Video playback

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Home icon grey.png   TriangleArrow-Right.svg Video library
TriangleArrow-Right.svg Settings
TriangleArrow-Right.svg Video playback

The main feature of XBMC is playing back videos. This page describes the controls, features, and settings related to video playback.


1 On screen display (OSD)

OSD.videos.Confluence zoom.png

When playing a video full screen you can bring up the on-screen-display controls by pressing  Enter or M or on remote the OK (or the equivalent button on your remote control).

  1. Previous
  2. Rewind
  3. Play/Pause
  4. Stop
  5. Fast Forward
  6. Next
  7. Scrub bar (touch/clickable)

A. Subtitle downloader (via add-on)
B. Video settings
C. Audio and subtitle settings
D. Bookmarks
E. DVD Menu (if playing back a DVD disc or ISO)

2 Mini player controls

While in the GUI you are able to browse all of XBMC and even look at pictures while playing music or videos. During GUI playback you can call up the Mini player controls at any time. In the default skin Confluence, you can do this two ways:

2.1 Sidebar

Mini player sidebar-video.png

While the sidebar tab is present and while media is playing, bringing up the sidebar/blade menu by navigating to the left will reveal a small selection of player controls.

2.2 Window

Mini player window-video-cropped.png

A pop-up window with mini player controls can be brought up in Confluence while media is playing. For a keyboard press M while video is playing in the background.

3 OSD audio and subtitle settings

Allows you to adjust the playback volume
Volume Amplification (Dynamic Range Compression)
Allows you to adjust how much the audio range is compressed, making the loud and soft sounds closer in volume. This is useful when watching movies with loud sound effects such as explosions at night.
Audio Offset
Adjusts how long that the audio is delayed in relation to the video. This is useful when viewing poorly synced videos.
Audio Stream
If the video file contains more than one audio stream you can select them here.
Output stereo to all speakers
Outputs stereo to all speakers
Audio output
Select output device for the current stream
Enable Subtitles
Enable or disables subtitles. Subtitle tracks with the "forced" flag are unaffected by this and should always display.
Subtitle Offset
Adjusts how long that the subtitles are delayed in relation to the video
Allows you select which subtitles are displayed
  • As of v12, XBMC will auto select subtitle language based on your global settings. Also - Set as default for all Movies is now Set as default for all Videos. See: Settings/Appearance#International.
Browse for Subtitle
Allows you to browse the filesystem for the file used to display the subtitles
Set as default for all videos
Selecting this will make the current settings the default

4 OSD video settings

Deinterlace settings
Auto / On / Off
Deinterlace method
  • Auto Select - Tries to guess the best method.
  • DeInterlace -
  • Sync Odd - (Only for HQ Pixel rendermethod, also NEEDS an interlaced display: PAL* or NTSC*.)
  • Sync Even - (Only for HQ Pixel rendermethod, also NEEDS an interlaced display: PAL* or NTSC*.)
  • None
Video scaling method
Changes the size of a video frame in order to match the resolution of the display device. All methods here are non-adaptive so they may produce different amount of aliasing, blurring and edge halos. There are no best methods it’s up to personal taste what method you should use. The methods are:
  • Auto - If supported uses Lanczos3 Optimized when video resolution is lower than 720p (1280x720) and video FPS is lower than 30, otherwise it uses Bilinear.
  • Bilinear - fairly simple and fast method (video resized with this method may appear slightly smoothed/blurred but with no edge halos also called ringing artifacts).
  • Bicubic - more sophisticated method than Bilinear (more precise and slightly sharper video than Bilinear, but can introduce some ringing artifacts).
  • Lanczos2 - 4-tap filter that uses a 2-lobe Lanczos windowed sinc function (sharper than Bicubic with less aliasing).
  • Spline36 Optimized - 4-tap + 3-lobe filter, more precise than Lanczos2, which tries to produce the sharpest image with slightly less ringing artifacts then Lanczos3 Optimized (differences only noticeable with high resizing factors or when downsizing).
  • Lanczos3 Optimized - 4-tap filter that uses a 3-lobe Lanczos windowed sinc function (comparable results to Spline36 Optimized, with less aliasing and more sharpness, but more ringing artifacts).
  • Spline36, Lanczos31 - 6-tap filters that are more precise variants of above "Optimized" versions (they are sharper but might produce more ringing artifacts in some situations).
Characteristics of different methods:
  • Sharpness - Bilinear < Bicubic < Lanczos2 < Spline36 Optim < Lanczos3 Optim < Spline36 < Lanczos3
  • Aliasing artifacts - Lanczos3 < Spline36 < Lanczos3 Optim < Spline36 Optim < Lanczos2 < Bicubic < Bilinear
  • Ringing artifacts - Bilinear (no ringing) | Bicubic < Lanczos2 < Spline36 Optim < Lanczos3 Optim < Spline36 < Lanczos3
1 On GL builds these methods are slower than the optimized versions; this is the reason why they are not available by default but can be activated by advanced users in advancedsettings.xml
Crop Black Bars
Choosing this will crop any black bars encoded at the top, bottom or sides of your video. This will fix some issues with videos being displayed at the incorrect aspect ratio.
View Mode
Allows you to choose how the video is displayed. The options are:
  • Normal - Movie is displayed so that at least 1 dimension fills the screen. No cropping will occur. Aspect ratio is unaffected.
  • Zoom - Movie is zoomed in, and the movie cropped so that there are no black bars on screen. Aspect ratio is unaffected.
  • Stretch 4x3 - Movie is stretched to fill a 4x3 frame. Aspect ratio is changed.
  • Stretch 14x9 - Movie is stretched to fill a 14x9 frame. Aspect ratio is changed.
  • Stretch 16x9 - Movie is stretched to fill a 16x9 frame. Aspect ratio is changed.
  • Original Size - Movie is displayed so that the height (in pixels) displayed is the height of the movie exactly. No zooming is performed. Aspect ratio is unaffected.
  • Custom - Movie is displayed using the Zoom and Pixel Ratio settings as defined in the video On Screen Display. See below for more details.
Zoom Amount
Allows you to control how much that the view is zoomed into the video.
Vertical shift
Determines the amount a the video is shifted up on vertical axys on current display (helpful for projectors)
Pixel Ratio
Allows you to adjust the pixel ratio that the video is displayed at. This can be used to adjust videos that are not displaying at the proper aspect ratio.
Adjust brightness
Adjust contrast
[VDPAU] Noise reduction (only visible when VDPAU is in use)
Select level of noise reduction for video content
[VDPAU] Sharpness (only visible when VDPAU is in use)
Select sharpness amount to apply to video content
Non-linear stretch
When enabled the stretching method doesn't look so wide in middle of video area ?

