Mediabrowser running on customised VMC....

groove

Active Member
After spending an entire weekend reading/learning and experimenting ive finally got my Media Centre to a place where I am happy with it. It all works, and looks stunning in my eyes. The family are even impressed ! Must have done something right ;)

I had previously been using a combination of standard Vista Media Centre, My Movies and MyTV. It worked, it was funtional , but there were so many little things that bugged me. Then Dunks517 from here suggested I have a look at Mediabrowser ( formerly videobrowser ) and I've not looked back since.

I thought is try and pull together some guidelines of what tools , what tweaks ive carried out , and what software ive used to get where I am now.

****************************************************
UPDATED 2nd April 2009 - metabrowser link updated
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Seeing as this thread became so popular with lots of us working through this together I thought this first post needed updating and keeping up to date , as some of the original pictures and notes are from older builds of various programs and are not that relevant anymore.


This really has become a Mediabrowser resource and as such most of the information is relating to this wonderful open source , constantly updated , beautiful plugin for Vista Media Centre ( Also working on current Win7 beta builds as well , althtough not officially supported as of yet )


The latest version of Mediabrowser can always be obtained from the link below , the most current officially released version is

v2.0.11.0

MediaBrowser Open Source VMC Plugin Latest Build Downloads


There are two other programs I am also using on my VMC , nothing directly to do with Mediabrowser per se, but I fell they just finish of VMC nicely.

MediacentreFX

First up is mediacentreFX. This is a vista media centre skinning program , allowing you to apply different themes/colours and skins to your media centre.

All my pictures of VMC that are of the actual VMC interface are running the 'DIM' Theme' avaialble to download from the pcoverhaulers site below , along with the program itself.

MediacentreFX Downloads

From the Software downloads section of this site Select the MediacentreFX link and download the main program.Then return to the main screen and select the VMC Themes option , from the Theme Downloads menu. This will take you to a huge list of various categories of themes to download. Most of them are empty , but there are about 60 to choose from. You can preview each one on the site , and download any/all that you fancy.

Once mediacentreFX is installed , you will need to add some of the themes you have downloaded to it before applying anything. By clicking the Blue downward arrow on the interface you can browse to the themes you downloaded and add them. Keep adding until all the themes you want to try have been added. All that is left to do is select the theme you want and click the big red FX button in the centre and wait while its applied. Thats really all there is to it.


mfx.jpg


Now there have been a few people who had issues with this program, it appears it can have problems and not run if you have the TV Pack installed. I dont use TV pack so cannot confirm this. ALso a couple of people have had problems with it not running , an uninstall and re-install strangely seemed to fix it.

Something to look out for.

Next up is

MC Menumender

This little app allows you edit your Vista Media Centre interface, remove all the junk that you will never use, move buttons around , turn strips on and off , and set the default strip/button that is selected when VMC first starts. Invaluable in increasing the WAF. A Win7 version is in developement but as it stands only compatible with VMC at the moment.

Grab it from here -


MC Menu Mender Download

As you can see from my pictures , I have removed almost everything just leaving , My Pictures, My Music, Play DVD and Of course the default startup application......Mediabrowser !

Im not an expert in using it ,it does have a few strange ways that restrict what you can move where , but these are VMC restrictions so you have to work with them. But renaming things , turning things on or off , and moving things is all pretty easy after a bit of playing.
To set the default ribbon/app to show at startup click the title of the ribbon , then the app on that ribbon and you should see them highlight. Then click the save button to apply . The highlighting is pretty faint and can be a bit difficult to see , but you do get used to it.

mcmenu.jpg


Something to look out for. Some applications that you add to Vista Media centre use the same point of entry on the same ribbon. This will result in only one actually displaying within VMC, the other usually found hidden away in the VMC program library......MC Menumender can help fix this. A classic example is MCE Tunerfree , and Mediabrowser. If you install both of these apps , depending on the order in which you do , you will only see one of them on the TV strip. Using this you can move MCE tunerfree onto another ribbon for example, rename that ribbon if you want to something more apt, and then you will find Mediabrowser will re-appear on the TV strip as it is no longer being overwritten by MCE tunerfree ( or whatever other app is hiding it ). I hope that makes sense........

