VLC media player

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VLC media player
File:VLC media player icon.png
File:Vlc-0.9.4-big buck bunny.png
Screenshot of VLC 0.9.4 running under Windows Vista
Developer(s) VideoLAN Project
Initial release 1 February 2001
Written in C, C++, Objective-C using Qt
Operating system Cross-platform (GNU, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, BeOS, Syllable, BSD, MorphOS, Solaris, Sharp Zaurus)
Available in Multilingual
Type Media player
License GNU General Public License v2 or later
Website www.videolan.org

VLC media player is an open source, free software media player and multimedia framework written by the VideoLAN project.

VLC is a portable multimedia player, encoder, and streamer supporting many audio and video codecs and file formats as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It is able to stream over networks and to transcode multimedia files and save them into various formats. VLC used to stand for VideoLAN Client, but that meaning is now deprecated.[1][2]

It is one of the most platform-independent players available, with versions for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, BeOS, Syllable, BSD, MorphOS, Solaris and Sharp Zaurus, and is widely used with over 300 million downloads as of November 2009.[3]

The default distribution of VLC includes a large number of free decoding and encoding libraries; on the Windows platform, this greatly reduces the need for finding/calibrating proprietary plugins. Many of VLC's codecs are provided by the libavcodec library from the FFmpeg project, but it uses mainly its own muxer and demuxers. It also gained distinction as the first player to support playback of encrypted DVDs on Linux by using the libdvdcss DVD decryption library.



Originally the VideoLAN project started as an academic project in 1996. It was intended to consist of a client and server to stream videos across a campus network. VLC was the client for the VideoLAN project, with VLC standing for VideoLan Client. Originally developed by students at the École Centrale Paris, it is now developed by contributors worldwide.

Rewritten from scratch in 1998, it was released under the GPL on 1 February 2001. The functionality of the server program, VideoLan Server (VLS), has mostly been subsumed into VLC and has been deprecated.[4] The project name was changed to VLC since there is no longer a client/server infrastructure.

The cone icon used in VLC is a reference to the traffic cones collected by Ecole Centrale's Networking Students' Association.[5] The cone icon design was changed from a hand drawn low resolution icon[6] to a higher resolution CGI rendered version in 2006, illustrated by Richard Øiestad.[7] The cone icon displays wearing a Santa hat over the Christmas period.

Version 1.0.0 of VLC media player was released on July 7, 2009, culminating 13 years of development.[8]

The latest release was VLC 1.0.5 on 31 January 2010.[9]

Design principles

VLC, like most multimedia frameworks, has a very modular design which makes it easier to include modules/plugins for new file formats, codecs or streaming methods. VLC core creates its own graph of modules to fit into different situations. In VLC, almost everything is a module, like interfaces, video and audio outputs, controls, scalers, codecs, and audio and video filter modules.

VLC 1.0.0 has more than 380 modules.[10]


File:Vlc wx kde.png
VLC with the wxWidgets interface, running on KDE

In VLC, interfaces are modules, which means that VLC's core can launch one, many or no interfaces.

The default GUI is based on Qt 4 for Windows and Linux, Cocoa for Mac OS X, and Be API on BeOS; but all give a similar standard interface. The old default GUI was based on wx on Windows and Linux.[11]

File:VLC easteregg winter 2008.PNG
VLC's holiday season Easter egg in the Qt interface
  • The Qt interface contains an easter egg which changes the VLC traffic cone logo so that it's wearing a Santa hat. The logo changes on December 18, one week before Christmas, and reverts to its normal appearance on January 1.

VLC supports highly customizable skins through the skins2 interface, also supporting Winamp 2 and XMMS skins. The customizable skins feature can malfunction depending on which version is being used.

VLC with the ncurses interface, running on Mac OS X

For console users, VLC has a remote control interface and an ncurses interface. As VLC can act as a streaming server, rather than a media player, it can be useful to control it from a remote location and there are interfaces allowing this. The Remote Control Interface is a text-based interface for doing this.

There are also interfaces using telnet and HTTP (AJAX).


