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Improve dvd playback form pc

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by dazzer123, Jan 15, 2005.

  1. dazzer123

    dazzer123
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    Just wondering how to improve DVD playback from the pc to the projector I am currently using just power DVD 5 and I am not that impressed, what I wish to know is would ffdshow and thatertek be the way to go I am really looking for the best quality pic I can get as I chose this route over a hdmi DVD player.

    I have seen this guide and am sure it would be helpful http://htpcnews.com/main.php?id=ffdshowdvd_1 I am assuming the results will be better than power DVD alone or would I be best buying some sort of decoder card?
     
  2. inzaman

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    Are you currently acheiving 1:1 pixel mapping on your hcpc, as this will help to improve things.

    I used to used pdvd 5 and thought it was okay but thought the image a bit too soft and that the pc could do better.

    I got ffdshow and zoomplayer pro, pdvd 5 will not let you use a post processor. Using zoomplayer the pdvd 5 codecs (zp does not have any of its own codecs) and ffdshow for ntsc material was a night and day difference, the image was just so sharp and was exactly what i was after, with pal material however it was quite jaggy.

    I then got the nvidia codecs to use with zp pro and ffdshow and the image for both pal and ntsc is just so good and so sharp (those differences on the htpc news are what you will get), everyone who i show a comparison to between pdvd 5 and zp with ffdshow and the nvidia codecs are amazed by it.

    Also if you do a search you will see a thread where i compared the pdvd 5 codecs to nvidia codecs.

    I dont have tt as they are still (i believe) updating for various bugs etc, but i may go that route in a few months.

    The above software i.e zp pro and nvidia codecs cost me about £20 and are definitely worth every penny and a vast improvement over pdvd 5. You will need some processing power though for ffdshow i have an xp2500 and had to overclock to get pal material to work properly, hth inza.
     
  3. KraGorn

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    That guide does indeed show what's possible and has helped many get into using FFDSHOW, including me. :) First though you'll need a different DVD player since AFAIK PowerDVD cannot make use of FFDSHOW.

    You have 2 main options.

    First, TheaterTek is possibly the most used software player, version 2 comes with MPEG decoders (aka 'codecs') from nVidia, though you don't need an nVidia graphics cards to use them .. BTW which card do you have at present? TT knows how to use FFDSHOW, you just need to tell it to do so.

    The other alternative is a bit more tricky to use, and that's Zoom Player. This doesn't come with a codec, it can use those you have with PowerDVD (or indeed the nVidia codecs you can buy separately) or even the free-ware one called DScaler.

    There are other codecs, some people like WinDVD which tends to produce a softer (mildly blurry) image, others like me prefer something sharper (though arguably less realistic).

    The ZoomPlayer approach can be a pain to get up and running, playing PAL DVDs with FFDSHOW isn't automatic for example (except with TT) and just navigating the vast number of options isn't for the feint-hearted. OTOH, it's a lot more powerful and flexible than TT if you feel the need. While ZP basic version is free you need to buy the 'DVD' version.

    IMHO the TT route is far easier to set up, sadly the activation system is a tad tedious, and when released in November 2.00 was badly bugged, the latest release (2.06) is pretty stable for most as far as playing DVDs is concerned, it handles other media formats pretty well most of the time.

    Hope this helps you see the wood for the trees. Believe me, the PQ you'll get will be light-years ahead of PowerDVD on its' own, depending on the graphics card you have at present you may want to consider a change but a good one for HTPC use can be had for £50.

    [edit]

    Beaten to it. :)
     
  4. dazzer123

    dazzer123
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    Hi thx for your replies i am currently using an Asus Ati 9550 graphics card via dvi out to my Panny AE500 projector. If i was to get theatertek 2.06 anf ffdshow would i need to get the sonic dvd filter pack as well as stated in the guide as i am not sure about the filter and codecs issue.

    Also regards processing power i am currently running an AMD Barton 3200+ which equate's to 2.2ghz of processing power thought this should be enough to gain 1:1 pixel mapping of 1280x720 thx a lot for all your help.
     
  5. KraGorn

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    Minor confusion caused by that article, which is a bit old now. :) TheaterTek 1.5 used the Sonic codecs, version 2 uses the nVidia ones, which are generally better than the Sonics. The fact that you'd be using those instead of the Sonics won't change anything which that article describes.

    Just to clarify the difference between the codecs and FFDSHOW :) .. the codecs are the decoders for the video and audio coming off the DVD, these are responsible for decoding the MPEG-2 video stream and extracting the AC3 audio; note that if you want the PC to decode DD and DTS you'll need the Advanced Audio Pack if you get TT, you DON'T need that if you use digital via S/PDIF into an external receiver.

    The codecs also take care of de-interlacing the decoded video, normally the resulting video stream is sent to the graphics drivers/DirectX system for rendering into the display. However it's also possible to add some post-processing, that's what FFDSHOW does, thus it's separate from the MPEG decoders and can be used with more or less any of them. The output from FFDSHOW then gets sent for rendering.

