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Old Jul 23, 2012, 12:31 PM   #1
Trey M
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Apple TV, NAS, Media Server?

So I'm thinking really hard about getting an Apple TV. The new Screen sharing feature in ML has sold me on getting one, but here's what I'm wondering...

When I get my Apple TV, I want to be able to view all my movies stored in a central location, that I either ripped from DVD's or Blu-Rays (all DVD's currently). After reading a bit, I've seen that the best thing would be to run some sort of media server (I've read about Plex) on an extra computer (I have an older Mac Mini) and this would wirelessly be detected by my Apple TV, is this correct?

Another question is how this media server will play my content. Basically, I have a lot of Video_TS Files (I literally got DVD43 and copied/pasted the DVD's files onto my hard drive) saved, but the only way I've found to play those is to drag them into VLC player. Will a Media server be able to play these Video_TS files or will I have to do some sort of conversion? Also, is there a better way to rip DVD's then just copying the contents of DVD's? I plan on doing this a lot when I get my setup going and I'd like to have the easiest way to play DVD's both on my computer and on the media server.

Another thought- I have a NAS (WD MybookLive). Would this be of any benefit to my setup, or will the media server on my Mac Mini suffice?

Thanks for helping guys, and throw out any any ideas you think could help out my setup!
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Old Jul 23, 2012, 12:58 PM   #2
waw74
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plex will convert the files as you watch them, so you'll need a decent computer to handle that conversion.

you'll need to check the forums at plex, as they have had problems with straight DVD rips in the past, not sure if it's been cleaned up or not. (i just tired an .iso file of a dvd, and it didn't work, don't have any videoTS files to try)

if the file is natively playable by the aTV, then the server will send the file directly, not much processor needed at all. (Plex uses the built in player on the aTV)

the atv must be jailbroken to run plex, which currently means it must be an aTV2. You can also get the iOS app, and send it to the aTV via airplay.

you can convert via handbrake, the aTV2 preset is good for DVDs. it should shrink it down file size wise also. You'll also not loose any resolution, as that preset is 720, your files would stay at their current resolution since DVD is smaller.

you could run iTunes on the mac, and put your handbrake converted movies in there, if you do that, look at identify to get your metadata and artwork into the file, so it will import into itunes and look pretty.

---
also screen mirroring is only supported in the very latest macs, your retina will be ok.
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Old Jul 23, 2012, 01:07 PM   #3
angelsguardian
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If you're buying a new ATV (I bought 2 and they're great) then use iVI to convert and add metadata to your files which it will export to iTunes on your Mac Mini, then use that as a home share to the ATV's. Before you start perhaps buy a big USB drive to attach to the Mini to store the files on. Have fun.
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Old Jul 23, 2012, 01:31 PM   #4
Trey M
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waw74 View Post
plex will convert the files as you watch them, so you'll need a decent computer to handle that conversion.

you'll need to check the forums at plex, as they have had problems with straight DVD rips in the past, not sure if it's been cleaned up or not. (i just tired an .iso file of a dvd, and it didn't work, don't have any videoTS files to try)

if the file is natively playable by the aTV, then the server will send the file directly, not much processor needed at all. (Plex uses the built in player on the aTV)

the atv must be jailbroken to run plex, which currently means it must be an aTV2. You can also get the iOS app, and send it to the aTV via airplay.

you can convert via handbrake, the aTV2 preset is good for DVDs. it should shrink it down file size wise also. You'll also not loose any resolution, as that preset is 720, your files would stay at their current resolution since DVD is smaller.

you could run iTunes on the mac, and put your handbrake converted movies in there, if you do that, look at identify to get your metadata and artwork into the file, so it will import into itunes and look pretty.

---
also screen mirroring is only supported in the very latest macs, your retina will be ok.

Wow thanks for the awesome responses guys. WAW, what would be the advantage of using Plex vs. the Handbrake and straight to conversion method? The Handbrake technique seems pretty straightforward, but I'm thinking there's something good about Plex that I'm missing out on. Also, what is the ideal way to get files to Plex? Is Handbrake also used for that? Like if the DVD was copyright protected, would Handbrake still be able to convert the DVD to a Plex-friendly and a iTunes-friendly format?
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Old Jul 23, 2012, 02:00 PM   #5
waw74
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plex will play pretty much anything.
In my movie folder, i've got blu-ray rips, if i'm watching on the mini hooked to my living room TV, i watch in full resolution and surround sound. when i decide it's time to go to bed, i stop the player in the living room, and can pick right up on the aTV2 in the bedroom, or i could switch to the iPad or phone.

