Loans Library Media

VHS videotapes

The library includes a number of videotapes, in both PAL and NTSC formats. PAL is the UK standard for video, and so any VCR/TV sold over here should be able to cope. NTSC is the American/Japanese standard, and may not work on some VCRs solve over here. If your VCR is described as "multistandard" or "NTSC capable", then should be fine with these.

If you can play the tape but the picture on the TV rolls, try adjusting your TV's vertical hold control.

When you've finished with our videotapes, make sure you rewind them. Also, don't leave them in the VCR - if you accidentally record over any of our anime, you will be responsible for replacing it!

Discs (DVDs, DVD-ROMs, CD-ROMs)

While there is no danger of wiping a CD or DVD, a few points should be noted when handling and taking care of them:

  • Hold DVDs and CDs by the edge; never touch the data side.
  • Keep them in their cases when not in use.
  • If a DVD or CD is scratched, dirty or has problems playing then let us know as soon as possible. Do not attempt to clean it unless you are sure you know what you are doing, as you may end up scratching it more.

DVDs

To play DVDs, you'll need either a standalone DVD player, a games console that plays DVDs or a computer with a DVD drive and appropriate software.

Most DVDs are region-encoded (designed to only be playable in particular parts of the world). The UK, Europe and Japan are in Region 2, whereas the US is in Region 1. If your DVD player only allows you to play Region 2 DVDs then you won't be able to watch items that are Region 1. Other regions exist, but everything in the library is either Region 1 or Region 2

Many region-locked DVD players can be modified to support multiple regions, which is handy if you want to be able to buy and watch anime from the US. Note that attempting to modify your hardware in any way to achieve this can permanently damage it, and as such we accept no responsibility if you attempt this.. Software such as 'DVD Region-Free' exists to allow you to watch any DVD with a region-locked PC DVD drive, without any modification. Such software is rarely free, however.

VideoCDs

VideoCDs are CDs containing MPEG video. SVCDs (Super VideoCDs) support higher-quality MPEG2 video. Some standalone DVD players can play VideoCDs, as can (even fairly-old) computers with appropriate software. If you do not have appropriate software on your PC, try looking for very large files on the CD (which may end .dat) and dragging and dropping them into a media player.

CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs

With the availability of affordable DVD writers, we may begin to see media which is stored on DVD-ROMs. These are similar to CD-ROMs and will not work in most DVD players. The media is stored on them in a similar manner to CD-ROMs and hard disks, and as such you will need a computer to access them.

Files on our CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs are in a variety of formats. Most of the files are videos, though some discs contain music or images.

avi By far the most common format any of our media is in, this is a container format. This means that it may contain both video and sound in any number of other formats, including the likes of DivX, XviD, Windows Media and so on.

If you open this file and get an error about a missing codec, then your computer is not set up to play the format within the AVI file. Take a look at the software and codecs section below to find the codec you need.

asf This is another container format, similar to AVI, created by Microsoft. These are less common than they were a few years ago, but still has a presence in the library. Non-Windows users may have problems playing these files.
ogm Ogg Vorbis media is another container format, similar to AVI except that it can also contain text for subtitling separate from the video and audio. This allows multiple languages to be included in the same file. If you play an ogm file and don't see the subtitles, then you probably don't have the appropriate software installed. If you can't play it at all, take a look at the software and codecs section below.
mkv Matroska yet another container format, which can include both plain text and formatted subtitles.
sub
srt
idx
smil
ssa
These are subtitling files, which go along with a video file to provide subtitles. They can often be packaged up into a container format such as ogm, though are often seen separately. If you play a video that has separate subtitles, and you don't see the subtitles, then you will need to install additional software (see below).
wmv Microsoft's Windows Media Video format. Windows Media Player handles this format best by far, though other players are beginning to support it.
mpg MPEG video is a standard video format, offering sub-VHS quality results similar to that of a video CD.
qt
mov
QuickTime video is Apple's proprietary format, most commonly recognised for its use in distributing film trailers over the Internet. Not a lot of our library is in QuickTime format, but you will need the QuickTime player for more.
rm
ra
RealMedia files are Real Networks' proprietary formats. rm files can contain video and audio, whereas ra files tend to just be audio. The quality of these files tends to be quite low, but on the flipside they do tend to be very small files and don't require a very powerful machine for playback. RealPlayer or RealOne Player is needed to play these files. We don't have much in the library in the way of RealMedia files.
mp3 Purely for audio, mp3 is the popular music format that allows better-than-CD quality music tracks to be stored in a just a few megabytes. Some items in the library include a number of mp3 tracks. These days, most modern media players can handle mp3 files.
wma Microsoft's Windows Media Audio format. Windows Media Player handles this format best by far, though other players are beginning to support it.
ogg Ogg (as opposed to ogm) an audio format similar to mp3, often offering slightly better compression (small file sizes) than mp3. However, it is not as widespread and so not as many players support it. Also, every so often an ogm file is given a ogg file extension, and so ogg files may contain video. See the software and codecs section below if you have problems playing these.
wav What You Hear Is What You Get. This is to audio what BMP is to graphics. These files tend to be used for very short sound effects as they can get very large for longer, high quality audio.
flac Short for Free Lossless Audio Codec, this is an audio format similar to MP3, but claims slightly better quality.
jpg
gif
png
bmp
These are all image formats, varying in quality and size. Some items in the library include screenshots, scanned (translated) Manga, wallpapers, and other supporting material for the anime. Most graphics applications can cope with these, including the latest revision of Microsoft's Paint application.

