Rant: Video playback that's never smooth...

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by OrganMusic, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. OrganMusic macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    I have 3 macs, all fairly current (2.8 Ghz 2008 imac, 2.4 Ghz 2008 MBP, 2009 Mac Mini). Not one of them can play back video in any format that doesn't have at least minor constant stuttering.

    It doesn't matter what the format or source is (H264, DV, HULU, YouTube, DVD, eyeTV etc). It doesn't matter if it's full screen or windows. It's about the same for all formats on all 3 machines. It doesn't matter if the source is local or network.

    It's most noticeable when there's a slow pan shot there's always a random jerkiness to it. Framerate will be smooth for a second or two and then a random jitter.

    My playstation3 can play stuff recorded with eyetv streamed via medialink and its 100% smooth, but I bought the Mini to use as a media center. Playing the canvas out FireWire monitoring in FCE is perfectly smooth.

    I would have hoped we were beyond the era of bad computer video playback by now.
  2. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
    you have something set up wrong if you're getting the stuttering... and you can't use youtube as a benchmark for anything.

    are you just using QT to view the videos on your comp? have you tried VLC?
  3. OrganMusic thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    I don't care about YouTube, I was just listing it as yet another format that doesn't play smoothly. Again it doesn't matter what player I Use or what the format is. I've never seen more than about 3 seconds of perfectly smooth video on any of my macs.

    Am I just expecting too much?

    Dvd player, Quicktime player, eyeTV, iTunes, plex, silverlight etc...

    Even qt demos I've seen playing in the apple stores aren't always perfectly smooth.

    It's most noticeable any time there's a slow panned shot - it's mostly smooth with a very slight glitch every few seconds.

    Not unwatchable, just not as good as it should be.
  4. cpcarrot macrumors member

    Jan 24, 2008
    I can honestly say I have no idea about the issue your talking about. Never had any playback “stuttering” issues on any Mac I have owned (Mac Mini, Macbook, Mac Pro). I especially can’t see how the type of shot would have any impact on the video playback (there is no reason why a slow pan, would look any different in terms of playback than any other type of shot).

    The only thing I can think of to explain what your talking about is if there is a difference in frame rates between the smooth and “stuttery” footage, or your attempting to compare interlaced and progressive footage and seeing the progressive footage as “stuttery”.
  5. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    Do you have Perian installed on your system?
    Uninstall it and see if that fixes it.
  6. OrganMusic thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    Don't know what perian is. The Mini has almost no software on it; I think plex and the silverlight plugin is about the only software I've installed. Apart from that and system updates, it's almost exactly as it came out of the box.

    And no it's not an interlaced vs. progressive thing; that bugs me too but not I can live with it if the frame rate is even.

    Keep in mind, the performance is about the same on all 3 of my macs in a variety of formats and players.
  7. Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2007
    I'm digging around looking to see why my video playback stutters when Safari 4 is open. (smooth as silk using Firefox, though)

    Anyhow - after seeing your rant - and appreciating what you're talking about - figured I'd speak up. With a lot of MKV and OGM files - I got a lot of dropped frames (appearing like stuttering) - with VLC open, you can press "control + I" to view the detailed information pane while the video is playing. See if it's dumping a lot of frames - it may be a codec thing.

    I can say that OSX, for reasons I can't comprehend, has a LOT of trouble with MKV and OGM containers - and none of them are as smooth as on windows - even on the SAME machine.

    I will say that Mplayer OSX is by far the smoothest for my MKVs and OGMs. It's EXTREMELY powerful / versatile - and you'd never guess it by the GUI. But I now use it, as I've set strings so it automatically upmixes to 5.1 on the fly, and it plays very well with my MKVs. If only it had the same GUI as VLC.

    One more thing, in closing - I (@*#ing H-A-T-E how OSX can't seek on the slider bar worth a $h!t. Like if I want to queue back 10 seconds - not happening. It's huge random jumps. VLC, Mplayer, Quicktime - they ALL do it. For "multimedia heavy" computers that Apples are purported to be - they're falling behind IMO, in a big way.
  8. After G macrumors 68000

    After G

    Aug 27, 2003
    Based on what you've (OrganMusic) said, it may be that output on computer monitors bothers you since computer LCDs are usually stuck at 60Hz, which means you might see jitter because 24 frames (most film, TV shows) don't split evenly into a 60Hz frame rate on your computer screen. On your PS3, if you're using it on a newer 120Hz LCD TV, 24 FPS will split evenly and frames will repeat 5 times each. If you have a 60Hz TV, the PS3 probably does pulldown conversion and repeats frames in a 2-3 sequence so you don't notice. To check, run a video encoded at 30 FPS and see if anything changes.

