Windows Media Format
After extensive experimentation, research, and consideration, we have chosen to provide our A/V content in downloadable WMV (Windows Media Video) format.
The following factors contributed to our decision:
|Technical Excellence Real Networks was the original innovator in this category and thus had a natural early lead. But thanks to the development and adoption of the next-generation, emerging, high-quality MPEG-4 standard, Microsoft's technology has caught up and the Version 6.4 Windows Media Player can decode and play MPEG-4 video. In our testing, when carefully tuned, no other media encoding technology outperformed this system. We have hand-tuned our encoding to generate less than two megabytes per minute of video, while producing absolutely acceptable image size and quality. (By employing some "bitrate averaging" tricks.)|
|Free and Built into Windows Most people will already have a media player that's capable of playing these videos. Those who don't may freely download a compatible player from Microsoft's web site. Any Media Player from version 6.4 on will be able to play these videos. We like version 6.4 because it has much less "fluff" than version 7. Version 7 has been widely and deservedly criticized for its amazing amount of typical "Microsoft bloat".|
|Non-Streaming File Downloads We are not fans of streaming for video archives. It seems to us that with today's huge hard drives, there is no reason not to download a video locally once no matter how long it may take over your connection then play it, with reasonable quality, as many times as you wish. This approach is much more modem-friendly. Also, the best overall video quality is obtained by employing variable bitrate encoding which allows high-motion scenes to use more bits than low-motion scenes. This is not something that can be done with fixed-rate streaming video. As a result, streaming makes sense for live content like news, weather, and sports, but not for video archives like this one.|
|Unfortunately, Real Networks is Evil We inherently identify with, and root for, the little guy, therefore Real Networks was once our favored choice. So it's sad and unfortunate that time and time again Real Networks demonstrates active contempt for the privacy rights of their products' users. They spy every way they can on their users' activities. There is NO WAY we would ever have any of their junk on our systems and we would never recommend their use to anyone.|
|Creating Your Own Video Clips Beware CleanerXL!|
|We receive many inquiries about the tools and techniques used for the creation of these small yet high-quality clips, as well as support for MPEG format videos. Once we have added MPEG format we will detail the steps and settings required.|
Significantly, they were ALL created with FREE, downloadable, utilities!
Under the mistaken belief that we might be able to get the best MPEG results with commercial software, we unfortunately spent $1100 for Discreet's Cleaner and MPEG Charger. STAY AWAY FROM THIS SOFTWARE! Not only did it turn out to be a very bad port of a Macintosh-based system (which crashes Windows and barely functions), they REFUSE to accept responsibility for this and will not accept its return (the day after it arrived) so we are stuck with an expensive mistake.
Check Your Media Player
Since we encoded these audio/video clips with Microsoft's version 7 compression technology, your system will need to have a version 7 decompressor installed in order to view them. If it doesn't already have one, it is easily added.
To determine if any updates are needed:
|Download the test video We created a short test video to verify your system's ability to play the full-size videos:|
You should probably not attempt to "Left click" and view the file with your browser, especially if you have a low bandwidth Internet connection:
|"Right click" on the image below and . . .|
|With Internet Explorer choose "Save Target As..." to download and save the file into your computer.|
|With Netscape Navigator choose "Save Link As..." to download and save the file into your computer.|
|Be sure to make note of where the file is saved within your computer so you can locate and run it after it's downloaded. Placing it on your system desktop is often convenient.|
Right-Click on this image to
download 282KB test video.
|Run the test video Double-click on the WMV video file to attempt to run it with your system's media player. One of the following things will happen:|
|The test video plays without trouble Great!! Your system is ready to play any of the videos on this page. You may scroll down to browse through our audio and video clip archive . . . |
|Media player needs updating Your media player may say that it needs to download some updated files from Microsoft in order to play this video. Depending upon your preferences and your local security and personal firewall settings, you may choose to do this. If so, proceed to give Media Player permission to update itself, then re-run the test video.|
Alternatively, if for whatever reason you prefer not having your computer and media player contact Microsoft, you can update your system with version 7 codecs using this file, which you may download from our server:
Windows Media Version 7 Codec (690 kb)
After downloading the file, run it to update your system.
However you choose to proceed, re-run the test video to verify that your system is able to play version 7 WMV video files.
|Your system doesn't recognize the WMV file If your system doesn't know what to do with the WMV file type, please see the next item (3) for help installing a compatible Windows media player.|
|Install Windows Media Player
If your system does not recognize the WMV (Windows Media Video) file type, you may need to install or update your Windows Media Player. The Windows Media "Download Center" page on Microsoft's site contains a collection of download links. We recommend that you install version 6.4 unless you're a person who likes lots of non-functional and superfluous bells and whistles, in which case version 7 is definitely for you!:|
Windows Media Download Center
If you are a Netscape user who dislikes Internet Explorer, you may need to use a non-IE version of Media Player (don't ask us why Media Player cares about your web browser . . . but it does.) You can find all available versions of Media Player on the following page:Other Released Media Player Versions