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Author Topic: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing  (Read 4223 times)

glynor

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[REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« on: August 23, 2014, 10:24:03 pm »

I'd really like the ability to link zones regardless of their types.  If the Zone can't play video, for whatever reason, then just play the audio.

Here's an example of how I want to use it: I want to be able to link an audio-only zone (my porch speakers) to my regular zone on my system, and have them play the audio from the main zone.  Even though the porch zone can't play the video (I suppose without a detached display open, but there's no screen there anyway in my case), I want to be able to extend the playback to the porch and have them work, even if I play a short video clip, or someone picks a music video.

I realize the sync might not be perfect in these cases, or worse than usual, but that's not a massive deal in all cases.  Also, it seems like you could do it pretty well, if you were able to (at least with local zones on the PC) decode once and play to all devices.

Don't know if it is a pipe dream or not, but it is the one annoying limitation of the current Zone Linking system.
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jmone

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2014, 10:44:14 pm »

Yup I too have a use case where I want one device to play the Video Stream (on a PJ) and another device to play the Audio (feed an amp).
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Hendrik

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2014, 11:14:05 pm »

The reason this isn't allowed is that its rather inconsistent. Video can , for technical reasons, only play in one local zone. How do we determine which zone to use for that? There is no concept of primary zone as such.
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jmone

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2014, 11:24:26 pm »

True - I guess in my use case (and it is very infrequent) I want the audio to go to a non local audio renderer (such as another instance of MC, a Zone, DLNA device etc).... if that makes sense?
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Hendrik

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2014, 11:31:51 pm »

Remote zones would probably work even less. With audio you just tell it to play the same file at the same time. But if you want only the audio of a video file, well good luck convincing a remote device of that.
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glynor

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2014, 12:06:45 am »

The reason this isn't allowed is that its rather inconsistent. Video can , for technical reasons, only play in one local zone.

But... I don't think that's true.  Certainly in Display View, this is true, but...  With detached displays, you can play multiple video files in separate zones simultaneously.  Each detached display can play a separate video (or multiple "copies" in separate Playing Now lists of the same file).

When you're using Display View, then I'd think this would be easy enough to solve with logic.  Whatever Zone is active in MC is the "primary" and gets the display.  All others are treated just like the above with Detached Displays, just that it doesn't actually have to show the Detached Display if it hasn't actually been detached, so gets audio-only.

I can see it being a pain with non-local Zones, as you'd have to render the audio out and stream it somehow... I don't really care much about this case.  I just want to do it with local zones.
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jmone

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2014, 12:25:05 am »

I was thinking that if the Zones could be available as an Audio Renderer under Tools --> Options --> Audio --> Audio Devices the decoded audio could then be routed to other devices.

Soooo I did a search for Windows Audio DLNA Driver and found http://www.streamwhatyouhear.com/  After a bit of fiddling around, I could play a Movie in MC with the sound coming from my DLNA Speakers as well as my local speakers!  You can also output to multiple devices. 

FYI - The downside of this quick test is that the Audio was behind by many seconds on my DLNA Speakers.  I tried adjusting the AV Sync Correction (Video --> Advanced) to the max of -2500ms but it is not enough.
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6233638

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2014, 06:51:38 am »

Video can, for technical reasons, only play in one local zone.
I may be misunderstanding what you meant, but I have often used Media Center to play video in multiple local zones at the same time, just not linked zones.
 

 
It sounds like most people are just wanting to send the audio stream to multiple zones rather than sending the video to multiple displays though.
Perhaps we need a "null video renderer" option?
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jmone

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2014, 06:57:43 am »

For me it is still the dream of "Whole House" media where you can play content in sync across multiple devices.... Say play a music video on the main system and have the audio pipe to around the house.
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Hendrik

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2014, 07:02:57 am »

I may be misunderstanding what you meant, but I have often used Media Center to play video in multiple local zones at the same time, just not linked zones.


Different videos, sure. The same video, in perfect sync? No such luck.

Sync would be a big problem with remote playback as well, and somewhat the same problem for local audio-only cloning, as linked zones work by simply playing the same file, and not by rerouting the audio internally.
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6233638

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2014, 07:24:37 am »

For me it is still the dream of "Whole House" media where you can play content in sync across multiple devices.... Say play a music video on the main system and have the audio pipe to around the house.
As long as every device can be hooked up via HDMI and accepts the same signal formats (i.e. 1080p) it seems that using something like a Gefen HDMI Detective to capture the state between your primary display and receiver, and then connect a matrix splitter/switcher to the output of that device, would be the best solution for this.
 
This has its own limitations, but seems like the easiest way to do it.

