Adventures in Media Centre

So I now have the MC bug and have decided that my Media Centre PC will:

  • Act as an interface for the boys computer games
  • Play DVDs with full Dolby DTS surround sound
  • Record TV shows off of the Sky Box for shipping onto DVD
  • Allow me to build a DVD library to save digging out the Disc every time the boys want to watch a movie

Launching games

The first one was a bit tricky but thanks to this link, and a copy of gameloader.exe I managed to solve it. Basically the “Program Library” within MC can be used to launch almost anything as follows:

  1. Create a folder called c:\MC_Launch for example
  2. create a shortcut to Gameloader.exe “mygame.exe” for the EXE of the game and call it MyGame.lnk
  3. create a MyGame.png image for MC to use
  4. create MyGame.mcl in notepad with the following content:

<application
name = “My Game”
ID = “”
Run = “.\Launch.lnk”
BGColor = “RGB(0,0,0)”
CompanyName = “.”
StartImage = “MyGame.png”
ThumbnailImage = “MyGame.png”
SharedViewport = “”
NowPlayingDirective = “”>
<capabilitiesrequired
directx=”True”
audio=”False”
video=”False”
intensiverendering=”True”
console=”False”
cdburning=”False” />
</application>

5. Now copy the MCL into “Programs\Media CEnter\Media Center Programs” in the Start Menu

Play DVDs with DTS

Easy really. Just plugged the SPDIF co-ax into my Logitech z55000 and trawled through the advanced audio driver settings until I found the DTS tick box. Works a treat. Might need to play with Nero Drive speed as sometimes the disc runs a litle noisy but otherwise it is all good.

Record TV Shows

My Hauppauge HVR card has a composite feed from the back of the Sky box and the Sky box phono outputs provide sound. Only stereo of course but I’m only recording TV programmes not movies so that isn’t really a problem. For DVD-quality sound, I’ll buy the DVDs. Another reason not to get pirate copies if you ask me…

DVD Library

Possibly the most tricky. But here is what I ended up with.

  1. Use RipIt4Me to build a sectors list for DVDecrypter and force the VOB to the root menu.
  2. Save the resultant VIDEO_TS folder onto my Thecus NAS box
  3. Load-up MyMovies under MC and point it at this folder.
  4. The Movie appears with full artwork in MC and can be played without needing to insert the DVD

For the record, I buy legal, genuine DVDs and have them on the shelf. I only have the NAS open on my LAN and only the MC box runs MyMovies to be able to pick the movies out and play them.

I could go one stage further and rip only the main title using VOB2MPG but then my movies are listed as “Videos” and I don’t get the extras menus. I’m happy to sacrifice some disc space to ge the full DVD experience.

For extra tips and advice, the Australian Media Centre Forum is worth a trawl….

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