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Streaming and Transcoding

Posted March 18, 2013 By weetabix

If you are like me, you have all kinds of gadgets in the house…

We have a PS3, an Xbox360, 2 android phones, a tablet, 2 laptops, and a TV. I think I have a PopcornHour and a Western Digital media player.

Like me, you could also have a ton of digital media, and you want to watch or listen to it wherever you are.

What if I want to watch one thing in the kitchen, while Sean watches something else on the TV? There are so many posts on this, on the Internet, and so many of them have lead me down a dead end, that I just hacked (as in with a machete!) a new path.

Right now, I want to talk about playing and transcoding media. In a future post I will talk about acquiring digital media, ripping and downloading legal content.

First of all, you have to decide what you want to use to play your media the most. For me, it was the PS3, but now it’s the Xbox.

Now, managing my media is one of those places I will *definitely* spend a few dollars on good software, but what I describe in here can mostly be accomplished for free. The software I ended up with, after years of using PS3MediaServer (Which is still awesome software if you just want to stream to consoles!) is called Serviio. There are two flavours, free and paid. I chose to buy the additional functionality, but for in-home use only, the free version is just fine.

To be clear, up front, the part I paid for was the ability to transcode and broadcast my music and video to my Android and to browsers *outside* of my home network using a program called MediaBrowser. If you do not pay, and use the free version of Serviio (the software) you can still do all the viewing you want via DLNA/UPNP (That would be your Xbox, PS3, and any DLNA enabled players on your network.)

DLNA/UPNP, of course, allows you to stream media to your consoles. The awesome thing about the MediaBrowser part, is (and this is a true story!) if you find yourself at a houseparty with tepid music, as long as its playing through a computer (and lets face it, that happens often at houseparties!) you can crank up your own playlist of tunes to heat things up.

On the free side, Serviio does thumbnailing of movies, transcodes MKV, AVI, WMV, TS, etc. fast and flawless (though FF/RW on MKV doesn’t always work, natch.) It plays to just about anything, and can keep surround data or downmix to stereo.

In order to get some of the nonDLNA streaming to work (and to improve the DLNA streaming) I recompiled the FFMpeg version they include, to make it my system default. I used their provided FFMpeg 1.1.1 download from this page, and compiled it according to these instructions, substituting my 1.1.1 version for their latest branch. (I did perform the optional lavf portion.)

One bonus to this, is the ability to double-click a .ts file and play it in FFMpeg + VLC, instead of using tsmuxer + VLC.

 

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