Sluggish video, lags behind audio

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Sluggish video, lags behind audio GeorgeSlv 11/5/09 4:07 PM
Started a few months ago and it's a general problem with newer videos. Is this because of the switch from h263 to h264 flash format by Youtube? Maybe because it's using aac audio instead of mp3? Are computers having difficulty with this?
Not because video hasn't loaded.
Many users have mentionned this in various ways.
Couldn't exactly find an old thread on this.
If websites require the newest fastest biggest computers for things to work, that's a problem.
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio ebbixx 11/5/09 7:28 PM
Most videos are getting streamed now in their h.264 (newer) encoding so that could be an issue for some older machines.  If you can ensure that only the lowest quality version is streaming (add "&fmt=5" to force that version to play) then you are still looking at a version encoded with the H.263 video codec.

Sometimes I think YouTube is too popular for its own good... fixing this in a really clear way would only add to YouTube's costs, so there's not a lot of practical incentive there to fix it, at least in a company that's engineering-focussed as YouTube has been (to some extent) ever since Google took over.

If you're a tech-savvy user you can easily find unofficial "GreaseMonkey" scripts that will allow you to control your YouTube experience more precisely, and force all videos to play at the quality level that works best for you, at least as long as those scripts are maintained and updated to cope with continuous changes to internals at YouTube.
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio GeorgeSlv 11/6/09 3:00 PM
Thanks ebbixx, but IS that the right answer?
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio ebbixx 11/6/09 5:41 PM
With YouTube you take the answers that you can make for yourself, or you wait seven months (and in the meantime 20 new bugs have cropped up).  Google is heavily invested in by many of the leading hardware makers, so would it be a huge surprise that they would try to subtly push the "upgrade cycle" along?  If you choose to remain in the rear guard you can expect to have to fend for yourself to stay functional.  In the end, though, doing so is probably better for your personal bank account.  Plus you find sources for tools that are usually free, and often make your online experience less frustrating than living on the bleeding edge.

In the end, we all make the choices that make sense for us.  Given the "recession" that's allegedly just "ended," I frankly expect some backtracking on some of these things, but then I've been known to engage in wishful thinking a bit too much at times.
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio GeorgeSlv 11/7/09 9:22 AM
There was talk in other places that it might be a Firefox problem, maybe the flash plugin. (Yes I have the latest. ...and the latest and slowest Firefox...)
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio ebbixx 11/7/09 10:17 AM
Well, I've had issues with the last rev. of Firefox too, so I suppose that is another possibility.  Adobe (maintainers/developers of Flash) don't exactly impress me with how they use their JIRA (bug reporting platform) either.   On the other hand, though, there are many times (mostly off-peak times) when videos play just fine for me.  There are in the last analysis, a lot of different factors involved in whether videos play well, ranging from your computer's basic capabilities (especially to decode the computationally demanding H.264 codec, a codec that some sites still do not use or recommend as an upload format, despite its far superior compression capabilities).  Other factors (a partial list I'm sure):

- how much garbage code is gumming up the works in your OS at the moment? (are you overdue for a cold reboot?)
- how's the traffic out there?  how slowed down has your connection gotten?
- how well was the video you're watching encoded?  (YouTube allows and tries to encode almost everything that anyone can submit... in a few cases they fail but in an amazing array of cases they do manage to encode something that vaguely resembles the original, but, in many cases there are glitches in the playback, sometimes directly traceable to how inappropriate the upload format was for conversion to YouTube's standard encodings.

