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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on Pick of the Week
The macosxhints Rating:

[Score: 9 out of 10]
[This is the Pick of the Week for the week of October 2nd]

One frustrating aspect of life as a Mac user is the bewildering array of semi-compatible video formats we encounter on a near daily basis. Some seem to play in QuickTime, others require VideoLan Client or mPlayer or FLV Player, while others require finding, downloading, and installing some obscure third-party QuickTime codec. If you're lucky, all the stars align and you're able to play your video back with QuickTime. If you're not lucky, you wind up cursing the encoder gods and perhaps launching Windows XP in Parallels to see if you have any better luck there.

Enter Perian. Although it's very early in this product's life cycle, I'm already impressed. As seen on their home page, Perian's goal is to become the Swiss army knife of video codecs for QuickTime. Download the package and drag the QuickTime component to the Library -> QuickTime folder of your choice: your user's Library (so it's just for you) or the top-level Library (for everyone on the machine). Restart any apps that use QuickTime (QuickTime Player, iTunes, your browser, etc.), and you're done.

You'll find that QuickTime can now magically handle a diverse array of additonal video formats: Divx, XviD, FLV, AVI, MS-MPEG4 v1, MS-MPEG4 v2, MS-MPEG4 v3, DivX 3.11 alpha, 3ivX, Sorenson H.263, Flash Screen Video, Truemotion VP6, and these formats when they are inside an AVI file -- h.264, mpeg4, AAC, AC3 Audio, and VBR MP3. And yes, I ripped that list right off their website.

Combine Perian with Flip4Mac (for Windows Media files), and you've got as close to a Rosetta Stone for Mac video playback as we've ever had. In the short time I've had it installed, I've been impressed with how well it's worked -- I no longer have to think about what player I might have to use for a given clip; they all just open in QuickTime.

Note: Periand requires 10.4.7 or newer...
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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: sbinner on Oct 18, '06 08:21:17AM

I don't know why you or anyone else has had ANY problems playing video on Mac or PCs for the last 4 years+. Downloading a ton of codecs? Having more than 1 video player you use? thats so 1998!

VLC has been playing EVERY possible video out there since it was released. I have been using it without ever having any troubles, or having to wonder which video player i might have to use. I even get to convert my video to other formats while i watch it (when i need to convert that is).

A big thank you to the people involved in VLC for a hassle-free video playing and streaming experience.

If the purpose of this hint is to have an all-Apple-made experience, then OK, but the reality is that the so-called Rosetta stone for Mac video playback has been around for quite some time n0w...

www.videolan.org

I have to admit one thing though; that it is VERY cool that those solutions offered by Perian finally exist for Quicktime. and ITS ABOUT TIME!



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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: fbitterlich on Oct 18, '06 08:26:47AM

While VLC appears to help sometimes, I didn't have as much success with it. I frequently encounter movies that do not play with VLC either. And VLCs error handling (read: error messsages and reecovery) has room for improvement, too.



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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: Hauberg on Oct 18, '06 09:05:47AM

VLC is great, but not perfect.

It doen't play WMV, FLV nor all mov files.



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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: robg on Oct 18, '06 09:54:47AM

The biggest issue I have with VLC is the UI -- I just don't like how it acts, nor do I like how it butchers some pretty common QT Player features: Fast forward, rewind, drag-to-scroll, etc. all work so poorly in comparison to QuickTime that I simply can't use the VLC player.

-rob.



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VLC issues
Authored by: SOX on Oct 18, '06 10:12:39AM

VLC is nice. But I'll add to RobG's complaints.
VLC (and Mplayer) is a CPU hog. If your computer is older or doing something else the movies glithc quite a bit



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VLC issues
Authored by: chyna4xena on Oct 18, '06 04:33:43PM

My experience has been that VLC actually plays back MPEG1, MPEG2 and DivX movies with far less CPU consumption than QuickTime with the same videos.

Like most, I find the scrubbing in VLC to be abominable, and cueing and reviewing impossible; but that is offset by using the FF and REV buttons, a single click on these jumping 30 secs forward or backward (a handy feature that QT doesn't have!).

