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I'm Dmitry Popov,
lead developer and director of Infognition.

Known in the interwebs as Dee Mon since 1997. You could see me as thedeemon on reddit or LiveJournal.

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Working with old Video Renderer
August 15, 2012

There are several different video renderers available in DirectShow. When you look at the list of DirectShow filters you can see two filters named "Video Renderer" among others.

One of them, with GUID starting with "6BC1..", is VMR-7 (video mixing renderer), it is the default video renderer on Windows XP and later. The other, with GUID starting with "70E1..", is the old Video Renderer used by default on earlier versions of Windows. This filter may bring some surprises even today.

Recently someone reported a crash in VDFilter, our DirectShow wrapper for VirtualDub filters. He sent us a .grf file, a saved graph which forced the crash when run. In that graph our filter was connected directly to the old Video Renderer. After building a similar graph I could reproduce the case, indeed something went wrong there. First minutes of debugging showed that memory buffer of a media sample provided by video renderer to upstream filter was smaller than size of data our filter tried to write here. How could this happen? Usually when two filters agree on connection at some point the downstream filter (which will receive data) calls upstream filter's DecideBufferSize() method to ask how big the data samples will be. It uses this value to create buffers for the samples and provide the buffers to upstream filter to fill with data. Video Renderer does that, however during playback if its window doesn't fit into the screen or gets resized Video Renderer tries to renegotiate connection type and offers media type for the connection with different video dimensions - according to its window size. If upstream filter accepts such media type then Video Renderer starts to provide buffers of changed size even without calling DecideBufferSize(). Our filter wasn't ready for this sneaky behaviour, it continued to provide amount of data specified in last call to DecideBufferSize(), which caused overflow of the new shrinked buffers provided by Video Renderer. We had to change our filter to refuse connection type changes while running (otherwise it would have to include a resizer to rescale output images to the new dimensions given by Video Renderer).

Moral of this story: when you create a DirectShow transform filter don't expect output samples to be the same size you requested in DecideBufferSize() and be ready to be asked for connection type change during playback!