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MPlayer Developers Interviewed 220

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the people-who-do-stuff dept.
cruocitae writes "Three of the MPlayer developers just gave an interview, talking about the "mysterious" versioning system of their software and shared a few secrets about the upcoming releases, for example some words about the long-awaited Windows GUI, and of course, DVD menus. Project integrity also was a subject.."
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MPlayer Developers Interviewed

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  • I tried MPlayer a year or two ago for Windows. I'm sure it's much improved since then. I've been sticking with BSplayer [bsplayer.com] though since it has so much functionality and usable skins. It has easy aspect ratio correction, low CPU usage, and key re-mapping, among it's many useful features. The key controls is what converted me from the other players I tried.

    Anyone tried both more recently?
    • The programs don't really compare. BSPlayer is a front-end to Windows Media (see also MPC and ZoomPlayer). MPlayer is a reimplementation of a bunch of codecs and therefore independant of the WM infrastructure.
      • by ADRA (37398) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:02PM (#15257799)
        On my Windows based TV computer:
        Choice: Media Player Classic (MPC)
        Reasoning:

        1. I've never had CPU issues playing video, so I can't say that program X or program Y are more efficient.

        2. Feature for feature, I've never seen any players with as many abilities as MPC. If you're leet and wanna dabble with the decoders, they let you do all kinds of thing with DirectShow. They accelerate output on DX9, The inbound codecs can be anyones. I use ffdshow, MPC, or even the official vendor codecs for things like format decoding/splitting/etc. I have the control to rewire them at my leasure if I like one over another. My experience with DVD playback is flawless.

        3. Configuration is easy and straight forward for those that know how to use it. For those that don't, the default installation (with 3rd party directshow codecs installed) requires no config.

        The only reservation I have with it is that sometimes I notice a cleaner picture with the powerdvd filters and I hate mapping the powerdvd filters into MPC to play it just to switch back later.

        Say what you will about hating windows based technologies, but once I've tuned to my likes, it works amazingly well and I can't think of any platform media player / tech that I like more than MPC / DirectShow.
      • Can you elaborate? I've had files that Windows Media Player 9 and Classic (version 6.4) could not open, but BSplayer could. Some files WMP9 could not seek through the files because of a damaged keyframe index, but BSplayer could. Currently, some filetypes are rendered with ffdshow, and other with divx 6 or xvid. BSplayer is how I control the playback though and resize, or swap audio streams.
        • BSPlayer does not link or bundle in a full ffdshow library. It can leverage the ffdshow DirectShow filter to play a lot of media types without using other WM/DS libraries (people often prefer the features of ffdshow in MPEG2/MPEG4 over filters bundled with DVD drives and/or DivX). Usually you find BSPlayer and FFDShow bundled together, for example, in the KLite Codec Pack.

          However, BSPlayer is a much better parser of video container formats (ASF, WMV, AVI, OGM) and MPEG transport streams than most other play
          • Reencode clips to your format of choice. Supports every format out of the box. Is commandline, which gives you a ton of options on how to play files, giving you back some control. Can rebuild indexes on avis as you play. Does a lot better on damaged files (or files you are dling via bt). Oh yeah, not to mention you can dump streaming video/audio to your hd with no effort.

            Granted I don't know that the windows version supports all this, but it will eventually. My only fear is that they will become depen
    • I'm big on Media Player Classic on windows. Small, lightweight, and generally handles just about everything. There are a few codec packs out there that are required to do some things, but its generally ok.

      BSplayer annoyed me when I first tried it, but then again it also kinda struck me as spyware the first time around. My mistake.
    • I love VLC. I use it mainly on my Mac, but have also run it in Linux and Windows. The interface is very clean and straight forward, and it has played every file I have thrown at it. The only problem I have had with it is reading DVDs from the drive (if I copy the files to disk it seem to work fine). Don't know if this is specific to the Mac.
    • It (BSplayer) has easy aspect ratio correction, low CPU usage, and key re-mapping, among it's many useful features. The key controls is what converted me from the other players I tried.

