There are some lean movie players on linux (such as codeine), but the ultimate in lean is mplayer. There is of course a gui for mplayer, but if you want to use mplayer as it was intended, you need to run it from the command line.
starting a video or dvd
So how to play a video in mplayer? To play a file, just type mplayer followed by the path to the video file you want to play:
If you want to play a dvd, things are a bit different. mplayer doesn’t do dvd menus. So you have to point to the main video file on the dvd. Usually track 1 on the dvd. So type this into a terminal:
The best way to control mplayer is with the keyboard. This gives you a whole lot of power and control over the video, without having silly control buttons taking up precious screen real estate. Here are some useful keys/mouse controls:
- f – toggle fullscreen
- q – quit
- space,p – pause
- j – rotate through subtitiles
- right/left – skip forward/back 10 seconds
- up/down – skip forward/back 1 minute
- pg up/pg down – skip forward/back 10 minutes
- scroll wheel – skip forward/back
- <> – skip to next/last file in playlist
- 9/0 – decrease/increase volume
- +/- – tweak A/V sync by 100ms
- T – toggle window on-top
video playback tips
sluggish/jerky dvd playback
If your dvd playback is slow or jerky, add the cache and cache-min options to the command line like this:
mplayer -cache 8912 -cache-min 4 dvd://1
This means that you will have an 8MB cache, which should be plenty for a dvd. It will also fill the cache to 4% before starting, and the buffer should build up from there.
normalise the volume
Adding -af volnorm to the command line will maximise the volume of the audio track, without distorting.
If you’ve got a widescreen monitor/laptop, you can avoid aspect ratio distortion by setting the command line option -monitoraspect 16:9.
pretty subtitle fonts
You can specify the true-type font used for subtitles by copying a true-type font to ~/.mplayer/subfont.ttf. For example if you want to use bitstream vera sans, copy bitstream vera sans like this:
cp /usr/share/fonts/truetype/ttf-bitstream-vera/Vera.ttf ~/.mplayer/subfont.ttf
subtitle font size
If your subtitle font is too big/small, play with the -subfont-text-scale option. For example:
mplayer -subfont-text-scale 3 /path/to/file.avi
You can change the video output to those which are supported by your video with the -vo option. To see what is supported, type:
mplayer -vo help
The most useful options will be xv, x11, gl and gl2. The best option is usually xv, however, sometimes this gets a bit funky with xgl/aiglx/beryl/compiz. If that happens, try x11. Bare in mind, x11 won’t allow you to change the size of the video, unless you add the -zoom option:
mplayer -vo x11 -zoom /path/to/file.avi
seeking un-seekable files
If you come across an avi file that won’t seek when you use the left/right/up/down keys, you can add the -idx option to make it seekable.
Instead of adding options willy nilly to the command line, you can set most of this stuff up in a config file, which mplayer uses as its default settings. Bear in mind that the config file options can be overridden by command line options. The config file is stored at ~/.mplayer/config. This is a reasonably generic config file that should work for most people:
#General setup ao="alsa" #audio out mixer-channel="Master" srate=48000 really-quiet="1" #Very very little console output vo="xv" #video out zoom="1" #Allow sofware scaling if you use x11 for vo from the commandline aid="1" #audio channel sid="0" #subtitle set #Display double="yes" #double buffering(recommended for subtitles) monitoraspect="16:9" #Use for a widescreen laptop so keeps 4:3 content from stretching framedrop="1" # For slow machines hardframedrop="0" #Make sure hard frame drop is off but can turn on easily now #subtitle code #set this if you haven't copied your preferred font to ~/.mplayer/subfont.ttf font=/usr/share/fonts/truetype/msttcorefonts/impact.ttf ffactor="10" #black outline sub-bg-alpha="0" #background color ala closed captions sub-bg-color="0" #black to white subfont-text-scale="3.7" #truetype font scaling subfont-blur="1" #Slight blur #This sets the postprocessing into overdrive using all possible spare cpu cycles to make the movie look better autoq=100 vf=pp=de,hqdn3d subpos="90" #By default subtitles are too low subalign="2" #turns off xscreen saver...sometimes stop-xscreensaver="yes" #Some extra stuff you may want to try. Remove "#'s" to activate #Fix A/V sync problems on files with bad MP3 VBR audio #mc="1" #autosync="10" #delay="0.5"
If you want to play movies in ascii art, check out this article.