Help me assess problems w/ my DVD player & TV Out card

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Todd K, Mar 25, 2003.

  1. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    Hello all, I'll get right down to it:

    I think my brain is about to explode from the headache I have from this computer.

    I have a PIII 500 mhz processor on a Dell computer that came packaged with windows 98. The video card is an NVIDIA Riva TNT.

    My computer also came with the Hardware CineMaster C card, as near as I can tell from the info on this webpage: http://www.pennskog.com/cinemaster/
    This contains outputs like s-video and coaxial digital out.

    I have since upgraded to Windows XP and installed the upgraded software from the above site accordingly. Thus far, this is the only software I have found that will work with the above mentioned TV-out card.

    The problem is, the playback is somewhat jittery. This seems to happen during playback on my monitor only, and not through the s-video to the TV. Other software I've tried, like the DVD player on Windows Media Player XP, doesn't have this flickering, but of course it won't work with the TV out card. Also, I am not 100% certain that this flickering started right after my upgrade to XP. In fact, I am guessing it didn't.

    I will be upgrading my computer within the next year or so and am debating on whether to keep this DVD drive/TV out combination. I would just scrap the whole thing, except I have been reading about the TV-out features on these new video cards, and how people don't think much of them. My current TV out card is for the DVD player only. Would a new card do just as well for TV out purposes as my current DVD player only Cinemaster TV out card?

    I would be very appreicative if anyone has any input on this matter, if you've actually read this far.

    Regards,
    Todd
     
  2. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Could it be that DVD playback on the monitor consumes too much CPU or too many video card resources?

    If the svideo output is 640x480, less resources would be used. But output on your monitor at 1024x768, for example, may be too much.

    It is possible that the Cinemaster playback software just plain sucks, which would explain why Windows Media Player gives you better results.

    Also, what refresh rate are you using on your monitor? It is possible that if the refresh rate is not set to 60hz, the cinemaster software does not properly sync to it, giving you stutters. Try setting the monitor refresh to 60 hz and see if that helps.
     
  3. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    Thanks for your advice, Max.

    My refresh rate was already set to 60. It is possible, as you say, that the DVD play takes up too many resources, but I have this instinctive feeling that I didn't always have this problem. It's also possible I just wasn't looking close enough, but I don't think so.

    Media player definitely gives me a better picture. I just did some tests again with the cinemaster player and on a Wanrer Brothers DVD, when the WB logo came up, the edges were jagged, almost looking like some sort of interlace problem. Yet when the main feature came on the picture very subtly stuttered and flickered.

    To be honest, I can stop worrying about this problem if I know that the results from a new video card with TV-out will perform just as well as my current TV-out card. I only plan to connect it via S-video to a standard definition television. If I knew that a new one (I'm looking at something like the ATI All in wonder 7500) would do TV out with the same results, I'll just rough it until I upgrade, then forget I ever had this problem. However, I'm concerned because my current card is for DVD only, and the other isn't.

    If you have any thoughts, let me know. Thanks again, I do appreciate it.

    Todd
     
  4. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    I don't know if the "C" series card has the same problem as the "S" series that I had (replaced with Hollywood+) . The hardware couldn't do anamorphic correctly , creating odd distortions. It took quite a few emails to Ravisent to find that out.

    The neat thing about my card was that it would do simultaneous monitor and TV output(both S-video and composite) and simultaneous analog and S/PDIF audio output. While this allowed a lot of interesting hook-up options it did put a severe load on the CPU (especially for a hardware decoder card), running all those outputs at once. (TV out at one resolution and scaling for the monitor at another?)

    It was also picky about DMA settings for the DVDRom drive. It worked with some motherboard chipsets but not others. If it uses the MCI interface then it also has problems with file sizes larger than 2Gb I think. Movies work OK but mpeg files could be trouble.

    It was my first DVD player and served it's purpose but it's hardware limitations caused me to replace it with the Hollywood+ which has a great TV picture (marginal monitor pic) along with almost 0 load on the CPU. The decoder cards have always had a better TV picture than any of my video cards. (Trident, Diamond TNT2 , Gforce3Ti200)
     
  5. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    I can do simultaneous TV and monitor output, but the analog and digital outs are mutually exclusive. However, I've always used the SPDIF out because, for some reason, the analog out puts out audio at an unusually low level, and no modification I make changes it. I had the same problem within the computer when using the PowerDVD program -- the sound it sends to my computer's speakers is much lower than any other DVD program I have.

    So thus far within the past few days I've tried PowerDVD, the trial version of WinDVD, Media Player XP, and The Cinemaster DVD player. The only one that has given me the buggy picture is the cinemaster, which unfortunately is the only one that can run my TV out card. Not the world's worst problem, but falls into the category of "why the devil won't this work?"
     
