HTPC, Software, Windows MCE

Playing smooth WMV-HD in Windows Media Center Edition

I am running Windows Media Center edition 2005 on a box with a GeForce 6600 GT screen card. Regular DVD, TV, Xvid etc. plays smooth in MCE.

For some strange kind of reason WMV-HD did not play smooth when played back directly from a WMV-HD DVD.

I am not talking “not smooth” as in dropping frames and struggeling with CPU load. On my box WMV-HD 720p plays with 40% CPU-load and 1080p plays with 75% load. I am talking “not smooth” as in the way video plays when your mother-in-law would say “So what is the problem, this looks perfect”, but YOU can clearly see that this is not right. It is not smooth.

Could look a bit like the trouble you would have if you use the wrong methods when you convert from NTSC (30 fps) to PAL (25 fps).

It took some time before I managed to fix the problem, but it is now fixed, and this is my theory:

MCE 2005 works 100% in WMR9-mode when rendering video. On my GeForce 6600 GT this works very well. However, windows media player 10 defaults to video overlay. This is no problem, because MCE runs smooth on top, utilizing VMR9-video rendering.

But, when inserting a WMV-HD DVD MCE2005 actually quits and starts a special instance of windows media player 10. If you have left windows media player 10 the way it was installed by default, it now plays using video overlay. And, apparently – on my system overlay will not play completely smooth.

I went into the Windows Media Player 10 settings and changed the following:

Tools->Options->Performance->Advanced->
Uncheck “Use overlays” and check “Use high quality mode”

For my system, this fixed the problem and WMV-HD now plays smooooooth!

Update:
I just installed an update from Microsoft and the CPU load went from 75% to 45% when playing WMV-HD 1080p. You find the update here:
Update to enable DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA) of Windows Media Video content in Windows Media Player 10

And the thread over at AVSForum about this patch here:
WMP10 Patch for WMV Acceleration