Getting started with streaming video from Mac to AppleTV?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by kat.hayes, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. kat.hayes macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2011
    #1
    I have an OWC Thunderbay connected to my iMac with tons of videos on a drive and I would like to stream the videos to my TVs in my house. The TVs have AppleTVs connected to them. How can I stream the video?

    Thanks.
     
  2. awintersdaybyth macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2013
    #2
    Have you imported the videos from the hard drive into iTunes on the iMac? If not, that's the first step. Then go to "Computers" on the Apple TV's select the iMac and you should be good to go.

    The iMac will need to be on when you stream the videos.
     
  3. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    #3
    You can use iTunes, but a downside to iTunes is that it is not compatible with many video formats. Also, iTunes (ATM) requires an ATV, which you do have, but who knows what you might have in the future.

    There are other more universal solutions in case you decide to ditch your ATVs, and/or your videos are in non-compatible formats.

    Two that are popular are INFUSE, which I have never used, and PLEX, which I have used a lot.

    PLEX is on all the streaming boxes and many Smart TVs. I think INFUSE is too. They support many different media types and formats.

    The UI on PLEX is much better than the UI on the tvOS's Computer app imo.

    I used to have all my videos on iTunes, but there were some issues with that. One being that sometimes there are issues with iTunes' content being stored on external drives.

    If you at looking for a quick solution, with very little effort to set up, iTunes is probably the way to go, but there are downsides to using iTunes. Once you set up a media server using an app like Plex, it is good to go and can be used on many different platforms.
     
  4. kat.hayes thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2011
    #4
    1. What are the downsides to using a 3rd party streaming program like PLEX?
    2. Can I access all of my media via the PLEX app on the ATV?
    3. I'd like to create categories, such as, Entertainment, Instructional, Educational, and be able to access media this way. Can this be done with either PLEX or straight from iTunes?

    Thanks.
     
  5. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    #5
    I am not a PLEX master, and only use a few of the many features they offer, but I will try to answer these questions.

    PLEX is free, but not all the features are. I think for what you are trying to do, you should be able to use the free version.

    I think the big part of the premium version is being able to access the PLEX media server away from home, like on a device that is not in your home network, but don't quote me on this.

    I also do not like how PLEX handles special features, and alternative episodes for TV shows. This is one of the few things that is better for iTunes.

    They can definitely do movies, home movies, TV shows, Music, and Photos. I think you can make your own media categories too.


    I believe you can. I will check it out when I get home.
     
  6. dwfaust macrumors 601

    dwfaust

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #6
    1. I don't use PLEX or INFUSE so I cannot say
    2. No. Any content purchased through Apple/iTunes that us DRM-protected cannot be played by anything except an Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, etc). Conversely, media can be imported into iTunes and streamed to AppleTV or other Apple device seamlessly.
    3. I don't use PLEX or INFUSE so I cannot say, but yes, in iTunes, you can tag videos and create your own categories.
     
  7. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    #7
    Yup, I forgot about this, or more like thought the content the OP had was not DRM-Protected.

    PLEX will not play DRM-protected content from iTunes.

    Hmm.... I thought the OP meant something else by this question.

    If the OP meant tags, then yes, PLEX and iTunes can use user's tags. Actually, PLEX will use a database of tags if you want so you do not have to tag it yourself.

    I thought the OP wanted a separate category like "Instructional Movies" instead of just "Movies". But, tagging would make more sense.

    I would say that your comment about DRM content would fit #1.

    It would be nice if PLEX could handle DRM-protected content, if it could, I would probably never use iTunes.
     
  8. dwfaust macrumors 601

    dwfaust

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #8

    By "tagging" I was referring to the "genre"... go to the movie and tap CTRL+I (Get Info) and then create new categories under GENRE. There are pre-set categories, but you can add your own... then you can sort/display your library by Genre and have what the OP was asking for.
    Screen Shot 2019-03-12 at 9.23.53 AM.png
     
  9. Michelasso macrumors 6502

    Michelasso

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Location:
    Treviso, Italy
    #10
    1. If you use Plex and you have 4K/HEVC content be ready for many headaches due to spinning wheels. Unless your Mac is powerful enough to always transcode the videos.
    2. As long as the Plex server has libraries for those media and it is up and running, yes.
    3. That can be done in Plex.

    Personally I have a life subscription to Infuse Pro, and these would be the answers for your 3 questions if they were related to it:

    1. That you must pay. But technically nearly none. You actually get HiRes audio (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA) up to 7.1 channels. A clean interface with immediate (and standard) access to the options in the top menu to change audio track, subtitles (if needed), chapter selection (this one is better in Plex, though) and so on.
    2. Only videos. But all major audio and video formats are supported. Google/YouTube's VP9 excluded, but that's an HW limit of the ATV 4K.
    3. You should first reorganise them as such in directories in the mass storage. Then add them as favourites with their own icons. But it can be done.

    Infuse Pro gives away a free 30 days trial period (just be sure to select the yearly subscription). You need to give access to the payment method, but you can unsubscribe immediately after, keeping the trial.
     