      While mplayer does have the ability for key remaping, one thing it lacks over winamp is that nice 3rd mouse scroll feature. Default scroll wheel is volume, 3rd button and scroll is jump forward and back. Mplayer is nice but i've not managed to figure out how to define anything beyond mouse buttons. While I do have a wirele
    • It has easy aspect ratio correction, low CPU usage, and key re-mapping, among it's many useful features.

      MPlayer has lower CPU usage than any other video player I've ever tried on Windows. It really uses around half the CPU time to play videos as something like MPC does. Frankly, I really don't understand how Windows can be so terrible at multimedia, and why people aren't more upset about something like DVD playback using 50% of their multi-GHz CPU.

      As for usability, there are several 3rd party MPlayer GUIs

  • "misterious"? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gik (256327)
    I don't even know what to say to that one.

    Guys, If you want to be taken seriously, take the time to correct stupid mistakes such as this.

    *Rubs eyes in disbelief*

  • Misterious? (Score:4, Funny)

    by teshuvah (831969) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @03:59PM (#15256628)
    Is that when its so misterious that they're is actual myst around it? You minus well knot even reed articles that our written by peeple with such bad speeling.
  • by ajs (35943) <ajs.ajs@com> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @04:01PM (#15256652) Homepage Journal
    I'm constantly running into segfaults in mplayer. I don't know if it's just a whacky codec or what, but no matter what the input, no player should ever segfault on any media. If it does, that means that memory is being handled poorly, and that's a potential opportunity for an attack vector.
    • MPlayer is very sensitive to compiler version and optimization flags. Try a different compiler, or a different version of the same compiler.

      -:sigma.SB

      • That's the cause in 99% of MPlayer segfaults. If all else fails, use i586 to build it or find an i586 binary. MPlayer gets very cranky when an i686 build is used on a non-pentiumpro CPU. However, MPlayer does very much rule, when DVD menus are added, it will be the best all around media solution for Linux. DVD playing on MPlayer right now is a bit tricky, you need to know the chapter you're looking for.
    • I'm constantly running into segfaults in mplayer. I don't know if it's just a whacky codec or what, but no matter what the input, no player should ever segfault on any media.

      While that is certainly literally true, it's worth pointing out that codecs are bits of code that are pushed hardest to extract every bit of performance out of them. Such hyper-optimization tends to result in other qualities of the code taking longer to catch up when compared to a more normal type of program, such as "stability" and "re
    • by evilviper (135110) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @04:33PM (#15256931) Journal
      I'm constantly running into segfaults in mplayer.

      Segfaults are very, very rare. If you are seeing one, you should report it: http://www.mplayerhq.hu/DOCS/HTML/en/bugreports.ht ml [mplayerhq.hu]

      Major problems like that, always get fixed quickly.

      As I said, segfaults are very rare these days. Most of the time segfaults are reported, it's buggy hardware (hot CPU, RAM, videocard, etc.) or a known-buggy version of GCC (2.96, 3.3, etc).

    • I'm constantly running into segfaults in mplayer.

      I'm not surprised. I hacked mplayer once. And I do mean hacked, not programmed.

      For starters, mplayer.c is 4000 lines long. Apparently only one man really knows what's going on in there, and he's not taking a look at it. Making sense of it was beyond what my cursory overview of the code could muster. Near as I could tell most of it was written to deal with bugs.

      The main developers are from eastern europe, I think. They have a pechant for three letter variables
      • Terse and unreadable code is also preferred.

        No, actually FAST code is preferred to READABLE code.

        There's good reason why, when you hear stories about people watching DVDs on their 133MHz systems, they're always using MPlayer...

        MPlayer plays MPEG-1/2/4 videos at 720x480 on my 1.6GHz system using LESS THAN 1% CPU TIME. I can play back 1080 videos on this system in realtime with any codec around (h.264 drops a few frames, but that's all).

        • %MPlayer plays MPEG-1/2/4 videos at 720x480 on my 1.6GHz system using LESS THAN 1% CPU TIME.

