Random Windows Multimedia Discussion Thread


#1

On my site, I prefer to host WMV videos. This is because I find this to be the best option by default because:

MPEG1

  • MPEG1 compression sucks ass.
  • MPEG1 playback is hit-and-miss. The DirectShow multimedia system allows you to override the Microsoft MPEG1 decoder. This was probably a bad idea: good at the time, but now since every MPEG1/MPEG2/DVD editor/converter/player installs their own decoder and not all of them are really compatible or very good. In particular, MainConcept is kind of a pain in my ass.

MPEG2

  • MPEG2 is for-pay. This deserves its own bullet point because people love to say “But I Gotz One For Free!”. Go check with the MPEG-LA (also see here) - people can skirt around the issue for a while, but you’re still feeding the MPEG-LA lawyers at the end of the day. Since I’m trying to reach the broadest possible market, pointing people to greyware would be counterproductive, and telling people just to suck it up and buy a decoder for random Hayato footage would be mean. :smile:
  • MPEG2 decoders aren’t particularly great/compatible. Same problems as MPEG1, but more exacerbated in that there really is no great/perfect MPEG2 decoder available (see next point, though!). If you’re going to start tinkering with your MPEG2 decoders (you’ll generally need to if you accidentally install more than one), you “get” to use fun stuff like RadLight and etc. This is a stupid field. The fact that the inbox multimedia control panel on Windows sucks angers me. WMP11’s Help:About:Technical Support Information is a step forward, but you still have to use RadLight or etc to get anywhere here. :annoy:
  • The Vista MPEG2 decoder should kick much ass over all those available on XP. So if you’re going to tinker with MPEG2, use that and you’ll avoid many many headaches.

DVD

  • Not generally great for you to download. :smile: Lovely quality, massive use of space. High-quality MPEG2/DVD are a great choice for a secondary format. If you’re going to do a DVD-only release, it would be really kind of you to release low-quality versions in time. If you hand me off a disc of those files, I’ll put them up a year or two later (time-release footage!) if you want. I don’t like losing footage. :smile:

MPEG4

  • An interesting choice. I haven’t really looked into the MPEG-LA’s terms on the decoder end (I’ve followed it as it went along, but that just means my memories are clouded with the early licensing plans), but it should continue to blossom in the market. Right now it’s just not really easy for everyone to play this. This should change in the next year or so. I’m not interested in pulling my hair out here right now, but respect the fans here.

Flash

  • I hate Flash with a passion. Hopefully this gets better in the future, because right now I cry at night when people only host videos on YouTube or etc. I don’t like the client, and the low bitrates of most Flash videos make my eyes bleed. This is my least favorite choice. Almost anything only available in Flash video pretty much instantly becomes lost footage. :sad:

AVI

  • Balkanization: There’s how many varieties of DivX/XviD now? Right. MMReg should have been able to plug this hole (which was deliberately created by very evil third parties), but it was really overwhelmed. I’ve generally fixed up the identification backends at Microsoft, so if you’re playing XXX, WMP will let you know via Web Help. But it’s still a goddamned headache, and there’s no safe way to get you XXX codec randomly.
  • DirectShow problems: DirectShow generally lets you plug anything in randomly, and most codec packs (vile beasts that they are) install Voxware and the Morgan Multimedia Switcher (mmswitch.ax). If you have those, KILL THEM. You don’t want them and they’ll cause random problems during playback of unrelated files.
  • If you have to use AVI, use Koepi’s XviD and … MP3 audio, I guess. That’s probably the easiest for your end user. But playback for them is going to vary wildly according to which of the ninety decoders they have on their system, and that sucks.
  • I of course usually do my capturing to DV-AVI and encode from there. DV-AVI is not practical for Internet distribution, though.

QuickTime/MOV

  • Generally locks you into the QuickTime Player, which isn’t interesting. QuickTime Alternative doesn’t count as a general purpose solution. =\

RealNetworks/RM

  • Seems dead. Also generally locks you into the RealPlayer, which isn’t interesting. Real Alternative doesn’t count as a general purpose solution. =\

NSV/other

  • There’s tons of interesting small formats. They don’t really work well for everyone, which is my end goal here.

WMV

  • Sure it’s got its problems/limitations, but to me right now it represents the best choice available for massive broad distribution of files.

Most people tend to edit in MPEG2 or uncompressed AVI, and then deliver in WMV. There’s other options available, of course, but that for my uses provides the best solution.

