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Guru's of HTPC and ZOOM etc help

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Gordon @ Convergent AV, Mar 7, 2002.

  1. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Here's the thing. It's almost time for me to have to build myself one of these devices. Neils blew my mind and I now know possibilities.

    I have a client , Helipilot, on this forum. He has HTPC as his DVD source. I popped by his last night to drop off a part he was wanting for his NEC9 clone projector and he showed me how he was getting on with his HTPC. It was much improved from last time I saw it.

    He is now using ZOOM, as does Jeff I believe. Zoom allows you to choose to use the DVD picture player part of one software package with the audio decoding parts of another I believe. He was using ATI player with powerdvd audio component. We stuck on Gladiator (region2) and Insurrection(region2). Gladiator was pretty great and Insurrection was covered in artifacts. It was obviously doing some 2:2 pulldown but it was breaking down at times. Not worst I've seen but pretty bad. We put REGION1 Insurrection on and it was flawless. So it would seem that everyines preffered ATI player is crappy at Region2 stuff....or should I be checking something else....

    We then swapped to WinDVD3 and it played both region1 and 2 perfectly. I put on VEmontage of images on WinDVD3 and it sailed through it too. Jaggies on flag were obvious but it didn't fall down anywhere else excpet twitter o the steps of at bottom of screen in long pull back shot of the street with tower blocks at end. Back toATI player and as soon as it started I could see wee arifacts...then it cut from film to the under the railway bridge shot and the whole thing collapsed in to a stuttering mess.

    We didn't have time to go in to gamma set up or anything like that. This was a 1hr dive in dive out late at night on my way home from an installation. For a laugh we fed his Toshiba210 in to the capture card and played Insurrection through Dscaler. The picrture on PAL was nbelieveably soft but no obvious nasties . The image on NTSC was relatively artifact free as well and good. The detail was non-existent compared to the HTPC though!

    So, I'm going to start making a parts list for my PC but while it's relatively obvious that an Enermax P.S. is a must and a Radeon Grpahics card (although the GEFORCE powered Rock is pretty great) this software thing seems to be the main source of problmes for these things.....any thoughts guys?

    Gordon
     
  2. jrwood

    jrwood
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    Firstly I would upgrade to the MMC 7.5 ATI package, DVD support seems to be better in ZoomPlayer once this is installed. Also is he using an ATI Radeon or one of the old ATI cards like me?.

    If it's the older ATI card like the All In Wonder AGP Pro then there is a known gamma bug which you need to edit the registry. Once you change this and reboot the weird artifacts dissapear.

    If you do a search on www.rage3d.com or was it www.rageunderground.com for gammasetting and rage then the answer is there. If he's using the Radeon then the bug most probably continued knowing ATI's bizarre driver support!!.

    If you can't find it Ill dig it out with my spade ;)

    James
     
  3. Jeff

    Jeff
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    Gordon,

    My tip for Zoom is to buy and use a proper copy of Cineplayer 4 with the latest patch and use the decoders that come with it. With Zoomplayer you can mix and match and do it on the cheap by using the decoders that come free with the ATI player, but I wouldn't recommend this approach, although there are plenty of people happy doing this. I'm just more picky than most. One slight issue with Cineplayer 4 is its compatibility or lack of with the MAudio cards, a lot of people are getting horrendous lip sync problems etc. So if you do go down this route then a different sound card might be in order. I use the Terratec EWX 24/96, but I use a driver designed for a different Terratec card. An interesting side effect is that digital sound such as DD, DTS and even CD PCM sound goes out of the toslink digital out and other sound such as Windows sound and games goes out on the analogue stereo out. I would also go for Windows XP and use the DXVA support that comes with it. There are a number of DXVA support options that effect the way it uses the hardware support in the Radeon and how it effects video and film deinterlacing. The defaults as set by the Cineplayer 4 are quite good once hardware/DXVA is switched on, but I found that I could further improve the smoothness and pans etc by switching off some of the DXVA options.

    Jeff
     
  4. Punce

    Punce
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    Do you have to have an ATI card in order to use this software? or will it work with other cards?
     
  5. jrwood

    jrwood
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    Jeff do you know the difference in version numbers between the CinePlayer 4 and MMC 7.5 ATI DVD Player/Filter?. Also out of interest what video/audio combination do you think is best for DD/DTS?. I used to use Cineplayer video with WinDVD Audio but I've recently found PowerDVD audio filter to be better. Are the cineplayer audio filters even better?.

    thanks!
    James
     
  6. Jeff

    Jeff
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    Yes and Yes.
     
