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Archived Message:

Multimedia extensions

paulg I've been playing around with the MM extensions to Activ and am finding that sometimes an mpg file will play from within an ebook, other times the same file will not.  The file itself plays fine in external progs like Media Player etc.

Anyone else come across this problem?

Posted on: 11:39 pm on May 17, 2004
Storyman When you say that sometimes it plays and sometimes it doesn't is it on different machines or the same one?

The reason that it may not play is that IE does not have the codec installed that is needed to play the file.

One way to test it is to post the file on a web site and see if it will open in IE with all the machines that you have tested so far. There was a time when a codec plug in had to be installed into IE (it didn't matter if it was installed in another program on the same machine or not.)

Be aware that mpg is fairly new and not all players have the codec installed.

I'd suggest that you consider using Macromedia's Spark codec, which is what Flash MX uses. The reason for using Flash MX is that more machines support SWF files than mpg. Also, you have more control over the video in Flash. For example you can jump to specific frames in the video whereas in the QuickTime codec there is no such control available.

The early version of the Flash Player had a limitation on the length of the video that could be played. I don't know if that has been fixed so if you have long videos that is something you will need to check into.

Posted on: 5:15 am on May 18, 2004
paulg Thanks for that, but the problem is that (using the same PC and the same ebook file) I can click on the link to play the mpeg, it plays, if I click again, it doesn't!

The mpeg that I am using to test this with is a public domain one which plays OK.

In fact, the same thing happens with the MME demo file, and I'm now trying this on two different PC's, both XP Pro.

Posted on: 8:45 am on May 18, 2004
Storyman That is a puzzle. By any chance are you using something like Dreamweaver, GoLive, or Frontpage? If so, does the same behavior manifest when you preview the page in the program?

Posted on: 6:18 pm on May 18, 2004
paulg It's not possible to preview because I am using the multimedia extension command:
##AMM.VIDEOPLAY('{ebook}\demo.mpg','Video Playback')

As I say, sometimes it plays, other times it doesn't.

Sunil? Any thoughts on this?

Posted on: 8:59 pm on May 19, 2004
Storyman Just for the heck of it why not put in a second link as you would for a normal HTML page. That way you could preview and verify that it is strictly a Activ e-book thing or not.

Posted on: 9:25 pm on May 19, 2004
paulg OK, well it looks as though it is the Advanced Multimedia extension that has the problem: sometimes it plays fine, other times I just see a grey box (the slider still moves across as though it is playing)

Just using a normal link with the ##OPEN() command launched the file OK each time.

All a bit of a mystery.

Posted on: 12:25 am on May 21, 2004
Storyman Hopefully, Sunlin will be able to isolate the problem and fix it quickly with the information that you have provided--especially since it does work okay with a normal HTML link.

Posted on: 1:33 am on May 21, 2004
paulg Having experimented some more, the situation appears to be:

1 - with mpeg files, the multimedia extension player will sometimes display the video image on the first launch, but then subsequent clicks on the link sometime require two or three attempts before the player will display the image again; in cases where it fails, I just get  the player (sized correctly) but with a blank area where the video should be.

2 - AVI files always seem to play OK

Posted on: 9:16 am on May 21, 2004
Storyman AVI generally are better quality than MPEG. My understanding is that MPEG was developed for use on mobile units (phones, PDAa).

In reference to PC machines more of them are ready for AVI than MPEG. If an older machine has not been updated it will not run MPEG.

If possible I'd still suggest using Flash MX for your video. More machines have Flash than do the AVI codec when compared head to head. Since Flash has a codec already installed to play the SPARK files (which was developed by the same folks that developed AVI for Apple) it means that more machines will be equipped to play the video.

Flash also has the added benefit of having greater control over manipulation of the video--much more!

Posted on: 3:09 pm on May 21, 2004
EBookCompiler There isn't a general problem with MPEGs

There may be a specific problem with a particular combination of this mpeg, the associated codec, the ebook or something along those lines.

It's very hard to speculate without detailed investigation

What I think might be instructive is make a test ebook, as simple as possible which demonstrates the problem.  if the problem is intermittent (it only applies in a complex ebook but goes away when you try to isolate it, it *might* be a bug in the codec).

In C/C++/assembler, if a common bug is to write to an improper memory location. Many times this won't have any effect, but then a bit of random jiggling (e.g. switching to a simple ebook, loading other programs into memory, etc.) can jiggle things enough to ensure the improper memory location happens to be a vital one, hence crashing the ebook and/or computer.

This type of problem is more common under the non-NT series of Windows (95, 98, Me).

Anyway isolate the problem if possible, and then we may be able to track down the cause.

If it is a codec bug, I can't promise that we can do anything about it.  It may be a very slight edit to the video (e.g. removing a early frame from the video, or saving with a different compression option) might jiggle things enough to prevent the bug occuring.

Posted on: 3:19 am on May 27, 2004
paulg Sunil

The problem appears in your own downloadable demo file ammdemo.exe, in the link that demonstrates the pop-up window. I've tried this on several XP pcs and they all show a blank box. However, the full screen version of the clip plays OK.  Perhaps other readers of this forum could do a quick check to see if it is a general problem?

Posted on: 12:20 pm on June 4, 2004
EBookCompiler That's very wierd

Somebody else (perhaps a year or more ago), told me that they had the same or a similar problem.

I subsequently tested on a number of XP PCs and couldn't replicate the problem, so I thought it likely to be a perculiarity of their PC.

I'll have another go at trying to replicating this

Posted on: 4:45 pm on June 8, 2004
lwalper I've tried the scripts to outside links (apparently they don't work for MP3 files). What's the difference between a MP3 file and a *.doc file? The link is just a link to somewhere else (a file outside the compiled ebook but in the same directory) -- doesn't seem that it would have anything to do with the file type.

Posted on: 2:09 pm on July 6, 2004

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