Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
More and more video is being placed on the web. Unfortunately, not every video producer is giving us the control we want. I look at how this comes to be.
Is there any way I can control the stop-start view of videos on the web? I often give up in aggravation, log off & never see the end.
It can be very frustrating, and to quote a famous politico, "I feel your pain".
Since I produce some on-line video myself, I try to provide a good user experience - one that I, myself, would appreciate. However not all on-line video producers do everything the way you and I might want.
And yes, they're the ones in control of this situation.
First, let's look at a common player interface:
That's a frame from a video I took of one of my dogs some time ago - it's intended for a wide range of viewers so I couldn't make any assumptions about who would be visiting or what their capabilities might be. The player I chose to expose is simple, yet provides the basic functionality most people might want; play, pause and stop, as well as a way to control the volume. In fact, the only "problem" with this video is that once it's loaded it starts automatically - something not everyone appreciates. You can see it in action here.
This highlights what is perhaps the most important point: whether or not you have the ability to play stop or pause, or have the ability to adjust the volume within the player, or several other options isn't in your control. It's up to the video and/or website producer to make those abilities available to you when they publish the video on the web.
Here's another example, from Google's on-line video service:
Here you can see that Google has exposed fewer controls - there's only a play/pause button for example, instead of the three separate controls in the previous example. They still provide a volume control, though. And yes, once partially loaded, the video begins playing automatically. You can see this video here: Making the Podcast. You can also see a higher resolution version, in yet another player, right here on Ask Leo! here: Making the Podcast.
One more example:
This includes a Google-like pause/play button, and a not-so-obvious volume control. This one, however, does not start automatically ... you have to click on the introductory frame first. You can see this one in action here: How to Make a Pumpkin Cheesecake.
Now, all of the examples used so far use Macromedia Flash as the technology to display the video. It's turning out to be the most ubiquitous technology for video display on the web. As you can see, though, it also allows a tremendous amount of customization. If, for example, an advertiser believes that you should not be able to stop or control the volume of their video ad they can simply start playing their video as soon as you reach their page not supply a stop or volume control at all. Annoying? Yes, but quite possible.
To further confuse matters, while Flash-based players appear to be the most popular, there are several other video players in use as well: Windows Media Player, Apple's Quicktime, Real Video, just to name a few. Even iTunes, which uses Quicktime, can be considered an additional player that many people are using.
The good news, if you want to call it that, is that these players tend to be less easily customizable, and hence when they're used they expose the common controls for playback and volume control that most people want. The bad news is that they're all additional downloads and they often represent proprietary file formats. If you want to play a video that someone has made available in Quicktime format, you'll need the Quicktime player.
Video on the internet has a long way to go to fully mature. Right now it's a fairly confusing mix of players and formats - don't even get me started on codecs and compression formats that even further confuse the landscape. It holds a tremendous amount of promise, but for now, we all get to experience the growing pains.
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