Review: Media Browser 2.2.1.0 (Firestorm)

by Damian on December 24, 2009 · 49 comments

in Reviews

A few months ago I had a chance to look at Media Browser 2.1.3.0 (Phoenix), a popular media management add in for Windows Media Center. Well, a few hours ago the latest release, Firestorm, was just released. So let’s take a look at what the new release has to offer.

Highlights:

  • Performance: Firestorm is faster, much faster. Startup is faster, navigating around the home screen is faster, threading is much more constrained and we even ship with experimental sqlite support which is really fast.
  • Stability: Firestorm is generally more stable, we fixed issues around video playback in windows 7 and quite a few other areas. We also made it much easier to set up security for extenders.
  • Extensibility: With the Firestorm release, thanks to ebrs hard work, we now support UI plugins. This means themes can ship as plugins, in fact Vanilla is no longer shipped with the base Media Browser installer, instead you download it from throgs site. This allow UI plugin developers to ship upgrades to their plugins without having to update the core media browser product. We also support extensible “Item Actions” which means a developer can add additional behavior that can be applied to items in the collection. An example is ebrs find similar movies plugin.
  • Free: Media Browser in its current form will remain free. The developers are looking into other ways to monetize (possibly an app store or bundling plugins). Also a “Donate” option will be added, so if you are using Media Browser please make a donation to help continue development of this great program.
  •  

    Change Log (brief list, full list can be viewed here):

  • Fixed external playback.
  • Fixedplayback for ripped TV episodes in ISO or VOB format.
  • New Images By Name supports common sub folders
  • Fixed Error message – “We can not maximise the window for some reason! object…”
  • FixedExtensible Config Page doesn’t work
  • New Extensible Item Menu
  • Fixed Media Browser Hangs in Full Screen when the clock is enabled
  • New display media info icon for 4:3 movies
  • Fixed View by Year – Years are not in correct order
  •  

    Files to Download:

    ImagesByName:

    Previously all images (actors, studios, etc…) were stored under a single “ImagesByName” folder.  With the latest release ImagesByName has been reorganized to include the following subfolders within the ImagesByName folder:

    • Genre
    • People
    • Studio
    • Year

    There is a migration tool available to move everything into the appropriate folders for you, however it appears it only works if you have your ImagesByName folder in the default c:\programdata\mediabrowser\imagesbyname location. If you do not (I have mine saved in a central location on my server) there are a few options. If you still want to use the migration tool you can copy your imagesbyname folder from your central location to c:\programdata\mediabrowser\, run the migration tool, and then copy back. I decided to just delete my imagesbyname folder and start from scratch. You can find the latest image packs here.

    MediaBrowser Actors

    SQLLite Support:

    In order to test out SQLLite (keep in mind this is still in the test phase), you must download the dll file to c:\programdata\mediabrowser\. Once done go into the MediaBrowserXml.config and set EnableExperimentalSqliteSupport to true (<EnableExperimentalSqliteSupport>True</EnableExperimentalSqliteSupport>). The dll file can be downloaded here:

    Plugins:

    One of the exciting features with Media Browser is the plugin framework. Not only can plugins be created to add things such as Trailers but now entire themes can be created as a plugin. Vanilla, which was originally included as a theme with Media Browser, is now a plugin. There are several other theme plugins in the works which will only further enhance the user experience. Right now there are three available plugins:

    Media Browser Plugin (the default plug-in that come with Media Browser):

    URL: http://www.mediabrowser.tv/plugins/plugin_info.xml

    Music Plugin:

    URL: http://www.craigthomas.co.za/plugins/plugin_info.xml

    Vanilla 2.0 Theme Plugin:

    URL: http://www.throgsoft.com/plugins/plugin_info.xml

    Adding a plugin is done through the Media Browser Configuration Tool. Go to Plugins -> Add -> File -> Source -> Add and type in  the URL of the plug-in you want to add. You may have to restart the Tool for the new plug-in to appear.

    MediaBrowser Configurator

    MediaBrowser Configurator A

    MediaBrowser Configurator B

    MediaBrowser Configurator C

    MediaBrowser Configurator D 

    Entry Points:

    Another interesting feature is the addition of entry points. Let’s say instead of going into the main Media Browser UI from WMC you want to go directly to a virtual folder you have created. Just download a program called Media Center Studio, locate the entry point you want to add, and drag onto the menu strip, that easy.

