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Backyard Theater - Outdoor Movies

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Author Topic: Western Digital WD TV Live Media Player  (Read 18871 times)
Sparge
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« on: May 02, 2014, 12:04:51 am »

I recently picked up the latest iteration of Western Digital's media player, the WD TV Live:

 

  http://www.amazon.com/Live-Media-Player-Wi-fi-1080p/dp/B005KOZNBW

This thing is supposed to be able to play just about any type of media file you can throw at it.  Indeed, it does seem to play just about everything including MOV, MP4, VOB and M2TS.  The only thing I've tried that it hasn't been able to play are certain flavors of FLV.

I bought this media player with the idea of making the task of creating my movie night pre-show reels easier.  I have a bunch of various clips I show as a standard lead in to my movie nights...

  1. Welcome To Our Outdoor Theater (20th Century Fox Logo)
  2. PIC Mosquito Coil Ad
  3. Snack Bar Ads (various)
  4. Let's All Go To The Lobby
  5. Trailers (for at least three new films coming soon to theaters)
  6. Cartoon or Short (various)
  7. Our Feature Presentation (Universal Logo)

There are about 15 files or so that string together to make the pre-show.  I make a new one for each movie night to keep the coming attraction trailers up to date and the cartoon fresh.  Right now I author and burn the pre-show to a physical DVD which has worked fine.  However, I want to start mixing in HD content (i.e. M2TS files).  I also thought it might be nice to do away with having to burn pre-shows to disc.

I purchased the WD TV Live with the thought that I could keep all my pre-show clips and movie trailers on a USB drive.  Then when it comes time to make the pre-show I just drag and drop copies of the various clips into a new folder.  I'd prefix the filenames with numbers (01, 02, etc.) so the clips play in the order I choose.  I've been able to get this to work with a couple of annoyances.  First, there's about a four second pause between each clip.  The screen goes dark with a spinning yellow arrow appearing in the center of the screen until the next clip starts.  It's like it takes the media player awhile to access the next file.  That's really unprofessional looking and throws the tempo of the pre-show off.  The second annoyance is that each time a clip starts there's a pop up dialog box that appears in the upper left corner that displays the audio track selected and noting that subtitles are "off".  That pop up box is distracting.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to figure out how to get rid of either of those annoyances.

Neither of the above are an issue if I author and write an entire DVD structure to the USB drive.  The WD TV Live will play all the clips on the "DVD" without the annoying spinning arrows and dialog boxes at each clip.  However, I'm trying to avoid having to author a DVD structure at all.  It ruins the concept of drag and drop pre-show composing.  It also makes it difficult to include HD content.

Taking the idea one step farther, I was hoping to "script" my entire movie night to a folder on the USB drive...

  I. Pre-Show I (various clips of various formats and resolutions)
  II. Main Feature (usually an HD movie ripped from Blu-ray)
  III. Intermission Reel (the Dancing Hot Dog 10-minute countdown)
  IV. Pre-Show II (mainly additional movie trailers)
  V. Second Feature (HD movie)

I can make all of the above work except I really want to figure out how to get rid of those two annoying artifacts - the pause with spinning arrow between clips and the pop up dialog box at the start of clips.  I've done something similar to this using playlists in VLC.  There are a number of commands one can embed in VLC's scripting language to turn off filename display, choose screen size, choose audio track, etc.  Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be anything like that for the WD TV Live.

Anybody have any suggestions?

-Sparge-
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tronn4
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2014, 12:22:38 am »

there is custom firmware that i do not use so i cannot state weather or not they fix these issues. FrostyFreeze has the model before this iteration and it has custom firmware, so he may be able to shed some light if he gets that same "loading" arrow and the top left text box.

edit: b.rad firmware is one of the most popular custom firmwares available. i plan on someday buying a refurbed wdtv live plus and installing it to see what i can monk with

http://b-rad.cc/wdlxtv-live/
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 12:25:12 am by tronn4 » Logged

Sparge
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2014, 01:10:55 am »

there is custom firmware that i do not use so i cannot state weather or not they fix these issues. FrostyFreeze has the model before this iteration and it has custom firmware, so he may be able to shed some light if he gets that same "loading" arrow and the top left text box.

Is your WD TV Live the same hardware version as above?  Do you get the "loading" arrow and top left text box on your player?

I'm curious to hear about Frosty's experience.  I'd be willing to invest in a used player to mod with custom firmware if they cleaned up that playback behavior.  I really don't need the "live" component for this application.  I just want it to run clips off the USB drive seamlessly.

-Sparge-
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Sparge
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2014, 01:47:13 am »

Pictures are worth a thousand words...

1. The first one is the spinning "loading" arrow that appears in the middle of a black screen between clips as the media player is loading the next file.

2. The second shows that the arrow can linger for a bit after the clip actually starts playing.

3. The last one is an example of the pop up dialog box that appears in the upper left corner briefly when each clip begins to play.

I apologize for the poor quality.  I took these with my cell phone and the source is a composite television!  Roll Eyes

Anybody else with a WD TV see these same things?

I realize to some I'm probably picking nits, but I find these visual behaviors detract from the presentation.

