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Old Jun 15, 2010, 04:32 AM   #1
penlost
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Using imac G5 as a Media Centre

Hello eveybody, thank you for an immense forum full of help and information

I have an old G5 imac that I am using in my front room as a media player. Here are the Secs:

1.8 Ghz PPC Processor
1.5 GB Ram
10.5.8 Leopard
Using 20mb Virgin media cable broadband, wired via ethernet to modem.

I am having trouble, especially with BBC iplayer in that video will not play smoothly. I realise that my imac will not do HD but I was hoping that it would stream SD video ok.

Sometime next year I am going to upgrade to an intel Mac so do not want to spend loads of extra money on it but I would really welcome some suggestions on how I could get it running more smoothly and playing videos without 'juddering'!

So far I have updated to newest Flash (10.1), made sure the energy savings tab is set to 'Automatic' (Highest made the fan go crazy all the time!) and disabled the dashboard to claim back some power.
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 04:47 AM   #2
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Do Youtube videos play fine? Flash is bad for OS X and especially for PPC Macs thus it's not a surprise that the video isn't that smooth.

In Safari, open Activity (Window -> Activity) and search for the video file it's playing (usually the biggest file, other are like 100kb while it should be at least several MBs). Double-click it and it'll download it to your computer and then use e.g. QuickTime to play it, no more Flash required!
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 05:17 AM   #3
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Do Youtube videos play fine? Flash is bad for OS X and especially for PPC Macs thus it's not a surprise that the video isn't that smooth.

In Safari, open Activity (Window -> Activity) and search for the video file it's playing (usually the biggest file, other are like 100kb while it should be at least several MBs). Double-click it and it'll download it to your computer and then use e.g. QuickTime to play it, no more Flash required!
Thanks Hellhammer, that is a fantastic tip, I never knew you could download the file like that!

Bizarrely normal youtube videos struggle in full screen but the TV shows streamed though the site are one of the only things I can watch smoothly. Not sure why !

Will give your solution a try.
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 07:03 AM   #4
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Ok, just tried it and I cannot see the video in the list at all. They are all small, perhaps the biggest one is around 70kb and that is not the iplayer video that is playing in Safari.

Any ideas? The CPU activity monitor maxes out every-time a video is played using flash !
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 07:52 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hellhammer View Post
Do Youtube videos play fine? Flash is bad for OS X and especially for PPC Macs thus it's not a surprise that the video isn't that smooth.

In Safari, open Activity (Window -> Activity) and search for the video file it's playing (usually the biggest file, other are like 100kb while it should be at least several MBs). Double-click it and it'll download it to your computer and then use e.g. QuickTime to play it, no more Flash required!
Someone wants media center advice on a G5 imac and you first ask if it plays youtube? Anyone who uses a media center for youtube is really selling themselves short. You're giving him advice of web browsing..

My G4 1.8GHz plays youtube fine with CPU to spare.

To the OP:

It will make a fine media center. Better than fine.
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 08:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zen.state View Post
Someone wants media center advice on a G5 imac and you first ask if it plays youtube? Anyone who uses a media center for youtube is really selling themselves short. You're giving him advice of web browsing..

My G4 1.8GHz plays youtube fine with CPU to spare.

To the OP:

It will make a fine media center. Better than fine.
You missed the whole point.... BBC iPlayer is Flash based thus browser based. He's having issues to get smooth playback and you are just saying, "yeah it does it fine" when it obviously doesn't. Did you even read his post? He's already using it as a media center but having problems to get smooth video playback. Your post has no point
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 08:10 AM   #7
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You missed the whole point.... BBC iPlayer is Flash based thus browser based. He's having issues to get smooth playback and you are just saying, "yeah it does it fine" when it obviously doesn't. Did you even read his post? He's already using it as a media center but having problems to get smooth video playback. Your post has no point
He never asked about youtube at all so you shouldn't base your help on something he isn't asking for help with. Flash responds differently in different apps.

