SEARCH

The How-To Geek Forums Have Migrated to Discourse

How-To Geek Forums / Geek Stuff

VLC Media Player or Media Player Classic with codecs?

(27 posts)
  • Started 6 years ago by jmcguire
  • Latest reply from drifta
  • Topic Viewed 21161 times

jmcguire
jmcguire
Posts: 552

Which of the two supports the most formats?

I have read that Media Player classic has Quicktime and Realplayer (not that Realplayer is heavily used anymore) plug-ins, but I have also seen a lot of screenshots of people's desktops who use VLC.

Can anyone who has used either or both program give some input on them?

Thanks in advance.

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
jack7h3r1pp3r
jack7h3r1pp3r
Posts: 2815

vlc has basicly every pluggin in it but i think that media player classic uses less resorces to run it and if you get the
K-Lite Codec Pack i think that you can run anything on any player.

here: http://www.filehippo.com/downl.....odec_pack/

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
jmcguire
jmcguire
Posts: 552

Thats nice. So the K-Lite Codec Pack contains the Quicktime codec, Real codec, and numerous others?

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
jack7h3r1pp3r
jack7h3r1pp3r
Posts: 2815

ya i think so but i haven't used in a while so you may want to read up on it a bit first though because i haven't really messed around in windows for about 2-3 months

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
jonhill987
jonhill987
Posts: 161

I just use Windows Media Player, once you install K-Lite Codec Pack it will play anything without trouble.

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
ScottW
ScottW
Posts: 6609

Codec packs are bad! I recommend you never use them ever. I've ranted about this enough, so I'll give it a rest.

Folks like VLC because it has built-in support for most video streams. That means you don't have to spend time getting the DirectShow filters setup correctly on your system. Most people don't even know what DirectShow filters are, or that they have replaced VFW codecs as the primary means for decoding video streams in Windows XP and Vista. There is no problem with using VLC, but at some point you may want some other software to read the same video files and you will be surprised when it doesn't read them.

Media Player Classic (MPC) is my favorite of the two. It has almost nothing built in. This makes it very small and light on resources. However, to get your video to playback correctly, you need to have your DirectShow Filters in order. I actually find it reassuring when a video plays in MPC because that proves that my filters are working for that format. I also know that I can load that video into another program that uses DirectShow.

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
0zSpitt
0zSpitt
Posts: 1037

vlc is the only thing i found that will play back my movies from my hard drive. they're in an iso format

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
jmcguire
jmcguire
Posts: 552

So why are codec packs bad?

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
jmcguire
jmcguire
Posts: 552

I decided to revive this post because I have been trying out the xbmc for Windows and noticed I have a few old .rm files.

I notice ScottW mentioning codecs are bad, so I was wondering why codecs are bad and what is the good alternative to them?

Is it best to have Windows Media Player, QuickTime, RealPlayer, etc all installed?

I have Media Player Classic. What should I have my format options set up as?

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
ScottW
ScottW
Posts: 6609

It's not codecs that are bad, but codec packs. These are downloads that you can find that promise to give you the ability to playback any videos that you might encounter. They are called packs because the contain a number of different filters, codecs, splitters, and who knows what else that all gets installed in your system. The people who put these packs together don't make the tools, they just put them together in a pack. They also change settings on your system when they install to make their codec pack the default tool. There are a number of problems with this system:

* It's a one-size-fits-all solution. The tools in the pack and the setting changes are always the same. It might work on their system, even most systems, but there's no guarantee that it will work on your system. The codec pack maker doesn't know what other software you have or what settings are right for your system, so they pick what they like not what you need.
* It's a scatter-gun approach. You may only need one or two filters/codecs/etc, but the codec pack will come with 10 or more parts. Some of these might conflict with software or drivers you already have. Or worse, they might conflict with something you get later leading you to blame the new software instead of the codec pack installed months ago. What other software carries 9 pieces of foistware with it?
* Codec packs contain down-level or pirated software. The codec makers are trying to jam a bunch of unrelated tools together. To make it complete, they will include older software that is license-free or they will redistribute software that they don't have a license to redistribute. Sometime that is commercial (paid) software, other times it's freeware that is not licensed for distribution. Install one of these and you become a party to the piracy.
* The setting changes are atrocious. DirectShow filters use a merit system. The higher the merit, the more likely the filter is to be used. In order to become the default, codec packs use merit numbers that are ridiculously high and sometimes numbers that are not valid. I've seen it with my own eyes.
* Codec removal is a common fix. I have helped so many people whose troubles all went away when they uninstalled a codec pack. You can find many of them on this site (HTG). I have heard plenty of stories of similar fixing, and seen the posts on other websites.

Don't just take my word on it, get a second opinion (or third or fourth):
Codec Packs are evil, don't install them!!
Zero codec pack (another codec pack destroyed your system?)
A comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about codecs and how to not destroy your system using them.
WMP FAQ (Q: I installed a codec pack and now I'm experiencing problems)

You get the picture. And even though not all of these are current, the conventional wisdom among videophiles is still the same.
In part 2 of this post, we will discuss the alternative to using pre-made codec packs (coming soon!).

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
whs
whs
Posts: 17584

Some say SUPER does it all. But I have never tried it myself. It looks promising from reading the specs.

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
raphoenix
raphoenix
Posts: 14920

@scott,
Please explain (when you have time) ALL about this Codec and Filter stuff. I don't have a clue except I have modified my registry so I get music from Europe and around the would in OGG and Other formats. It plays on old media player 9.0 using Java Scripting and Registry Hacks I put in through trial and error.

==================
There has to be an easier way than hacking the Windows Registry like I do so PLEASE share all you know.
==================
Right now I'm listening to Dream Factory as I type this in on XP3 with media player 9.