  6. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Do you have hardware video acceleration enabled? If so, maybe try disabling it in the Cinemaster Control Panel or options and see if that helps.

    I assume your DVD-ROM drive has DMA enabled? It may be possible that Windows "decided" to disabled DMA (in PIO mode) causing the stutter.

    I just realized that I am using Cinemaster through the TheaterTek DVD player. It seems to be more sensitive to improper DVD-ROM DMA settings than WinDVD.
     
  7. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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  8. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    There is a fix for that Todd, but at the moment I can't find the article that told you how to make the registry edit. Something about deleting the IDE primary and secondary registry checksums to force windows to enable DMA.

    I will dig it up when I get home, unless someone finds it for me. [​IMG]
     
  9. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    Ok,

    I talked to a friend over the phone who is knowledgeable about hardware and I was able to confirm that my DVD drive is the one that is giving the PIO only reading. Also, as before, it won't change no matter what I do. Max, if you come up with the fix, let me know, I'll try it if I think I can manage it.

    Thanks,
    Todd
     
  10. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    A "fix" that doesn't require editing the registry involves:

    Going into the Control Panel, and open System.

    From System, go to the Hardware tab, and open the Device Manager.

    Find the IDE channel in the device list that your DVD-ROM is attached to. I think in your case the Secondary IDE Channel. Select it, and hit delete to remove it.

    Reboot.

    Hopefully it will redetect it and allow you to verify it is in DMA mode.

    Now, I had a problem where my Asus 52x CD-ROM on the same IDE channel would not let my DVD-ROM go into DMA mode. The only solution was to give away the Asus CD-ROM, because it was a piece of junk.
     
  11. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    I found very brief instructions on "fixing" it with regedit:

    http://groups.google.ca/groups?hl=en...ftngp04#link15

    If the above doesn't work, then you likely have a hardware problem. Either the DVD-ROM is having trouble reading the disc (CRC errors convinces windows xp to quietly disable DMA mode), or another drive attached to the same cable as the DVD-ROM is the culprit, not allowing the DVD-ROM to operate correctly.
     
  12. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    OK, Success!! (kind of.)

    I uninstalled and reinstalled, and now the dvd drive is running in DMA mode. I popped in a DVD, and all the motion is now fluid!

    However, one problem still remains. The juddering problem. Or I think that's what you might call it. I'm talking about the display on the computer monitor. And here's the bizarre thing -- it happens every three seconds like clockwork. The picture will be playing fine, and all of a sudden edges become jagged and the picture jars slightly and goes back to normal. It's less noticeable when there's high motion in the scene.

    I've been doing all my tests with three discs: Doctor Who: The Robots of Death, The Phantom Menace, and Star Trek II (non special edition). The same "every three seconds" problem happens on all the discs, with two exceptions that I have found. On the Phantom Menace, when the red-background FBI warning comes up, the picture doesn't judder. And on ST II, during the DVD's main menu, the picture doesn't have the problem. Everywhere else, the picture judders every three seconds. During the FBI warnings on Doctor Who and ST II, and during all three features.

    What could this be? The DVDs themsleves play normally without stutter, it's just as if every three seconds someone zaps the monitor causing a sort of noticeable edge jaggedness.
     
  13. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    Ahhhh!!! The drama continues. OK, so I fix one problem only to have yet ANOTHER ONE pop up.

    When I'm using the TV out card (either composite or s-video), now I'm getting a scrolling problem I'm pretty sure wasn't there before.

    It is a very, very subtle horizontal scrolling that appears on the television. It's very slow moving, and I wouldn't even say it qualifies as an actual line because it's so subtle.

    If you look at this:

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/avata...ine=1013855323

    It's like that, except the lines are much wider and horizontal, move much more slowly, and are very subtle -- I would call it a ghost of a scroll. It moves from bottom to top.

    So if anyone has some concise info that might help with either of my two problems, I'd like to hear it, otherwise I think I'm about to give up on this thing.
     
  14. Matt DeVillier

    Matt DeVillier Supporting Actor

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    Todd,

    if you're intent on using your PC for dvd purposes on TV, I'd recommend you drop the $35 or so for a used Hollywood Plus card, which has excellent TV-out.
     
  15. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    You're not running a virus checker right?

    Have you tried disabling or enabling video acceleration? Cinemaster SHOULD let you adjust this. It may be called DXVA.

    Does the judder go away if you use a different player, like WinDVD?

    The vertical "line" you're seeing could be interference. Grounding problem? Or bad cable? PCs are notorious for letting in all sorts of EMI, messing up your picture. I remember a roomie who had an ATI All-In-Wonder card with an svideo input. It sucked...horizontal scrolling bands everywhere! Bad shielding I guess.

    I think it is much better now in the newer capture/video cards.

    I never could stand PC output over svideo or composite. A VGA-to-component transcoder I have is the only thing that doesn't have those awful analog artifacts.
     