    A list of all available entry points can be viewed at the bottom of Media Center Studio.

    MediaCenterStudio

    Simply locate the entry point you want, and drag it to the WMC menu area (I used my HD Movies Virtual Folder as an example)

    MediaCenterStudio A

    Now when you go into WMC you should see the new entry point!

    MediaCenterStudio B

     

    Miscellaneous:

    • A new MediaBrowserXML config file will be created in C:\ProgramData\MediaBrowser, so any manual changes you made to the previous config file will need to be made again (a copy of the previous config file is  saved alongside the new config file for reference)
    • For any plug-ins that you already had prior to Firestorm you will need to upgrade. Select each plug-in in the Media Browser Configuration Tool and click the “Upgrade” button
    • You can now arrange the order in which your Virtual Folders appear. Simply select the Virtual Folder in the Configuration Tool and press the “up” and “down” arrows to rearrange the order.

    MediaBrowser Configurator E

    • If you want to share settings and/or watched/unwatched status you can use the <UserSettingsPath> option in the XML config file. I had this set up with Phoenix (everything pointed towards a central location) and it worked great bewteen my three PCs. I have not tested it yet with Firestorm.

    Additional Resources:

    Additional Screenshots (Vanilla 2.0 Theme):

    Vanilla Homepage

    Vanilla B

    List View

    Vanilla C

    Thumb View

    Vanilla Thumb

    Strip View

    Vanilla Strip

    Poster View

    Vanilla Poster

    Coverflow View

    Vanilla Coverflow

    Movie Details

    Vanilla Movie Details





    Article by

    Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


    { 49 comments }

    Alex Kuretz December 26, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Nice, thanks for sharing this, Damian. I’ve had some issues with MediaBrowser appearing to lock up occasionally, and I’m none of the current themes are perfect for me (either not enough info displayed or else too much of the backdrops are covered) so I’m really looking forward to trying this new version. I hope to upgrade this weekend.

    Damian December 26, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    AK – do you have the weather option enabled? This is a known bug and has caused MB to lock up (I had to disable other MB locked up on me frequently). This has been disabled with Firestorm.

    The SqlLite db has a lot of promise. Right now it doesn’t appear to cache the fanart, so there is still a slight delay when navigating, but otherwise everything moves much faster. If fanart is incorporated into SqlLite this could greatly improve the user experience, especially on some of the lower power systems such as the Ions, etc… I will keep playing around and report back if I encounter any issues.

    Alex Kuretz December 26, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I do have both Clock and Weather enabled, though I never see any weather on my home screen even after updating to Firestorm. :(

    I did the update, and things do seem a bit faster though I’m not blown away. I am using SqlLite and will continue to evaluate performance.

    It took me longer to upgrade than I thought it would, and there’s several pieces needed to tie it all together. It also remembered some of my settings but not others. I still can’t get Actor images working even though they work fine in Metabrowser (the new version of ImageByName). I do appreciate the improvements they made to non-admin user account permissions (got prompted on start-up to fix permissions) and the improvements are nice.

    I’m still a bit frustrated by how complex this all is, how many pieces need to come together, and the general lack of documentation. Even with your guide and the links you provided I still didn’t find all the details and steps needed to set it all up. I do think I’m a bit sensitive to usability issues, with WHS and the difficulties it can have for less-experienced users. For a community driven product I can’t knock MediaBrowser too much and I really do enjoy it, I just urge the devs to keep improving the product and making it easier to use.

    Darren December 26, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Hi, I just posted this in an old review of yours. Meant to post it here:

    Just started using media browser. Is there any way to get back to the configuration screen that comes up the first time you run media browser in WMC?

    Also, how to you get the 1080p or 720p icons to display on your covers? I have 3 blurays I’ve ripped and turned into mkvs, but they don’t show the 1080p in media browser.

    I notice in meta browser you can fill in the movie type. I have selected bluray and when viewing the backdrop in meta browser it shows the bluray icon (though I’d prefer to see 1080p) and the aspect ratio icon. However in media browser only the aspect ratio icon is displayed. Any thoughts?

    And I don’t see where I can add the audio tracks to get DTS or what have you icon.

    lastly, meta browser does not seem to get any actor images, does something else need to be installed for this work.

    Thanks a lot.

    Darren December 26, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Okay, I figured out the imagesbyname stuff and now actor images show in meta browser, but I can’t get them to display in media browser.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks.

