Video playback for a G3

Project Alice

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I’ve been having problems getting SD video playing on an iMac G3 (snow 600mhz). I don’t remember having this problem 13 years ago when I used G3s daily.
The video in question is originally an MKV h264 but its in SD (Star Trek DS9 if anyones curious). I’ve tried every player known to work in Tiger that I can think of. VLC is utterly useless under Tiger, it even crashes on Tiger running on a G5.
I spent some time doing trial and error converting the file on my Mac Pro to a few different kinds to get the G3 to at least attempt to play it.

On my G5, I can play it in its native form with VLC 2 that actually works however its only available for Leopard.
Quicktime with perian gave the best results on Tiger. Once I got it to play under Tiger on my G5, I moved over to the iMac G3. The results were not the same on the G3. I either get audio only, or a crash. And anything other than an h264 codec on the G3 resulted in quicktime throwing error code -50.
Coreplayer is as useless as VLC is on the G3, it crashes almost immediately. I have a feeling the lack of altivec is the problem. But.. I should be able to play a standard low quality video file on an iMac G3. I used to do it all the time on an even slower G3 back in the day.

Any suggestions?
 

Dronecatcher

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I’ve been having problems getting SD video playing on an iMac G3 (snow 600mhz). I don’t remember having this problem 13 years ago when I used G3s daily.
The video in question is originally an MKV h264 but its in SD (Star Trek DS9 if anyones curious). I’ve tried every player known to work in Tiger that I can think of. VLC is utterly useless under Tiger, it even crashes on Tiger running on a G5.
I spent some time doing trial and error converting the file on my Mac Pro to a few different kinds to get the G3 to at least attempt to play it.

On my G5, I can play it in its native form with VLC 2 that actually works however its only available for Leopard.
Quicktime with perian gave the best results on Tiger. Once I got it to play under Tiger on my G5, I moved over to the iMac G3. The results were not the same on the G3. I either get audio only, or a crash. And anything other than an h264 codec on the G3 resulted in quicktime throwing error code -50.
Coreplayer is as useless as VLC is on the G3, it crashes almost immediately. I have a feeling the lack of altivec is the problem. But.. I should be able to play a standard low quality video file on an iMac G3. I used to do it all the time on an even slower G3 back in the day.

Any suggestions?
Mplayer - I've been using it for years, with framedrop parameters it just plays 360P h264 on my 500Mhz iMac and 600Mhz G3 iBook.
- - Post merged: - -

You can download G3 version and player applets here:

 

swamprock

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Another thing that you can do is use Mpeg Streamclip to convert the video using the Sorenson codec, which will play even in OS 9. The only caveat, if you can call it one, is that it'll be in Quicktime MOV format.
 

Project Alice

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Mplayer - I've been using it for years, with framedrop parameters it just plays 360P h264 on my 500Mhz iMac and 600Mhz G3 iBook.
- - Post merged: - -

You can download G3 version and player applets here:

I’ll give that a shot. I tried Mplayer, but it wasn’t the one you linked. It was just the last version released for Tiger (r11) which didn’t work any better than quicktime.

Another thing that you can do is use Mpeg Streamclip to convert the video using the Sorenson codec, which will play even in OS 9. The only caveat, if you can call it one, is that it'll be in Quicktime MOV format.
That’s actually what I wanted to do in the first place but the option wasn’t in handbrake like I thought it would be. I didn’t know about streamclip, I’ll be testing that out. Thanks!
 

Dronecatcher

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That’s actually what I wanted to do in the first place but the option wasn’t in handbrake like I thought it would be. I didn’t know about streamclip, I’ll be testing that out.
If you want to convert to a more manageable format, then MPEG4 is the one to use:

 

TheShortTimer

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Mar 27, 2017
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London, UK
Star Trek DS9 (my fave Trek franchise) and G3 video playback in one thread? I love this site! :D

Here's my experiences so far with a 500mhz iBook G3 and also some reflections: possibly TLDR...

