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  1. Member
    Join Date: Nov 2010
    Location: New York, USA
    Search Comp PM
    Hello all

    I'm having some pixelation problems. I have a collection of ripped DVD's.. some downloaded, some ripped from my personal DVD collection. I have mostly MKV files, but some MP4 and a few AVI. The MKV's are mostly H.264 encoded. Those movies are sitting on a Windows Home Server box (along with some music, pictures, etc..)

    I built a Home Theater PC about a year ago. It's undergone some changes (I added a cablecard tuner and a power amp for driving some outdoor speakers), but it's pretty much a high-end PC based on MSI's media live diva platform (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130206). I would like to be able to pull movies from my server and play them back on my HTPC.

    I have been unable to play back any of the movies in my collection without severe pixelation problems. The HTPC is connected via 10-baseT cabling, and the network load is not being taxed, so I don;t think it's bandwidth. I've tried every codec pack imaginable, and I either get no change at all or a slight worsening of the problem. I have tried K-lite, CCCP, Shark 007's codec pack, and a manual install of the latest versions of ffdshow, haali media splitter and ac3filter. No change at all. I've transferred movies from my server and played them back locally, but no difference.

    These problems are not just related to my HTPC, my workstation PC and my laptop show the same exact pixelation problems at the same times in the movies. These movies have played back correctly not long ago. I don;t know what may have changed. I've updated drivers on all GPU's, run registry cleaners and fiddled with ffdshow's post-processing and deinterlacing options for weeks now, but I can make no progress. I'm now using CoreAVC's decoder for H.264 decoding on the HTPC, but I get no improvement. DIVX and ffdshow decoders also show the same problems.

    I have only one hint: There's a couple of graphs in Haali Media Splitter. I have noticed that while playing back a movie, the top graph in Haali shows peaks that roughly correspond to instances of intense pixelation in the movie. I don't know what that means or what I can do about it.

    I cannot believe that all 200+ High Definition videos on my server are corrupted, but I seem to be out of options.
    Anyone have any ideas?? I'm running out of rope here..

    I will post screenshots of what I'm seeing later tonight (I'm at work right now).

    Thanks in advance for any expended brainpower..
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  2. Member
    Join Date: Mar 2008
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    Have you used Task Manager to review the CPU usage during playback ?

    Have you tried playback in MPC-HC using it's filters? Perhaps you can enable DXVA ?

    I think the best bet is Haali+FFDshow. Don't really need those other packs.
    Render the movies in GraphStudio if you want to see the filter chain being used.
    Last edited by davexnet; 18th Nov 2010 at 23:26. Reason: more info
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  3. Member
    Join Date: Nov 2010
    Location: New York, USA
    Search Comp PM
    Ok,

    Attached are some screenshots of one of my mkv files (Avatar). Haali media splitter shows a graph that peaks when the pixelation is particularly bad. CPU usage hovered around 20% with occasional peaks ~40%. This is my workstation PC that uses a dual core AMD 3GHz processor and 2Gb of memory. I'll repost the same shots using MPC-HC.


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  4. Member
    Join Date: Nov 2010
    Location: New York, USA
    Search Comp PM
    Ok, now here's (roughly) the same scenes captured from MPC-HC. CPU usage seems about the same. I noticed that Haali did not load this time.. not needed for MPC?

    Click image for larger version

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  5. Member AlanHK's Avatar
    Join Date: Apr 2006
    Location: Hong Kong
    Search Comp PM
    Originally Posted by ajkrishock View Post
    Ok, now here's (roughly) the same scenes captured from MPC-HC. CPU usage seems about the same. I noticed that Haali did not load this time.. not needed for MPC?
    It has a splitter built in.
    View/Options/Internal filers.


    You really shouldn't install multiple codec packs.

    In any case, they mostly all will all give you the same basic codecs.

    You might try other media players though, that have their own built in codecs.
    Eg, VLC.
    And others at http://www.videohelp.com/tools/sections/video-players
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  6. Member
    Join Date: Nov 2010
    Location: New York, USA
    Search Comp PM
    Guys,

    Thanks for all your responses. I ran a test using VLC, but I'm seeing the same pixelation. The problems appears independent of player. I continued watching the movie while keeping am eye on the mysterious Haali media splitter graph window. As the movie plays, that graph really levels out and the pixelation seems to become less frequent.

