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Old March 7th, 2010, 09:23 AM   #1
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Please Help Judge my Flash Playback

Hello,

I am not happy with the playabck of flash videos I am getting on my website.

If I could ask, could some visit my site and play a few videos and let me know about the experience?

Here is the page: Metroplex Multimedia - Our Work

I am getting stuttering or a judder look upon playback. To my eyes the player looks like it is running out of buffer.

The files are .f4v and are encoded VBR 775kbps with a max of 1100kbps

Thanks for your input!
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Old March 7th, 2010, 04:35 PM   #2
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I'm at home with a 1.5Mbps DSL connection. Once the video buffered, it played smoothly, but it took a long time to buffer... Eventually it would stop and have to buffer again. I was not able to tell how long the video was, or how long it was going to buffer because the control on the bottom of the video did not give me that information.

The video samples on the bottom of the page did give me that information (with the seek bar) but the videos did seem to load fairly slow due to my connection speed.

The videos looked nice, but I feel like someone who did not clearly understand streaming/progressive download would not notice the quality because of the distraction of the pausing/buffering. For that reason, the sample videos on my site are about half the resolution of yours.

I'm sure at my office with a 7Mbps connection I'd have a much better viewing experience, but I'd rather err on the side of optimizing for slower connections.
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Old March 7th, 2010, 04:49 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply Chris.

I am at a loss as to what is the correct bitrate/framesize to accurately show quality but still have a smooth playback experience.

On my 3Mbps DSL the videos start very quickly and I thought 775kbps average was sort of conservative. I need to consider some things.

I am getting choppy, juddery playback even after the files fully load as well.
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Old March 7th, 2010, 07:24 PM   #4
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VBR flash files are mostly suitable for local playback

CBR should be used for internet streaming

at least this is what is recommended in my Flix Pro flash encoder
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Old March 15th, 2010, 12:22 PM   #5
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All things considered, I am a bit disappointed with this thread.

149 views and only one person watched a bit of video and reported back.

There is no other way to test Flash deployment than other's experience. This website has a lot of people in the industry and I thought we were here to help each other out.

I would help (and do) if you were asking for 5 min of time.
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 08:41 AM   #6
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My observations

At work, on a 1.5Mbps T1 line, video plays fine after the initial buffering, but it stops playing every 15-20 seconds and it takes a looong time to restart. At home, on 6Mbps DSL it's continuous.

About your company presentation. To my taste you have over-sharpened the video (same applies to the samples), requiring a very high bitrate I am guessing you're using at least 2Mbps, maybe higher - that's way too high for the average consumer out there - you are excluding some of your potential viewers. Also, I don't like the lack of progress bar.

Ooops, just re-read the post... 775Kbps... then... I'm not sure what's the cause.

VBR works fine for me.

My extensive testing shows that h.264 video is way better at the same bitrate. Also, for the type of content (mostly static) you have in the presentation, 500-750Kbps should be plenty - I am using 350Kbps total (280Kbps video and 64Kbps mono audio, the codec is x.264) on my church website and there is plenty detail - check out Atlanta North Church (disregard filming quality... amateurs at work, lack of proper lighting).

I hope this helps,
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 12:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
There is no other way to test Flash deployment than other's experience...
Beg to differ on this one. End-user testing is important, but, it comes at the end of other testing. You hadn't indicated a change to CBR - this is basic to streaming, Anton's advice is good.

Something is not right with the stream, the serving, or the embed. Don't know what. I'm on 1.5Mbps down here, which should accommodate the stream, and my experience is similar to Ervin's and Chris' at 1.5Mb. Not good. Chris' advice is excellent. I didn't contribute earlier because he said what I would say.

Are you creating f4v in Adobe Media Encoder CS4? Although Adobe is encouraging moving to the f4v container, I don't think it is implemented in today's open-source players particularly well, so, I've been steering clear of it. I highly recommend VP6E in an FLV container, if you have access to an encoding tool that supports it.