  7. Jeff

    Jeff
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    I noticed better deinterlacing/ less artifacts with the official Ravisent stuff. Also I found that some DVDs didn't like the miss match of audio/video decoders. When it works the Ravisent audio decoder works very well, but it appears to be very picky about sound cards/drivers.
     
  8. JohnAd

    JohnAd
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    Gordon

    I agree that the ATI player doesn't like R2 much. The theatertek player is the only one I've found so far that has taken whatever I've thrown at it and passed.

    Since then haven't bothered to play with zoom much.

    John
     
  9. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    jr: I'm not concerned with gamma things just now. I was primarily mentioning that, surprisingly, the ATI player was crap at PAL film based stuff compared to WinDVD. I have taken your comments on board though...

    Jeff: Unfortunately the last bit of what you said seemed to go over my head....

    John: A short answer I understand........NeilsPC was TT based....I am a believer in that piece of software and in Dscaler!


    I think all you guys are going to be pestered by me soon.....
     
  10. Jeff

    Jeff
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    Pass me the Yoghurt pot. ;)
     
  11. jrwood

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    Sorry Gordon, I was actually referring to the problem of artifacts in the image. When I first bought my ATI All In Wonder AGP Pro 32mb I ran the DVD and was horrified at like mpeg artifacts especially in dark areas of the DVD picture!!. After hunting around I found this was quite common and you had to add a registry entry called GammaSetting '1'....however this doesn't actually change the gamma of the picture whatsoever!, but got rid of that horrible mpeg type artifact problem I had with DVD's!!. Typical ATI eh!.

    I dont think I can even change the gamma on the old ATI card without using PowerStrip. Neil probably has one of the new Radeon card's anyway but I thought I would mention it just in case he has an old Rage chipset based ATI card :)

    James
     
  12. ROne

    ROne
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    One of things with the cineplayers 4 filters what could explain the problem is the de-interlacing.

    At defailt it de-interlaces NTSC great but has problems de-interlacing PAL film properly which would explain your jaggies on PAL material.

    In the registry there is a FORCE WEAVE option which by default is off, when PAL material kicks in the de-interlacer is likely to choose FORCE BOB which for NTSC is fine but throws up a problem in PAL.

    This applies to both Hardware(DXVA) and software decoding and is irrespective of type of Radeon. Sometimes some PAL material does look okay - one of the Raviscent technical guys was chirping on about PAL being badly flagged and the auto setting not working correctly with PAL. With the FW option you don't get any problems in either film based NTSC or PAL.

    So if you want the technicals I can post these.

    Bear in mind that if your do FORCE WEAVE video will be de-interlaced very badly, but if you're just into film based material then FW is the way to go.

    I can't say I have used TT and the filters are an earlier version but the problems definately exists with cp4 filters in all versions.

    XP with the upgrade pack is the way to go, fab quality.
     
  13. JohnAd

    JohnAd
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    ROne

    Sounds like Ravicent don't understand PAL DVDs.

    NTSC MPEG can be flagged in three ways

    1) Film is flagged as progressive and 24fps->30 speed up required.

    2) NTSC Video is flagged as video 60fps interlaced

    3) Some NTSC stuff could be flagged as progressive 30fps. (some patterns on AVIA are like this)

    For PAL there are only two ways

    1) Progressive 25fps
    2) Interlaced 50fps

    They should do "force weave" for NTSC 1 & 3 and PAL 1 regardless of what the registry setting is.

    John
     
  14. Jeff

    Jeff
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    This doesn't match my experiences with the Cineplayer 4, I must admit that I've probably only watch 2 R2 DVDs in the last 6 months so its possible I missed something (too busy watching the film). I'll have to get hold of an R2 copy of Insurrection to check it out. I personally don't have force weave switched on, but then I am using the Radeon 8500's superior adaptive deinterlacing.


    Jeff
     
  15. ROne

    ROne
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    Yep - but the with the filters it chooses the appropriate option automatically, and it fails to use force weave for PAL, hence the registry fix for PAL users.

    Its the automation that's wrong. The registry setting takes it out of adaptive and into a permanant state.

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=86829&highlight=PAL+force+weave

    some info about similar problems here.

