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10/24/13

[Video], Guide: Setting up Codecs using FFDShow

OK, over with the formalities, now lets get down to business
You may be asking why go down this route rather than installing Shark007 codec pack or CCCP etc. Well, “These codec packs” take little bits of standalone decoders and chop them into their own application making them very difficult to know what you have installed and can create conflicts if set up incorrectly. So let me tell you the few reasons why this is a better method(In my Opinion) of setting up a HTPC and Mediabrowser.
  • You can manage your decoders and splitters manually and update them yourself as updates become available without breaking your setup or having to go thru setting it up again. With Shark007 and CCCP you have to wait for the authors to release updates to continue using their packs if new features are released.
  • FFDShow caters for “all” codecs required by any modern HTPC setup (video/audio/subtitles) and also offers some great post processing filters in order to improve on image quality and sound quality.
  • By installing only one decoder (FFDShow) you eliminate decoder conflicts which makes finding the root cause of a problem much easier to find. (Shark007 uses many different decoders, haali is not updated enough and doesn’t support subtitles in Win7)
  • FFDShow using the Matroskasplitter allows for flawless playback of HD audio bitstreaming in MKV’s (providing your hardware allows this), which as we all know play natively in MediaBrowser (unlike .ts, .m2ts files ripped from BD discs)
What is FFDShow???
FFDShow is an excellent Decoder for Video formats, Audio formats and now incorporates DXVA 1.0 & 2.0 (Hardware Acceleration) decoding for h264 & VC-1 formats and copes with subtitles in WMP & MCE.
3 Items are required to be installed in order to get almost all formats working on your HTPC flawlessly. Also the requirement to install the “Preferred FilterTweaker Tool”. This allows you to set up your decoder preferences to override Windows 7 Media Foundation.
What we aim to do in this guide is to help setup what you might need to get your codecs working right, add post processing filters, resizing your movies to fill your screen. Also how to turn any 2.0 mp3 audio stream into full Dolby Digital 5.1 (AC3) output.
**INFO – If you wish to update your MP4Splitter, MatroskaSplitter or FFDShow install here are the sources to do so. These builds have not been tested as yet so please use at your own descretion. The Guide does have links for builds that have been tested at the relevant points.
FFDShow SVN Builds x86/x64
MPC-HC Standalone Filters x86
MPC-HC Standalone Filters x64

Download and Installation

Firstly you will need to download and register a couple of filters. These are both from MPC-HC Standalone filter Pack. The first being MP4Splitter (this allows native playing of Apple’s movie formats natively) and the second is the MatroskaSplitter (this is a much better MKV splitter than Haali and is constantly being improved on to work with FFDShow).
You will need to disable UAC in order to register the filters
The following 2 files allow for both of these splitters to be registered using a batch file. Ensure you select the correct version for your OS, extract and run the bat file.
For 32bit Only Systems You need this
32Bit Filter Registration Pack
For 64bit systems you will need to register both of these as you need to install 32bit version to use with WMC
64Bit Filter Registration Pack
32bit Filter Registration for 64bit OS
When you run the bat file you should see these windows pop up, click ok once successful and the reg will close on its own
RegSuccess
You will need to download the latest SVN build of FFDShow. If you are on an x86 (32bit) setup then select the “sse icl11” build. On both x86 & x64 bit you will then go to a warning screen saying that these are not official releases would you like to continue. Select the “I agree” Radio Button and click “Continue”.
Once downloaded, Install FFDShow.
Note: it is NOT important to ensure that you select the correct options when prompted by the installer as we will change them later in the various configurators FFDShow offers from the Start menu. So just do the usual and keep clicking next until the program has installed.
On the Last Screen of Installation, you will need to select the following configurations, as in screen shot below.
alt text

Configuration

Lets select the Video Decoder Config first. I’ve highlighted and annotated the images with notes on the left.
Video Codec Filters
Please note that if you are having issues with DXVA decoding then you can disable the highlighted h264/AVC decoder to allow for DXVA to take over but you will lose FFDShow’s Video decoder for AVC streams (which means no subtitles for those AVC streams)
FFDShow Video Codecs
Resizing your movies
Video Resize
Post Processing Filter
Video Processing
Subtitles – You can have subtitles selected in both DXVA and Video Decoder Configs.
Video Subs
Subs2
Sharpening your movies – Experimental for user
Sharpening
By clicking Apply it will apply the settings, by clicking OK you will save and close the Video decoder window. Click OK now.

DXVA Decoder Configuration
There really isn’t a lot to this new feature at the moment however these areas will be of interest. However if using a low Power CPU but with decent graphic capabilities such a small form factor hardware, like the Asus Ion or Acer Aspire then DXVA will off load video processing to your GPU.
Setting the merit of the DXVA Decoder
dxva merit
DXVA decoder selection – note post processing is required for subtitles to be enabled.
decoder selection
Subtitles using DXVA Decoder – If you have either h264 and/or VC-1 ticked then the subtitles for which ever codec is ticked will use the DXVA Decoder. You can have subtitles ticked for both DXVA and Video Decoder Configs.
dxva subs

FFDShow Audio Config
Now this is probably one of the most easiest things to set up, but can also cause a lot of issues if not set up correctly. So just take things one step at a time and test all types of media after you make a change before moving onto a new tweak or changing a codec. This way you will know what you’ve just changed and be able to revert back.
Audio Codecs
Standard codecs
PCM Audio codec
Multiple Instances of FFDShow’s Audio Decoder
multiple audio
Outputs – I would be careful on this section as you can break audio streams depending on what hardware you are using. The following config is for my setup and HD Audio Bitstreaming.
Outputs page
Mixer – If you are receiving dts/ac3 streams but are connected to TV then set your speaker setup to 2.0 Stereo, this will ensure that everything is downmixed to 2 Ch stereo and should allow you to play all types of audio streams including HD audio streams. However you must ensure that none of the SPDIF Passthru formats are ticked in the OUTPUTS page in the previous screen shot.
mixer

DirectShow FilterTweaker Tool
This tool allows you to override/set what decoder YOU want to use for each video/audio format.
Download the Tool – Install and run.
Before tweaking these settings….. ENSURE YOU CREATE A SYSTEM RESTORE POINT
Again instructions are down the left hand side of screen shots. Click Apply to move to the next page
Page 1 of the Tweaker Tool
alt text
alt text
Page 2 of the Tweaker Tool
alt text
Finally, Page 3 of the Tweaker Tool
alt text
http://community.mediabrowser.tv/permalinks/2046/guide-setting-up-codecs-using-ffdshow

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