          I'm using an AMD64 3500 and mplayer chugs away 5-10% cpu (as measured by top) with a significant ~5% CPU usage increase in X, a total CPU usage of 5-11% at anyone moment throughout the movie in front of me. (I suppose a better way to benchmark it would be to play the whole 90 minute movie and then checkout the cpu time utilised by the end but i'm throwing ballparks here). I'm also playing PAL which doesn't require a
          • I'm using an AMD64 3500 and mplayer chugs away 5-10% cpu (as measured by top) with a significant ~5% CPU usage increase in X, a total CPU usage of 5-11% at anyone moment throughout the movie in front of me.

            From the increase in X CPU usage, it sounds like you're perhaps using a junky on-board videochip (or perhaps something with lowsy drivers), or using an output method like x11 instead of one of the many overlay outputs (which hardly even involve X). I'm just using an ultra-cheap, 4 year-old GeForce4 AGP c

      • by jlarocco (851450) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:22PM (#15258771) Homepage
        For starters, mplayer.c is 4000 lines long. Apparently only one man really knows what's going on in there, and he's not taking a look at it. Making sense of it was beyond what my cursory overview of the code could muster. Near as I could tell most of it was written to deal with bugs.
        You've got to be kidding? I was skeptical of your post, so I looked at the mplayer source. After 10-15 minutes of looking at mplayer.c, I think I have a fairly good idea of what most of it is doing. There's a lot of stuff for portability, but it's definitly not mostly written to deal with bugs.
        The main developers are from eastern europe, I think. They have a pechant for three letter variables, and not a character over. Terse and unreadable code is also preferred. I remember being asked why I dond't compress a three line, readable piece of code into a once liner, line noise version. Comments have long since passed into myth. I sometimes wondered if their compilers supported them.

        Yeah, cryptic, three character variable names like "osd_show_percentage", "stream_dump_type", "too_fast_frame_cnt" and "frame_time_remaining". How cryptic! Whatever could those mean?!?

        The mplayer system is based on plugins. Written in c code that is hacked to the limit to introduce, insofar as it is possible, object orientation into c. Void pointers abound, and are probably the most common datatype in the respository.

        Bullshit. I just checked. mplayer.c has 3 pointers to void, and one pointer to pointer of void. A quick search through some other files found zero void pointers. The code in the loader section does have a few, but it's hardly the most common datatype.

        The only part of your post that's even remotely true is "All that said, the program is fantastic." On that we agree. mplayer kicks ass.

        • As those two opinion were so wildly different, I had a look at their CVS archive: to summarize: jlarocco is right, please mod him up (or mod the GP down as troll as he deserves it, lying).

          mplayer.c is quite readable with good names for variables,I didn't notice abuse of void* nor unreadable code.

          The only bad parts is that the main function is huge and the file itself is big, but this is not the disaster the GP said.
          Diclaimer: I've only looked to mplayer.c not the other files.
        • I wasn't just talking about mplayer.c . There's a whole respotory in there as well. Here's a wonderful snippet I worked on. This from "vf.c"

          vf_instance_t* vf_add_before_vo(vf_instance_t **vf, char *name, char **args) {
          vf_instance_t *vo, *prev = NULL, *new; // Find the last filter (should be vf_vo)
          for (vo = *vf; vo->next; vo = vo->next)
          prev = vo;

          new = vf_open_filter(vo, name, args);
          if (prev)
    • I've seen this happen often when attempting to view WMV files, which requires the use of a Windows DLL. I think I read somewhere that the problem is specific to RedHat/Fedora, and has to do with how the DLL is loaded at runtime. Unfortunately, I can't put my hands on the source of that info at the moment (and I'm too lazy to google it; try searching "mplayer", "WMV", and "DLL").

      Also, mplayer can get ornery when it can't grab as much memory as it wants. Closing an app or two usually does the trick...