Something to look out for if using MediacentreFX and MCmenu mender. When changing your theme your menu edits will all be reset back to VMC standard. So make sure you are happy with your choice of theme before doing all your menu edits....or you'll have to do them all again !


music.jpg


pics.jpg


mb.jpg



As you can see a lot neater. Also notice the Dim theme I am now running.



Mediabrowser

Mediabrowser is a lightweight , small , stable plugin for VMC that gives you a stunning and highly configurable interface to view all your movies and tv shows in. It is not a player or a codec pack. It will not magically make all your files play in Vista Media centre if they dont already. You need to have your codecs sorted to play the file types you want either before or after installing Mediabrowser. But does come with functionality to automatically mount
ISO's either with Daemon tools , or VirtualCloneDrive, again you need to load these programs and tell Mediabrowser where they are via its configuration tool. But with the correct codecs installed you should be able to play anyfile , film, tv show you throw at it. Im currently playing ISO's, Video_TS files, avi's, xvid's, h264',mkv's with no problems at all. There are plenty of threads on here dealing with codecs etc , and a lot of discussion in this thread on
various solutions to all these questions.

First up some pictures of what it all looks like........

This is my 'landing page'......currently I have my media split into subfolders on my server of Adults Movies, Family Movies, Adults TV, Family TV, Home Videos, and Music Videos. Im using some custom graphics that ive tweaked for my use for each category, and a custom background , again made my me. There are several different views , and variations on each of these views all easily configurable from the Mediabrowser interface. Im using the Coverflow view for my lanfing page, similar to the iTunes coverflow if you are familiar with that , the way the icons smoothly roll and flick across the screen as you scroll left and right.

The beauty of Mediabrowser is all these are easily customaisable by changing a simple jpg picture for backgrounds, folder icons etc.


menu1.jpg


menu2.jpg


Now parental controls are not currently in Mediabrowser , but they are not far away. Im aware they are currently being tweaked and tested and should be with us pretty soon. Hopefully allowing folders to be pin protected and also completely hidden if required.

On to the main views for viewing your media...........Here I have selected my Adults Movies category , and I have this set to coverflow view also......

cf1.jpg


Here is the same list of movies , but this time with the Thumb view selected.....

thumb.jpg


and again this time with poster view selected.....

postersmall.jpg


next up we have strip view.....this a a nice minimilistic view that just shows brief details of each film , allowing your lovely backdrops to show in all there glory

stripdown.jpg


Button a quick press of DOWN on the remote brings up a lovely animated pop up with all the movies details. A press of the DOWN button again and it slips back away.....

stripup.jpg


And the last view is Detail view....

detail.jpg



Selecting a movie takes you to the detail page where you can launch it , look at actors, genre's etc. .....

moviedetail1.jpg


And actors.....

actors.jpg


Back to the main menu and selecting one of theTv Series takes me to my tv shows, with scrolling banners up the left hand side (I have selected detail view for this section rather than coverflow, turned on vertical scrolling , and turned on banners).


tv.jpg


After selecting a TV show you are taken to the season select screen where you can select whcih season if you have more than one

season.jpg



And selecting the series takes me to the episode select screen....im using strip view here , with it in its 'up' state.

episode.jpg


The real beauty of all this is you can have different backdrops for every season/film/folder all bu using basic jpgs. Each section can be suing whatever view you prefer , you are not forced to pick one view and use it for everything. Everything is adjustable from the size of the posters , and banners to the opacity of overlays, all from within a config screen accessed from you keyboard or remote .