I'm sure I could nearly write a novel on this and not have been comprehensive in how many ways videos can fail or slow or get choppy.
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio GeorgeSlv 11/7/09 11:20 AM
Quick reply for now:
You recommend cold reboots? without the normal Windows shutoff? (but closing programs first)
Don't tell me h264 wants more than 450 Mhz CPU.
I mostly upload in xvid with mp3, created by Format Factory. I know there's some shit factors over my head about video formats, like fourcc or ffdshow. I don't even know what xvid is.
As examples, my videos on GSMovieMoments.
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio ebbixx 11/7/09 6:12 PM
What I mean by "cold reboot" is a complete shutdown... machine is cold, drives spun down, maybe you have power to peripherals or whatever... just not a "warm reboot" meaning (with Windows) using the "Restart" option which seems inevitably to leave some low level crap still running, still with any memory leaks active and among the walking wounded.  I would NEVER suggest just pulling the plug... usually things get damaged that way.  Most of the time they're little things but not always.  Not suggesting shooting your hardware.

h.264, ideally, wants a separate hardware codec chip that, last I checked, wholesaled for at least $15, making it something that would add at least $50 for the base retail price most people are likely to pay (unless they're build-it-yourself freaks with an eye foremost on cheap.  I'm not going to get into a guessing game of where the lower threshhold is for systems properly decoding H.264... there are just too many factors at work. 

When my machine has been running non-stop for 3 days, a nice game of Spider Solitaire can take it down.

As for xvid, if I understand correctly it's a clone of h.264, as are several others.

Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio GeorgeSlv 11/7/09 7:09 PM
My "cold shut" would mean pressing the shut button on the tower.
More thoughts on Firefox: It collects too much in memory - RAM, as you see in Task Manager. Why doesn't it clear things when we finish with them. I was concerned when it was using over 100 MB, amd now I've seen it over 300 MB. You have to close all Ff windows to clear that. I don't know what the f- a memory leak is, but Ff recently worked on correcting that. So what I get is more memory congestion.
[Ooh, a popup just said Firefox 3.5.5 is available]
Could that explain its trouble with h264?
I have 320 RAM plus virtual.
I think when I play an independent h264 it's not such a problem.
And the blokes in the labs should remember that real people have average computers with various things working on their machines.
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio ebbixx 11/7/09 9:34 PM
The only time I would do that (hit the off button and hold) is a hard hang.  I have a QuadCore at 2.4 GHz and 4GB RAM and I often feel that's not enough for H.264.  Most of the time it is though. 

FF 3.5.3 (or 4?) was crashing on me every day or two for the last week or so, while I was running it, so yes, memory management was and is a problem.  Haven't crashed 3.5.5 (yet) but it's only been installed for about 48 hours, so give it time.  But that's true (bad memory management) of almost every program I've ever used with the possible exception of Blender.

The blokes in the lab are in the lab so they don't have to deal with ordinary people.  For the most part.  I really wish some days I'd done what was needed to join them there.
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio ebbixx 11/7/09 9:41 PM
They may have changed their minds since the last time I uploaded there, but Funny or Die is one of the sites I know of that is not keen on H.264, probably for many of the reasons you cite.  But I don't know nearly as many details about how things are rendered there to say whether that's a good thing or not.  It probably does translate into greater availability and less confusion than has reigned here since YouTube decided to shift mainly to H.264 and offer HD of a sort.  You're unlikely to find any kind of HD online without H.264 or a codec that is equally or more demanding of processors. 

If you find H.264 is the root of your problems there are really just 2 solutions (3 if you include just avoiding YouTube as a solution).

1.  Lock your display options to the lowest levels and hope they stick there;
2.  Look for a third-party script that can lock quality where you want it more reliably than YouTube manages to do with account settings.
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio GeorgeSlv 11/8/09 8:35 AM
Thanks for the replies.
I'd like to hear from more people who are having the problem
At the moment I don't know how to do your suggestion 1. The HQ button under videos shows if that's possible.
I don't believe I'll ever know your 2nd suggestion.
I'll take a look at Metacafe. But I'm sure "problems" are everywhere.
All Youtube's "changes" have eliminated many valuable elements, taking a lot of enjoyment out of using it. Thoughtless programmers with a "who cares about that...I don't" attitude. Change for the sake of f--n change?
About h264, I suppose each time we install or update the codec, fragmention may be a problem.
So Youtube's non-HQ would be h263? Maybe with mp3 instead of aac? YT would not make parallel files now using mp3. (by the way aac sounds better)

Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio ebbixx 11/8/09 12:04 PM
For #1:  Go to  -- I'm assuming you are logged into your channel when you do this.  If you don't have a channel/account there's probably no way to do this.

