Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dolby Digital Plus, Roku Premiere+ and Digital Optical Cable making 5.1 Surround Sound not work!

Whew! That was a bit of a complex problem to solve!

I recently bought a Roku Premiere+ streaming device to replace the old functionality on my 9 year old Blu-Ray player. The DVDs and Blu-Rays still play back fine, but it's starting to be a hater with the ever-increasing quality of video streams on its aging processor and Netflix and Amazon Prime Video apps. Google Chromecast does not have Amazon Prime Video support. So, alas, it was time to research a streaming device. CNet strongly recommended the Roku, and so I picked up the new Roku Premiere+ with Ethernet connectivity.

I have a B&W surround sound 5.1 (well, 5.0 -- I live in an apartment so no subwoofer for me to keep the peace with all my neighbours!) speaker setup -- a L, a R, a center channel, and a rear R and rear L.

In the last while I've been using my old-ish (maybe 7 yrs?) Pioneer VSX-919AH receiver more and more in the Advanced Audio mode called "External Stereo" which is a sort of simulated surround sound. I find it works well enough to use all my speakers (and better so than Dolby PLII or the other options). I used to use it when playing back audio in stereo (eg Pandora) but wanting it to come out of all the speakers. Fair enough.

Recently, I've noticed that the Netflix and Amazon movies tend to come through only in Stereo. I thought that they just weren't streaming in 5.1 very often. Turns out... my setup was a fail for 5.1 streaming!!

The issue stemmed from the fact that I was connecting most of my devices (eg Chromecast, OTA Digital Antenna, etc) to the TV, and then passing the audio for these channels back to the Receiver using a Digital Optical Audio Cable. Normally, that should be fine.. but...

Apparently in the last few years Netflix, Amazon and other apps on Roku (and presumably on other devices) now only serve Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound through Streaming Dolby Digital PLUS. Dolby Digital (non-Plus) works fine via Optical Audio Cables. But Dolby Digital Plus DOES NOT TRANSFER over an Optical Audio Cable. You MUST transfer it over HDMI. And since Netflix et al only serve 5.1 in Dolby Digital Plus (DD+), if you're not serving your entire audio/video pipeline with HDMI, then say goodbye to glorious 5.1 streamed audio. Crazy.

I had followed what I was doing for the Chromecast and plugged the Roku into the TV HDMI input, and then relied upon the HDMI switching on the receiver to help me along with the Optical Audio Cable from TV->Receiver for the audio. After not finding 5.1 options in any of my Roku apps and getting insanely frustrated, I realized the Roku had auto-detected Dolby Digital (DD) and not the option I thought it would have picked (Dolby Digital + / DTS). I initially thought "Oh no, my receiver is too old and doesn't support DD+! I don't want to have to buy a new one!" A quick Google showed that my receiver certainly supports DD+. More Googling explained that Netflix, Amazon et al now only serve 5.1 audio via DD+. And DD+ does not work over Digital Optical Audio cables.

The fix?

An insanely simple one, after all that. Sometimes the hardest stuff is just a "one line fix" as we'd say at work :)

I simply removed the HDMI cable from Roku->TV, and plugged it from Roku->Receiver HDMI input 1. Receiver HDMI Out was already plugged into TV HDMI 1 IN, since that's how I send Blu-Ray signals to the TV. So I literally needed to only swap one cable. I couldn't believe it.

Some testing and the Roku now auto-recognized Dolby Digital+/DTS and I was off to the races. A simple update of my Logitech Harmony settings to set the HDMI inputs correctly now, and that's all there was to it. Only took me 4 hrs :)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Mill’s Blackbird - GDC 2017 Demo

Some truly incredible real-time virtual production work coming out of The Mill and Epic. Truly incredible and groundbreaking work. This flexible car rig design is outrageously cool, and you can basically see a future Technical Academy Award in progress :)

Final video, and make sure to check out the FXGuide article below, too.



This writeup on FXGuide is super detailed and insanely fascinating.
https://www.fxguide.com/featured/the-mills-incredible-blackbird-at-gdc-the-future-of-virtual-production/

Well done to all involved, this is nuts!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Website Travel section updated!

Travel Blogs!! I have been catching up like crazy on my old trip journals over the last few weeks as you can see from my flurry of posts. I just finished *all* of them!

Here are links to the main pages on my site (which in turn, link back to individual blog posts). Enjoy!

Vancouver 2016
http://www.mikejutan.com/travel/vancouver2016/

Vancouver 2016 Journal post: Links to all blog posts

That's the end of another Trip blog! Here are links to each post from my Vancouver 2016  trip. Thanks for reading :)

Vancouver 2016 Journal

Vancouver 2016 Day 10: Wrapup, cousins, and home

10/23/2016
Vancouver 2016 Day 10: Wrapup, cousins, and home

Our final day in Vancouver! We checked out of the hotel and wandered HBC and Roots and checked out some other fun shopping, just to see the necessary Canadiana.

As a friend said, "You can take the boy out of Canada... but..."
OMG our favourite homeware person "Bluebellgray" now makes TEAWARE ahhhhhhhhh
Man this lady's bedding is friggin' kick ass. We love this stuff.
Fetching? Don't we all need a woolen HBC purse?