By using nested folders for your films you can even handle boxsets , with a different background for when you select the box set , and a different one for each film within the boxset......nice

boxset.jpg



Installing and setting up

Links to the latest version of Mediabrowser are at the beggining of this post. Once you have downloaded the executable , take a visit to the expanding Mediabrowser WIKI as it now has most of the instructions you will need to get up and running, with info about using the configurator to point it to all your media, setting up media centre extenders, adding actor images etc

Mediabrowser WIKI

Some things that keep cropping up to look out for -

After initial install you will be taken to the configuration screen , if you want your screens to look the ones I have posted here , you will need to change your Theme view to Vanilla. This is under Themes>View Theme

If you want to access the config menu at a later date you may access it by clicking on the spanner icon on the initial screens , or by pressing Shift and 3 on a keyboard.

The following remote/keyboard commands are also available

Shift and 8 (*) - Changes the current view
Media Center Clear (Delete) key - Toggles the watched / unwatched status for the selected item
Media Center Record key - Refreshes metadata, etc. for the currently selected item (collection, folder, episode or movie)


meta<browser>

A lot of us are using meta<browser> for downloading movie xml data, backdrops , and folder images. This allows you to take a bit more control of what backdrops and posters are actually used by Mediabrowser. By default Mediabrowser uses http://www.themoviedb.org/ to automatically download xml data and images for your movies. However it will always use the first movies poster that the moviedb has on file , and these are not always the best ones available. To gain more control using meta<browser> allows you to choose exactly what you want to be downloaded and used by MB.

With the demise of mediascout previously being used for TV shows by some members <meta>browser has now picked up the mantle and is being developed to support TV shows as well as movies , and is doing a pretty good job of it.

The latest version of meta<browser/> is avaialble to download from HERE

Some screenshots HERE

Mediainfo
You may have noticed in these screenshots the covers have a little 720P and 1080P icon , along with some additional info on the movie detail page detailing

the media resolution etc.

If you are missing this info follow these instructions -


You are probably missing mediainfo.dll which should be in your windows/system32 directory.

All you need to do is download the appropriate dll for your system (32bit or 64bit ) from HERE

Just extract the mediainfo.dll into your windows/system32 directory ( dont worry about the other files in the RAR file mediainfo_info tip etc as you dont need them for this )

Restart mediabrowser and after a couple of seconds ( depending on how many films you have ) you should now see all the file information appearing.
You may need to clear your cache in mediabrowser if you dont start seeing the icons appear straight away , and remember not all file types are supported, for example DVD iso's , and video_ts folders etc will not show and info, but most mkv's , avi's , divx's etc should populate with media info.

To do

Metabrowser - screenshots and overview
mediascout - screenshots (developement discontinued)
Hints and tips - folder/background images , vf files
 
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Cha1ky

Distinguished Member
Thanks Groove. Thats looking great mate.
I'm still in the process of playing around with mine but i've got the movies sorted. Its just the TV series that need some work.

What format have you got your single episodes saved as?
 

groove

Active Member
Nearly all of my single episodes are HD mkv's , with a few Divx's, none of those are vob's which is the problem you are having I think.

My 24 season 1 is actually showing in my movies section , just because I ripped it into my movies folder before I started using mediabrowser. I may look at moving it , but im not decided where i want it really at the moment.
Its not a big issue for me as I dont have a lot of disk based TV stuff to put on there.
 

Cha1ky

Distinguished Member
Thanks Groove.

What i'm trying to do is put them on my pc without losing any quality from the original.So what i do is copy the whole dvd structure onto my pc. Also not only that but i'm trying to do it in a format that if i'm out and about i can also copy straight on my Archos 7. I have bought the plug in's. So what i have been doing is using clonedvd mobile is create a single vob file of the original dvd. That way i don't lose any quality for my Archos or for my HTPC. But sadly single vob files aren't recognised on Media Center and Media Browser.

