Video Playback and Recording


In Android apps, there are often cases where we need to play video files. Checking the Supported Media Formats we can see that several video formats (H.264, MPEG-4) are playable by default.

In this guide we will take a look at how to play video content using the VideoView and capture video with the MediaRecorder.

Video Playback

Playing Local Video

Playing local video in a supported format can be done using the VideoView. First, setup the VideoView in your layout:

    android:layout_height="240px" />

Next, we can store local files such as small_video.mp4 in res/raw/small_video.mp4 and than play the video in the view with:

VideoView mVideoView = (VideoView) findViewById(;
mVideoView.setVideoURI(Uri.parse("android.resource://" + getPackageName() +"/"+R.raw.small_video));
mVideoView.setMediaController(new MediaController(this));

See this tutorial for playing a video full-screen with a VideoView. See this other edumobile tutorial for a more detailed look at using VideoView.

Playing Streaming Video

To play back remote video in a supported format, we can still use the VideoView. First, setup the correct permissions in the Android Manifest.xml:

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.INTERNET" />

Now, we can play remote video with:

final VideoView mVideoView = (VideoView) findViewById(;
MediaController mediaController = new MediaController(this);
mVideoView.setOnPreparedListener(new OnPreparedListener() {
    // Close the progress bar and play the video
    public void onPrepared(MediaPlayer mp) {

You can see a more complete example of remote streaming with this androidbegin tutorial.

VideoView Controls

We can remove the VideoView media controls with:


We can hide or show the media UI controls at runtime with:

// Get instance to media controller
MediaController controller = new MediaController(this);
// Hide the controller
// Show the controller 

VideoView Limitations and Improved Libraries

VideoView should not be embedded in a ListView or any scrolling view due to a known bug with Android. Instead of using a VideoView which extends SurfaceView, in order to enable scrolling we need to use a TextureView instead. The easiest workaround is to use a library such as Android-ScalableVideoView, VideoPlayerManager, or fenster.

You can read about how fenster was developed as well. If you are using fenster and running into a permissions error related to write_settings on an Android >= 6.0 device, check out this snippet as a workaround.

Streaming from YouTube

We can use the YouTube Android Player API to play YouTube videos within an Android app.

Refer to the Streaming Youtube Videos with YouTubePlayerView guide for detailed instructions.

Capturing Video

Using Intents

Capturing video can be done using intents to capture video using the camera. First, let's setup the necessary permissions in AndroidManifest.xml (Note: The permissions model has changed starting in Marshmallow. If your targetSdkVersion >= 23 and you are running on a Marshmallow (or later) device, you may need to enable runtime permissions. You should also read more about the runtime permissions changes):

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE" />

Next, we can trigger recording video by starting an intent triggering a video capture action:

private static final int VIDEO_CAPTURE = 101;
Uri videoUri;
public void startRecordingVideo() {
    if (getPackageManager().hasSystemFeature(PackageManager.FEATURE_CAMERA_FRONT)) {
        Intent intent = new Intent(MediaStore.ACTION_VIDEO_CAPTURE);
        File mediaFile = new File(
           Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory().getAbsolutePath() + "/myvideo.mp4");
        videoUri = Uri.fromFile(mediaFile);
        intent.putExtra(MediaStore.EXTRA_OUTPUT, videoUri);
        startActivityForResult(intent, VIDEO_CAPTURE);
    } else {
        Toast.makeText(this, "No camera on device", Toast.LENGTH_LONG).show();

and then we need to manage the onActivityResult for when the video has been captured:

protected void onActivityResult(int requestCode, int resultCode, Intent data) {
    if (requestCode == VIDEO_CAPTURE) {
        if (resultCode == RESULT_OK) {
            Toast.makeText(this, "Video has been saved to:\n" + data.getData(), Toast.LENGTH_LONG).show();
        } else if (resultCode == RESULT_CANCELED) {
            Toast.makeText(this, "Video recording cancelled.",  Toast.LENGTH_LONG).show();
        } else {
            Toast.makeText(this, "Failed to record video",  Toast.LENGTH_LONG).show();

public void playbackRecordedVideo() {
    VideoView mVideoView = (VideoView) findViewById(;
    mVideoView.setMediaController(new MediaController(this));

For a more detailed look, check out the techtopia tutorial on video recording.

Using MediaRecorder

If we want to record video from within an app directly, we'll want to use the MediaRecorder. We can find good references for using the recorder in the following resources below:

For more advanced usage, see this video recording and processing guide.

Configuring Encoding

The MediaRecorder can be configured to select the encoding, quality and compression settings:

// Create MediaRecorder
recorder.setVideoSize(640, 480);
recorder.setVideoFrameRate(16); //might be auto-determined due to lighting
recorder.setVideoEncoder(MediaRecorder.VideoEncoder.H264);// MPEG_4_SP

You can also configure using preset qualities with CamcorderProfile:

CamcorderProfile cpHigh = CamcorderProfile.get(CamcorderProfile.QUALITY_HIGH);

See the available options here. You can also review this stackoverflow post for more details.


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