    If that's not it, might be the same problem I have - that transparency in applications isn't optimized.

    My low-end setups:
    2006 Core Duo 1.66 Mini, GMA 950.
    PC running Windows 7, AMD TL-60 2 GHz, Geforce 7000m.

    My experience is that framerate is smooth on both setups, except for when transparent controls are displayed. It means for me that I can't use Quicktime X for high bitrate videos (the player has lots and lots of transparency), and I dropped frames when transparent controls show up in any player app. It's sad that transparent controls are unoptimized and require beefy graphics hardware. Mplayer might do best because of the lack of transparent playback controls (VLC and QTX both have them in full-screen when you jiggle the mouse).
  9. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    I think that's a software issue. And actually, I found quicktime to seek perfectly fine. But the other playback software I've seen doesn't have granular control over the seek bar, much in the same way that it doesn't actually play back at twice the speed when you hit fast forward like Quicktime does. Not saying it's perfect, but it does behave more like an old-school VCR than most other playback software I've seen.

    Oh, and OS X seeks on slider bar just fine in editing software, where it really matters. Down to the frame, natch.
  10. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    Are the files on the system locally or streamed/off the internet? If the files are on your system, sounds like system resources are maxed out. How much memory is left when you watch it in quicktime or other app. If its being streamed or coming off the internet, its your connection/router problem. The draw back on anything with integrated graphics is the shared ram. You should have 4gb ram to insure you have enough memory to handle the program and the integrated graphics.
  11. OrganMusic thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    @BigTDIGuy -- I don't know what MKV and OGM files are, I just care about .MOV and .DV files in either MPEG2 or MPEG4/H.264

    @AfterG -- My TV is not 120 and the jerking i'm seeing is random, not regular every second like i'd. expect from a 24-30 conversion problem. Video encoded at 30 FPS looks just as bad.

    I was complaining about ALL forms of video playback (local files as well as online). I guess lately it doesn't seem so bad, but one particularly bad example:

    I made up a video in FCE with some panned shots of still photos: (its on youtube, where it looks even worse). When I render it out to a .DV then burn it to a DVD it plays perfectly on a normal DVD player; but if I play either the H264 file I sent to Youtube or the DV file the panned shots have multiple random slight jerks.

    It's about the same on my iMac, my MBP and my current mac mini.

    I just don't see why a current intel mac can't play video smoothly. I have an old (only slightly upgraded) G4 cube running leopard, and while it's useless for internet video, it can play .DV files full screen about as well as computers 7 years newer.
  12. disconap macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2005
    Portland, OR
    I suggest dumping the Silverlight plugin. Microsoft products for Mac are always buggy and can cause bizarre effects.

    Someone may have already mentioned this, but run Activity Monitor while you run one of those videos and see what is using most of the processor(s). I've had problems with Spotlight Indexing causing slowdowns in the past, and I've turned it off on all but my main computer and had great performance boosts on the smaller, older machines.

    Also note that if you have FileVault turned on, it can mess with video. I haven't even bothered with is since 10.3, so it may not anymore, but it used to cause dropped frames, especially when importing video via Firewire (but even playback of pre-recorded material was buggy). It's pretty unnecessary in my opinion, unless you keep bank passwords or government secrets on your computer, so I'd make sure that's turned off.
  13. OrganMusic thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    Silverlight works kind of OK for me; the Mini is hooked up to my TV and gets used for watching netflix quite a bit.

    Never used filevault. I will check activity monitor turn spotlight indexing off, but I doubt it will help.

    Keep in mind I'm complaining about this all 3 of my macs all the time. I can see if it's network slowing online videos, but quicktime is just as bad.
  14. olekro macrumors newbie

    Nov 29, 2009
    I found a solution

    I had the exact same problem as you have, OrganMusic. As I use my minimac to view movies and video in plex on my 46" LCD-TV I had "overscan" turned on the avoid getting black edges (not full screen-view) on my TV. When I turn this off (system settings-> display -> options -> overscan) the jittering everyt 2-3 seconds is gone. Especially when paning in films it's really annoying.

