songshow plus worship presentation software

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H.264 playback in SSP without the SSP H.264 Plug-in*

3/11/2020

Applicable SongShow Plus Versions:
This article applies to versions of SongShow Plus 9.0 and newer on Windows 10 without the SSP H.264 Plug-in.

For information regarding all versions of SongShow Plus on Windows 7/8.x or versions of SongShow Plus 8.5 and older on Windows 10 using the SSP H.264 Plug-in, refer to KB MI014.


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 changes in SongShow Plus version 9.0 and Windows 10 made it possible for SongShow Plus to play H.264 files without the SSP H.264 plug-in.  These changes also allowed for broader bit-rate and resolution support for video playback, including H.264 videos.
H.264 video playback is supported in SongShow Plus 9.0 through the use of native Windows 10 components.  No additional plug-in or license needs to be purchased to enable the playback of H.264 video files however some of the requirements are still the same.

System Requirements:

  • DirectX compliant Video Card
  • High-End Graphics (Full Graphics Mode) must be Enabled in SSP
  • Windows 10

File Requirements:

  • The files that will work in SongShow Plus 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 or higher frame rates may play acceptably but can also induce "choppiness" or "judder" during playback.
  • Video resolutions of up to 3840 x 2160 (UHD) may be acceptable - Typical resolutions are 720 x 480 (480p DVD quality SD), 1280 x 720 (720p - HD) and 1920 x 1080 (1080p - FullHD), 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) and 3840 x 2160 (UHD) .  There are other variations in the width x height ratio depending on Aspect Ratio and cropping that are valid but these are the most common. These higher resolutions are possible but may cause increased CPU/GPU 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.
  • There is no longer a specific Target video bit-rate since higher resolution videos will naturally have a higher bit-rate so this becomes more subjective. We still advise that you should be aware of this specification of your videos as higher bit-rates may still cause increased CPU/GPU Utilization and poor playback performance could be a result. Higher bit-rates will also create unnecessarily large video files.  An extremely high video bit-rate can make the video unacceptable to use in SongShow Plus.  Consult your video provider if you have issues with a specific specification of the videos you are trying to use.

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:


  • 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 in SongShow Plus.
  • 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 open source 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.  HandBrake has Windows, Linux and MAC versions.


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.

  

(MI019)

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