Video on PowerPC - Part 1: Playback on G4/G5

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by zen.state, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. zen.state, Dec 23, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2012

    zen.state macrumors 68020

    zen.state

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    #1
    I will say it right off the top... I am a video super-geek. I love documentaries, films, sitcoms and animation among many other things. There is no doubt to how much I love my video collection and the fact that I can play it all beautifully on PowerPC hardware. The hardware I currently use for playback is a PowerMac G4 with a 1.8GHz 7448 CPU and 5TB storage but I have used hoards of different PowerPC Macs over the years and with many different Mac OS, codecs and playback software. The Altivec engine found in all G4 and G5 CPU's is key to good playback on more codecs and resolutions. In the next month or so I will be doing another article based on G3 video playback but since video really comes to life with Altivec support I wanted to lead with it.

    Since at least the early 90's Apple hardware has been a leader in the professional video production industry with Mac OS and Avid based applications. For years consumers have been able to play DVD's and edit their personally filmed camcorder video on their Macs. Until 2002 though the Mac platform was very limited in terms of good software and codecs for the ripping and playback of compressed video like DivX, XviD or anything FFmpeg based. This was a shame before then because these are by far the most efficient codecs in terms of low CPU use and file size and in turn the best for people that want to rip or digitize their video collections. When OS X 10.2 Jaguar came out in August 2002 it really was a great time as that was when a lot of new developers started porting their apps to Mac OS. Because of the BSD foundation of OS X this brought many developers over from the Unix/Linux world and along with them they brought greats like VLC, Mplayer and Handbrake just to name a few. By summer 2003 the Mac platform had done a complete 180 from DivX inept to fully capable and I for one was very excited by this as a lover of video. Although I am going to explain how to get good playback on other codecs I just want to first emphasize how crucial DivX and XviD are to a good experience because of how inherently efficient both are especially on sub-700MHz G4 hardware. Even if you have hardware far beyond that spec it's still nice to keep CPU cycles free for other things. On the extreme low end of the G4 scale like a 350-600MHz these codecs will be your saving grace.

    When it comes to h.264 video it's less blocky but can easily use 2-3x more CPU compared to DivX etc. The YouTube web interface for example is Flash on top of h.264 and will make many PowerPC systems come to screeching halt unless you have a faster G4 or a G5 system but even then anything higher than 360p can be taxing on it. I do have a few tips on how to improve playback and lower CPU use that I will get to in this article. One app out there that several PowerPC users I know online have raved about is Core Player which several have confirmed can play 720p and 1080p h.264 on high end G4 and G5 systems. Core Player costs $20 and once I buy and do extensive testing on it I will write an article on it. This article however is focussed on freeware playback software such as VLC, Mplayer etc. I am now going to group the hardware into two categories based on computing power as it will help fine tune the playback options to the power you have to work with. The lowest OS I will advise on in this article is 10.4 as anything lower really limits playback options. When I do a G3 playback article I will add 10.3 and even 10.2 to the mix. Anyone running a G4 or G5 is far better off on 10.4+ for playback in terms of better software with more codec playability.

    Group 1 - Single G4 350-600MHz

    Your only real options are DivX (FFmpeg) based codecs at a lower resolution (240-360 high) for compressed video or standard DVD. Some low res h.264 will play also in MacTubes once you get up to about 450MHz.

    Best Software Options for 10.4:

    * VLC 0.9.10 and/or Mplayer OSX 1.0rc1 for DivX
    * Apple DVD Player for DVD
    * MacTubes (set to use Quicktime in prefs.) for YouTube

    Best Software Options for 10.5:

    * VLC 1.1.12 and/or Mplayer 1.0rc1 for DivX
    * Apple DVD Player (this will only work on a sub 700MHz if you turn off deinterlacing)
    * MacTubes (set to use Quicktime in prefs.) for YouTube

    Since Leopard requires a G4 867MHz+ you should expect at least a slight decline in performance in this 350-600MHz range if you have shoehorned it on your hardware.

    Group 2 - Single G4 700MHz+ - Any Dual G4 - Any G5

    This is where video playback really shines on Apple's PowerPC systems. Virtually every codec is usable and where your hardware sits on this scale will determine the quality/resolution it is capable of. Having a 1.0GHz or higher is preferable but a 700MHz is enough beef in my experience. I suppose even the 667MHz PowerBook and PowerMac could be included as they are close enough to 700 but I have little direct experience with that exact MHz.