Different videos, sure. The same video, in perfect sync? No such luck.
Sync would be a big problem with remote playback as well, and somewhat the same problem for local audio-only cloning, as linked zones work by simply playing the same file, and not by rerouting the audio internally.
Makes sense.
With the way that madVR handles playback/video sync/smooth motion, I wonder how much work it would actually be to support synced playback across multiple instances, but that would be up to Madshi.
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glynor

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2014, 08:57:33 am »

Different videos, sure. The same video, in perfect sync? No such luck.

I realize the sync might not be perfect in these cases, or worse than usual, but that's not a massive deal in all cases.

In the majority of the cases where I'd use this, you can't see the display, and can't really hear the sound from each place, so perfect sync isn't a massive issue.  The issue is, if I Link those two zones, and then someone plays a video for a minute (like adds a music video to the playlist), the zones unlink.

I've encountered the same limitation a bunch of times when doing DJing gigs too.
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glynor

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2014, 09:01:27 am »

For me it is still the dream of "Whole House" media where you can play content in sync across multiple devices.... Say play a music video on the main system and have the audio pipe to around the house.

I should add, yes. This is my "dream" too.  It is a thing your average AV Receiver can do that MC cannot.

But I'm not looking for perfection here.  A step in the right direction...
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mojave

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2014, 09:38:46 am »

JRiver can already convert video to audio. Perhaps this could be done on the fly with the the audio pushed to other Zones. Then the other Zones only see the audio.

For starters, maybe users could pre-convert video to audio as an MP3 that is linked to its video file.
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glynor

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Re: [REQ] Linking Zones When Video Is Playing
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2014, 11:24:05 am »

JRiver can already convert video to audio. Perhaps this could be done on the fly with the the audio pushed to other Zones. Then the other Zones only see the audio.

I thought of that, initially, because it would solve my actual problem.  But...

MC can play videos simultaneously to multiple "displays".  I knew before that you could do it with multiple Detached Displays (this runs all day long every day at the office, in fact, it works perfectly and has since MC14 or earlier).  I didn't actually realize you could do it in Standard View too with the split view and Playing Now, but there's another case (clever boy, 6233638).

MC can play multiple videos simultaneously.
MC can play the same video simultaneously, just like it does with linked local zones and audio playback.  I wasn't sure that's how it did the audio linking before, but Hendrik seems to have confirmed that above, making it even more practical.

Just to make sure of the latter, I just tested it:


Heck... After a few tries, I could get the sync within a second or so, and I was just doing it meat-fingers style (click one one, Control-P, click on the other, Control-P).  Surely doing it programmatically you could do better and get it within a few ms or so of each other.  I did tests with un-recompressed BluRay rips to MKV, so 1080p with DTS audio and all of that.  It works fine, even on my now-somewhat-older Ivy 3770.

So... Why artificially limit it to audio-only "secondary" zones.  Just. Do. It.  Or try anyway...

In fact, I can think of reasons it'd be cool to have this for Photos too and image slideshows, so not even just video.  For remote zones, it is admittedly somewhat harder, of course.  But, MC clients that can all locally access the files directly?  Heck, that might even work well enough, if you aren't going to play a single Playing Now list for hours (allowing them to get super-out-of-sync over time) and you can't hear one place from the other clearly.

In my case, I'm looking for interspersed video, mostly.  But it would be cool to be able to play a video in your house, and have it go to multiple sound systems, and displays if you have that set up (with detached, fullscreen displays perhaps, or maybe separate MC clients).  Even if they weren't perfectly in-sync, if we're talking about separate rooms around the house separated by floors and multiple doors?  Who cares?

Here's another place I'd use it:

I have some friends over.  We're drinking, carrying on, hanging out.  We have a movie on that makes us laugh that we've all seen a bunch of times that we're kinda half-way watching and making fun of and whatever.  You know... Right now, it is Frozen because three-year-olds.  We decide to go downstairs to my man-cave to throw some darts.  Since it is Frozen, it is a relief to escape it, but let's pretend it is a movie we actually kinda want to keep watching.

If I can link the zones of the HTPC and the basement server, the movie could be already playing down there, at basically the same spot, when we walk down the stairs.  Maybe some of us (the womenfolk, perhaps) stay upstairs and keep on keeping on as before.  That happens.  We drink, carry on, throw pointed objects.  Keep watching.  Walk back upstairs when said-adult-bevarage is empty to rejoin the others or re-up?  The movie's still going up there.  Sure, maybe an hour in, they're 2 minutes out of sync?  So?  In this instance, it makes no difference at all really.  (And, I'll note, I think that estimate is high, you can do better.)
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