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Thanks for the tip on DVD Patcher, DH. I'll give it a try.

The movies that play back with black bars all around have the proper AR, they just don't fill the screen correctly horizontally. When I try to change the AR using VLC the AR is then messed up and things start looking weird.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
I see... that sounds to me like the player just hasn't picked-up the anamorphism, which is different to the problem that Patcher was able to help me out with. All the same, give it a shot. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you...!

As for other players being able to see the anamorphism, my PS3 still can't - and that's the one I'm most concerned about.

I'm making a right name for myself over on one of the doom9 boards - a couple of the guys over there keep telling me to include the .IFO files, and all my dreams will come true... sadly, the PS3 can't see them, so it looks like I've drawn another blank.

Man...!
 

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Discussion Starter #24
WHAT a day I've had...!

When this is all over, I've a mind to open a new information thread for people intending to use their PS3 for DVD-archiving. It can be done, yes, but not without sacrifice...

... so far, this is what I've worked out:

The PS3 is extremely fussy as a video player. EXTREMELY. Even if a .VOB appears for all the World to be anamorphic, sometimes, the PS3 just won't listen. And there doesn't seem to be a reason why.

Furthermore, when you rip a .VOB with a broken timecode, repairing that timecode with tsMuxeR produces a file that plays flawlessly on a PC... but the PS3, again, is more fussy - occasional video break-up is the price that you, apparently, have no choice but to pay.

So speaks the bitter voice of experience - I must've poured over 100 hours into making this work over the last four weeks, and no matter how hard I've tried, I've come up short. I've downloaded dozens of freeware video programs (DVDShrink, DVDFab, DVDDecrypter, Smart Ripper, meGUI, tsMuxeR, IFOEdit, PGCDemux, Muxman, VOB2MPG, VOBMerge, VIDChanger, MediaCoder, DVDPatcher, AVS... and others that I'm currently too depressed to remember), and it really, truly, hasn't got me anywhere. Here are the only success stories that I have to show for all this effort:

1). Remuxing with tsMuxeR and/or PGCDemux and Muxman will make .VOBs with broken timecodes playable - but this process will, without fail, mess-up the video a little. Not much, but enough to be irritating.

2). DVDPatcher can allow you to repair 16:9 anamorphic .VOBs that have been incorrectly labelled as 4:3 - sadly, of the 400 discs I've ripped, I found only three such discs, whereas I found more than 100 discs with anamorphic problems that were labelled as 16:9; only the PS3 didn't know it.

I feel like I'm alone out here. I've scoured the internet for people as distraught as me, but there really doesn't seem to be anyone who's tried and/or failed to undertake the task that I set out to do a month ago. And if I'd known how long it was going to take, and how frustrating it was going to prove to be, I honestly wouldn't have bothered with it.

On that miserable note, I'm going to bed.

Goodnight, cruel World.



...


(see y'all tomorrow!)
 

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I truly am sorry to hear about all the troubles you've been having. What's worse is I honestly don't know what to tell you.

I have over 800GB of DVDs archived and they all play just fine. I know that's not what you want to hear, but mine do work. I have both movies and TV series archived.

It sounds like you're having problems with more than just House. I saw it mentioned that House has some questionable DVD coding. I don't have House so I can't make a comment one way or another. This isn't meant to be snotty, but I also don't plan on buying it just to see if I have the same problem.

I did run into issues with one TV series though, that being Monty Python. I have the complete TV series, I think it's over 20 DVDs. They are definitely formatted in a nonstandard way and I couldn't archive those at all, but everything else works fine.

Highlander is seven seasons, and there are at least seven DVDs per season (some have even more) and it is in anamorphic wide screen and they all play perfectly.

Again I'm sorry about your fustrations. I can try to use some of the programs you have used and see what happens. I only use Shrink myself. What version of Shrink do you have? Maybe we have different versions.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Hey both,

Thanks for your kind words! What a rotten day yesterday was...

