I've never been able to get my ATV to do what I want...close to givingup

Hi,
Could someone tell me if I'm unlucky, or is this just what I have to expect with ATV1?
I've been trying on and off for well over 1 year to get my 3 yr old son's tv series and film content off of DVD and onto the ATV. Sesame street, Chuggingtons - that sort of thing.I was using Boxee for a while, but there were always problems. 
I then tried Nito, which was better in some respects - but still problems. I've very recently upgraded XBMC to Eden - and it's showing promise, but seems a bit quirky for controls (I use RemoteHD).
What is the best - as in most reliable, robust and with easiest interface (e.g simple covers) - way to have a bunch of kids movies and TV series accessible on the ATV?
I decided a while back that staying with .iso and not compressing content was safest.
Problems I've had:
Boxee not accepting menu controls on the main menu of .iso
Boxee not accepting controls during playback
NitoTV - unable to get out of DVD!
NitoTV - freezes for a long time before playback starts
(nb - Nito seemed the best as it worked directly from the main AppleTV menu)
Sapphire - I never got to work
XBMC - various issues, and didn't seem quite as user friendly as Boxee
I've got no problem re-encoding the content in whatever format required.
I am desperate to get the ATV working the way I want - otherwise it gets binned.
Does anyone have good recommendations?

The ATV1 + Firecore is not an easy device to get to work reliably.  After a long time of frustration, I’m getting a better idea of what it can and cannot do.  The biggest limitation is the overall horsepower.  A 1 ghz Pentium chip is literally the stone age these days.

For me, the first order of business was to get the ATV1 to be able to load data over my network from my Mac Mini (Lion Server).  I ended up using NFS since although SMB is recommended, I got NFS working first and just stopped trying to figure out why SMB wasn’t working properly.  Don’t even try doing AFP.  Once you use NitoTV to setup the NFS or SMB mount, all programs on the ATV1 can use it (including XMBC).

Make sure you get some of the latest patches and upgrades through the maintenance screen.  Things like Remote HD work well and make sure you load Perian since it will run a lot more video content than the built in MPEG2 decoder (it will make the ATV start up video slow and choppy…this is normal).

Load the latest version of XMBC (release 11 stable) or the nightly release.  The version of XMBC that comes with Firecore isn’t really usable.

I would consider ripping your kids content with Handbrake and keeping it in your iTunes library.  The ATV1 can do iTunes Home Sharing and it’s pretty easy to stream content to ATV even with the normal Movie and TV screens (the standard stuff, not the new Firecore screens).  If you use Perian decoding, you can use the Apple TV 2 preset for Handbrake but otherwise use the Apple TV 1 preset.

Install ATVFiles . 

In Movies folder  create folder Movie123 . In that folder place avi or another video file called same as folder Movie123.avi and jpg for cover called Movie123.jpg . You will have nice sorted library with covers. So you have to have folder,video file and jpg file in the same name as ToyStory3(folder) ToyStory3.avi(movie) ToyStory3.jpg(picture)

Ease use for kids . Tested.  

Movie123=any your file name .

Thanks both. 
I wanted to keep the content out of iTunes, partly because I don’t like having the videos on my iMac AND on the ATV - it’s simply a waste of space. I don’t want to stream either - as i’ve had a bizarre problem where the ATV doesn’t connect properly to iTunes via LAN - but it’s fine over Wifi. I lost days on that one and finally gave up.
if I reach the point where I’m out of space, I’ll add an external disk. For the moment the ATV has a 120gb disk (DIY job by previous owner!)

I tried ATVFiles, and it looked good enough for what I want. All I need to do now is convert some of his DVDs and find the best quality settings (I’m an ex encoding perfectionist/fanatic - I’ve wasted weeks of my life trying to find THE perfect settings…obviously before the kids!)

 

I’ll keep you posted

 

*Edited to say I just did one 40 min DVD, and it’s frozen the ATV…

JVT/AVC Encoding, 720 x 576, 25 fps, 2.24mbps
Audio is MPEG4, 48kHz, 156kbps 

The m4v is 697mb

I guess I’ll have to do some reading on the best settings for the ATV1 !

There was a known issue streaming from iTunes to the ATV2 via LAN where disabling IPv6 solved the issue (or using Wifi).  I had it happen to a friend of mine.  I own a ATV1 and an ATV3 and I have not seen the issue.  Both of my ATVs are hardwired to the LAN.

