As promised for the 10 years anniversary of GPL of VideoLAN, here is an IAmA.

Reddit has always showed strong support for our work, this is a small give-back :D

I am personally one of the main VLC developer, and the president of the VideoLAN non-profit organization. AMA.

Verification is on

PS: I've been lurking around here occasionally, but this is a new account.

PPS: VLC is not my job, I am a volunteer.

Edit: since the beginning of this IAmA, Redditors donated around $870 and 110€. Thanks!

Comments: 2432 • Responses: 61  • Date: 

omdoks584 karma

Since jbkempf is too classy to mention it,

VLC accepts donations of time, materials, and money.

jbkempf242 karma

Yes, and those are most welcome!

Reddit gave quite a bit of money for our 10 years... I counted around 1100$ coming from people of Reddit.

Eustis141 karma

Only $1100? I'm sure you can expect more after this AMA.

jbkempf193 karma

$1100 is really great to buy hardware!

vonwaldeck141 karma

i am excited that you are excited for $1100

jbkempf26 karma

now, that is weird :D

lrdx66 karma

You have developed one of the best applications out there and I absolutely love it! I'm sorry to say that I've never donated anything to any software developer but for VLC I just had to.

It's not much but 40€ was something I could spare, cheers!

jbkempf28 karma

Thanks a lot!

WombatLover519 karma

OK, I'll ask it. So, if I'm watching a movie and it crashes, if I send the bug report, is it going to tell you that the filename was girls_with_dicks_gone_wild_7.avi?

jbkempf387 karma


reconchrist411 karma

Android App - WHEN?!?!?!?!

Ninja Edit: (Respectful tone)

jbkempf791 karma

Beta is a matter of weeks/days...

msingerman29 karma

It was my understanding that the reasons that it was pulled from the App Store - the DRM wrapped around it made it incompatible with with VLC license - applied to the Android Market as well. Is this not the case? Or will it just be available as a side-loading app?

jbkempf111 karma

Android Market is OK for VLC.

itiLuc317 karma

Do you guys know that your software plays a major part in the worlds largest school of audio engineering (SAE)? it used in almost every lecture.

jbkempf248 karma

I wish I was on Facebook so I could 'like' :D

Since you speak about Audio, VLC 1.2 should behave better with audio playback.

TheBoff197 karma

"Like"? This is reddit... We have upvotes here :P

jbkempf178 karma

no kidding? :D

undstudent307 karma

Since no one has asked, what's up with the font cache message?

Also, I just want to say thank you guys for making such a great product. And for those of you who don't know, VLC can also capture, convert, and stream media.

jbkempf282 karma

This is not the best part of VLC, and thus this deserves a correct answer.

A lot of subtitles are now using crazy fonts and crazy fonts effects. To do that, you need to have a list of all the fonts in the system, to be able to show the subtitles in the best way.

Unfortunately, we use fontconfig for this list, because it is the simplest solution (cross-platform, compatible license) but it is very buggy:

  • can be stuck,

  • quite slow to create the list,

  • recreates the cache entirely as soon as you add one font!

  • doesn't save correctly the cache in some systems, which makes the cache to re-run and re-run again...

I'll try to find a solution, but I haven't got enough time for this, yet. I really wish VLC was my full-time job

obsa99 karma

what is the best part of VLC, then? ;)

jbkempf588 karma

porn playback?

WizKidSWE55 karma

Wouldn't it be possible to use code or ideas from Firefox? I know they have spent a lot of time to make font load quickly and display correctly.

jbkempf155 karma

Everything is possible... The problem is time!

ultrafez26 karma

A quick solution could be to offer the user a choice whether they would like to update the font cache now or later, before actually running the update. It would make it far less annoying in the meantime.

jbkempf34 karma

Unfortunately, we cannot do that...

[deleted]295 karma

I was absolutely stunned when I learned you could just drag a .zip of an uncomplete multipart video and it just started playing whatever was in there. I would have NEVER have guessed that myself.

I also use the "always stay in foreground" option a lot, for when I do work in Photoshop but also want to have a little window in the lower corner with The Office UK or King Of The Hill playing.

I love how absolutely barebones it looks while being one of the most impressive pieces of software out there.

jbkempf293 karma

You can do that with .rar too :D

GodComplex246 karma

Holy shit, you can open a youtube URL and it will play the video for you!

jbkempf35 karma

Oh, yeah, but this is usually quite know!

cerberus047240 karma

this may sound dumb but how do you guys do it? other media players you need tons of codecs and special lisenses for playing certain formats.. hell lots of linux distros won't play mp3s out of the box... how do you guys cram everything in there in such a small package... and what do you differently vs like a windows media player?

jbkempf630 karma

Well, nowadays, playing everything technically isn't that hard.

