PC Media GUI (or alternative)

Discussion in 'Video Streaming Boxes & Services' started by v1per, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. v1per

    v1per
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    Hey all,

    Figured what better time to post a question than when most of us are snowed in from work! :smashin:

    If this is a question already in another thread I'd really appreciate anyone stickin the link up for me and apologies in advance for expending the extra few KB on the AV server. I did a search and didn't find anything obvious, I've seen My Movies2, Movie GUI Builder but am not impressed (or sure) of either.

    So here's my query, basically I'm looking for a good PC installable GUI to allow me to have a better front end to stream my movies from my TB NAS via PC on a couple of TV's. I'd like jukebox style covert art (most of which I already have in JPG) to show up and preferably it be clickable to play the film or something similar.
    Most of my films are DivX, AVI or MPG, altho I do have some VOB files but everything seems to play okay. I have streamed on both TVs just using AVS/ VLS/ Media Player without a hitch so that's all fine.

    My TB NAS is connected to my home network with connectivity at the two TV's I'd like to view content on. It's just the PC GUI I need.
    I'm aware of all the external boxes but I'd really rather not use PCH or anything as that's more plugs more space I'd prefer not to use.

    Any suggestions much appreciated guys (& gals)...??
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
  2. Uridium

    Uridium
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    Windows Media centre?

    If that still doesn't give you what you need out of the box there a shed loads of front end plugins for it.
     
  3. v1per

    v1per
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    Thank Uri... I will see what I can do about getting WMC, any other alternatives?
     
  4. Uridium

    Uridium
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    Just noticed from your sig you have a PS3............Have you thought about streaming using your PS3 instead of the PC?

    Using PMS as a media server on your PC/NAS you can get custom cover/boxart displayed for videos in your XMB on the PS3.

    Bascially gives you a clickable picture of your choice next to the video file instead of the standard auto generated video thumbnail. I'm using DVD boxart for movies i have ripped to my PC.

    Just create a jpg named "moviename.avi.cover.jpg" or "moviename.mpg.cover.jpg" etc.. in the same folder as the movies are stored in.

    Additionally if you have a whole folder you want to show the same picture for (ideal for Seasons of TV shows) just drop a single jpg named folder.jpg into the same folder as the tv shows.

    PMS is really pushing PS3 media streaming forwards. great app.
     
  5. v1per

    v1per
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    Hi Uri,

    See this is why I come to AVF for my AV queries, always someone who knows what's what.

    I do indeed have a PS3, it is also connected to my network and I can browse etc on it, however I have been through the video section on it a few times to see what it can see and although it can see (some) file locations on my PC and my Sonos zone controllers I have yet to see my NAS show up anywhere.

    As all my videos, films (& photos/ music) are stored on my NAS is this a difficult config?, I'm technical in as much as I've been in IT for 9 years so I'm not worried about any technical config, I'm just curious about how long it will take to setup?
    I've also got all my films on a private (passworded) share (unlike my music which is easier left public for the Sonos system) so will I need to create a different share for my vids do you think?

    Also, do you feel I'll have any problems with my multiple file types, DivX, AVI, MPG, VOB etc...?

    Thanks for all your help!! :smashin:
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
  6. DannagE

    DannagE
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  7. Uridium

    Uridium
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    Unfortunately at the moment the PS3 cannot access SMB shares so needs a DLNA client app to be running on a PC/NAS.

    This app (PMS/WMP11?Tversity etc..) effectively "shares" the folders or network drives you choose for connection by the PS3.

    Your options would be to either install PMS on your PC with a drive letter mapped to the NAS and share this drive letter within PMS or try and install PMS on your NAS (It's Java based and i know some have been able to installed on certain NAS's).

    Setting up and installing the App on a PC is a piece of cake though, any binaries it needs for encoding etc are included and need no config and literally all you need to do is point it to the drive letter you want to share. Any file natively supported on the PS3 (AVI/DivX/MPG/VOB etc.. basically everything other than MKV) will just be streamed as is. Anything that is not natively supported will be transcoded by the app (obviously this is an issue if streaming with a NAS due to lack of CPU power)

    My setup is a small form factor P4 office desktop (low Kwh power usage ;-) ) with 2x1tb internal disk and 2x 1tb for backups.

    Rather than share the media drive out at the root in PMS i share out Music/Video/Photo subfolders and these then appear like for like on the PS3 XMB. Kids have their own folders with their stuff under these folders as does the wife.