plex's main advantage is you can keep one best resolution copy, and not have to make compatible copies for your other devices.
it also can mean skipping the conversion step when you get new media and want to watch it.

there is also a small learning curve with plex, getting files named right seems to be a challenge for some, also it's free software, most of the time it's pretty good, but occasionally it has some issues.

plex also has a full-screen mac client, with front row gone, apple doesn't, you have to get an aTV to get one.

iVI that was mentioned is basically handbrake + identify rolled into one. with the disadvantage that apparently it can't import DVDs,
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Old Jul 23, 2012, 02:11 PM   #6
Trey M
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waw74 View Post
plex will play pretty much anything.
In my movie folder, i've got blu-ray rips, if i'm watching on the mini hooked to my living room TV, i watch in full resolution and surround sound. when i decide it's time to go to bed, i stop the player in the living room, and can pick right up on the aTV2 in the bedroom, or i could switch to the iPad or phone.

plex's main advantage is you can keep one best resolution copy, and not have to make compatible copies for your other devices.
it also can mean skipping the conversion step when you get new media and want to watch it.

there is also a small learning curve with plex, getting files named right seems to be a challenge for some, also it's free software, most of the time it's pretty good, but occasionally it has some issues.

plex also has a full-screen mac client, with front row gone, apple doesn't, you have to get an aTV to get one.

iVI that was mentioned is basically handbrake + identify rolled into one. with the disadvantage that apparently it can't import DVDs,

Sorry for all the questions

So basically what you're saying is Plex is always encoding your video so it's at the ideal resolution and quality at all times, instead of converting to 720 for an ATV and 320 for an iPhone, correct?

And like you said, on your Mac Mini, you just plug into your TV and watch files at their native 1080p resolution (for your blu-rays)?

Also, will Plex automatically do the initial conversion? Like if I have a DVD, how do I get that into Plex for the first time?
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Old Jul 23, 2012, 02:24 PM   #7
caver01
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Could just use jailbroken ATV2 and NAS

I'm not sure why you need the Plex setup in the first place. You can use the ATV2, jailbreak with SeasonPass, install Firecore's ATVFlash Black which comes with a fantastic MediaPlayer. Then, all you need to do is navigate to your NAS where your media is stored and play files. No Plex, no converting, no streaming--It's just the ATV playing virtually ANY file format directly from NAS storage.

ATV2 with the Media Player added can successfully playback HD content from NAS that is in MKV files, DD5.1 audio, AVI-xvid--you name it. It also successfully pulls in external .SRT subtitles and can play .ISO DVD rips, though I haven't actually tried it with VIDEO_TS folders.

For me, this is the all-around most flexibile solution with the least hardware required, and given that you already have NAS, all you would need to do is pickup an ATV2 and add the Firecore stuff.

Of course, the rest of the ATV2 remains intact, so itunes connectivity, store rentals/purchases, Airplay--all that works as it would out of the box.

Frankly, I've never understood the need for a Plex media server.
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Old Jul 23, 2012, 02:56 PM   #8
Trey M
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caver01 View Post
I'm not sure why you need the Plex setup in the first place. You can use the ATV2, jailbreak with SeasonPass, install Firecore's ATVFlash Black which comes with a fantastic MediaPlayer. Then, all you need to do is navigate to your NAS where your media is stored and play files. No Plex, no converting, no streaming--It's just the ATV playing virtually ANY file format directly from NAS storage.

ATV2 with the Media Player added can successfully playback HD content from NAS that is in MKV files, DD5.1 audio, AVI-xvid--you name it. It also successfully pulls in external .SRT subtitles and can play .ISO DVD rips, though I haven't actually tried it with VIDEO_TS folders.

For me, this is the all-around most flexibile solution with the least hardware required, and given that you already have NAS, all you would need to do is pickup an ATV2 and add the Firecore stuff.

Of course, the rest of the ATV2 remains intact, so itunes connectivity, store rentals/purchases, Airplay--all that works as it would out of the box.

Frankly, I've never understood the need for a Plex media server.

That does sound great, but after some googling it turns out my NAS (MyBookLive) isn't "Apple Tv Friendly"

Unless there's a third party solution for the ATV that'll allow the reading of other NAS's, looks like I won't be able do this.
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Old Jul 23, 2012, 02:59 PM   #9
donrsd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caver01 View Post
I'm not sure why you need the Plex setup in the first place. You can use the ATV2, jailbreak with SeasonPass, install Firecore's ATVFlash Black which comes with a fantastic MediaPlayer. Then, all you need to do is navigate to your NAS where your media is stored and play files. No Plex, no converting, no streaming--It's just the ATV playing virtually ANY file format directly from NAS storage.