Kindest Regards,
Rick P. ♥ :)

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
whs
whs
Posts: 17584

@ScottW, I second Rick's request. I was always wondering how one can easily install one single Codec. I have not really had any problems with K-Lite, but the stories you portray sound scary.

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
raphoenix
raphoenix
Posts: 14920

@whs,

I totally agree with you and ALL. I am SO TIRED of hacking the registry and doing other tricks to "go around" MS that I'm at my wits end. I feel like I ought to be getting paid $150 USD an hour just for re-programing Windows of any flavor. NOT fun any more. Just a pain in the rear to get the machines to do something simple.
One is almost FORCED to run their machines in Top Level Administrator / Debug Mode to even get on-line.
Guess I'm just having a "bad day". (LOL) (LOL)

Kindest Regards,
Rick P. ♥ :)

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
jmcguire
jmcguire
Posts: 552

@whs
I would not download SUPER, I downloaded it and...
http://www.howtogeek.com/forum.....replies=11

@ScottW
I agree with raphoenix though, whenever you have time a guide would be very nice as I believe a lot of us do not know about codecs and filters. It could even be posted to the Wiki section.

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
whs
whs
Posts: 17584

@jmcguire, I saw your trojan post earlier. But I think that was purely accidental and has really nothing to do with SUPER. Somehow that trojan got in at the tail end of it. But I understand your concern. Btw: Did you get rid of the bugger?

@ScottW, I think we were hoping YOU would give some guidance on the Codec question. It sure looks like you know a lot more about it than anybody of us.

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
jmcguire
jmcguire
Posts: 552

@whs
Yes I got rid of it with little effort, Avast simply deleted it.

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
thegeek
The Geek
Posts: 2059

@ScottW

We should turn your awesome post into an article, or stick it on the Wiki, with part 2 of course.

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
ScottW
ScottW
Posts: 6609

Part 2 - DirectShow Filters, Definition and History
==========================================

Here we go with the long awaited part 2 of this series. If you call 20-some hours a long wait.
(@The Geek: I will happily turn all of this bloviating into an article, as jmcguire also suggested.)

The term "codec" comes from encoder/decoder and even that is a bit of a misnomer. There are plenty of codecs that decode only and don't encode. For Microsoft Windows, the original video and audio decoder protocol was called Video For Windows (VFW). Back in Windows 3.x and Windows 9x, all of the codecs were VFW codecs and that's one of the reasons the name "codec" has hung around. Those who have been using Windows for a long time, may recognize the acronyms VFW or VCM as the codec standard from way back.

Around about the time of Windows XP, the VFW protocol was phased out and the new standard, DirectShow was phased in. DirectShow, originally called ActiveMovie, became part of DirectX along with DirectDraw, DirectSound, and so on -- everything had to start with "Direct". In the DirectShow (DS) interface, VFW codecs were replaced by DirectShow Filters. A "filter" refers to any component that accepts a stream of data for input, modifies the data in some way and outputs the new data stream. In theory, a DS Filter can perform any operation: encode, decode, transform, special effects, and so on. In practice, most DS Filters encode and/or decode which is why they are quite often confused with codecs. Filters are a superset of codecs. Unfortunately, VFW codecs have not vanished completely, so there are still codecs hanging around and adding to the confusion.

For the casual user, it's enough to know that DS Filters are the best way to decode video and audio streams for playback. When looking to play a particular video stream, a DS Filter is preferred over a VFW codec. The beauty of this scheme is that a program does not need to know how to handle every video stream, it only needs to know how to use the DS interface. If you need to play a new video type, just add the filter(s) required for it and *all* DS-aware applications on your system can play it, load it, edit it, or whatever they do. If a new type of video stream was released tomorrow and a DS Filter with it, all media applications that use DirectShow could immediately use the new video type with no modification. This gets back to the difference between the VLC and MPC media players. VLC includes built-in decoders that can handle most known video streams. MPC relies on DirectShow Filters to do all of the decoding work for it. VLC is convenient for those who don't wish to manage filters. MPC requires the filters to be in place. A user might have a video file that plays back in VLC, but not in any other application because VLC has a built-in decoder and there is no DS Filter on their system. This can become a crutch because this user will not learn about filters and it makes VLC seem like a wonder-app since it's the only one that can play the video. When you have DS Filters properly configured, you can playback video streams in MPC, edit them in Movie Maker, and load them in any other video player, editor, or what have you. Even VLC supports DirectShow!

DS Filters use a merit system. When more than one decoder is available for a given video or audio stream, the one with the higher merit value will be used. This allows a newer, better filter to supersede an older one. Or, enthusiasts can play around with changing merit numbers to test out different filters.

As with any system, there are some problems with DirectShow:
* The filter system has not been used to it's fullest potential. Most filters are basically glorified codecs.
* Many filter developers are lazy and sloppy with the codecs they put out, so that conflicts, crashes and instability can result.
* Microsoft has not done a good job of providing tools and information on DirectShow to users. Only developers are given their tools to view and modify filters and merit values.
* The merit system is poorly designed and even more poorly implemented by those lazy developers.
* As a result of this, the DirectShow ecosystem is somewhat delicate and easy to break.

All of this contributes to the understanding of why codec packs are bad news. They add too many filters (and VFW codecs, too) all at once from different sources -- some lazy developers and other responsible -- and then use kludgy merit numbers. The results is a disaster waiting to happen, or happening already.

Part 3 in the series will be about setting up DirectShow Filters on your windows system. I hope. :-)

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 
jmcguire
jmcguire
Posts: 552

@ScottW
This has turned into a very helpful topic. I think the vast majority of us, had no idea about codecs and filters to this degree. Thank you.

Posted 6 years ago
Top
 



Topic Closed

This topic has been closed to new replies.