What are you doing your encoding with?  The Apple TV preset works pretty well in Handbrake and if you use the Perian codec, the AppleTV 2 preset works as well.

Finally, I understand that you don’t want to duplicate your videos if you can possible help it.  I get that.  But my experience with ATV1 and Firecore is that while DVD playback works, it’s tough to control and the performance is lousy unless the DVD is preloaded on the hard drive of the ATV1.  Since all of my media is on a central server, I want anything to be loaded from there.  iTunes streaming still works pretty good with a ATV1 (iTunes Home Sharing is directly supported) and XMBC works pretty well too with ATV1/2 encoded media from Handbrake.  But DVD playback doesn’t work as well as other alternatives.  Like you, I have my entire DVD library ripped and stored.  So I had to make the decision to do rips based upon the job I needed.  In your case, you have kids media you want to handle.  It might be best to do special rips for them.

I remember trying the IPv6 thing, but it didn’t work. The most frustrating thing was that I have all Apple; airport Extreme, MBP, iMac. I must try again, I haven’t tried since I went to Lion.

I’ve tried a few DVDs today on various Handbrake settings. I have Perian installed on the ATV - and tried the ATV2 setting, but the output froze the ATV each time. Is there somewhere that describes exactly what I need to do? Do I need Perian on the encoding machine as well?

To be honest though, using just the ATV1 setting seems good enough for the DVDs I’ve ripped so far. I’ll miss the menus, but I’m pretty happy with ATVFiles (although I can see no fast-forward being annoying if I’m watching a feature length movie). 

 

 

 

 

ATVFiles fast forward> press Down button then Right or Left is up to you.

Rip with Mac the Ripper onto an external drive. Use Nito to play. I use a Seagate GoFlex 1 TB (it’s bus powered and small). It works very well and I keep all menus etc. When I rip I rip the full extraction.

It is an odd problem, I must say.  In my house network, everything that can be on wired Ethernet is.  That includes the Apple TV 3, Apple TV Series 1, two Airport Express handling music-only duties, the Mac Mini Server (10.7.3) and a few non-Apple devices in the home theater rack.  Wireless is reserved for iPhones, iPads and laptops.

Perian on its own works better than I thought on the ATV1 but it’s not the panacea for everything simply because of the horsepower constraints.  You won’t need Perian on the Mac side although I do have it there anyway.  You need to doublecheck that Perian is not only installed but actually enabled.  I think I made that mistake after I initially installed it.  You’ll know that Perian is on when the Apple TV reboots.  The opening video from Apple comes in a little choppy, mostly because the default decoder has been turned off.

Has anyone noticed that with the iOS 5.1.1 patch issued yesterday that it seems that it is easier to get an ATV1 to play content streamed from an iOS device?  It used to be that the only thing I could get reliably to play via the Airplay hack in Firecore for ATV1 was Youtube videos.  Now I can get Handbrake encoded (ATV2 setting) videos stored on my iPad or iPhone 4 to play via Airplay.  Before iOS 5.1.1, I would often get just sound but no picture out of these videos.  The holy grail of flexibility is using one of the streaming iOS apps to play Airplay style on the ATV1.  This easily works on the ATV2/ATV3 but not on the ATV1+Firecore…except that now it seems out of the four major streaming apps (StreamtoMe, Air Media Center, Air Video and Air PlayitHD) that Air PlayitHD will now support Airplay streaming to an ATV1 is you choose not to re-encode a video that you already know is going to work (like a ATV1/ATV2 Handbrake encoded file).  I don’t remember this ever working before iOS 5.1.1.  I wish the other streaming apps would work (StreamtoMe is my favorite) but the fact that one of them works at all is interesting.

Hi all,

 

That’s a few days now, and so far the ATVFiles + Handbrake on ATV1 settings is my favourite option. My boy’s TV program DVDs start very quickly since there’s no menu.
(n.b, I’d already found the down arrow trick, but for me it only jumps chapters - it doesn’t do ‘proper’ forward or backward).
We almost never watch feature DVDs any more - no time! I have about 10 Bluerays not even opened…

I’d like to get the Perian option figured out though - I’d like to have some of my DVDs on the ATV1