Getting sound but only a static image on video

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Ged Clink

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May 24, 2020, 1:58:27 AM5/24/20
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Running VDH on both chrome and firefox.  I'e got Premium / Companion APP on Chrome for VDH. Been using it fine for last few years.  I'm a paid member of ThisoldHouse.com - the DIY channels and generally download their TV shows for offline viewing. Using Chrome and firefox - both  say VDH has access to the site.

I choose HLS streaming, all goes according to plan, it finalises, yet when I go to the folder where the videos are stored, its not showing me the clip with the usual video thumbnail icon but shows a generic video icon.

When i play it, I have a static picture on screen which doesn't change but the sound plays fine and I can scroll back and forth but no video - only sound. 

Happens on both firefox and chrome - all resolutions - all streams.  Other streaming sites I frequent work fine. 

Any pointers thanks

Ged

Edit - Continued to google and found several months ago ( which is about how long since i've been on ) they changed the cms (from jwplatform to zype) and also the cdn.     Hope that can help someone figure out if VDH can still work / any workarounds.  

jc vdh

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May 24, 2020, 4:32:04 AM5/24/20
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Hi,


Whta player do you use? Did you try with VLC?

jerome


Ged Clink

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May 24, 2020, 4:41:31 AM5/24/20
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Tried VLC - it plays the sound fine with a static image onscreen which i presume is the first frame of the video.  Windows Media Player thinks its a music file for some reason.  Definitely something on This Old House has changed for the worse 

Ged Clink

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May 24, 2020, 5:01:27 AM5/24/20
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Hi Jerome. Same issue as another guy / post on the forum had on same website about 5 weeks ago.  At the time you noted you had tried it, downloaded the 647M file, tried to play it and got sound with no picture. Then you tried to convert it and got an error - no codec found.  Then it all went quite on that post.  

Mizanur Rahman

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Jun 20, 2020, 10:43:06 PM6/20/20
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Same issue, looks like there is no solution either. I only get audio with first frame :(

Hopefully this gets resolved soon

Wild Willy

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Jun 22, 2020, 12:06:48 AM6/22/20
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Jerome included a link to a video in his post upthread.  I visited that link & did the usual thing I learned how to do with the free nightly Metropolitan Opera streams: Turned on the Firefox Network Monitor & found a master manifest, which I have attached to this post.  It looks like the Metropolitan Opera manifests.  There's an initial entry with the parameters TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="aac".  Then there's a series of entries for what appear to be videos, all referring back to the first entry via a parameter AUDIO="aac".  So there's one audio stream, presumably audio without video, and several video streams of various resolutions, presumably video without audio.  I haven't tested whether this is all true.  You (Jerome and/or Michel) should be doing that.  Hit those URLs with ffprobe & tell us what you find.

It would be really nice if I could get confirmation that my repeated observations that these manifests are easy to interpret are getting any attention from Michel.  It seems that the modifications to VDH that I initially assumed would have to be custom in nature are in fact not custom at all & not unique to the Brightcove player.  This appears to be using something called zypeplayer.  My ideas need proper consideration.  Are they getting it?  I have no evidence that you guys have even noticed what I've been posting.
Manifest.txt
Message has been deleted

mig

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Jun 23, 2020, 2:18:37 AM6/23/20
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Good catch Wild Willy, i'm investigating this.

For the time being, do we agree that you can download separately the audio and video streams and aggregate them using the latest beta ? It just takes a few more clicks to do so than if we had VDH able to automatically associate both streams like it does for youtube ADP videos.

Wild Willy

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Jun 23, 2020, 5:13:07 AM6/23/20
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I had not tried to download any of this before but looking again at the manifest I posted, I see that the entry for the audio actually doesn't have a URL.  I don't know how VDH could compensate for that.  I generated a new manifest tonight (attached) and issued ffprobe on every URL in there (results attached).  It's very strange.  All but one of the objects has a third internal stream (using the ffmpeg terminology) for which there is no codec.  The audio & video streams appear to be recognizable.  I did try downloading a couple of the variants offered by VDH (using VDH, not ffmpeg directly), but I got the same results as the original poster: audio plays fine but video consists of a single image.  By the way, I don't think the image is the first frame of the video.  The clip plays fine in Firefox off the web site, with both audio & video.

