Multimedia Exploration Journal: January 5, 2003

I realized that I had been collecting a bunch of CD-ROMs over the years and that many of them probably contain multimedia of one sort or another. Let's look through some random discs.

Mechwarrior II (MobyGames entry)

This is a version of Mechwarrior II bundled with an ATI All-in-Wonder video card. There are some stray AVI and WAV files. But the game primarily uses Smacker files. There are 140 total .smk files on the CD-ROM and they range in size anywhere from 3 kilobytes to 11 megabytes.

Even more interesting than the data files is the presence of a file called smackw32.dll, ostensibly a Win32 DLL that decodes Smacker files. These are the functions that it exports to the outside world:

Folloup: For a more detailed discussion of some of the more interesting Smacker functions listed below, read Multimedia APIs in the Other Multimedia Topics section.

Number of Exported Functions =   33 (decimal)

Addr:00401940 Ord:   1 (0001h) Name: _SmackBufferBlit
Addr:00401570 Ord:   2 (0002h) Name: _SmackBufferClear
Addr:00401644 Ord:   3 (0003h) Name: _SmackBufferClose
Addr:00401030 Ord:   4 (0004h) Name: _SmackBufferCopyPalette
Addr:00401100 Ord:   5 (0005h) Name: _SmackBufferFromScreen
Addr:00406380 Ord:   6 (0006h) Name: _donemarker@20
Addr:00401700 Ord:   7 (0007h) Name: _SmackBufferNewPalette
Addr:00401CD8 Ord:   8 (0008h) Name: _SmackBufferOpen
Addr:00401900 Ord:   9 (0009h) Name: _SmackBufferFocused
Addr:004015B0 Ord:  10 (000Ah) Name: _SmackBufferSetPalette
Addr:00402640 Ord:  11 (000Bh) Name: _SmackBufferString
Addr:00401480 Ord:  12 (000Ch) Name: _SmackBufferToBuffer
Addr:00401390 Ord:  13 (000Dh) Name: _SmackBufferToBufferTrans
Addr:00403F20 Ord:  14 (000Eh) Name: _SmackClose
Addr:00402F3C Ord:  15 (000Fh) Name: _SmackColorRemap
Addr:00403180 Ord:  16 (0010h) Name: _SmackColorTrans
Addr:00403B40 Ord:  17 (0011h) Name: _SmackDoFrame
Addr:00404050 Ord:  18 (0012h) Name: _SmackFrameRate
Addr:00402E10 Ord:  19 (0013h) Name: _SmackGetTrackData
Addr:00402DE0 Ord:  20 (0014h) Name: _SmackGoto
Addr:004038C0 Ord:  21 (0015h) Name: _SmackNextFrame
Addr:004042F0 Ord:  22 (0016h) Name: _SmackOpen
Addr:004042E0 Ord:  23 (0017h) Name: _SmackSimulate
Addr:00402A60 Ord:  24 (0018h) Name: _SmackSoundCheck
Addr:00402B40 Ord:  25 (0019h) Name: _SmackSoundInTrack
Addr:004040E0 Ord:  26 (001Ah) Name: _SmackSoundOnOff
Addr:00403960 Ord:  27 (001Bh) Name: _SmackSummary
Addr:004031A0 Ord:  28 (001Ch) Name: _SmackToBuffer
Addr:00402BB0 Ord:  29 (001Dh) Name: _SmackToBufferRect
Addr:00403340 Ord:  30 (001Eh) Name: _SmackToScreen
Addr:00402A80 Ord:  31 (001Fh) Name: _SmackVolume
Addr:00402960 Ord:  32 (0020h) Name: _SmackWait
Addr:00406180 Ord:  33 (0021h) Name: _TimerFunc@20

[Link: Smacker samples]

ATI Installation CD

This is the installation & extras CD-ROM that came packaged with an ATI All-in-Wonder video card in 1998. There are 17 MPEG videos on the disc that are rather high quality (or maybe they just seem that way because of all the painfully bad multimedia I look at on these old discs).

The videos were meant to showcase the MPEG capabilities of the ATI card. The videos include several clips of ATI products showcased on PCTV, some short 3D animation-type films, some Canadian tourism videos featuring British Columbia, Toronto, Ontario, and a Canadian theme park (ATI is a Canadian company), and some pretty aerospace videos from Betacorp (domain no longer held by any entity named Betacorp).

Far and away, the most entertaining pieces on this CD are the trailers for some games by a company named Tsunami media.

Final Fantasy VII/PC (MobyGames entry)

I received this at a Christmas party many years ago but never really played it since it worked so poorly on my video card. For FMV, the PC version of FF7 uses AVI files encoded with PCM for audio and a custom version of the Duck TrueMotion v2.0 video codec that is not bitstream-compatible with the TrueMotion v2 Win32 codec that seems to ship with many Windows installations.

[Link: Duck Truemotion v2 sample files from Final Fantasy VII for the PC]

Disney's Hercules Action Game (MobyGames entry)

Disney comes through with another FMV-packed video game. This one has 23 large files bearing the extension ".etv". The first 12 bytes of each file are:
  00000000   45 54 56 0A  40 01 00 00  F0 00 00 00 
That looks like a file signature ("ETV\x0a") and 320x240 encoded as little-endian 32-bit numbers.

