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Media Desktops (Apple) OS X Apple

Lack of Manpower May Kill VLC For Mac 398

Posted by timothy
from the vlc-generally-rocks dept.
plasmacutter writes "The Video Lan dev team has recently come forward with a notice that the number of active developers for the project's MacOS X releases has dropped to zero, prompting a halt in the release schedule. There is now a disturbing possibility that support for Mac will be dropped as of 1.1.0. As the most versatile and user-friendly solution for bridging the video compatibility gap between OS X and windows, this will be a terrible loss for the Mac community. There is still hope, however, if the right volunteers come forward."
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Lack of Manpower May Kill VLC For Mac

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:56PM (#30464722)

    The DVD player that comes with Apple's computers is rather intolerant of scratches, etc., and will report "Skipping damaged area..." then skip ahead a ridiculous amount. VLC will play fine right through the supposedly damaged segment. Losing VLC for the Mac would be terrible. If I knew anything about programming, I'd think about joining this project.

  • Mplayer OSX Extended (Score:5, Informative)

    by The J Kid (266953) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:57PM (#30464748) Homepage Journal

    Sad to see VLC struggling, but there's always Mplayer OSX Extended [mplayerosx.sttz.ch] for the mac. Get the extra codec pack and it can play anything!

  • user-friendly? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:58PM (#30464780) Homepage Journal

    Whoever takes the job, please remove the stupid "anything I want to play gets added to a stupid playlist" thing. When I open a video with QuickTime, it plays that video. If I open another video at the same time, it opens up another QuickTime window.

    VLC is more like QuickTime (video player) but it currently acts more like iTunes (media library player).

  • Handbrake (Score:2, Informative)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:01PM (#30464844) Homepage Journal

    Let's remember that Handbrake uses VLC for video decoding. No more VLC = no more handbrake.

  • Re:OS X is UNIX (Score:5, Informative)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:05PM (#30464934) Journal

    Not exactly... Apple has been slowly squeezing the Carbon (std. C++ lib set) into non-existence, which means you get to do it in Cocoa (that is, Obj-C). IIRC, there's no 64-bit Carbon love in SL, though the 32-bit Carbon libs should still be happily intact.

    There's also (IIRC) Grand Central to contend with when you're dinking around with video, and I doubt that you could find an easy parallel for that when porting in from *nix.

    Been way the hell too long (something like 4 years) since I've had to do any serious OSX stuff though, so take all of this with a block of salt.

  • Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:13PM (#30465066) Homepage

    I thought Handbrake uses FFMPEG. Anyway, if Handbrake uses some VLC code then the Handbrake developers will probably continue to maintain that code without necessarily having to maintain VLC as a whole.

  • Re:Moot (Score:5, Informative)

    by clang_jangle (975789) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:19PM (#30465186) Journal
    Mac has Perian [perian.org] which is FOSS, so while it would be a shame to lose VLC on OS X it won't be the end of support for codecs Apple doesn't support.
  • OS X needs VLC (Score:2, Informative)

    by jasonwc (939262) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:20PM (#30465208)

    I think seeing VLC die on the Mac would do much more harm than the death of the Windows version. There is plenty of wonderful video programs that allow you to easily tweak what filters and codecs you use, and pretty much can support any codecs you want. MPC-HC comes to mind as the most versatile. VLC is still useful for formats that you don't use very much - like *.flv, or videos that may not work for whatever reason in another video program.

    However, on the Mac, there are far fewer options. A few days ago, I attempted to setup a Windows share on OS X 10.6. Besides the fact that you can't easily add a shortcut to a share (you need to mount it which doesn't work if the machine isn't on) the default player for pretty much all videos files is Quicktime.

    I'm pretty sure that everyone can agree that Quicktime is utter crap. It's similar to VLC in that it's pretty much monolithic in that it's supposed to include support for many formats, and it's not easy to add support for new formats. WMP, however, can use any Directshow filter. So can MPC-HC. Why is this a problem? Because Quicktime doesn't support ANYTHING and yet is the default for pretty much EVERYTHING.

    - Can't play H.264 above Baseline. That means you can't play H.264 from a Blu-Ray/HD DVD or any (decent) x264 encodes. Pretty much limits you to iTunes downloads
    - Can't play Xvid/Divx by default. I was shocked by this. It opens AVI's by default, but it just shows a black screen and won't play
    - Doesn't support Matroska (MKV) file format which is now used on all HD videos and and higher-quality SD videos that either use x264, AAC, or AC3/DTS. Most AVI's are plain xvid/mp3.
    - No easy way to add Xvid/Divx support. No Xvid codec for OS X that I could find. Installed 3vix (sp?) but it didn't work.

