songshow plus worship presentation software

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H.264 playback in SSP*

11/26/2018

Applicable SongShow Plus Versions:
This article applies to all versions of SongShow Plus with the H.264 Plug-in.

H.264 video playback is now supported in SongShow Plus through the use of the H.264 Plug-in.  The installation of the H.264 plug-in is an option during the installation or updating of SSP, however a separate license per system must be purchased to enable the playback of H.264 video files.

Background:
H.264 is a popular video encoding method for video content that previously was not playable within SSP. These file types commonly have the .mov or .mp4 extension and normally users would use an application such as QuickTime to play them.  QuickTime is not compatible with SSP and there have been other attempts at workarounds for playing these file types in SSP with very limited success.

Implementation:
The SSP H.264 plug-in uses proprietary software that utilizes DirectX to play H.264 videos within SSP only.  This plug-in is transparent to the rest of the system and is only usable within SSP.  Option A in the SSP video settings (Settings > Audio and Video File...) must be selected for this to work.

System Requirements:

  • DirectX 9.0c compliant Video Card
  • High-End Graphics (Full Graphics Mode) must be Enabled in SSP
  • SSP H.264 Plug-in installed and unlocked with a H.264 license file on the playback system

File Requirements:

  • The files that will work with this plug-in must have a supported file extension (listed below).
  • The video portion of the file must be encoded with the H.264 CODEC.  In most cases this will be described as H.264/MPEG-4 AVC.
  • The audio portion of the file must be encoded with the AAC CODEC.  In most cases this will be described as mp4a: MPEG-4 AAC LC.  In some cases the legacy sowt format is also supported but this is less common.
  • Videos should be rendered at as close to 30 fps (frames per second) as possible for the smoothest playback. Lower frame rates may play acceptably but can also induce "choppiness" or "judder" during playback.
  • Video resolutions of up to 1920 x 1080 (1080p - FullHD) are acceptable - Typical resolutions are 720 x 480 (480p DVD quality SD), 1280 x 720 (720p - HD) and 1920 x 1080 (1080p - FullHD).  There are other variations in the width x height ratio that are valid but these are the most common. Higher resolutions are possible but may cause increased CPU Utilization and poor playback performance. Consider your target display resolution and aspect ratio to avoid unnecessarily using an "over-rendered" video. If your display or projector is only SD capable then it is a waste of time and system resources to push HD video to the output.
  • Target video bit-rate of 4500 kbps or lower is recommended -  Higher bit-rates are possible but may cause increased CPU Utilization and poor playback performance. Higher bit-rates will also create unnecessarily large video files.  This spec has the biggest impact on playback in SongShow Plus.  A difference of as little as 2x the recommended video bit-rate can make the video unacceptable to use in SongShow Plus.  

File extensions enabled when the H.264 Plug-in is installed:  

  • Video (*.mp4)
  • Video (*.m4v)
  • Video (*.mp4v)
  • Video (*.mpg4)
  • Video (*.mov)
  • Video (*.3gp)
  • Audio (*m4a)
    • NOTE: These extensions are enabled in SongShow Plus so that the files are visible but the extension alone does not make the file playable.  It still must be encoded using H.264.

Considerations/Limitations:

  • This plug-in is required on each system the user intends to play H.264 files on.  
  • This feature will work during an evaluation period (special unlock is required), however it will not function on a Workstation system unless an additional H.264 license is obtained for the Workstation system.
  • Files must be encoded correctly - The most common issue will be that the audio type is not supported. 
  • Files including any kind of encryption or DRM, such as the iPod or iTunes DRM protection, will not play using this plug-in.
  • Be aware that while older Apple generated videos may have the .mov extension, they are not encoded using H.264.

Samples and Tools:

  • Download the following sample videos to check on your system.  These should play without any issues.  If they do not, take a look at other factors on your system that could be affecting video playback.  This link is to 3rd party content samples and provided "as is".
  • If you need to adjust your H.264 video or want to re-render another file type to H.264, try the video tool called HandBrake.  This is a pretty powerful tool.  It is a free, Windows software tool that will allow the end user to adjust video frame rate, bit rate and resolution (among other things) to improve the video playback in SongShow Plus.


If you follow the above guidance and still have problems with playback of H.264 videos, refer to the Troubleshooting Knowledge Base section and then contact the support team.

  

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