-Sparge-


* arrow1.png (474.95 KB, 426x640 - viewed 289 times.)

* arrow2.png (498.94 KB, 426x640 - viewed 302 times.)

* popup.png (403.19 KB, 426x640 - viewed 271 times.)
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tronn4
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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2014, 03:44:24 am »

Yes I have the same model and firmware. I'm seeing same shots you show as well. One difference is I'm not currently able to put my movies and intermission videos in a playlist because this unit does not allow playlist creation when your files are network located. If I were to get those particular files (the various cinema ads, music vids, 'toons) onto a usb drive, then I could setup playlists again. I too would like a streamlined cinema experience using this unit but as far as network capabilities my htpc with xbmc and the Cinema Experience plug in can and does the job very well.   
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everette
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2014, 04:45:05 pm »

Sparge, as a temporary fix, you can use some sort of video editing software (Cyberlink PowerDirector is really good) to string all of your videos together into one file and put that on the USB drive, that should cut out the pause between the videos you are talking about and would allow you to render it in HD and would eliminate the burning to a disk.

I see your point on wanting a drag and drop solution without all of the editing and rendering.
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Sparge
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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2014, 06:09:53 pm »

Sparge, as a temporary fix, you can use some sort of video editing software (Cyberlink PowerDirector is really good) to string all of your videos together into one file and put that on the USB drive, that should cut out the pause between the videos you are talking about and would allow you to render it in HD and would eliminate the burning to a disk.

I see your point on wanting a drag and drop solution without all of the editing and rendering.

Thanks for the suggestion.  I think the all-in-one file approach probably isn't the most convenient either considering the clips are all various container formats and resolutions.  There would be a lot of transcoding involved to get them all into one common format.

I'll probably just go back to doing it the old way... burn a DVD of the entire pre-show and then screen the feature films direct from Blu-ray.

I thought about a HTPC but I have no patience to mess around with a HTPC/XBMC/CE for something I'll use about six times a year.  Plus I don't like the idea of dragging a laptop/PC outside.  I thought the WD TV Live media player and a USB drive would be a flexible, simple solution.  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the WD TV can provide the seamless show I'm accustomed to.  Sad

-Sparge-
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bdwalker1
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2014, 06:53:39 pm »

Sparge,

I know you probably don't want to invest more money to try something out that my not serve your need, but I use a Vizio Co-Star streaming box with a 1TB external USB drive to run my shows just the way you are looking to.

I use an App called Avia Media Player (http://aviatheapp.com) to create a playlist of files. It flows from one file to the next pretty seemlessly.  The only detraction I find is occassionally if the audio on the clip starts at the very beginning of the file you may not get a fraction of a second of the audio as the player is getting set for the new audio format.

Most of my files are MKV, but I also use MP4 and the occassional FLV. And the app and hardware support more formats.  I usually make a playlist with my theater intro, several music videos, a couple of cartoons, my feature presentation intro, then my first movie of the night (usually an animated flick), then finally several music videos to play while the early crowd depart and we put our girls to bed. Then we'll usually show our second movie from Blu-Ray disc.

I tried a couple of other media player apps on the Co-Star, but they both displayed one or both of the issues you mentioned above: clip information in the corner at the start of the clip and/or some sort of loading indicator.

There may be other Android based set top boxes that could run Avia, but I can only atest that it runs pretty well on the Co-Star.  I have tried using a Pivos XIOS Media Player DS, but have not had as good of luck - I think its processor is less powerful.

The Co-Star also can run Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu and other streaming apps, but I mostly use it to play local content for my Driveway Theater.  It's really nice to hit Play and just let things run until I need to switch to my BluRay player for a 2nd feature film.

P.S. - I'm really curious if the new Amazon Fire TV can run the Avia app.  I've heard good things about the Fire TV advice from a friend that streams a lot of content.
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tronn4
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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2014, 07:18:18 pm »

i wonder if the Ouya could run Avia. i see target has the Ouya on sale this week (maybe till this saturday) for $69
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bdwalker1
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2014, 03:50:50 pm »

I don't know about Ouya, but it would be nice to know.

I asked my buddy to try aVia on his Fire TV. If it works I'm going to buy a Fire TV to try it out. I'll report any progress.
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2014, 04:06:44 pm »



I do in fact own the above "previous" model and I love it. Mine does EVERY file type on earth (including ripped DVD .ISO files with full menu support) EXCEPT FLV's. I didnt get the current model because my PJ needs component (red-green-blue) and the new fangled one has dropped component already (both do HDMI, however).

One difference is I'm not currently able to put my movies and intermission videos in a playlist because this unit does not allow playlist creation when your files are network located.

Correct. HOWEVER, if you put all of your desired files in the same folder on your network, then set the WDTV player to "play all" (not "shuffle", not "one and done"), then you can achieve the desired "playlist" function.
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Sparge
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« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2014, 02:29:03 am »

I do in fact own the above "previous" model and I love it. Mine does EVERY file type on earth (including ripped DVD .ISO files with full menu support) EXCEPT FLV's..