The lack of Altivec has really hindered the capabilities of the G3 Macs in this area (and on a side note, this is why IBM had to implement an "Altivec Lite" for the Nintendo Gamecube, Wii and Wii-U). Apple didn't catch-up with Intel and the PII in this respect till the G4's. Of course there were third party cards for the PowerMac range that helped to compensate but us iBook and iMac users couldn't take advantage of them.

Playing even SD content in recent years can be problematic because sources such as the P2P groups aren't as attentive nowadays in ensuring that their releases will play well on lesser specified machines. I suppose with some justification they probably assume that everyone is using a 16 core super-wonder. Even with older releases sloppy encoding or broken files often causes issues for lower end computers.

These MKV's play superbly on my G3 with VLC. Whoever encoded them did a great job:



Speaking of VLC, which version have you been trying to use? @Project Alice Everything above 0.8.6i won't work on the G3. I'm surprised that you've had problems with it on your G5. It's always been reliable on mine.



I use a combination of MPlayer OS X and VLC. Between them, just about every video file that my iBook can manage is covered. Some play better on one than the other. The AVI format with DVIX/XVID and MP3 or AC3 encoding appears to work the best and 90% of my A/V content in this form plays flawlessly.











I've also had success with playing 480i/576i MPEG2 SDTV recordings that I transferred over from my PVR. Some I muxed into AVI's and others I left in their original .TS format but none of them were re-encoded. H264 encoded broadcasts are a bridge too far and the computer just cannot hack it but I'm happy with what it can play and this is quite impressive for an 18 year old machine that's not really cut out for such tasks.









MP4's appear to be a complete loss. Even with low quality videos. I suspect that much of this is due to them being encoded with H264.







 

Project Alice

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Star Trek DS9 (my fave Trek franchise) and G3 video playback in one thread? I love this site! :D

Here's my experiences so far with a 500mhz iBook G3 and also some reflections: possibly TLDR...

The lack of Altivec has really hindered the capabilities of the G3 Macs in this area (and on a side note, this is why IBM had to implement an "Altivec Lite" for the Nintendo Gamecube, Wii and Wii-U). Apple didn't catch-up with Intel and the PII in this respect till the G4's. Of course there were third party cards for the PowerMac range that helped to compensate but us iBook and iMac users couldn't take advantage of them.

Playing even SD content in recent years can be problematic because sources such as the P2P groups aren't as attentive nowadays in ensuring that their releases will play well on lesser specified machines. I suppose with some justification they probably assume that everyone is using a 16 core super-wonder. Even with older releases sloppy encoding or broken files often causes issues for lower end computers.

These MKV's play superbly on my G3 with VLC. Whoever encoded them did a great job:



Speaking of VLC, which version have you been trying to use? @Project Alice Everything above 0.8.6i won't work on the G3. I'm surprised that you've had problems with it on your G5. It's always been reliable on mine.



I use a combination of MPlayer OS X and VLC. Between them, just about every video file that my iBook can manage is covered. Some play better on one than the other. The AVI format with DVIX/XVID and MP3 or AC3 encoding appears to work the best and 90% of my A/V content in this form plays flawlessly.











I've also had success with playing 480i/576i MPEG2 SDTV recordings that I transferred over from my PVR. Some I muxed into AVI's and others I left in their original .TS format but none of them were re-encoded. H264 encoded broadcasts are a bridge too far and the computer just cannot hack it but I'm happy with what it can play and this is quite impressive for an 18 year old machine that's not really cut out for such tasks.









MP4's appear to be a complete loss. Even with low quality videos. I suspect that much of this is due to them being encoded with H264.







This is the experience I had growing up, using an iBook G3 500Mhz nonetheless (I still have that iBook, I got it when I was 13 or 14).

The VLC version I was using is 0.9.10 which the website just has as the latest available for Tiger. It launches just fine on the G3 until I try to play any media in it. VLC 2.0 has always been reliable for me but that only runs on Leopard. And the only computers I’ve got on Tiger are all G3s. I only use Leopard on G4s and G5s unless for some reason I need Tiger (such as my video playback testing using my G5). I suppose I can see if 0.8.6 works any better.

mpeg2 is accelerated on most G3s irc, that have a Rage 128? I'm having a hard time converting it though. Streamclip doesn't appear to support the source file, but I opened it anyways. After about 15Min it was still at 0%. Handbrake doesn't appear to have any of the options I need anymore. MPEG2 in handbrake is still an MP4 or MKV container. After converting to that with handbrake it won't play in anything.
 

