Quicktime challenge

posted in General

Hello and thank you for reading and/or posting.
It’s about mov files and mov players.
Well I have a series of mov files organized within a macromedia projector tutorial dvd and, no matter what I had installed (quicktime740 or quicktime alternative 240), this problem occurs: the video plays smoothly but the sound is choppy. Well, I’ve tried all settings possible reffering not only to sound but also to video (who knows!) but nothing. Afterwards I tried copying a file onto the hard drive and, surprise, no more choppy sound. Now, someone would think that’s some controller problem. Well it’s not. I believe a 25MB/s burst speed is more than enough to play a 2 minute, 200MB mov file and besides I have one more strong reason to believe that is nothing wrong with the transfer rate: another PC from LAN, using the same OS, the same Quicktime codec and player plays the mov files smoothly video and audio from my dvd drive.
Well, what do you think about that ?!? reply



My first guess would have been transfer rate too. My second guess would be fragmentation. If the disk has to look in many places to assemble the many pieces of the file, it will be slower to access it. One quick way to check would be to run Disk Defragmenter in accessories, system tools (in XP). If you see a lot of red in the analysis display, it may be time to defragment. (Best to do it overnight, or when you’re not doing anything else with your PC - it’s bad practice to use your PC to do anything else while defragmenting at the same time.)
What escapes me is why video would play fine, but not audio, so maybe it’s not transfer rate?

P.S: I’ve been playing with VLC Media Player a lot lately, and it seems to decode some QuickTime files better than QuickTime Player itself! This is particularly true of MPEG-4 or H.264 encoded MOV files (their decoder is obviously better, and seems to take less CPU power too). It’s not a bad idea to have VLC or an alternate media player installed on the side; it can be handy sometimes. reply

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Unfortunately fragmentation can’t be the reason because the problem occurs while playing from DVD and dissapears when the file is copied onto the hard drive, so...
I have even done a registry clean and registry defragmentation before reinstalling quicktime.
About VLC, I had it once installed and uninstalled it several minutes after because some strange messages appeared (don’t remember, it was some time ago) but on another occasion. I’ll try it now again and see what happens but I doubt it would make a difference.
Thank you for your advices. reply

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Sorry I misread your original post. I thought the file was originally on a hard disk. So yeah you’re right, fragmentation can’t be an issue.
Not all CD/DVD media and drives are created equal. My guess now would be one of the two. Usually when CD-R media gets old, the data can get more difficult to read (I don’t know the technicalities - you could say it gets “worn” over time I guess?) More modern drives can sometimes adjust the intensity of the laser, and the drive reading speed because of this to read the stream more accurately. One way to check the quality of the media is by using scandisk (not Microsoft’s - Nero’s). You can download it with the suite here
http://www.cdspeed2000.com/
Just put the DVD in the drive, click the scandisk tab, and run. The general CD/DVD speed can also yield relevant information (especially about the speed at which the CD/DVD is being read - it’s hardly ever the maximal advertised speed nor even constant). If scandisk reveals a lot of bad sectors (red) my hypothesis may be correct. reply

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Then again, how come that the same dvd, read by the same dvd drive but played on another location on the LAN is running smoothly, no choppy what so ever ? reply

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Sorry. I’m really slow today. I thought when you said “another PC on the LAN” meant you popped the DVD into that other PC. I didn’t understand you were playing it over the network. This is my last guess...
Look at task manager (right click on the taskbar) while the file plays on your PC. Look at the performance tab. What’s the CPU usage? Is it maxed out at 100%? Play it on the other PC on the LAN and look at CPU usage on that other PC. My guess would be the other PC is newer and this one is old and underpowered, so plays audio choppy.
I doubt this is a good guess though, because audio codecs don’t tend to take much CPU power. reply

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Well, my answer will surprise you.
This PC, the one with the problem, is a Celeron 2.4Ghz 512MB DDR1 FX5200 and when that file is played and the choppy thing happens the CPU usage varies fast between 0 and 100 (by the way, because there is no much movement in the video, I barely noticed that the video is choppy along with the audio). And when the file plays normaly (sometimes happens) the CPU stays at approx.60%.
And here comes the surprise: the other PC, the one that works fine is also a Celeron 2.4 GHz, but just 256MB DDR1, video onboard sharing 32MB from RAM. This one plays the file at 100% CPU usage just fine, no choppiness (if there is such a word) and I think that high usage of CPU is also due to the fact that the PC uses an integrated NIC for LAN.
I’m sorry for being such a pain in the rear part, by now you might be thinking 'This guy is pissing me off, already!' so I owe you appologies and thank you again for your time. reply

