Workshop: Chess Media System Part 2

by ChessBase
11/10/2003 – In the new ChessBase Workshop we take a look at the new Chess Media System feature in Fritz, have a tour of its buttons and commands, and show you how easy it is to enjoy multimedia chess lessons as part of the Fritz8 program. Workshop...

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by Steve Lopez

In last week's ChessBase Workshop we examined the procedure for installing the new Fritz8 upgrade service pack, which includes the new Chess Media System feature; this week, we'll have a look at how the system works.

You'll recall that in the original ChessBase multimedia system, each video file was connected to an individual move. As you replayed a game containing such commentary a video window would pop open to display the clip for a particular move. This process repeated each time a new clip was encountered. With the new Chess Media System, commentary for the entire game can appear as one extended "streaming" clip, complete with automatic addition of moves and visual commentary such as colored arrows and squares.

Once the upgrade is installed (as described last week), all you need is something to watch. First be sure that you've gone to the Window menu, selected "Panes", and then "Chess Media System" from the submenu. You'll see a new pane appear on your screen: a black box, similar to the kind of thing you see when Windows Media Player is open but no video is running. This is because what you're essentially seeing is Windows Media Player, running as a "plug-in" to Fritz8.

Note that this isn't exactly a "dockable" pane like the other panes you have available in Fritz8. The Chess Media System pane is more of a "floating" pane. If you move your mouse cursor to the top of the Media System pane, you'll see the arrow change to a hand. Click to "grab" the top of the pane and then move it to another location on the screen.

Your first stop should be the Playchess server (where you got the Fritz8 service pack). Look for the room called "Chess Media System", which is subdivided into two rooms: "Free" and "Premium". The "Free" room will contain any free lessons/lectures/etc. which use the Chess Media System. The "Premium" room will contain any "pay" content, i.e. games/lessons/etc. which require you to spend "ducats" (site credits) which you've paid for or earned/won.

If you have ChessBase Magazine #96, you can also view some "offline" Chess Media System content. Pop the CBM 96 CD in your drive, fire up Fritz8, and click on "Play Fritz" (to go to the main chessboard screen as though you were about to play a game against Fritz). Go to the File menu, select "Open", and then choose "Chess Media file" from the submenu. This will bring up the Windows file select dialogue. Click in the box to the right of "Look in:" to open the pulldown menu and select the letter of your CD drive to display the contents of the CBM 96 CD. You'll see a folder called "Demo Chess Media System"; double click on it. You'll then see two files available: Knaak.wmv and Mig.wmv -- double click on the Mig.wmv file to open it.

Here's where the magic starts. In the old multimedia system, you had to manually step through the game move by move; any moves containing video commentary would cause a separate window to pop open and show the clip. You then had to manually close the popup window before proceeding with the game. In the new Chess Media System, the video commentary is continuous and is displayed in the Media System pane. And you don't have to manually step through the moves -- the moves and any visual commetary (colored arrows, etc., on the chessboard) are displayed automatically as part of the presentation. All you need do is sit back and watch the lesson/presentation. The commentator does all of the work for you.

If you select the file Mig.wmv, you'll get a presentation by Mig Greengard on the Two Knights' Defense in the Guioco Piano. Mig talks about the opening, shows the moves on your chessboard, and makes liberal use of colored arrows and squares to illustrate his commentary. If you instead select the file Knaak.wmv, you'll get a video of Rainer Knaak discussing a transposed Scandinavian Defense -- but be forewarned that this presentation is in German.

It's worthwhile here to have a look at the Chess Media System pane and its features:


This is a really simple display to use; in fact this display will be second nature to you if you're already familiar with Windows Media Player. There are four buttons at the bottom of this display:

  • Open -- this button allows you to open a new .wmv file for display in the Media System player;
  • Play -- this button starts the video;
  • Stop -- this button stops the video;
  • Pause -- ths button pauses the video. To resume playing the video, click the "Pause" button again.

To the right of the buttons is a slider bar. Once you've started the video, you can use the slider to advance or back up the video to any point in the presentation.

There are a couple of further things to note here. If you want to pause the video, use the "Pause" button instead of the "Stop" button. This may seem like a dumb thing to point out, but there's a reason I'm mentioning it. If you click the "Stop" button, the video stops but when you click the "Play" button to resume it, the video starts over from the beginning. So if you want to pause it (with the intention of resuming play from the point where you paused it), be sure to click the "Pause" button to stop the video, then click it again to resume play from the point at which you paused it.

The other thing worth mentioning is that you can close the Chess Media System pane in a couple of ways. You can right-click the bar containing the "Audio/Video" and "Log" tabs to get a popup saying "Close"; clicking this popup will then close the Chess Media System pane. The second way is to go to the Window menu, select "Panes", and then click on "Chess Media System" in the submenu to close the pane.

And, as one last goofy thing you can try, it is possible to play any .wmv file in the Chess Media System pane -- you can load it by going to File/Open/Chess Media File or by clicking the "Open" button in the Media System pane itself.

Until next week, have fun!


© 2003, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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