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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Guys,


I just built an HTPC for a friend for Christmas, and it's just about done, and looking great. It will be used only for video playback using Windows MCE 2005. I got ffdshow installled so now my divx, xvid, and H.264 (AVC) files are playing. Everything looks good, but I am noticing a problem with the black level.


If I playback a movie with Media Player Classic (using ffdshow) it uses the full RGB colorspace (blacks are black, and whites are white), but if I play that same file using Windows MCE, it is using a reduced colorspace, because MCE assumes I will be playing out to a TV. But it is playing on a DLP projector via VGA, so the projector will be expecting PC scale, not TV scale RGB.


I like the MCE interface (particularly for the remote control), but if I can't figure out how to get MCE to pass full RGB I will have to just go without. I've run the MCE setup and told it I was using VGA output to a front projector, but it is still not outputting PC scale RGB. I know MCE is using ffdshow, because the icon is in the tray when I playback videos. The ffdshow settings are the same between Media Player Classic and MCE, so it' got to be a MCE setting. Probably in the registry...


Does anyone know where and how to adjust this?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Just did a little more research and it appears this is all because MCE uses VMR9 instead of Overlay for the video presentation. Anyone know how to switch MCE to use Overlay?
 

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Please read just about any thread here about calibration and you'll see that you're wrong in most things you just said about colors. In essence:

- WMR good, overlay bad.

- Keeping video levels good, expanding them and throwing away BTB/WTW bad.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel.N
- WMR good, overlay bad.

- Keeping video levels good, expanding them and throwing away BTB/WTW bad.
Are you saying that to get black blacks, one should throw away RGB values 0-15 at the display by adjusting the brightness so that RGB level 16 = black? Wouldn't this result in trashed blacks for desktop, photos etc. as the RGB input is the same in the projector?


Jarno
 

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BTB and WTW information is only really relevant for displays that use studio RGB (right?), my projector does not use studio RGB. If I send video to the projector that had black starting at 16 and white at 235 and the projector is expecting black to be 0 and white to 255, I have to tell the projector to lower it's brightness (black level) and increase it's contrast so that the projector expands the 16-235 to it's full output range vs. telling my computer to just send the full output range in the first place. Does my projector need head room and toe room like a CRT? I'm not an expert which is why I am asking.
 

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gte024h,


Have you considered giving TheaterTek a try? TT works with MCE 2005's front end as well.


You'll still be able to use your post-processing, and have vmr9/overlay options. The picture quality of TT is really good out of the box, too. It has a free trial period, too.


- Steve O.
 

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Or another option would be to kick FFDshow to user a VRM9 mode for video then switch your connection to DVI or HDMI.


That way you'll have a digitial connection to the TV which will allow you to have per pixel mapping, wich is something that cannot be done otherwise.


So now you are using an input that expects a video level input and both applications will be putting out a video level input.


Sounds win win to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes, HDMI would be the best way to go, that's how I have my personal HTPC setup. But the cost of a new projector is not in the budget right now, and all it has are S-Video and VGA inputs. I will obviously have to calibrate either the PC to match what the projector expects or the projector to match what the PC sends out.


The PC will be used to show pictures and other things, so I will probably use the ATI hotkey program to have two different color profiles. One which drops the brightness and raises the contrast so as to output full 0-255 to the projector when playing back studio RGB (16-235) stuff. I know this will throw away the BTB and WTW info (which isn't supposed to be seen anyways), but if I do nothing my blacks are dark grey and whites are light gray... which is not cool. I could, of course, adjust the projector settings, but when I start playing games or showing photos I will have to change the projector settings, and the projector doesn't have a hotkey for changing color settings like the computer does.


If I had a better projector this would not be such a problem :-(
 

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Jarno/gte024h: yes, that is correct. For best possible PQ for both regular PC usage and videos, two projector settings are needed. Check any calibration thread here for the underlying facts (the "calibrating HTPC output"-something thread, for instance). And yes, default settings in a projector will most often be to display the full 0-255 range so yes, touching brightness and contrast is a must for most. Don't be afraid to change the projector's settings :)
 

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FWIW, I could try to go on and on for 10 pages about why and how, the reasons why I'm not are two: 1) I suck at explaining 2) it's been done hundreds of times by nice people here who doesn't suck at explaining. Their explanations are alot better than mine could ever be, so please do search for them!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ok if I calibrate my projector for studio levels the movies will look good, but I will have to change those settings when I play games or anything else. That's not a problem to change settings except that the projector does not have editable presets (I don't think). Fiddling around in the projector's setup each time I watch videos is a pain, so I think using presets on the computers video card drivers is the next best thing (or perhaps dropping $1500 or more dollars on a new and better projector...).


In the original post I was confused mainly because of the difference between MPC and MCE. If I switch MPC to VMR9 it looks just like MCE, so it's not really that MPC is wrong (it's a great app), it's that VMR9 output is more accurate than the Overlay output.


Thanks everyone for straightening me out on the subject, I feel much better informed now.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gte024h
In the original post I was confused mainly because of the difference between MPC and MCE. If I switch MPC to VMR9 it looks just like MCE, so it's not really that MPC is wrong (it's a great app), it's that VMR9 output is more accurate than the Overlay output.
Exactly :)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gte024h
Hi Guys,

I know MCE is using ffdshow, because the icon is in the tray when I playback videos. The ffdshow settings are the same between Media Player Classic and MCE, so it' got to be a MCE setting. Probably in the registry...
MCE cannot use MCE in "stock" form. The only way to currently use FFdshow with MCE is to use TheaterTek and use the TheaterTek interface to run the signal through Ffdshow.


So expect to pony up the $70 it takes to buy TheaterTek.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89
Your PJ is not expecting any particular range (the numbers 0, 16, 235, and 255 are completely meaningless with analog connections) your should be calibrated for Studio levels:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=523614
Actually, to some, the fact that overlay often maps well to a PJs defauilt settings for brightness and contrast tends to make some people think that the PJ "expects" PC-level video. When switching to WMR9 and having to adjust brightness down and contrast up, they think something is wrong. I've heard arguments like "WMR9 seems broken .. brightness/contrast are way off!" lots of times, so .. using that kind of viewpoint, most projectors do in fact "expect" video levels, not studio levels. Atleast with VGA/DVI-connections.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sic0048
MCE cannot use MCE in "stock" form. The only way to currently use FFdshow with MCE is to use TheaterTek and use the TheaterTek interface to run the signal through Ffdshow.


So expect to pony up the $70 it takes to buy TheaterTek.
Not true at all.


You can use FFDshow, just not for TV or DVD, but all the my video files can be played by FFDshow.
 
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