No hardware acceleration for video on newest release

I have a fairly low end laptop with an Intel N3050 processor. In the past I had Ubuntu Mate 19.04 (or older? can't remember) installed on it, just to watch videos. Out of the box all I had to do is to set the video output driver to vaapi (from a long list) in SMPlayer and it could play even 1080p videos.

Now I clean installed Mate 20.04.1, and there is no vaapi in the list. As the matter of fact, in the past the list of drivers was very long. Now there is only 3 options: Default, Error, and Exiting... So leaving it on the default, and enabling hardware acceleration checkbox (but same happens when unchecked), I get 5-10fps for 720p videos with 100% of CPU usage. Not the smooth 1080p playback I got in the past.

In my understanding vaapi should be there by default, comes with the Intel Graphics Driver, which again, should be installed out of the box. How can I get vaapi to show up in the list?

I dont know about SMPlayer.
Nonetheless, if you want to enable video hardware acceleration in the default Ubuntu MATE video player, Celluloid, you can do it easily:

Create a filenamed mpv.conf in ~/.config/celluloid and paste this in it:
Then save.

Or you can do this the terminal way
mkdir ~/.config/celluloid
cd ~/.config/celluloid
touch mpv.conf && echo hwdec=vaapi > mpv.conf

Then open Celluloid, go to preferences, configuration files and load your newly create mpv.conf and then click on Save. Close the software.
Enjoy your 1080p files in all their glory.

Should you want to fill your *.conf file with other settings, you can learn about them here.

SMPlayer uses mpv as the engine, and in /etc/mpv/mpv.conf there is already hwdec=vaapi

I installed Celluloid nontheless and created the config in celluloids config folder too. It works! No frame drops with only 20-40% CPU usage.

I will look into why SMPlayer doesn't work though, as customization for Celluloid is very minimal.

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Ok, I just figured it out. In SMPlayer there is no vaapi option in the dropdown menu, however you can set a custom engine. After setting this custom engine to vaapi, it works as well as Celluloid does. For some reason the engines are not detected by SMPlayer.

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