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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to setup a media server for your PlayStation 3

The PlayStation 3 is an excellent gaming console as well as a good general media player. It comes with a BluRay drive for all you HiDef nuts and also comes with native DivX support. It playbacks MP3 really quite a few other file formats. But for those who haven't bothered upgrading their PS3 hard drives to a larger capacity drive there is a way for you to still watch and listen to your favourite shows and music via streaming media.

To be able to do that you will have to set up a Media Server generally on your computer and have the two connected either via WiFi or standard network cabling. There are a few media server applications (Windows Media Player, Nero Home, TVersity, etc) out in the market that can turn your Windows/Mac/Linux computer to a media server to share your media.

After some research I loaded up TVersity, which is a general media server that streams your media to a variety of formats. What it does is it detects what device is being connected to it (i.e. PS3 console, iPhone, or another computer) and if required it will transcode the media into a format that is playable on that device. It is a pretty nifty program but also a resource hog if it needs to transcode.

It is a great program but it does have some issues especially if you are trying to stream a show that has subtitles that's in a different format and also some other weird issues with the streaming that I wouldn't go into details. There are just so many different formats of media available that TVersity can be abit finicky for specific formats. Either way it was a pretty easy to use program, easy to understand interface and if you only use the more general formats to watch such as DivX or listen using MP3s then you're fine. You can install it as a service (in Windows only) so every time you switch your computer the program runs and made available for your PS3.

At the moment I'm using PS3 Media Server which is a Java based application which means it should run on virtually any computer (don't quote me on that). Anyway I uninstalled TVersity last night and installed in its place PS3 Media Server. I have to say this is so much better than TVersity. When it comes to support for the media files, it handles everything. Even those that had specific types of subtitles and HiDef content that weren't playable using TVersity, worked flawlessly on PS3 Media Server.

To install (Windows only):
1. Download and install PS3 Media Server. (Install the latest Java runtime when prompted)
2. Download and install AVISynth 2.5+.
3. Download and install K-Lite Mega Codec. When installing make sure you install everything except DirectVobSub.
3. Download VSFilter (for subtitle support) and install the DLL in to the AVSynth Plugin folder.
4. Set up the FFDShow (which is installed with K-Lite Mega Codec) Audio Decoder Config > Mixer to your preference, or this one 5.1 (3/1/2).
5. Set "Autoload VSFilter" to Yes in Haali Splitter settings.
6. Configure Haali Splitter (audio/subtitles language priorities). This is so that if you've got a multi language video, it will decode the one you've set as a priority.

Fine tune PS3 Media Server:
1. Run the PMS program.
2. Set up MEncoder according to the image below.

3. Set up the Common transcode settings according to the image below.

4. Set up your share of media folders.
5. Depending on your network connection type between the computer and the PS3, setup accordingly. I use the Good Quality over WiFi personally because it's streaming to the PS3.
6. Set "AVISynth/MEncoder" to 1st priority by clicking the Up/Down arrow at the left bottom of the interface.
7. Set it up as a Windows Service if you want it to run automatically when Windows starts up.

That's It!

Note: I have to add that if you aren't watching any videos with subtitles and require to be able to watch/listen to your media on multiple device types then TVersity is probably the one to go for. PS3 Media Server only supports 1 device and that's the PS3 only.

Update: If you have a mixture of media that requires subtitles, especially the anime stuffs then instead of using AVISynth/MEncoder as your 1st priority, just select MEncoder as your 1st priority and in most cases it will show up when you're watching through your PS3. Only *.idx/*.sub subtitles won't show. *.a$$ (Sub Station Alpha) and *.srt will work fine.

Update 2: *.srt subtitles will have to be in ANSI/ASCII format. With the latest version if the subtitle is in any other formats such as UTF-8 (Unicode), the video skips randomly for some reason.

Update 3: To set the language priority you just have to append the "Audio Language Priority" field in Mencoder section. eng for english, fre for french, jpy for japanese etc. Like wise the same format for subtitle priority.

Update 4: Just tried this on Windows 7 and have to say that it works! Same process. Using K-Lite Mega Codec 6.0.0 (32-bit version even though I'm using 64-bit Windows 7) which comes with Win7DSFilterTweaker which is a Windows 7 Codec Switcher. Switch everything that is currently assigned to Microsoft to other (FFDShow, anything) and you'll be set.

Update 5: PS3 Media Server does support other devices now. Even the Xbox360!

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