    -----

    As an aside, I tried setting up OS X to play MKV and AVI files over a Windows share a few days ago. This was my experience:

    I couldn't get OS X to use VLC by default. Selecting "open with" VLC ALWAYS only works for that single file, not the file type, despite it saying so. Changing the settings in Quicktime to not play AVI's also did nothing. In the end, I just told my roommate to use the open with VLC option, as I gave up trying to get the Quicktime or the OS to do what I wanted. Couldn't get Quicktime to play XviD AVI's after installing the appropriate codec, and couldn't get OS X to play AVI's with VLC by default.

  • Re:Oh fuck no (Score:4, Informative)

    by Psyborgue (699890) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:24PM (#30465292) Homepage Journal

    But these wiseguys don't realise that I'd much rather deal with files that I can recognise by their filename, copy and move them with the well known 'cp' and 'mv' commands rather than having their craptastic software try to manage it all.

    The feature you speak of can be turned off. Your music can be in one place or as many places as you like (even on removable storage). Most people, however, like the convenience of having all their music in one place which is managed automatically. "Most people" makes for a reasonable default. I also find it odd you categorize apple's naming scheme as "cryptic" given the scheme is artist/album/track, the filenames of which are not renamed as you claim. While my files are in different folders now, all of them retain the same filenames. Also, iTunes store's music no longer has DRM.

  • I'll help! (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@@@ema...il> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:37PM (#30465594) Journal

    I wanted to respond directly to the person who put this post up, but I don't want to register for yet another forum.

    I'll gladly help develop for the project. My knowledge in video and audio processing is very weak (I took a class on it, but I didn't really put too much work into it), but my skills in C and C++ are pretty good (but not expert). I'm also pretty well-versed in Java, though it's been a while since I needed to whip it out. Finally, I'm slowly, but surely, learning Objective-C.

    Please e-mail me at the address listed here. I don't want to see this die! I just migrated over to OS X and find this app extremely helpful, especially from my use of it in Windows.

  • Re:Handbrake (Score:3, Informative)

    by devjj (956776) * on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:56PM (#30465900)
    That's not quite correct. Handbrake requires VLC to rip video directly from a copyright-protected DVD. FFmpeg is built into the Handbrake distribution itself.
  • Re:user-friendly? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:57PM (#30465916)

    Whoever takes the job, please remove the stupid "anything I want to play gets added to a stupid playlist" thing. When I open a video with QuickTime, it plays that video. If I open another video at the same time, it opens up another QuickTime window.

    VLC is more like QuickTime (video player) but it currently acts more like iTunes (media library player).

    Have you even bothered to open the preferences? It right there in the Interface pane (simple settings view):
    Allow only one instance [x]
    Enqueue files when in one instance mode[x]
    Just uncheck "Allow only one instance".

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Informative)

    by StonyUK (173886) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:59PM (#30465952)

    I think they rely on VLC to supply the dvd decryption library, presumably so they don't have to include anti-DRM goodness in their own package.

  • Re:I'll help! (Score:5, Informative)

    by plasmacutter (901737) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:00PM (#30465984)

    I submitted the story. I'm not a member of the dev team, but give the popularity of VLC on this platform it absolutely astounded me this issue had not appeared on a major news site yet.

    The forum thread linked from the article suggests you present yourself to the developer mailing list.

    here [videolan.org] is a list of all the videolan project's mailing lists - I believe the one they want you to contact them through is vlc-devel [videolan.org]

    Thank you for offering, i'd do so myself if i were not utterly sub-novice.

  • Re:Really? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:04PM (#30466056)
    I thought Handbrake uses FFMPEG. Anyway, if Handbrake uses some VLC code then the Handbrake developers will probably continue to maintain that code without necessarily having to maintain VLC as a whole.

    Very doubtful. Handbrake relies on the DeCSS code from VLC for DVD ripping. The entire reason for relying on a separate program is so the Handbrake devs can have "clean hands" when it comes to any DMCA-breaking activity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:05PM (#30466068)

    Make sure you have selected multithreaded FFmpeg in preferences. A single core of a modern processor is not able to decode 1080p H264 without dropping frames so you'll need the multithreaded option.

  • Re:OS X needs VLC (Score:3, Informative)

    by stevelup (445596) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:05PM (#30466074)

    I couldn't get OS X to use VLC by default. Selecting "open with" VLC ALWAYS only works for that single file, not the file type, despite it saying so.

    To set a default application for a file type in OS X, you do the following:-

    Right click on any MKV file and choose 'Get Info'
    In the 'Open With' section, choose VLC
    Click the 'Change All...' button underneath.

