VLC Rocks

VLC rocks. End of story. You can get it freely from videolan.org, or you can download it from your favorite package manager if you’re using Linux. Even Windows and Mac users can get in on the fun. No other media player is more versatile than VLC. Most people know VLC as the media player that can play any media file. This is more or less true, it has a wide variety of codecs enabled by default that allows it to play any file that is up to standards/not corrupted, and even many files that are corrupted will still play. It is so much more than a simple player though. VLC, in addition to being a very versatile media player, can easily be used to transcode one file to another, as well as to actually stream live content from one computer to another using a variety of well known standards. For instance the command
$vlc file.mpg --sout '#rtp{dst=192.168.1.123, port=1234}'

will take file.mpg and stream it over your local network to another computer in the house. (The other computer can use VLC to read the stream also). This is so useful in setting up a home media network, or a Personal Video Recording device, or even streaming something to a friend, or to your cell phone! Play around with this feature, its really quite cool.

VLC can read from TV capture cards also. Unencrypted transmissions can be picked up by various types of hardware, and VLC has the ability to capture from this type of hardware. For instance, if you’re in Europe and are looking to pick up DVB signals, the command
$ vlc dvb: --dvb-srate=27500000 --dvb-frequency=12345000 --program=345

will tune right in to whatever that station is. Of course, you’ll have to look up the specific frequency table for you area, but after you know that, you’ll have a personal TV right on your computer! Tuner cards supported by VLC are mostly all of the cards supported by the V4L project, and the cards that are supported by the kernel, which is actually an impressive number. If you don’t have any DVB signals, ATSC and standard analog transmissions can be picked up with other cards, as well as cable signals, as long as they’re not encrypted and you have the proper rights. Play around with TV cards, they’re really fun, and are a critical part of any PVR system.

Another impressive ability of VLC is the ability to transcode from one file type to another. For instance, if you have a mpg file that you need to be in h.264 format (for instance, if you want the file playable on an iPod), there are simple command line tools to do this. The command

$ vlc file.mpg --sout '#transcode{acodec=mp4a, vcodec=h264}:std{access=file, mux=ts, dst=/home/kevin/h264.mpg}'

will take the file and transcode it to the other encoding. Many more options are available, and transcoding with VLC is one of the most surefire ways to get the file in the format you want, as VLC supports so many different types of files.

VLC is such a versatile media player, and is easily adapted for great use in any multimedia installation. Any of the three things I mentioned above can also be ‘chained’ together, to produce such an incredibly versatile media player pocketknife. I encourage you to read up documentation and tutorials and browse the VLC sites and forums for a full feel of what such a high quality example of open source software can do for you.

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4 Responses to VLC Rocks

  1. Johan says:

    I agree. VLC is a kickass multimedia player. However, I wish the development team would implement the sort of smooth seeking that MPlayer has.

  2. Johannes Eva says:

    VLC is fantastic! I really don’t know why it quite never comes out as default media player in linux distros… Always this buggy totem player, with infinite codec an colors problems, instead of VLC…
    Thank you for your review!

  3. Pingback: Aaron

  4. noreply@generic.com says:

    Yeah i second that. So nice to have a simple straightforward player that just PLAYS. No codec issues. Awesome work VLC team!

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