The one URL that ffprobe didn't generate the unsupported codec error for was for the I-FRAMES entry in the manifest.  I've seen I-FRAMES entries before.  They were not showing up in the Metropolitan Opera manifests for the first month or two that the free operas were available.  Then one day they just started appearing.  This lasted for a few weeks but they've stopped appearing for about the past week.  I never tried downloading one of them.  What are those?  That one appears to be legitimately a video without audio, though.  Another oddity is that ffprobe read only 2 chunks of the other URLs & generated its report.  For the I-FRAMES URL it looks like it had to read the entire video before it could generate its report.  Why?

What are those UPLYNK entries in the manifest?  What do they mean?

I sure hope this one is solveable.
Manifest.txt
ffprobe.txt

Wild Willy

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Jun 23, 2020, 5:27:16 AM6/23/20
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While I'm here, I want to say that in cases in which you can identify the separate audio & video streams, I would not expect VDH to automatically put them together.  All I expect is for VDH to construct its menu in such a way that it is clear that this audio goes with this or these (like the operas) video(s).  Then I would use VDH to download the 2 streams as individual files.  Maybe you could offer an option for the user to have VDH then put them together, but I would also want the option to get the files separately.  As part of this, I think it would be easy to have VDH also start recognizing caption files so we could get them through VDH as well.  And I would want to be able to keep the caption files separate, too.  Combining those into a result file could be an option but I want to be able to get caption files separately from the audio & video files.  I don't have a problem with playing video & audio synchronously in VLC & letting VLC find the captions automatically in a third file.  To each his own.

Wild Willy

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Jun 24, 2020, 8:53:56 AM6/24/20
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OK.  So I couldn't leave this alone.  I went to the video page again & that got me yet another manifest (attached).  I keep getting new manifests because the URLs in there look like they've got those gibberish strings that are session identifiers.  So I need to grab a new manifest every time I visit the page.  I grabbed the URL for the 1920x1080 stream out of the manifest & shoved it into ffmpeg directly.  I've attached the log of that session.

The weird thing is near the beginning.  Just like I showed with my ffprobe results yesterday, the video consists of 3 streams. 0:0 is audio, 0:1 is video, 0:2 is I don't know.  It's the thing my ffprobe yesterday said it couldn't figure out because it didn't have a codec for it.

Now, I'm using the ffmpeg output parameter -codec: copy.  But you'll notice that before ffmpeg really gets going with the download, it tells us the stream mapping it's going to use.  Quoting from the ffmpeg log:

Stream mapping:
  Stream #0:1 -> #0:0 (copy)
  Stream #0:0 -> #0:1 (copy)

So what happened to stream 0:2?

In any case, as you can see, it download an MP4.  It took about 4 minutes on my slow connection.  The file is 112M.  I've attached its Windows properties & the properties VLC gives me.

It plays fine.  Video & audio.  Identical to what you can play in the player on the web page.

What the . . . ?  Michel, do you have any idea what's going on here?  Please answer my questions, both the questions in this post & the questions in my earlier post.
Manifest.Txt
TestLog.Txt
Windows Properties.png
VLC Properties.png

mig

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Jun 24, 2020, 9:25:32 AM6/24/20
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I'm afraid i cannot tell you much here. M3u8 is not really a standard. It has been developed in a proprietary way for holding MP3 play lists
for a player application called Winplay. It has then been reused by others in a number of different situations with adaptations. This is the reason why we have troubles trying to find the meaning of the format.

Engineers at Brightcove are the ones who write the m3u8 video manifests AND the player that interprets this manifest. So as long as they are consistent with themselves, they are happy. And so are the regular users who use their service to watch videos in Brightcove pages.

Regarding ffmpeg "copy" codec, it simply means that the encoding of the stream, audio or video, is to be kept untouched. 

My guess is that the third stream (0:2) is about subtitles, which is not (yet) handled by VDH.

So again, we provided a way for VDH to be able to aggregate audio and video streams that have been downloaded separately and we rely on advanced users(like you) common sense to use it wisely.