Michal didn't have a chance to get to Stanley Park yet, so we headed up (yes, in a Car2Go!) to go on a short walk in the park. It sure is a lot nicer up there when it's not raining like crazy!! It was a lovely afternoon walk and very "fresh" up there. We chatted nicely about our honeymoon and all the adventures we were planning.

After our walk we headed back to meet up with Michal's family's cousins, Miriam and Ralph! That was awesome and they suggested this great brown rice sushi place that I hadn't heard of in my crazy foodie research. It's so great to get to go to some spots that the locals love! That was really tasty and apparently the first place to start serving brown rice sushi?! It was very, very good, and an awesome sendoff from a fabulous trip.






And that's that! We headed back to SFO and waiting for me at home was... an AMAZING handcrafted Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake that Michal had made for me while I was away in Vancouver!! It was so fantastic and a great welcome home gift... I ate a HUGE initial slice... and polished off the rest over the next few days!




MAN that was good.

A quick photo of all the fun stuff I collected:


What an awesome trip and such a fun experience heading up to Vancouver and really getting to "see it all". It was a pretty action-packed 10 days, and I was glad to at least be able to share the last piece of it with Michal! Super fun times and a great city with awesome food and awesome people. Just like visiting Portland a month before, it was nice to have a chance to see another one of the "big west coast cities" in all its glory. All of these fun experience and memories... a brand new niece, and a huge personalized cheesecake waiting for me upon return. Talk about a huge win!

Vancouver 2016 Day 9: Capilano Suspension Bridge

10/22/2016
Vancouver 2016 Day 9: Capilano Suspension Bridge

Today we started off with a checkout from my work hotel and a checkin at the Fairmont as our final nights stay. We dropped off our stuff and then headed to the Public Market to go enjoy the market again and so I could share the epicness of the Rosemary Sea Salt bagels with Michal, and also buy like 4 of those awesome turkey stick pepperoni things. Amazing.



EPIC BAGEL

Michal got her new Merrells, and they match mine!

Nanaimo Bars... yes

We got a couple more apples, cause as I mentioned earlier, west coast apples are literally the best apples. Armed with some snacks, we got a Car2Go and drove up over the north bridge and towards Grouse Mountain.

We first stopped off at a South African store as mentioned by a friend at work, to grab some necessary biltong and chat with the shopkeepers.

Now, I had kinda failed at the planning for this, as I thought from my brief look that you could drop a Car2Go at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. You cannot. It turns out you need to drop it waaaaayyyyy up the hill at the Grouse Mountain parking lot, which is at least a good 5-7 min drive further than the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Fail!! So we dropped it there and then were like... "Uh... what do we do now?"

We waited for a bit at a bus stop but it seemed like the busses weren't going the way we were going and it was a bit of a fail. It seemed like it would be a 30 min walk or so back to the place we were aiming for and we really wanted to get there more swiftly. So, we hitchhiked.

At first no one stopped for us, but after only a few short minutes a middle-aged British lady in a fancy Acura SUV stopped and asked if we wanted a ride... with one stipulation. She was on her way to pick up a dishwasher (that someone had left for her on the side of the road?!) and he husband said to find someone along the way willing to help her lift it into the car. She said it was up to us, but she'd happily give us a ride if we agreed to first help her lift the Dish Washer into the trunk. Ha! I said we were trying to get there quickly.. but... if it was close... sure! We drove a little past the bridge area and to a side street where, sure enough, the "free to a good home" dishwasher was still available. I helped her get it into the car and then she dropped us off at the bridge. Win, win!

The bridge was beautiful but slightly terrifying. There were a lot of people on it and MAN that thing sure sways a lot back and forth!! Jeez!!! I did not expect it to be so sway-y, and I was kindof glad to be at the other end of it. (That said, you still need to cross back on the same bridge on the way back!)







Once we got to the other side safely, it was cool to check out the other walkways and they had another fun walking thing between the trees, which was also kindof scary! Fun times though.








We stopped along one of the hikes for another snack until at some point they let us know that the trail was closing. We finished up our bagels and random dried meats and then headed across the bridge again on the way back. It was a bit less insane on the way back as there were less people on it, so that was good :) You can still see me gripping the side for dear life, though.





We were then running a bit late for our dinner meet-up with our friends Lianne and Kristin, so we took the bus to the Water Taxi terminal and managed to get across quickly on the Water Taxi. That was pretty sweet as it dropped us basically right in Gastown and only a couple blocks away from the restaurant we were going to!! Pretty sweet. We met our friends at this place called the Pourhouse and it was a great dinner and a great catchup with them.






After dinner, we headed to yet another place on my food hitlist, Cartem's Doughnuterie. It was a fun spot and the person at the counter was so pleased with my overexcitement for their doughnuts that she gave me a coupon for the next one free (that keeps happening to me!) Since we were leaving the next day I gave the coupon to our friends. :) A great spot and a nice place for a coffee and a dessert to share to finish off the meal.