    Malcolm Scott December 27, 2009 at 12:44 am

    Hi, thanks for this and your previous one.
    How and where from do you pull meta data for your music videos?

    For updating this review, can you explain why we should be interested in in SQLLite. Its the classic sales thing – benefits, not features. If its just a speed thing, if you are already running SSD, would one notice the difference? Also, can the review cover more fully the out of the box Media Browser in more detail. With over 1000 videos, I’m not convinced these themes help navigate a very rich world. Yes they are technically elegant, but just because you can, is not reason enough to do it. BTW, in your review you might comment on what happened to Diamond. The IBN tool certainly does not work for me, even after downloading again, and following the threads. Your review might comment on the choices for IBN folder content, and the rationale for choosing one over the others.
    Appreciate all the help you can provide as the forum has critical stuff very scattered, but nothing that is a step by step process of how to get the best from all the great work that his been done.

    Comp1962 December 27, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Thanks for the review Damian. I played with Media Browser 2.1.3 and it was ok I admit I was fumbling with it. However Media Browser 2.2.1 was much easier for me to use for some reason. I actually like it very much and look forward to playing with it more over the next few days.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 5:21 am

    @ Alex,

    I agree, they are moving in the right direction but still need to clean up a few things. For instance, I am a believer that you should NEVER have to manually edit a properties/config files. To me this is dangerous and there is the potential to really screw things up. You should be able to set all setting with the Configuration Tool (such as enabling the SqlLite DB, poiniting your ImagesByName folder to a shared drive, etc…).

    @ Alex and Darren – regarding the whole ImagesByName thing, this seems to be the biggest issue people are having trouble with. From what I understand Media Browser caches all the images at initial setup. SInce there are nearly 7,000 actor images this takes a while. What I ended up having to do is go into the actor view in Media Browser, jump through the letters (just using my remote), and scroll around a little, and as I did this the images slowly loaded. Not sure if this has to be done or if you just left the screen open for a while would have the same effect. As of now though all my actor images show. Also, check to make sure all your ImagesByName folders are set correctly. For instance, I screwed up at first when I extracted the files and had a People folder, and then in that folder had another people folder with all the actors. I should also mention, that it appears that removing the SqlLite DB and setting to false, issues with Actor Images showing is gone.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 5:26 am

    @ Darren,

    Are you talking about the Media Browser Configuration Tool? If so you can find that in your Start Menu -> All Programs -> Media Browser

    For the MediaInfo did you install the Media Info plugin? You need to do so to get all the icons that you see in my screenshots. Right now I don’t see the blu Ray icon showing, only the 1080 icon in my collection, even though I have it assigned in Metabrowser, not sure if MediaBrowser has not been set to display this icon. I will have to ask around and let you know what I find out.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 5:42 am

    @ Malcolm,

    For the music videos, these were actually DVDs/Blu Rays. The information was on themoviedb.org or I pulled from MyMovies Collection Management.

    I can’t comment regarding an SSD since I don’t have, but my understanding is that regardless of what type of drive you are using the SqlLite db should greatly increase the load time of Media Browser. For instance, with Phoenix it would take nearly 5-10 seconds when I first opened up Media Browser for the main menu to load and display. Now it takes maybe 1-2 seconds.

    Also, as far as this review I tried to really just focus on the new stuff since I had done a more detailed review/setup with Phoenix. I have noticed no changes to the Diamond theme (maybe there were small ones?) which is why I didn’t discuss.

    As far as navigating through a large video collection I feel that the themes and ability to create virtual folders is what makes this manageable. For instance, I have a virtual folder set up just for my sons movies. With this I can navigate through his movies without having to navigate through mine. Same goes with being able to separate my TV Shows from movies (keep in mind that on my network I actually have separate folders for my TV Shows, as well as separating out my sons movies from mine). For me I find using the Diamond Theme in list mode is the best for navigating through my collection. If I need to get to a movie like “Star Trek” I just hit the “S” button on my remote, the list jumps right to the “S” movies, and I can navigate from there. I don’t use any of the sorting by Genre, etc…

    Regarding the IBN tool, so my comments above to Alex and Darren. This has definitely been a problem child. The reason why I just started fresh instead of even attempting the tool is because my IBN folder is saved centrally, and it would seem silly to have to copy that over to my PC, run the tool, and then copy back. It would take twice as long then if I just started anew.

