Gaaaah. I just watched Battlestar Galactica (better episode this week – maybe I won’t give up after all). Usually I’ll watch it on one of my Macs, in either QuickTime Player or VLC, but tonight I was using them both for the aforementioned ninja CSS work, and only wanted to half-watch the show for the aforementioned thinking-of-giving-up-on-it reasons. So I dumped it down the network to my PC and played it on that.
Bad move. First, I tried to watch in QuickTime Player for Windows. Now, this was a torrent download, and like many of them it had been compressed using Xvid. Which is a curious codec. It appears to generate standard (and, indeed, rather good) MPEG4… but then it bundles it up in a Windows Media AVI wrapper. MPEG4, you will recall, is itself an industry-standard container format derived from… er… QuickTime. The point of wrapping it in AVI has always escaped me, since every media player I’ve tried on Windows seems quite happy to play standard .mp4 files, but there we go.
Unfortunately, QuickTime Player for Windows decided, on this occasion, that recursion was a bad thing, and disappeared in a nifty little vanishingly-small loop all of its own. So, in desperation, I double-clicked the file instead.
That launched some weird part of Nero I’ll swear I’ve never seen before (not a great surprise – I mean, has anyone ever seen all the different applications? Is it even philosophically possible within one lifetime?). After a little poking around I discovered firstly how to switch it to full-screen mode, and secondly the keyboard combinations for volume control. Hurrah! All was well with the world.
…for about twenty minutes. After which the audio was leading the video by about three frames. Now, maybe most people wouldn’t object to that, but I make TV for a living and it bugs the hell out of me! Never something I’d noticed on the Macs, so for kicks I started playing the video over the network on my PowerBook, muted the audio, and shoved the window to the back. It stayed in sync throughout, but I probably didn’t need to say that. Meanwhile, I tried to resync the video in Nero. Start/stop didn’t do it. Neither did closing and relaunching the app; at 22 mins in, it was three frames out. Every time. Ugh.
So I tried Windows Media Player. Which is ugly as sin, but… worked! I even managed to zoom it to full screen, and after a few moments of trying to work out how to hide the chrome, it slid gracefully out of the way of its own volition. Hurrah! Only… it was too loud. Prodding at hopeful-looking keys didn’t do anything (Windows Media Player must be the only such app that doesn’t stop the video when you hit the space bar, for heaven’s sake – I can’t imagine why I thought +/- might affect audio levels), and I had to resort to the mouse. After which the window chrome refused to hide ever again. Yes, I found the little camouflaged button that’s supposed to toggle that behaviour. It merely toggled itself.
Gritting my teeth, I staggered to the end of the episode, then deleted the media file from the PC with as much aplomb as I could muster.
[sigh] Really, do people think this sort of crap is normal?