    Best Software Options for 10.4:

    * VLC 0.9.10 and/or Mplayer OSX 1.0rc1 for ripped video of any codec or DVD's
    * MacTubes for YouTube

    Best Software Options for 10.5:

    * VLC 1.1.12 and/or Mplayer OSX 1.0rc1 for ripped video of any codec or DVD's
    * MacTubes for YouTube

    About the Software

    VLC:This is easily the most capable freeware player on any OS. Although 0.9.10 (last version with Tiger support) is very good I feel the newest build of 1.1.12 which needs Leopard or higher is enough of a jump forward that it's worth upgrading if video playback is one of your main roles for your Mac. This newest build is hands down the best freeware player on the platform. I use it about 95% of the time I play video. I honestly cannot think of one bad thing to say about 1.1.12. It's that good. VLC had hinted at dropping PowerPC development about a year ago but some great coders stepped up and they obviously have a great comprehension of Altivec optimizations.

    0.9.10 - http://sourceforge.net/projects/vlc/files/0.9.10/macosx/vlc-0.9.10.dmg/download

    1.1.12 - http://sourceforge.net/projects/vlc/files/1.1.12/macosx/vlc-1.1.12-powerpc.dmg/download

    Web Plugin - http://sourceforge.net/projects/vlc/files/1.0.5/macosx/vlc-plugin-1.0.5-powerpc.dmg/download

    FTP Archive - http://download.videolan.org/pub/videolan/vlc/

    Mplayer OSX: Mplayer is a very old and loyal friend that I have always kept around. It offers great features like frame dropping for slower machines and I find is the best player by far at playing ripped media off optical disks with it's well implemented disk cache feature. There are actually 2 different Mplayer projects on Macs. There is the standard Mplayer team and then there is another development team that ads the OSX name on the end. Over the years this has resulted in two different directions for the app and many different versions from each. The best one in my experiences is 1.0rc1 which is a PowerPC optimized build from 2006 that runs great on Tiger and Leopard. VLC is a more elegant and capable player in general but Mplayer is a beast and has always been there for me when I need it. A very worthy tool to keep around indeed.

    1.0rc1 - http://download1276.mediafire.com/1z8h4ccc737g/r847bfw8hru9ad2/MPlayer+OSX+PPC.app.zip

    MacTubes: This is a saviour for anyone with at least a G4 450MHz (maybe a 400 if it's all you're running) and the desire to be able to watch YouTube video. It also offers a totally different method of experiencing YouTube. Set the player setting in preferences to Quicktime to make video playable. I am able to play 240/360p/480p perfectly on my G4 1.8GHz with Flash on the site but after almost two years of using MacTubes now I honestly prefer it over the web. For one you never have to look at what are generally obnoxious comments unless you want to by clicking on info which opens the comments in a separate window. It makes YouTube a lot more like watching a video in VLC or Mplayer. A winner in my book.

    3.1 - http://macapps.web.infoseek.co.jp/mactubes/index_en.html
     
  2. Imixmuan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2010
    #2
    wow

    ...and wow again. So much great information here, thanks very much zen. All future " I can't play youtube" posts should be directed here.
     
  3. adcx64 macrumors 65816

    adcx64

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    Philadelphia
    #3
    Well written and an excellent contribution to the site
     
  4. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

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    Feb 13, 2009
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #4
    Actually they should be directed to the source of the article in question, you know since that will be the most current version (since the links and such will get outdated as new software is released and stuff is moved about): http://powerpcusers.com/2011/12/videoonppc-pt1.html.
     
  5. ThunderSnake macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    #5
    Nice post, zen. One of my MDDs is pretty much a video library & entertainment system. It also encoded my entire DVD collection (took a while). I look forward to your Core Player review.
     
  6. Riky.loebis, Dec 24, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2011

    Riky.loebis macrumors newbie

    Riky.loebis

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Yogyakarta and Jakarta, Indonesia
    #6
    permit to share

    yeahhh yipiee..
    it's great info,

    i will share it (in Indonesian version) to all my friends who still use Mac PowerPC.

    thank u so much,zen
     
  7. skinniezinho macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Location:
    Portugal
    #7
    Thanks for this article zen.state, can I add it here on the PowerPc F.A.Q. too?
     
  8. zen.state thread starter macrumors 68020

    zen.state

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    #8
    Go for it. I only ask that if you use any of the PowerPC Users articles that you credit the writer and/or site.

    Thanks for all the kind words everyone. :)
     
  9. skinniezinho macrumors 6502a

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    Portugal
    #9
    Of course I do =) I was in touch with chris so he could "port" my FAQ to the powerpc site =)
     
  10. adcx64 macrumors 65816

    adcx64

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    #10
    Yep, and it's I the site already.
     
