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Movies and Video For people making movies and editing video with their Mac.

HD Podcast Video Playback Stutter


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macbookjimbo

 
Member Since: Oct 04, 2008
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I tried some searching and didn't find an answer. I've been downloading and playing HD video podcasts from iTunes for a few years. I like the Apple Byte and Car Tech. These videos have always stuttered, they've never played smoothly. I've also tried playing them in QuickTime, VLC, and streaming directly from CNET's web site. The result is the same - not smooth at all. I always assumed that since these vodcasts were free, then stuttering video is the price you pay. But, who knows. I have two configurations where this occurs. A black plastic MacBook with a Core Duo 2 at 2.2 Ghz and 4 gig of RAM (lots of free hard rive space). I also have a brand new Mac Mini Core i5 with 4 gig of RAM and an AMD Radeon graphics card. Both are running Lion (although I was using Snow Leopard before Lion with same result). It seems to me I have plenty of horsepower to play HD video, but no luck...not smooth. Is this common or am I the only one with this issue (on two different Macs)?

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chas_m

 
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I also have a black MacBook like yours, and haven't noticed an issue with stuttering playback at 720p (1080p is another story).

HD podcasts from iTunes are always in MP4 format so that shouldn't be the issue.

I'm going to download the latest Apple Byte in HD now from iTunes and report back. Hopefully we can figure this out. I should mention that I have a 7200 rpm drive in my Blackbook now, that could make a difference.
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macbookjimbo

 
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Thanks Chas m, I appreciate your help. Last summer I swapped out my standard hard drive with a 7200 rpm as well. Also, if you're into it (if you like cars) try downloading Car Tech HD. It's a CNET vodcast hosted by Brian Cooley. This is the one that creates the most stuttering for me. For reference purposes, this week's episode is the new BMW 1M.

Thanks again!
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chas_m

 
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Nope, not having any trouble with the Apple Byte (not much into cars, sorry). Plays very smoothly.

I'm puzzled by the discrepancy since we both have the same machine. I was just playing it inside iTunes (no outside player) and it played fine even at full screen. I also tried it in VLC and QuickTime, no problems there either.

How full is your hard drive? That could be playing a role. It might also be time for what I like to call the "annual nuke and pave," but others might call a "major defrag." I clone my HD to an external, test it, then erase and zero out the original HD, then restore back. I do this roughly once a year (probably more often than is actually needed). It's only real benefit is to make free space more contiguous for a while, which some apps really appreciate.
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macbookjimbo

 
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Interesting. I'll try playing the Apple Byte on my Apple TV and see how it works since that's streaming only. My hard drive is only half full, but it's a year since my last defrag. Curious though - my Mac Mini is brand new.....well two weeks old and I have the same issue there.

So you thought Brian Tong's arm movements, etc. were smooth as silk? Not slightly jittery?

Thanks again for your help and replies!
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chas_m

 
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Well I guess that depends on the definition of "jittery," but bear in mind that podcasts are always set at the lowest bitrate they can get away with to keep the filesize small. Try downloading a 720p movie trailer from Apple's trailer page and see if that doesn't play smoothly for you.
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macbookjimbo

 
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That was a great idea, not only for this topic but also for another issue I've been having where my new Mac Mini does not play video as smoothly as this old MacBook. Here's what I did: I downloaded to my MacBook three movie trailers...Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 1080p, and Battleship in both 1080p and 720p. This MacBook played all three flawlessly on both it's own screen and also while mirrored to a 22" LCD. I even had other apps running and all was perfectly smooth. Tried the same thing on my Mac Mini hooked to a 42" plasma. It was very close to perfect, but I wouldn't say flawless. It had a barely perceptible non-smoothness to it. If you're a video guy like me who's used to a quality BluRay player then this won't work. Maybe others wouldn't notice. But this again shows that the faster Mini with more horsepower is just not performing well with video (different topic than my original post here). Something's not quite right with the new Mini's.
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chas_m

 
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Did you try hooking the MacBook up to the plasma? Could have something to do with the method you're using to connect to the plasma.
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