How to get the highest-quality video playback
This article will show you how to get the high-quality video playback on your Windows PC. I will show you how to use madVR, a very popular high-quality DirectShow video renderer that uses the power of your graphics card to provide fast and very high-quality video playback.
DirectShow is a software component system from Microsoft. With DirectShow, a developer can create a video player that supports all video formats on the market. This is possible without having to implement all the video formats. Players can also support new video formats without doing any update to the video player software. So pretty awesome, let’s dig more into how DirectShow works.
How DirectShow works
A DirectShow filter is a piece of software packaged in a file with the .ax extension. Filters are registered in the windows registry. Video players then query the Windows registry for filters. The application can then build a filter graph to transform frames from a video into pixels on the screen.
Let us break down the simplest type of DirectShow filter in an application.
First, the application uses an input filter to read the video file. The input filter sends the data to a decoder filter. The decoder filter decodes the video stream and sends it to a render filter. The render filer puts the pixels on the screen.
The reader filters are typically installed by default in Windows. Some older decoder filters are installed with Windows and you download more yourself and install them. These type of video decoder filters are often called codecs. Then there are standard render filters installed with Windows, you can also download and install your own render filters. These custom render filters usually do different types of filtering to reduce artifacts caused by the compression in the video files.
The naïve way to build a filter graph is to let directshow automatically connect the pins. Unfortunately, this simple approach often does not work very well due to filter incompatibilities. More advanced video software has lots of code to reliably manually construct the filter graph.
High quality video rendering
madVR is a very popular high-quality DirectShow video renderer that uses the power of your graphics card to provide fast and very high-quality video output.
Key madVR Features according to their homepage:
- MadVR does High bitdepth processing (32bit per component)
- It has high quality algorithms for scaling, sharpening, debanding, dithering etc.
- It does Smooth motion playback without 3:2 pulldown judder even at 60Hz
- Using forced film mode it turns 60i movies into perfect 24p
- It has a very reliable playback using automatic fullscreen exclusive mode
To summarize, you will get better video playback quality with madVR. The improved quality is especially evident when you play older low-quality videos. To do its magic MadVR needs several decoded video frames. Because of this, it will take a few more moments until you see the first rendered image compared to using more basic renderers. If you are after high-quality video output madVR is the way to go.
How to install MadVR
Download the madVR zip file from their homepage and unpack it. Make sure to unpack to a folder where you can keep the files. Since madVR does not come with a normal windows installer the software will be installed to where you unpack the zip file.
Go to the unpacked folder, right-click on the install.bat file and select “Run as administrator”. This will register the madVR Directshow filter (madVR.ax) in your computer’s registry so that programs can find it.
Selecting to use MadVR for high-quality video playback
The integrated video player in Fast video cataloger, https://videocataloger.com/download natively supports MadVR. However, it is but it is not selected by default.
Start Fast video cataloger, open the preferences and go to the “Video Player” tab.
From the “Video player to use” dropdown menu select “Direct + madVR”. This will tell Fast video cataloger to use special code to build a filter graph using the madVR high-quality renderer.
Using the madVR renderer
I am more than happy to announce that Fast video cataloger 6.1 is now available for download.
Download the latest version from the download page
Virtual video editing
In version 6.1 it is now possible to create virtual videos by combining sections from videos in your collection. It is basically an advanced playlist maker that allows you to create playlists of whole video clips or just a part of a video. You can use this to make a quick early draft before doing video editing or just play like a normal video. The playlists are not altering video files in any way and you can make playlists of videos in different formats and resolutions instantly without doing any type of re-encoding that would lead to quality loss. It is also super quick.
Video playlist window
Create a new virtual video playlist from the playlist window and then select a current playlist. There are three basic ways to populate your video playlist.
- Add whole video clips to the playlist by right-clicking a video and selecting “add to playlist”.
- Add a video segment by right-clicking a thumbnail and selecting “Add to playlist”. Doing that will att the segment from the time of the selected thumbnail to the next one. If you hold down shift while selecting add to playlist you simply add a short segment (you can select the length from preferences) from the time of the thumbnail to the playlist.
- Right-click the camera icon in the video player to add a clip from the time where the video player is currently in the playing video.
You can re-order your clips with drag n drop after they have been added.
Extended thumbnail properties
Another new function in version 6.1 is the ability to add extended properties to thumbnails and to use that in searches. You could, for example, add a description to each thumbnail explaining the scene in words. Access this functionality from the video details window.
We have extended the scripting interface so you can leverage these new functions in your own custom solutions and we have added some more samples to give you a good start when doing your own video solutions based on fast video cataloger.
webm video files are recognized as standard video files
We have today released Fast video cataloger 6.02 with webm supported as a standard video file format. In the past it was possible to add webm either by adding the file specifially or setting webm as a custom video format in preferences. You can always do it that way with rare video formats. Fast video cataloger supports directshow filters so it supports rare formats and formats we have never even tested or are aware of as long as there is a directshow filter. Webm is becomming more common so we added it to the list of default extensions. When you add a folder it will treat your webm files just like it does with all other video files.
Docking framework updated
We have updated the docking framework that lets you configure your user interface across one or more displays. The update fixes a number of probolems where docking in some configurations did not work as expected. Remember that you can always reset your layout to the default if you want to start over with your layout. And if you are not using layouts you really should try it now.
Shortcuts to custom actions
You can now assign shortcuts to custom actions. You can, as before, crete custom action to launch external tools, access web resources or run custom scripts. By using custom actions you can integrate Fast video cataloger with your other software and workflows.
Imporved capture of wmv files
We have improved capture of wmv files. When you captured some type of bad wmv files the program could timeout when the video files were read from slow devices or over network.