    I appreciate the feedback. I still plan on making some updates to this writeup and will definitely comment on the issues of the IBN as you suggest. Really what I wanted to do with this writeup is get something up pretty soon after the release because as you mentioned information is scattered, so hopefully this can help bring everything together.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 5:44 am

    @ Comp 1962 – great to hear things are going well. Any other information I can provide or try to get some answers on don’t hesitate to ask.

    Mariano December 27, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Hi Damian. Sorry for my English but I write using a translator. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. The problem I have is that I can not update the plug-ins, I write the urls (following your instructions) add plugin / File / Sources, but does not update. Thanks for your help.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 6:58 am

    Mariano,

    Don’t worry about your English, mine can be pretty bad at times and this is my native language :-)

    I actually had an issue with the plugins when I first set up. I had to delete all the plugin urls, shut down the tool, go back in, type each plugin again manually (after each plugin I typed in I shut down the tool again). After doing this everything worked for me. Let me know if this helps.

    Cheers
    Damian

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Hi Damian,

    I am talking about the configuration screen within Media Browser itself. The one where you can set stuff like, Metadata: Enable internet providers, Set the poster grid spacing – this screen:

    http://www.mediasmartserver.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/7MC-MB-Configuration-General.JPG

    For the life of me, I can’t find it. Installed the media info plug in and got the icons to show. My movies have the HD track and the core track, but only AC-3 is displayed instead of say, Dolby True HD – do you know if this is expected behavior?

    And also, where is this Actor View in media browser? I think I am missing something – all I see when I launch media browser is a Movies icon (movies is all I have setup right now), no configuration option, no Actor View.

    I currently have the actors extracted to the following directory E:\Imagesbyname\People
    Is this correct?

    As far as removing the sql lite database – I did not download the dll or set config item in mediabrowser.xml – so I am guessing this should not be my issue?

    Thanks a lot.

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Also, how do you change the views: List View vs. Thumb View, vs Coverflow view etc. I feel like an idiot, this must be simple to do, yet I can’t see it.

    btw, i am just setting things up and am not using a remote – if that makes a difference in how you access stuff.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 7:26 am

    To get to that screen you need to click on the wrench in the bottom right hand corner of the main screen (in diamond view). If you are in the vanilla view just keep tabbing to the left on the main page and the wrench should show.

    As for TrueHD mine does show. Do you have Media Info installed on y our PC? If so can you see what it shows for your audio tracks?

    Your IBN folder looks fine, in that People folder you have all the actors, correct? Also, since you have your IBN folder saved elsewhere did you edit the config file to point to?

    Once you get into your view try hitting the up button or the left button (depending on what view you are using) and the option to change views will appear, as well as sort by actors, genre, etc… What view are you using now?

    And definitely don’t feel stupid, it is a learning process

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Hi Damian,

    That is just it, I don’t see any sort of wrench (I am in Diamond View) or anything, I’m going crazy. :) See below for 2 screen shots. Maybe I am not looking in the right place??

    http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y291/Pheare/media_browser.jpg
    http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y291/Pheare/media_browser2.jpg

    I’d try change to Vanilla view, but I don’t even have that as an option in the in Display -> Theme Settings from within the Media Browser Configuration tool. Only have Diamond and Default.

    When making the mkv, I converted the HD audio track to FLAC, maybe this is why the HD icon does not display? Media info says I have 2 audio tracks: 6 channel ac-3 and 6 channel flac. How do you create your audio streams.

    No I didn’t edit any config file, DOH! Where is the config file? In my Media Browser install directory I only see a registration.xml file.

    Got the view working. Thanks a lot for the help.

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Doh. Default = Vanilla… I get it.

    In vanilla I do see the wrench. And in Diamond I figured it out too. Arrow up to get the wrench.

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    So found the mediabrowserxml.config file, but do not see a imagesbyname entry in it. Can you tell me what needs to be entered to set the path for imagesbyname folder?

    Thanks.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Towards the top of the config file you should see < ImageByNameLocation >< /ImageByNameLocation >. In between this put in the location of your Images folder. For example, mine looks like this:

    < ImageByNameLocation > \\MyServer\Videos\Utilities\MediaBrowser\ImagesByName\< /ImageByNameLocation >

    Note you should not have spaces after the “< " and before the ">“, I needed to add so the comment would appear properly

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    That worked, thanks a lot!