Dronecatcher

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Thank you! I've downloaded the G3 version and will spend some time acquainting myself with the commands.
You don't have to by default - just drag a movie file onto the applet and away you go :)
- - Post merged: - -

mpeg2 is accelerated on most G3s irc, that have a Rage 128? I'm having a hard time converting it though. Streamclip doesn't appear to support the source file, but I opened it anyways.
Did you not take my advice and try MPEG4?
 

Dronecatcher

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This does not work. When I drag the file onto the mplayer applet, OS X instead copies the file into the folder where the mplayer applet is located.
You've copied the mplayer executable and the applets to Applications and made shortcuts in the dock to the applets?
I've been using these for years now on every machine - never had any problems.
- - Post merged: - -

MPEG2 in handbrake is still an MP4 or MKV container. After converting to that with handbrake it won't play in anything.
You need Handbrake 0.9.3 - you can convert to mp4 using MPEG-4(ffmpeg) or AVI using MPEG4 or Xvid - all of these formats play back comfortably at 360P on my 600Mhz iBook.
 
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TheShortTimer

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You've copied the mplayer executable and the applets to Applications and made shortcuts in the dock to the applets?
I've been using these for years now on every machine - never had any problems.
Here's the files from the Dropbox link.


From those, I copied the G3 mplayer folder over to the iBook.



Obviously I've missed out something during this process.
 

TheShortTimer

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Sorted. This is wonderful! The multimedia capabilities of my iBook have been expanded drastically. :)

Files that played ok but could have benefited from a boost now perform so much better. Especially during fast action sequences.



MP4s that previously either wouldn't play at all or if they did, suffered from sync issues now work with ease.



Here's a couple of good examples.

In MViewX, this MP4 plays flawlessly.



Whereas in VLC, no such luck. It's unplayable for all intents and purposes.



Again, flawless performance in MViewX.



Failure in VLC.



My DVB-T 576i SDTV recordings have also received a noticeable performance boost, which is particularly reflected during fast action sequences where previously the CPU would struggle somewhat.







Most of my SD iPlayer MP4's still will not play and some crash with variations of this error message.



These are minor quibbles and all in all, I'm delighted and if you're ever in London @Dronecatcher a pint is yours! 😄
 
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Dronecatcher

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Sorted. This is wonderful! The multimedia capabilities of my iBook have been expanded drastically.
Glad it's working as it should for you :) In case you missed the info, some keyboard shortcuts in MPlayer are:

f = fullscreen on and off
9 and 0 = volume control
left and right cursor keys = backwards/forwards
up and down cursor keys = jump forward/backward
cmd+0,1 or 2 = change window size

I think those difficult video files might be damaged - have you tried to convert them?

- - Post merged: - -

What about those who have a iMac under 500mhz?
Or those who dare run Tiger on a 233mhz iMac?
Mplayer is still the most efficient player but h264 video will need converting to a different format - MPEG4 is recommended.
 
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TheShortTimer

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Glad it's working as it should for you :) In case you missed the info, some keyboard shortcuts in MPlayer are:

f = fullscreen on and off
9 and 0 = volume control
left and right cursor keys = backwards/forwards
up and down cursor keys = jump forward/backward
cmd+0,1 or 2 = change window size
Cheers, I figured out of some of those. Have to admit that I don't miss the GUI at all!

I think those difficult video files might be damaged - have you tried to convert them?
Damaged or poorly encoded. I suspect that I didn't notice it before because my other machines have the horsepower to plough through those problems without me realising.
 

Project Alice

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Did you not take my advice and try MPEG4?
I tried MP4 prior to your reply and it didn't work. But that was before I saw the advise to use the G3 optimized mplayer and such.
I haven't actually had time since to dig further since I've just started my work stretch. However at the end of my stretch I'll be back at it.
You need Handbrake 0.9.3 - you can convert to mp4 using MPEG-4(ffmpeg) or AVI using MPEG4 or Xvid - all of these formats play back comfortably at 360P on my 600Mhz iBook.
So post 0.9.4 they removed features? I don't understand why devs always do that.. handbrake would literally be perfect if it could convert anything into anything else.
0.9.3 would run on a PPC though which would be cool, though it would still be faster for me to do it on my MP.
 

