Solution for simultaneous, dual-screen music and movie control
I'm a very recent convert to the carpc world (don't even have my first installed yet, actually) but in my initial testing I had a lot of trouble getting RR or Centrafuse to do exactly what I need, which is to simultaneously play and control a video to my rear screen while playing music for me upfront.
Since I have a lot of familiarity with xlobby, and really love all the flexibility it offers, I decided to patch together a solution. I'm sharing my setup here in case it might help anyone else achieve the same goal.
**For windows XP users only (might work under Vista, unable to test)**
Stuff you'll need
1. Xlobby installer
2. Last free Xlobby executable
3. .Net 2.0
4. Foobar2000 (winamp alternative with much lower overhead and a simple interface)
5. Media Player Classic- Home Cinema (has command line controls for sending video to the second screen).
6. my Nomad skin (you can create your own skin once you get the hang of Xlobby's skin editor, which is invoked via the Pause/Break key).
7. The HTPC font.
8. NirCmd (handy little command line app needed for a few tasks).
9.TweakUI (this is only needed if you want iGuidance integration, see #4 below).
Steps to install and configure
1. Download the apps listed above and install them as indicated (.Net 2.0 must be installed before Xlobby is run).
- The second Xlobby link contains a couple files that you just copy over the existing ones in the Xlobby folder in Program Files.
- MPC-HC is just an exe you can put anywhere.
- Extract the Nomad and Fonts folders from Nomad.zip. The entire "Nomad" folder goes into Program Files>Xlobby>Skins.
- Install the HTPC font (the Nomad skin won't look right without it).
- Within the Xlobby folder you'll find a folder named "Foobar plugin." Use the "after 0.9" version and place the .dll into your Foobar2000>components folder.
- You must place nircmd.exe into Program Files>NirCmd (create that folder) or several things won't work.
2. Run xlobby (It will use the default skin, fullscreen) and configure as follows (click F2 to open the setup window)
- Under General, add a foobar or winamp zone by browsing to the relevant exe.
- Under Databases > Import, select Music from the Template drop-down menu. Click the Meta Mask tab and delete everything in there. Then choose "Album" under the ID3 options (these tweaks help correctly import tags, especially the Genre tag, as used in the Advanced Search screen). Under the general tab, add any additional music file or cover art extensions needed. (You can only use file types foobar can play).
- Add additional movie file extensions, as needed, under Databases > Import > Template > Movies > General
- Under Basic, add paths to your Music and Movie archives and click Import for each. Default file types are .mp3, for music and .avi, ifo, for movies. If you want to import other types, you must add the file extensions in F2 > Databases >Import and choose your import type in the "Template" drop down menu.
- Under Skins, choose Nomad and restart.
- Under File Types, highlight the zplayer (zoomplayer) entry and uncheck the Enabled box.
- Still under File Types, Click Browse and add the path to wherever you installed media player classic home cinema.
- Place whatever extensions for movies you need played in the extensions field and,
- Add the following command line switch: "%parameter%" /fullscreen /monitor 2 (include the quotes around parameter).
3. Install a second sound card and route audio as necessary.
- Configure media player classic output under Options > Playback > Output
- Configure foobar to output from your secondary sound card (File > Preferences > Playback > Output > Output device drop down.)
- If you are using iGuidance, you will probably want to route movie audio to the second card and have music and iGuidance audio go to your first.
4. If you are incorporating iGuidance, you will need to download the TweakUI power tool, install and run it, and under the General > Focus section, check "Prevent Applications from Stealing Focus". I also select "Flash Taskbar Button" 1 time, so it's not sitting there flashing forever behind Xlobby. Please note: if you are not incorporating iGuidance, the navigation screen will just be blank.
Extra steps for a cleaner interface
- Configure foobar2000 to minimize to the system tray. (Preferences>Display>Default User Interface, Check minimize to notification area). Then exit out of preferences, minimize foobar, and right-click exit. This insures foobar always loads straight to the system tray.
- Right click on your taskbar > properties > check auto-hide and uncheck keep the taskbar on top.
Alternative Media Player Options
1. The following steps are required to get Zoom Player working correctly, instead of Media Player Classic - Home Cinema.
- Download this version of the Nomad skin, put it in the Xlobby>Skins folder, and use F2 > Skins to select it.
- (Re)Enable Zoom Player in Xlobby: (F2) Setup > File Types and check the Enable box. Make sure it has all the file extensions you need, but don't touch the command line section. Uncheck enable for media player classic if you added that entry earlier.
- If you want Zoom Player to output to your secondary monitor, you must configure it accordingly by going into Advanced Options > Interface and choosing "Start player in: Fullscreen Mode" and selecting your secondary monitor under the Advanced Options > System & Files > Fullscreen/Zoom to Monitor drop down menu.
2. You can also use Winamp instead of Foobar but you will have to add the install path to Winamp under Xlobby setup (F2) > General > Foobar/Winamp zones. You should also configure Winamp to minimize to the system tray upon loading. Also make sure to route audio as necessary.
Stuff Xlobby assumes about your media (database import won't work correctly unless the following is true)
- Inside your music folder, the structure is Artist name>Album title>files + cover jpg (xlobby uses the first one it finds, so only having one cover image is best).
- You have properly tagged your music files (and use formats with tagging support).
- Your movie archive should also be Movie Title>Movie file(s) + cover .jpg (You can use a VIDEO_TS subfolder, just keep the cover .jpg outside of it).
- Each time you add new music or movies, you must re-import your database. You can either do this manually (F2 > Basic > Import) or use the buttons on the exit screen in the Nomad skin.
Flaws/Bugs you should know about
- I don't believe MPC-HC has any provisions for restarting a movie where it was left off when exited. See the Alternative Media Players - Zoomplayer section above if that's a critical feature for you.
- iGuidance integration is pretty jimmy-rigged at the moment. There's no embedding, per se, just a bringing into focus. iGuidance must be running in a windowed-state behind Xlobby for the navigation page to have any chance at pulling in the window. How you automate that is up to you. I put iGuidance and Xlobby in my startup folder and have them both load on boot.
- The weather screen relies on a plugin that requires internet access when Xlobby first loads, or no weather data will be downloaded.
- Playlists created and then saved within Xlobby will probably not show up until Xlobby is closed and reloaded
- Exiting the navigation screen, there is about a 1-2 second delay before the iGuidance window disappears.