Test Your Video Files!
Video files are the most finicky of all media file types. If you're given an .mpg file to use, do you know if your system will actually play the file? If its MPEG-1, probably so. If its MPEG-2 and your using Windows XP, perhaps not because XP didn't come with native support for MPEG-2 like it did for MPEG-1. But how do you know which it is? Could the file be MPEG-4? You say "no" because aren't MPEG-4 files supposed to use an .mp4 file extension? Well, that's part of the problem. The use of file extensions for video files has been somewhat freewheeling -- video playback applications, for the most part, ignore file extensions of video files and instead analyze the file content to determine how to decode the video.
AVI files are even trickier because the AVI format is simply a container designed to hold just about any kind of media data. AVI files can contain audio/video data of any codec type, including MPEG. Having an .avi file provides no assurance you can play that file on your system.
WMV is the most reliable video format for use on Windows systems. If you've been given a .wmv file, you should expect that it will play on your Windows system, as well as through SongShow Plus. However, if the .wmv file contains DRM, then it may not play on your system and likely will not play through SongShow Plus at all.
Because of these reasons, and more, its always a good idea to test your video files on the projection system prior to your service. This is especially true if you've received the file from an unfamiliar source, or from an in-house source who has not worked with your system before. Even if you've built the video file yourself using codec settings you believe will work, test it anyway.
I was reminded of this last week. Our worship leader wanted to use this video, That's My King
, as part of our worship set. But to do so, he needed make a few modificaitons to the video file. He made these modificaitons using Ableton Live
which also rendered the .mov file we were to use. Since we recently installed the H.264 .MOV plug-in for SongShow Plus on projection machine, our worship leader expected the file to work. After loading the file, he ran a test. The video worked great, but there was no audio. I then spent some time trying to determine if this was a system or SongShow Plus problem.
After some testing, it was apparent that the file was not compatible with our installed codecs. So using QuickTime Pro, I saved the file out as an AVI. Upon testing the converted file, I found that both video and audio were now working. Unfortunately, the video lost significant resolution so it was much grainier. Even the highest quality export setting in QuickTime Pro didn't provide any improvement.
This all took place the day before the service, which gave us some time to work things out. It would have been better had we run the tests a few days earlier. We could have then verified the codecs and settings that we needed to use for compatibility with SongShow Plus.
Anyway, the video did get used and had quite an impact. Had we waited until moments before the service to test the video, it may not have happened at all.