Set as default for all videos
Selecting this will make the current settings the default
Video Calibration
Opens the Video Calibration Window

5 Video bookmarks


Video bookmarks allow you to create saved points within your videos in order to be able to return to them. This could be compared to chapters in DVD videos. In order to create them, go to the point in your video that you wish to bookmark, select the button with the folded paper (from the Videos OSD), and select Create Bookmark. To jump to a previously stored bookmark, simply highlight and select it through the Videos OSD.

6 Subtitles

XBMC supports both stand-alone subtitle and embedded subtitles. Most major subtitle formats are supported. XBMC can also search and download subtitles directly from full screen playback.

7 Internet video and audio streams

Various internet video and audio streams can be played back in XBMC as if they were locally stored on your media center by using STRM files. As long as the format and streaming-method (network-protocol) is supported by XBMC, stream can be added. These are basic text files that look like <name>.strm and contain a URL to the internet stream. STRM files can also be added to the video library and can have cover art, summaries, etc.

Some internet sites may have an add-on available that can also access these media streams, rather than having to manually create STRM files. See Add-ons for more information on how to find and install add-ons.

8 Playlists

  • Basic playlists - XBMC supports both basic playlists and smart playlists. A basic playlist is a normal text file that lists one or more media files (Audio or Video), and plays them in succession. You can either create your own or use existing playlists from other sources, such as a playlist generated from Winamp, iTunes, or other sources. Basic playlists can be created and edited directly from XBMC's GUI.
  • Smart playlists - XBMC supports smart playlists for all types of media (excluding pictures), which essentially use a set of rules to limit the results from the databases. This means that to be able to create a smart playlist in the GUI, music/video must first be added to the libraries using a scraper addon or by creating NFO files. Smart playlist can be created either by using the built-in GUI smart playlist editor accessible from the Playlists section, or by creating an XML file with the extension XSP (XBMC Smart Playlist).

9 UPnP

XBMC has several built-in UPnP A/V (Universal Plug and Play Audio Visual) features, including the ability to receive UPnP and DLNA content pushed to XBMC, browse UPnP and DLNA media sources, sharing an XBMC library with other UPnP and DLNA devices, and even controlling UPnP and DLNA devices. UPnP is also the easiest way to share a library from one XBMC device to another.

10 AirPlay

As of v11 (Eden), XBMC supports being an AirPlay target, allowing any device/platform that can run XBMC to receive AirPlay content from an iOS or iTunes source (as well as other 3rd party AirPlay sources for desktops and even Android).

11 On-Screen Video Diagnostics

Video playback with Codec Info enabled

On Screen Video Diagnostics, or Codec Info, can be displayed when a video is playing by pressing O, or the corresponding control on your remote.

A detailed explanation of the displayed values can be found on the Codecinfo page.

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