Google Video is a free video sharing and video search engine service from Google that allows anyone to upload video clips to Google’s web servers as well as make their own media available free of charge; some videos are also offered for sale through the Google Video Store. Users can search and play these uploaded videos directly from the Google Video website, as well as download video files and remotely embed them on their web pages.
Uploaded videos were saved as a .gvi files under the “Google Videos” folder in “My Videos” and reports of the video(s) details are logged and stored in the user account. The report sorts and lists the number of times that each of the users videos have been viewed and downloaded within a specific time frame. These range from the previous day, week, month or the entire time that the videos have been there for. Totals are calculated and displayed and the information can be downloaded into a spreadsheet format or printed out.
Formats and Conversion
Google Video Files (.gvi), and latterly its .avi files, are modified Audio Video Interleave (.avi) files that have an extra list containing the FourCC “goog” immediately following the header. The list can be removed with a hex editor to avoid playback issues with various video players. The video is encoded in DivX4 alongside an MP3 audio stream.
DivX video players can render .gvi Google Video Files without format conversion (after changing the extension from .gvi to .avi, although this method of just renaming the file extension does not work with videos purchased with DRM to inhibit unauthorized copying). Among other software VirtualDub is able to read .gvi files and allows the user to convert them into different formats of choice. There are also privately developed software solutions, such as GVideo Fix, that can convert them to .avi format without recompression. MEncoder with “-oac copy -ovc copy” as parameters also suffices.
AVI and MP4
Besides GVI and Flash Video, Google provides its content through downloadable Audio Video Interleave (.avi) and MPEG-4 (.mp4) video files. Not all formats are available through the website’s interface, however, depending on the user’s operating system.
Where available, Google’s “save as” function for Windows/Mac will produce an .avi file, while the “save as” function for iPod and PSP will produce an .mp4 file.
The .avi file is not in standard .avi format. To play the file in a popular media player such as Winamp or Windows Media Player, the file must first be modified using a hex editor (for example the XVI32.exe editor) to delete the first LIST block in the file header, which starts at byte 12 (000C hex, first byte in file is byte 0) and ends at byte 63 (003F hex). Optionally, the file length (in bytes 4 to 7, little endian) should then be amended by subtracting 52 (3F hex – 0C hex = 33 hex).
Winamp and Windows Media Player cannot play the unmodified .avi file because the non-standard file header corrupts the file. However, Media Player Classic, MPlayer and the VLC Media Player will play the unmodified .avi file, and the Google .mp4 file. Media Player Classic only if an MPEG4 DirectShow Filter such as ffdshow is installed. Most Linux media players Xine, Totem, the Linux version of the VLC Media Player and Kaffiene have no problems with Google’s .avi.
An .mp4 file will play in Winamp if an MPEG4/H.264 DirectShow Filter such as ffdshow and an MP4 Splitter such as Haali are installed, and the extension ;MP4 is added to the Extension List in the Winamp DirectShow decoder configuration.