There are lots of best-practices to be found in older posts in this subforum, shooting from the hip I'd suggest that IMHO a single stream for a general broadband audience be:
640x360px
<600Kbps CBR (figuring that broadband subscribers have a minimum of 800K down, and adding an allowance for overhead and other network activity)
VP6 in FLV.
Of reduced picture complexity - hitting all that moving camera content off the head will stress any codec/bitrate combination.

This still won't be right for some, but, it will hit most. If you want hi def, I'd suggest you do as Youtube and others do, and provide multiple streams so that a viewer can select the bitrate that suits them.
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 03:25 PM   #8
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Hey,

Thanks for your input. The videos are 775kbps .f4v I will make one an .flv to see if it plays better. Yes, I use Adobe Media Encoder and encode from a Canopus HQ HD file.

One thing I noticed is that the way I have the page designed, two streams are downloading at the same time. The upper video and the lower multi-video player. So the end user is really using up 1.5Mbps of bandwidth for the initial download period. So I will redesign the page.

I agree about the sharpening. I have been playing around with Virtualdub and how much sharpening to apply.


If you could watch another video for me, I would really enjoy your input on the playback experience. As I mentioned earlier, maybe it is the .f4v format but I get quite a few jumps and what looks like dropped frames or buffer underrun. Once again, this clip is at 775kbps .f4v. (I get this playback over a 6Mbps DSL connection).

Testimonials - What Our Customers are Saying

I am just trying to figure out if others get this stuttering or if it is my system.

Thanks for your input.
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 03:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ervin Farkas View Post
I am using 350Kbps total (280Kbps video and 64Kbps mono audio, the codec is x.264) on my church website and there is plenty detail
Hello Ervin.

I agree the video has plenty of detail but even with this low bitrate, the speaker stutters every time he sways back and forth. I just don't know what to expect with Flash video over the web.

This is the same type of stuttering I am seeing with my clips, even locally inside Adobe Media Player. Do you see this on your site?
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 09:14 PM   #10
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I'm afraid you have two issues - one: the video on my church website plays smoothly on my computer, so I'm really not sure why it stutters on yours. And two: the sample I just watched on your site has indeed a very strange stutter, almost looking like time remap, slowing down almost to full stop for a fraction of a second, then speeding to catch up with the audio. Very strange, I don't think I've seen it before.

Tim, you're going through the same painful testing process I went through a couple of years ago, with Virtualdub and every imaginable piece of software from Adobe, Sorenson, Grass Valley, and others.

In the end, what worked for me was MPEG Streamclip, which I recently replaced with Handbrake, as Streamclip is not working on W7 quite the way it was on XP.

Do yourself a favor and test H.264 for your website. The Flash player will take it happily.

For me, my tests clearly demonstrated that H.264 is far superior to Flash.
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 10:22 PM   #11
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This newer link... I don't like that there is no indication of clip length or progress. Content-wise, the testimonial seems endless and repetitive.

Video looks good. I saw perhaps 5 stutters.

I see from the page code that you've taken the output of AME into Flash to generate the f4v inside a swf container? One thing you've got to be extremely careful of is to have the same framerate (exactly the same!) in your flash project, eg. 29.97 is not 30fps. Even this small difference can cause problems with flash, and could account for audio/video sync errors and stuttering. Another area to test out is the audio codec settings in AME. You should be giving it some sort of intermediate file with audio at 16bit/48KHz.

Have you made the switch to cbr? 775/1100VBR is not conservative, period.

More help might be possible if you more thoroughly detailed the workflow, rather than just looking at the end product. What file are you giving AME? What are your AME settings? What are your flash swf settings?

Also, when working with flash CS4, if you publish html out of flash, it will give you an excellent browser sniff routine that I don't see in the page.

I don't agree with Ervin regarding the superiority of h.264 to flv. h.264 vs. VP6 in flv is a tossup. Quality is nearly the same, VP6 decodes much easier.

