Viewing Video Clips Overview
Basically, the different file formats have a collection of file headers and control information wrapped around some video (and audio) data to define the contents of a video file. In order to play a video file, you first need to know what it contains. The file can have one stream of video, or an audio stream (mono or stereo), or both, or even more than one of each. Each stream can then be stored in different ways: with different video resolutions and compression formats, and different audio formats and quality.
The different file formats define the contents of a video file -- the number of streams, their type, and format. Along with the stream descriptions, the file formats also contain timing information for synchronizing the streams, particularly so the video and audio can be played in sync. The file formats also provide different mechanisms for interleaving the video and audio data within the file so that they can be processed efficiently and played, in sync, in real time.
Playing video files requires system software on the Windows and Mac platforms that can read and play video files in their supported formats. In order for your system to play a file, it's not enough for the file format to describe how to separate out the data for each video and audio stream; it also needs to provide information about the format of the data in the stream. Video data can be stored at different resolutions, with different amounts of color information, and with different compression algorithms. The compression algorithms squish down and mix up the video so that it can be incomprehensible without the corresponding decompression algorithm. AVI and QuickTime provide extensible architectures for adding new compression algorithms to your system. These are called "codecs," for compressor-decompressor.
Anyway the problem is that there are a large number of video clips out there and Windows Media Player will play a lot of them. It helps to set Windows Media Player to download codecs from the internet automatically as then a great range of video clips can be played. To do this go to the Players menu and select "Tools" and then "Options". Tick the download codecs automatically.
If the player then finds a clip for which it does not have the codec it will attempt to download it from the internet enabling a wider range of clips to be played. However there are still a number of types of clips that will not play in Windows Media Player as standard. These include Apples QuickTime clips, RealPlayer clips, DivX clips and others. These are rival propriety formats to Windows Media Player and are designed to play in there own players.
There are two ways round this problem, installing the rival propriety players to play the clips or installing the excellent K-Lite Mega Pack which will allow the playing of these formats and many more. Both options can be installed free of charge. I would recommend installing the K-Lite pack rather than the propriety players as its similar and a wide range of video clips can be played.
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Revised: 15 September 2007 01:26