In addition to these interfaces, it is possible to control VLC in different ways:


VLC's right-click Menu in Ubuntu Gutsy (detailed information on this image's page)
  • VLC is popular for its ability to play the video content of incomplete, unfinished, or damaged video downloads before the files have been fully downloaded. (For example, files still downloading via BitTorrent, eMule, or Gnutella). It also plays m2t MPEG transport streams (.TS) files while they are still being digitized from an HDV camera via a FireWire cable, making it possible to monitor the video as it is being played. This is because it is a packet-based player.
  • The player also has the ability to use libcdio to access .iso files so that the user can play files on a disk image, even if the user's operating system does not have the capability of working directly with .iso images.
  • VLC supports all audio and video formats and all file formats supported by libavcodec and libavformat. This means that VLC can play back H.264 or MPEG-4 video as well as support FLV or MXF file formats "out of the box" using FFmpeg's libraries. Alternatively, VLC has modules for codecs that are not based on FFmpeg's libraries. This feature is not unique to VLC, as any player using the FFmpeg libraries, including MPlayer and xine-lib-based players, should be able to play those formats without the need for external codecs.
  • VLC is one of the free software and open source DVD players that ignores DVD region coding on RPC-1 firmware drives, making it a region-free player. However, it does not do the same on RPC-2 firmware drives.
  • VLC media player has some filters that can distort, rotate, split, deinterlace, mirror videos, create display walls, or add a logo overlay. It can also produce video output as ASCII art.
  • VLC media player can play high definition recordings of D-VHS tapes duplicated to a computer using CapDVHS.exe. This offers another way to archive all D-VHS tapes with the DRM copy freely tag.
  • Using a FireWire connection from cable boxes to computers, VLC can stream live, unencrypted content to a monitor or HDTV.
  • VLC media player can display the playing video as the desktop wallpaper, like Windows DreamScene, by using DirectX (only available on Windows Operating Systems)
  • VLC media player can do screencasts and record the desktop.
  • On Microsoft Windows, VLC also supports the Direct Media Object (DMO) framework and can therefore make use of some third-party DLLs.
  • On most platforms, VLC can tune in to and view DVB-C, DVB-T and DVB-S channels. On Mac OS X the separate EyeTV plugin is required, on Windows it requires the card's BDA Drivers.
  • VLC can be installed and run directly from a flash or other external drive.
  • VLC can be extended through scripting. It uses the Lua scripting language.
  • VLC can play videos in the AVCHD format, a highly compressed format used in recent HD camcorders.

Use of VLC with other programs


Developer(s) VideoLAN Project
Initial release 1 February 2001
Written in C
Operating system Cross-platform
Platform Native, .NET, Java, Python and Cocoa
Available in multilingual
Type Multimedia Library
License GNU General Public License
Website wiki.videolan.org/Libvlc (English)

There are several APIs that can connect to VLC and use its functionality:

Browser plugins

Applications which use the VLC plugin

  • VLC can handle incomplete files and can be used to preview files being downloaded. Several programs make use of this, including eMule and KCeasy.
  • The free/open-source Miro also uses VLC code.
  • Handbrake, an open-source video encoder, loads libdvdcss from VLC Media Player.

Format support

Readable formats

VLC can read several formats, depending on the operating system VLC is running on.[16]

UDP/RTP unicast or multicast, HTTP, FTP, MMS, RTSP, RTMP, DVDs, VCD, SVCD, CD Audio, DVB, Video acquisition (via V4l and DirectShow), RSS/Atom Feeds, and from files stored on the user's computer.
Container formats
3GP,[17] ASF, AVI, FLV, Matroska, Musical Instrument Digital Interface (.mid/.midi),[18] QuickTime, MP4, Ogg, OGM, WAV, MPEG-2 (ES, PS, TS, PVA, MP3), AIFF, Raw audio, Raw DV, MXF, VOB.
Video formats
Cinepak, Dirac, DV, H.263, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, HuffYUV, Indeo 3,[19] MJPEG, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2, RealVideo 3&4[20], Sorenson (thus enabling direct playback of the modified Sorenson H.263 encoded videos downloaded from YouTube), Theora, VC-1,[21] VP5,[21] VP6,[21] WMV.
DVD, SVCD, DVB, OGM, SubStation Alpha, SubRip, Advanced SubStation Alpha, MPEG-4 Timed Text, Text file, Vobsub, MPL2,[22] Teletext.[22]
Audio formats
[23] AAC, AC3, ALAC, AMR,[17] DTS, DV Audio, XM, FLAC, MACE, Mod, MP3, PLS, QDM2/QDMC, RealAudio,[24] Speex, Screamtracker 3/S3M, TTA, Vorbis, WavPack,[25] WMA (WMA 1/2, WMA 3 partially)[23].

