Troubleshooting DVD Playback
 
Article #: 0137
Article Date:  9/20/2003
Author: Steve Z.
 
Problem:
General troubleshooting tips for DVD playback on personal computer systems.
 
Solution:
This article is provided to help you diagnose DVD playback problems in your system. Many problems in DVD playback are caused by the system simply not having all of the required components necessary to play DVD video. If your system does not have all of the required components, this often contributes directly to the problem you encounter when playing DVD's. Please refer to the checklist below to make sure you have everything needed:

The Quick Checklist

  • Check to see that you have a DVD decoder. (more)
  • Assuming you have a decoder, check that it plays your DVD's. (more)
    Try the following to get your decoder to function correctly:
    • Reduce your display settings to 800x600 pixels and 16-Bit color.
    • Check your DirectX version, and make sure it supports the decoder you are using.
    • Check for driver upgrades for your video and audio cards, and install them if available.
    • Uninstall and reinstall the DVD decoder software.
    • Make sure PC hardware acceleration is set at Full.
  • If your DVD decoder works, but InterActual Player does not, that may indicate a DirectShow problem. (more)
    DirectShow problems may be caused by the following:
    • A corrupt DVD decoder on the system.
    • The presence of more than one DVD decoder in the system.
    • DirectShow utilities that register themselves as DVD decoders, but which have no decoding capability.
    • A corrupt installation of the InterActual Player.
  • If you have a particular DVD that does not work in InterActual Player or your native DVD decoder, you may have a bad DVD or the firmware in your DVD drive may need to be updated. (more)
    To determine where the fault lies, try and play back the DVD in a different computer or in a set-top consumer DVD Player:
    • If the DVD does not work in a different player, it is likely that the DVD is faulty and you should return it to the place of purchase for an exchange or refund.
    • If the DVD does play in a different player, it is possible that your DVD-ROM is not fully compliant with the DVD specification.
    • Specific DVDs may also fail to play back because of region encoding issues.

The Detailed Troubleshooting Checklist

  • Check to see that you have a DVD decoder.
    A DVD decoder is a critical component of a DVD system. A DVD decoder is normally a program installed in Windows which can be found on your Start Menu. The program will typically consist of a screen for displaying the video and a playback control panel. On older systems this software may rely on a hardware decoder card. Most manufacturers of computer systems install a DVD decoder on their systems that advertise DVD capability. This software is typically pre-installed and also often provided on CD as part of your system restore CDs. If you cannot find your Decoder software, you should contact the manufacturer of your computer system.
    The free InterActual software included on DVD's does not include a DVD decoder. It simply finds and uses the decoder already on your system. Windows itself does not include a DVD decoder either. If you have watched DVD's on your current computer system before, then you had a DVD decoder installed. If you have reinstalled Windows, or restored your system, you need to reinstall your decoder and InterActual Player.
    If you do not know whether or not you have a decoder, our System Profile may be able to tell you. Click here to find out.

  • Assuming you have a decoder, check that it plays your DVDs.
    Simply having a DVD decoder installed is not enough; you have to ensure that it can successfully play DVD video. Your DVD decoder may not launch automatically when you insert a DVD; but since it is a Windows program you can start it yourself from a shortcut icon on the Windows desktop or in the Start Menu. If you have a DVD decoder but it cannot play DVD's, then the InterActual Player will most likely not work either.

    If your DVD decoder is not functioning, try the following and see if they resolve the problem. Remember after each step to test DVD playback in your DVD decoder, not the InterActual software, since our software may not report the errors as accurately as your own player might.

    • Reduce your display settings to 800x600 pixels and 16-Bit color. (how?) These are considered the minimum settings required for DVD playback, but they also may be the highest settings supported by your hardware. If the setting works, you may be able to gradually raise it again until it fails, and that way you know what the highest settings supported by your system will be.
    • Check your DirectX version, and make sure it supports the decoder you are using. Many DVD decoders have a minimum DirectX requirement. To find out what DirectX version you have, click your Start button, select Run..., type dxdiag, and click OK. The DirectX Diagnostic Tool should launch. Your DirectX version is listed at the bottom of the System Information, under the "System" tab. If your DirectX version is older, or if the utility is not found in your system, download the latest version of DirectX from the Microsoft website at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/directx/downloads/default.asp.
    • Check for driver upgrades for your video and audio cards, and install them if available. Microsoft does not distribute hardware drivers from their website, and the automatic update option in Windows does not automatically upgrade your hardware drivers either. This is a common misconception. Only the manufacturer of your hardware has driver upgrades available. If your computer was assembled by you or an individual using off-the-shelf parts, the driver upgrades will be available at the website of the hardware manufacturer. If you purchased a computer assembled by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) such as Dell or Compaq, hardware driver upgrades will be distributed via their website instead.
    • Uninstall and reinstall the DVD decoder software. Sometimes files that are required by DVD decoder software may be corrupted or overwritten by other programs. Reinstalling the DVD decoder software may correct some playback problems.
    • Make sure PC hardware acceleration is set at Full. It is possible that a user may be directed to set this to a lower setting in order to compensate for other problems in their system. This is not recommended, since a lower setting will most likely prevent DVD playback from functioning. DVD video requires full DirectDraw acceleration from your video driver. If your system is encountering a problem that requires reducing this setting, then it is likely that a video driver upgrade is needed instead. To adjust your hardware acceleration, do the following:

