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
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.
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).