    Any comments on my audio situation and the true hd icons not displaying? As described above – says comment is awaiting moderation, so not sure if you saw it:

    When making the mkv, I converted the HD audio track to FLAC, maybe this is why the HD icon does not display? Media info says I have 2 audio tracks: 6 channel ac-3 and 6 channel flac. How do you create your audio streams.

    I really appreciate all your help. Slowly but surely things are all coming together.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    No clue what I did, somehow your comment needed to get approved, possibly because you included links that got flagged???

    Yeah, basically you no longer have a TrueHD or DTS(MA) track, but instead have a FLAC track. I don’t think there is an icon to display FLAC.

    I don’t use FLAC but instead keep the original HD audio track and then create a secondary AC3 track. Since I have the original HD audio as my default track that is why I get the icon (TrueHD/DTS(MA))

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Do you make a mkv from a bluray rip? If so, how do you keep the original HD audio? I am using hd-dvd bluray stream extractor and I don’t see an “Exract As” TrueHD option.

    Do you know if I will still be getting the same sound quality with the FLAC as with the TrueHD track? I was under the impression it would be the same.

    Do you have any issues with the HD audio track, I seem to remember reading FLAC was the way to go due to compatibility? issues. I have an ati 5750 video card, which I believe support native TrueHD and DTS Master streams.

    thanks.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    There are a couple options I have been using. Although not elegant I use CLown_BD which demuxes everything. I can then use mkvmerge to join everthing back to gether, keeping the HD audio track as well as a secondary AC3 track. Most of my BR rips I use Clown_BD to create a ts file instead of mkv. I have been tinkering around with mkvs only because I have problems with chapter support with my ts. Another option is a bat file I am testing, but can’t go into too many details yet as I actually have a post I am working on regarding mkvs :-)

    The sound quality should be the same. I think a lot of people who do mkv + FLAC use Reclock as well. The reason why I don’t use FLAC is because there is still limited support on some of my other media extenders where I can at least get downmix of my HD Audio tracks.

    Supposedly bitstreaming of HD audio is now working with the 5xxx + FFDShow, so there is a lot of promise that bitstreaming will become more commonplace in the near future. Clarkdale will be out in Q1 so very interested to see what is in store for that.

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks a lot. I will check out clown_bd and do some tests. My receiver that supports HD audio is still in the mail and I am still building my htpc. Perhaps I will hold off on ripping anymore until I get things tested out.

    When you say “SUPPOSEDLY bitstreaming of HD audio is now working with the 5xxx + FFDShow…” Does this mean what you are doing with the native HD tracks in clonw_bd is not bitstreaming?

    Why are/were you making .ts files instead of mkv? Is it because clown_bd does not do mkv natively and you were saving a step not having to use mkvmerge?

    Does clown_bd spit out a chapters.txt file that can be used with mkvmerge or are you out of luck when it comes to chapters when using clown_bd?

    Thanks again.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Previously you could only bitstream with the Xonar sound card and it had to be through software like TMT or PDVD. With the 5xxx series card plus the new FFDShow you can bitstream from other players such as MPC, 7MC, etc.. Most important you can bitstream from standalone files such as mkvs/ts. I say “supposedly” because it is still somewhat in beta phase and it does not seem easy to set up. You get more details here (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=17796135#post17796135)

    Clown_BD does not create mkvs, and I found it to be the best software for ripping my movies, maintaining the original HD audio track, and creating a secondary AC3 track, and all in one process. You can see my writeup here (http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2009/08/19/clown_bd-version-0-65-released/). Clown_BD does spit put the chapters, so I just import them with mkvmerge.

    If you are comfortable with FLAC there is no reason to change.

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks. Well, I would prefer the native HD track (if for no other reasons to get the icons and have my receiver display TrueHD…). I just thought there were issues with using the native stream and based on the link you provided, i guess there still are. I will be using an Onkyo 607 receiver, if that makes any difference, sounds like there are some issues when using Denon?

    I guess I will just have to test things out when I get all setup. What setup are you using for your hd audio, I presume you aren’t having any issues?

    One last question and then I will leave you be. :)

    Are you now always creating mkv after using clown_bd? Or is the chapter issue you mentioned sporadic?