  11. zen.state, Dec 27, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011

    zen.state thread starter macrumors 68020

    zen.state

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    Mar 13, 2005
    #11
    Chris is slowly integrating some of it yes but needs to rewrite a lot of it to suit our site.
     
  12. zen.state thread starter macrumors 68020

    zen.state

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    #12
    FYI.. I just bought CorePlayer today and once the paypal payment clears I will have it and start testing. Should have the write up and testing results by mid Jan. at the latest.
     
  13. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601

    Plymouthbreezer

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    Feb 27, 2005
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #13
    Very informative zen.state; thanks for sharing your expertise and findings.

    Continued interest in PPC Apple products is always a plus, especially for those of us who still use and enjoy them. :apple:
     
  14. AQUADock macrumors 65816

    AQUADock

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    Mar 20, 2011
    #14
    I dont know if its just me but i find mplayer very laggy, VLC is much better.
     
  15. Goftrey macrumors 68000

    Goftrey

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    May 20, 2011
    Location:
    Wales, UK
    #15
    Yeah I use VLC too, it's by far the best media player IMO. And I love MacTubes, I don't know what I'd do without it. Although the browser is tolerable in 240p MacTubes hands down woops it's ass :p
     
  16. adcx64 macrumors 65816

    adcx64

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    #16
    I agree about VLC being better. I love it and my G4 handles 720p like a dream.
     
  17. burnout8488 macrumors 6502a

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    May 8, 2011
    Location:
    Endwell, NY
    #17
    Here's one for you guys... Ive got a 20 second long video recorded on my 4S. It is unplayable on my 15"PB in both QT and VLC. (.mov format) Solution?

    This is a 1080p video, is my only option to compress the video down somewhat?
     
  18. zen.state thread starter macrumors 68020

    zen.state

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    #18
    I would use 550-600p h.264 or XviD. 1024x576 would be perfect.

    I prefer Handbrake or Media Converter for ripping.
     
  19. skinniezinho macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 1, 2009
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    Portugal
    #19
    Any news on this?
    I just bought coreplayer and I am amazed how it performs, but some tweaks and opinions on chosing the type of video that works better is always good =)
     
  20. Nova77 Guest

    Joined:
    May 12, 2011
    #20
    Ironically, I find the best stuff to throw at coreplayer is quicktime encoded HD videos (h.264//aac audio). ***Ironically, because quicktime is 10X worse at playing its own .mov HD videos.*** It gets pretty much the same bench results as Apple trailers -- download a trailer and see by yourself. They will look awesome on your PPC mac with CorePlayer.

    Maybe you can even play 1080p trailers by disabling "AVC deblocking filter". Always make sure to turn it on after use, since it lowers the image quality.
     
  21. skinniezinho macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Location:
    Portugal
    #21
    I'm too amazed with coreplayer, but it has a very annoying missing feature: no subtitles.at least I can't find a way to load them.how can?!I even sent an email to corevideo...
    I had a 720p mkv from the movie godfather 2, coreplayer plays it fine, but no subs, mplayer ppc version seems to want to play fine but after a second the image turn +- black, vlc plays like images, decided to try the new XMBC 11 and the thing plays fine with subs.
    Very good for a free program.
     
  22. zen.state thread starter macrumors 68020

    zen.state

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    #22
    skinniezinho:

    There isn't even a menu option or preference for anything to do with subs in CorePlayer so that should tell you what your chances are with it and subs. As I said in the other msg they need to be embedded to work.

    About your mplayer comment.. that G4 optimized mplayer doesn't like most h.264 and it's also not nearly as well optimized as CP. This is why I keep CorePlayer, that Mplayer I recommend and VLC around because each one has different strengths.

    I tried XMBC once and found the interface horrible. Seems very unintuitive to me.
     
  23. adcx64 macrumors 65816

    adcx64

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  24. thorns macrumors member

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    Sep 27, 2011
    #24
    VLC 2.0.1 is very fast. Real Multicore decoding. There are a few bugs but nothing major.
     
  25. zen.state thread starter macrumors 68020

    zen.state

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    #25
    I tried it but just can't get past the awful new interface. The CPU use was decent though. No worse than 1.1.12.

    If you play much h.264 then CorePlayer is really worth it. It normally uses at least 50% less CPU if not more vs. VLC. With XviD etc. it's about equal with a slight edge to CorePlayer. I still use VLC for most of my non-h.264.
     

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