If Ervin's comparison is to the Sorenson Spark codec in an FLV container vs. h.264, then I would agree - the Spark codec is horrible by today's standards. However, with AME CS4 you have access to the VP6 codec and it is excellent.
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Old March 24th, 2010, 12:32 AM   #12
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First, thank you so much for your attention. I am learning the web/Flash end of this to some extent so I will document my workflow.

As far as stutters on my system, I recently moved to Windows 7 with a i7-920 CPU and 12 GB of ram. I have installed and uninstalled Flash but this stutter issue even happens inside of Adobe Media Player locally with f4v & flv. But, when I play the files with Nero Showtime, they play smooth without any stutter. I called Adobe and they were throwing darts. They mentioned some K-light codec pack but I read negative things. Anyway, ideas on that would be greatly appreciated.

Workflow:

Edit in Edius
Export Canopus HQ (full res, same as source)
Downres in Virtualdub to Uncompressed, the framesize of the Flash file (720x405)
Import into AME, Export .f4v file
Import .f4v file into Flash CS4
Publish .swf & embed into webpage

AME settings:
Framerate - Same as source
Field order - none (progressive)
Profile Main
Level 4.1
VBR 2-pass, 775 - 1.2
Keyframe distance - 300 (had the same issue at all settings down to 15)
Audio - AAC, stereo, 44kHz, High 192kbps - (48kHz is not an option)

Flash settings:
AS3
Audio Stream - Raw, 44kHz, Stereo
Audio Event - MP3, 16kbps, Mono
SWF Settings - All unchecked
Hardware Acceleration - None - (I have never noticed this tab, does it make a difference?)
SWF framerate is at 30 - (This should be 29.97?)
Published .swf only to embed in webpage

I will wait to make changes until I hear back about these settings. Flash is my weakest program so I am most prone to error in this area.

Thanks for your help!
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Old March 24th, 2010, 06:52 AM   #13
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After reading Seth's opinion on the Flash encode with AME, I may go back; my tests are indeed about 2-3 years old and have not included Adobe CS4.

Tim, you have the same computer I have, perhaps with a different mobo (mine is the Asus P6T DV2) and video card (for right now mine is a GT9800 w/512MB RAM, will move down into my office machine once I figure out what I want in this new computer). Running W7 also, the Ultimate flavor.

My main editing app is also Edius.

Stay away from codec pacs, I can't believe Adobe tech support would even mention something like that, the K-lite pack in particular is notorious for screwing up computers. You have all the codecs you need right there on your computer.

Re: your AME settings - two of them look strange to me, althoug as I already said, I have no experience with Flash encodes in AME. The frame rate should indeed be the frame rate of your source file, as Seth already mentioned, going from 29.97 to 30 will add a frame here and there (causing stutter???). The other one is the audio sample rate mismatch - why not keep it at the original 48Khz?

And lastly, re: your workflow. Your video frame size is 720x405 - should be 'rounded' to the nearest number divisible by 16 (480), so the experts say. It has to do with macroblocks - might be the cause of the one pixel black line I see at the bottom of all of your videos.

Just to eliminate another possible problem, try skipping the Flash import/export part and use the free JW flash player, that's what I use. (Can AME export to .flv instead of .f4v)?

192Kbps for audio is way overkill for the web, 112 or 128 is plenty enough.
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Old March 24th, 2010, 11:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
...this stutter issue even happens inside of Adobe Media Player locally with f4v & flv. But, when I play the files with Nero Showtime, they play smooth without any stutter. I called Adobe and they were throwing darts. They mentioned some K-light codec pack but I read negative things....
Can't help you there, but I do agree with Ervin; stay away from codec packs like klite! Are these known-good f4v/flv video files you're playing?