... I was ill, so I took the day off from classes and sat at home, coughing and spluttering and trying to crack this thing - but everything I tried didn't work.

The last straw was realising that the video problems I'd encountered with tsMuxeR also occurred when using another demuxing program... except when played back on a PC, where they never happened at all! Meaning that the shortcomings I was encountering were down to the PS3, and nothing that I could do anything about. I'd literally wasted the entire day trying to fix something that couldn't be fixed.

:thud:

As for buying another media player, I really don't know where I'd put it. The whole purpose of this DVD
-archiving exercise was to save space - so far, I've bought a PS3 and two external hard drives to realise this dream, and it still hasn't happened!
 

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I'd literally wasted the entire day trying to fix something that couldn't be fixed.
Yeah... some days you're the windshield (windscreen for those across the pond :)), and some days you're the bug.

As for buying another media player, I really don't know where I'd put it. The whole purpose of this DVD-archiving exercise was to save space - so far, I've bought a PS3 and two external hard drives to realise this dream, and it still hasn't happened!
You might want to check of that WD media player. It's about the size of a paperback book.

http://www.westerndigital.com/en/products/products.asp?driveid=572

Even though the docs don't specify it, at least one review of the unit said it will read DVD .ISO files; I would think it would see .VOB's then too.
 

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Okay, so it's definitely a workable size...

... but what will happen if I buy it, only to discover that it only plays straight .VOBs, can't see the anamorphism, and gives me the same trouble with remuxed .VOBs...?! I'll TELL you what...!

:spend: ... :rubeyes: ... :sick: ... :crying: ... :surrender:

And let's be honest - nobody wants to see that.
 

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The thing that confuses me is this- I've used shrink to backup kids DVDs (after having several special edition DVD destroyed by the little ones) and I can assure everyone they playback just like the original and work on my computer, HD DVD player, PS3, and Samsung DVD player. If it's anamorphic, it plays back anamorphic on all of those players. I also can select any alternate sound track or Dolby track that's available... It truly is just like the original.

The only time there is any slightly noticble PQ hit is for something like a Superbit disc where it's a dual layer disc and pretty much just the movie and no special features... meaning the movie is using max disc space. A lot of titles aren't like that though and because of the special features the movie itself is usually around 5GB, sometimes less. In those instances the slight amount of compression isn't noticeable at all.

Unless there is something wrong with your PS3 (which I doubt and am not pointing the finger) playback should look identical to the DVD... unless as stated it's a Superbit, but even those require a close keen eye to see any degraded PQ. That's been my experience.

I am not a big fan of converting, remixing, or multiple programs. Anytime I have tried that route I ended up with problems like audio sync issues, PQ issues as well as losing aspect ratio for some. With Shrink I don't run into those issues.

So what we need to do is find out if there are any differences in setups.

What PS3 do you have? I have the original 60GB PS3 which has different hardware inside including the entire PS2 chipset (that's why mine is 100% PS2 compatable). There is a 20GB version that is essentially the same as mine but it has a smaller hard drive and only two USB ports, but it still had the PS2 chipset as far as I know. Then Sony discontinued those two and came out with the 40GB and 80GB version. The 80GB PS3 has some PS2 backwards compatability but it does it through software emulation not hardware like mine. The 40GB version is not PS2 compatable at all.

I'll check my FW version, but I believe it is the latest because I just had to update it to play Star Wars The Force Unleashed (which was very disappointing). Shrink is version 3.2.0.15 I connect to a Sony 55" SXRD and a Panasonic AX200u front projector through an HDMI switch that auto senses the input and has two HDMI outputs. Quick sidebar... this is a sweet switcher. It has four inputs and two outputs and I can put my source on both the SXRD or the AX200 at the same time or I can send one input like say the HD DVD player to the SXRD and the PS3 to the projector independantly.

Netflix and Sony are supposed to be adding Watch Instantly streaming movies, but no word on when that will happen.

