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  #1  
Old 04-14-2007, 02:07 PM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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Codec help for viewing HD content on MVP

I have no extra codecs installed on my HTPC so Sage it using the default Sage decoder which won't play HD files recorded with the HD HomeRun on the host PC.
Trying to play them in Sage with this setup the audio is fine, but the video is EXTREMELY choppy.

Trying to play through Sage on the MVP results in the same choppiness.

These same HD files play just fine on my Roku Photobridge in the living room. I have the Sage recording directories shared so I can play the files from the HTPC over the network to the Roku in the living room.

VLC on the HTPC will play the files (at about 50% cpu) with blurring on fast motion like camera pans etc.

So I'm figuring that with a "decent" codec I may be able to watch transcoded HD files on the MVP while awaiting the HD extender.

What I need is a decent FREE codec that will allow me to limp the MVP through until the HD extender starts shipping.
What I don't need is to be able to view these files on the HTPC, it's set up simply as a recording/storage/server device for SageTV.

Anyone had any luck with any of the free codecs and the MVP? Any help and suggestions would be appreciated.
I've tried researching it here on the forums but everyone talks about the Nvidia decoders which aren't free (at least not as far as I've seen).

I have a variety of player/codecs that have come with various DVD players I've bought over the years and may end up with one of those, I just hate to clutter up my HTPC with a bunch of stuff just to experiment.
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  #2  
Old 04-15-2007, 08:14 AM
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Try using Dscaler 5. DScaler 5



But if you're getting extremely choppy play on the host PC are you sure the host PC is powerful enough?

Gerry
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  #3  
Old 04-15-2007, 08:20 AM
bcjenkins bcjenkins is offline
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I run a server which does not do any client viewing. All codecs are set to installation defaults. HD streams fine.

B
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  #4  
Old 04-15-2007, 09:41 PM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gplasky View Post
Try using Dscaler 5. DScaler 5



But if you're getting extremely choppy play on the host PC are you sure the host PC is powerful enough?

Gerry
I'll give the Dscaler codec a try. The HD videos are very choppy in Sage using the Sage Decoder, but play fine outside Sage in VLC on the same machine. Whether playing in Sage or outside Sage with VLC playing an HD recording takes the CPU to about 55% (VLC) and 70% (Sage). That was with nothing recording.
The PC has a P-IV 3.0ghz HT processor, 1 Gig ram, Sata drives, ATI 9800 Pro video.
And as I said, those same files play fine over the network on my Roku Photobridge with NO choppiness at all.
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Old 04-15-2007, 09:43 PM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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Originally Posted by bcjenkins View Post
I run a server which does not do any client viewing. All codecs are set to installation defaults. HD streams fine.

B
When you say "installation defaults" do you have any other codecs installed other than the built in Sage codec? In my Sage Setup my only option is the Sage decoder.
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  #6  
Old 04-16-2007, 04:13 AM
bcjenkins bcjenkins is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waynedunham View Post
When you say "installation defaults" do you have any other codecs installed other than the built in Sage codec? In my Sage Setup my only option is the Sage decoder.
Sorry, yes. I don't install any third party codecs. I do not watch TV on my server. I do not install a video driver, it uses plain vga. The sound driver is not installed at all.

B
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  #7  
Old 04-18-2007, 01:45 PM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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Well, I found a solution. A thought popped into my head about reading in the past about a lot of issues with VMR9/Overlay. I don't recall when/if I changed my setting, but it was set to VMR9. SD videos played fine on both the server and MVP. HD videos wouldn't play smoothly in SageTV on the server, or the MVP, however the played just fine using VLC on the desktop.

Well a simple change to Overlay and now the HD video plays fine both on the SageTV server and transcoded on the MVP. So this gets both a for taking so long to check such an obvious setting, and for being finally able to view my beautiful HDHomeRun recordings on my MVP in the bedroom!!

Thanks to those who tried to help a moron such as myself.
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  #8  
Old 04-20-2007, 02:44 PM
valnar valnar is offline
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Umm, Are you saying the overlay/VMR9 setting of your Sage Server made a difference on the MVP?

Is that right folks? Why would that matter?

I'm about to build a SageTV server for the basement (instead of locally near my TV) with a crappy integrated ATI video chip because I also won't view any videos on that PC.

Robert
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  #9  
Old 04-20-2007, 04:56 PM
bcjenkins bcjenkins is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valnar View Post
Umm, Are you saying the overlay/VMR9 setting of your Sage Server made a difference on the MVP?

Is that right folks? Why would that matter?

I'm about to build a SageTV server for the basement (instead of locally near my TV) with a crappy integrated ATI video chip because I also won't view any videos on that PC.

Robert
Robert, I am using overlay and playback HD content just fine on MVPs. I am going to be upgrading my server at home too, I will most likely buy that supermicro board you mentioned in your other thread. I will use the onboard video at vga resolution.