It is true that VLC has been able to play back all the codecs that Perian supports, but Perian has advantages other than just playback - by integrating with QT we can now re-encode those formats (with QTPro) and, importantly, we expose those formats for use with all the programmes that work with or import "any QuickTime-compatible video file" ... which is just about every programme that uses video in some fashion. That's Perian's killer feature.



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VLC is so 1998!
Authored by: jaydisc on Oct 18, '06 04:24:27PM

VLC's interface, stability and compatibility are shocking in recent years... it's as if each upgrade is a downgrade. Back in the day, it was great, but that was about.... 1998



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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: Sith Happens on Oct 18, '06 09:19:38AM

The best thing I've noticed about this so far is that quite a few video files (mostly older AVIs) I had that were unplayable via Front Row will now play without a hitch. Excellent!



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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: Anonymous on Oct 18, '06 10:59:27AM

OK, how does quicktime know to use the Perian codec over any other codecs installed in the quicktime folder. For example i have toast so it installs Div6 encode/decode components....when i playback divx files which codec will Qt use....

or i have the very good 3ivx codec as well.....



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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: jaysoffian on Oct 18, '06 11:34:13AM

This appears to be out of your control.

Quicktime Components register various bits of information about the formats they support. A QT application then specifies what its requirements are and QT tries to find the component which best matches the requirements.

However, where multiple components support the same format/codec, I can't find documentation on how QT decides which component is "best."



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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: jaysoffian on Oct 18, '06 11:43:32AM

See, the Apple docs just aren't particularly enlightening:

"The OpenADefaultComponent function searches for available components and attempts to open a connection to a component with the specified type and subtype. If more than one component of the specified type and subtype is available, OpenADefaultComponent selects the first one in the list. If successful, it passes back a component instance that identifies your connection to the component."

The docs don't indicate what controls the order of the components in that list. A QT application could certainly be written to provide the user a choice when multiple codecs are available, but QT player does not.



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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: acalado on Oct 19, '06 11:51:09PM

The most likely answer is alphabetical. Maybe you could put certain codecs higher on the list by changing their name so they come first alphabetically?



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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: wheeles on Oct 18, '06 05:58:22PM

It would be good if at least one of the players on the Mac could handle WMV3 files.



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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: Mr. H on Oct 19, '06 03:33:11AM
That would be the flip4mac WMV components available in player-only form for free here: http://www.flip4mac.com/wmv_download.htm

If you've a WMV3 file that doesn't play with flip4mac, but does in something else, it's a bug in the components and you should let them know.

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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: spiderfrommars on Oct 18, '06 09:44:51PM
0.10 second of googling found that article:
[link:]http://www.mactech.com/articles/develop/issue_21/094-096_QuickTime_col..html

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Perian - The ultimate QuickTime playback add-on
Authored by: Ganymede on Oct 18, '06 09:53:13PM

Hi Rob,

Would you mind adding a bit of info to the top article? Nowhere in the entire thread is it mentioned that Perian requires 10.4.7. Us senior Panthers are out of luck!

I certainly look forward to enjoying this product in the not-too-distant -
VLC has been a less-than-stellar performer; in fact, given all the hype and hyperbole, it's a downright dud. I keep thinking, it must do all the things I want it to, I just don't know the right incantation - I see I'm not the only one.

Ganymede

---
Ganymede



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Why QT Pees Me Off
Authored by: psandiford on Oct 19, '06 05:11:24AM

I've paid the QT Pro tax 3 times, and with each major update Apple expect me to pay another $20 bux for "Full Screen" mode. Ya, you can hack around but, let's look at the flow: install FPM, install Perian, hack for full screen viewing. Or just pop open VLC/mplayer and put up with the interface glitches and nag boxes.

VLC plays as the desktop image (very nice) if it is full screen (use control-tab to select finder while in full screen. I don't know if QT allows this 'cause I am not going to pay $20 again.

I have had Perian installed for over a month and it is a wonder but my "always open with" is still VLC so I can enjoy full screen.



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Why QT Pees Me Off
Authored by: dan55304 on Oct 19, '06 06:09:36AM

Well I'm glad you found something for free that works for you. Some of us are actually willing to pay a developer for an excellent product. So, do you work for free?