Wild Willy

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Jun 24, 2020, 10:07:23 AM6/24/20
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But I was wrong when I said we were looking at another case here of audio & video streams being offered separately.  There is an audio entry in the manifest but it's a fake, a trick, a dummy.  There's no URL in that entry.  The other entries appear to be video+audio streams.  Did you look at the ffmpeg & ffprobe logs I've attached above?  What my test shows is that ffmpeg itself is able to successfully download an MP4 that consists of both audio & video.  VLC successfully plays it as a proper video file with audio.  When I say ffmpeg I mean the ffmpeg you can download today from the ffmpeg web site, not the captive ffmpeg you supply with the CoApp.  Maybe the ffmpeg guys have put something into ffmpeg since you built your custom ffmpeg for the CoApp that allows me to successfully download this video when VDH appears unable to do so.  Are your customizations to ffmpeg extensive?  How much of a pain in the ass is it to port your customizations to a new ffmpeg?

As for the 0:2 stream that is disappearing, I'm not so sure they're subtitles.  Ffmpeg recognizes both srt & vtt.  I know this from having used ffmpeg to download both types of subtitles.  Besides, the web site doesn't offer subtitles as an option in its settings within the player.  They have a little gear but subtitles aren't listed as an option.  I would put forward the idea that the mysterious third stream is something else.  It's weird that it shows the third stream & then doesn't copy it even though I'm just asking for a simple copy without . . . what is it it would be?  Transocding?  Remuxing?  I'm not even sure what those words mean.  But anyway, my hunch is that removing the third stream is what gave me a playable MP4.  It's like my stupidity resulted in a resounding success.  Maybe ffmpeg just ignores streams for which it has no codec.  Sure would be nice to know what that third part really is.  It doesn't seem to be critical, though, since the resulting MP4 is playable without it.

mig

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Jun 24, 2020, 10:41:16 AM6/24/20
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I don't think there is any problem with our ffmpeg. I mean that if we are able to find both an audio and a video stream, the ffmpeg inside the coapp will be able to aggregate both streams to build a playable mp4 file.

Maybe what you mean is using ffmpeg to download the streams. We don't do that but we are currently investigating it as an alternative HLS downloading method.

Wild Willy

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Jun 24, 2020, 11:01:57 AM6/24/20
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Oh.

I repeat . . . Oh.

I thought you WERE using ffmpeg to download the streams.  News flash to Willy: You be WRONGO!  Maybe I don't care to know but I can't help asking.  What do you use to do the actual downloading?

This use case of NOT separate audio & video files may indicate ffmpeg is the tool to use for downloading.  I've been using ffmpeg to download the operas now for about 3 months.  Works great.  Even built myself a little interactive wrapper on ffmpeg using REXX.  I've just gotten a fresh ffmpeg within the past hour.  We'll see how it does with tonight's opera.  I expect no problems.  I haven't removed the one I've been using now for a while so I've got a fallback in the unlikely eventuality that something doesn't work with the new one.

So you don't use ffmpeg to download in VDH.  How about that!  Learn something every day.  If ffmpeg does much of what you want, there's no sense reinventing the wheel, now is there?  And what about my idea of issuing ffprobe pre-emptively against everything you can find in the manifest so you can get correct information about streams without relying on the notoriously non-standard manifests?  That is, for cases where there is a manifest.  I've hit examples where I don't see a manifest & I have no idea how those work.  That would include YouTube, so hats off to you that you've been able to make that work at all.

mig

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Jun 24, 2020, 11:33:04 AM6/24/20
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Currently we indeed use our own code to download HLS stream. The actual download of each HLS chunk is performed by either the browser though a XMLRPC request or the coapp, depending on the VDH parameter "Download processor". This gives us a much better control over the download operation, like progress, ability to stop the download, proxy, ...

Using ffmpeg for doing this is definitely an idea that we are investigating as an alternative download method. It will come with its own drawbacks but it will be the user's choice. Using ffprobe at some point is something we'll consider.

And again, using the latest VDH beta on Firefox, i tested successfully on metopera.org that you can download audio and video separately and aggregate them locally afterwards.

Corey Fleming

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Jul 8, 2020, 2:16:30 PM7/8/20
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I read through this thread and I'm a little confused on how to implement it for myself. Could you help me, Wild Willy, understand what your process is get the video to start working? I downloaded VDH beta and have that running too.

It seems like you are using ffprobe to get a manifest, and then somehow downloading the audio and video, and then combining them with ffmpeg? Or is it that you are taking the file that VHD gives you, and running  -codec: copy on it and that simply fixes the problem?

I'm familiar with ffmpeg and have used it for simple transcoding and size changes, but not ffprobe, so I may be a little slow to understand the details.

If it wouldn't be too much trouble, could you share the bash commands you used? I could probably get pretty far with that and it might be worth sharing for posterity in case someone has an issue like this on another site.