  10. tjwilliams25 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
    Location:
    Montana
    #11
    I have used all three methods mentioned extensively, and the one that I keep going back to is PLEX. The user interface is slick and the content management is unparalleled. Infuse is an amazing app, but it doesn't work very well when you have multiple devices. Basically, you point Infuse to where your content is and it sorts it into your library. In the app. On every device. Every time you add something new. It is supposed to sync the library with PRO, but I found it never worked reliably. This is where PLEX and iTunes have a leg up. The library for both is hosted and served from your computer, so the app doesn't have to do any heavy lifting, and is available on every device exactly the same way. Also, PLEX supports trancoding, which is handy if most of your content is in a format not supported by the Apple TV. This is only a good thing if you have a computer powerful enough to handle it. If the content is in MP4 or HEVC, regardless of container, it will play natively in the PLEX app. Personally, I've never had a problem with 4k content. DRM is pretty much a non-issue for me as anything that I've ever purchased from iTunes is listed in the iTunes Movies app on the Apple TV. I don't like to waste precious space on housing video that's available in the cloud. As for iTunes, it's a great media server, but is limited in the formats it supports and devices it works with. If you want your library sorted the way you want it on literally almost any device, in almost any format, PLEX is the way to go.
     
  11. vertical smile, Mar 13, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019

    vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    #12
    iTunes would be the easiest IMO. I use the app MetaZ for all the tagging, which makes tagging really quick and easy. iTunes handles special features, multiple versions of the same content (Director's cut, Theatrical, Alt ending), and deleted scenes much better than Plex.

    But, iTunes is extremely limited, and cannot be viewed outside of your network. I can take an ATV with me on vacation, connect it to my hotel room TV, and have access to all my Plex content.

    Plex, while more effort to set up, it is much better than iTunes at almost everything imo.

    I have not used Infuse so I am not sure about it, but a big downside to Plex is its handling of multiple versions of movies and TV shows. Also the handling of special features, especially on TV shows.

    The naming convention of Plex can be annoying if you already have a large library, although, Plex will attempt to tag the content regardless if the naming convention is correct.

    I might give infuse a try, but overall Plex has been pretty good.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 13, 2019 ---
    I knew what you meant, and this is probably what the OP meant too.

    But, when the OP said this:
    I thought the OP wanted to create categories of media, like Movies, Home Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts, etc. Not tagging genres.

    For example, look at this Plex screen shot:
    screen-shot-2015-11-02-at-21-53-36.png

    The categories in the in the red circle can be custom to whatever the server owner wants, and as many as the user wants. What I like about this, is that server owner can control what the users have access to.

    Using the screen shot above, if I do not want my children to view the category "Home Videos", when I set up their user profile, I can restrict access to it. They wouldn't even know it is there, as they will only have categories that I granted them access to.

    If the OP wants to view content containing only education movies, tagging genres is an option, but when looking at a list all the movies, this will include everything unless it is filtered. If there is a category named "Education", then this could be totally separate from "entertainment" or "Instructional" movies, instead of being lumped all together.

    This is how I would want it based off the the information given by the OP. This can easily be done in Plex, but not in iTunes.
     
  12. Longkeg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    Location:
    S. Florida
    #13
    This is turning into one of those Plex vs. Infuse threads. So I’ll put my 2cents in.... again. Plex is great if the computer hosting the server is powerful enough. With Plex the A/V encoding happens on the host computer before the content is streamed to its destination. If the computer is too slow or bogged down with other background tasks you can end up with stuttering, freezing and spinning wheels.

    Infuse handles the encoding on the device playing the stream, be it an iPad, iPhone, ATV or smart TV. The computer streams the raw content and Infuse does the work at the point of display. It works very well, at least the Pro version does. Oh, and the Pro version of Infuse isn’t free so there’s that. The free version of Plex is fine if your server is up to the task. It all comes down to what hardware you have and personal preference.
     
  13. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    Estonia
    #14
    One thing to note though - Plex does not necessarily transcode the media at all, In many cases it will be able to just pass the stream through.
     
  14. d21mike macrumors 68040

    d21mike

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2007
    Location:
    Torrance, CA
    #15
    I use PLEX and more recently EMBY. They are very similar but I prefer EMBY. Both have FREE and PAY options. They are both easy to install and test. I also have Infuse but prefer the other approaches. Infuse runs native on your Apple TV and use files shares on you iMac to get to the files. Actually I think Infuse can talk to Plex to get to the files that Plex servers.

    Again, hard to go wrong with other Plex or Emby for what you are looking to do.
     
  15. Michelasso, Mar 13, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019

    Michelasso macrumors 6502

    Michelasso

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Location:
    Treviso, Italy
    #16
    The problem is with that 10% or so of cases when direct play doesn't work at all (talking about 4K/HDR in HEVC). I have started so many threads on the Plex forum (for Android TV) about this and that not working that eventually I bought my ATV 4K + Infuse and never regretted it. When I feel like watching something I don't want to spend half an hour getting mad eventually deciding to watch something else. The new media player should (will it?) fix all those issues, but for now the last time I tested it I have got yet again that awful "Transcoding error". On something that it was direct playing before.