Unfortunately it looks like i may have to compromise somewhere if i want the single episode information up. :thumbsdow
 

Iccz

Member
Nice summary, great pics...

Seems to be everything I need condensed into a single post.
Perfect, cheers!
:thumbsup:
 

wizbongre

Active Member
I'd just like to say "Wow" :)

I was impressed with vanilla VMC running on my Xbox360 extender with MyMovies and Transcode360 installed but this is on a completely different level to that...

Going to spend the rest of the night seeing if/how it works via the 360. If not watch for my postings here asking for advice for a proper HTPC build ;)
 

kj23

Member
looks great once you get off the front page. i'm using mediaportal and like it, doesn't seem a million miles different from yours.
 

wizbongre

Active Member
Sorted now - uninstalled and reinstalled and it worked! (God knows why...)

--------------------------------------------------

:( Things have gone wrong already!

I've downloaded the software you mention and started reading around the relevant forums and blogs and stuff...

Decided to try and get a new theme installed with MediacenterFX and get the message "MediacenterFX was unable to apply your theme at this time. VMC is currently in use by another program or device."

Anyone any ideas? Google is unusually useless for a change!
 
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groove

Active Member
Cool...i think...was your edit after you had problems and now its running ok ?

I had this once after just shutting down VMC...it seems it doesnt always shutdown the process timely and you either have to wait a bit, dont run VMC right before running mediacentrefx , or kill the eshell process off from task manager.

What theme have you settled on then ? And is it passing through to your extender ok ?
 

wizbongre

Active Member
Yeah, edit was after the fix!

When I first installed it it went fine but just wouldn't apply the themes. I stopped every single process and service I possibly could and still it wouldn't work so didn't seem to be anything to do with VMC clinging on somehow.

Found a random comment somewhere that someone had been successful by uninstalling and reinstalling it - that did the trick.

Strangely, once I'd reinstalled it, it appeared to go through a proper first time start process of setting a restore point and stuff, which it hadn't done the first time.

Anyway, it's now working and I'm well chuffed - for now I've gone with a theme called blue_eye_cat as it will win me brownie points with SWMBO when she comes home later and negate the fact I've spent the night "faffing with computers" :)

Not tested the 360 extender yet... Will post back once I have.

Have to say thanks again for bringing both MediaCenterFX and especially MC Menu Mender to my attention - getting rid of all the tasks I never use is brilliant. :smashin:

Need to figure out the best way to rip and store my DVD collection now and then get MediaBrowser set up with it. I've got a few test DVD's stored just as seperate .vob files in VIDEO_TS folder style after using AnyDVD to rip them. Have to spend a bit of time reading to figure out the best way of storing them on my hard drive in a format that doesn't lose quality but still allows full access via the 360 (else I really will be looking for advice on a HTPC build!) MyMovies was ok but it never felt as polished as your solution looks - just need to figure out how to get all the Meta data for each film working with MediaBrowser and I'll be away.
 

Cha1ky

Distinguished Member
Need to figure out the best way to rip and store my DVD collection now and then get MediaBrowser set up with it. I've got a few test DVD's stored just as seperate .vob files in VIDEO_TS folder style after using AnyDVD to rip them. Have to spend a bit of time reading to figure out the best way of storing them on my hard drive in a format that doesn't lose quality but still allows full access via the 360 (else I really will be looking for advice on a HTPC build!) MyMovies was ok but it never felt as polished as your solution looks - just need to figure out how to get all the Meta data for each film working with MediaBrowser and I'll be away.


I'm in the same boat mate just not a 360 extender. I've kept the dvd folder structure the same as yourself for films. Which metadata can find the info for easily. No loss of quality either. So i can put that to bed.

My problem is TV shows.
If i keep the folder structure the same as films i won't be able to get episode info. Which i think is a must with this set up. I need to find a compromise so i can rip it onto media center episode at a time and not lose quality, whilst also being playable on my Archos 7 device. The problem is i'd love to create single vobs of each episode thus keep the quality. But Media Center won't play single vobs, and i Media scout wouldn't pick up a single vob even after i put vob into the allowable extensions list.