The Western Digital WD TV HD Media player looks very interesting.
Video -MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, MOV (MPEG4, H.264)

That means it should work with the same method used for the PS3 where you rename the file extention from .vob to .mpeg. Note that this is not a file conversion because VOB files are actually mpeg encoded. Changing the extention just makes it playable in media players and devices that do not know what .vob is. Chances are based on what you've described, I'd say off hand you may have the same issues as with the PS3 but I can't say for sure.

Being able to format the drive in NTFS is a great plus because it means no more 4GB file size limitation. The reason most external drives are done in FAT32 is so they are compatable with the widest variety of devices and computers such as Mac's and PC's.

Other than that, my suggestion would be to build an HTPC. PS3's haven't dropped in price much at all so you should be able to sell yours and get almost what you paid for it. If it has a transferable extended warranty, then I'd say you probably can get what you paid. That way you can put that money in an HTPC. Beware though that they aren't as easy to build as it may seem. You'll need an HDCP compliant video card as well as a Bluray player. I would suggest the LG Superdrive that plays SDVDs, HD DVDs, as well as Blurays. You will also need to buy a High Def software player though so keep that in mind.

Audio on an HTPC can also be tricky. Not all HDMI video cards pass the audio through, so you could be stuck with using a sound card with digital audio out.

That above is if you want to have HD playback, which the PS3 does provide via Bluray and upconverting or playing HD files from your drive. For SDVD playback you can get away with more plain jane cards.

Let me ask this... have you tried streaming from your PC to your PS3 or try connecting your PC directly to your TV? It could be the TV. If the files work just fine on your PC there really is no reason they shouldn't play the same from the PS3. It's worth checking out because if that's the issue then any solution you try could give you the same problem.

I've had my PS3 for two years now and as mentioned I have 800GB of content on external drives and this method does work, so what we need to do is figure out why it's not working for you.

As I see it, it is one of the following reasons:
  • There is something up with your PS3. I'd see if anyone else has the exact same model you have and see if they have the same problems. If so it's something up with that model. If not, then it's something else...
  • Verify what FW version you have. Mine has worked from FW 1.8 to the most recent, so I doubt that's the problem but it's worth checking.
  • What version of Shrink do you have? I have also used different version, but let's not rule anything out.
Aside from that, if it's not happening to every disc, then it could be the disc itself, but I doubt that too since you already said it plays back on your PC just fine.

dh2005 said:
The PS3 is extremely fussy as a video player. EXTREMELY.
Again I am sorry to hear about your problems and disappointment but I'm not ready to categorically make that statement. Maybe it's a problem between models, I don't know. My son has the 40GB version and hasn't had any playback issues with anything from his external drive but his PS3 did go belly up on him and he had to have it sent back to Sony for repair. In two years I haven't had one glitch, hiccup or burp with mine, and that includes the time we went on vacation for two weeks and the cat hit the power button and turned the PS3 on. It might have only been on a few minutes before we got home, or could have been on the entire two weeks... I can say I've watched movie after movie on it and then rolled into playing a game for a couple of hours and it never over heated.

Trust me on this, I am not a Sony fan by any means. CEDIA though uses a PS3 in their media room, and as a player it consistantly is ranked up there with players like the Pioneer Elite BD player. It isn't perfect, but is far more updateable than any dedicated BD player I know of and the ability to connect external drives and play archived movies is a 10+ on the coolness scale.

Try some of the things I suggested, such as streaming to the PS3... maybe that will be an option you like better than anything since you can connect your drives to your PC and stream to the PS3. Next try connecting your PC to your TV and see what happens. If none of those work... we'll figure out what's going on but I know this works and everyone that's seen it in action is amazed and wants one. :)
 

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Okay, so it's definitely a workable size...

... but what will happen if I buy it, only to discover that it only plays straight .VOBs, can't see the anamorphism, and gives me the same trouble with remuxed .VOBs...?! I'll TELL you what...!

