Customisable Video Playback

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Once you can play your Video files using Direct Show Filters (see DirectShow Playback Guide) you can also then customise how the Video is outputted to your screen or TV. Media Center can let you tag each Video File with a customisable setting by simply right clicking while the video is playing and select your preferred Aspect Ratio, Crop Edges, Zoom, and Display Settings for that file. Media Center will then add these settings to the Library (under the field “Playback Info” that you can then copy to other similar Video files. Media Center will then use these settings when that Video File is played.

This ability is tag the output options for each file (or collection of files) is very handy given that many HTPCs will have a collection of differently formatted Video files that look best with their own customised playback settings.

Take the above video clip for example, it was recorded from TV where it was broadcast as NTSC 4:3 square pixel with a the original 16:9 image within it creating the lighter black bars top and bottom (Letterbox). Making matters worse it was then played on a Widescreen display which then added the back bars left and right (Pillar Box) resulting in the Video being in the centre of a black matte all around it. This is the image you see with the “Default” settings but we can now tag this file with some customisable changes:

Aspect Ratio: If we however select under Aspect Ratio the “Crop” option in this instance the Video would be expanded to full the screen as represented by the Red Box. There are several options to choose from that will best adapt the Video you are playing to that of your TV/Monitor.

Crop Edges: This is another useful feature as traditionally TV's used "Overscan" where part of the picture was behind the bezel. These days many TV's (and all Monitors) display the "Full" or "1:1 pixel" mapping resulting in some rough edges being seen (especially noticeable with older TV broadcasts). Crop Edges allows you to slightly zoom the image out and remove these rough edges as indicated by the Blue Box.

Display Settings: MC12 can now change the output signal format from your default desktop settings (eg a PAL user may typically have their HTPC graphics setting on 1920x1080x32/50hz to a HDTV) to a specific setting for each video (eg in this videos case it is 720x480x32/60hz). While customising the output resolution to match the native format of each video may produce the highest quality results for those that want to have the HTPC "pass-through" not "scale" the image, it will also solve is issue of "judder" from mismatch timings. The issue of judder frequently comes up where the HTPC and the video files frequencies are different to each other. Video files can be recorded in a range of frequencies including 23.94, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, and 60hz etc yet you typically have your HTPC output set at 50 (PAL), or 60hz (NTSC) if connected to a TV. For example if you are in a traditional PAL country your video output and TV input may be set at 50Hz but the this music video clip is recorded in NTSC (60hz) which when played will “judder” badly as the PC tries to remove 10 frames per second. A good outcome in this case may not be to “Change Display Settings” from the default 1920x1080x32/50hz to the video's native 720x480x32/60hz but instead to 1920x1080x32/60hz which will remove the judder issue and have the text overlay’s used by MC12 to stay the same relative size that you are used to.

Conclusion: As each system and personal preference is unique just play your video file, make the changes till you have the output that suits you and your equipment and Media Center will record those preferences into it’s library for future playback.