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Old October 23rd, 2009, 12:53 AM   #1
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Playing DVDs on PC - at wit's end

My ultimate goal is to play a DVD I produced (either a burned DVD-R or the real DVD-Video - I have both) in a portable environment for demonstration, using my EeePC (netbook) with Windows XP, hooked to an external DVD drive. Since the EeePC's storage space is really limited, I'm first trying to get this to work on my regular desktop (so I know exactly what I need to install), but I can't even succeed at that.

The external drive came with a CD full of software, but none of it is a DVD player, nor is there an MPEG-2 decoder, as far as I can tell. I tried out VLC Media Player, but it doesn't really have DVD menu nagivation in the normal sense. So I'm trying to just get Windows Media Player to do it - supposedly all it needs is an MPEG-2 decoder. I installed GPL MPEG-1/2 Decoder, but WMP still complains of no decoder. So I installed Microsoft's "Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility" - it lists lots of decoders, including the GPL one and several associated with my desktop's Roxio software, but all are listed as incompatible with WMP10 or MCE (whatever that is). My desktop has WMP11, and the EeePC has WMP10 (too bad it's not an earlier version, because that might have worked with the GPL decoder... but I don't think it's possible to downgrade to 9). Real Player (on both machines) also refuses to play a DVD, presumably for the same reason of a lack of the right kind of decoder (it says I should upgrade to the newest version of RP, but I already have).

Does anyone have any suggestions?
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 03:39 AM   #2
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Karen,

In a neighbouring post you can see I've stumbled upon a not too dissimilar issue. The way I've now tackled it was to author the DVD with PCM Wave audio soundtrack (rather than Dolby Digital 2, otherwise known as AC3 which my clients PCs seem to lack - hence they cannot play my DVDs with sound). AC3 audio works fine in everything else I've every supplied for several years now but not in this specific case.

I've yet to go back to the client with these new DVDs to test ...but just maybe this route will work for you as all PCs should be able to play audio in the WAV format and if you have WMP and VLC installed it should definitely play the M-PEG2 video part, as far as I know, unless something is corrupted somewhere? Maybe try uninstalling and re-installing the key components as it sounds a bit of a jumble...

Anyway, this post has some useful suggestions that might help you on the DVD playing side.

HELP! - No sound on DVDs (in some situations only)
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 06:05 AM   #3
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media player classic should solve the problem of playing on your PC.

It's free at Media Player Classic - Home Cinema - Video Player.
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 08:55 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Wilkinson View Post
AC3 which my clients PCs seem to lack - hence they cannot play my DVDs with sound).
So, why don't they just install the freely available AC3Filter?
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 09:23 AM   #5
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If I were you, I'd try a few free movie players. I've heard good things about the VLC Media Player.
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 01:31 PM   #6
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1. The reason VLC can play virtually any codec and container format you throw at it, is because is installs and uses - internally - libraries from the "ffmpeg project" that can encode/decode virtually any codec or container format you throw at it.

If you don't like how VLC works with DVDs, you can install ffdshow-tryouts
ffdshow | Get ffdshow at SourceForge.net

this is based on are the same ffmpeg libraries, only it installs them as a single directshow/vfw codec available systemwide. What this means, is that any directshow media player - this includes WMP - can now play mpeg-2, ac3, divx, xvid, h264 and what not, without any need to install additional codecs.

Note : this is not an evil "codec pack" that can mess up your system. it is perfectly safe to install :) (however, you possibly may need to play around a bit with ffdshow's setting to get some of the codecs to play correctly in WMP)

2. If your goal is to play a video you produced off a netbook, why are you bothering with a DVD in the first place? Why not encode your video/s from the original source to h264 (or if that's too processor intensive to xvid) and play them of the hard drive or a flash drive?

cheers,
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Old November 9th, 2009, 05:29 PM   #7
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Sorry I was slow to follow up

I didn't realize I wasn't subscribed to my thread, so I wasn't aware of all your replies until I manually checked. Thanks for responding.

