Hacking Windows 7 Media Center

FFDShow Video in Media Center

by @ 6:30 am on February 18th, 2009 in codecs, ffdshow, graphstudio, mkv matroska with 27 Comments

logoThere are many choices in the world of codecs (used to play back video and audio on the pc). One of the most popular is FFDShow. While there is already a guide on using FFDShow Audio in Media Center there is the other half to consider as well: FFDShow Video. While we are able to get FFDShow audio to work in all parts of the Media Center including live TV, FFDShow Video isn’t quite as forgiving.

While you can’t use FFDShow Video in live or recorded TV on Media Center, it is possible to use it for just about anything else. The video side of FFDShow offers a wide range of compatibility for playing back the most popular video file formats. It also offers the ability to fine tune and adjust the video output to get the best quality picture.

body of lies

Getting FFDShow to play your movies in Media Center is relatively simple. Just download the latest FFDShow tryouts (and x64 SVN if you’re running Windows 7 x64) and install the package(s). If your movie collection includes MKV files, follow the directions in this guide for MKVs with FFDShow.

Once installed FFDShow should take over playing your media back in most situations. You can double check using this guide on checking codecs with Graphstudio. If for some reason FFDShow has not taken over playing your video files, increase the merit of the codec from the video decoder configuration in the start menu. Slide the control all the way to the right, apply the settings and recheck Graphstudio to confirm this worked.

FFDShow Video Merit

Once FFDShow Video is handling the video output it’s time to tweak the settings from inside the video decoder configuration. This can be found in the start menu under FFDShow and FFDShow64, choose the appropriate one for your system. Configuring both is a good practice to normalize playback all around for your system if you run an x64 version of Windows. Once inside you can see a slew of available options.

FFDShow Video Settings

Some of these options can use quite a bit of processing power (cpu) and currently FFDShow doesn’t support video hardware acceleration (and likely never will). If you have the horsepower to handle it, however, you can improve the quality of all your compressed videos to some extent.

fear and loathing

The settings in the video portion of FFDShow will, to some degree, be subjective. Each user will have to adjust settings to find what works best for their preferences and hardware. Typically, users will focus on post processing, picture properties and blur & noise reduction. These three settings pages can improve the sharpness and contrast of videos in many cases.

Post processing can be used to decrease the amount of blocking (the appearance of pixilated areas) by selecting the checkbox in the navigation pane or the top of the settings page. This filter will require a lot of processing power, however, with the amount of power required being dependant on the resolution of the video. Using post processing on high definition content is recommended only for the highest spec’d machines.

FFDShow Postprocessing

Picture properties can be used to do basic color correction. You can increase or decrease the gamma, brightness and contrast as well as correcting the colors of your output. Adjusting luminance gain and offset can refine the contrast and brightness respectively improving the output quality of videos that seem washed out or dull. Adjusting the gamma can improve the brightness of the video. There is also a full compliment of controls for adjusting the color output.

babylon a.d.

Blur and noise reduction can help to clear up any unwanted noise or static in the picture from compression.  You can also find controls to soften the picture which can be helpful if the video has pixilation around the edges of objects. If the opposite is the problem and the video isn’t clear enough, enabling the settings under the sharpen option can clear it up.

Hopefully this short guide has gotten you on your way to using FFDShow Video for your movies and videos in Media Center. Much of the process will be fine tuning each setting to get the best picture from your hardware and also suited to your tastes. Look for more on FFDShow and other codecs in the future on Hack7MC.

Have any tips on FFDShow settings? Let us know in the comments below!


Comment #128 from Zander [Reply]

Increasing the merit of FFDShow does nothing. FFDShow is never the locus of decompression. Any thoughts, anybody??

Nice article, by the way. This site is fantastic.

Comment left February 21, 2009 at 12:29 am Permanent Link

Comment #129 from MHealy [Reply]

Try using GraphStudio to check what codecs are being used with this guide. If you run GraphStudio as administrator you can change the merit of ffdshow or lower the merit of other filters by going to "Filters > Manage Favorites > Add Filter". Then select the filter that needs to be changed and change the merit with the button on the right.

