Monday, April 20, 2009

Controlling Everything: OS X Screen Sharing & Remote Control

Screen Sharing
One of the coolest things you can do In Leopard 10.5 is screen sharing. basically I can control all my macs from my one laptop (my MacBook Pro). I commonly use my QuadCore Mac Pro to do a lot of my encoding. Screen sharing makes this easy for me to do right in my living room as My Mac Pro is out in my studio and would take sometime getting to. Transferring the finished encodes to the Mac Mini can be done via screen sharing aswell. Controlling anything involved with the Mac Mini. Even controlling Plex. Anyway.. on the mac(s) you want to control, enable screen sharing by going into System Preferences->Sharing and check on screen sharing. Back on the computer you will be controlling, open the finder and under Shared you will see your other Mac(s), select and choose to "share screen".

Controlling Plex and/or the mini with my iPhone.
I decided to use and iphone app called Air Mouse. Check it out for yourself, its very easy to setup and use. I can control Plex and the Mac Mini right from my chair.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mac Mini bitrate max for 1080p and DTS Pass Thru

The Mac Mini 1.83ghz and Plex (0.7.13) have trouble playing anything with a bit rate over 40mps. while it can handle small spikes into the 30s, it will soon drop frames as well as cause audio drop outs and sync issues when peaking in the 40s. So any Blu-ray with bitrates that climb over 40mps will need to be re-encoded with a cap on bitrate. Understand that there are many other factors that come into play when playing back video, biterate is just one of the many factors im focusing on.
(note: Plex 0.7.14 has introduced issues with playback of some blu-ray 1080p material.)

After working with AnyDVD HD and TSmuxer to get the full quality m2ts ripp, see if you can play it. If the movie has bitrates that don't climb over 30mps you may not need to re-encode. But if you have issue..

Capping the bitrate:
Handbrake is the app I use to encode video. The only problem with Handbrake is that there is currently no DTS pass Thru, although AC3 passthru works just fine. (update the next release of Handbrake will include DTS pass thru for MKV containers)
No worries, I have discovered my own DTS pass thru workaround that seems to work like a charm! See the DTS work around below.
Back to capping bit rate. In the advanced settings in Handbrake add the following to the h264 settings:
On the main video page select Average bitrate and set it between 14000 - 24000

While this is not a "fix all" for all sources, its works a lot of the time. My last option is to re-encoded with plain MPEG-4 (part 2) Under Video Codec: MPEG-4(ffmpeg) please note using this method will not allow my DTS passthru trick.

DTS Pass Thru work around:
You have already created your muxed m2ts file that contains the original video and audio.

1. Put the muxed m2ts back into TSMuxer. You should have two sources, the video and the audio. uncheck the video and "mux out the audio" saving with the name DTS Audio.m2ts.

2. Back to the original m2ts. Bring that file into Handbrake. What your doing here is re-encding the file without the audio. So go into the audio prefs and de-select any audio source. Set you encoding prefs and save as a MKV with the name Video.mkv

3. Open TSMuxer and add both Audio.m2ts and Video.mkv and mux them back together saving with the name of the movie. That it!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Plex Media Center for OS X
Plex bridges the gap between your Mac and your home theater, doing so with a visually appealing user interface that provides instant access to your media. Plex can play a wide range of video, audio and photo formats as well as online streaming audio and video. The real power of Plex is found in its library features: Organize your media into versatile libraries, automatically retrieve metadata from the Internet, and display your libraries using one of the visually stunning skins.

Plex, ROCKS. I am so happy I found this app. It play just about any file format out there, but really shines with Blu-ray m2ts files and if need be re-encoded files saved in an mkv.

The app also works with some great plugins. Hulu and netflix are just two of my favorite.

Gotta check out plex