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Steve Bargelt Oooooo biker!

I recently purchased a Blu-Ray drive for my media center PC I couldn’t resists as they are now under $100 shipped. As an self-respecting geek would do I immediately searched for the best most efficient way to play Blu-Ray discs (BDs) or BD rips on my sub $500 Home Theater PC. I read the post entitled Easy, Efficient Hi-Def Video Playback by Jeff Atwood in it he says:

  1. download the standalone MPC-HC filters.
  2. Extract MPCVideoDec.ax and copy it into c:\windows\system32\
  3. Open a command prompt, navigate to c:\windows\system32\, and run regsvr32 MPCVideoDec.ax

Be sure you don't have any other video codecs registered, as the MPC-HC filter can handle everything. Once you register this magical codec, Windows Media Player (and thus, Windows Media Center) will use hardware accelerated high definition video playback. It's amazing. 

Oh Jeff I wish it would have been that easy for me! At this point I’ve spent WAY too many hours (40? 60? kind of defeats the “best most efficient assertion above, huh?) on this. I thought since I spent so many hours working through these issues that I should share my pain experiences. These are my experiences and of course YMMV… this is on the aforementioned sub $500 HTPC with Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit installed.

I do agree with Jeff that AnyDVD HD is a VERY cool application. Yes I buy and own legitimate copies of every Blu-Ray disc and DVD that I rip but I LOVE the convenience of looking at a menu in Vista Media Center (VMC), selecting a movie and pressing play. No misplaced cases, nothing to put away when you are done, no kid fingerprints on my discs! Simple and easy! Plus I’m a TOTAL geek and love a challenge! AnyDVD really makes ripping BDs easy:

  1. Right click the SlySoft Fox task bar icon; choose "Rip Video DVD to Harddisk"
  2. Choose a path (I rip mine directly to my Windows Home Server)
  3. Click "Copy DVD"
  4. Wait 30 – 45 minutes

So far, so good! I ripped the few Blu-Ray Discs (BDs) that I own to my Windows Home Server. The best part is that usually (and yes there are exceptions) you can reduce the rip to one single file. Find the largest file in the \BDMV\STREAM folder and that is your movie. Delete all the other files. No I don’t want the extras and don’t even get me started on useless DVD and BD menus! I HATE nothing more than waiting for some college student’s crappy video project menu-intro thing to “play” when all I want to so is watch a flippin’ movie!

My first step was to try to get my ripped BDs to play well in MPC-HC even in this magical stand-alone application it wasn’t as simple as Mr. Atwood led me to believe. I was still seeing upwards of 90% CPU utilization until I enabled the “EMC Custom” under output. That got my CPU utilization down to around 30% from 90% - 100% when playing a ripped BD. Cool. Only took me like 10 hours of experimentation to figure THAT out! Yes I KNOW, Steve, RTFM! Now to translate that into WMP and ultimately VMC.

Next, I took Jeff’s advice and uninstalled all CODEC packages I had installed on my HTPC and registered the MPCVideoDec.ax file. I opened the .mt2s file in Media Center and… nothing. So this DID NOT work for me. I’m glad it was so simple and it worked for him! Since the BD rip is just the one file video, sound and all is does seem to make sense that JUST registering a video decoder would NOT allow the file to play. Since the mt2s file is a container with audio and video streams it must be split apart so it seems that you do NEED a splitter installed. Uninstalling all of my CODEC paks uninstalled all of my splitters. So when I tried to play the .mt2s files in Media Center I got nothing except a major case of frustration!  After a TON more research (few more hours) I finally found this Vista Codec Package... Shark007’s goal is to have one CODEC install that "just works" for every possible video and audio file out there. Lofty goal and I commend the dude. Didn’t work for my purposes though! Of course not! To get it to work for me though... I had to do a custom install:

  • Remove ffdshow
  • Remove DirectVOBSub
  • Add AC3Filter

Simple, huh? Well yeah I went through 40 or 50 configurations to figure that out! I’ll spare you EVERY detail but I guess in a way I was lucky two of my first rips were very different. The Blu-Ray spec allows for a few different video and audio encoding standards:

For video, all players are required to support MPEG-2, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, and SMPTE VC-1… For audio, BD-ROM players are required to support Dolby Digital, DTS, and linear PCM.