Frosty, are you running the native WD firmware or third-party firmware?  Does your unit have the same playback characteristics with regard to the spinning arrow and popup box between individual clips?

I'm having so much fun throwing all of my video clips at this thing that I might be able to learn to live with the spinning arrow (gasp).  I don't have to transcode.  I don't have to author in DVD format.  I don't have to burn a disc.  I just drop the native clips into a folder, number them for playing order and press the play button!  If I could just get the playback to be as seamless as when I burn a DVD then I'd be absolutely giddy.

-Sparge-
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FrostyFreeze
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« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2014, 12:30:05 pm »

Frosty, are you running the native WD firmware or third-party firmware?  Does your unit have the same playback characteristics with regard to the spinning arrow and popup box between individual clips?

My eBay-purchased pre-owned WDTV box came with the third party "WDlxTV" (pronounced "W-Deluxe-TV", according to www.wdlxtv.com) firmware already installed, but I'm not sure how it differs from the native firmware because I've never seen the native firmware for my box. From what I've read, the GUI isnt any different. WDlxTV only adds some functionality that the default firmware doesnt have, but I'm still not sure what.

HOWEVER, the GUI of my old box is COMPLETELY different from your new box. I just tested the "playlist" function and I dont see any spinning arrow or anything. Actually, NO on-screen graphics came up at all. It just plays the videos in the order that they appear in the folder with a 1 second blank black screen in between.
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Sparge
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2014, 02:53:02 pm »

HOWEVER, the GUI of my old box is COMPLETELY different from your new box. I just tested the "playlist" function and I dont see any spinning arrow or anything. Actually, NO on-screen graphics came up at all. It just plays the videos in the order that they appear in the folder with a 1 second blank black screen in between.

OK, now you did it.  Now I've got to ask you all kinds of follow up questions because THAT'S the behavior I've been looking for in a streaming player!

Sorry in advance for all the questions...

1. What is the part number of the player you have?  For instance, the bottom of my player says P/N WDBHG70000NBK-12.  If I have to source a prior model on eBay I want to know what to look for exactly.

2. Do you know the version number of the WDLXTV firmware your player is running?  I found the version number of my WD software (2.01.86) via Setup/About/DeviceInfo/FirmwareVersion.

3. How did you perform your "playlist" test?  Did you actually create a playlist or did you just press PLAY on a folder or file?

4. If you created an actual playlist, what flavor was it: PLS, WPL, or M3U?  What program did you use to create the playlist?  Can you post a copy of it?

5. Were there any complete DVD structures in your playlist test?  Those play just as you describe (no spinning arrow between clips) on my unit as well.  The problem I'm running into is with playing a group of individual, discrete clips together.

Thanks in advance!

-Sparge-
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FrostyFreeze
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2014, 04:04:07 pm »

1. What is the part number of the player you have?  For instance, the bottom of my player says P/N WDBHG70000NBK-12.  If I have to source a prior model on eBay I want to know what to look for exactly.

WDBABX0000NBK



2. Do you know the version number of the WDLXTV firmware your player is running?  I found the version number of my WD software (2.01.86) via Setup/About/DeviceInfo/FirmwareVersion.

1.05.04_B.WDLXTV_PLUS-05.1.1
I think I still have the latest version. Last I checked, it hadn't been updated for a few years.




3. How did you perform your "playlist" test?  Did you actually create a playlist or did you just press PLAY on a folder or file?

No playlist creation necessary. Once you start playing the first file, hit "options" on the remote, then scroll over to "Play Mode". There are 3 options:
  • Play this file once, then stop
  • Play this file over and over
  • Play every file in this folder in the order they are listed over and over. I chose this option.


4. If you created an actual playlist, what flavor was it: PLS, WPL, or M3U?  What program did you use to create the playlist?  Can you post a copy of it?

Google says this WDTV box can play all three playlist file types you listed above, but you have to create them somewhere else, then load onto your source hard drive.



5. Were there any complete DVD structures in your playlist test?  Those play just as you describe (no spinning arrow between clips) on my unit as well.  The problem I'm running into is with playing a group of individual, discrete clips together.

I just tested that, just for you. When the playlist gets to the .ISO with complete DVD structure intact, it starts playing at whatever point the .ISO was set to start playing. For example, all of my ripped .ISO's are set to skip all of the previews & FBI warnings and start playing right at the DVD's main menu, and that's what happened just now in my playlist test.

You're welcome Smiley

I dont know too much about your box, but I *DO* know that your GUI is much prettier than mine. I just snapped the attached screen shots on my 7'x4' indoor screen (aka "The IndoorPlex"). See how the white lettering of each file/folder name is set right against my background/wallpaper without little background boxes of their own? That means I am limited to only using darker backgrounds with NO white in them. If I don't, the file names get washed out making them hard/impossible to read. I am sure there are plenty of other reasons the newer box is better than mine, but that's the only one I'm aware of right now.

EDIT: Oh yeah. Your remote is much better than mine too, but your remote works on my box too (90% functionality?) so I bought myself one on eBay for $11.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to un-pause my DVR and continue watching the NBA playoffs  Smiley


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« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 04:36:40 pm by FrostyFreeze » Logged

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