Codecs Licenses are more complex, but we just ignore them, because the main servers are based in a sane country where software patents are not valid.

VLC could be made way smaller too and still work. I'll try to work on that.

We do a lot differently than WMP, because we control all the steps in the decoding.

[deleted]576 karma

+1 to ignoring software patents. Fuck that shit.

jbkempf451 karma

Sure, but if there is an issue, it is my ass in courts/jail :D

douglasac10207 karma

I must say upfront that your media player could quite possibly be one of the best out there, if not the best.

In any case, my question: did you think that, when the project was started all those years ago, that VLC would be as popular and huge as it is today?

jbkempf151 karma

First, the project is older than you think (1998 in the current form) and I wasn't there.

But I can say for sure that the project wasn't meant to be a normal player, and noone even thought that it would become popular.

ex_ample61 karma

What was it supposed to be?

jbkempf114 karma

The streaming client for a client/server video streaming architecture.

btxtsf32 karma

maybe off track, but do you know how to stream audio so it's in sync at the client's end? i.e. have it playing from multiple computers in different rooms and they are all in sync

jbkempf70 karma

Use multicast or use vlc's netsync capabilities.

zerd13 karma

Wouldn't multicast make it so "automatically"?

jbkempf16 karma

yes, it would

pragmatick51 karma

Without looking it up, if I remember it correctly it was exactly what the name says: A video streaming client for a local LAN, at a french or belgian university network.

jbkempf38 karma

You cannot be more right!

anonymous_coward28 karma

Haha, JB was a child when vlc development started ;) But noone could have thought back in 2000 that it would become so huge.

jbkempf62 karma

lol, I was 15, indeed :D

WhiteWidow182 karma

How do you guys make money?

jbkempf484 karma

We don't. We work at nights and week end, like volunteers.

pozhaluista122 karma

On behalf of impatient porn fans the world over, I would just like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you I would not be able to watch my partially downloaded adult torrents and would still be installing tons of super sketchy codecs just so I can see The Farmer's Daughters on my laptop.

pozhaluista20 karma

Tell the truth now, was this whole thing started just so gibalou could watch porn?!

jbkempf65 karma

Not watch, but stream porn on the campus!

andrewfahmy118 karma

Is there something your player can't play?

jbkempf178 karma

A lot, let's try a short list:

Codecs: Some VC-1, G2M3, some Indeo, MSS*, some WMV, H264/MVC Formats: BWF, STL, MXF extensions, HD-DVD, Blu-Rays

And 3D files :D

Nicknin10do115 karma

Is it possible that it will EVER get Blu-ray support?

jbkempf262 karma

You will be surprised :D

flutesmurf136 karma

Positively or negatively?

jbkempf265 karma


[deleted]99 karma

What is the meaning behind the traffic cone icon?

jbkempf150 karma

Do you really want a meaning? :D

The actual truth is I don't know everything, because the oldies don't agree...

Here is what I know:

VideoLAN and VLC (not the same things) were created in the École Centrale Paris, by students and for students, on the campus. The campus network was managed by the VIA community and at some point, the VideoLAN people started a collection of cones.

The collection grew up to dozens of traffic cones (if not more). With this collection, they played a lot (sometimes drunk too) and this involved coneball, cone fights, cone design, waking up other people with cones, etc...

It became an emblem and stayed.

The actual reason why the collection was started is more fuzzy, I have heard 3 reasons, but I am not sure any of them is the true one :D

alphager55 karma

WHat's the difference between VLC and VideoLAN?

jbkempf153 karma

The same as Mozilla and Firefox or Microsoft and Windows

hpliferaft24 karma

I would like to learn more of this coneball game, sir.

jbkempf35 karma

You want videos?

silly_bear92 karma

I really like this player, but what buggs the hell out of me is the sound stuttering when you hit the pause button... is there a chance this gets fixed in near future?

jbkempf224 karma

Change audio output module to Waveout. Restart VLC.

CeeJayDK87 karma

I made you this tribute for your 10 year birthday.

jbkempf53 karma

I love it!