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By the way, after scanning the dvd with cd-dvd speed it showed no problems. I don’t have a clue either. reply

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I don’t mind at all. I’m the one who should apologize for not reading things properly the first time. I’m pretty much baffled too.
I really would give videolan a try though. It’s very clean. It doesn’t install any filters or anything like that. The codecs are all bundled with the player and stay in their directory. The uninstall is very clean too - doesn’t leave any residues. When you said you noticed choppiness at intervals in the video, I’m really starting to think H.264 or MPEG-4, and that the audio choppiness is just a by-product. For the cleanest install of videolan, make sure you uncheck “desktop shortcut”, “activex plugin” and “file associations”. Then right click your video and choose open with, choose program (uncheck always open with) and pick vlc. reply

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For some moments I thought this (VLC) is the answer but no. It’s the same answer. At least I noticed that it doesn’t happen at the same moments - now it was more predominat in the end of the file. I now believe that I should do an agressive codec uninstall and start over again because there are a lot of codecs floating through my windoze that I don’t know how to get rid of before reinstalling quicktime. Do you know such a program ? 'cause I’m not ready for a full system reinstall.
Change my nick because I tried registering but didn’t finish. reply

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Actually QuickTime codecs are independent from system codecs in Windows (they’re the same way as VideoLan - independent). I think all (or most) of them are in C:\Program Files\QuickTime\QTSystem in QuickTime 7.4.

One other thing to try: Safe mode in QuickTime. Edit, QuickTime Preferences, Advanced, Safe Mode. Actually this should worsen performance since it disables hardware acceleration. But if there’s a glitch (for example in the video drivers or some subroutine between directdraw and quicktime) it may fix your problem (unlikely though).

It’s really unclear if removing system-wide codecs (which are independent of QuickTime) will help, but it’s always something to try. I don’t know of any programs that will clean up codec installations for you. You can only count on add/remove programs and hope it cleans up for you - and pray if you happen to have codec packs (they’re very bad at cleaning up after themselves). (You can remove codecs manually via the registry but it’s not something for the faint of heart.) If all else fails, you can always start from scratch. If you do, heed this advice, which I’m pasting from another post of mine in the lounge (can’t be bothered to retype from scratch)

“Backup! Backup, backup, backup! I cannot over-emphasize that. All the important stuff. Meaning documents, pictures, videos, e-mails, IM logins and passwords and conversations, bookmarks, etc. People never understand that the most important thing about their PC is the data. Your computer can blow up, but you can always get another one. Even movies or songs from file sharing you can re-download. But once those precious personal pictures or e-mails (of which you probably have the only copy) are gone, they’re gone for good. So back them all up to a CD-R, DVD+R, or DVD-R. And check you can copy the data from CD/DVD back to your hard drive! A backup is no good if you can’t read it!!! (sometimes you have bad media)" reply

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So, I’ve tried all the settings reffering to audio and video for quicktime, as I posted in the beginning, including safe modes both for audio and video. I believe that there must be something else that doesn’t allow the player to work smoothly. I’m thinking now about the antivirus or other.
Sorry for replying so late but we are some hours apart, when I’m writting these my time is 10.00 AM, 16th of march. reply

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Dear anonymous,
In one of your posts you were actually right: the PC is rather old and I have a lot of crap working in background. BUT, though nothing else is consuming resources, WHEN the mov file is played (and only mov files act like this) within media player classic, original quicktime player or other player, even the built-in multimedia projector from the tutorial dvd, THEN the CPU usage varies very fast and I want to emphasize that NOTHING ELSE IS CONSUMING THOSE RESOURCES.
Do you know what I did ? I set player’s priority to HIGH (because ABOVE NORMAL made just a slight improvement) and it worked just fine.
I have to mention, though, that before doing those just stated, I bumped into this program called 'codec sniper' and found out that NERO has some quicktime decoders installed also. I created a restore point, threw them out, restarted the PC and realized that nothing changed (good decision creating that restore point - sniper’s advice). Afterwards I tried increasing priority for the player and saw that this was the issue.
Actually this is not a real answer to my problem, because all other movie files act OK while doing something else (downloading highspeed or burning dvd’s), all except mov files that are probably quite big and expensive encoded (high bitrate or whatever).
Those being said, I would really appreciate any other comment regarding this issue.
Thank you for your time ! reply

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In task manager you can look at the Processes tab and click the CPU column (maybe twice) to list the processes by what’s using the most CPU power. Do it during playback and monitor if anything’s hijacking the CPU’s cycles. reply

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