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Video Playback Tips

With luck, you just clicked the link for the videos on the home page, et voila! They played back. If not, I hope these tips can get them playing for you.

The Video Player

I encoded the videos on this site using the Windows Media 9 video encoder. They play back in the Windows Media Player version 9 or later, a program already installed on most Windows computer. If you need a copy of the player, you can get one for free from Microsoft. There is a version for Macintosh as well.

I prefer the open-source free viewer VLC Media Player to play these videos. It's available for free from VideoLAN. It plays videos in almost all popular formats including Windows Media and Quicktime and I find it to be more versatile and powerful than other video viewers I've used. It's available for all platforms including Mac and UNIX.

Getting Video From This Site

If you've got your web browser set up to automatically start Windows Media Player when you click on a Windows Media link, then these videos should play back soon after you click on a video link here. Soon, that is, if you've got a relatively fast Internet connection. The player waits to start playback until it thinks that video download will finish before it reaches the end of the video.

If it takes forever and you're not getting any satisfaction, you can always download the video to your hard drive to view it from there. To download, right-click (Mac: control-click) the link and choose "Save Target As:" or whatever similar command your browser may offer. After the download, double-click the file icon to start playing it, or start your player and use the File/Load command to load and play the video.

Please honor the copyrighted material and just use it for your own viewing pleasure. If you want to use it for other nefarious purposes, send me some (email mike (at) laughingeel dot com) and let's talk.

High-Def Playback

I have high-definition versions available for some of my videos that were originally shot in HDV format. I encoded them in 1440x1080 stretch format, so it should play back in widescreen (16:9) aspect ratio with lots of crisp detail. I compressed the files using Windows Media 9 codec and had to compress a fair amount to bring the files down to a reasonable size, so you may notice some compression artifacts (blockiness) here and there.

Playing back high-def video requires some serious number-crunching by your computer as it reconstitutes each frame of video. If you have an older computer, you may not be able to play back these videos without stuttering. I've found that dual-core CPUs or better tend to be able to play them back successfully. Again, saving the file to disk may save waiting forever for playback, and will also provide quick data flow for video playback.

I've also found that Windows Media Player is a bit better at high-def video playback, so if VLC Media Player chokes on the file, you may want to try Windows Media Player instead.

If you have better ideas for high-quality, low-file-size high-def video compression, I'm all ears. Please send me some . Thanks!

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