    But, now I need help to find out how to get full screen picture on mye TV without turning overscan on - how to remove lagg/jitter as described with overscan turned on...
  15. OrganMusic thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    I'll try that, but I was complaining about same slight jitter on all my macs regardless of video format. Though I will say itunes videos play about the best of the lot; my 9400-equipped mini now runs snow leopard, I don't know if that makes a difference.
  16. midge50 macrumors newbie

    Nov 16, 2009
    If you have THREE machines, all causing this same issue with all kinds of video, I tend to agree with an earlier poster. You have some sort of visual thing going on between you and the computer. Some people see,hear or feel things that other people do not.

    I know certain color backgrounds on a computer drive me nuts to the point I almost get motion sickness. I have shown it to others and they can not see it.

    Do other people see the same issue you see?
  17. aaj macrumors newbie

    May 30, 2010
    Hi OrganMusic

    I'm hoping that this thread isn't dead yet. I have the exact same problem!
    Two Mini's (newest generation) and an Imac (early 2009). Panning shots stutters every 1 or 2 seconds... VERY unpleasing!

    Did you find the solution?

    In regards to the comments about brain defects etc. This is NOT the case! I see stutter, and so does everyone else that I have shown...
  18. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    Is it a pretty slight stutter and happening like clockwork (sometimes you won't see it as there's not enough motion)?

    Computer displays run at 60Hz and video can run at all manner of frame rates. When the frame rate is not exactly divisible there has to be a stutter somewhere as a frame is repeated irregularly.
  19. OrganMusic thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    Well i guess i've stopped caring about it. Perhaps it's gotten better. I've noticed silverlight on netflix is much smoother than flash on hulu. And frontrow is pretty decent.
  20. aaj macrumors newbie

    May 30, 2010
    It's alive :)
    ...thanks for replying!

    Well... I'm afraid that my problem is in fact sync-related.

    My B&O (Beovision 8) prefers signals compatible with 50 or 60Hz. Everything else stutters :(

    The XBMC-guys is working on a smoothvideo branch of XBMC, that compensates for any missing frames, e.g. conversion of 24Hz to 25Hz.
    Unfortunately its only build for windows and Linux. Maybe it's time for a temporary OS change...?

    Let me know if you guys find an alternative!
  21. Richardthe4th macrumors regular

    Jan 4, 2008
    Below Sealevel
    Playing your material from your system disk?


    I'm intrigued by the every so many seconds repetition of the issue. Are you playing your files from your system disk? If so, that could be the trubble. OS X (and every other OS) are doing a lot of background jobs. OS X writes to the system disk on a regular basis. Perhaps a slight delay is the cause of the hickups.

    This is easily checked by putting the material on an external disk and playing from that disk. Any changes? Please post your findings, I would like to know.

  22. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    I have none of the issues you describe.

    In regards to DV-encoded video, DV is optimized for NTSC displays (in other words, old-fashioned CRT televisions), which computer monitors are not. While I never experience stuttering playback on NTSC-formatted material, there can and will be strange anomalies visually while playing it back on a computer monitor, which must rescale the video to square pixels at a 60Hz refresh rate (NTSC displays expect rectangular pixels at 30Hz). Things like text and motion graphics almost never look right until viewed on an actual NTSC-friendly display. Case in point: your example of final playback from a DVD on a TV. All is good there because the TV is getting exactly the signal it expects.

    In any case, if you were able to post what you perceive as a good example of what your talking about (namely, with the slow-pan "jitters" you're experiencing), I'd be more than happy to take a look and perhaps give you some constructive feedback. If anything, it could very well justify that these problems are not just in your head.
  23. brecker, Dec 10, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010

    brecker macrumors newbie

    Dec 10, 2010
    I've had exactly the same problem. I'm running XBMC (Dharma RC2) on a new Mac Mini with nothing else installed on it. DVDs stored as MKVs using MakeMKV, no extra compression.

    The cyclic stuttering or shuddering described by the original poster is due to a mismatch between the screen refresh frequency and the frame rate of the source material.

    Thankfully, there is an option in XBMC (at least in Dharma, I'm not sure about older versions) to allow screen refresh frequency to vary according to the source!

    Go to Settings > Video > Playback
    and select "Adjust display refresh rate to match video"

    At least in my case, changing that setting completely transformed the playback of panned scenes and movement, and cured the problem (of course, you have to de-interlace as well).

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