8 Free, Open Source Tools for Video Playback and Encoding

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 20, 2008

It wasn't that long ago that it was impossible to find good, free open source tools for working with and viewing video. Now that video runs rampant on the web, though, there are a whole lot of applications worth getting, even if you're currently happy with your video and encoding tools. Here are eight good applications to try.

Miro is widely known as a free, open source video player through which you can watch web videocasts, BitTorrent files, and play almost any type of video file. You can deliver video and audio to Miro's player as a publisher as well.

Linux and Mac users should look into VLC Media Player.

MPlayer is a popular video player for Linux, Windows and the Mac. It supports a large number of formats, and can save streamed content to files with ease.

SMPlayer is a front-end for MPlayer, and it goes well beyond simple media playing features. It supports filters, lets you add subtitles, and more. It's for Windows and Linux.

SMPlayer Portable is just that--a portable version of SMPlayer. You don't have to install it to run it, and it's easy to run from a USB thumb drive.

Chameleo is an open source media player with a focus on extensibility and widgets. The software, based on GStreamer and other open source projects, supports a wide variety of codecs. The sample widgets that come with Chameleo give video watchers the ability to take screen captures, blog what they’re watching, use video tags and subtitles, open new files, and browse the web.

Prism is a free application that will let you convert video from one format to virtually any other popular format. You can preview the output to guage whether you have all the encoding right.

Simple Theora Encoder is a very popular, easy tool for encoding video on a Mac. See Lisa's review.

MediaPortal is an open source application for turning your PC/TV into an advanced media center. It juggles music, radio, videos and DVDs. It also works like a DVR and lets you record live TV.