Wild Willy

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Jul 8, 2020, 8:40:53 PM7/8/20
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The first thing you have to do is get the master manifest.  The short story of how to do that is open the Network Monitor in Firefox by hitting F12.  The long story of how to do that is in the thread elsewhere here on the subject of (search key) Metropolitan Opera.  Once you have the master manifest, or even just its URL, you can give that to ffprobe.  I have discovered since posting here some weeks ago that ffprobe knows how to interpret a manifest.  So instead of you manually doing ffprobe on all the URLs of the subordinate manifests within a master manifest, just give the whole master manifest to ffprobe & it will do all of that.  From the results of ffprobe, you can decide which of the available streams you want to actually download.  You do the download with ffmpeg.  You say you're familiar with ffmpeg.  That should mean you already have ffprobe since it's packaged with ffmpeg.  Downloading with ffmpeg is more or less like this:

ffmpeg -i URLofManifest Target.mp4

There are some additional parameters I always use with ffmpeg to download the operas & I've detailed all of that in the other thread about the Metropolitan Opera.  As if to emphasize the point, I am running ffmpeg right this very moment to download tonight's free opera from the Met.

As for ffprobe, executing it looks like this:

ffprobe object

The object can be the URL of a master manifest, the URL of a subordinate manifest, the URL of a video online, the file name of a manifest on your system, the file name of a video on your system, a lot of things.  It's pretty simple.  I would suggest capturing the output of ffprobe somehow.  On Windows, I use the standard command > or >> redirection.  I don't know how you do that on Linux but I'm guessing you know.

Bash.  That's a UNIX thing, right?  Sorry, I don't know UNIX.  Or Linux, if you prefer.  I'm using Windows 7 64-bit.  But I don't use any sort of specialized things to execute ffmpeg.  The program ffmpeg.exe is a command itself so all you need to do is execute it.  I've gone to some trouble to create a REXX script to make sure I don't make any typos or forget any parts in the multiple steps required to download an opera.  But that would really be crushing a peanut with a sledge hammer here.  All you need to do is pump the master manifest for your chosen video through ffprobe.  That will tell you which stream is the one you want.  Then select the subordinate manifest from the master manifest & give it to ffmpeg.  End.

Notice that up until this moment, I have not even mentioned VDH.  All this stuff about manifests & ffmpeg & ffprobe is essentially a semi-manual replacement for using VDH.  If VDH would process the format of master manifest available here (and at the opera), you could just use VDH.  But the problem is that VDH doesn't quite understand the master manifest being provided here.  Actually, my suspicion is that the existence of a third component in these This Old House videos is what's tripping VDH up.  This was the gist of my exchange with Michel above.  He thought the third component was captions but I sincerely doubt that.  Whatever it is, it seems to be making VDH gag.  But ffmpeg seems to ignore it, although it doesn't know any more than VDH does what those things are.  It looks like ffmpeg says it doesn't know what it is & just skips it.  VDH appears to say it doesn't know what it is & processes the stream incorrectly.  Go figure.

I hope this gets you down the road to success here.

Ged Clink

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Jul 15, 2020, 6:22:25 AM7/15/20
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Wild Willy. I have little clue as to how to use FFmpeg and ffprobe but just want to thankyou for at least bringing some critical thinking to the problem and hopefully VDH can be updated in the future so it is point and click for luddites like me.  VDH works for me on many sites but this one is where I really need it to work as I travel a lot and have poor access to wireless and fibre for streaming - hence i download to HDD and watch remotely at my leisure.   Still getting the same old sound and first frame video irrespective of the resolution etc but I guess you already had all that figured out :0) I have no idea why the developer(s) of VDH isn't interested in at least pursuing some of your findings in order to make his product bulletproof.  Thanks again

mizan...@gmail.com

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Oct 25, 2020, 7:46:33 PM10/25/20
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Hey guys, looking to see if anyone found a workaround that's more 'plug and play'? It looks like its been a few months so just wanted to check in.

Etienne Noël

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Sep 12, 2021, 10:53:04 AM9/12/21
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Would there be a way for VDH to provide us with a way to select which video in the manifest it should download?

jcv...@gmail.com

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Sep 13, 2021, 1:02:23 AM9/13/21
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Not sure to understand, as far as I know VDH provides all the streams it founds in the manifest in the download list.
jerome
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