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Cineroma demonstrated in public

By Chris Williams. Published: 19th Apr 2005, 16:29:39 | Permalink | Printable

Mysterious media player stays unreleased, for now [Updated]

Video on RISC OS motifCineroma, the fabled video player by David McEwen, was demonstrated in public last night to a London user group. News from the evening is slowly filtering down: According to those present, Cineroma was shown playing a number of media files on an Iyonix, demonstrating support for a dozen or so video file formats - from computer game videos to film trailers. No time scale details were given for the eventual release of the application, however.

The media player has spent the past few years in development, until now seen only by a select team of beta testers. Despite scorn from users frustrated by Dave's insistence on only releasing the software once it is completed, those who have had the honour of testing it usually reveal how remarkable Cineroma is. As a full time games developer, Dave is currently said to be working at EA on a new title for the PSP and so therefore only has a limited amount of free time to spend on developing Cineroma.

Earlier, whilst preparing his presentation, David told us that development of the project had "been slow for various reasons, but is still moving forward". It's believed that Cineroma will ultimately be released freely, quite possibly with an open source licence as hinted to previously. At the meeting last night, David reportedly ruled out the option of charging for Cineroma.

From the audience of 25, Tom Lowe filmed the event on his Canon digital camera, and the resultant AVI file was then played back on David's Iyonix. A list of supported video file formats published at middle of last year, includes formats and codecs such as Real Media, DivX 4 and 5, WMV 7 and 8, and H.263. We'll have to wait patiently for the software to be publicly released before the full, true supported list is known.

Cineroma also makes use of the Nvidia graphics card in the Iyonix to provide hardware scaling to render playback of media at pre-defined resolutions on the screen, with no slow down occurring. Dave also gave his opinion that he would have preferred an ATI card in the Iyonix, as it's easier to get hold of the documentation for these devices. Also, Dave reported that some video software codecs will require a lot more processing power than the Iyonix's 600Mhz XScale processor can provide.

Witnesses say the Cineroma playback window did not appear to have any furniture and ran in single tasking mode. Pre-Iyonix machines are said to playback videos off the deskop in a screenmode matching the currently playing media, again in single tasking mode. The software still supports operations such as rewind and pause, but is understood to not support DRM protected media files.

For those of you feeling left out, the project has stopped accepting new beta-testers and even the current crop doesn't have access to the latest builds of Cineroma. This didn't deter one punter, who went to the effort of dressing smartly for a change, sources allege, in order to sneak some of Dave's hard disc contents onto a handy USB memory stick.

Cineroma is not to be confused with CinoDVD, the somewhat belated DVD player from the Aemulor team - although we've been warned to keep our eyes open at the coming Wakefield show. David also added that the rumoured changes to ADFS were welcome and "about time too".

Attending the presentation, Drobe writer dgs described afterwards the playback of video files by Cineroma: "Some were pretty much perfect, some had problems - especially with sound, which David said is harder to get right than the video. All of this is being worked on."

Tom Lowe said: "David demonstrated codecs that worked well, or not so well, or not at all. Fortunately there are only a small number of the latter category, the vast majority of codecs performing somewhere between very good and just acceptable.

"Following the formal demonstration the floor was opened to a lively questions and answers session. David's efforts are on the continual progression of new codecs, refinements, optimisations, and upgrades to the application. Future work, and there is plenty, will naturally focus on the newer file formats and codecs.

"Overall I felt that the community owes a debt of gratitude to David for his work on this application, it is astounding how much a single developer can accomplish."

Dgs also noted that David brought along three RISC OS games he's worked on: ports of Duke Nukem 3D, Rise of the Triad and, according to Dave, "a very early sneak peek at a port of a friend's Amiga game called Donk the Samurai Duck".

Update at 21:50 19/4/2005
David contacted us this evening to explain that Cineroma "will definitely be open source - ideally LGPL, but probably GPL unless I can negotiate down a couple of licenses."

He added: "DRM not being supported is pretty standard with all unofficial players. There are 'methods' to get iTunes files to work, but I haven't really looked into it. The statement about beta testers not having the latest version is true, however it's because I haven't really got a new solid build that will run across the variety of hardware (Iyonix is fine, but RPC/Omega needs work)."

David also tells us that, contrary to the article's original reporting, he is "very familiar with most of the formats" supported by Cineroma. He also has multitasking playback on his todo list, although it's not a high priority.

"There are plans to handle streaming, but as I said at the meeting I want to ensure the player is solid and reliable before adding it. As if there are problems playing normally streaming will be even worse," he said.


Photos and AVI videos from the evening, taken by Tom Lowe
Tom's video of Cineroma playback and hardware scaling in a KinoAmp friendly format
Tom's video of fullscreen Cineroma playback in a KinoAmp friendly format
Dave McEwen's website Drobe.co.uk writer dgs and Tom Lowe contributed to the reporting in this article. Thanks to Alex Macfarlane-Smith for the MPEG conversion

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Nice to see David! keep up the good work, one more reason to get a better than RISC PC computer!

I know David hasn't stated it yet but.... How long till we see a link ;@)

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 19/4/05 6:32PM
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Great work going on here David, and with a limited amount of time to develop Cineroma is an achievement in itself.

A dozen or so video file formats, I did not realize that there were so many to contend with?

It's certainly going to be be an interesting year for RISC OS users.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 20/4/05 9:12AM
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Did David have any idea when he might be able to release his games?

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 20/4/05 1:13PM
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"Did David have any idea when he might be able to release his games?"

I'm also a coder for a computer games company, so I'd say "don't hold your breath". When a deadline looms you very often have to put the rest of your life on hold for substantial periods of time. The price you pay for free pizza. :)

 is a RISC OS Userkrisa on 20/4/05 3:33PM
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Now Cineroma is a genuinely exciting development. One of our platform's weaknesses, IMHO, is in video playback. Replay is all very well but who actually produces content for it?

I do hope this gets released. Personally, I'd happily pay for it too, especially if that made it more likely to happen. Or a charitable donation on a careware sort of scheme?

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 20/4/05 9:40PM
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Excellent news that this is still in development. There is some very interesting software development happening now - when Firefox and Cineroma are available, RISC OS will suddenly be quite a viable platform for Internet and entertainment. All good stuff.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 20/4/05 11:50PM
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