MCE/WMP picture differences - why?


Active Member
OK, so I'm beggining to get my dvd's put onto the MCE PC but I'm finding some differences in the picture between viewing in MCE and WMP and can't fathom why.

It's difficult to explain in words, just look at the photos...

1. AVI in WMP


Notice the non-black bands top/bottom of the video, not worried about them, but look at the actual video section, the black is BLACK.

2. VOBs in WMP


Again, look at the video portion, the black is BLACK.

3. AVI in MCE


Now, look at the screen, the black in the video section is NOT black anymore, it is lighter, the bands top & bottom are black

4 VOBs in MCE


Again, as per image three, the video section is not black, it's not actually 'blue' either, thats just the camera, it's the same 'light' color as in photo 3.

Generally I've noticed that when watching movies thru MCE the colors seem 'washed out' a little, but are fine when viewed thru WMP.

This is all on the same pc, currently connected to the screen via vga whilst I await the dvi/hdmi lead.

At first I thought it was to do with the ripping of the dvd to avi, but you see I get the same problem with both the original dvd and the ripped avi.

What is causing this and what can I do to get MCE to show black as BLACK like WMP?



Cafe Racer

Active Member
What codec are you using? I think there are different settings at work here - ones for the "desktop" and ones for "video playback" I'm nt sure though.

Have a look round in your display properties...


Active Member
The reason its washed out is a level thing and has to do with the rendering methods/modes used by particular applications. Your Pc is outputting RGB Pc levels ie, 0-255. Dvds, TV and HD dvds are at video levels 16-233. In one case it is expanding (stretching) the video levels to Pc levels 0-255 in the other case it simply using (overlaying) the 16-233 levels. Consequently in one the black will look black in the other black will look grey.

I will assume its a Nvidia card you are using, although its been known to apply to ATIs aswell. Strictly speaking there is no current solution that solves this for everything, if there is I too would love to know. I have had this with VMC expanded and MP and everything else at video levels (as I have it now) and VMC at video levels and MP and everything else at Pc (expanded levels). This is with the same OS, drivers and hardware. I can't say if its due to the order patches are applied or drivers are installed or any other specific combination. Whatever it is that causes it seems makes the others the opposite. Since both can do either as expanded or overlay, you would think someone at Microsoft or Nvidia would sort this out one way or the other, or at least give us the choice, its not like no one ever commented on this before. But, alas no. If your TV supports normal/expanded(enhanced) black level modes then switching this at the Tv will correct the level for you. Not ideal as a solution but it works. Switching to Dvi/Hdmi won't solve this, that's what I'm using, but at least it should deal with any overscan you might have. Don't be tempted to use the Nvidia control panel to set the YUV444 mode it will cause the expanded one(s) to exhibit what is commonly refered to as black crush.


Active Member
Thanks for the replies, I kind of understand it a little more now.

I'm not entirely sure which codec it is using, I've installed the 'K-lite codec pack', probably not the best thing to have done and I've also been playing with a few other encoders recently, which I've now un-installed reverting back to AGK, so they might have left something lying around. Is there are 'preferred codec' list somewhere?

Yes, it is an Nvidia card, a 6600GT. After I made the original posting I did some more digging over on '', asked the same question and got no answers at all. Anyhow, I downloaded the latest drivers and tweaked the 'gamma' using the Nvidia control panel and got a 'happy medium'.

Does this issue apply to all graphics cards? If not, what would be a good alternative?


Cafe Racer

Active Member
I think a good alternative on nVidia cards is to use Purevideo - it works very well with nVidia cards! Gives hardware acceleration etc.


Active Member
I am also experiencing this difference in black levels.

I have an nVidia 9300 based HTPC setup to use the MPC DxVA hardware accelerated codec. I have no other codecs installed except for Arcsoft TMT.

WMP gives me excellent black levels, Vista MCE does not!

I am also using Reclock to playback my 24p content and this works great with WMP but my picture is jerking when using MCE.

Any ideas chaps?


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