    Malcolm Scott December 27, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    thanks again. Your response and others since have helped again. My question re Diamond theme was in the context that mine had disappeared and I could not find a configuration screen within Media Browser. I was in Default and had no screen or tool/wrench to select other themes and settings. From reading your review, I was not sure what to expect – the word Diamond does not appear anywhere, leaving me to wonder whether it was a yet to come plugin. 2 subsequent reboots made this tool/wrench and related screen appear as it should. All good again.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    @ Malcolm,

    Yeah, the elusive wrench. I don’t know why it is hidden, I guess to try and keep unwanted people out? There is an option in the config to show/hide, and I always set to show from the start.

    One thing I am noticing is that it is now taking up to 15 seconds for Media Browser to load when I first start up. I may uninstall the SqlLite Db to see if that is the culprit

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    @ Darren,

    The bitstreaming still seems to be a work in progress. There seem to be some issues with EDID on various receivers such as Onkyo, Denon, etc… Honestly I try to follow that AVSForum thread and my head just spins. I am waiting for the 5670 to come out in Q1 and to see how Clarkdale performs as well. I am the same as you , I spent good money on my receivers, I would rather let them do the work with the audio and more importantly like seeing confirmation that I am getting HD Audio (via TrueHD/DTS(MA) showing).

    Right now with my HTPCs they only pass through the core audio (DTS for DTS(MA) and AC3 for TrueHD). For my upstairs HTPC this is not a big deal as I only have a simple 2.1 speaker setup, so getting teh full HD audio is rather pointless. In my family room which I consider my HT room if it is a movie where I really want to get the max benefit from the HD audio I just pop in the BR disc into my PS3. For other movies I am fine with the core audio, and to be honest couldn’t even tell you if I can tell the difference. The good thing is that once I get bitstreaming set up with my HTPCs I am all set to go as my rips already have the HD Audio Track.

    I need to dig around a little regarding chapter issues with .ts files to figure out of this is something that is just not universally supported. The other issue with using .ts is that if the BR disc is VC-1 you will get Audio but no video unless you hack around with filters. I have done this so it works fine for me (http://dbone1026.blogspot.com/2009/10/setting-up-codecs-for-7mc.html). If you have a VC-1 mkv you will get both audio/video, but if you want to get DXVA you still need to hack around. This applies to using the internal WMC player.

    Feel free to keep asking questions, or shoot me an email if you have any other questions.

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    So if you have a VC-1 .ts file that does have issues (audio, no video), I presume turning it into an mkv file (mkvmerge) will not fix the problem?

    does clown_bd output to anything else that keeps the HD tracks but does not have the VC-1 issue. And perhaps from there create an mkv?

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Yes and no. By putting the VC-1 into an mkv you will get video and audio. However, with VC-1 regardless of whether it is in ts or mkv, Windows Media Foundation does not support DXVA. If your CPU has enough juice this is not a problem, but for anyone running a low power PC this could lead to unstable playback. In either case you would still need to assign a different filter, such as MPC Video Dec, to VC-1 to get DXVA working.

    The only way around this would be to convert the VC-1 to AVC, but that would require encoding which my guess you are trying t o avoid.

    Saw your posts on AVSForum regarding FLAC. AN example of chapter support, I have a PCH C-200. When I play an mkv I can navigate through chapters without a problem. With ts for whatever reason the movie appears as one big chapter, so if I try to go to the next chapter it actually skips to the end

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Interesting. I have an older pc (athlon 64 3200+) for my htpc. Earlier today, I noticed that even with the 5750 and its ability to offload the VC-1 playback, my cpu was at 100%. this was using window media player.

    I then installed MPC HC and tried playing back through that. Bingo, cpu usage was between 20 and 35 percent. Beautiful. So I don’t think I am going to have an issue. Sounds to me, like my best bet is to do clown_bd to ts and throw in the chapters.txt and use mkvmerge to create mkv.

    Like you said, hopefully I can get native HD working right off, but worst case I have to use core until technology becomes more mature.

    Damian December 27, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Yup, MPC HC uses its own filter so you get DXVA. WMP uses WIndows Media Foundation, so if you don’t switch VC-1 to MPC Video Dec then WMP will not use DXVA.

    Doing the Clown_BD to MKVMerge seems to be working for me. I will try to get my mkv post up sometime this week with some more details (I am still testing out a bat file that does the mkv + hd audio track + ac3 track in one click).

    Darren December 27, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Ya, I am going to give it a try. Cross my fingers that native HD magically works well for me…

    Joanne @ Home theatre December 27, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    It sure beats the traditional windows media player library. It’s much faster and the interface is way cooler. It’s unsurpassed when you combine it with an SSD.

