Movie Help

I'm having a hard time getting the demonstration movies to playback. Sometimes there's no audio and sometimes all I get is a blank screen. Why is that happening and what should I do?

Let's tackle the two issues, audio playback and video playback, separately.

Please read the important update at the end of this message for an important announcement regarding movie playback and the new H.264? codec

audio playback
In the vast majority of cases, movies posted on this website do not contain audio so not hearing any sound during playback is normal.

We don't include audio to better serve both high and low bandwidth visitors, and conserve server resources. Rather, we illustrate the menu and dialog commands and have written step by step instructions in the article associated with the demonstration movie. Not only does this save bandwidth but it also allows visitors with other language versions to associate the menu item positions in English with the equivalent position in their language.

In this day with higher bandwidth being available for the majority of visitors, improvements in audio Codec? technology and computer hardware, we are considering adding audio to newer content. We have to weigh the technology against the time and costs associated with creating movies with audio so we appreciate your understanding as we move forward carefully.

video playback
The majority of demo movies posted here use the On2 VP3 Codec. Over the past decade, we've found this Codec to be the optimal solution for internet performance and file size. No other Codec on the market could come close for the dollar value. If you don't have the Codec installed already, QuickTime will normally prompt you to download and install the Codec automatically. If you don't see the automatic prompt from QuickTime, you may need to install the Codec manually. While this is a rare occurrence, the steps are simple as outlined in the related article link below.

We are currently evaluating using the new H.264 Codec that Apple recently introduced with QuickTime 7 and Mac OS? X Panther (10.3.9). The amount of this codec is excellent, as is the quality of playback and small file size. We're evaluating the situation and given the wide spread adoption of QuickTime 7, and high speed internet connections, we're considering moving to H.264 as a standard for new content which is installed automatically with all versions of QuickTime 7. However, we need to carefully weight the situation as to how many of our visitors do or do not have QuickTime 7 and Mac OS X Panther, and high speed internet access, to take advantage of the H.264 codec delivery method.

UPDATE February 2007

In February 2007 we found an comptability problem with the On2 VP3 Codec and Intel based Apple Macintosh Computers. Upon a thorough review of the available open source counter parts to the VP3 codec we were unable to find a suitable substitute.

As such, as of February 2007 we have moved to the H.264 Codec which ships with all copies of Mac OS X and QuickTime. The codec also runs in QuickTime for Windows OS. We've had a great run with the VP3 Codec (over 10 years) but it's time has ended as we can't rely on an open source tool for continued and timely updates. That's not a knock on the open source community -- just a decision we've chosen to make for a variety of reasons.

So, the upside to the H.2.64 codec is great quality for large format content which we're starting to work on developing along with multi platform and multi hardware configurations -- and backing from Apple. On the down side is a marked increase in file size of the movie files. Given that broadband has become common place we don't see this as a major issue for the vast majority of our visitors. We have migrated all the old content and re-encoded them as H.264 so we apologize for any inconvenience due to the increase in file size. If the old content did not contain audio (typically they did not) then neither will the newly encoded versions.

If you try to playback a movie on intel based mac's and see the movie controls but not the content -- then that movie is still encoded with the VP3 Codec. While we've made every attempt to upgrade all the movies, it's possible we missed a few so we'd appreciate an email with a link to the page with the broken movie.

If you're running Windows or PowerPC based mac's the old On2 VP3 Codec content should still play (provided you have it already installed -- the download link will no longer work as On2 has closed that domain as of 2007).

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H.264 now standard starting in 2008

Starting in 2008 we've standardized all our tutorial movies to use Apples QuickTime H.264? Codec? at a resolution of 720x480 (720p) for web delivery. While this results in a slightly larger movie file size, the quality of both the video and audio is considerably better and it allows us great flexibility in reusing the content. All movies are setup for fast web delivery so you don't have to wait for the entire movie to download; rather it will start to play as soon as possible depending on the speed of your internet connection. With typical cable broad band connections they should start playing in less and one minute on average (typically much faster).

Because of the difference between the aspect ratio of computer monitors and the standard movie aspect ratios of 16:9, there will typically be a black band running along the top and bottom of the movies which is normal to maintain the letterbox aspect ratio. In some cases, if a movie is presented in an aspect ratio smaller than 720p, the black band might run along the left and right of the image.

Because we've standardized on capturing the images at a monitor screen resolution of 1900x1280 (1080i/p if you like) we can repurpose the content for web, dvd, iphone, ipod, or podcast delivery.

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Manually Installing the On2 VP3 Codec

To manually install the On2 Vp3 Codec? so all users on your computer have access, do this:

  1. click here to download XTNL URL the most recent On2vp3.component codec for QuickTime (Mac OS? 8, 9, X or Windows)
  2. instructions are included on the On2 website from the link noted above - Short Version:
    1. Extract the component from the file downloaded from the link above with StuffIt Expander
    2. drag the On2vp3.component file into the following folder: Your Startup Disk > Library > QuickTime
    3. Log out from your current user ID and log back in again for the component to load correctly (or restart your computer). The next time you visit a demo movie, the On2vp3.component codec will be available for QuickTime to correctly playback a demonstration movie posted on

If you do not have a QuickTime Folder, you can make one using File? menu >New Folder and name it QuickTime (all one word, uppercase Q, uppercase T)

Your Startup Disk = the hard drive containing the system folder used to start your computer

Stuffit Expander ( came free with your Macintosh Computer and is usually located in your Applications folder or sometimes in your Applications Folder > Utilities folder.

Here is a picture of what the correct installation of the On2vp3.component codec will look like:


If you'd like to learn more about the On2 codec visit the On2 website XTNL URL.

We hope that helps

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iPhone Movie Support

When I try to load your tutorial and demonstration movies on my iPhone they don't play.

The iPhone and other hand held devices such at the Blackberry require movies be formatted / encoded in a device specific format. Movies on this site currently are not encoded in that format and as such will not playback on those types of devices.

Any new content which is posted specific to the operation or use of the iPHone will play back on that device. Any new content which is not specific to the iPhone will continue to be offered in our current H.264? encoding which will not playback on the iPhone or similar devices.

Currently, given the primary content of this site is not directed to features, applications or techniques which work on the iPhone or similar devices, we have no plans to modify our existing movie content for playback on those devices. We are currently evaluating current and emerging technologies to determine if supporting video for both the iPhone (and other devices) and traditional web browsers is cost effective and will post any news related to that decision here.

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