. Both offer software-only routes (ffdshow, coreavc, etc), but also offer DXVA, VDPAU, and Broadcom hardware accelerated codec configurations for media playback. This configuration architecture allows for playback of virtually any type of media, with prioritization placed on hardware accelerated playback first. The key here is keeping the CPU utilization low and framerates maxed out.


I can't stress enough - use one of these systems. Learn them inside out, get involved in the community and see what they have to offer. Don't beat your head against the wall with MCE. The only downside I can see for you is that you may need to ditch Windows 7 on your media playback machine. XP still reigns supreme, and XBMC now offers extremely good Linux and Mac support.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
You need a front end with a lot more sophistication. Get a copy of XBMC or Mediaportal. These are the only two solutions worth looking at - that's not flame bait, its just the truth.

I have been thinking of installing XBMC. As many people would agree here I think a true test of any front end app is whether an outsider or your wife can come in and use it. I must say that MediaBrowser has gotten pretty good in this regard but I am certainly not going to limit myself to average quality playback if XBMC is just simply that much better.

Quote:
Anything MCE claims to do, they do better.

One reason I have stuck with MCE is Netflix support and also being able to get Hulu integrated into it. I have basically one interface/gui (MCE) that is controllable by remote. XBMC would be able to do the same thing? (I know the Hulu plugin is technically not integrating with MCE but it is working for me - as of now anyway). User experience wise, I'm not unhappy with MCE. Technically though I'm not blown away by its decoder, picture quality, and the need to find a way to play alternative files such as MKV.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,822 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bi_Polar /forum/post/18202328


I have been thinking of installing XBMC. As many people would agree here I think a true test of any front end app is whether an outsider or your wife can come in and use it. I must say that MediaBrowser has gotten pretty good in this regard but I am certainly not going to limit myself to average quality playback if XBMC is just simply that much better.




One reason I have stuck with MCE is Netflix support and also being able to get Hulu integrated into it. I have basically one interface/gui (MCE) that is controllable by remote. XBMC would be able to do the same thing? (I know the Hulu plugin is technically not integrating with MCE but it is working for me - as of now anyway). User experience wise, I'm not unhappy with MCE. Technically though I'm not blown away by its decoder, picture quality, and the need to find a way to play alternative files such as MKV.

If you use WMC + MediaBrowser + MPC you will not have to worry about PQ, MPC is one of the best players out there and it integrates seamlessly into Media Browser. Also, you can still use WMC as a front end to access Hulu, XBMC, or Boxee

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2010...-media-center/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I like this option. Thanks for the reply. I can try out XBMC this way as well. I also like your site, very nice.


After installing MPC-HC and running some testing of it using DXVA on my Nvidia 8800GT card (outside of Media Center at this point) vs Cyberlink Powerdvd 9 Ultra I am still underwhelmed by what I am seeing out of MPC-HC. It seems washed out.


The two screenshots are attached below:


First one is from MPC-HC player and the second is Cyberlink:


While the resolution itself seems close, I would still give the edge to Cyberlink. MPC-HC is just softer. You can see more detail in Robert Downeys hair for example. If there are settings to play with for MPC-HC where would they be? If Cyberlink's decoders are as good as it gets for HTPC, would there be a way to incorporate them into MPC-HC and then follow your guide for incorporation into MCE?


I did follow this guide for some fine tuning of MPC-HC prior to testing: http://imouto.my/watching-h264-videos-using-dxva/


Thanks much!



 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,822 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bi_Polar /forum/post/18204270


I like this option. Thanks for the reply. I can try out XBMC this way as well. I also like your site, very nice.


After installing MPC-HC and running some testing of it using DXVA on my Nvidia 8800GT card (outside of Media Center at this point) vs Cyberlink Powerdvd 9 Ultra I am still underwhelmed by what I am seeing out of MPC-HC. It seems washed out.


Here are two screenshots:


This one is from MPC-HC player:
Attachment 168295


Here is the one from Cyberlink:
Attachment 168296


While the resolution itself seems close, I would still give the edge to Cyberlink. MPC-HC is just softer. You can see more detail in Robert Downeys hair for example. If there are settings to play with for MPC-HC where would they be? If Cyberlink's decoders are as good as it gets for HTPC, would there be a way to incorporate them into MPC-HC and then follow your guide for incorporation into MCE?


I did follow this guide for some fine tuning of MPC-HC prior to testing: http://imouto.my/watching-h264-videos-using-dxva/

Thanks much!