      • I've seen this happen often when attempting to view WMV files, which requires the use of a Windows DLL. I think I read somewhere that the problem is specific to RedHat/Fedora, and has to do with how the DLL is loaded at runtime. Unfortunately, I can't put my hands on the source of that info at the moment

        Perhaps that's the reason, and perhaps you just still are using the release from nearly one year ago (pre7), and not a CVS version.
  • DVD Menus & XMBC (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @04:02PM (#15256660)
    Hmm... just two months ago, Xbox Media Center [xboxmediacenter.com] came out with their new DVD-player core, including menus. XBMC is built around MPlayer, I wonder if they sent some code back to the MPlayer guys for that (or perhaps vice versa)?
    • Re:DVD Menus & XMBC (Score:3, Interesting)

      by evilviper (135110)
      I wonder if they sent some code back to the MPlayer guys for that

      No, definately not. MPlayer dvdnav was wholely written by Ötvös Attila (http://dcxx.fw.hu/)

      (or perhaps vice versa)?

      The dvdnav patch has been publicly available (in it's unstable form) for quite a while now. It's almost certain that the XBMC guys just grabbed the patch and applied it to their sources.
      • I found some technical information about XMBC's DVD player core [xboxmediaplayer.de]. They do appear to be using libDVDnav, but there's no mention if they're using Ötvös Attila patch. They might have done it on their own; they were apparently were trying that approach previously in XMBP.

        Regardless, I'm sure they've had to make some additional changes and modifications to fit XMBC's architecure and the Xbox's contraints. Hopefully they have pushed some of those back upstream when applicable.
  • No!!! No GUI! Remember to stick to the path of Commandlinze, disciples!




    GMPlayer doesn't count for this example. Don't ask me why.
  • by DeathPenguin (449875) * on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @04:19PM (#15256804)
    I must admit to having skimmed over the interview. For the most part, my opinion of MPlayer as a functional piece of software has remained very high, but interest in the project has been waning. This article [sys-con.com] entitled "MPlayer: The project from hell" outlines some of the frustrations I had before I found a distro with a good package manager that could compensate for my newbie-ness. Back then, MPlayer really was superior to everything else (As far as I knew), and I've just stuck with it since. Maybe the attitude has changed by now, but MPlayer still got a black eye because manually trying to install it an exercise in frustration. Here's an example:

    "Don't get me wrong. There is documentation. It is scattered, and often incomplete, and carries the same attitude I had seen elsewhere, but it is there. An example of that attitude, taken verbatim from the FAQ:

    Q: I compiled MPlayer with libdvdcss/libdivxdecore support, but when I try to start it, it says: error while loading shared libraries: lib*.so.0: cannot load shared object file: No such file or directory

    I checked the file and it is there in /usr/local/lib.

    A: What are you doing on Linux? Can't you install a library? Why do we get these questions? It's not MPlayer specific at all! Add /usr/local/lib to /etc/ld.so.conf and run ldconfig. Or install it to /usr/lib, because if you can't solve the /usr/local problem, you are careless enough to do such things.

    Perhaps instead of taking the time to flame the person asking the question, the smart aleck could have simply answered the question graciously, then spent the time saved by skipping the flames fixing bugs in the installation script."
    • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @04:36PM (#15256969) Journal
      I can't find so maybe it's gone now, but MPlayer used to have a "joke FAQ" with entries like "Q: Why do I get audio but no video? A: You're blind". Unfortunately, a lot of people (myself included) mistook it for the real FAQ because a) in a Google search on "MPlayer FAQ" it came up first and b) honestly, it wasn't significantly more obnoxious or less helpful than the people in #mplayer.
      • Here [66.249.93.104]'s the GP's question in a google cache from 2004.

        The answer, however, even two years ago read, "Add /usr/local/lib to /etc/ld.so.conf and run ldconfig."

        Mind you, the whole post is a cut and paste troll taken from some old web pages, so really I'd just ignore the dickhead.

        Justin.

  • Video on Linux (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ponga (934481)
    Here is how I attack trying to play a video file or DVD on Linux:

    First choice: VLC
    Second Choice: Mplayer
    Third Choice: Xine
    Fourth Choice: Boot into Windoze :-(
  • by Pedrito (94783) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @04:59PM (#15257201) Homepage
    I don't use MPlayer, largely because the built-in UI (or lack thereof) makes it a pain to deal with. There are front-ends for it, but it's just not worth the trouble.

    MEncoder, on the other hand is amazingly powerful. It's also a pain in the butt to use. I also have to say, the support, at least on the MEncoder forum is very lacking. When I first started using it, I was largely derided for not knowing all about video encoding to begin with and got more than one RTFM response.