Michal and I then headed back to the hotel and started packing up our stuff. After some SNL and hanging out, it seemed quite necessary to have one more Poutine. I was saving the piece-de-resistance, La Belle Patate, for when Michal had arrived. Even though I am insane, she was on-board, and we got a Car2Go and drove 6 or 7 min across downtown to go pick up some Poutine at like 1:30am. Crazy crazy. It was tasty and we slept well.

Vancouver 2016 Day 8: Sushi and Whisky

10/21/2016
Vancouver 2016 Day 8: Sushi and Whisky

Michal is here! She arrived last night late and now it was fun to explore the city together for the last few days of my trip before heading back to SF. First up was something on the way into work in the morning -- Liege waffles with Milk Chocolate LAVENDER sauce and Passion Fruit sauce!! MAN!!!! So, so good. This was at a place called Medina Cafe and the lines are usually insanely long, so we got there early and it was awesome.





A couple fun shots of the office:


The sign at the restrooms :)
After work Michal and I headed to the John Fluevog shop right beside the office and it was a super epic store as Fluevog is from Vancouver. They usually have either shoes that are too plain for me (but my buddy Matt loves those more understated ones) or shoes that are INSANE and super crazy and mirrorball-textured and so on. It's hard to find something that's not on one of those extremes... but at this shop they had some really awesome ones in this awesome blue colour. Super classy but still kinda cray. So that was perfect. I tried them on and the hilarious salesperson made fun of me for having white athletic socks ("Do people still wear those?!") hahahaha. Michal told him not to worry and that she wouldn't let me out of the house if I tried to wear those instead of proper socks with my new Fluevog shoes -- to which he said, "Thank goodness for you!" hahahaha. That was hilarious and awesome, and I love these crazy fancy shoes.


Next up was dinner back near the hotel at the sister restaurant of Miku (the place I went earlier in the trip), a great spot in Yaletown called Minami. They had the same legendary Salmon "aburi" flamethrowered sushi and it was so delicious we ordered a second round of the same one for "dessert".

Also, THIS:



!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had an awesome dinner and it was a great time.








After dinner my epic wife was totally on board for yet-another Whisky thing for me to go visit. A friend at work had noticed my "Malt Whiskey" shirt and realized my level of Whisky obsession, and suggested another place that I hadn't heard of called Fets Whisky Kitchen. It was INSANE. I was blown away by the selection.

Here's my Facebook comment from the evening, haha.
Oh mercy me, may have just found a crazier selection than even the Multnomah Whisky Library.... this was NUTS. They had Glenmorangie "Artisan Cask" -- a super early version that eventually turned into the first yearly release ("Astar")!!! And it was $20?!?!!!!! Also tried the Ardbeg Galileo, which included some whisky that had been aged IN SPACE 🚀 (on a literal spaceship). And tried to get the Bruichladdich 21 (for $20?!!!) but sold out, got some crazy Bruichladdich Margeaux cask instead, super interesting and amazingly unusual. The range of Bruichladdich here was cray.
This truly was an amazing selection. Comparing this place to the Shebeen Whisky House earlier in the week and the Multnomah Whisky Library in Portland, I actually think this place was the MOST impressive. I would come back here multiple times in the future. It ROCKED.

The selection was VAST. They had an overwhelming list of whiskies from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society -- a separate and HUGE book just for those specific bottles. Very overwhelming selection, indeed! It was super, super, suppper awesome. I decided their regular bottles were already amazing and had some great options, so I went for those over the even crazier and more complicated Whisky Society tastings. Gotta save something for another visit. :)



As I mentioned above, the selection was VAST and I had a lot of trouble deciding what to try. The first and most obvious choice as the Glenmorangie "Artisan Cask", an early series of Glenmorangie that led to "Astar", the first of the new yearly releases that eventually landed with Ealanta -- World Whisky of the Year a few years ago and my all-time-favourite-ever Whisky. So incredible. The pricing here was surprisingly low, and with the strong US-to-Canadian-Dollar exchange rate at the moment, this was an incredible deal.

I spent a whole bunch of time perusing the menu. :)



This is so awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Was very sweet and very reminiscent of the classic Glenmorangie taste.
Random pickled vegetables!
Next up on my tasting list was Ardbeg Galileo, which was literally AGED IN SPACE. They send up a sample of it into space (!) to see how space would affect the aging process. Hilarious and insane.

The server told me that the owner had a close relationship with Bruichladdich -- I could tell, given the insane amount of Bruichladdich on the list. I tried to get one of the well-priced older ones (eg. 20 yr for $20?!) but they were sold out. I ended up getting the Chateau Margaux Cask 16 year, which was super unusual and awesome as Bruichladdich does -- always experimenting with crazy combinations.

This was INSANE. They were selling the old-bottling of Glenmorangie Madiera Cask for only $25 CAD/$20 USD. That is crazy as Multnomah Whisky Library had this one for about $80 USD. A great deal... but so good, that sadly it was sold out.

So, YEAH. A GREAT Friday night -- some awesome food, great times, fun photos of my new niece, epic wife, epic Whisky.