CeeJayDK32 karma

              Reddit loves VLC
     __/_                             .o.
  .-'     '-.                        d888b
 :   ()  ()  :                      /     \
  .   .__,  .      .-. .-.         d8888888b
   `. _ _.:'      (   `   )       d888888888b
   :|     |:       `.   .'       /           \
   `:     ;'         `.'     .::d8888888888888b::.
   ,.\   /..                 ::d888888888888888b::
   `-------'                 ::::::::::::::::::::'

jbkempf13 karma

    VLC loves Reddit

dippyeggs4breakfast84 karma

The December Xmas hat Easter egg is defiantly one of my favourite VLC features! What made you decided to add it to the player?

jbkempf134 karma

The reason was just a joke during the development of the Qt interface of VLC, intended only for developers and early testers...

We kind of forgot about it in the releases and when people came to scream about this "bug", we understood we didn't remove it :D Duh! :facepalm:

Since some people became very aggressive and ridiculous on this feature, we kept it.

Solleret83 karma

I want to give VLC a blowjob every time I have to open a video file: so nice, so non-intrusive.

I fucking love you guys for what you do and you are so awesome.

I guess my only question is what sort of thought went into UX dev and "product experience" — because you're right there with Handbrake on "does what I want, doesn't fuck about."

I think old school Basecamp and the whole 37 Signals Paradigm, but I think OS X users were getting it already with you guys and Handbrake.

This is something that's probably left field or out of the question for you, but I DO think there's a parallel between making software that just does what it does versus bloatware / quicktime.

jbkempf52 karma

As said, VLC on OSX lacks significant development, but we are trying to find help.

The UX might evolve a bit and become clearer/simpler to use, yet still powerful.

xceph67 karma

Why is it that I cant decode 1080p with any real motion worth a damn in VLC?

I used VLC for years and loved it, and I'm very saddened that I had to move to MPC-HC to suppport my recent switch to 1080p. For example, I test with the popular "Killa Sampla.mkv" aka the crazy bird scene from Planet Earth, available here!. In MPC-HC I drop 0 frames and play flawlessly, in VLC it starts green and just stutters. I use DXVA GPU accel in MPC-HC, and have "Enable GPU Accel" ticked in VLC.

All in all I love VLC, and am patiently waiting until the day that it can return to my primary video player.

jbkempf42 karma

What is your OS?

gemidjy52 karma

what does VLC do specific so that the media played in it can get higher sound volume boost? I suppose not voodoo magic, but the question is more like, why other players are not as loud as VLC when it comes to watching video?

jbkempf104 karma

Because we allow users to increase the volume up to +6dB and then saturate the sound.

We don't believe our users are stupids, so we let them get the control.

bejurne51 karma

Thanks for not assuming that we are stupid :D

jbkempf72 karma

Well, you are on Reddit :D

iamweasel102252 karma

Are there any plans to add a feature where the player remembers the playback position of the movie when you start it up again?

jbkempf92 karma

VLC needs a database for that, and VLC will get one for 1.2... Then it will be doable.

cibyr51 karma

What's the deal with subtitles?

That is: why are they so ugly in VLC, and can it be fixed?

jbkempf81 karma

Subtitles is a nasty business.

They are ugly in VLC because we blend the subtitles into the video before scaling for performance reasons. So they look ok on a HD movie, but suck on SD, played in fullscreen.

To do that, you need to change VLC's video output core and make the GPU blend the subtitles after scaling...

This is a daunting task, but we've been working on that since quite a while and it should appear soon.

cibyr59 karma

Do you think there could be a "fuck it, I have a fast CPU" option until you get that complicated stuff sorted out?

jbkempf169 karma

We can do better.

Tarn29 karma

Any chance of offering secondary subtitles? As a language teacher, it would be a real boon if the students could see both their native language and the target language.

jbkempf38 karma

Not soon, sorry... But if some has time, please do!

xantes45 karma

Not a single mention of ffmpeg/libav.


jbkempf61 karma

This internal fight in FFmpeg is quite sad...

juzza33 karma


jbkempf56 karma

Yes, it should come in 1.2.0

scuzzman36 karma

I love how (almost) every feature request in here is replied to with "yes, it's coming in v1.2.0"

Dude, you guys are awesome

jbkempf42 karma

We try to do our best for you.

DesCo8329 karma

I know that most geeks tend to use VLC as their go to media player, but what percentage of your user base do you think takes advantage of the full feature set of VLC? I work in the cable industry, so we use VLC for everything from testing mulitcast streams, to encoding video to streaming out to test newly installed equipment. I remember ~4 years ago at my old job we got a 40K Trevini analyzer, but no one actually knew how to use it. So I just installed VLC and Ethereal (now wireshark) on it, and that's all we ever used.

jbkempf42 karma

I believe around 0.01% of user use more than 5% of the features of VLC.

pozhaluista28 karma

I use vlc for everything visual, but somehow I was surprised the other day when I accidentally opened some music. Obviously it plays music, but I still can't give up winamp (which is garbage, I know.. old habits).