    Paired up with a Logitech Harmony remote with configured activities to turn on AV Receiver/TV and set correct inputs etc...even my 6yr old daughter will quite happily fire up the PS3 and watch a movie or listen to a CD without issue.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
  8. v1per

    v1per
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    Afternoon Uri,

    I think I should probably be a bit more sensible and explain my wider plan.
    I have a TV downstairs, hooked up to the PS3 and the PC (networked). And I have a TV upstairs hooked up to a (networked) laptop.
    I want to be able to play my NAS data on both devices with as nice a front-end GUI as possible.



    I don't mind the idea of using the PS3 downstairs to accomplish this as logically I wouldn't need to log it in as I would with my PC. However if I use my PS3 to view vids and films I'd really rather not power on the PC.
    I used to have all my music on my PC and needed it to be on for my Sonos system to play and it annoyed me no end, hence me buying the NAS.
    So I'd like to really be turning on as little hardware (and leccy :)) as possible to get me films playing on a nice GUI.

    If I install PMS on the PC to share the folder I'm assuming I'll need to have the PC on in order for the PS3 to see the share and play the data right? - if that's the case I deffo will be looking at installing something on the NAS.
    If I need to install a DLNA app on the NAS to get the folder share available to the PS3 fair enough, I don't mind that idea.

    I'm also assuming the PMS doesn't actually go on the PS3 at all... can you flesh that out a bit for me please?

    However with ALL that said, if you advise there's some kind of remote that I can buy and program to turn on multiple devices etc then as long as it's not TOO ridiculous then I could see potential in that.


    Re: upstairs TV & lappy, I can always use PMS on the comp as you suggested so I guess that's sorted... so what do you reckon for continuity...?


    Sorry for all the intense questioning but I figure you know what's what so better for me to get the answers now.... thanks in advance :smashin:
     
  9. Uridium

    Uridium
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    Best bet to get a DLNA app on your NAS is a quick google search with your NAS brand/model or post in the PMS forums at the website i linked earlier and see if someone else has already tried. Twonkyvision is a popular NAS based one but ONLY PMS will give you the custom cover art stuff.

    There is nothing to install on the PS3 at all. The PS3 will just detect a media server (think you need to enable media server lookup in PS3 XMB somewhere) and it just pops up on the XMB in all photo/music/video sections; click on it and the folders you've shared out in the app will pop up.

    You'll still need to find a solution for the upstairs TV and lappy as the PMS software just makes the media available to the DLNA devices own front end software (PS3 XMB) it doesn't have a front end itself on the PC that allows you to view media just config settings etc..

    I think Win Media Centre on the laptop would be a good option for the upstairs TV/lappy. What OS is on the laptop? Vista home premium has WMC built-in so you may already have it?

    Other than that an NMT along the lines of the Popcorn hour would just sit between the NAS and the TV and would fit the bill well.

    As for remotes.....

    Harmony remotes will control anything with an IR sensor (so no PS3 without an additional IR dongle) they are activity based so you press the button for the activity you want to do (e.g. watch DVD or watch sky etc..) and it will power on and set inputs based on the devices used in that activity. they start at around £35 for the 525 upto about £250 for the 1000 touchscreen model)

    Once you've had one you'll never go back to manafacturers remotes ;)

    Edit: I'll take a couple of pics later of how the interface looks on the PS3 with cover art and update the thread.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
  10. v1per

    v1per
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    Hi Uri,

    Cool, I'll have a look for a DLNA app for my NAS - Western Digital MYBOOK 1Tb (WDG2NC10000E) and see what I find, brillo, much appreciated.

    I understand what PMS is now, essentially just an app for configuring and sharing data content (PC/ NAS) for the PS3 to be able to see it, bit like the Media sharing app that comes with Vista. Got it. I think I was being a bit dim!
    Would really appreciate seeing how your PS3 shows cover art and so forth, that would be great addition to my thinking... thanks!

    The lappy is XP Pro SP3.. the downstairs PC is dual-booted XP Pro and Vista SP1 but that's just for play around media and some browsing so it mainly boots for Vista. I actually use the lappy and I despise Vista on that level.

    I'd really rather not buy NMT although I wouldn't be adverse to it if push came to shove.
    I could always duel boot the lappy but I'd really rather not. So that leaves me with some thoughts.
    First a question though, Windows Media Centre... can that go over a current OS or does it need to be a seperate partitioned install?

    Other than that I've seen a good few alternative apps for PC which include:
    - Freevo
    - GBPRV
    - J. River Media Center
    - MediaPortal
    - TVersity
    - XMBC Media Center
    ...Uri (or anyone), any thoughts on these apps?

