I wanted to outline some of the efforts we're making towards increasing the usability of the video player. We know it's been a frustration to everyone (including us) for a while now, but even though we haven't always talked about what we're doing, that doesn't mean we haven't been doing stuff. Here's an outline of some of the issues we've come across and what we're doing to fix those issues.
Stream is low quality/doesn't take advantage of all my bandwidth
We've recently shifted from the service our content delivery network normally uses for serving videos to another service that is responsible for large files. The average video that our CDN delivers for other sites are usually shorter clips that are only a few hundred megs in size, so the lengthy videos that we push out, which can often be a few gigs in size, seemed to be causing problems with this method of delivery. Hopefully you've seen slightly better bandwidth usage over the last week or so; let us know if your video experience has improved.
Stream is choppy/skips around
One of the reasons this happens is due to the aforementioned bandwidth issue: the player will detect that you don't have enough bandwidth to play at the quality you're currently at, so it will bump you down to a lower bitrate video. When this happens, it will often jump you backwards or forwards to the nearest keyframe for the video. (Keyframes are the points in the video that you can jump to when you slide around in the time bar.) When this happens too rapidly, it can cause the stuttering/shifting problem that a many people have experienced.
Smoothing out the bandwidth problems will hopefully make this issue less prevalent, but we're also planning to incorporate a new bitrate setting in between the HD and High settings on our streaming player. This should hopefully allow the player to adapt better to shifting bandwidth conditions and hopefully skip between bitrates less often.
Also, we’re going to increase the number of keyframes in the videos so that, if the video player does skip, it shouldn’t skip quite as far. This should also smooth out seeking in the videos, in that you should be able to land closer to the exact time you want in a video when seeking rather than finding yourself 15 seconds off from your target. Some of these changes should be rolling out over the next week.
We’re continuing to work on the video player to improve its performance and stability. We’ll let you know more of what we’re doing towards those ends as we proceed.
In the meantime, it’s still super helpful to us when you report bugs that you encounter with the player. However, please make sure that you include all of the information we need. Here’s a good example of a bug report:
- OS: Windows 7
- Browser: Chrome
- RAM: 16 GB
- Type Of Player: Streaming
- Adblock: Off
- Specific Problem: In the first 15 minutes of the Company Of Heroes Quicklook page, my player will will consistently skip backwards and forwards in the video, making it almost unwatchable.
If you want to help us fix these bugs, including all of the information above will go a long ways towards allowing us to replicate them in the office. (Feel free to just quote that section and replace it with your own info.) It helps to be as specific as possible when describing the issues that you’re coming up against. And keep in mind that adblock does cause some issues with our player; it helps if you can flip that off to test out video problems.
Thanks for all your patience with the player. Hopefully you’ll start seeing some improvements soon.