What file format and video codec could it be? My best guess (and this is just a guess) is that this comes from eTreppid.

[Link: ETV sample files]

Wetlands Demo CD (MobyGames entry)

This is a demo CD for a game called Wetlands published by Hypnotix in 1995. Smacker files all the way. 82 of them, in fact, and this is just the demo.

[Link: Smacker samples]

Super Street Fighter II (MobyGames entry) & Mega Man X (MobyGames entry)

Capcom licensed at least 2 of their big console/arcade games to be published on the PC. I picked these up cheap circa early 1997 in a toy store.

Each game is a very faithful reproduction on the original game. Each game also has a large (in file size, ~25 MB) FLI file flaunting a Capcom logo animation. The FLI file is a regular 320x200 AF11-type FLI animation that lasts for 30 seconds and is the most photo-realistic FLI file I have seen (which is clearly not what the format is designed for).

[Link: FLI/FLC sample files]

The Mega Man X disc also contains a demo for a game called Tang Chi. The tangdemo/ directory contains 6 AVI files encoded with Cinepak but with no audio. Instead, the files appear to have corresponding MIDI files.

Internet Explorer 4.0

An old installation disc for IE4. Came bundled with another program at the start of 1998. 2 AVI files (MS Video-1 and Cinepak with PCM). Lots of WAV files for their various partner sites at the time.

Sound Blaster Awe64 Software Installation Discs

Lots of CD-quality PCM WAV files for showcasing Sound Blaster audio quality. A good number of files with annoying people giggling, clearing their throats, and saying, "bogus". But then the irritation is broken by a series of pretty sound clips with different musical instruments and arrangements.

Software That Doesn't Suck

This is the name of the CD-ROM that accompanied the book that is adapted from the web design advice site Web Pages That Suck. The CD-ROM contains 2 multimedia files which, ironically, are 2 of the most poignant multimedia files I have ever been exposed to. These files have the authors patiently explaining to the listener that there is absolutely no reason to put sound files on a website unless it is some kind of music/multimedia site.

Boeing CD-ROM

I interviewed with Boeing a long time ago. They gave all interviewees a CD-ROM with a bunch of multimedia about the company. I just noticed that the disc has the CD-i (CD Interactive) logo.

I have examined this disc before. It has a number of large QT files encoded Cinepak and PCM. The QT videos showcase the Boeing's assorted aircraft. There are also tourism videos for several locales where major Boeing offices are located.

The disc also includes several very large files with the extension .dxr. These files carry text indicating they were created by Macromedia tools. Each file comes as part of a pair: 1 file with '16' in the filename, the other with '8' in the filename. This indicates to me that they must be 8- and 16-bit versions of the same files.

At any rate, I don't think this is an official CD-i disc.

Microsoft Windows 95 Installation

People will always remember Weezer for their music video on the MS Windows 95 installation CD-ROM. Their "Buddy Holly" video was one of several Cinepak/PCM multimedia samples available. These samples included music videos and movie trailers, as well as some animated shorts extolling the wonders of Microsoft's revolutionary operating system. Many of these samples came in "regular" and "high performance" varieties. The regular type was encoded with 8-bit, mono, 11025 Hz PCM while the highperf videos were encoded with 16-bit, stereo, 22050 Hz PCM. Same video resolution and compression for both video types. These files were clearly designed as they were in order to take prevalent CD-ROM transfer speeds into account.

There are lots more WAV and AVI files on the disc, but nothing unusual, at least not in terms of multimedia encoding. In terms of content, well...that's another story.

Microsoft Money 98 Installation

You wouldn't expect an installation CD-ROM for a personal financial management software program to come packed with multimedia. But every piece of software that Microsoft ships out has to be bundled with offers for other services such as MSN.

The MSN preview has a bunch of cloying actors as MSN hosts explaining the personal advantages of the service and how MSN has enriched their lives. There is even one host that puts Ellen Feiss to shame.

There are also some other brief game demos that I already saw on the Microsoft Interactive CD Sampler. Finally, the CD also has AVI tours of using MS Money 98. AVI files encoded with MS RLE and PCM. These are the largest MS RLE files I have seen yet.

MGI PhotoSuite/VideoWave Demo CD

Sample PhotoSuite/VideoWave CD that came with an ATI video card (circa 1998). A handful of promotional AVI files encoded with Indeo 3 and PCM. Very well-produced and pleasing to watch. This is a relief to see since this is for a video production software package.

Macromedia Director Demo CD

Another sample CD that came with an ATI video card. Contains a smattering of AVI, WAV, QT, and AIFF files. None are particularly high quality. But then, the copyright date on the disc is only 1994. Video codecs are a mish-mash of all the earliest including MS Video-1, RLE, and QT RPZA.

Understanding Earth 2.0

This is a supplemental CD for a geology textbook for a class I took in 1997. The CD proudly states that it uses Quicktime VR and was created with Macromedia. The CD contains-- and this is definitely a record-- 1934 Quicktime files. What a good stress test for an aspiring QT player.

Most of the files have no audio. They are predominantly 320x240 Cinepak files but there are also quite a few Motion-JPEG and 16bpp QT RLE files thrown in, mostly when a still image is needed.

by Mike Melanson (mike at

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