B
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  #10  
Old 04-20-2007, 06:08 PM
valnar valnar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcjenkins View Post
Robert, I am using overlay and playback HD content just fine on MVPs. I am going to be upgrading my server at home too, I will most likely buy that supermicro board you mentioned in your other thread. I will use the onboard video at vga resolution.
I don't own an MVP yet, so forgive the ignorant questions. Why does the overlay or VMR9 setting matter on the Sage Server? Does the MVP use them somehow? I thought it did its' own video processing.


Yah, I've been quite impressed with the Supermicro offerings. If nothing else, they are different than any other manufacturer. Only ASUS seems to think out of the box too. Their regular Core2Duo boards are interesting too, but watch out for the 4 PCI slot ones - they remove the IDE controller to get that configuration.

I did however, make a slight change to the board I'm getting. It'll be the PDSME+ instead. Having the two PCI-E slots for the future, albeit overkill since they are x8 and x16, will prepare me better for future tuners. I'll start with a PCI-E RAID card which will leave me with the four PCI(-X) slots for my current tuners. If the pendulum ever swings to the point where I need more PCI-E tuners over 'ol PCI, then I have a PCI-X slot for a RAID card and can swap out the PCI-E one with barely a performance difference, giving me back a PCI-E slot.

Robert
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  #11  
Old 04-21-2007, 11:08 AM
bcjenkins bcjenkins is offline
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I am not too smart, so forgive my ignorant answers.

All I know is that I don't have any issues playing back HD on my MVP using installation defaults of SageTV. I do not install 3rd party codecs either.

B
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  #12  
Old 04-21-2007, 12:07 PM
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The MVP has it's own hardware (SD) MPEG decoder so the VMR/Overlay settings as well as the decoders installed on the server should have no impact on MVP playback. If they do effect playback on the MVP there must be some other strange interaction going on.

HD content is transcoded to SD on-the-fly before being sent to the MVP. What are the specs on the server? What is the CPU usage while playing HD on the MVP? Stuttering HD playback on the MVP is usuallly caused by not enough CPU horsepower or too much paging on the server.

I'd change things back to the setting that cause the stuttering and then check CPU usage to see what is gobbling up the CPU. Maybe that will give you a clue to what is going on.
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  #13  
Old 04-22-2007, 09:17 AM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valnar View Post
Umm, Are you saying the overlay/VMR9 setting of your Sage Server made a difference on the MVP?

Is that right folks? Why would that matter?

I'm about to build a SageTV server for the basement (instead of locally near my TV) with a crappy integrated ATI video chip because I also won't view any videos on that PC.

Robert
I don't know why either, but it does make a small difference on the MVP and a HUGE difference on the server (viewing the video on the server).

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmiranda View Post
The MVP has it's own hardware (SD) MPEG decoder so the VMR/Overlay settings as well as the decoders installed on the server should have no impact on MVP playback. If they do effect playback on the MVP there must be some other strange interaction going on.

HD content is transcoded to SD on-the-fly before being sent to the MVP. What are the specs on the server? What is the CPU usage while playing HD on the MVP? Stuttering HD playback on the MVP is usuallly caused by not enough CPU horsepower or too much paging on the server.

I'd change things back to the setting that cause the stuttering and then check CPU usage to see what is gobbling up the CPU. Maybe that will give you a clue to what is going on.
I ran some tests and the average CPU is very similar on the server using either overlay or vmr9. Average cpu is between 60-65%.

Something I found very interesting is that I'm using a HT processor and while the average CPU is 60-65% on processor is just about pegged (using either overlay or vmr9) and the other processor is just chugging along around 20-25%. So it may just be that where it's only using one processor and pegging it, that the difference between vmr9 and overlay is the straw that breaks the camels back.

Video on the MVP when using VMR9 on the server shows very slight hiccups, while using Overlay on the server the video is smooth on the MVP.
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  #14  
Old 04-22-2007, 10:47 AM
valnar valnar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waynedunham View Post
Video on the MVP when using VMR9 on the server shows very slight hiccups, while using Overlay on the server the video is smooth on the MVP.
I'm not doubting your findings, but I would love an official response from a moderator or developer as to why this is.

Thanks,
Robert
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  #15  
Old 04-23-2007, 12:31 PM
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heffe2001 heffe2001 is offline
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It's because he's using the local server as a TV client as well. If the server was dedicated to nothing but recording, vmr9 or overlay woudln't enter into the equation at all. Especially if he was running Sage as a service. They only come into play if you're actively viewing content on the server machine. The shows are transcoded by a commandline program, and don't display or use any of the video settings from the server machine at all.
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  #16  
Old 04-23-2007, 04:09 PM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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Originally Posted by heffe2001 View Post
It's because he's using the local server as a TV client as well. If the server was dedicated to nothing but recording, vmr9 or overlay woudln't enter into the equation at all. Especially if he was running Sage as a service. They only come into play if you're actively viewing content on the server machine. The shows are transcoded by a commandline program, and don't display or use any of the video settings from the server machine at all.
I've never run the Sage Service, and I guess never really understood why it's better/desireable, other than possibly what you just said and how that pertains to the available horsepower of the machine. (which should be PLENTY powerful enough to do what I'm asking it to do). I'm thinking of trying to shut off Hyper Threading and see if that helps or makes it worse since the transcoding process only seems to use one thread. Maybe if it was spread over the entire CPU it would give me more headroom? Or maybe steal so many cycles from other processes that it would get worse?