Yes I can play full screen youtube videos. I have the G4 7448 CPU (newest one that most have never heard of) and it is faster than any single CPU G5.

Any other youtube advice for us oh master of crappy online video?
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 08:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zen.state View Post
He never asked about youtube at all so you shouldn't base your help on something he isn't asking for help with. Flash responds differently in different apps.

Yes I can play full screen youtube videos. I have the G4 7448 CPU (newest one that most have never heard of) and it is faster than any single CPU G5.

Any other youtube advice for us oh master of crappy online video?
He can't even play Youtube videos in full screen so his computer isn't just powerful enough to handle e.g. BBC iPlayer in full screen. Youtube is one of the lightest anyway and most vids are pure crap so it's good way to test can his computer handle ANY Flash video in fullscreen. If Youtube worked fine, then it could be just bad coding in iPlayer or better quality. Trying YT doesn't do anything bad as far as I know

You haven't provided any better alternatives or anything that could even help, I at least tried. Flash is Flash, it doesn't change no matter what you do.
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 08:33 AM   #9
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penlost:

If flash just isn't working for you then maybe the best thing is to just use a different medium. How much of a personal video collection do you have? You could convert all of it to ffmpeg mpeg4. ffmpeg rips fast even on a PowerPC and will play back even better.

Don't let flash dictate how powerful your computer needs to be. As I said use a different format. There are far better formats and mediums.
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 08:37 AM   #10
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Flash responds differently in different apps.
Funny, I figured it was all in the same app... like Safari or Firefox...
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 08:46 AM   #11
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Funny, I figured it was all in the same app... like Safari or Firefox...
When I direct download .flv files and play them in VLC they use about 9-12% CPU. When I play them online they use about 75-80%. There is something about web browsers in general that just loves to suck up CPU.

If you HAVE to watch flash but don't have the CPU muscle to watch it online then just direct download it. I use a great java app simply called YouTubeDownloader.
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 08:52 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zen.state View Post
When I direct download .flv files and play them in VLC they use about 9-12% CPU. When I play them online they use about 75-80%. There is something about web browsers in general that just loves to suck up CPU.
That's not Flash anymore... The Flash plug-in itself suck, thats why. I can play Youtube vids in HTML5 and they use less than 5% of my CPU.

Quote:
If you HAVE to watch flash but don't have the CPU muscle to watch it online then just direct download it. I use a great java app simply called YouTubeDownloader.
Does it work with other than YouTube? That's what I was trying to say in my first post, download the file and then use VLC for example to play it. iPlayer Grabber should do the same trick with BBC iPlayer
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 09:21 AM   #13
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It is still flash. Like almost every single format it is based on some form of mpeg. DVD, AVI, h.264 and many other common formats all based on mpeg. The problem is Adobes own code sucks and is only optimized for x86 and even then that is an optimistic way to look at it.

In my experiences 3rd party apps like VLC play video more efficiently than anything. I constantly watch 720p .avi xvid (mpeg based) and they never use more than 30% CPU.
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 10:19 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zen.state View Post
It is still flash. Like almost every single format it is based on some form of mpeg. DVD, AVI, h.264 and many other common formats all based on mpeg. The problem is Adobes own code sucks and is only optimized for x86 and even then that is an optimistic way to look at it.

In my experiences 3rd party apps like VLC play video more efficiently than anything. I constantly watch 720p .avi xvid (mpeg based) and they never use more than 30% CPU.
It's still in Flash Video format but doesn't use Flash Player for playback. The format is fine but the player is pile of crap thus Youtube and iPlayer vids lag in OP's G5. I was talking about the player which is used when playing Flash videos in browser and that's what OP did.