    On the subject of rendering, you'll see 2 basic options for this, Overlay and VMR, you'll want to use Overlay with an ATI card, you'd use VMR (all else being equal) with one from nVidia.

    A 3200+ should will be fine for the more usual use of FFDHSOW, specifically you'll be using the Resize filter at least, possibly nothing more. Using the Lanczos resizer with a 'parameter' of 4 (don't worry, that'll become clear as day once you start playing with it), don't go above that in spite of what some posts elsewhere may say :), you should have plenty of headroom for some other tweaking, such as a bit of sharpening.

    The 9550 will be fine in this setup, inmy experience a 6800/6600 would give a small increase in PQ (I changed from a 9600) but you may not want to go to that expense.
     
  6. nwgarratt

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    For the short term. how about trying a trial of PowerDVD 6. I find there is a big
    difference between version 5 and 6.
     
  7. dazzer123

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    Hi thank's for your replies again i have now installed ffdshow and theatertek and set them up as per the gude. So far i have only viewed playback on my plasma and it is very early days, i have my pc conncted to the plasma via vga to 5 phonos RGBHV now as i see it this is rgb and not component and as such will not accept a progressive or upscaled signal as component would although i will stand beig corrected on this matter, that said the picture being output from the pc at 1280x720 to my 852x480 plasma is very good indeed and i look forward to seeing how it will look on the projector via dvi.

    Regard's power dvd it is version 5 that i am running and maybe it would be worth trying version 6, theatertek for me and simpler powerdvd for the wife i think.
    Unless there are any other tweaks i need to apply to ffdshow i think the next thing for me to look at is some sort of tv card or getting sky plumbed into the pc and possibly upscaled by dscaler am i correct in thinking this, i am not to concerned about a sweetspot card at this point infact i only have 1 spare slot in my Epox EX5 barebones and as i said at some point i might like a tv card or something perhaps with an svideo in for sky would this work with dscaler, and then finaly windows media center edition and just use theatertek for power playback and windows or powerdvd for convenince does this all soundabout right again thank's a lot for all your help.
     
  8. nwgarratt

    nwgarratt
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    I compared Zoom Player with FFDshow and PowerDVD 6. On my setup I couldn't really tell the difference. I then realised I couldn't get DD 5.1/DTS to work from Zoom Player.

    I then decided to ditch Zoom Player and just use PowerDVD. On my equipment it isn't worth the hassle. I just wanted to get a film to watch.

    If I had a better PC or projector. I would probably had carried on with Zoom player a bit more. I couldn't even get TheaterTek to play a DVD.
     
  9. watersa@ntlworl

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    I'm currently using PDVD 5.0 & depending on the film? it generally looks pale thro the DVI compared to playback from my standalone player thro AV7 (Axium) progressive.

    Do you think the version 6 de lux is worth the $40 upgrade? Is it just the Eagle vision version 2 that makes the difference in picture quality? I don't need the audio as I'm using the spdif.
     
  10. nwgarratt

    nwgarratt
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    I also use the SPDIF. I am currently using the vivid picture option. I haven't tried eagle yet. Is there anyway you could install the trial version in another directory.

    I am also using VGA output.
     
  11. watersa@ntlworl

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    For some reason the Eagle vision isn't selectable on mine? it's greyed out :confused:
    I don't think there is a trial option?
     
  12. nwgarratt

    nwgarratt
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  13. watersa@ntlworl

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    I've just connected the spdif today for the first time & the sound is awesome but rapidly goes out of sync........have you found this to be a problem? I'm hoping you have resolved this problem :rolleyes:


    PS
    I notice that if I select 6 speaker output rather than spdif it stays in sync but won't allow the DTS on my amp.
    The spdif setting does allow the DTS on the amp but then creates a massive delay in sound to picture :confused:
     
  14. nwgarratt

    nwgarratt
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    How quickly? I have never had a problem like that. I am just using the onboard sound rather than a proper sound card. Watching PowerDVD on the monitor is the same.

    I haven't actually watched a whole film yet. However, I have watched several clips of films over a couple of hours. The average is about 15 to 30 minutes each.
     
  15. watersa@ntlworl

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    Within a chapter it quickly lags behind the video.

    I must stress that this is only happening when I select spdif from the audio menu in DVD5's configuration settings which enables me to use the DTS option in the movie's menu.
    If I select 6 speker output it stays in sync but only DD5.1 :confused:
     
  16. dazzer123

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    just ran some test material through theatertek and ffdshow on the projector and whilst the picture was very sharp there appears to be a lot of what i would call a solar effect or halo effect mainly on dark areas, if i turn ffdshow off the problem dissapears but the picture becomes a lot less sharp anyone know what settings i should change in ffdshow to minimize this effect.
     
  17. tk2001

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    dazzer123,

    I know exactly what you mean.


    I find that the higher you set the parameter on Lanczos (from 1 to 10) and the Luma Sharpen, the more noticable the halo becomes. It is noticable around the outlines of objects and including people.

    Just slap in Avia or DVE and do a resolution test and the halo is very evident.

    Surely there must be a way of bringing out the fine details on dvds without enhancing the halos during the process?
     