    Mariano December 28, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Hi Damian.
    Thank you very much for your speed in answering.
    Indeed your instructions have solved my problem of plug-ins.
    Thank you very much for your help.
    Happy New Year and health for all.

    Darren December 28, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Hey Damian,

    Regarding the TrueHD – how are you getting it to display as audio track one in MediaInfo. It keeps coming up as track two for me and as a result (I think), I only get the AC-3 icon in Media Browser.

    In Mkvmerge I set the Default Track Flag to Yes for the truehd track. And to No for the AC-3 track. But still TrueHD comes up as track two.

    Thanks.

    Damian December 28, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Hey Darren,

    In MKVMerge is the AC3 track above the TrueHD track? I think this is what determines track 1 from track 2 (the flag you set determines the default track). I always keep the HD audio track above the AC3 track, shouldn’t matter because of the flag but can’t hurt.

    Darren December 28, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Cool, I just tried that and it now shows up as track one. Thanks. However, Media Browser still show just AC-3. Weird. Does anything else need to be done (in metabrowser or media browser)? I tried restarting media browser.

    Question about setting default audio tracks: do you need to do it, or will the receiver pick up the ‘best quality’ track it can play?

    Also do you know what will happen in the cases where: I have a TrueHD mkv, my receiver and video card do TrueHD, but due to the technological ‘things’ that are causing issues with bitstreaming right now, the TrueHD track doesn’t work or has issues.

    Will the AC-3 track automatically play? Can you pick the AC-3 within media browser? I just don’t want to be in a situation where there are issues playing the true hd track, but I have no way to play the AC-3 track. Does this make sense?

    Thanks

    Darren.

    Damian December 28, 2009 at 8:25 am

    I just remoted in to take a closer look and I think I see what the issue is. When Clown_BD grabs the TrueHD track it also grabs the core. So if you look at media info for this track you will see something like “640 AC3 (TrueHD)”. My guess is MediaBrowser is simply picking up the AC3 part even though TrueHD is the track.

    As far as playback, I think it depends on what software is being used for audio playback. For instance, with my HTPCs I use FFDShow for Audio and I believe with that it passes through the core regardless. Since I am not set up to bitstream yet not sure if you get true bitstream what would happen in the scenario you point out.

    Darren December 28, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Media Info says: 48.0 Khz, 6 Channels, True HD

    The version of clonw_bd (0.75) I am using does not select the core by default. The screen is different than your screen shots from your clown_bd review. Looks like it has been cleaned up a bit. Now you can select the AC-3 track, The True HD track and the TrueHD core track – all in the main selection window (not the check boxes underneath).

    Regards to playback, perhaps I should be selecting the core as well, just in case. I guess bottom line, I am going to have to do some testing when I get my receiver.

    Damian December 28, 2009 at 9:27 am

    I get no icon in Media Browser for my 48.0 Khz, 6 Channels, True HD. I get AC3 for my 640 6 Channels, AC3 (TrueHD). Don’t know if a TrueHD icon ever shows, I feel like I have seen it before, will have to dig around.

    Yeah, the Wiki I wrote was several versions removed from the current Clown_BD version

    Darren December 28, 2009 at 9:45 am

    lol. I got on this whole trueHD vs. flac kick because I saw a trueHD icon on one of your screen shots – at least I thought I did, because I sure can’t find it anymore. doh.

    My movie with the 48.0 Khz, 6 Channels, TrueHD does have an AC3 icon. But I guess that could be because I also have the AC3 track.

    derek December 31, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Another great release guys, thanks much faster now.
    one quick question, shift 8 used to change the view but now brings up a play menu. Does anyone know how you change the view now?
    cheers

    Damian December 31, 2009 at 6:12 am

    Hey Derek,

    Are you just trying to change the view from something like list to coverflow?

    If so depending what view you are in move all the way to the left or to the top, the view menu should appear

    derek December 31, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Yep, that works, fantastic, thanks for the speedy response.
    Have a great new year

    Damian December 31, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Have a great new year as well

    Pradeep September 22, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I am trying to install the images by name. But looks like I am missing something. I downloaded and installed the ‘theHTPC.net People Project Uploader’ after connecting to my WHS using RDP. I can see this on the RDP desktop. When I click on it, it brings up the application. But I do not see an option to see where the folder is that contains all the actor images. Also, once I find this, how do I make this folder to be on the shared folder on my server. Do I just manually move it?

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