I'm also wondering if this:
" SageTV V6.1.9 Release Notes 4/16/2007 RELEASE"

" 1. Fixed transcoding issues with HDTV files"

....(I'm still pre 6.1.9) addresses what I'm experiencing.

I guess I have to do some studying? I haven't done a lot of studying on the pros vs. cons of using the Sage Service, but every time I can think of that someone gave a reason why "they" preferred using the Sage Service their reasons didn't apply to my situation. Maybe I've just found that situation?

I just hate taking a machine that, other than this one almost perfect thing, has been ROCK SOLID reliable for years. Other than updating Sage, or something else on the system it routinely stays up for 60-90 days at a time without a reboot and no problems.
And the HD extender being on the near horizon gives me even more pause since once that comes out and proves reliable I'll have no need for the MVP and/or transcoding any more.

Heck, I usually wait a few weeks when a new version comes out to update just in case some dealbreaker glitch is found.
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Old 04-23-2007, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by waynedunham View Post
I've never run the Sage Service, and I guess never really understood why it's better/desireable, other than possibly what you just said and how that pertains to the available horsepower of the machine.
It separates the backend functionality (which is basically 100% stable) from the frontent/playback functionality which is where crashes usually happen (codec wonkyness). That's the biggest reason, also in the event of a system restart, the service will restart and continue even if no user is logged on.

Quote:
(which should be PLENTY powerful enough to do what I'm asking it to do).
Transcoding HD to SD is a major task, it's definitely non-trivial, I didn't notice your specs, bit if you've got under a 3GHz, I'm not surprised you're having trouble.

As for why changing 3D Acceleration/VMR9/Overlay would affect the MVP, my only guess is as noted above, that it freed enough CPU from the Server client process to help smooth out the transcoding. Other than that, there's no direct corrolation between client decoding settings and the MVP. The MVP's transcoding is done by SageTVTranscoder not the SageTV process.

Quote:
I'm thinking of trying to shut off Hyper Threading and see if that helps or makes it worse since the transcoding process only seems to use one thread. Maybe if it was spread over the entire CPU it would give me more headroom?
Shouldn't make much difference, though HT is known to degrade some single-thread operations.

Quote:
I'm also wondering if this:
" SageTV V6.1.9 Release Notes 4/16/2007 RELEASE"

" 1. Fixed transcoding issues with HDTV files"

....(I'm still pre 6.1.9) addresses what I'm experiencing.

I guess I have to do some studying? I haven't done a lot of studying on the pros vs. cons of using the Sage Service, but every time I can think of that someone gave a reason why "they" preferred using the Sage Service their reasons didn't apply to my situation. Maybe I've just found that situation?
I doubt that fix has any direct impact on you. If I had to guess, I'd say you simply don't have enough horsepower for HD transcoding.

Quote:
I just hate taking a machine that, other than this one almost perfect thing, has been ROCK SOLID reliable for years. Other than updating Sage, or something else on the system it routinely stays up for 60-90 days at a time without a reboot and no problems.
And the HD extender being on the near horizon gives me even more pause since once that comes out and proves reliable I'll have no need for the MVP and/or transcoding any more.
True.
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  #18  
Old 04-30-2007, 08:12 AM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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It separates the backend functionality (which is basically 100% stable) from the frontent/playback functionality which is where crashes usually happen (codec wonkyness). That's the biggest reason, also in the event of a system restart, the service will restart and continue even if no user is logged on.
Well, for me both have been rock solid so "stability" isn't the issue for me. Also restarts aren't a problem since I've got mine set to automatically log me on every reboot.

I did try using the service and it worked fine, however it made no noticeable difference in cpu usage. <shrug>


Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post
Transcoding HD to SD is a major task, it's definitely non-trivial, I didn't notice your specs, bit if you've got under a 3GHz, I'm not surprised you're having trouble.

As for why changing 3D Acceleration/VMR9/Overlay would affect the MVP, my only guess is as noted above, that it freed enough CPU from the Server client process to help smooth out the transcoding. Other than that, there's no direct corrolation between client decoding settings and the MVP. The MVP's transcoding is done by SageTVTranscoder not the SageTV process.
That seems to be what I'm seeing. The transcoding process is taxing the cpu (P-IV 2.8ghz HT) pretty close to max and changing the overlay/VMR9 setting is just giving it enough headroom to work.
The other night I was watching an HD recording on the MVP and everything was fine up until a show finished and Dirmon2 kicked in and fired off ShowAnalyzer. It became completely unwatchable at that point. I went in the room with the server and paused SA and the video was fine again.

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Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post
Shouldn't make much difference, though HT is known to degrade some single-thread operations.
I tried shutting off HT and it was WAY worse. The cpu usage #'s were the same total, but trying to watch trancoded video was FAR worse than with HT on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post
I doubt that fix has any direct impact on you. If I had to guess, I'd say you simply don't have enough horsepower for HD transcoding.
I sure hope they put out the HD extender pretty soon. I don't really want to build a new more powerful PC to run as a server.
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