So…
That’s a pretty good starting point of where my head is at. Notes:

  • You’re not a lawyer. I’m not a lawyer. If you’re going to attempt to provide interpretations of legal/licensing issues, please provide references. Otherwise you’re just going to confuse people. And that’s boring.
  • I work at Microsoft, as I always have. I speak on my own behalf as I always do. I gain nothing by selling any of you out. I gain nothing if Microsoft succeeds or fails. I do “win” if ANY company provides great multimedia solutions. I work at Microsoft because, of every company in the entire industry, I see them positioned best to deliver multimedia greatness. Massive work has to be done in this field. I heartily applaud the work done by any company/competitor/friend, because it just makes my life better.
  • I generally cannot discuss or take a stand on legal issues: that would be extremely inappropriate. I shall dance around them and provide relevant information or pointers where possible, but it’s not possible for me to Speak upon them. We’re here as friends having a discussion, not arguing. :smile:

This is an open discussion. The above is just how it’s easiest for me to distribute a couple terabytes of video per month without even having to think about it. :tup:

EDIT: Random good Windows Media primer here.


#2

well this thread went over well =P.

Anyway my biggest drawback to WMV for streaming, is that i’m not sure if people running linux/macOS can really view them. Sometimes i can’t even view them in firefox.

I got the impression from the previous thread, that the specs to at least the VC-1 codec were published, if so is there an implementation that is cross platform that i’m missing? Is it because the current implementations (for normal files at least) is all under wmv which is not open? Or am i missing something in understanding this?

The codec is interesting to me because of this wiki description: “The main goal of VC-1 development and standardization is to support the compression of interlaced content without first converting it to progressive, making it more attractive to broadcast and video industry professionals.”. It seems like it would fit since a lot of our games are in 480i, at least for tournaments.


#3

Doesn’t wmv also pretty much lock you to wmp, just like RM and QT? Streamed wmv videos need wmp to play, right? If they don’t that’s fine, cuz real alternative and QT alternative don’t either. I don’t really see much difference between the three. I mean, I see all three as pretty much being on the same line in terms of limitations and whatnot. None of the three lets you edit and covert and stuff freely, and have dedicated programs that deal with them. Sure wmv has the best quality out of the three, but RM maybe unpopular but they’ve been doing their own stuff and their quality isn’t bad at all for the average user.

Xvid is just too popular to say that they’re a pain in the ass to play IMO. All it requires is dling any codec pack and just pressing the “next” button over and over until it finishes, then BOOM you can view Xvid. It has good quality. free decoders available for PC/Mac/Linux

Although it’s still being (very) actively deleoped upon and isn’t complete yet, x/h264 gives you really good quality even at low bitrates but needs a semi-good computer to play well. I think there’re daily builds for the x264 codec. It’s a very promising codec indeed and very usuable atm also.

Flash sucks. Totally agreed.


#4

For universal playback, I’ve always offered some type of Mpeg1 version of my videos (typically created from tmpeg). I have yet to hear someone say that they can’t play the file. Even people with macs can play them without worry. If you try that with wmv or avi, then mac people need to download some virtual windows os for use on their macs just to play the files which sounds like bs to me.

mpeg2, lack of decent edittors hurt this imo. Thus outside of a programs default recording setting being mpeg2, I avoid it.

avi, tons of options for which codec to use, which is a blessing and a curse. While you have tons of choices to make the one thats best for you, unless you document which codec to use, the end user may have trouble with playback. Very easy to edit with as well.

wmv, same deal as mpeg2, good idea but too hard to work with.

rm, dead joke format. can produce low file sizes for video but the quality is horrible.

qt, I remember when most videos were only rm or qt and I thought that quicktime was the best outside of ease of creating and only having 1 true player. But avi surpasses it in every way that I can think of.

h264, time will tell


#5

The uses i’m referring to are for streaming and/or embedded video, if we’re not talking about those delivery methods then you can certainly go with whatever works.

The reasons I reject divx/xvid, and i think x264 falls under this as well:

  1. People have to install something, and a lot of times they can’t (or shouldn’t) install things at work, in computer labs, LAN cafes, or on someone else’s pc

  2. I have been really burnt with codec problems and adobe/ms programs not working well with creating and/or editing the video, which sucks when i just need to add a intro or watermark and don’t want to dig up the original.

With what I know right now, i don’t see many options better than flash and wmv.