To summerise i need to do the following.
Create single episode files that will playback on Media Center, and my Archos 7. Without losing the quality, and a format that Media Scout will pick up fine. And then i can sit back and enjoy.

EDIT: Is there also a way to integrate Virtual Clonedrive with this instead of Daemon tools so i can then play my Blu Ray iso's too.
 
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rwttm001

Active Member
Yeah, edit was after the fix!

When I first installed it it went fine but just wouldn't apply the themes. I stopped every single process and service I possibly could and still it wouldn't work so didn't seem to be anything to do with VMC clinging on somehow.

Found a random comment somewhere that someone had been successful by uninstalling and reinstalling it - that did the trick.

Strangely, once I'd reinstalled it, it appeared to go through a proper first time start process of setting a restore point and stuff, which it hadn't done the first time.

Anyway, it's now working and I'm well chuffed - for now I've gone with a theme called blue_eye_cat as it will win me brownie points with SWMBO when she comes home later and negate the fact I've spent the night "faffing with computers" :)

I read the same thing over on TGB which did actually work (created restore point etc) in that I can now apply the themes, but when I re-open VMC I just get the standard blue default skin, help!! :mad::mad:
 

rwttm001

Active Member
Done a little more digging. It does appear that whatever MediaCenterFX is doing is getting overwritten when VMC is re-opened:mad:. This is the TGB thread on reinstalling MCFX. Reading a little further a user is reporting that themes applied in MCFX are being overwritten and offers an alternative solution, replacing windows\ehome\ehres.dll with something like Vista ehres.dll Dark Edition by ~orbit30 on deviantART.

Seems to work for me but I'd still like to try the Dim and Black MCFX themes as they look really nice. Not ready to give in just yet :smashin:
 

rwttm001

Active Member
rwttm001....are you using the TV Pack by any chance ?

That seems to be the root cause of skinning and lots of other plugins not working as far as I can tell

Hey groove

Yes I am, but the method in the TGB thread was supposed to work around it. It basically involves taking ownership of ehres.dll and replacing it with a modded version.

I got the Movies/TV Series front screen working fine and movies do look good, I also moved my recorded wtv files into the correct folder structure then used Media Scout to get backdrops etc, the problem I now have is the banner view just lists the file name (not episode name or image), could you tell me how you solved this?
 
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FoooManChu

Novice Member
Sat down last night pal, as this looked the nuts, and had a pop at getting this running on my laptop before I touch my VMC box.

After a couple of hours and as many system restores I started thinking you know that DVD library doesn't look that bad! :rotfl:

Got the the new theme loaded up no problem tbh... For the life of me I couldn't get the MC Menu Mender running... JUst get some long error messgae upon opening. Does having a custom theme running mess this up? Last restore I did took me back prior to installing MediaCentreFX but was getting late so thought I would leave it for another day :)
 

groove

Active Member
No not all , you have to load the custom theme first as if you edit the menu , then apply a theme it will undo all your changes and put your menu's back to default.....I know as ive done it more times than i care to remember !!

Have you tried using MC Menu mender on the default VMC interface ? Does that error out ? You can restore the default using MFX if you have a theme loaded atm. Just to see if it errors on a standard setup as MCMM really is the last thing to do once everything else is installed and running.

Have you installed any other plugins to VMC that may be weirding it out ?
 

FoooManChu

Novice Member
Thats what I thought pal...

I wanted to try that but when I went to apply the original theme MCFX failed on me with some kind of error... Thats why I did the second system restore to take it right back to the start. It was past 1am so thought I best leave it.

Tried to install Transcode 360 (I could never get this to work properly neither :rolleyes: ) once but as far as I know that has all been uninstalled...