What steps are you taking to make VLC more music friendly? Perhaps some nice HD visualizations? Something good and trippy?

jbkempf50 karma

New things for music, scheduled 1.2:

  • media database
  • do not cut end and beginning of audio files like in 1.0 and 1.1 (can be up to 0.8s now)
  • full scriptable visualisation
  • better audio filters

bejurne53 karma

Please don't make the media library a performance hog for people who don't want to use it. It sucks that so many players out there have gone that route. Make it optional or even a plugin.

Also any chance on using ProjectM for the visualisation?

jbkempf40 karma

ProjectM is in since VLC 1.1.7

The database is optional!

72APTU72E25 karma

The only reason I keep Winamp is the MilkDrop Visualizer.

Edit: Missed a word I guess...

jbkempf51 karma

VLC can use .milk now.

waldito27 karma

Your software made me forget the hazzard of downloading codec packs for opening <that> file that woudn't play. ever. I do not even want to know what coded is being used, needed or intalled.

I know other players like MPclassic do the same thing nowadays. but oh, joy when I found out.

Thank you. I was even more amazed when I accidentally found out you guys play CDG files (Karaoke), no plugins required.

jbkempf28 karma

We have things even more crazy than CDG in vlc :D

omdoks24 karma

What do you guys think of fairmount?

It's an elegant solution, although I have always wondered if you approved of the product.

jbkempf42 karma

Well, first, I had never heard about it.

Then, it seems to be open source, why would we object in any way?

omdoks18 karma

Just that it uses VLC to do all it's heavy lifting. Also their for pay product uses it to rip dvds.

jbkempf57 karma

The source code of Fairmount seems to be distributed with the DVDRemaster package.

I have no objections

pozhaluista21 karma

What is the favored, and most succinct analogy you have ever heard in reference to VLC player?

I myself like to compare it to "a tank" because nothing seems to get in its way.

jbkempf65 karma

The most common analogy is the swiss knife, but I don't really like it.

I prefer to think about it as a Skeleton key able to open everything.

dantk17 karma

What development tools do you use? Do you have a favorite text editor?

jbkempf58 karma

Tools: gcc, gdb and valgrind

Editor: vim

tot2216 karma

I've always wondered, do you guys compare yourselves to other free/ powerful media players like Media Player Classic? Is there any competition there, have you worked with those guys, etc?

jbkempf44 karma

First, we don't really have time to do a lot of comparisons, but we try to see what other player are doing.

MPC is great but even more geeky than VLC. And it isn't even cross-platform, which is a shame.

There is a lot of competition out there, and it isn't easy to fight, when you are only volunteers and when you don't want to accept spyware/scam/adware in your player.

DTanner16 karma

Why doesn't VLC support GPU x264/h264 video decoding? When I grabbed a Radeon HD for my media center PC (based on a slow old processor I had) I had to install Media Player Classic, even though I would have prefered VLC.

jbkempf34 karma

VLC does support GPU decoding for H264 on Windows Vista/7 and Linux.

Eustis9 karma

Are there any plans to integrate batch options for a folder of mkv files? I uh happened upon an anime from my childhood in MKV format, with several subtitle/audio options. It defaults to English Subs, and the alternate English audio track with different background music and some changed voiceovers, wrecking the nostalgia.

Each time a new file starts I have to turn off the subs and change the audio. Is there a way planned that VLC will be able to detect and present audio/visual options from a playlist?

jbkempf13 karma

You can do that in preferences.

Set the subtitles language to "none".

yorian9 karma

What is the one feature you think VLC needs most? What upcoming things are you most excited about? (could be other VideoLAN projects)

jbkempf22 karma

  • Media library
  • Blu-Ray
  • Better subtitles

walrod15 karma

First, thanks for you work Jean-Baptiste. VLC is I think the only piece of software common to all my computers (with emacs and chromium)

I guess it's in the plans or has been thought about, but I'd like to ask if it would be possible to move subtitles off-picture in case of black bands in full-screen mode? e.g. 16:9th film on a 4:3 screen:

|          |
|   film   |
|   subs   |

Maybe I just missed an already existing option?

If not, please consider.

Merci encore et bon courage pour tout :)

edit: formatting

jbkempf12 karma

Yes, this will come for 1.2 or 1.3