  16. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    OK, let's leave the TV-out problem for a while. I've experienced audio interference before and found out it was due to interference from the cable system, so I'll work on that later.

    I was running Norton AntiVirus, but I disabled and restarted and the problem was still there.

    The judder is not present in other DVD applications. But, as I said, the Cinemaster one is the only one that will operate my TV out card.

    How do you think I can go about enabling/disabling video acceleration? I am nearly 100% positive that there is no way to do this within the controls of the Cinemaster DVD player program itself. I have checked every possible menu tab.
    However, in the program files folder for the DVD player, there are two applications: one called "dxmedia.exe" and the other called "purgedxm.exe." I clicked on both and both do nothing when you click on them. I tried clicking on them and starting the DVD player alternately and nothing changed. And, when you click on the properties of the DVD program itself, you have the choice of running in another windows version compatibility mode, running in 256 colors, running in 640x480, and disabling visual themes. Choosing any of these had no effect.

    Also of note, I tried upgrading the drivers to my video card yesterday. They installed successfully, but rather than having the judder effect when I started the DVD player, huge white flickering horizontal lines appeared up and down the screen. Could I have a driver problem?

    Todd
     
  17. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    Side note: That TV out scrolling distortion was caused by the incoming cable signal to the receiving TV. I'm sorry for not realizing this sooner, but I'd never experienced video interference before from this, only that speaker hum.
    OK, two out of three problems solved so far...
     
  18. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    OK, I'm starting up this thread again, because I got some results from an experiment I conducted.

    I was having this intermitten judder/shimmer problem with the monitor set at 60 hz refresh rate.

    Other rates available to me are 70, 72, 75, and 85. If I choose any of of those, the problem goes away. However, it re-appears in a more subtle version of itself. Instead of a pristine picture with the problem every few seconds (as when set to 60), when I set it to higher refresh rate, the picture plays well, but in scenes of high motion, the lines get a little jagged and you can see shimmering on certain parts of the picture.

    For instance, if I set the refresh rate to 75 hz, I don't get a noticeable judder every few seconds, but you can see very subtle picture floors if you look closely. This kind of solves my original problem, but the picture isn't blemish free as with Windows Media Player. Does anyone have any other tweaks they can recommend related to refresh rate? I have tried each of the above values, but none makes the problem go away completely.

    Todd
     
  19. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    I'm wondering if what you're seeing is plain old framerate stutter. Films play back at 24 FPS, so if your refresh rate on your monitor is 60 Hertz, the player would need to do 3:2 pulldown. This can give you stutter because the audio has to be resynched with the video. When you choose a refresh rate that is an even multiple of the framerate (like 48 Hz, 72 hz, etc.) the stutter on pans should go away, as the audio can be resynched easily. Although of course, other issues can still cause stutter...bad video card drivers, too slow of a PC, etc.

    However, you can get image tearing...for example the camera will pan across a scene, and for a split second you see a diagonal line across the screen, and the two halves of the image do not line up. That is tearing, and happens when the video card's framebuffer is not in synch with the monitor's refresh rate. You're actually seeing two consecutive frames at once...this is pretty common in video games when you disable "Sync on vertical refresh".

    Your hardware is pretty old...a Riva TNT2 is barely adequate for DVD playback. Heck, it is probably subpar! A Geforce2 MX or better are good though. Also, your DVD playback software may be too taxing for your CPU, especially if the video card does not have enough hardware acceleration for DVD playback.

    I'd suggest upgrading to a better video card first, if you don't want to upgrade the PC entirely (I'd recommend an inexpensive Athlon XP 1800-based system...they are pretty damn cheap nowadays).
     
  20. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    Max, you're back -- thanks for chiming in again. It is hard to explain what the video problem is precisely without seeing it.

    Certain parts of the picture just seem to engage in a subtle "shimmering" when I use these different frame rates, as opposed to perfect picture with a harsh judder every few seconds. For example, if I concentrate on the very top of the DVD picture, you can tell that the top border is not steady. I would not describe it as image tearing. (Through the help you previously gave me, I was able to eliminate any motion stuttering problems.)

    Also two things I should note:

    This is what I guess would be considered a "hardware" playback, as the program in question will not work without my Hardware Cinemaster C decoder card. As I mentioned above software players such as Windows Media Player do not experience this problem.

    The second thing I should note is that when I put an R2 DVD in the drive, which would be PAL format I guess, the problem did not happen at 60 hz. On a static menu I got a little shimmering, but not that every-few-seconds-judder. Now knowing this, does that clue you in to anything? I would say the PAL disc at 60 hz played better than my NTSC DVDs at the non-60 refresh rates.

    P.S. In another current thread I'm also considering picking of one of those RealMagic Hollywood Plus cards to replace the Cinemaster.
     

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