#2.  Google "Greasemonkey" if you use Firefox or a related browser.  Or search the page at link 1 below.

I don't think it's as simple as change for change's sake, but I can see how it seems that way at times.  There would be no streaming HD without h.264... the fact that it's computationally demanding is a part of that, and a part that there's probably no easy solution for, unless you just prefer having BluRay discs delivered, which are far better HD than what you'll find streaming...

As for YouTube's non-HD, that's a trick question since there are actually two separate "Normal Quality" encodings in common use, and on most machines and connections the only time you'll see the h.263 version is either in first-pass encoding, while waiting for the "full quality" versions to show up, or, if you force the h.263 version to show up. 

Actually there are two h.263 versions typically encoded -- one's a lower resolution and the other's a higher resolution.  Both are bulkier (larger file sizes) and lower quality than just about anything else on YouTube now, but they both have the advantage of running on older, slower processors without 1GB or more of RAM.

As a for instance, here's a video available in just about ever encoding YouTube does:

How it plays back at that URL is anyone's guess, dependent on your settings and connection.  To force the lower res h.263 version, instead use this URL

The higher res h.263 encoding can be found at:

You can do this to almost all videos by adding the &fmt=5 or &fmt=6 tags manually, but digging into Greasemonkey or other "user scripts" can automate the process (and also allow you to bypass other things you don't like about YouTube, but that YouTube is unlikely to change at your request).

Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio GeorgeSlv 11/8/09 6:55 PM
I was thinking of the many youtube changes that eliminated valuable elements.
It seems that it's been proven that the problem is h264. If people say that the preview after uploading before the full quality has no problem. I say so too.
I take it h264 refers to a flash format "container", with mpeg4 as the video code.
It's also related to the browser flash plugin, because downloaded h264 doesn't play so bad.
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio GeorgeSlv 11/8/09 7:16 PM
Correction - downloaded h264 is still a problem.
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio ebbixx 11/8/09 7:55 PM
No.  H.264 is a codec.  A video codec.  The only connection to Flash is that Flash tries to and in some cases has trouble supporting H.264 video, especially when asked to do so on some older processors, notably some slower AMD processors. 

mp4 is a container.  Someone with a better understanding of streaming media tech can probably explain better (and more accurately) than I can the distinctions between containers like mp4, mov, wmv, avi and so on and flv, which has many of the traits of a container, but is mostly used for streaming purposes and hopefully is on the way out, seeing that Adobe seems to be doing a lousy job of maintaining it and adapting it to continuing changes in streaming and video applications (though I suspect some of the issue is also the extensive use of it by YouTube, not just for video but for a lot of advertising content that seems sometimes to create conflicts that affect stability for many users whose complaints you could spend months reading here and elsewhere).

And yes, the browser plugin also has its share of unresolved problems, that you can read extensively on Adobe's Flash JIRA... though the main conclusion I end up drawing is that many of those bugs are not going away before the affected chips burn out or otherwise grind down to some inert state.

It really is sounding like you should probably avoid streaming h264 on your machine and stick to those modes still encoded with the h263 codec?

Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio muzik718 4/24/10 5:37 PM
Why is it that when I watch a or any video its not continuos play, it lags or reloads or buffers, yet on my cell phone it doesnt do that....I never had this issue with watching videos..and being that I have DSL and a new computer....what seems to be the issue here...can some one help me....PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio GeorgeSlv 4/25/10 10:59 AM
Muzik, do you have a Microsoft system?
Re: Sluggish video, lags behind audio GeorgeSlv 4/25/10 7:18 PM