I have never used Cyberlink since I always rip my Blu Rays to my server right when I purchase and so have no need for disk playback. I do agree that the MPC screenshot does has a slightly softer look then Cyberlink. I know there was a guide (I think Curt Palme) about different settings and tweaking MPC for optimal PQ but just did a search and cannot find. I haven't had much of a chance to mess around with the MPC settings yet, but if I find t he guide I will post back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbone1026 /forum/post/18202383


If you use WMC + MediaBrowser + MPC you will not have to worry about PQ, MPC is one of the best players out there and it integrates seamlessly into Media Browser. Also, you can still use WMC as a front end to access Hulu, XBMC, or Boxee

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2010...-media-center/

Heh, you know, I never noticed much difference in the PQ between MPC, XBMC, Mediaportal, etc, and never even considered that as a comparison point.


I realize now that it's because my LCD is a 5 year old Vizio piece of junk and everything pretty much looks the same on it. Lol - time to upgrade!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
What a difference the shaders make. This is what I was missing with regard to MPC-HC. With the settings in the guide you provided the picture was much closer to Cyberlink and what is nice is you can play with them and fine tune them and test them on the fly. I was completely unaware!


Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,822 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bi_Polar /forum/post/18205710


What a difference the shaders make. This is what I was missing with regard to MPC-HC. With the settings in the guide you provided the picture was much closer to Cyberlink and what is nice is you can play with them and fine tune them and test them on the fly. I was completely unaware!


Thanks.

Glad we had this conversation, I had forgotten about that guide as well, time to tweak my MPC!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Here are the quality tests I have run against Cyberlink, Media Player Classic Home Cinema with and without shaders enabled.


This is MPC-HC with no shaders




This is MPC-HC with shaders




This is Cyberlink PowerDVD 9




I believe the quality in Robert Downey's face in the second shot is just slightly better than Cyberlink with the shaders enabled. I can see more granular detail. This is wonderful news for me. Now on to your guide to integrate XBMC, MPCHC, and Boxee!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,822 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bi_Polar /forum/post/18205932


Here are the quality tests I have run against Cyberlink, Media Player Classic Home Cinema with and without shaders enabled.


This is MPC-HC with no shaders




This is MPC-HC with shaders




This is Cyberlink PowerDVD 9




I believe the quality in Robert Downey's face in the second shot is just slightly better than Cyberlink with the shaders enabled. I can see more granular detail. This is wonderful news for me. Now on to your guide to integrate XBMC, MPCHC, and Boxee!

In case you missed, here is my guide on how to integrate MPC into WMC+MediaBrowser or MyMovies

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2010...media-browser/


I need to make one small update due to the new Media Browser release
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
724 Posts
@dbone1026: thanks for your hard work putting that MPC integration write-up together. as a fellow guide author I know the work that goes into it, and its essentially a thankless job since giving people some answers only gets met with more questions and sometimes complaints.



I've been a big fan of MediaBrowser for a while now -- I have been on the Windows Media Center bandwagon since WindowsXP, and then found MyMovies but dropped it after a few years because Brian took forever bringing the GUI out of the stone age, plus he's just a stubborn guy, his whole pricing and operating model just rubs me the wrong way, and the back-end SQL database requirement is also B.S. MediaBrowser is so fast with grabbing metadata and covers -- XBMC comes nowhere near it.


I made a good effort seeing if XBMC could be a viable 7MC replacement, in fact I bought an Acer Revo 1600 for the sole purpose of setting up a secondary XBMC box and leveraging VDPAU hardware acceleration for H.264 playback, and while it's a nice enough GUI, it left a lot to be desired, plus the meta scraping was real sluggish. Even just basic stuff like downloading a new skin/theme to it required major hassle. Since it's open source I doubt we'll ever see official Netflix/Hulu integration without hacks.


Lately I've been using 7MC 32bit with Shark007's codec pack and that's been okay but there could be improvement. I'm also thinking of standardizing my Bluray and DVD rips to MKV's by utilizing MakeMKV, only hangup is getting chapter skipping support for MKV's in 7MC. Only thing I've found so far is MediaControl plugin but that's extremely "fiddly." Any suggestions? Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,822 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by odditory /forum/post/18206617


@dbone1026: thanks for your hard work putting that MPC integration write-up together. as a fellow guide author I know the work that goes into it, and its essentially a thankless job since giving people some answers only gets met with more questions and sometimes complaints.