    Well I'm putting 2 and 2 together here but the way it works with is to pick Force Weave or Force Bob/adaptive . If it picks the correct one you won't see any problems. With my Radeon 7200 it definately picks the wrong mode for some not all PAL discs an to be honest with the difference isn't massive under normal viewing -only when you scrutinize the diagonals.
     
  16. Jeff

    Jeff
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    This answer cost me £20.

    I played R2 Insurrection and apart from judder caused by me running at 60Hz and the softness of the PAL version, everything else was pretty much perfect. Huts and boats all rock steady.
     
  17. helipilot

    helipilot
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    Guys,

    I thought my HCPC spec may be of interest to you.

    Hardware - the important bits

    Gigabyte GA-7VTXE twin BIOS Motherboard.
    Athlon Thunderbird 1.4 Ghz Processor.
    Enermax EG365P-VE (350W) Power Supply. (imho a clean power supply is the most cost effective upgrade you can buy!)
    256Mb DDR Memory.
    Radeon 64Mb DDR Video Card. (7199 drivers)
    IDS Falcon Capture Card.
    Creative Soundblaster Live (tricky to get set up but solid enough afterwards)
    IRman
    Logitech itouch cordless keyboard and mouse. (Radio not Infrared)

    Software - the main bits

    WinDVD 3
    PowerDVD 4 XP
    ATI DVD player 7.5
    Zoom 2.4
    Dscaler 3
    Powerstrip
    Region Killer
    Girder

    Registry tweaks

    PowerDVD forced to use SPDIF for audio
    Ravisent set to force Weave deinterlacing.


    Zoom is now used exclusively with Cineplayer 4 Video filters and PowerDVD audio.

    I have only just applied the ATI registry patch and was much happier with the result on Region 2 material. Insurrection now solid on bridge , boats and huts.

    Sorry you had to fork out £20 Jeff. However my Radeon definitely needs Force Weave turned on.

    Once Gordon has had another look he will be able to give you the verdict, but I am pretty pleased with the result (and I am fairly particular although my eye may not be quite as well tuned as Gordons yet.)
     
  18. Jeff

    Jeff
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    Alan,

    This may or may not be the answer, but I noticed that you are running the ATI player rather than Cineplayer 4.
     
  19. helipilot

    helipilot
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    Jeff,

    where can I buy Cineplayer4 ?

    and how much does it cost ?
     
  20. Jeff

    Jeff
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  21. helipilot

    helipilot
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    This is becoming an expensive thread $50 this time !

    Jeff,

    I bought Cineplayer4 (full version because I am running Windows ME).

    The video filters are newer than ATI MMC 7.5, however I still had to tweak the registry to force Weave. Perhaps the difference is in your 8500 card.

    Audio filters I still prefer PowerDVD 4. This is the only way I can get perfect DTS playback on Elton John, one night only - the greatest hits. (Possibly down to my Soundblaster Live Soundcard).
     
  22. Boris Blank

    Boris Blank
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    You HTPC'ers are tampering with dark forces you know - I managed to escape with a lighter wallet and bucketful of spare parts and discs and I was lucky!!

    Mark my words, you are sowing the wind with the Devil's seed and you'll reap the whirlwind soon enough!

    Bwawaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    :devil:
     
  23. Jeff

    Jeff
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    I returned my R2 copy of Insurrection to HMV complaining about the lack of artifacts and bought a copy of Teken Tag for the Playstation 2 instead. :p

    Actually I have a confession to make :blush:

    Just before testing Insurrection I had been playing with some new tweeks. Well, I somehow managed to break DXVA and it was reverting to software decoder mode. The only reason I spotted my mistake is that I watched Moulin Rouge and spotted the Chroma bug. :eek:

    The thing is I don't have the R2 copy of Insurrection anymore so who knows? :D

    Alan, have you tried Toy Story 2 with the Power DVD XP audio decoder? Last time I tried it crashed Zoom.


    Jeff
     
  24. ian_guinan

    ian_guinan
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    Ok, stop it now you guys. You're beginning to put me off the idea of HTPCs again......

    Regards,
    Ian Guinan
    (reaches over to DVD player, puts in disk, it works....end of story)
     
  25. helipilot

    helipilot
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    Jeff,

    Toy Story 2 works fine.




    Ian,

    Please don't be put off! Because of the potential performance available it is worth persevering with HTPC. My system is now at a point where Zoom and DScaler are controlled by my Pronto in pretty much the same way as any other device in my system. The benefit of Zoom is that it gives you a common interface to all DVD playback and it allows you to pick the best bits from each player.
     

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