    I really need to know what that graph is telling me. Anybody have any ideas?

    I have stripped away all codec packs that I previously had installed and removed any relics left over from previous troubleshooting efforts. I have only CoreAVC professional, ac3filter version 1.63b and the Haali media splitter version 1.10.262.12 (Latest version) installed.
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  7. Member
    Join Date: Sep 2007
    Location: Canada
    Search Comp PM
    Originally Posted by ajkrishock View Post
    I really need to know what that graph is telling me. Anybody have any ideas?
    It's a bitrate graph for audio & video. Big action scenes will get more bitrate and show a peak

    If you're playing this over a network, there is a tiny tiny chance that it's exceeding the bandwith and causing the pixellation (very unlikely, unless you have concurrent traffic)

    If you play locally on a HDD and on other computers, this rules out bandwidth as the issue

    Try playing on a friends' setup, or reverting to older drivers - it might be the newest drivers are causing the issue
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  8. Member
    Join Date: Nov 2010
    Location: New York, USA
    Search Comp PM
    Is it normal to see the video bitrate graph bouncing all around like that and the audio graph constant? What can I do to control the bitrate? Is it possible to change the bitrate of an mkv file?
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  9. Member
    Join Date: Sep 2007
    Location: Canada
    Search Comp PM
    Originally Posted by ajkrishock View Post
    Is it normal to see the video bitrate graph bouncing all around like that and the audio graph constant?
    Yes completely normal.

    Things like titles, credits don't need much bitrate, but action sequences require lots of bitrate. It would look like crap if the bitrate didn't fluctuate to compensate for the complexity of the scene


    What can I do to control the bitrate? Is it possible to change the bitrate of an mkv file?
    Only if you re-encode it , you don't want to do that



    I would determine if the files / HDD are corrupted first - if they playback ok on a different setup, then it's likely a playback/display issue. But you've already tried laptop, workstation - so maybe the same bad drivers are on all your systems - so go check at a friend's house
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  10. Member
    Join Date: Nov 2010
    Location: New York, USA
    Search Comp PM
    Hello all,

    Thanks for all the assistance with this pixelation issue. I think I've figured it out now, so I thought I'd post back and close the thread.

    I have a total of six hard drives in my windows home server. Two of those drives are part of the windows storage pool (The WHS Drive Extender http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Home_Server#Drive_Extender) The remaining four are connected to a Silicon Image RAID 5 controller. My movie collection was the only data on the RAID 5 array because I wanted the additional read performance that you typically get from RAID 5. My problem turned out to be the worst case scenario.. all of the movies in my collection are corrupted. One of the drives on the controller was intermittent and dropped out frequently. I opened the case and found the plastic sheath on one of the controller's SATA ports broken off.

    Just to confirm my suspicion, I downloaded a couple of movies, placed them on the extender drives and they played back flawlessly. I have since repaired the damaged SATA port on my controller, and my array appears to be working, but If I place a copy of one of the newly downloaded movies on the RAID 5 array and play it back, it's pixelated again.

    Is this just a bad idea running these movies from the RAID 5 array? Should I ditch this idea alltogether and stick with the drive extender? Maybe there isn't as much of a performance boost in RAID 5 compared to direct disk access as I thought.. maybe even a performance hit.

    Any thoughts?
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  11. Member
    Join Date: Jul 2001
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    Sounds like something is wrong with that RAID setup. It should be more than be able to handle the read throughput of a movie, even HD that maxes out around 55MB/s.

    Things to check:

    - Updated RAID drivers
    - Latest BIOS (if onboard RAID)
    - Using the same drives (size, speed, make/model)
    - Using same type (ide/sata)

    Have you done any speed tests on the array? Simply copy some large files to/from the RAID to your other drives and note the sustained throughput. (Best done after a defrag to eliminate disk thrashing as the issue.)
    Have a good one,

    neomaine

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