I had a particular deadline for getting a way to show my DVD at a conference "booth", so I found a friend who would loan me his flatscreen TV (I only have a CRT one, so it's not at all portable), and I used my portable DVD player for that situation. But I still needed to figure this out for the future, so I read your comments and experimented some more.

Strangely, now, after having my desktop computer off for a week, WMP and Real Player no longer complain about incompatibility (I don't remember changing anything). But I don't hear any audio - I don't know if it's related to Andy's client's problem or not, as mine is not an HP. Perhaps one of the various MPEG2 decoders started cooperating or something. But Microsoft's "Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility" still says none of the decoders are compatible with stuff, so it's a mystery.

Coincidentally, the issue of AC3 vs. PCM came up for a different reason (my portable DVD player is slow at picking up a new stream's AC3 audio, so I was missing the first second or so of every stream), and I had enough space on the disk to make a DVD with all PCM audio, so I did that for use with my portable player. But just now I tested it on both my desktop and netbook, and it acts the same as a DVD with AC3 (desktop plays in both WPM and RP with no sound, netbook gives the same error message about decoders).

Lots of people like VLC Player, but it doesn't navigate the DVD menu structure properly - it starts at a menu even though I have a short video intro set as "first play", doesn't show the highlight colors as I have set them, and several other problems I don't remember now. If I am using it to demonstrate a DVD's functionality and design, that isn't good enough.

However, Don Bloom suggested a player I had never heard of before: Media Player Classic HC. I looked over the user reviews on the web and decided to try it (one review said it was flagged by Zone Alarm, but that was just one out of many good reviews, and I would hope that SourceForge would check for malicious code). It plays the DVD correctly as far as I can tell at first glance, and it's relatively small (considerably smaller than VLC Player), so I'll probably install that on my netbook when I need to do demos in the future.

However, Jon Shohet also said this, which I would like to ask further about:
Quote:
If your goal is to play a video you produced off a netbook, why are you bothering with a DVD in the first place? Why not encode your video/s from the original source to h264 (or if that's too processor intensive to xvid) and play them of the hard drive or a flash drive?
Is there a way with those formats to also simulate the menus and navigation of a DVD? Or are you just talking about single video streams?

Thanks to everyone for your help.
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Old November 10th, 2009, 08:40 PM   #8
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"If I am using it to demonstrate a DVD's functionality and design, that isn't good enough."

Hi Karen,

It is technically possible to create mp4 and divx files with dvd-like menus, but it's much more trouble than it's worth, and yes, sorry, I was thinking about simplifying the process by using seperate video files instead of a DVD folder/disc.

Eventually the "Matroska" format should support menus
It already supports subtitles, chapters and multiple audio streams

What is Matroska? | Matroska

But for now, as far as I know there is no better alternative to the DVD menu structure.

MPC-HC is a great media player by the way, you can be 100% sure it's safe if you download it from sourceforge...
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Old November 11th, 2009, 09:48 PM   #9
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It's been years since I used WMPlayer for anything at all... maybe playing music on occasion.

I used Media Player Classic for a few years, lately I abandoned it in favor of KMPlayer. Both of these are free, and available in self-contained format (aka portable) and both support full DVD navigation. Portable = you don't "install" it, you just put it in a folder on your PC and run it from there, avoiding registry complications, one of Windows' major flaws.

There is absolutely no reason to waste your time on Windows Media Player!
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Old November 11th, 2009, 11:10 PM   #10
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I have been using KMPlayer for years. It's a great media player. The best part I like is I can double click the .ifo file or the video_TS folder, it will play the DVD with navigation structure.

News & Announcements - The KMPlayer's Forums
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Old November 12th, 2009, 04:02 AM   #11
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Not to sidetrack this thread, but it should be noted that KMPlayer, like MPC-HC and VLC and many free media players/encoders out there, uses FFmpeg.

The developers of FFmpeg have put KMPlayer on their "Hall of Shame" for violating GPL license.

Hall of Shame

Issue 820: Kang Media Player violates FFmpeg's license - FFmpeg issue tracker
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