Playing Media Rant - when will this get better?
So here's the deal. A buddy (Jeff) sends out some MPG files of a recent trip to friends. One of the friends responds that she cannot view the files on her Mac. Jeff sends a note to me on AIM:
Jeff: yo macboy
what app do you use to view MPG files
Nice to know that I am now "macboy". I feel like the Jive Lady in the movie Airplane... "Oh stewardess! I speak Mac". I look at the MPG files that Jeff sends me and sure enough I can't view them. QuickTime Pro, which I recently upgraded to, gives me this:
I had already installed Flip4Mac into QuickTime but that didn't help me. A quick search turned up VLC, which I posted about earlier today. Finally, I could see the videos.
As a techie I am accepting of the challenges of technology. I understand why it all exists - that each vendor has their own way of recording the video that may take advantage of their hardware and hundreds of other issues. But when I put on my consumer hat I get more than a little pissed off that I have to go through so much crap just to watch a video that someone created.
If someone sends me an image file chances are I will be able to view it. It's going to be in JPG, GIF or PNG in all likelihood. My Mac, Windows and Linux machines will be able to view them easily right out of the box. Sure there are tons of file formats out there, but people have figured out that if you want the largest possible audience to view your files you need to put it in one of those formats.
When it comes to videos the options are staggering. At what point will we need to stop guessing which format will work best and have a standard, common format that everyone will be able to play reliably? Will this ever happen? Did I miss some piece of technology on the video side that makes this a non-issue?
YouTube got pretty damn close with their service, though I did have to install a Flash reader on each machine in order to view videos there.
Video recording technology is as pervasive as digital photography now. You can't buy a modern phone without getting a little video recorder built in and virtually every non-DSLR camera that comes out today has video capabilities. The need is clearly there to make it so that non-technical people can grab a file from any device and simply play it without having to download a bunch of stuff to make it work.
Somehow I don't think this is going to get better any time soon.