    Sure, i still have my Plex server up and running in my MBP. But I use it (rarely) for my 1080p H.264 content with my Fire TV Stick. Also it's useful because I have a Plex plugin that automatically downloads the subtitles in the media folders, since Infuse often had (still has?) issues getting them from OpenSubtitles.org.

    But again, if one has a quite powerful server for Plex forcing the transcoding would run everything. Too bad that there is a loss in video quality. And the audio quality is always limited to EAC3 (DD+), transcoding HiRes audio if present.

    PS: with AirReceiver I have also managed to AirPlay my 4K HEVC content from my iPhone with Infuse to the Fire TV, even using the subtitles. I didn't use it much (I usually watch Netflix and Prime Video in the kitchen with the Fire TV Stick) but when I tested it, it worked.
     
  16. priitv8, Mar 14, 2019 at 1:02 AM
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019 at 1:15 AM

    priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    Estonia
    #17
    How does it work out in reality?
    I do not see many free/open source EAC3 encoders around.
    Whenever i try to encode EAC3 track with HandBrake, I get garbage and it does not play on my AVR.

    PS For me, main reason for Plex to transcode, is the presence of DVB subtitles in the stream. They need to be burned into the picture before displaying on aTV screen.
     
  17. mpainesyd macrumors 6502

    mpainesyd

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #18
    Airvideo HD works well. A server program runs on the Mac and links to local & external folders with videos. There areAirvideo iOS and tvOS apps that allow you to play the videos on iPhones, iPads and ATVs on the same network.
    However only iTunes will play DRM videos purchased from Apple. They will not work with Airvideo, Plex etc. If you do add your movie collection to iTunes make sure you go to advanced preferences and uncheck Copy to iTunes Folder. Otherwise you will end up having duplicate files on your Mac.
     
  18. Michelasso macrumors 6502

    Michelasso

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Location:
    Treviso, Italy
    #19
    in more than few cases it sounded like crap indeed. But that was time ago, and it was badly broken. Sometime no audio at all (that has been fixed months ago).

    Unless you're talking about the encoder itself. I don't know, maybe they have got the source code of the module from Kodi. When playing the audio via HDMI ARC it has the option to always transcode it up to EAC3 due to the HDMI ARC limitations. Other than that, I wouldn't know. I just now that for sure it is a public domain code, Plex doesn't develop much by itself, they get open source pieces from here and there and put them together (with the results mentioned above).

    For infuse instead they should develop everything in house. And they do pay the license fees for Dolby/DTS. Which is why the free version refuses to play videos with audio track formats different than AAC (and why the Pro version isn't exactly cheap).
     
  19. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    Estonia
    #20
    The same with HandBrake - they rely on ffmpeg as much as I know.
    But I understand, it does create a working EAC3 encode. That's good to know. Maybe worth investigating, how.
     
  20. kat.hayes thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2011
    #21
    Thanks to everyone for all of the info and great responses! I am not the most tech savvy, so I'm doing my best to try and make sense of it all.

    1. All of the media is on an external drive and I'd like to keep it there. If I stick with just iTunes, how do I add it to iTunes without copying all of the files to the drive containing my iTunes content?
    2. I am not really interested in viewing the media outside of my network over the internet. If I remove the main requirement I stated in my OP regarding watching on TVs, is there any advantage to using iTunes or Plex if you can just watch your media by accessing the files directly over the shared network on other computers and iPads?

    Thanks.
     
  21. Longkeg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    Location:
    S. Florida
    #22
    iTunes-> Preferences-> Advanced-> uncheck the box by "Copy files to iTunes Media Folder when adding to library"

    Unless I missed it I don't think you've mentioned how your media is formatted. Was it all purchase from iTunes? Ripped from disks? Are they .mp4, .m4v, .mkv or even windows media? If they are formatted or encoded in such a way that is not compatible with iTunes, then don't use iTunes. If they are all iTunes compatible then go ahead and use iTunes
     
  22. ErikGrim macrumors 68040

    ErikGrim

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2003
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    #23
    The main advantage of using Plex is automatic sorting and metadata. Plex is fantastic for organising files with little to no work. You just point it to a folder of videos and it does all the sorting for you.
     
  23. tjwilliams25 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
    Location:
    Montana
    #24
    If you aren't planning on viewing on a TV, you can stick with iTunes. You can view a shared library in iTunes on any computer on the network, Mac or PC. It all comes down to how you want to watch and how much time you want to spend organizing. iTunes will have a little bit more setup time if you want everything to have a poster attached and correct metadata tagging. With PLEX, it's basically just pointing it in the direction of your media and correcting any mismatches, if any. I'm not trying to pit the two against each other, because they're both great options. In the end it just comes down to how much time you want to spend in the upkeep of your library.
     

Share This Page