Help On Playing Video

The Open Video project is an repository for digital video. As digital video is still in its infancy, there is no fast and easy solution for playing digital videos on a personal computer. Below are some simple explanations for how digital video works and how you can play digital videos on your computer.

Video Formats

The Open Video project contains various formats of digital video. Currently these formats are MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. Each of these formats has strengths and weaknesses. (Note than in the Open Video collection, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 files have a ".mpg" file extension, while MPEG-4 files have ".avi" extension.)

  • MPEG-1 is the most widely used format and therefore most video players can easily decode and display MPEG-1 video. The quality of MPEG-1 videos is acceptable for personal computer playback but isn't generally thought of as being high enough for television viewing or DVD recording. MPEG-1 filesizes can very roughly be characterized as containing 10 MB of filesize per 1 minute of video. These files will generally need to be downloaded or viewed with a high-speed broadband connection.
  • MPEG-2 is a DVD quality digital video format. While the quality is excellent, the filesizes are extremely large with one minute of video requiring 25-40 MB of filesize, depending on encoding practices. The MPEG-2 format is supported by some players but not by others and often can't be viewed without downloading a plug-in or standalone player designed for the MPEG-2 format. These files will always need to be downloaded or viewed with a high-speed connection.
  • MPEG-4 is the smallest of the three formats with a corresponding loss of quality. Filesizes can roughly be determined as requiring 3-5 MB per 1 minute of video. Viewing quality is sufficient for personal computer playback but screen size must be kept small to avoid pixilation. The MPEG-4 format is is beginning to be supported by the most recent versions of the well known video players, such as windows media player and quicktime. Other players, unless designed for MPEG-4 may not be able to decode this format.

Playing Video

You can view the videos from the Open Video Web site either by playing them directly from the site or by downloading them first and then playing them. When you play a video directly, your Web browser will open a page with a video player and begin to cache the video. You can then play the video but the video will not be saved on your hard drive (at least not in a way that it is easily found) and cannot be played again later without reloading the page. When you download and play a video, you first save the video to your hard drive and after it is completely downloaded you just need to locate the video on your hard drive and can then play the video any time you like.

To play a video in Windows Media Player follow the steps below:

  1. Locate the video that you wish to play
  2. Click on the download arrow:
  3. After you click the button, Windows Media Player should open and the movie will begin to play
  4. Depending on the filesize of the video you have chosen, this may happen quickly, or it may take some time for the player to buffer the video
  5. If Windows Media Player does not automatically come up…
  6. Make sure that you have Windows Media Player installed on your computer, this can be done at (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp)
  7. Open Windows Media Player, pull down the tools menu, click on the last option called "Options"
  8. Click on the "File Types" tab. Make sure that "Windows Video File" and "Movie File (MPEG)" are chosen
  9. Click OK
  10. Close Windows Media Player
  11. Return to step 2 above
  12. If this does not work, downloading the current version of windows media player may solve the problem, this can be found at (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp)

To play a video in the Quicktime player follow the steps below (for MPEG 1 and 4 video only, unless you have purchased the MPEG-2 plug-in for Quicktime):

  1. Locate the video that you wish to play (for MPEG 1 and 4 video only, unless you have purchased the MPEG-2 plug-in for Quicktime)
  2. Click on the download arrow
  3. Wait for the page to redirect
  4. After redirecting you should see the Quicktime logo and the video will begin to cache and play
  5. If you do not see the Quicktime logo, that means you will need to install the Quicktime plug-in which can be done by downloading the Quicktime player which in turn will automatically install the quicktime plug-in at (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/) or you can install the plug-in by itself at (http://wp.netscape.com/plugins/audio-video.html?cp=pi1), scroll down the page until you see the "Apple Quicktime plug-in 5" and follow the instructions

To download and play a video follow the steps below (all 3 available formats):

  1. Locate the video that you wish to play
  2. Right click on the download arrow:
  3. Choose the "Save Target as" option
  4. A dialog box will open
  5. Choose the file location on your harddrive where you want to save the video (remember this location)
  6. When the video is finished downloading click on the "Open" button in the dialog box to play the video
  7. This option requires that you have the correct video player installed on your computer for the video format you have chosen. See below for a list of video players and the formats they will work with

Digital Video Players

Video player list for Windows machines:

Player Supported Video Formats
Quicktime 6 MPEG-1, MPEG-2*, MPEG-4
Windows Media Player 9 MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4
Elecard MPEG 2 Player MPEG-2
DivX Playa MPEG-4
VLC Player MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4
* MPEG-2 plug-in must be purchased to play MPEG-2 videos in the quicktime player

Video player list for Macintosh machines:

Player Supported Video Formats
Quicktime 6 MPEG-1, MPEG-2*, MPEG-4
Windows Media Player for Mac OS X MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4
VLC Player MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4
* MPEG-2 plug-in must be purchased to play MPEG-2 videos in the quicktime player

Search for video box
Box bottom
Project Information box
Box bottom

The Open Video Project is managed at the Interaction Design Laboratory,
at the School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Unable to locate the log_db database at this time.