Download the latest version of Fast video cataloger from videocataloger.com/download/
Metadata extraction from videos and more…
I am very happy to be let you know that we have just released Fast video cataloger 6 with a massive number of changes and improvements. To make sure everyone gets a chance to test it out we have also reset all trial periods. Meaning even if you tried an earlier version, you can still give this one a test.
Video Metadata extraction
The biggest feature by far is that we have added the option to automatically extract metadata from video files. On the video index screen, you can now decide if you want to extract metadata from nfo files and/or from inside the videos. Extracted metadata will be stored as extended properties, and you view them in the video detail window. The new ctrl+I search function will match against extended properties as well allowing you to include codecs, video resolution and more in your searches.
Options to extract video metadata from video file
Viewing extracted video metadata in the general view
Video Search improvements
The search video functions have had a new interactive search field – search all. This search field allows you to quickly match a number of the different fields for your search terms. Each term is matched against name, path, description, keywords and custom video properties. If you enter more than one search term, each needs to to match the video but does not need to match the same property. This is an extremely powerful feature that will help you to quickly filter down to a few videos in large collections. For example, if you would search for “c:\ brother” the search would match all videos with the keyword “brother” with a path starting with “c:\”. But it would not match videos in other folders or videos in the c:\ folder that don’t have the “brother” keyword. I hope you see how this can be incredibly useful and powerful. We also added a special shortcut “Ctrl + i” that will toggle this search text field up in the top window bar regardless of what windows you have open.
User interface improvements
When you install the latest version, the first thing you will notice is that we have made a huge change to the user interface.! But don’t worry, you can still configure your user interface across one or more screens just as before. The changes are designed to make the program easier to understand for new users, and also more efficient for experts. The interface now works a bit more like the familiar Microsoft Office software.
There is a start page, “catalog”, where you do things like open catalogs, import/export catalogs, archive catalogs, repair, backup and protect catalogs and so on. These are all extremely powerful functions that are carried out on the complete catalog but rarely and this is where you switch between catalogs. By moving these functions to the catalog screen we get rid of quite a few items from the menus which makes them simpler. We also moved to task menus instead of drop-down menus. This allowed us to save some space and leave more area for the windows. It also lets you quickly toggle windows to configure your layouts and switch between them.
An improved user interface in fast video cataloger 6
We have changed how the default layouts work. The named layouts have now been setup so that their names make sense. i.e. the add videos layouts by default only have the windows you need to add videos. If you reset that layout, it will return to these windows. Before it returned to the standard layout. You can still change all of the layouts to your liking and quickly switch between them.
We added the ability to change the default shortcuts in the program. You can access this window from the “Catalog” screen.
The scripting interface has been extended with functions to mask and unmask videos.
Special folders can be accessed from preferences and allow you to set labels to root paths that will be used in the catalog. If you then change the root of videos, say from one drive to another, you can simply just update the special folder label.
The license system has been updated, so you will unfortunately need a new key for this version. If it is less than 2 years since you bought Fast video cataloger, you are entitled to a free upgrade. If you have already received a new key, please contact support and we will work that out for you.
We will eventually provide an affordable solution for customers who are running very old versions from more than 2 years back. Just contact us if you are in a hurry to get the latest version.
Give it a try
You can download the latest version of Fast video cataloger 6 from here. In this version, we also reset the trial license so even if you have tested the program before you get a new trial period, and we have extended the trial from 7 to 30 days.
A Video database
Fast video cataloger (https://videocataloger.com) lets you build a quick and searchable database out of video metadata. The video database allows you to get a quick overview of lots of videos without the need to have the actual large video files available. It also lets you quickly search and browse for videos in your database. You can download the software from here; https://videocataloger.com/download/.
Adding video and extracting metadata
When you add a list of videos to fast video cataloger it will get metadata for the videos in a number of ways.
First, you have the option to add your own metadata. Enter any keywords, actors or other metadata in the “add video” window. Entering it here allows you to easily set shared metadata to a number of files. You can add more metadata later if you want to but this is a quick way to add the info you might already know about a batch of videos you are adding to your video catalog.
When you start adding the videos, Fast video cataloger will automatically scan through the video and extract thumbnails and store them in with your video catalog.
After scanning your video for thumbnails the program will search for an nfo file. If it finds an nfo file, it will read it and add the video metadata to your catalog. nfo files are expected to have the same name as the video file but with the .nfo extension.
Fast video cataloger will also scan the video folder for cover art and companion images based on the setting in preferences.
What is an Nfo file?
An nfo file is a plain text file. The metadata in the nfo file is stored as xml data. You can easily view the content in any plain text editor like notepad. In windows, nfo files are normally associated with system information. Therefore if you double-click an nfo file you will open the wrong program, right click and select open with and choose notepad.
What video metadata is read from an nfo files?
nfo files can contain a lot of different metadata. Fast video cataloger scans the nfo file for a description of the video which is used for video description, keywords that will be used to tag the videos and links to be stored in as a video link.
How to get nfo files?
Nfo files can be generated from a number of different programs like Kodi home theater, Plex Media Server and many more. If you are moving from any of these popular programs or are using them together with fast video cataloger you can easily export nfo file and get your video metadata into fast video cataloger.
Where does fast video cataloger store video metadata?
Fast video cataloger always stores its metadata in the catalog database file. I.e. it never stores video metadata in the video file. The reason is speed and the fact that there is no standard for how to store metadata in video files. Some file formats do not allow it, some do, and it all depends on the video file container. Another good reason to not store the metadata in the video file is that it might already contain metadata that you do not want to overwrite.
How to Search metadata
Meta data is included in your search. If you have not done so before try the smart Ctrl+i search to quickly find what you are looking for.