Will take another look tonight...
 
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groove

Active Member
It may be worth taking your time and doing your changes in smaller chunks pal....I have only seen it crash once and that was when I completely rebuilt the menu , turning stuff off , dragging stuff around , renaming bits , adding stuff....its was almost as though it got confused somewhere along the line and just fell over.

So I tend to do my edits in smaller chunks now , takes a bit longer but I've never had a problem since doing it this way.

Manx has used it too and experienced the same thing when doing a complete redesign...he broke it down into smaller edits also and was sorted.

It can be a be fiddly in what it allows you to do , obviously restricted to how the VMC is constructed , what can be put where etc, but with a bit of patience you can get it exactly how you want it.
 

FoooManChu

Novice Member
Manx has used it too and experienced the same thing when doing a complete redesign...he broke it down into smaller edits also and was sorted.

Don't think it can be the same thing pal as I can't even open it to make just a few changes... :confused:
 

groove

Active Member
To summerise i need to do the following.
Create single episode files that will playback on Media Center, and my Archos 7. Without losing the quality, and a format that Media Scout will pick up fine. And then i can sit back and enjoy.

EDIT: Is there also a way to integrate Virtual Clonedrive with this instead of Daemon tools so i can then play my Blu Ray iso's too.

Chalky.....I was having a think about this last night and wondered if this would work...havn't tried it yet personally but could potentially work.

Rip individual episodes from disk using DVD shrink to a single VOB file
rename the .VOB to .MPG ( as that is essentially what it is as far as I am aware although i stand to be corrected )
rename file to 24.s01e01.mpg ( as an example ) and put in folder under season name
Media scout should then pick this up and bring down metadata for it.

this from the mediascout FAQ -
Why can't I get MediaScout to work with DVDs/HD-DVDs/Bluray discs for TV shows?
Because its impossible. In all cases, even if I bothered to open up the respective containers (VOB/EVO/M2TS), at most it would tell me "Stream1, Stream2, Stream3, etc" for individual episodes, not "Season 1 Episode 1", which is the information MediaScout relies on to do the querying on. You'll find there is no software that does this.

However, if you can separate each episode into a single file (so a single VOB/EVO/M2TS depending on the source), rename it to SXXEYY.<format> (where XX is the season number, and YY is the episode number) MediaScout will be able to process it, so long as the extension is added to your configuration.

Maybe worth a try...in fact might have a go myself tonight as I would prefer to see the full description etc for each episode rather than the way I am doing it now.

As for using virtual clone drive found this on the forums.....not tested myself but may well have a play with this toinght as well -

Yes, to use VCD in place of DT, change the path in the Config setup to point to the VCD executable. And change this line in PlayableIso.cs:

process.StartInfo.Arguments = "-mount 0,\"" + this.file + "\"";

to:

process.StartInfo.Arguments = "\"" + this.file + "\"";

As you can see, even though the drive letter is in the Config, it is not used.

You will still get the "Cannot Play" message
 

Cha1ky

Distinguished Member
Rip individual episodes from disk using DVD shrink to a single VOB file
rename the .VOB to .MPG ( as that is essentially what it is as far as I am aware although i stand to be corrected )
rename file to 24.s01e01.mpg ( as an example ) and put in folder under season name
Media scout should then pick this up and bring down metadata for it.

As for using virtual clone drive found this on the forums.....not tested myself but may well have a play with this toinght as well -

Thanks i might try the file format rename. Can anyone confirm that changing the vob to mpg wont affect the quality or anything like that.

As for the VCD part i dont understand the second part of that quote you put up mate. (I'm not to technically minded)

EDIT: Ok before my keyboard goes out the window. Does anyone know how to do the same as this sign but opposite way round. "/" . When i press it on my logitech keyboard this comes up instead "#" AARRGGHHH!!!! I need it to put the path in for VCD. Sorted. I had to change the keyboard to U.S
 
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