A video player or media player is a type of computer software used for playing back video and audio content. Content is "encoded" into different formats (called codecs) and file types (called containers) and requires a player capable of playing back the particular format of the video.
- All content uploaded to the Vuze HD Network is encoded into a common video format. When you download the Vuze Platform software you also get a media player capable of playing all video content found on Vuze.
- If you download content outside of Vuze HD Network (e.g. content found with the search functionality) you might not be able to play it using the Vuze Video Player. Therefore, you may need to install a separate video player that is capable of playing your content's format. You must use a video player is that is compatible with your operating system (Windows/Linux/OS X).
These players often come with support for some set of formats and file types, while support for others must be added through addons/external installations.
Finding the right player
Which player is required depends on the file type, the format and for some formats also if it contains DRM.
.mpg .mpeg .wav .mp3 .aviare supported by most players out of the box
.wmv .wmaare supported by most cross-platform and DirectShow players (see below) if they are not DRMed. If they contain DRM they should be played with a recent version of Windows Media Player
.flac .aac .ac3 .mkv .mp4are supported by most cross-platform players. DirectShow players may require additional filters
.mov .qtrequire apple's quicktime. Some of them might play on other players when renamed to .mp4
.rm .rmvbrequire realnetworks' realplayer
.wav .avi .mp4 .mkv can contain many different codec types. Being able to play one file those types does not mean that you can play all files with the same extension. Tools like GSpot can help you identify which codec(s) are required to play a file. Since over 90% of all video files can be played with only a handful of codecs you might want to try one of the players/codecs listed below before you try to dig deeper.
Sometimes you see subtitles in separate files (e.g.
.srt file type). The subtitles may also be downloaded separately from the main content.
You need a suitable video player for playing those subtitles. Usually you will need to select the correct subtitle files from the players' menus after you have started the playback. Depending on the settings, the player may also start the subtitles automatically, if they are in the same directory as the video file.
At least the following players are able to play subtitles:
- After you have started to play the file, VLC might automatically start to play the subtitles if their filename matches the video filename. You can also manually open the correct file from menu: Video / Subtitles Track / Open File...
- Media Player Classic - Home Cinema (MPC-HC)
- After you have started to play the file, select the correct subtitle file from MPCHC's menu: File / Load subtitle.
These players come with their own, large library of codecs and usually are able to play almost anything available and thus are often the player of choice if one does not want to bother with installing various codecs.
- VLC Media Player is a very versatile open source cross-platform media player, which can play most known video/audio formats.
- MPlayer is the basis for Vuze's embedded media player. It comes with various user interfaces and modules to add support for more exotic formats (beyond those that it already supports natively).
- The default installer installs a commandline version, you probably want to choose the GUI package instead.
DirectShow is a microsoft windows architecture used by many media players to play various file types and video formats. Thus adding support for more formats to windows by installing DirectShow filters will add it to all of these players. Note: RealNetworks' RealMedia and some of Apple's Quicktime formats are not supported by pure DirectShow players and must be played with separate players.
- Windows Media Player (WMP) comes preinstalled with windows. It uses DirectShow but only comes with a limited set of default DirectShow filters.
- If you want to add support for further video formats and file types see below
- If you want to play
.wmvfiles you should update to the newest WMP version available for your system.
- Media Player Classic - Home Cinema (MPC-HC) is also a very versatile media player for Windows. (It can also be configured to support hardware H.264 decoding, as described below.)
Some newer or more exotic formats are not installed with windows and thus have to be added separately.
- Combined Community Codec Pack is a collection of several filters and media players
- This covers all of the options listed below but may also install things which you do not need.
- Haali Media Splitter is a filter that adds support for
.mkv .mp4 .ogg .ogm .tsfile types, but not any audio or video codecs.
- After installing this WMP might still complain it does not recognize the file extension, you have to tell it to try anyway and remember your decision
- ffdshow adds support for many audio and video codecs (but not file types) and has many advanced configuration options.
- VSFilter can decode various subtitle formats
Hardware H.264/MPEG4 Decoding
It is also possible to play HD high quality videos in H.264/MPEG format using hardware video decoding with most current ATI/Nvidia GPU chips. Hardware decoding consumes much less CPU power and may thus lead to less fan noise.
See the guide on that: HD Video Playback with Hardware H.264 Decoding
Options are fairly limited when it comes to OS X with one of the cross-platform media players being your best bet for playing. At one stage the continued development of VLC on OS X was in doubt but the current version is still in line with other platforms. Additional codecs can be added to QuickTime through Pernian although this is technically support in QuickTime 7.6 as QuickTime X currently doesn't support many features present in QuickTime 7.6 and earlier. The codec support added by Pernian should cross over to the likes of iDVD too.
Beware the Scams
You should also be alert for scams related to video playback. The scams are usually related to "new" video formats needing either a new special codec or a new player, which you only can get from their never-heard of website. Alternative scam format might be a passworded file.
There are several attack types:
- Video format requires a new "codec" or special player for playback, which codec sometimes is actually a virus / malware / worm / personal info grabber / whatever...
- Video may also contain Digital Rights Management (DRM), which needs a special codec.
- You need to register / give personal information for being able to download the codec (or to unpack/unzip/unrar files in the torrent).
- You need to go to some website to get a password for opening the file.
You should be very careful, if the download site is not Microsoft, Apple, Sony or some really well recognised major music company (and also their DRM stuff can be intrusive). Personally I would never download any DRM codecs from never-heard of small sites. You should not give any personal details there.
In general, it is best to stick with the major players (like VLC) and widely-distributed codecs from well-known sources. Downloading some new obscure codec might help you to play the video in question, but you should really weight the risks before downloading a new codec from an unknown supplier.