Tim's Workflow, my comments:

Edit in Edius
Export Canopus HQ (full res, same as source)Output a format that AME can use, no need to rescale at this step, best workflow has AME doing the rescaling
Downres in Virtualdub to Uncompressed, the framesize of the Flash file (720x405) Junk this step until you have other stuff running as you wish - simplify!
Import into AME, Export .f4v file again, try VP6E flv
Import .f4v file into Flash CS4
Publish .swf & embed into webpage

AME settings:
Framerate - Same as source
Field order - none (progressive)
Profile Main
Level 4.1
VBR 2-pass, 775 - 1.2 again, CBR
Keyframe distance - 300 (had the same issue at all settings down to 15)
Audio - AAC, stereo, 44kHz, High 192kbps - (48kHz is not an option)
What video codec is going into your f4v?

Flash settings:
AS3
Audio Stream - Raw, 44kHz, Stereo
Audio Event - MP3, 16kbps, Mono
SWF Settings - All unchecked
Hardware Acceleration - None - (I have never noticed this tab, does it make a difference?)
SWF framerate is at 30 - (This should be 29.97?)This must be the same framerate as your video file. Could be 29.97, could be 30, look back to your original edit and render out of Edius.
Published .swf only to embed in webpage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ervin Farkas View Post
After reading Seth's opinion on the Flash encode with AME, I may go back; my tests are indeed about 2-3 years old and have not included Adobe CS4.
Again, this is codec-dependant. It's not CS4 so much as it is the VP6 codec, which was never available with free-ware encoders. You'd get VP6 either from On2, as a Sorenson add-on, or from Adobe in encoders or software suites. Freeware that makes "flash video" only includes the Spark codec, dates back to the mid-90s. The h.264 codec/container, included with many recent free-ware encoders is very good. VP6 is in the same ball-park. It's a moving target as to which to choose...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ervin Farkas View Post
And lastly, re: your workflow. Your video frame size is 720x405 - should be 'rounded' to the nearest number divisible by 16 (480), so the experts say. It has to do with macroblocks - might be the cause of the one pixel black line I see at the bottom of all of your videos.

Just to eliminate another possible problem, try skipping the Flash import/export part and use the free JW flash player, that's what I use. (Can AME export to .flv instead of .f4v)?

192Kbps for audio is way overkill for the web, 112 or 128 is plenty enough.
Ervin's right. This is not sufficiently widely known, that various codecs/container video dimensions must be divisible by 16 or 4, depending on the codec (which info is hard to find!). Also recommend going to square pixels. 640x360 might be a good benchmark for you.

JWplayer is a good resource to simplify the process for troubleshooting.

AME CS4 can export to flv.

I go as low as 32Kbps mono for voice-only audio. 64K seems fine for VO / background music. Otherwise you're just taking bits that could be used to better advantage by video.

**********************************************
Tim, it seems like we're doing more typing than testing. You gotta' know that encoding/streaming is art as well as science, and that although I've been in streaming since the stone age, and teach a college course in it, there is no group of "magic settings" that I'll just tell you and everything will then be fine. You gotta' test to find what's best for your content and your audience! It's a judgement call that only you can make.

My best recommendation is that you simplify your workflow as much as possible, select a 1-minute representative clip, and do 6 different encodes today, based on all the comments above. And, don't exceed 600 or 700Kbps CBR.
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Old March 24th, 2010, 11:18 AM   #15
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Hello Ervin,

I will answer your points:

- There is no setting for 48kHz in AME. 44kHz is the highest it will go...
- I have read about the 16 rule in Flash, but wanted a bit larger frame. I tested and both seem to play the same.
- I looked at the JW player, but this is for my business and the commercial license is almost $100. I thought I would use progams I already own.
- AME can export .flv, .f4v as well as h.264. Adobe says to use .f4v because it is h.264 developed specifically for Flash

I have a gigabyte mobo with an ATI 4850 vidoe card. Maybe some driver updates? Does the video card have that much of a role with Flash playback now? I know it will in the future.
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