    The documentation is extensive, but the organization could definitely use some work and a few more real world examples would be helpful.

    That said, after a month or so of struggling with it, I am pretty competent with it now and have yet to find a situation where it can't do what I want it to do. Convert from one format to another, resync video, make DVD compatible MPEGS (though it doesn't compose DVDs), etc. It's got a variet of filters, including I think 4 just for de-interlacing (I do a lot of TV captures to raw MPEG that need to be converted to AVI).

    So the program itself is excellent. The support however, could definitely use some work. If you want to see some newbie bashing, the mencoder mailing list definitely a good place to hang out.

    • I don't use MPlayer, largely because the built-in UI (or lack thereof) makes it a pain to deal with.

      You've obviously never heard of gmplayer, which is the offical GUI, and comes included with MPlayer.

      When I first started using it, I was largely derided for not knowing all about video encoding to begin with and got more than one RTFM response.

      No, you were probably derided because you were making mistakes very clearly covered in the appropriate section of the docs.

      It's got a variet of filters, including I thi

  • that it is still alive and kicking. For you people that run SUSE 10.0 and want to have an easy way to install it:
    1) Read this site [servepics.com]
    or 2) Open a terminal an type
    wget http://houghi.org/script/MPinstaller [houghi.org] && sh MPinstaller
  • by kgp (172015) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @05:26PM (#15257471)
    From TFA:

    Me: What do you think, how much percent of the users use the Windows, FreeBSD and other ports?

    Diego: The Windows port will probably get popular once we commit the Windows GUI, which should happen soon; already some people seem to use the command line version on Windows. MPlayer OS X is popular as well.


    I use MPlayer all the time on Mac OS X.

    The problem is seeing any visible progress on this port. Or even fixing major bugs and releasing a build.

    The current release is the MPlayer-dev-CVS-050904.dmg (i.e. September 4th 2005). This release had a massive bug that rendered the playlist an unusable -- you could add items to it. And the menu bar was not being hidden in full screen mode on the default video renderer. I'd label both of these showstoppers (breaks major functionality) and would expect a fix. It's now 8 months later and not even a dev CVS build.

    So I continue to the use the MPlayer-dev-CVS-050724.dmg version.

    I've never been able to find nightly builds of the Mac OS X port, either. Not through lack of trying but maybe I missed something.

    Is any active development taking place on the Mac version?
    • It's now 8 months later and not even a dev CVS build.

      There was a major hardware failure, which took down the main server for several months. Development has continued on CVS, and you can grab a snapshot any time you wish. This hasn't just stopped OS X development. If you were a bit more observant, you'd see there haven't been new releases on the server for ANY architecture for nearly a year.

      There are at least 2 MPlayer devs with PPC/OS X machines, who continue to find and fix bugs. I'm sure you'll see n

  • Viva La MPlayer! (Score:3, Informative)

    by miyako (632510) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `okayim'> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @05:31PM (#15257506) Homepage Journal
    I've played with a number of various multimedia applications, and I always come back to mplayer. Personally, I use KMplayer [kde.org] when I want a GUI, since it has a few nice features that GMplayer doesn't (drag and drop playlist, maintains the correct aspect ratio of the file when resizing, nicer integration with KDE). I still occasionally use Ogle [chalmers.se] for DVDs, but I'm eagerly anticipating MPlayer supporting DVD menus.
    For those of you who might have stuck with Xine based players and haven't played around much with MPlayer, there are a few reasons I really like it:
    The largest reason is that it plays bloody everything. I've personally never come across a file that I couldn't open with MPlayer. The worst I've ever run into is in some files that are slightly corrupted I've had to use the -idx flag to reindex the file so that I can gracefully skip over bad sections of the file instead of the video just stopping playing. I find this particularly handy when I'm downloading television shows off bittorrent and the seeders all go away when I'm at like 90%.
    Mplayer also seems more lightweight ot me than Xine. Most of the time, if I'm watching video at my computer, it's because I'm doing something that's taking long enough that I'm sitting at the desk waiting for it to finish (compiling a lot of software, doing 3D rendering, etc.) so it's nice to be able to dedicate more cycles to whatever real work is getting done while still being able to relax with a video.
  • a lot of distributions do not include mplayer in their completely-free versions.
    the reason ive heard of is containing of patented stuff if mplayer core that can not be easily modularised.