Output formats for streaming/encoding

VLC can transcode into several formats depending on the operating system.

Container formats
ASF, AVI, FLV,[22] Fraps,[22] MP4, Ogg, Wav, MPEG-2 (ES, PS, TS, PVA, MP3), MPJPEG, FLAC, QuickTime, Matroska
Video formats
H.263, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, MJPEG, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2, VP5,[21] VP6,[21] Theora, DV
Audio formats
AAC, AC3, DV Audio, FLAC, MP3,[26] Speex, Vorbis
Streaming protocols

See also


  1. Jean-Baptiste Kempf (November 23, 2006). "VLC Name". Yet another blog for JBKempf. http://www.jbkempf.com/blog/post/2006/11/23/VLC-Name. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  2. VideoLAN Team. "Intellectual Properties". VideoLAN Wiki. http://wiki.videolan.org/Intellectual_Properties#Names_.2F_Trademark. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  3. "Download Statistics". VideoLAN Project. http://www.videolan.org/stats/downloads.html. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  4. "VideoLAN - The streaming solution". http://www.videolan.org/vlc/streaming.html. Retrieved 2009-03-08. 
  5. Jon Lech Johansen (June 23, 2005). "VLC cone". So sue me: Jon Lech Johansen’s blog. http://www.nanocrew.net/2005/06/23/vlc-cone/. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  6. "vlc48x48.png" (PNG). VideoLAN Project. http://trac.videolan.org/vlc/browser/share/vlc48x48.png?rev=85e4b3a17d6a107a0f73be40c52c080354b3ddd0. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  7. "vlc48x48.png" (PNG). VideoLAN Project. http://trac.videolan.org/vlc/browser/share/vlc48x48.png?rev=9ef388cc16e200fa0a4571f9b006c0d58e9ba115. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  8. "VLC 1.0 officially released after more than 10 years of work". http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2009/07/vlc-10-officially-released.ars. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  9. "VideoLAN - News". http://www.videolan.org/news.html. 
  10. "VLC media player List of modules". VLC media player trac system. http://trac.videolan.org/vlc/browser/modules/LIST. 
  11. Jean-Baptiste Kempf (February 10, 2007). "Qt4 Interface". Yet another blog for JBKempf. http://www.jbkempf.com/blog/post/2007/02/10/Qt4-Interface. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  12. Java binding Project
  13. Anderson, Dean; Lamberson, Jim (2007). "Using VideoLan VLC in DirectShow". An open source bridge from VLC to DirectShow. http://www.sensoray.com/support/videoLan.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  14. Chapter 4. Advanced use of VLC
  15. Open Source Patches and Mirrored Packages - Google Code
  16. "VLC features list". VideoLAN Project. http://www.videolan.org/vlc/features.html. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 To use AMR as audio codec, VLC and FFmpeg need to be compiled with AMR support. This is because the AMR license is not compatible with the VLC license.
  18. This feature needs sound fonts and might not work on every OS
  19. Indeo 4 and 5 codecs are not supported
  20. from 0.9.9 and over
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 This is from the 0.8.6 version.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 This is present in 0.9.0 and newer version.
  23. 23.0 23.1 VideoLAN team. "VLC playback Features". http://www.videolan.org/vlc/features.php?cat=audio. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  24. Real Audio playback is provided through the FFmpeg library which only supports the Cook (RealAudio G2 / RealAudio 8) decoder at the moment.
  25. Currently only supported in mono and stereo, so no multichannel support.
  26. You need to compile VLC with mp3lame support

External links

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