Movies v0.4, now with MediaElement support!

Just checked in v0.4 of Movies.

In the past couple months, I have learned a LOT about dealing with video on the web. I would describe the experiences I have had as “bone-crushingly painful,” “annoying,” and mostly “a gigantic waste of life.”

In my work building sites with WordPress, and with the work I have done at eMusic, I have been trying to find a default solution to use for video that works cross-browser / cross-platform / everywhere. Something painless, beyond easy, that degrades gracefully.

Here are my observations so far:

  • Ogg Theora (the video codec Firefox supports for native HTML5 Video) plays like hell in Firefox (or I’m encoding it wrong… nah, it plays like hell in Firefox)
  • Flash is mostly better than HTML5 Video in all cases except for WebKit browsers
  • a unified UI is way more important than broad HTML5 support
  • Flowplayer (VideoJS‘s Flash-fallback) is a bag of hell
  • MediaElement gets more right than VideoJS

Accordingly, I have made MediaElement the default player for Movies. You can still use VideoJS by editing one line of  code in the plugin file (you will get an admin warning that makes this painfully obvious) if you want, but I am going to recommend that MediaElement wins this fight.

I haven’t abandoned VideoJS. I updated the JS/CSS to the latest release, and I will keep a watchful eye on their development.

Because MediaElement maintains a consistent UI, I am only setting the MP4 source for the Video tags that are rendered. Flash beats Ogg Theora to a pulp in Firefox – it is sad by how much.

I have also added a new function to the Movies API (the_flash_video()) which will render only the Flash embed code on the page (no HTML5 Video tag) if that is what you desire. I found a use case for this when working on a Theme I am porting from Tumblr – stay tuned.

New Plugin, “Movies”

UPDATE: Movies now supports WebM

Full disclosure: I know there are other HTML5 video players available as WordPress Plugins. I also know Daryl Koopersmith just wrote a plugin for VideoJS cuz he told me on Twitter. However, his plugin (and none of the others) take advantage of the glory that is Shuffle.

For HTML5 video to work, you need 2 (maybe 3) things:

  • an H.264-encoded video file
  • an Ogg Theora-encoded video file
  • a still image to use as a “poster” image for the video when it loads into the player

VideoJS kicks ass because once you have these resources, it is easy to use their boilerplate markup to insert a video tag and a fallback Flash object. What makes it awesome even further is that the player can be styled 100% with CSS/images, even 100% CSS3 if you want! That’s why I fell in love with VideoJS immediately.

What is not so easy is managing all of these file types in the Media Library. That’s why I wrote Shuffle. Shuffle lets you associate anything with anything, even allows you to re-order using drag and drop (high-fiving myself!). So if you are gonna use Movies, you are gonna want to use Shuffle!

Shuffle allows you to search for Attachments when attaching a media item to a post. When you import your movies, please fill out Title-Caption -Description for Title-Artist/Director/Whatever-Description. Always filling out a title will help you in 2 ways:

  • the items will be easier to search for
  • the information is displayed on the page, or hidden but still crawlable, in the hMedia microformat

I decided that if I was going to make swiss-army-knife media plugins, I would try to do everything as semantic and clean as possible.

But back to how it works… once you upload your MP4 file, OGV file, and image, you want to attach the OGV and image to the MP4 file (you need Shuffle for this). From then on, you can attach and detach the MP4 file from whatever Post or Page you want, and the OGV and image will always remain attached to the MP4, unless you detach them manually. When the plugin loads your MP4s to the page, it looks for its attachments to fill out the and poster data in the HTML5 video tag, also uses the image for the Flash fallback, and uses the MP4 data and the image source for the hMedia data.

To use Movies in your theme, you have 2 options:

  • As a shortcode: [movies]
  • As a function: the_movies() or the_videos()

If you need info on how to encode your videos in H.264 or OGV, go here. The markup for the VideoJS player is loaded automatically, as is the JavaScript to dynamically load the videos when clicked from within the list of videos attached to your post. To style the player and the way the playlist looks, add a video.css file to your Theme directory. It will load with the rest of the plugin files and will override where necessary.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/movies/