    All MKV files will now open by default in VLC

  • Re:OS X needs VLC (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sancho (17056) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:12PM (#30466176) Homepage

    Perian+Quicktime is awful for Matroska. Really, I wouldn't bother. See the first FAQ under http://perian.org/#support [perian.org]

  • Re:I'll help! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:20PM (#30466272)

    Check out

    http://www.videolan.org/developers/ [videolan.org]

    I have dealt with the "previous" Mac developers, and they are nice, pleasant people. As far as I understand, the Mac "port" of VLC is basically a Cocoa/Mac-goodness wrapper around libvlc, the library all the VL clients are based on. libvlc is developed by a different team of volunteers, under the auspices of the VideoLan Project (like the VideoLan Clients are). So you probably won't see too much video or audio processing as a VLC Mac developer unless you go out of your way to find some (or volunteer for the libvlc team too).

  • Re:user-friendly? (Score:3, Informative)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:22PM (#30466306)

    VLC has a command line option "--no-playlist-enqueue" that controls that behavior. Under Windows the default action is "Play" which enqueues but there is also an action called "Play with VLC media player" that doesn't. There is another action that enqueues but doesn't play the file passed as the argument. These extra actions are, as usual, accessible through the explorer context menu. I suppose OSX could have a similar behavior.

    Here are the command lines for each action:

    Play: "...\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe" --started-from-file "%1"
    Add to VLC media player's Playlist: "...\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe" --started-from-file --playlist-enqueue "%1"
    Play with VLC media player "...\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe" --started-from-file --no-playlist-enqueue "%1"

  • Re:user-friendly? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Weedhopper (168515) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:30PM (#30466414)

    You are looking at either the Linux or Win versions. Your advice does not apply the OS X version.

    VLC OSX does not have checkbox multiple instances.

  • you are wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by bussdriver (620565) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:57PM (#30466714)

    FYI:
    Quicktime is more than a player. It is a massive video library (with a larger code base than windows 95) used to power video editing etc. Its OLD and used to be the basis of nearly all video editing software. It has gotten stale and others have replaced it but it was the foundation for digital video for many years and its still around being used for this.

    The quicktime file format is the basis of the mp4 file format as well.
    It is a solid library with a lot of extendability for its size, age, and complexity - its in C and I've coded for it a little bit... like 10 years ago.

    What I see now is alternatives usually built around a single format library with an import/export system added on. This makes those easier to implement while quicktime has been open ended and not tied to any 1 format (other than its own container format) the timecode in quicktime is confusing because its not a video time code but an abstraction.

    Basically apple dropped the ball when they didn't open source the library years ago (and they did ask for public input for a short period without much attention given to it) now we have MKV containers and the zombee avi containers and many specialized libraries.

    Not much out there as far as I've seen that competes with the power of quicktime. It could have been the framework but it looks like mkv will be the open container and somebody will tie together enough libraries and codecs into a generalized framework--- or we'll just have to jam it all together ourselves. (which may not be any more difficult than trying to understand the old quicktime C API...)

  • by Delkster (820935) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:04PM (#30466808)

    Depends on what he means by "owns", and ignoring the hyperbole (the "serious work" part is especially egregious, just like when "business" or gamers make the same claim in reverse), he's got a point. The programming one is a bit confusing, but the others are pretty accurate.

    No, they aren't. High-performance computing most certainly isn't a strong area for Apple, with Linux being probably the most used platform and other Unix systems and Windows coming somewhere behind. While Macs are certainly used for some scientific modeling and visualisation tasks, I'm not aware of a particularly market share, definitely not to the point of "owning" the market.

    In the end, the only item on his list that stands is "design", with a lot of programmers also using Macs nowadays but I wouldn't say they dominate at that either.

  • by nxtw (866177) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:39PM (#30467148)

    H.264 decoding by NVidia cards is locked away to only a few companies. There are no docs or specs available to open source developers. Moan to NVidia, they can release API docs tomorrow, and within a few days the active open source video players will add hardware decoding on NV cards that support it when using NV's proprietary drivers.

    Why are you telling me this? I was specifically describing a problem with OS X, which supports accelerated H.264 decoding only on the nVidia GeForce 9400M IGP (as in my MBP). OS X does not support decoding on older nVidia GeForce (8000 series) or ATI Radeon (2000 series and newer), even though most/all of these cards have HW decoding support and have working acceleration out of the box in Windows 7 (just add a MKV demultiplexer, and if the GPU is too new for Windows to have one built-in, the display driver.)

    Furthermore, if you read my message I stated that a Windows player is able to play the same video without hardware decoding on the same system on which Mac OS X cannot.