Comment left February 21, 2009 at 6:11 am Permanent Link

Comment #130 from Paul [Reply]

Is there no way to get MC to use other video codecs? :(

I’d really like to try Media Player Classic’s Home Theatre’s codec to decode live h264 HDTV..

Comment left February 24, 2009 at 9:17 pm Permanent Link

Comment #131 from MHealy [Reply]

There would have to be a codec that can read the new WTV file format used for live and recorded tv. It may be possible but I’m not sure because the WTV format was developed specifically for DRM (Digital Rights Management). I’ll keep looking into it as I’m interested in doing this as well but currently I haven’t found any way to accomplish it.

Comment left February 25, 2009 at 7:03 am Permanent Link

Comment #125 from dkazaz [Reply]

On Windows 7 x64, even after elevating ffdshow filter merit to preferred+2, it is still not used in media center. Graph studio makes the change, the merit is increased but the graphs are still built wwith Microsoft’s own built in codecs. Its furtrating because they have neither the degree of fine control settings that ffdshow has nor the efficiency of CoreAVC pro (which will hopefully soon be out on x64).

Comment left March 22, 2009 at 8:03 am Permanent Link

Comment #126 from MHealy [Reply]

I found the same thing on two recent installs of build 7057 that refursed to let FFDShow take over. I think I have figured it out and I’ll post a guide as soon as my notes are in order.

Comment left March 22, 2009 at 2:15 pm Permanent Link

Comment #127 from Paul [Reply]

I look forward to this with great interest!

Comment left March 22, 2009 at 7:49 pm Permanent Link

Comment #458 from pcmike [Reply]

Did we figure out how to get mc7 to use ffdshow video yet? I really want to get this working. Thanks MHealy.

Comment left April 26, 2009 at 3:20 am Permanent Link

Comment #2119 from skyfish [Reply]

okay after restoring to a previous point and removing all codecs and then re-establishing ffdshow codecs, I have finally (checked through GraphStudio) got it so that when I render a DVD .vob file it will utilise ffdaudio decoder and ffdvideo decoder as filters.
However, when I am in media center and select the dvd to watch (incidentally using MyMovies plug-in) – it hangs and then on 1st try closes media center. If I re-open media center and try again – it just hangs.
Anyone any ideas?
I have used very few if any settings in the ffdshow filters and am probably sure it is the video and not the audio as I had the audio working with a Cyberlink filter previously.
Thanks in adavance for any help.

Comment left July 14, 2009 at 6:30 am Permanent Link

Comment #2124 from skyfish [Reply]

Oh and one further thing – the vin diesel film shot above shows the before and after effect simultaneously. What software/player is this where one can change the ffdshow settings and see the effects live whilst playing in split mode such as this?

Comment left July 14, 2009 at 9:31 am Permanent Link
Comment #2225 from 666 [Reply]

Unfortunately all of the guides are inaccurate, offer conflicting information, and just plain don’t work. There are currently numerous methods, all of them different, on how to get ffdshow Video and Audio with everything except DTV/DVD, and audio only with DTV/DVD. What I would like to see is one complete comprehensive guide that shows how to get EVERYTHING decoded with ffdshow/MKV except DTV/DVD video. Is this too much to ask?

Comment left July 22, 2009 at 9:43 am Permanent Link

Comment #2487 from user29 [Reply]

Agree with the above – especially with the RTM now out.

Ho to get ffdshow for all avi/divx/mkv

and a seperate one for TV for those that want it – I have a feeling that diff tools worked with diff releases of W7 – which is now stablisied some what!

Comment left August 3, 2009 at 11:59 pm Permanent Link

Comment #2785 from enTRAPAG [Reply]

The only thing that I was really successful with on 7232 x64 was Shark007. It automated everything.

Uninstall any codecs beforehand, whether they’re packs or individual installers.

