VLC Wins Again

VLC PlayerI deal with a lot of Flash video, and use the Jeroen Wijering’s LongTail FLV player for web use. However, there’s many a time when I want to ‘audition’ an FLV, and that can pose a problem ‘on the desktop’.

Often, all I want to do is get an accurate size of the movie in pixels. This info is surprisingly hard to get if you didn’t encode the FLV yourself. The dimensions are important when embedding the FLV on a web page, as it needs to be accurate to achieve optimum quality.

There are FLV players, but I’ve found the Mac versions overpriced or unreliable, or even both. Some are installed with applications such as On2 Flix Pro and Sorenson Squeeze, but these don’t like opening FLVs compressed in other applications (such as Episode Pro, my main encoding application). These apps will report bandwidth and other info but not the size. So I end up taking a screengrab and measuring it in Photoshop, which is far too much like hard work.

Yes, you can install various codecs for QuickTime to open it, but these interfere with Final Cut Pro, especially if you deal with XDCAM EX footage.

So imagine the joy of discovery that the venerable open source VLC player from VideoLAN also does FLV, a.k.a. On2 VP6, Flash 8. Open up the Info panel, twiddle down Stream 0, and there’s the video information including size.

VLC also opens a huge range of movies that the QuickTime Movie Player claims to be unplayable, it plays the Video_TS folder of badly formed DVDs – even the .TS files of BluRay disks based on MPEG2 and H.264. Is there no end to this app’s talents?

It’s cross platform too, so an ideal app to pass onto clients who don’t realise there’s life beyond the Windows Media Player.

So – fellow Mac users – load VLC up, ‘Get Info’ on an FLV, find the ‘Open with:’ pop-up and select ‘Other’. In the dialog that opens up, the ‘Enable’ pop-up should be set to ‘All applications’ (as the Mac doesn’t see VLC as an obvious choice, even though it is), and navigate to your copy of VLC. Whilst you’re there, check the box marked ‘Always Open With’. That’s it – you’re all set to examine any FLV that comes your way.

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