I have seen many message board posts describing hacks at movie playing capability in Beamer on a Linux machine. The main problem with Beamer's native multimedia, and with the extra package movie15, is that they rely on the PDF viewer to handle everything with playing the movie. Essentially only Adobe Reader can do this, and Adobe Reader is terrrrrrrible (e.g., it requires you to use RealMedia formats and RealPlayer as the movie player, and thus it can't handle .avi, .mpg, .mp4, etc.) Any "PDF reader" that can't play .avi or .mp4 should not be allowed to claim that it supports multimedia.

Some clever people have developed workarounds involving writing shell scripts that essentially act as movie playing software and are invoked with hyperrefs in TeX. Unfortunately, this causes your PDF document to be no longer portable in the true sense.

I make lots of academic presentation materials and then need to distribute them to grant reviewers, colleagues, students, etc. Thus, the absolute most basic two things needed in a Beamer movie player are (1) the same latex code will work on all platforms and the resultant pdf will play on a wide range of platforms using a wide range of multimedia backends, and (2) the file types .avi and .mp4 must be supported on all relevant platforms (Windows,Unix).

Does anyone know of a way to include movies within a PDF that satisfies the above conditions?

  • There are recent developments about these issues, tex.stackexchange.com/questions/67663/… . With this I was able to play (embedded) movies in Acrobat in different platforms (regardless of what you think about Acrobat).
    – alfC
    Mar 17, 2014 at 9:57

3 Answers 3


This is a long shot, and admittedly not much of an answer per se, but you could try merely embedding the movies as attachments (see this question)... this way you can attach any format you'd like.

True, you'd lose "in viewer" playability, but you could replace the place where the movie is supposed to show with a still (thumbnail) of it and point the reader to the "Attachments" tab for the movie proper.

Not all pdf viewers support attachments, and I don't own a portable device to check which ones do...


Unfortunately there is no platform and reader independent movie support. As you already pointed out, it is either not portable or is bound to a particular reader/configuration.

That's kind of sad, since movies in presentations sometimes add a great value. And it often looks very unprofessional to change from PDF viever to movie player and back.


I often use the animate package to present movies within beamer. There you need your movie as a numbered sequence of images (pngs, say) and animate includes all the images and let you play them (I think it uses Java...).


  • Needs single images in a specific naming
  • Does not work with all pdf viewers (works with acroread).


  • No compression artifacts whatsoever (at least with png).
  • No external programs or player are needed.
  • No codec needed and hence, works on every machine (which has acroread...).

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