Developed by VideoLAN, VLC is one of the few media players, which support a huge array of codecs, compression methods and file formats, and is best known for the way it handles multimedia file rendering. There’re surely sheer number of media players available nowadays, but VLC is arguably the most powerful, open source media player that comes with an extensive list of features and options. Last month, VideoLAN announced that the next version of VLC (codenamed Twoflower) would be released soon, and provided some nightly builds of VLC 2.0 for testing purposes. If you’ve been eagerly waiting for VLC 2.0 final version, you will be glad to know that it has just been released. In this post, we discuss some of the most significant improvements and features of this major update.
VLC 2.0 brings a slew of enhancements for both novice and skilled users alike. Apart from numerous major video and audio output improvements, it includes some changes for packagers, such as default UTF-8 encoding (non-UTF-8 file support will not be available in future versions), the plugins path can be overridden with VLC plugin path environment, default tarballs will come compressed with XZ/LZMA, and most importantly, all the web plugins are moved to git://git.videolan.org/npapi-vlc.git.
It also includes a wide range of additional devices and file formats support. You will be able to easily access and play media files contained in RAR container. The support for Blu-Ray discs has also been included. You can now specify Blu-Ray discs from Open Disc dialog, and tweak other Blu-ray playback settings. Moreover, the latest version supports all QTKit-compatible video and input devices. It also lets you capture partially hidden windows in the X11 screen input. The HTTPS access is also improved, and Windows version will be able to access media over HTTPS without facing any issues.
Major Interface Improvements And New Audio & Video Filters
Apart from under the hood changes and code improvements, the main interface has also been revamped and deeply debugged to give best media playback experience. If you use VLC as an audio player and often tweak with equalizer settings, you will notice a newly added Compressor tab alongside Graphic Equalizer. It lets you enable dynamic range compressor to change RMS/peak, Attack, Release, Threshold, Ratio, Knee radius and Makeup gain values.
You will also notice changes in Preamp, EQ sliders, and especially in Video Effects and Synchronization panels. The Video Effects console’s tabs and their options are re-adjusted in a compact window. You no longer have to change the panel size or use the tabs navigation buttons. Apart from this, it now includes numerous new video effects and filters. For instance, the Basic tab is renamed to Essential, and now it has 2 extra effects including Banding removal and Film Grain. There is no Transform control in Essential tab, but you can access it from Geometry tab.
You will find Color fun controls in Colors tab. It also adds extra color controls including Negate colors, Posterize and Sepia. Since Image modification tab has been removed, its controls are placed into other tabs. For example, you can now access Gradient controls, which include Gradient mode and color & cartoon effects, from Colors tab.
Alongside Magnification/Zoom, Rotate and Puzzle game, you will see Transform and Wall controls (from vout/Overlay tab) in Geometry tab.
Another major change that you will notice is re-adjustment of Logo controls. You can find all the options and controls which were accessible from Logo tab, in Overlay tab. It also adds a new feature namely Add text that allows you to overlay text on both local and streaming video. You can also enable/disable this filter with a click, and set the text position.
Similarly, you can access almost all the controls of Image Modification from Advanced tab. It includes controls like Waves, Water effect, Motion detect, Psychedelic and Motion blur from Image Modification tab, and Clone effect control from Vout/Overlay tab. You will find 2 new controls namely Anti-flickering and Spatial Blur to control/reduce flickering on the video, and apply special blur effect, respectively.
The audio/video and video/subtitles synchronization features have also been improved. If now offers a new subsdelay filter that allows you to change subtitles delays by specified value. Unlike previous versions, VLC 2.0 synchronization filters are more responsive, and immediately apply custom subtitles playback settings.
Apart from supporting 3 playlist view modes, VLC 2.0 now adds iTunes-like cover art playlist view. You can access the coverflow playlist view by clicking the change playlist view button, present adjacent to search bar.
If you switch to playlist view while watching a video, it will show a video thumbnail preview in left side bar. Unlike previous versions, which show only the sample VLC cover art, VLC 2.0 displays the associated cover art, and if it doesn’t find one, it simply shows the live thumbnail preview of the video. You can double-click it to watch video in full-screen mode.
Talking of video window-related improvements, the full screen view mode now shows the docked video controller. It becomes active whenever you move mouse pointer to select the required option. A small button besides volume control lets you dock/undock the full screen video controller.
VLC 2.0 also makes it easy to choose and play other multimedia items in playlist while watching the video in full screen. Now, you don’t have to switch to compact mode to select audio/video file from playlist. You can access playlist from right-click context menu while watching video in full-screen. Just move to Playlist option, and it will show all the items on the screen. Moreover, you can now easily select subtitle file and access Tools menu from Subtitle and Tools options, respectively.
VLC 2.0 comes with a real-time search feature, which lets you easily find the options you want to tweak. The Preferences includes a search bar at top-left corner, allowing you to quickly search any option from preferences’ categories.
The Mac OS X version also includes a great deal of new features and options. The Main window and Video window is re-written from scratch. VLC 2.0 Mac version comes with both Mac OS X Lion skin (grey color) and QTX style skin (black color); you can switch between the default Interface styles from VLC—>Preferences.
Additionally, it includes Compressor and Spatializer filters, track Synchronization panel, new video effects filters. VLC 2.0 supports Mac OS X Full-Screen mode, allowing you organize media collection without any distractions.
As far as codecs support and improvements are concerned, VLC 2.0 will allow you to use ffmpeg-mt to balance the decoding load. This will significantly reduce the time it requires to decode following formats: H.264, VP3, VP8, JPEG-2000, Mpeg-4 ASP/DivX and RV3/RV4. Moreover, the MKV file container playback improvements have also been incorporated. The latest version brings update for both RealVideo 3.0 and RealVideo 4.0 file playback. For those who play around with subtitles, it now supports decoding EBU subtitles files (.stl), and brings improvements for EIA-608 closed captions. Other notable improvements include support for WMV images (WMVP and WVP2), Lagarith Loseless video codec, ProRes 422 – 10 bits, DNxHD and JPEG-2000 – 10bits, and encoding of MPEG1/2 files via MP2 fourcc codec.
VLC 2.0 comes with quite a long list of features, interface-related improvements, code fixes, audio and video filters, demuxers, and streaming abilities. We’ve tried to cover only the most salient features and improvements. It must be noted that VLC 2.0 doesn’t include some modules from previous versions. You can view complete list of both added features and removed modules here. VLC 2.0 is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The 64-bit version for Windows is in works, and will be available soon.