Manga/Art books

These are real physical books. The "language" field in the loans system will indicate if they're translated ("English") or not ("Japanese"). Note that original Japanese Manga is read right-to-left, starting at the back of the book. Most translation companies flip the book (and the artwork) so that English Manga is read the "normal" way.

Please be careful with the Manga, since they're probably the most fragile items we've got. Most of them are kept in bags to protect them. Try not to bend the spines too far.

Software and Codecs

This is largely a matter of personal preference. Some of the more common choices of media players are listed below. If you wish to add to this list, please let us know.

Windows

Most people these days will have a recent version of Windows Media Player. With the correct codecs installed, this can handle most formats. It is also able to play DVDs, though you will need third party decoding software installed. If it does not work, look to other software. If you require an update of this, visit the official site. Other applications such as WinAmp are effective if your computer can handle them

Real Networks' proprietary player is needed for playing RealMedia files. The latest version of this is Real Player 10.

QuickTime Player is needed for playback of files in Apple's proprietary QuickTime format.

DVDs and VideoCDs are handled very well by PowerDVD from Cyberlink. This is not free software, however.

Older machines may wish to look to older versions of the above software for media playback. RealPlayer, for instance, is available as far back as version 4 from the Real Networks web site. Some people swear by Media Player Classic as a generic media player that is less of a resource hog. Specialised codecs exist allowing MPC to play RealMedia and QuickTime files (Google is probably a good place to start for finding them).

MacOS X

We've heard people recommend VideoLAN Client in the past for which should cope with DVDs, VideoCDs and AVI files (it also runs on other platforms). Any Mac fans out there with more details should let us know.

Unix-like systems (Linux, BSD, etc.)

MPlayer can play DVDs, VideoCDs, and pretty much all of the media types listed above (including some of the proprietary formats like RealMedia, given appropriate codecs). You'll need a fairly recent version to support all the subtitle formats in the library.

Xine is an alternative which has better DVD navigation, but virtually no subtitle support.

Codecs

If your media player complains about missing codecs, here's where to download them from:

FFDShow For the easiest playback of all MPEG4 content, which includes most of our library, (including DivX, XviD) download this.

Official Site

DivX The first big MPEG4 file format. Visit the official sites based on your operating system. Windows | Linux | MacOS
XviD Download the EXE file from DivX Digest for Windows. For other operating systems, visit the official site. DivX Digest Page
Official Site
Ogg / Ogm Just download what you need from the unofficial link, or take a look at the official page. Unofficial Page (better)
Official Site
VobSub This may be needed to get subtitles working in Windows Media Player. Download Page
Matroska The most success for playing these files comes with Media Player Classic, but a filter does exist that should allow Windows Media Player to handle it. Go to the official site's download page for further details. Official Site
Media Player Classic
AC3 audio Some of those container formats can contain audio in AC3 format. If you find that a file does not have any audio, you probably need to download this. Official Site
MP3 Most people will never need this, as Windows does it for them. Just in case, however, a link is offered here to the Radium MP3 codec. Download Page
Flac Most likely to be seen contained within ogm container files. Downloads for all major operating systems are available from the official site. Official Site
QuickTime Apple's proprietary player. Will handle some other formats too. Official Site
RealPlayer Real Networks' proprietary player. Will handle some other formats too. Official Site