    Remote sounds interesting but I think with the IR thing I was thinking I could boot devices with it to save pressing several buttons (I also intend to build an enclosure for alot of this hardware which will probably make pressing buttons tedious). So dongles would be annoying, perhaps I'll leave that discussion for another time :)

    Thanks as always :smashin:
     
  11. DannagE

    DannagE
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  12. v1per

    v1per
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    Dan, how brill is that thread(?), how I never found it before is beyond me, thanks man! :thumbsup:

    I noticed you advised me to use XMBC, do you have any opinions .vs the other apps I mentioned??
     
  13. DannagE

    DannagE
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    Yeah its a good thread, my QNAP nas came with twonkymedia already installed on it and its a brilliant piece of software.

    And from your list, I've only used Mediaportal and then XBMC. Installed XBMC on my macmini about 4 days ago. And I can honestly say that the layout etc of XBMC is great, does everything I want it to and I like the apple trailers part too :)

    Shame the xbox360 can't handle more codecs though, then I wouldn't need a media pc. And my mac mini is one of the first intel ones and only has a coresolo, so can't handle 1080p very well :(

    Good luck with finding the best solution for you, but im sure you will like XBMC.
    Dan
     
  14. v1per

    v1per
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    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for all your help. I'm using a PC so lets hope the aesthetics are as good as the good old (style over substance) MAC.
    Do you have any recommendations about MediaPortal or XMBC with regards to their used of IMDB?? :smashin:

    Cheers
     
  15. DannagE

    DannagE
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    I never used Mediaportal for streaming so can't comment. And the mac's never been used as a mac, has XP on it :)

    Don't suppose it matters which OS its on really, get yourself an IR dongle and a harmony remote and you're set :thumbsup:
     
  16. v1per

    v1per
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    I was thinking more along the side of how it pulls down the movie infor, plot, running time etc. But I really appreciate your help anyway :smashin:... also, that thread on hacking me WD NAS... :eek: ...that's gonna be fun!
     
  17. Uridium

    Uridium
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    Here's how the PS3 looks with the album art. Agree with the other suggestions about XBMC for the upstairs viewing. I ran XBMC on an old Xbox for a while. Probably still would if it could handle HD better.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. v1per

    v1per
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    Cool. Thanks Uri, that helps alot.
    I'm now reading through the UNIX hack for my NAS (fun) and I think whether I can hack the o/s of the NAS to install Townky without bricking it will be my determination whether I use my PS3... it looks fooking tedious, however me being me once I back up the new data on my NAS to disc (probably about 30Gb or so) I will deffo be having a go.

    I'm installing XBMC on my Vista machine now, I'll pop back and let you know how I get on. Hope this helps everyone else and if anyone else has any other thoughts I'd still appreciate them!

    Thanks :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  19. Uridium

    Uridium
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    Only thing to remember is you won't get cover art with Twonky just video thumbnails.

    Might be worth posting over on the PS3 Media Server forums or PM'ing 'Shagrath78' here on AVF (Shagrath78 is the writer of the app) he might have some ideas about how to get PMS on your NAS. As it's Java based it quite possible it may run on your WD NAS
     
  20. v1per

    v1per
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    Ah dammit, yup, I forgot about that... I must admit I do want the cover art style jukebox option - thumbs, I may aswell just use Windows Explorer in Thumbnail view you know.

    I've added a post on the PMS forum too but I might pop a PM to shagrath too, good shout ,thanks.

    P.S. - Having installed XBMC, I like the idea of the app, that's kinda the look I'm going for, playing my movies is like browsing my hard drive tho, and clicking the AVI, which I have to say I'm not a big fan of, and worse, this is what I'm getting when I play them...

    [​IMG]

    ...hmm, when I try to change the Video Scaling Method it freezes the picture and crashes the program too. If I thought it'd be simple... ha, why would it be eh?!
     
  21. Rockinraver

    Rockinraver
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    Hi v1per

    Twonkymedia works very well streaming the video you specify from your NAS to your PS3. This was my first method of streaming the content from my NAS to my lounge set up but i grew frustrated with it as it couldn't handle iso and mkv file types. Additionally i could only view my files and folders in a list type view.

    I then stumbled on this marvelous thread and started on my voyage of discovery with Media Portal. Media Portal combined with the Moving Picture plugin still continues to impress me. You can show all your movies by thumbnail (a default selection for each movie is sourced from internet databases) in a multitude of ways and drill down to a synopsis and info from IMDB (or alternative sources) set against a back drop of a film still or some fanart.

    The initial set up is fiddly and it will become a labour of love to get everything running as you intend it to but once you do it becomes fairly low maintenance. I can't recommend it highly enough. Check out page 30 of the thread for some screen shots of the Moving Pictures Plugin.