Then install the Shark007 Windows 7 pack.
Then if you’re x64, install the Shark007 x64 pack.

Please make sure you read his guide though. Don’t just do what I say because I’m handsome. Like I said, this was the ONLY thing I could get to work on my build and it was NO EFFORT.

Comment left August 19, 2009 at 6:16 pm Permanent Link

Comment #2793 from Jonathon [Reply]

+1 For Shark007

Its the easiest and best way to go. NO matter what I tried I could not get FLAC audio files to play in MediaCenter on Windows 7 RTM x64. I installed Shark007 with the x64 addon, and now they play.

Comment left August 20, 2009 at 8:26 am Permanent Link
Comment #2794 from Michael Healy [Reply]

I definitely recommend Shark’s Codec Packs for anyone who doesn’t want to mess around with codecs and settings themselves and just wants things to work.

Comment left August 20, 2009 at 9:00 am Permanent Link

Comment #3319 from Chris [Reply]

To force media player to use ffdshow video the solution is similar to the audio solution on this site. You need to take ownership of and rename this files:

C>windows>sysWow64 (for 64 bit)

Comment left September 17, 2009 at 3:31 pm Permanent Link

Comment #3921 from WyWyWyWy [Reply]

Its easy. Just follow this post -

Ffdshow’s CLSID is {04FE9017-F873-410E-871E-AB91661A4EF7}

Comment left October 10, 2009 at 9:01 pm Permanent Link
Comment #6599 from Peter [Reply]

I need to stop the choppyness in my dvd playback on my win7 MC, and from what i understand it could me the Windows DVD Decoder.
I have been trying to get ffdshow to work using MCDU but for some reason i get a codec error when i play a dvd. any ideas ?

Comment left January 13, 2010 at 8:12 am Permanent Link

Comment #7385 from Marr [Reply]

I have some problems with Win7 x64 Media Center.
Can anyone please tell me, how to activate subtitles in MediaCenter using sharks007 codec packs?

Comment left February 3, 2010 at 11:52 am Permanent Link
Comment #7390 from Shark007 [Reply]

Marr, open the x64 settings application and choose to use the SUGGESTED settings from the bottom of the app. On the Config TAB, upper right, set FFDshow for subtitles. Choosing external = .srt etc, Choosing internal, as the name suggests, is when the subs are within the movie itself. If you have further issues please take them to my forum

Comment left February 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm Permanent Link

Comment #9242 from sandeep [Reply]

I’m using windows 7 64 bit home prem.
Before that, my machine was windows xp, in that when I play video in winamp it will shows ffdshow icons (Both audio and video) in systray. But now in windows 7 , when I play video files in winamp it doesn’t show ffdshow icon in systray. Is there is any way to enable. thanx in advance

Comment left April 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm Permanent Link

Comment #13962 from Justin [Reply]

N00B question, forgive me : – (=)

If I’ve already installed Shark007 do I also need to install FFDShow Tryouts?


Comment left July 20, 2010 at 7:11 pm Permanent Link

Comment #14061 from Justin [Reply]

awesome, thx Michael!

Comment left July 23, 2010 at 10:53 am Permanent Link

Comment #18886 from mustang [Reply]

can any one plzz guide me how do i remove this sloppy chops that come when there is a bit of motion on the video? vlc plays fine but it comes as pixels in wmc.. wmp also plays ok.. but anything to do with motion or speed.. comes a lil.. sometimes alot of pixelated..
i really love wmc. but microsoft just never learns to make anything that will work as its suppose to
i have shark .. used x64 same result.. use post processing 0 diff. wha else can i try..

Comment left September 30, 2010 at 10:35 pm Permanent Link

Comment #19032 from Anonymous [Reply]

hey mustang, i had the same problem exactly and instaling sharks 64bit codec pack sorted it for me. i just chose the recommended settings. its ffdshow that you need, i see the icons comeup in the task bar while its playing. hope this helps

Comment left October 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm Permanent Link

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