    now, im not sure anybody qualified to give information will see this, but it would still be nice if some information could be given regarding this problem.
    having mplayer included (probably as default media player) in more linux distribution could help it's usage enormously.

    oh, another thing... last release has happened in q
  • Maybe someone can answer this:

    Everytime I rip a dvd with subtitles they appear white reguardless of the colour of the actual subtitles (in a standalone dvd player). This is because mplayer/mencoder changes only the luminance channel (so only brightness changes). However, the other day I ripped a dvd. The resulting avi had yellow subtitles. I have been unable to reproduce this, even with the same dvd.

    Weird.
    • Rip your subtitles to a vobsubout .sub/.idx pair.
      If you check the .idx file, you can see what colors it intends to use on playback in the header file. You can change them there (they're just like HTML colors, #RRGGBB).
      Your .idx may be broken if you only get white text on playback. Check to make sure it's not trying to display a subtitle image at a weird time (often happens when ripping across cells when selecting chapter ranges)... that can confuse the playback software and cause it to miss settings or not
  • but VLC seems to work much better overall. At least the interface seems quite a bit better on the platforms I've tried it on. VLC does crash sometimes that mplayer doens't though, and mplayers performance is was quite a bit better than VLC for a while, so I guess its a toss up.

    Also, last time I used mplayer, the required that you compile everything from source (no binaries available) for legal reasons. When I did this, by default a bunch of support for various codecs wasn't turned on by default. I remember
    • Different design goals for different audiences.

      VLC is designed to work. All the time. When you download the binary.

      MPlayer is designed to be fast. When you compile it with the correct options for your hardware. So you can get the best possible performance. Even if you're doing something silly like playing a high def XviD on a Pentium Pro that doesn't even have a GUI on it.

  • From the article:

    Me: So when will 1.0 final come out (will it)?

    Diego: To clarify this: our releases are not even beta, they are perfectly stable. But I suppose we will have to give in eventually and change the naming scheme to be more in line with people's expectations.
    Alex: The problem is that a version of 1.0 can't be reached as new and new formats come every now and then. But the silly number still matters for users!

    I can't tell whether the interviewees are simply trying to sound l33t or really

    • Perhaps they ae just following Googles lead on making everything "Beta" forever? ;-)

      mplayer rocks BTW, nothing else I've ever tried works as well, on everything that gets thrown at it.

      (yes, possibly some work involved, but most likely it WILL work when nothing else available will)
  • I used to run mplayer on an old PII 450Mhz dell latitude with 64MB of ram under windows 2000 using direct rendering and framedropping i could watch 640x480 XVIDs (~150mb per file) at very reasonablle levels of quality. And I wasn't even using the winvidix thing for video accelleration on account of it not supporting the neomagic chipset. trying to play these same files in WMP was akin to watching a slideshow with the "next slide" guy passed out in his chair. winamp with ffdshow worked much better than WMP,
  • It is nice to notice that there are some people who keep on developing MPlayer, but let's not forget A'rpi! A'rpi is the man who has saved our days so many times in the past! I remember those days in 2000 / 2001 when there was not a single decent video player (yeah, I tried them all) for Linux and then I discovered MPlayer. Microsoft's .asf was hot format back then and soon you could watch .asf videos with MPlayer on Linux. I remember the feeling I had when that was possible. It was like "Fxxk you Microsoft
  • Is there any hope that support for iTunes videos will be coming? I subscribe to a free video podcast through iTunes called Happy Tree Friends. I wish I could watch these podcasts on my hacked XBox (XBox Media Center is based off of MPlayer), but this codec is not supported. iTunes does not play video on my computer (my laptop isn't powerful enough), so I'm left without a way to watch these podcasts. As I don't think free podcasts are encrypted with a FairPlay-type system, I don't think there would be a lega

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