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Why QT Pees Me Off
Authored by: psandiford on Oct 19, '06 06:48:47AM

For my work systems (6) I DO pay for "Pro," so blunt your barb. I develop multimedia products. I would love to deploy my products on QT to a wide audience but the default for QT is handicapped. I have to ask them to install additional handlers and, if I want my product to be viewed full screen, $20 for Pro. Worse, they get nagged to upgrade every time they open the "free" player. No, I don't work for free but I'd like my Macintosh audience to be able to view my work without having to muck around with the system. So, I package VLC Portable with my media.

My personal system is paid for; I paid for the computer, the MAC OS, all of my programs, all of my media. I paid for Omniweb, I paid 3 times for QT on my personal system JUST FOR FULL SCREEN. (Which, in my book, isn't a Pro feature)



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Don't Continue Being Peed Off- Get Niceplayer
Authored by: Lectrick on Oct 19, '06 07:56:10AM
http://niceplayer.indyjt.com/

It's great. Granted, Apple's handling of the QT Pro thing (fullscreen for 20 bucks! Even though you just bought a 3 thousand dollar Mac and get the iApps for free!) continues to be a travesty/slap-in-the-face. I can't believe there are people who've paid for it more than once- when I was asked to, I simply used the internet to find a key, it was not very hard...

---
In /dev/null, no one can hear you scream

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Why QT Pees Me Off
Authored by: Shane Palmer on Oct 19, '06 09:36:25PM
Actually there are a few things you could do using the tools given to you by Apple.

I have created a fairly simple Automator script that allows me to Control-Click on a QuickTime movie in the Finder and select Present Movie Full Screen. You could then give this away to your customers and let them install it on their Mac, but it would require Mac OS X 10.4 or later since Automator doesn't come with earlier OS X versions.

On the flip side of the coin Apple has several example scripts on their website (http://www.apple.com/applescript/quicktime/) one of which is called "Save As Presentation File" which sets each movie file dragged onto it to automatically open in full screen presentation mode and start playing regardless of whether or not you have QuickTime Pro. It stores the settings in the movie file itself so you could prep your movies in this way before giving them out to your customers.

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Why QT Pees Me Off
Authored by: gbooker on Oct 19, '06 07:15:49AM
Just get Niceplayer and be done with it. It is free, uses Quicktime, and does full screen.

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Anyone else had problems with Safari plug-in?
Authored by: 1amzave on Oct 19, '06 08:31:41PM

After installing Perian (which seems to work as advertised for Quicktime in standalone app mode), all video playback in Safari seems to have completely ceased to function. Quicktime refuses to play anything, even mpegs, and (somewhat surprisingly, to me) it even seems to have killed Flip4Mac playback of wmv's in the browser window.

Anyone else have this problem or any suggestions on how to fix? (Other than just removing Perian, which is what I may end up doing.)



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Anyone else had problems with Safari plug-in?
Authored by: blueshead on Oct 21, '06 03:06:41AM

I have the same problem..



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Anyone else had problems with Safari plug-in?
Authored by: djfilms on Oct 26, '06 10:27:54AM

I suddenly have the same problem. I did not install the plug-in you meniotned. QT crashes Safari. I think it started when I upgraded to OS 10.2.8.

I've tried everything to no avail.

SOS

David, Ottawa

---
David Martin
Ottawa



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Anyone else had problems with Safari plug-in?
Authored by: morespace54 on Oct 27, '06 01:26:46PM

For me, it just kill Flip4Mac (or Windows Media Player) playback in Safari.



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Flip4Mac works for most....
Authored by: Antoniola on Oct 31, '06 05:47:02PM

For me, F4M is essential, however, there are video content providers that still offer up weird formats under the guise of a .WMV. These streams cause all kinds of grief...actually, just one kind; video won't play. This is tough for Telestream to keep up with, but they are doing a good job. I expect to see more sites made compatible with their next update. If you run into any sites that won't work, send them to support@flip4mac.com.



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Perian conflict with QuickTime
Authored by: ajc on Dec 28, '06 07:01:46PM

When trying to play a video file (avi container, FOURCC CRAM codec), I got white screen using QT 7.1.3, green screen using MPlayer OS X 2, and black screen using VLC 0.8.5 . I then tried removing, one by one, the 6 plugins/components installed during the recent installation of Democracy 0.9 on a PBG4, OS 10.4.8. When I removed Perian, the video finally played normally in QT 7.1.3 , although it still did not play in MPlayer or VLC.



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