:spend: ... :rubeyes: ... :sick: ... :crying: ... :surrender:

And let's be honest - nobody wants to see that.
If you buy it from a local store it should be easy to return it if it doesn't work for you. At least that's my plan if one goes on sale after Christmas. :bigsmile:

I want to point out that I'm not pimping the WD media player; it just happens to be the one that looks the best for the money to me right now. A down-side of the unit is that it can't play DVD's directly or games; but I really don't need those abilities.
 

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But the pluses are many... mainly that without the 4GB limitation than anything is a potential go... even HD files which as we know 4GB would only be around 20 minutes of high def playback if that.

It really is an interesting device and is the same size as the My Books so it wouldn't look out of place on a shelf with other My Books.

I think we are going to start seeing a lot of options like these because I strongly believe the future of video will be digital media much in the same way mp3 players are starting to replace CD players. Even Sony has formally said that Bluray only has a five year shelf life so they know it will never replace DVD, instead it and DVDs will ultimately be replaced with a different method be it streaming content or media cards the size of a postage stamp.

Too bad we can't get one of these puppies for a review.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Thanks for the ongoing interest, guys.

Bill - I have a "new" PS3. An 80GB one. I'm quite open to the suggestion that this hardware's less robust. I have the most recent firmare (2.52, or something...), and the most recent version of Shrink (3.2.0.15...).

Honestly, buddy. I've tried everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
... in fact, I have an explanation as to why the PS3's at fault.

While over on Doom9, I made a nuisance of myself. I identified a couple of guys who knew what they were talking about and pandered to their egos for a whole day - they gave me all sorts of information that explained why the PS3 was giving me problems. And I didn't just accept their theories outright - I tested them out for myself.

Fact is that some .VOBs don't run properly without the .IFO files from within their VIDEO_TS directories. They just don't. Doesn't seem to matter whether or not the .VOBs are labelled as 16:9 or not - sometimes the PS3 just can't identify the aspect ratio. I know this is true because when running the offending .VOBs on my PC without the .IFOs, they don't work properly there either... the key difference is that you can tell a PC media player to use the .IFOs, which results in perfect video playback. But you can't force the PS3 to do that.

Some ananorphic DVDs clearly do hold all the necessary information in the .VOB, which is why the aspect ratio and anamorphism on your Highlander DVDs are intact (my 24 and Arrested Development .VOBs work perfectly, too...). But some don't. And the PS3 doesn't have a workaround for that.

Another problem concerns the necessity to merge .VOBs together when playing them back on the PS3. As you probably know, on a DVD the main movie will be broken-up into 1GB .VOBs that play in sequence - there's no break in playback between these 1GB chunks because the DVD player can buffer the next .VOB so that they run together seamlessly... but the PS3 can't. Which is why we merge our .VOBs into a single 4GB file - sometimes this works fine, but sometimes it chews the timecode.

Like I said - sometimes. Sometimes it's fine. But sometimes it comes out knackered, and the files breaks down when you try to play it back.

Seems to me like you've been lucky, in that everything you've ripped has come good... sadly, I've got the other end of the stick!
 

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To tell you the truth, all this just reinforces my opinion of why a HTPC is the best all-purpose media player. It's not the cheapest, smallest, quietest or easiest solution, but, with a little planning, it can be made to do just about anything that might be called for and is almost infinitely expandable and upgradeable. My main media server will be a HTPC. I'm thinking about getting the WD Media Player as a secondary playback device so that less 'techy' family members can manage to use it.
 

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dh2005 said:
While over on Doom9, I made a nuisance of myself. I identified a couple of guys who knew what they were talking about
And I don't? ;) Just teasing :)

dh2005 said:
Fact is that some .VOBs don't run properly without the .IFO files from within their VIDEO_TS directories.
While this is true it is the exception and not the rule. An overwhelming majority of DVDs don't do it this way unless this is something that very recent DVDs are starting to do.

