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Thursday, 26 November 2009

DVD -> DVR-MS - How to video

This is a how to video for beginners, using VideoReDo you can easily and quickly convert DVD movie rips VIDEO_TS to .DVR-MS files.

DVR-MS is the Microsoft format for recorded TV for Windows Media Center in Vista. They also play fine on Windows Seven however.

The advantage of using DVR-MS files is you can play them natively with full FFWD functionality on Windows Media Center extenders such as the Linksys DMA and XBOX 360, say bye bye to transcoding on the fly with Transcode 360 and the likes.

Monday, 16 November 2009

My Shark 007 Win7 Codec Configuration

Update: As of Shark 007 pack version 2.28 for my configuration to work as described below, I now also have to "Disable the DMO codecs on the SWAP TAB"

I’ve been in Codec hell again lately, ever since first connecting a Windows 7 Media Center PC to an AVR and wanting to get 5.1 surround sound working. Previously I was in bliss with a 2.0 speaker setup on my Media Center at home and had no codec / playback issues what so ever.

I also wanted to make my MKV’s look better on the XBOX 360 MCX, as with the Shark 007 codec pack and the native Windows 7 transcoding of MKV’s to the extender the video quality looked pretty bad.

First thing I tried was the DIVX Tech Preview, however I was unable to get anything other than 2 channel PCM on the HTPC when it was installed and my MKV’s didn’t really look any better on the extender, not sure why? I also found the DIVX Tech Preview pretty unstable for me. Allot of people have been raving about this Tech Preview, I guess I must be missing something.

I then tried just the Haali Media Splitter Alpha for Windows 7 and I was able to play my MKV’s and get 5.1 audio pass through to the AVR but on some of the MKV’s I would get bad pixelated blocky pictures, I also get the same thing happening when using Shark 007 but I have a fix for this which is covered later on.


In the end I’ve gone back to using Shark 007, however initially with Shark when using the AC3Filter I was unable to get 5.1 audio on AVI files (XVID) that had AC3 in them, in fact Media Center would not even play these movies and would error. I was able to get 5.1 audio however on MKV’s with AC3/DTS.

If I un-checked the Use SPDIF options in AC3Filter settings, my AVI’s with AC3 then played OK, but I lost the 5.1 audio on the MKV's so at this point I was going around in circles.

I finally cracked my configuration and below is now how I have Shark 007 configured under Windows 7 (32 bit). My system is based on a Gigabyte GA-MA785GPM-UD2H motherboard which has an onboard ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics processor. The PC is connected for video and sound via an HDMI cable to a Harmon Kardon AVR 255 which in turn is hooked up to the HDTV via HDMI.

The PC has the latest drivers installed from ATI and also from Realtek for the audio devices both the Digital Optical (Not in use) and the HDMI audio device.

The first setting I changed was a newish setting on the Realtek / ATI High Definition Audio Device properties on the custom tab. Ticking this option allows audio pass through.


I then installed the Shark 007 pack with the full installation option. The following screen shots show the options I have changed, if you cannot see a particular tab from the Shark 007 program that means I did not change any settings on that tab and used the defaults.

  • TV/Projector
  • No Subtitles
  • Disable AC3Filter


  • 5.1
  • FFDShow – Use passthrough
  • Enable Audio normalization


When the Use Microsoft codec (default) option is selected some of my MKV’s don’t play properly and I get the blocky pixelations as shown in the screen shot above. Enabling Use FFDshow’s codec option sorts this right out and cures the problem. Worth noting however I don’t have any live TV on this Media Center due to my locale so something to keep in mind?


I found that MKV’s with AC3 audio were crashing Media Center so I had to go in to the FFDShow audio configuration and change the decoder for AC3 to liba52.


Finally click on Output at the bottom and ensure AC3 and DTS are checked for pass-through.


With this configuration I am finally able to play all my files in Windows 7 Media Center connected to the AVR:

AVI's (XVID) with AC3 (Dolby Digital)

AVI''s (XVID) with MPEG (MP3) (2CH PCM)

MKV's with AC3 / DTS

MKV’s with AAC (2CH PCM) *

DVD rips VIDEO_TS (VOB's) with AC3 / DTS

Blu-ray ISO's with AC3 / DTS (PowerDVD9)

* The only thing I’d like to be able to do is encode on the fly MKV’s with AAC to AC3 but I haven’t figured this out yet. What are you doing with MKV’s that have AAC audio tracks?

I’ve set this up on two different PC’s and so far it seems to be working well, I’m not saying this is the only or best way to do things as I’m not a codec guru but it’s the way I was able to get my files all playing with audio pass-through in 7MC.

However my MKV’s still look bad quality on my XBOX 360 MCX, so I’ve started converting all my MKV’s to WTV using DVR-MS Toolbox, so maybe then I won’t need any codec / packs installed Amen to that!

Some related forum threads.

Shark 007 - Cannot play AVI's with AC3 audio - Using AC3Filter
How to configure AC3Filter with DIVX Tech Preview?