Flash doesn’t solve the editing problem, but it works painfree on almost every computer, which is important to me.

Wmv works well on almost every windows computer (although it stopped working in my firefox for some reason), And since it’s a ms format i’m sure that windows and adobe products will support it.

If it’s just streaming nsv/shoutcast isn’t bad either, the server works ok and is free, but the capture programs seems to be buggy, the compression doesn’t seem to be as good as windows media server, and i don’t see how to setup more advanced options like multiple profiles/bitrates from a single source.


#6

FMJ1: Flip4Mac should work great for MacOS users. Plus it plugs right into QuickTime Player, as opposed to the old WMP9-mac that was a separate app.
Linux: there’s a variety of choices there. I don’t think any are particularly outstanding. I think RealNetworks was going to provide a player using the Porting Kit or something like that, but I haven’t thought much about this.

(If you actually track history, there used to be a WMP for Linux, but it just wasn’t popular. Lots of people used to make small requests here and there and the team would meet them (WMP for HP-UX, anyone?), but then no one actually used them, so you kinda refocus on what actually meets needs.)

Yeah, VC-1 is standardized now, pretty recently I believe. I don’t know about the current implementations - I don’t track that so tightly. Generally you have a bit between time to market regardless… it’s in WMP11, I’m not sure where else yet.
There’s WMV-the-file-format and WMV9 the codec. In both case the Porting Kit should be available to use for whatever system as far as I’m aware.

laugh: Nope - the WMFSDK plugs into most any application, and the Porting Kit lets you play anywhere. Or you can even use DirectShow to play back ASF/WMV, but the WMFSDK should be marked superior. So while RM and MOV require “greyware” Alternative software, WMV should work fine in WinAMP, MusicMatch Jukebox, MPC, etc etc etc.

As far as embedding, that’s just general industry stupidity. I blame Netscape to a large extent - they had the first real instance of abstracted objects (based upon embedded media) and yet stupidly provided scripting against those abstracted objects. So right now in theory you need to use the exact object control for any embedding instance. If people had defined an abstract player control interface system, the world would be better off. Imagine if RealPlayer, QT, WMP, etc all had the same object control interface - that would make scripting so much easier. :smile:
As far as streaming, I haven’t followed that arena.

RealNetworks really alienated and continues to alienate a huge chunk of the user base. I used to love them. :sad: I wouldn’t use that unless I had to because it’ll make people mad - but no one even uses that anyways so it doesn’t matter. =
I would absolutely not use RM or MOV if possible. MPEG1/2/4 are all superior there.

^-- You just made my point for me! From my first post:

So YES, absolutely they are BEYOND a pain in the ass. Do NOT recommend codec packs. That’s the biggest reason why any AVI file usage these days is so frightening: in order for the user to play them, users will often get codec packs, which will cause significant problems. :sad:

Have people get the Koepi builds if needed, please. Please please do not point people to codec packs. They are so incredibly horrible. I don’t care what you feel or care about any subject whatsoever, there is NOTHING worse in the industry than codec packs. Please read up on this before responding further. I’ve already explicitly called out the MMSwitch and Voxware problems: there are many others, but those two cause baseline problems with system-wide playback. Voxware causes a crash everytime you query the ACM drivers. Bleh!

x/h264: Yeah, agreed. It’ll just take a couple years before it’s not a headache to point people to that type of footage. =\

Shinji: MPEG1 is solid, just huge. I do a lot of volunteer customer support, which is why I’m more aware of the MainConcept and other problems. It’s not a bad choice, just painfully big. :smile:
MacOS users should just be able to get Flip4Mac’s WMV plug-in and it should all work fine.

Otherwise, generally agreed.

EDIT: I made a half-hearted attempt to look up the MMSwitch and Voxware problems and came up blank. MMSwitch blows up all over the place on EnumFilterPins or some other DShow call- if I see that in a call stack, I know they’ve got MMSwitch on their system. Avery Lee (VirtualDub) wrote up a nice summary of the Voxware problems a long time ago, but that was back in 2001 and I haven’t tracked it since. I just watch with horror as codec packs continue to ship that…


#7

What’s wrong with the CCCP?

http://www.cccp-project.net/

http://www.cccp-project.net/wiki/index.php?title=Advanced_FAQ


#8

Why do ppl still use MKV and OGG formats?
Also preppy, could have a look at this post in the comp help thread:

http://forums.shoryuken.com/showpost.php?p=3538989&postcount=3842

it’s related to multimedia and browsers so it’s kinda up your street. :wgrin:


#9

MPEG2’s licensing agreement is that for non-pay applications, the licensing fee is paid by the end user, not by the application provider.