ATV2 with the Media Player added can successfully playback HD content from NAS that is in MKV files, DD5.1 audio, AVI-xvid--you name it. It also successfully pulls in external .SRT subtitles and can play .ISO DVD rips, though I haven't actually tried it with VIDEO_TS folders.

For me, this is the all-around most flexibile solution with the least hardware required, and given that you already have NAS, all you would need to do is pickup an ATV2 and add the Firecore stuff.

Of course, the rest of the ATV2 remains intact, so itunes connectivity, store rentals/purchases, Airplay--all that works as it would out of the box.

Frankly, I've never understood the need for a Plex media server.
100% agreed.
i use seasonpass and their media player.

ive never even bothered using plex as the mediaplayer reads everything/anything from my NAS.
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Old Jul 23, 2012, 03:21 PM   #10
clarkie604
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There are 2 main benefits of Plex over a media player on the ATV. First, Plex has a sweet system for organizing media and downloading metadata. The whole process is run on your computer and is available for all Plex clients. Very slick. Second, the computer handles any needed video conversion and sends the best stream possible to the Plex client. The ATV and other iOS devises can have trouble playing high resolution video in non iOS friendly formats. Plex handles it for the iOS devise.

But note that the Plex client for the ATV or for any iOS devise will not play VIDEO_TS folders. I think the issue is that the iOS Plex clients aren't set up to handle menus.

Plex is great, but I think the best way to handle it is to convert your VIDEO_TS files into movie files that play in iTunes. Then iTunes takes the place of the Plex server. You don't have to worry about jailbreaking your ATV or running Plex. And iTunes is very reliable. Plus the iTunes formats are very efficient. You get great quality files that use up much less hard drive space than VIDEO_TS folders.
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Old Jul 23, 2012, 04:11 PM   #11
waw74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trey M View Post
So basically what you're saying is Plex is always encoding your video so it's at the ideal resolution and quality at all times, instead of converting to 720 for an ATV and 320 for an iPhone, correct?
there is a quality setting in the players, plus it has local and remote settings, i can take my aTV2 to another place, and play my library just like i'm at home, except the quality isn't that great due to my internet connections' upstream.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trey M View Post
Also, will Plex automatically do the initial conversion? Like if I have a DVD, how do I get that into Plex for the first time?
You can drop the whole thing in your movie folder, and the the plex client on macs will handle raw DVD files. But I would convert via handbrake, and then put in your library.

there are people who have to have the raw DVD files, but with the quality of modern codecs out there today (like h.264 which is what apple uses), it really doesn't make sense. You can get a very similar quality file in about 1/4 the space, and you can keep all the extra audio tracks if you want.
DVDs have been out about 15 years, and they still use the same encoding as the did at the beginning.


also, if you don't need airplay, take a look at the roku players, similar in size and function to the aTV, but a lot more content, and an offical plex client, as well as hulu and amazon prime.
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Old Jul 24, 2012, 08:31 AM   #12
donrsd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clarkie604 View Post
There are 2 main benefits of Plex over a media player on the ATV. First, Plex has a sweet system for organizing media and downloading metadata. The whole process is run on your computer and is available for all Plex clients. Very slick. Second, the computer handles any needed video conversion and sends the best stream possible to the Plex client. The ATV and other iOS devises can have trouble playing high resolution video in non iOS friendly formats. Plex handles it for the iOS devise.

But note that the Plex client for the ATV or for any iOS devise will not play VIDEO_TS folders. I think the issue is that the iOS Plex clients aren't set up to handle menus.

Plex is great, but I think the best way to handle it is to convert your VIDEO_TS files into movie files that play in iTunes. Then iTunes takes the place of the Plex server. You don't have to worry about jailbreaking your ATV or running Plex. And iTunes is very reliable. Plus the iTunes formats are very efficient. You get great quality files that use up much less hard drive space than VIDEO_TS folders.
why use my pc as a 'hub' so to speak, when i can just use the aTV mediaplayer and never even have to have my pc on

i organize all my data by name on my NAS and they all come up with the proper name & pics (thru media player).

plex seems like an unnecessary step with the same outcome.

im all about simplicity and mediaplayer does the job of playing my dvd's, pics & avchd home movies (mkv) from my NAS drive to my apple tv.
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