Phaze1 Digital

Friday, 6 November 2009

How to launch 3rd Party MCE add-in with a Logitech Harmony remote

Following up on my recent post entitled How to launch Media Center directly in to a 3rd party app, I’ve been looking at how to launch My Movies and RadioTime MCE using a Logitech Harmony 550 universal remote control.

Searching on the internet it seems some people on Vista Media Center were using macros to move the cursor up / down, left /right on the MCE menu to click on the My Movies icon, which is not ideal and wouldn’t work on 7mc anyways.

Others were using software such as Intelliremote or ControlRemote however I did not want any additional software installed and running in order to achieve this.

So I have used a keyboard shortcut method, however there is one issue with this, you need a Microsoft MCE 2005 IR keyboard to teach the Harmony the IR codes of the keyboard shortcuts. Luckily for me I had one of these MCE keyboards kicking about the place.

First thing I did was to create two new shortcuts for Windows Media Center one to launch My Movies and the other to launch RadioTimeMCE. I used the method I described in my last post here to create these shortcuts. I didn’t want them on the desktop so I created a folder in my Start Menu called MCE Custom Shortcuts.

In this folder are my two Media Center shortcuts:

Windows Media Center – My Movies

Target: %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe /entrypoint:{8984aed5-7c9d-42f0-b2ad-c39bbcf04a25}\{810d7b87-1300-4aed-a700-1c6179f8f14b}

Windows Media Center – RadioTime MCE

Target: %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe /entrypoint:{4c36cf23-bf48-4f93-86c5-78009734d21a}\{4c36cf23-bf48-4f93-86c5-78009734d21b}


Now we need to assign some keyboard shortcuts to these Windows Media Center shortcut icons.

Note: Important, only create your keyboard shortcut key after you have moved the custom shortcuts to the start menu. As the first time I created the icons on the desktop, then set the keyboard shortcut keys and then moved them from the desktop to the start menu, however I found the keyboard shortcuts then did not work so I had to remove them and add them again.

Creating the keyboard shortcut keys:

Right click on the first Windows Media Center shortcut from the start menu as shown above in this case the My Movies one. Select properties from the menu.

Click in to the Shortcut key field with your mouse and then enter a key combination on the keyboard. You can probably use any thing you like here I used Ctrl + Alt + M

Click Apply and then OK.


Now repeat this process for any other icons you are setting up, in this case the RadioTime MCE one.

For this one I used Ctrl + Alt + R


Test that they work by entering the newly created Keyboard shortcut keys and ensure Media Center is launched into the correct 3rd party add-in.

Ok now our Media Center PC is configured we need to use the MCE 2005 IR keyboard and the Harmony software.

I am presuming your have already added your Media Center PC so just click the Learn IR button under the Media Center PC device.

Click for larger image


Scroll down to the bottom of the list and in the Learn a New Command type “My Movies” and then click the Learn New Command button.

Click for larger image


Now this is where the MCE 2005 IR keyboard comes in to play, line it up with the Harmony remote control and then enter the keyboard shortcut key you setup earlier on the Media Center PC. In this case it was Ctrl + Alt + M

It should then say Key Detected, the Harmony software will ask you to confirm this key again and hopefully after that it has learnt the new IR code.

Click for larger image


Click for larger image


Once you have successfully learnt the IR code repeat the process for any other shortcuts you are setting up, in my case I got the Harmony to learn another command called RadioTime using the Ctrl + Alt + R keyboard shortcut key.

Finish the wizard and click Done

Now you need to assign your new commands, in the Harmony software go back to the Device tab and click the Settings button on the Media Center PC device. Then select Adjust Inputs from the list and click Next.

On this screen I chose to delete the My DVDs and Radio inputs as these are for the inbuilt DVD / Movie Library and Radio area’s of Media Center which I won’t be using.

I then added two new inputs one called “My Movies” and one called RadioTime”

Click for larger image


On this next screen you assign the new inputs to your newly created commands that will now appear in the drop down list.

Assigning My Movies input to the My Movies command

Click for larger image


Assigning RadioTime input to the RadioTime command

Click for larger image


Finish the wizard and click Done.

Now save the changes to the remote control.

On my model the Harmony 550, I click the Devices button on the remote control, select Media Center and I can then scroll through the pages on the screen and see the new options My Movies and Radio time, when I press either one Media Center is launched in to the correct 3rd party application. Job done!

In addition you could assign your new commands to a custom button such as A or B for example.


I think this wasn’t such a bad way to set this up as you don’t need to install any additional software, the only downside is you need an MCE 2005 IR keyboard which you might not currently have.

Next I need to figure out how to change the page layout and item order that shows up on the remote controls LCD screen and bring my new entries to the first page.

Monday, 2 November 2009

HeatWave makes a come back for Seven MC

One of my favorite little Media Center add-ins HeatWave has made a come back for Windows 7 Media Center in the form or version 1.2


The author James aka MCExtended posted details on the TGB thread here.

You can download HeatWave from the links below:

32 bit

64 bit


Clubhouse Tags: clubhouse , story , media center , heatwave