      1. Close any open programs and return to the Windows desktop.
      2. Right mouse click on an empty area of the desktop, and select Properties from the menu. This opens the Display Properties.
      3. Select the Settings tab.
      4. Click the Advanced button to open the Advanced Display Properties.
      5. If you are on Windows 98 or ME, the setting is under the Performance tab. On Windows 2000 and XP systems, the setting will be under the Troubleshoot tab.
      6. If you need to move the setting back to Full, click OK and close all windows, and restart your computer.
      7. Try the DVD again after restarting.

  • If your DVD decoder works, but InterActual Player does not, that may indicate a DirectShow problem.
    The InterActual Player software has very few settings available. This is not just for the sake of simplicity. The player does not need a lot of settings or options, since most are handled automatically by a part of Windows called DirectShow. So if the InterActual Player is not able to play DVD video in your system, it is more than likely that one or more of the required DirectShow functions is not functioning properly in your system. Here are some things that can cause our player to fail in a system that is otherwise playing DVD's properly:
    • A corrupt DVD decoder on the system. Sometimes DVDs can play correctly in your decoder software, but not through InterActual Player, because the files required for the DirectShow interface are corrupt or not installed correctly. Reinstalling your decoder can fix this problem.
    • The presence of more than one DVD decoder in the system. Our player relies on an automatic Windows operation to detect and direct it to a suitable decoder for playing DVD video. If you have more than one DVD decoder installed, more than likely our player will simply not work. Multiple DVD decoders are therefore not supported. It is possible that a DVD decoder may install from the utility CD of a newly installed hardware device, so be sure to check your Add/Remove Programs panel for any DVD software other than the one you normally use.
    • DirectShow utilities that register themselves as DVD decoders, but which have no decoding capability. Many users have contacted our company reporting problems with our software not being able to detect a valid decoder, even though they can play DVD with a software player such as CyberLink PowerDVD (which is a decoder itself and does support the functions required by our player); and when we have them check their system profile, a decoder other than their actual DVD software is being reported. This isn't a bug in the InterActual software; what is happening is that the software we are detecting is preventing our player from properly detecting their installed DVD decoder. The most frequent cause of this problem is when the system attempts to use a decoder capable of playing MPEG files, but which is not capable of handling the CSS copy protection applied to the video content of most mainstream DVD releases. Some examples include:

      • Moonlight Cordless Elecard MPEG
      • Pinnacle Instant CD+DVD MPEG2 Filter
      • DirectVobSub
      • VobSubDec
      • DVD2MPG
      • DVD2AVI
      • Nimo codec pack

      Some of these programs, like the Elecard and Pinnacle software, are perfectly legitimate software packages provided for a specific use. However, some others install outdated or unsupported DVD decoder files that can cause direct conflicts with a user's existing DVD software. Unfortunately all of the examples listed above can cause the InterActual software to no longer be able to detect a functioning DVD decoder, and so it is recommended to remove them from the system if you have one or more of them installed.

    • TV tuner cards such as MyHD. Unfortunately, some devices like these can prevent our player from detecting the DirectShow filters of a properly installed and functioning DVD decoder. We have had several reports from users of the MyHD hardware that they were not successful in playing DVD video through our software until they uninstalled and disabled this card. If a driver upgrade for the card does not correct the problem, it may be necessary to temporarily uninstall the driver and disable the card in order for the InterActual to function properly.
    • A corrupt installation of the InterActual Player: If you receive an error about IARESEN.DLL or ITIIMG3.DLL, your Player Installation may be corrupt. A separate support article describes how to fix this problem.

  • If you have a particular DVD that does not work in InterActual Player or your native DVD decoder, you may have a bad DVD or the firmware in your DVD drive may need to be updated.
    To determine where the fault lies, try and play back the DVD in a different computer or in a set-top consumer DVD Player:
    • If the DVD does not work in a different player, it is likely that the DVD is faulty and you should return it to the place of purchase for an exchange or refund.
    • If the DVD does play in a different player, it is possible that your DVD-ROM is not fully compliant with the DVD specification. Computer and drive manufacturer's often release firmware updates for DVD drives, which fix problems with specific discs. You should contact your computer or drive manufacturer to determine if any firmware updates are available for your drive and what the process is for updating the drive.
    • Specific DVDs may also fail to play back because of region encoding issues. The InterActual Player does not have any region coding settings in the software. It is simply told by your native DVD decoder whether the regional setting of the DVD matches the region of your computer.
 
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