ILIAS and the QuickTime-plugin cropped video problem

Ok. I admit that this is a post about a rather specific problem I had yesterday, when I tried to include a video from a Mediapool in ILIAS in my Portfolio in ILIAS. But maybe it’ll help others as well. You never know.

So this was the problem: I had created a Mediapool with a couple of videos. You might know them, they are the once I did to explain blogs and e-portfolios in ILIAS. From the pool, I wanted to use one of the videos to include it on a page of my Portfolio in ILIAS. That’s what Mediapools are for in ILIAS, right? You have media files in a save dry place somewhere and you can use them all over again. So, I included the video (it’s a .mp4 file) on the portfolio page and I realized that the dimensions were too wide for the layout. No problem, I thought. You are able to fix the size of the original video for the instance only and ILIAS also allows you to keep the aspect ratio. But, when I did it, the video looked like this:

Screenshot of the cropped video

Screenshot of the cropped video

The video was still the same size, however, the HTML container in which the video was placed—ILIAS places the video in an container—was sized to the width and height I specified. The problem is that some video player plugins realize that the video should be smaller and fit into the container, thus correcting the user’s omission, but some—e.g. QuickTime—go the right way and crop the video. This results in the fact that the user is not able to play the video anymore because the buttons are hidden. The content creator might not even realize the problem, because as mentioned some players force the video into the container and if the content creator does not have one of the plugins that don’t then he or she might never know that something is wrong.

The solution to this problem is the way how the QuickTime Plugin handles the width and height for the container and not the video. On an Apple support page I found a hint that an HTML attribute for the tag might be activated to fix the resize problem. If you insert scale="tofit" into the tag then the video is fit to the container’s dimensions. There is also the value „aspect“ for scale to maintain the aspect ratio while resizing the video. Tofit will fit it into the specified dimensions exactly. But how do you insert that attribute without meddling with the source code?

There is an (undocumented?) feature in the instance settings for a media file in ILIAS to change the parameters for a file. If you set the Parameter to scale="tofit" like in the (unfortunately only German) screenshot, then the video will be displayed correctly, including the controls bar.

Screenshot Parameters setting

Screenshot Parameters setting

This is something that you do not realize instantly. For one thing, an HTML attribute is supposed to be a parameter here. And, as far as I know, the parameter field is not explained anywhere. Or at least I could not find anything in a half hour search. Still, using it in this way will get you the desired result. Hope that helped.

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