I've been a big fan of MediaBrowser for a while now -- I have been on the Windows Media Center bandwagon since WindowsXP, and then found MyMovies but dropped it after a few years because Brian took forever bringing the GUI out of the stone age, plus he's just a stubborn guy, his whole pricing and operating model just rubs me the wrong way, and the back-end SQL database requirement is also B.S. MediaBrowser is so fast with grabbing metadata and covers -- XBMC comes nowhere near it.


I made a good effort seeing if XBMC could be a viable 7MC replacement, in fact I bought an Acer Revo 1600 for the sole purpose of setting up a secondary XBMC box and leveraging VDPAU hardware acceleration for H.264 playback, and while it's a nice enough GUI, it left a lot to be desired, plus the meta scraping was real sluggish. Even just basic stuff like downloading a new skin/theme to it required major hassle. Since it's open source I doubt we'll ever see official Netflix/Hulu integration without hacks.


Lately I've been using 7MC 32bit with Shark007's codec pack and that's been okay but there could be improvement. I'm also thinking of standardizing my Bluray and DVD rips to MKV's by utilizing MakeMKV, only hangup is getting chapter skipping support for MKV's in 7MC. Only thing I've found so far is MediaControl plugin but that's extremely "fiddly." Any suggestions? Thanks.

Thanks for the kind words. I never like to take too much credit for my guides as I am simply the messenger, I am not the one writing code or software. However, it does really take a lot more work to do then you realize at first


As far as mkvs, I am actually doing the same thing. All my SD DVDs (with the exception of a few that I want the full menu) are in mkvs with MakeMKV. With my blu rays half are mkvs and half are ts. The lack of chapter support is actually one of the reasons I am moving from ts to mkv (aside from the annoying VC-1 issue). What I do to get chapter support is just to launch MPC from media browser which has chapter support built in for mkvs. Doing this I also have no need to mess around with codecs and I find the PQ with MPC to be much better then the default WMC player. If you want to stick with the default WMC player then I think MediaControl is the only option. I found it buggy as well and it forces you to use FFDShow for video which I didn't want to do. So really for me W7MC + MediaBrowser + MPC has been jackpot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Damian, I as well would like to thank you. I agree with odditory, sometimes your own problems get in the way of you taking the time to thank people for their time.

With that said, another question



Why are both of you guys moving to MKV for SD? You lose menu's and there is no extender support. So why would you do this? Space conservation? Seems like extra work for the sake of doing work. ISO or Video_Ts folder structures for ripped DVD's seem fine for SD DVD's....unless I am missing something.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,822 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bi_Polar /forum/post/18207159


Damian, I as well would like to thank you. I agree with odditory, sometimes your own problems get in the way of you taking the time to thank people for their time.

With that said, another question



Why are both of you guys moving to MKV for SD? You lose menu's and there is no extender support. So why would you do this? Space conservation? Seems like extra work for the sake of doing work. ISO or Video_Ts folder structures for ripped DVD's seem fine for SD DVD's....unless I am missing something.

For me I have no need for dvd menus. WHen I play an SD DVD I want it to go right into the main movie. Now granted you could still keep the DVD Format (Video_TS) with just the main movie, and that was actually what I was doing, but I just like the convenience of having each movie as a single file (maybe me just being OCD). As far as ISOs it just adds an extra step (having to mount, etc...) which I know is set it and forget it, but mkvs have been the cleanest method for me. Obviously if I wanted the full DVD Menu I would just stick with Video_TS (which I still have a handful of movies in this format).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,822 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackcell /forum/post/18207980


@Damian,

Yo, concur, awesome guide! Them New Yorker's know their stuff
.

Left comments on your blog.

All I know is good pizza



Heading over to the blog now, dealing with another freakin winter storm and just finished a 2hr drive into work.


Next couple things i have lined up to write about - new Media Browser release, and mkv writeup (couple different methods) and maybe write up the HTPC build I will be working on tonight (assuming I can get the wife and kids to bed early!!!)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
216 Posts
Definitely, best pizza on the planet! I sure do miss it but my mom occasionally Fedx's NY Chessecake to me.


In your write-up on Media Browser please include (if you're able & have the time) recommended method to upgrade from previous version such as restoring some of the prior settings and does parental lock work on a specific root folder for all sub-folders beneath it. Oh yea, and your preferred theme to use
.
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Top