The first .mt2s file I was using as a test subject had an AVC video stream and DTS audio and the second had a VC-1 video stream and a Dolby Digital Audio stream so when testing sometimes the DTS audio would disappear, sometimes the DD audio would disappear. Sometimes the video would not play, sometimes the audio and/or video would stutter.

So After running through many, many configurations, my BD rips play perfectly -- both AVC and VC1 at 10 - 30% processor utilization (down from 90 to 100%)!!! Also MKV files play perfectly as well. I remind you that this is on a VERY modest system. TO answer your next question, yes yes they stream FINE off of my WHS!

So, yeah, there is probably another solution... like install the 'magical' video decoder, install a splitter, install AC3 - but at this point I'm DONE. DONE I tell you! Well until I decide that I can do better! LOL!

ON A SIDE NOTE: I setup my Xbox 360 to stream from Netflix. What a cool system! I walked up to my desktop PC, added a few titles to my "Watch Now" queue and boom they showed up on my 360. Watched a couple movies this way. Flawless.

Posted on Friday, January 9, 2009 8:36 AM Geek Toys & Gadgets , Home Theater , Windows Home Serer | Back to top


Comments on this post: HTPC, Media Center, Blu-Ray and Filters

# re: HTPC, Media Center, Blu-Ray and Filters
Requesting Gravatar...
So, you're saying, "install sharks007, without ffdshow and DirectVOBSub, then install AC3filter?"

Incidently, you might consider transcoding your ripped MPEG2 DVDs to .m2ts with 1) Handbrake = VOB --> MKV (AVC video with AC3 audio) 2) tsmuxer = MKV --> m2ts. Then you have the benefits of MPEG 4 part 10 compression.

Regarding playback of .m2ts, what you wrote makes sense, although I tested playback .m2ts in Windows 7 (I have not looked at CPU util) and it works (sort-of). The question on all of our minds is playback of blu-ray disks in Media Center, without Cyberlink's crappy smoke & mirros approach.

What say you Steve Bargelt?
Left by jjwatmyself on Jun 25, 2009 9:48 PM

# re: HTPC, Media Center, Blu-Ray and Filters
Requesting Gravatar...
BTW .m2ts play flawlessly on the PS3 either form the HD or streamed. Totally makes sense due to the BD support, so you wonder what Microsoft is thinking.. kind-off like when they thought they would change the wolrd with forcing IPv6 on everyone with the original release of Vista. Ooops!!!
Left by jjwatmyself on Jun 25, 2009 9:51 PM

# re: HTPC, Media Center, Blu-Ray and Filters
Requesting Gravatar...
"install sharks007, without ffdshow and DirectVOBSub, then install AC3filter?"
Yes that sums it up fairly well... works for me but of course YMMV.

Good to know about Windows 7 jjwat - I've been meaning to try Win7 (I just installed Win7 on my new laptop) to play mt2s but haven't gotten around to it yet.
Left by Steve Bargelt on Jun 26, 2009 11:07 AM

# re: HTPC, Media Center, Blu-Ray and Filters
Requesting Gravatar...
Just came across your site. Your last post stated that you just installed Win7. What is the best way to play Blu-ray thru Win7 Media Center? To rip Blu-ray (movie only) to the disk? To play the ripped file in Media Center?
And can this be done (minus the rip part) to be wife friendly? Currently, she can navigate Win 7 Media Center just fine.
Left by Charlie on Jul 19, 2010 11:58 AM

# re: HTPC, Media Center, Blu-Ray and Filters
Requesting Gravatar...
As far as I can tell, you are the only person that has achieved playing blu-rays in Windows 7 Media Center. I have spent many ours, possibly a cuople of hundred, at trying to figure out how to do just that. I'm at the point of information overload. I've installed sharks007, but to do that without ffdshow and DirectVOBSub, I'm not sure how to do that. Any details on these steps would be a big help.
Left by TimC on Sep 23, 2010 8:31 AM

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