In essence, it’s free. Who’s going to hire a lawyer to hunt down 2.50 from an individual?


#10

I’m sure everyone knows about those Brach’s candy displays they have at the grocery store. You know the ones where you put a quarter into the little metal box and you can take 3 pieces? If I take a piece without paying and no one knows, does that make it ok?


#11

That’s for the candy manufacturer to determine.


#12

I imagine it would apply to organizations, for instance a college installs said application (because they are under the impression it’s free) on it’s master image, they then replicate it to 5,000 computers. It seems like they would then owe $12,500, not for the program, but to pay for a side feature they may or may not be using. Since LAN cafe’s, schools, work machines, and other common areas are where a lot of people view internet content, anything that affects those places is also a problem for content distribution.

Unless i’m misunderstanding it, it just sounds like a shady trick so they can tag along with “free” software and get some people to owe them more money.


#13

Well yeah, if you’re an institution that has an IT dept., you DO worry about licensing fees, etc. I wouldn’t want to try to support VideoLAN or FFDshow in a standardized environment either. For personal use, fine. But not across 5k machines or even 10 machines.


#14

Green: I typically specifically call out CCCP as one of the few if only good “codec packs”. However, that is very clearly the exception. But the exception kind of proves the rule. Codec packs are retardedly badly done at this stage in technology. No excuses for how bad they are: and more to the point, if someone says to get a codec pack, they are without exception using a lazy shotgun approach to the issue and just kind of hoping. It’s just bad all around. I am typically fairly even-keeled about technological issues and restrain myself here, but… codec packs are the worst piece of shit fucking abomination ever to hit a computer. Don’t fucking use them or recommend them. Sorry - I deal with consumer error reports/crashes and oh my fucking god am I sick of the incompetent hacks who decided to put together buggy software + buggy software + other BS and call it good. So horrible. Makes my life (as a multimedia developer) hell. If you want your computer to run well, you don’t use codec packs.

So CCCP: sure, fine, but the field as a whole is so fucking retarded that I feel correct in saying to avoid codec packs at almost all costs. :sad:


#15

You work and live around the guys who write code that goes into IE and you call DefilerPak a piece of shit?


#16

If the IE team’s entire job was just to rip off the work of other people, I’d sure as hell expect them to do a kick-ass job. shrug

So, no, that’s not a particularly great or interesting choice for a recommendation given that it seems to be including pirated software. shrug It’s just a bad class of software. I’m sure you have your own specific pack that provides an answer for you, but it’s just a bad bad field, and the CCCP or less-noxious Defiler doesn’t make up for ACE and so on.

This is a boring discussion that’s been done many times before. If you’re just learning now that codec packs have problems, go read up. I can’t really add much value over the many excellent analyses already done. :tup:


#17

The IE team’s job should be to build a browser that can’t get owned by simply browsing.

The concept of a codec pack isn’t a bad idea though. It’s a collection of software. The problem you’re describing is bad software. Period.

MY problem with WMV is that WMP only runs on XP and up since atleast WMP10.

Just for full disclosure, if I wanted to build a WMV compatable open source application, would I have to be a member of the MSDN? Pay any license fees?


#18

What version of Windows are you using?

Generally WMP is more reliant upon the entire rest of the OS than any other product Microsoft ships, so … it makes lots of sense to not support 6+ year old OS versions. As far as I’m aware, every older Windows OS version is simply falling into Unsupported Land by Microsoft as a company.

Voila. :tup:


#19

Cripes, Windows Movie Maker is depressing the hell out of me. I wouldn’t say it crashes all the time, but sometimes when I trim the clips I added to the storyboard, the clips won’t play in the preview window anymore.

Also, when I “make” the movie, there’s a small gap between the clips I added when I view the result. During that gap, the video is all black. How do I remove this gap?

Another thing, it won’t let me adjust the quality setting. :frowning:


#20

What source are your clips?
Bizarre trick: does turning down video hardware acceleration all the way help? I was having crazy problems a while ago (similar to those) due to ATI driver bugs.

I’m not really sure what you’re trying to do there (specifics) - I think Papa John and others have written pretty good tutorials in this arena.