I have over 1500 DVDs and yes some don't want to archive, but like I said that's the rare exception and not the rule. The unfortunate part is if it happens to be something a person really wants to archive.

In that respect I wouldn't blame the PS3 and say it's at fault, it's doing what it was programmed to do. The beauty of it is though is that they could add the ability to play sequential files from a play list as well as read the IFO information... but don't hold your breath that Sony will ever provide that functionality. I will go out on a limb and say right now that the WD Media player will have this same problem. It sounds like your option is an HTPC then.

When you mention the 1GB chunks... are you doing it that way and then recombining them afterwards? If so I had nothing but trouble doing it that way and just opt to have one vob file instead of the individual chunks. I will also add that over 90% of my files have the .mpeg extention and not the .vob file extention.

If I am lucky then I am greatful about that, but I can same many others have been just as lucky too. I spent weeks, maybe a couple of months scouring the web to see if anyone has done this and I couldn't find anything other than converting to Divx or other conversion programs that quite frankly were less successful than this method and took hours and hours only to end up with VHS quality. I tried to make this as easy as possible but will say that rarely is anything the end all beat all one and only solution. They all have draw backs of one kind or another.

It does sound like you've exhausted all options. Time is money, even if it's personal time spent doing something. As I see it your options are to stream to the PS3, look at something like Popcorn Hour, or think about an HTPC.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
Don - I assume that stands for "Home Theatre PC"...?

I can't really be bothered with the hassle and expense of getting a new PC and spec'ing it up. I think, as Bill has commented, the Popcorn Hour machines are my next port of call...

... assuming that this isn't still a problem: http://www.networkedmediatank.com/showthread.php?tid=1446&page=4

Can anyone comment...?


Bill - I agree that HDD media playback is very much a secondary function of the PS3. I'm not trying to give the PS3 a hard time... but, when push comes to shove, it can't do what I need it to. And that's frustrating!

As for your 'exception to the rule' comments, that's definitely true of the broken timecode issue - less than 30 of almost 400 discs that I've archived have this problem. But the anamorphic issue's much more intrusive - more than 100 discs don't work properly in this regard, and that's an unacceptably high failure rate.

All the same, the PS3's a great machine, and I'm still pleased to've bought it. I was in the market for a Blu-ray player, and it was the only sensible choice given its price and my interest in gaming. I like the PS3 a lot but, for me at least, it has its limits.
 

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Don - I assume that stands for "Home Theatre PC"...?

I can't really be bothered with the hassle and expense of getting a new PC and spec'ing it up. I think, as Bill has commented, the Popcorn Hour machines are my next port of call...

... assuming that this isn't still a problem: http://www.networkedmediatank.com/showthread.php?tid=1446&page=4

Can anyone comment...?
Yes, HTPC stands for Home Theater Personal Computer. Sorry about not stating that.

The Popcorn machines seem to be a very good choice; for those wanting or needing networking I think they are the top choice; in fact, having almost all of the home theater aspects of a HTPC, but a smaller footprint and less noise - and less cost. What you give up over a real HTPC is the ability to fine tune the device to your personal needs and desires, and the ability to update to the latest codecs whenever you want.

I think if the Powers-That-Be play their cards right and don't get greedy, the 'next big thing' in video will be networking music and video. Lo-res versions for free (or very cheap) and then bring up the price for higher-def material. DVD's could well go the way of the dinosaur.


Just as a follow-up: DVD Patcher didn't solve my aspect ratio problem with "Enemy of the State". It turns out that the DVD is really made in 4:3 AR, but is letter-boxed! The only way to get it to look like it should is to use MediaCoder to change the resolution to compensate for the crummy job they did on the DVD and then crop the image. I don't think I want to mess with that right now - maybe later.:rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #40
I've just ordered a Popcorn Hour A-110, and a 1.5TB internal drive for it. Should be with me this time next week... I'll report back when I've got it working.
 
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