  18. dazzer123

    dazzer123
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    Well maybe somebody here could tell us i hope anyway.
     
  19. KraGorn

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    The recommendations from people who seem to understand these things .. not me ;) .. is never go above Lanczos 4 as it introduces ringing.

    Ringing is also always going to be introduced when sharpening, AIUI it's down to the mathematics involved.
     
  20. tk2001

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    KraGorn,

    I have my resize set to 1280 x 720 Lanczos 4, Luma/Chroma Sharpen set to 0 and the ringing is noticably more apparent than when I have the resize off.

    Do you think the cause of ringing is down to the GFX card or connection i.e in my case a 9600XT Ultimate via a Cobalt 10m DVI cable?
     
  21. KraGorn

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    The ringing is down to Lanczos itself, it's inherent in the algorithm, apparently 4 is just the best compromise.

    This is the thread on AVS I mentioned, his credentials seem impeccable. :)
     
  22. Nick Cartwright

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    I don't use re-size anymore. I experimented with it but wasn't 100% happy with the results and the increased CPU usage. I'm more than happy to just use some Gradual Dnoise (about 8) and then unSharpen (about 18). This gives a lot more detail with TT2.0 without loads of CPU usage, stuttering etc.

    If ReSize and Lancos introduces rringing (which I myself haven't really noticed), then why do people continue to use it? Is it just something particular to certain displays?

    Nick
     
  23. KraGorn

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    Because if you want to scale to, say, 1280x720, FFDSHOW generally does a better job than the scaling done by the graphics cards .. this obviously only applies when using 1:1 mapping .. that theory is what Don was suggesting is partly myth in that thread. :)

    Some people over-sample to 1440x960 and then down-scale to reduce artifacting.

    The ringing at level 4 isn't too bad, many won't notice it over and above typical EE applied during the master transfer, higher values though tend to be easier to see.
     
  24. clever dicky

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    Forget software decoding..its crap. Buy an xcard and never look back. You'll not only geta far better picture but a lot more free time.
     
  25. KraGorn

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    Um, software decoding is NOT crap, have you actually tried it?

    You'll get a far better quality from using post-processing that you'll ever get from an X-Card unless you feed that into an external scaler. Even without post-processing, using good codecs you'll be no worse off in my experience ... yes, I did have an X-Card at one time, fed externally and also into a Sweetspot and DScaler.

    X-Card has its' benefits, if you use the SDI board and feed a scaler you'll get stunning results, but don't give the impression that on its' own it's vastly better than a PC, it's not true. As I've posted elsewhere, I am well aware of the down-sides to using an HTPC but crap it isn't. :nono:
     
  26. dazzer123

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    Hi thx for your replies Kragorn your input has been very helpful to me, i have now set Lanczos to 2 and Luma/Chroma left at 1.5 as per the guide i originally mentioned looks a little better on the plasma i will wait to see how it looks on my 69" projection screen.
     
  27. dazzer123

    dazzer123
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    Back again as dscaler has been mentioned i would like to ask about that in short if i fed sky+ in to a cheap tv card via svid could i use dscaler to upscale the image in much the same way as ffdshow with theatertek and if so hw would i go about it.
     
  28. Nick Cartwright

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    The packard Bell card from PC world is very cheap and is one of the cleanest around regarding video noise (I paid £40 for mine but I think they might even be £20 now). At the price it is certainly worth a trial.

    Dscaler will detect the card then it's up to you to select the input and tweak the picture settings. I use mine for Sky and for Laser disk and you can get pretty good results. There a good sharpen filter if you nee dit, but the card is so clean I don't really use any noise reduction filters.

    KraGorn probably knows a lot more about dsclarer e's pretty clued up on things.

    Nick
     
  29. KraGorn

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    Sadly I don't know anything about DScaler. :)

    I used it briefly when I had a Sweetspot but back then I knew nothing about FFDSHOW and precious little about post-processing. I know FFDSHOW can use the deinterlacing modules of DScaler, can DScaler use FFDSHOW like the MPEG decoders can? That'd be how it would be utilised, DScaler does its' thing in terms of image acquisition, deinterlacing etc. and then pass the output to FFDSHOW. I'm bemused that it's called DScaler but I can find no mention of scaling on its' web site.

    BTW, I am no expert :) .. I read a lot, tweak and twiddle based on what I read, I understand little of the theory so have no idea what most of the controls and parameters actually do.
     
  30. Nick Cartwright

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    Things have changed again, I tried Re-Size again last night, with no other filters at all.

    Basically resize to 128-x720 (screen res) with Lancos 4 and Luma and Chroma sharpen both at 1.5 as previously mentioned in this thread. I was pretty impressed, I think it's the additional sharpening I wasn't using before that has really brought the image to life. Wathing the first few minutes of Chronicles or Riddick I think it could be one of the best pictures I've had.

    didn't have much time to watch for a long period but overal impressions is very good so far. CPU is about 78% on XP2.8 which I can live with.

    As for dScaler, best bet is to get a cheap TV card (looks loie the Packard bell isn't sold anymore in PC World) and play about. Program is free and TV cards are cheap.

    Nick
     

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