Anonymous Freak

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As others have said, the codec is the trick. Modern codecs are all about using more processing power to make a file smaller for a given amount of video data. It's why H.265 4K/60fps videos can look great at the same bitrate as older 1080p/24fps videos in MPEG-4. But it means that systems need either a lot more processing power, or dedicated decoder hardware.

No G3 system has the dedicated decoder hardware for H.264 much less H.265. And I'm not even sure any G3-era video card has MPEG-4 in hardware. That means you're limited to older codecs and bitrates of that codec that have G3-era hardware decode, or are simple enough for a G3 to decode in software.

MPEG-2 is certainly going to be fine. MPEG-4 *should* be fine, but one of the gotchas to look out for is that the newer H.264 is sometimes labeled as "MPEG-4 AVC", or may be packaged in what is technically an "MPEG-4 container file" with the newer codec. So just because it's "encoded in MPEG-4" doesn't mean it's actually using the MPEG-4 codec; it might be using something newer. (.mp4 as a file format doesn't guarantee it's an MPEG-4 codec.)

Older codecs like Sorenson or Cinepak are also options - but their file sizes will be far larger for a given resolution than any of the MPEG-2 or newer. Note that a G3 can play a 1080p Sorenson just fine, though. I remember watching a movie trailer on a G3 back in '99 that was available in 1080p - either The Matrix or Star Wars Episode I. (It was a B&W G3 connected to a high-end CRT that could be forced in to 1920x1600 mode at 48 Hz or something -*JUST* acceptable for watching 24fps movie trailers.)
 

Dronecatcher

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I tried MP4 prior to your reply and it didn't work.
There's something wrong with the process you're using then - MPEG4 plays fine even in QuickTime - I used to use it on my 300Mhz iBook.

So post 0.9.4 they removed features? I don't understand why devs always do that.. handbrake would literally be perfect if it could convert anything into anything else.
I suspect it's because the devs would think why support older formats, everyone will have computers that can play the newer ones?
 

Appleuser201

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As others have said, the codec is the trick. Modern codecs are all about using more processing power to make a file smaller for a given amount of video data. It's why H.265 4K/60fps videos can look great at the same bitrate as older 1080p/24fps videos in MPEG-4. But it means that systems need either a lot more processing power, or dedicated decoder hardware.

No G3 system has the dedicated decoder hardware for H.264 much less H.265. And I'm not even sure any G3-era video card has MPEG-4 in hardware. That means you're limited to older codecs and bitrates of that codec that have G3-era hardware decode, or are simple enough for a G3 to decode in software.

MPEG-2 is certainly going to be fine. MPEG-4 *should* be fine, but one of the gotchas to look out for is that the newer H.264 is sometimes labeled as "MPEG-4 AVC", or may be packaged in what is technically an "MPEG-4 container file" with the newer codec. So just because it's "encoded in MPEG-4" doesn't mean it's actually using the MPEG-4 codec; it might be using something newer. (.mp4 as a file format doesn't guarantee it's an MPEG-4 codec.)

Older codecs like Sorenson or Cinepak are also options - but their file sizes will be far larger for a given resolution than any of the MPEG-2 or newer. Note that a G3 can play a 1080p Sorenson just fine, though. I remember watching a movie trailer on a G3 back in '99 that was available in 1080p - either The Matrix or Star Wars Episode I. (It was a B&W G3 connected to a high-end CRT that could be forced in to 1920x1600 mode at 48 Hz or something -*JUST* acceptable for watching 24fps movie trailers.)
Did I read that wrong..? 1080p......... on a G3???
Is there any converters to convert modern codecs to vintage codecs?
 