    If you want 1080p mkv on your nice TV, scrap the computer, buy a dedicated media player for $300. They use Sigma ICs that are used in blu-ray players, they also happen to have mkv support and ethernet built into simple linux devices. Check out Netgear's EVA9000 range and it's competitors. Life is so much simpler when you do.

    I use a PC with Windows instead.

    $300 is enough to get a PC with hardware decoding and Windows 7, which will do a lot more. The Dell Zino HD with Windows 7 costs $259 retail, and its GPU has H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2 decoding.

  • Re:OS X is UNIX (Score:5, Informative)

    by joe_bruin (266648) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:38PM (#30467728) Homepage Journal

    Not exactly... Apple has been slowly squeezing the Carbon (std. C++ lib set) into non-existence, which means you get to do it in Cocoa (that is, Obj-C).

    Objective C / C++ is only required for doing the UI. 99% of your project can remain in C or C++ with only a very thin shim in Obj-C for the UI layer. There is no requirement to move your code base to except for the Mac-specific UI layer.

    IIRC, there's no 64-bit Carbon love in SL, though the 32-bit Carbon libs should still be happily intact.

    There is no 64 bit Carbon, because it's a relic. Cocoa easily mixes with C code (Obj-C is just C with extra stuff). Unless you're Adobe and you have a huge amount of UI code in Carbon, there is no reason to keep hanging on to it.

    There's also (IIRC) Grand Central to contend with when you're dinking around with video, and I doubt that you could find an easy parallel for that when porting in from *nix.

    Grand Central Dispatch is not required for video at all. Mac OS X supports the standard POSIX pthreads interface for threading.

  • Re:OS X needs VLC (Score:3, Informative)

    by jo_ham (604554) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (999mahoj)> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:14PM (#30468084)

    I know it doesn't do hardware acceleration (not supported at all in OS X yet) but I used to shoot and edit 1080i material (circa 2007/8) in XDCAM HD and it works just fine, and that's the XDCAM HD raw, AIC, H.264 and HDV formats.

    The mpeg2 codec for quicktime costs extra from Apple (license issue, even though the DVD player app that ships with OS X plays mpeg2 already, crazy) - Windows does not come with native mpeg2 playback either for the same license reason.

    Hardware accelerated video is a relatively new phenomenon outside of niche applications (like the old school Media 100 system I used to work on - 300Mhz of mayhem with hardware acceleration), and if it's not addressed soon I'm sure there will be problems, but right now it's not the be all and end all unless you're trying to make a media box with a beefy card and weak CPU - I expect the issue will be sorted when the Apple TV finally gets updated.

  • by Techman83 (949264) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:18PM (#30468112)
    I used this specific feature in Mplayer, as I was doing the same thing. 12Mb cache seemed to be enough for most streams, as bandwidth wasn't a huge issue, more the consistency of the connection (which can't be guaranteed with wireless as it's half duplex, well at least a/b/g are, I think n can do full duplex in certain configurations)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:00PM (#30468402)

    parameterized buffering is of course available in VLC since the first versions, when we still called it Videolan. (I'm one of the early Videolan developers)
    Other players also allow you to buffer the stream.

    FYI, this feature took about 5min to implement.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:13PM (#30468492)

    > I still don't see enough buffering code and SPECIFICALLY buffering controls for users in any media player.

    er, VLC -> tools -> input & codecs -> caching.

    mplayer -cache ?

    you haven't looked very hard.

    I use mplayer -cache 16384 for the very reason you describe.

  • by Salsaman (141471) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:35PM (#30468640) Homepage

    I have the same problem with the LiVES project. Over 3 years ago, I managed to compile the sourcecode for OSX/Darwin, it took a lot of fiddling around, but it worked. I excitedly posted the news on the website and mailing lists, but no OSX users seemed interested. Since then, the code has changed a lot, fixes were made for it to compile on IRIX and Solaris.
     
    Recently somebody posted a forum message noting how easy it now is to compile under OSX [sourceforge.net]. I again posted this news, and asked if somebody could kindly compile it and send me a link to the resulting binary. Since then...nothing. Hence I have come to a conclusion about OSX users...well, I will let you guess what it is.

  • Re:Moot (Score:2, Informative)

    by GrubLord (1662041) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @12:57AM (#30469248)

    Does that mean you've captured the video, and are now trying to edit the file in iMovie?

    If so, you should be able to use an app called MPEG Streamclip [squared5.com] to do the conversion.

    You may have to purchase Apple's MPEG2 component for Quicktime, however.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:38AM (#30469558)

    VLC does this. If you switch to advanced configuration mode, you can go to Input->Access Modules->File and increase the buffering length in milliseconds. I do this to get smooth playback over WIFI.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:24AM (#30469880)

    mplayer -cache 100mb

    It's not quite that simple, but same idea. :-)

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