    I have not tried using Media Portal on two systems but i am sure there will be someone outhere who has done it already. And there is a big community of fellow enthuisiasts out there to help you along the way but Theydons thread is a great place to start.
     
  22. v1per

    v1per
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    Rockin... see, just like I said to Uri, this is why I love AVF!

    Believe it or not great minds and all that I was actually looking at the MP skins and layout when I got the email update just to see what else is about. Upon looking at the Moving Picture plugin I see pretty much what I want to see on my TV, and I like the xFace skin too.
    Before I try to get a handle on hacking my NAS for my PS3 as I still quite like that idea as a backup if the '2 system' thing has any problems.

    I'm gonna read Theydons thread a bit now to get a handle on it but could I trouble you for a quick do's and don't list for initial setup... anything you think I should know if I decide I'm gonna have a go at installing tonight?

    Also, when you say on two systems, do you mean that you think installing MP on my PC downstairs and my lappy upstairs might cause conflicts or somethin?, if so can you give me an idea why as I would imagine the data itself is still on the NAS no?

    Cheers in advance :thumbsup:
     
  23. Rockinraver

    Rockinraver
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    Okay from memory i can't really think of any do's and don't as such. Just try and read the readme or the info that comes with the skin or plugin you are installing. Everything went pretty smoothly as i was always following someone else's instructions or an already trodden path. Any niggles i did have were simply that i just required a play with the settings.

    What i would recommend you do is ensure that the skin you use is compatible with all the functionality of the plugins you plan to use. This is why i chose Monochrome as i knew the fanart functionality works in both Moving Pictures and My TV Series (And i was just trying to acheive similar results to Theydon). Not sure about Xface, i can see accounts of people who have used Moving Pictures and Xface but there does not seem to be a dll relating to the Plugin accompanying the skin like there was for Monochrome.

    I wasn't worried about conflicts between the two systems as Media Portal will be specific to the system its on and the NAS drive will just be used to stream from. Having two systems you would want the convenience of "syncing" the two systems so that when you tweek the settings of the program or update the library on one system, the other is automatically updated - if that makes sense. It must be possible, someone is bound to have tried at the very least.

    In addition to Theydons thread there are loads of forums spefically relating to all the plugins and skins etc on the mediaportal website which are really helpful plus there are some guides on AVS forums which i found handy.

    Generally though its all quite straight forward you should be able to install the MediaPortal, a skin (maybe Monochrome is best to start with and maybe try alternatives once you have this up and running) and Moving Pictures and be up and running in a couple of hours. Whether its exactly how you wanted it or seen other peoples is a different matter entirely. This is where the fun begins.

    If you have a problem importing Movie cover art in Moving Pictures there was a bug due to IMDB changing there database. There is a sticky advising how to fix this on the Moving Pictures Forum which a later release will include.

    PM me if you have any other questions and i'll try my best to help.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  24. Rockinraver

    Rockinraver
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    I should add that you are going to want to give both systems full access to the location that your media is kept on your NAS drive otherwise you will encounter problems if you launch MP without first entering the network drives username and password. :)
     
  25. v1per

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    Rockin... much appreciated for those updates. I thankfully agree with you after a night of messing around that MediaPortal is super easy to setup, so much so that I now have a working (allbeit not perfectly - still got a weird background thing going on MyTVSeries) MediaPortal on my downstairs TV which I watched Quantum Of Solace on today without any problems *touch wood!* :clap:

    I've attached a few screenshots below so you can see how it looks on my Vista machine. I really like MyTV and MovingPics plugins, they are mint... I think the Monochrome's home page looks a 'little' bland and may change to a better front skin but other than that I'm really happy. Now for the XP lappy!

    I'm still reading Theydons mammoth thread and I'll be posting on the end of it but I was really happy with his and 'Phils' help as the install was a bit tricky in terms of knowing what files did what and went where. But I really appreciate the heads up from you guys.

    I'm still having a play with the idea of hacking my NAS for PS3 too as I may move that about in the house but I like the idea that I have MP as an for any computer that I have and I really like that.

    Cheers for your time mate :smashin:

    [​IMG]
    Monochrome 'Home' Page

    [​IMG]
    Moving Pictures - Large Thumbnail Layout

    [​IMG]
    MyTVSeries - Home Page
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  26. v1per

    v1per
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    Just to update you guys... so far my MP experience is working well and I'm also doing a bit more investigation on my NAS before I brick it!
    But here is a link to my post in the MP thread from TB... 38 pages but fook me you really understand how to use MP by the end!

    Cheers... :smashin::thumbsup::clap:
     

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