Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How to play (almost) all video codecs in QuickTime (on Mac OS X)

If you have ever used the combination FrontRow + Apple Remote on your Mac, you know what an amazing feature this is. It allows you to easily navigate through all of your music, photos and movies stored in your computer.

Well, not exactly "all movies" since it is only able to play the videos encoded in a QuickTime-supported codec. If you have any AVI or MPEG video files encoded with DivX or XviD (or any other video codec), they won't play on Front Row (or QuickTime for that matter). In order for them to play, you have to encode them into a QuickTime-supported format, which can be done using applications such as iSquint.

iSquint is mainly an iPod converter application, which is able to convert almost all kinds of multimedia files into a QuickTime/iPod acceptable format. However, you can also use it for converting to the Apple TV format, which in turn is accepted in Front Row.

Even though this application is a lot faster than QuickTime Pro (and free), it is still quite a time-consuming task to convert a whole bunch of videos to that format. It would be a lot easier to just use the files directly in QuickTime/Front Row.

Luckily, there are some amazing applications that allow you to do just that. Perian, as stated in its website, is the swiss-army knife for QuickTime.

Perian is a free, open source QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats. It enables QuickTime application support for the following Media Types:

  • AVI, FLV, and MKV file formats
  • MS-MPEG4 v1 & v2, DivX, 3ivX, H.264, FLV1, FSV1, VP6, H263I, VP3, HuffYUV, FFVHuff, MPEG1 & MPEG2 Video, Fraps, Windows Media Audio v1 & v2, Flash ADPCM, Xiph Vorbis (in Matroska), MPEG Layer II Audio
  • AVI support for: AAC, AC3 Audio, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP3
  • It even supports SSA and SRT subtitles
Once installed, as you can see, Perian will allow QuickTime to play all these formats natively, which means that you don't need to do anything different to play them on QuickTime or Front Row.

The only common format that Perian does not support is WMV. That's where Flip4Mac comes in handy. It does exactly what Perian does in QuickTime for all those formats but only for the WMV format.

To sum up, all you need to play all video codecs on QuickTime (at least, the most common ones) is to install Perian and Flip4Mac. Guaranteed success :-)

Source: The Mac Newbie

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