Downloading and watching via VLC involves some extra effort but is OP's only choice unless he's fine with laggy playback.
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 10:44 AM   #15
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Cheers guys, looks like downloading iplayer/you tube videos is my only choice. Its a pain but the price I pay for old hardware I guess

One of the problem I have is with where the videos end up in front row. I have a large collection of music videos and if I download them from youtube they end up in the movies section of front row. This happens even when I go into the 'info' tab and change the type to 'music video'

So I was going to use VLC for this, but that does not play the videos I downloaded from itunes so again I got mad

At the moment I am using itunes which is not a great media centre interface, for example it will not stretch 4:3 videos to full screen, but it will do until I come across a better solution.

Not a PPC problem I guess, but thought I would stick all my troubles/woes on here whilst I am in the mood !!!
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 10:50 AM   #16
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If your imac has a remote and/or aluminum keyboard with media keys then you can use them to control VLC. Works great with any current version. You just need to turn it on in VLC preferences.
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 10:54 AM   #17
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If your imac has a remote and/or aluminum keyboard with media keys then you can use them to control VLC. Works great with any current version. You just need to turn it on in VLC preferences.

Its a pre-isight mac so no apple remote ,

I have got a great iphone app that works with VLC though. However, the problem I have is that VLC will not play some of my videos that have been downloaded from itunes
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 10:58 AM   #18
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Its a pre-isight mac so no apple remote ,

I have got a great iphone app that works with VLC though. However, the problem I have is that VLC will not play some of my videos that have been downloaded from itunes
Convert them to other format with HandBrake (btw, in what format are they anyway?)
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 11:14 AM   #19
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Convert them to other format with HandBrake (btw, in what format are they anyway?)
They end with the extension .m4v

I will take a look at Handbrake, cheers ....
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 11:30 AM   #20
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They end with the extension .m4v

I will take a look at Handbrake, cheers ....
There is a great little app called iSquint that rips almost 2x faster than handbrake. A G4 1.0GHz does real time rips so a G5 1.8 will rip about 2x faster maybe more.

It will rip almost any format but keep handbrake around for the couple it won't. .mkv is the only fomat I have had issues with on iSquint.

For the best media center friendly results combined with fast ripping use it exactly as I show it set below.
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 12:48 PM   #21
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There is a great little app called iSquint that rips almost 2x faster than handbrake. A G4 1.0GHz does real time rips so a G5 1.8 will rip about 2x faster maybe more.

It will rip almost any format but keep handbrake around for the couple it won't. .mkv is the only fomat I have had issues with on iSquint.

For the best media center friendly results combined with fast ripping use it exactly as I show it set below.
How is the quality with iSquint? I've been looking something faster than HandBrake although I have C2D Mac. Easy to encode to iPhone friendly reso and format? Will have to give it a try, looks good!
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 12:56 PM   #22
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How is the quality with iSquint? I've been looking something faster than HandBrake although I have C2D Mac. Easy to encode to iPhone friendly reso and format? Will have to give it a try, looks good!
As long as the original video has decent quality then it will look great on the settings above. It cannot really make anything look better unless you use h.264 encoding but that increases the rip time at least 70%.

For me the settings above work great all round. Almost exact as original quality and low CPU usage. It creates ffmpeg based mpeg4 files that play great in iTunes/Front Row, ipods, and any 3rd party app like VLC etc.
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 01:49 PM   #23
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Do Youtube videos play fine? Flash is bad for OS X and especially for PPC Macs thus it's not a surprise that the video isn't that smooth.

In Safari, open Activity (Window -> Activity) and search for the video file it's playing (usually the biggest file, other are like 100kb while it should be at least several MBs). Double-click it and it'll download it to your computer and then use e.g. QuickTime to play it, no more Flash required!
Thanks for your help guys, much appreciated. Can you cast any light on why the video does not appear in the activity window when using iplayer?
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 01:51 PM   #24
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Thanks for your help guys, much appreciated. Can you cast any light on why the video does not appear in the activity window when using iplayer?
Hard to say, try iPlayer Grabber which I linked above. I could of course try to help you via TeamViewer if you want but that grabber would actually be even easier
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