Project Alice

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There's something wrong with the process you're using then - MPEG4 plays fine even in QuickTime - I used to use it on my 300Mhz iBook.
I think you’re right, I’m assuming its handbrake (the latest version I’ve been using on Catalina) is probably still using h.264 or something else the G3 isn’t handling well.
I used to use that on my 500Mhz iBook back in the day. If course 10 years ago a lot of things were still MPEG-4 and h.264 wasn’t as widespread as it is now.

Does anyone happen to have a copy of handbrake 0.9.3 saved? 0.9.4 is the earliest available on their website. I feel like this is something that needs to be on the Macintosh Garden since it supports old formats as well as running on a PPC. Some googling has lead me to the Windows version which is great and all but I’d rather not as all the files I’m trying to convert are on an HFS disk.


As others have said, the codec is the trick. Modern codecs are all about using more processing power to make a file smaller for a given amount of video data. It's why H.265 4K/60fps videos can look great at the same bitrate as older 1080p/24fps videos in MPEG-4. But it means that systems need either a lot more processing power, or dedicated decoder hardware.

No G3 system has the dedicated decoder hardware for H.264 much less H.265. And I'm not even sure any G3-era video card has MPEG-4 in hardware. That means you're limited to older codecs and bitrates of that codec that have G3-era hardware decode, or are simple enough for a G3 to decode in software.

MPEG-2 is certainly going to be fine. MPEG-4 *should* be fine, but one of the gotchas to look out for is that the newer H.264 is sometimes labeled as "MPEG-4 AVC", or may be packaged in what is technically an "MPEG-4 container file" with the newer codec. So just because it's "encoded in MPEG-4" doesn't mean it's actually using the MPEG-4 codec; it might be using something newer. (.mp4 as a file format doesn't guarantee it's an MPEG-4 codec.)

Older codecs like Sorenson or Cinepak are also options - but their file sizes will be far larger for a given resolution than any of the MPEG-2 or newer. Note that a G3 can play a 1080p Sorenson just fine, though. I remember watching a movie trailer on a G3 back in '99 that was available in 1080p - either The Matrix or Star Wars Episode I. (It was a B&W G3 connected to a high-end CRT that could be forced in to 1920x1600 mode at 48 Hz or something -*JUST* acceptable for watching 24fps movie trailers.)
I used to play 1080p videos on my iBook G4 (1.2Ghz) back in the day. I’m pretty sure they were MPEG-4s. Rewind even further to probably 15+ years ago before I had my first Mac, I had an AMD Athlon XP based PC. I think it was 1.6Ghz if I remember correctly. That thing handled 1080 as well as my MP5,1 does, and that PC wasn’t a powerhouse even for it’s time. Nowadays I doubt it’d handle it without using an era correct codec.

Somewhat off topic; I had my G5 playing h.265 in Linux. I think it was a 1080p file if I remember right. It wasn’t particularly fast but it was watchable. I bet if the latest VLC were to be complied for PPC OS X (if that’s even possible?) we’d have an easier time with video playback. Core player while efficient is not reliable in my opinion and the UI is terrible.
 
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Dronecatcher

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Did I read that wrong..? 1080p......... on a G3???
I have said this many times - you just have to have the right codec...and enough disk space because the files are huge!
- - Post merged: - -

Does anyone happen to have a copy of handbrake 0.9.3 saved?
- - Post merged: - -

Somewhat off topic; I had my G5 playing h.265 in Linux.
I'm sure the MPlayer that @Lastic cooked up plays h265 too?
 
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TzunamiOSX

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I play with videos and codecs for around 4 week to get smooth playback for my G3 Beige (G4 500). Today i have tested video on my iBook 500 Dual USB

There are 3 important parts for a smooth playback

1. Hardwaredecoding and Player
2. Codec
3. Resolution

A G3 is much more limited because there is no extra boost for the G4 supporting Coreplayer.

With Avidemux or ffmpegX you can play around.

The best solution i found was encoding with ffmpegX to "DVD", and play the created folder with the DVD Player. With this solution you can play 720x576 (768x576, 1024x576) as max resolution (hardware accelerated).

Sorenson is not a really good alternative, because you can not encode it easy with modern systems. Encoding is also SLOOOOOOOOW.
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