Apple TV2 Video Quality Issues. Please Assist me.

  Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Post Reply
ZeldaZonk Offline
Junior Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2011
Reputation: 0
Post: #1
Hello, all.

I'm new to this. My first experience streaming video files from my MacPro came two weeks ago. I installed the app called "PS3 MediaServer" to my MacPro. It allows video/photo streaming from the computer to a Playstation 3, connected to my plasma tv. It works quite well, and as i had nothing to purchase (I had the PS3, and the PS3MS is a free download), i was pleased but also enthusiastic about the potential.

So, when i found that the Apple TV 2g could be hacked to play various video files, "i jump in it."

Took me two days to get the ATV jailbroken and XBMC installed, but i'm sorta set up now. But, video playback is...not good.

I need to back up a bit. The PS3 solution was great, for the most part. Playback is great. I love that the FF/RW on the remote works, although it's not smooth. But, instead, there's a button that shows indexed frames at certain intervals, so you can skip ahead. The only problem with the PS3 solution is that certain files do not play (error messages say either that the file is unsupported or sometimes corrupted), even though those files play on my computer. And, other files play back with distorted colors. So, i was hoping a hardware solution would iron those issues out.

Back to the Apple TV 2 with XBMC: The files that did not play on the PS3 are playing. With a couple of exceptions that shut the XBMC down. That's not the issue. The problem is that the quality of playback is pretty bad in most cases. The video has weird 'timing issues.' It will look slightly 'slo-mo,' or playback will look like it alternates between slightly slow and slightly fast - alternating from second to second sometimes.

Also, if a video seems to be playing back properly, it's still not as good as the PS3 playback. And if i try to FF the clip by even a few seconds, when it resumes, it seems to be 'off' speed-wise, and audio can be out of sync.

I expected playback to be equal to- or better than just using a free app to work through the Playstation. I'm finding it to be a worse solution. Streaming video through NetFlix, for example, looks the same through the PS3 and through the ATV2 with XBMC.

So, what am i doing wrong with my personal video files? I was using the same wired/internet cable to compare the PS3MediaServer playback to the XBMC playback, so that seems not to be a variable.

What video settings should i be using?

I'm Filesharing from the MacPro using SMB, with my video folder indicated in XBMC as smb://192..... with the IP taken from the Apple TV's Settings display.

Apple TV Network says i'm configured using TCP/IP.
IP Address: same as i entered in the SMB for the folder file share, although it says DHCP in the Apple TV "Network" list.

XBMC settings > Videos > PLAYBACK: I only have "AutoDetect" as a "render method."
Should Allow Hardware acceleration (Video Toolbox) be checked On?
Sync Playback to display?
A/V Sync method is grayed out
Allowed Error in aspect ratio...: None
Display 4:3 videos as: Normal
Activate Teletext: off

XBMC settings > Videos > SYSTEM:
Vertical Blank Sync: always enabled

XBMC settings > Videos > NETWORK
Services: What should be enabled here? Which Po

My system is set up as follows:
Video files (.wmv, .avi, .mp4, etc., from low-resolution through 1080p.) - all stored on my MacPro's internal boot drive. I will be putting them on their own external HD next week.
Ethernet cable to the Apple TV 2G, from my modem, which is connected to the MacPro via ethernet. Same connection as the Playstation 3.
Apple TV 2g purchased March 2011. Jailbreak via Seas0nPass, with XBMC installed through NitoTV via Terminal commands.

I'm not super techy, so if you respond, please don't use acronyms beyond the most obvious.
Thanks in advance.
find quote
Paraffin Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 139
Joined: Mar 2011
Reputation: 0
Post: #2
I must say I am getting the same issue, I even get this issue when the media is local to the ATV2. I have looked in the known issues but I am not sure this is covered, is this a known issue as it is ATV2 specific?

I have posted logs on another thread and also the media info but if fresh logs are needed I can provide them.
find quote
procrastinator Offline
Fan
Posts: 443
Joined: Aug 2008
Reputation: 4
Location: UK
Post: #3
Hi ZeldaZonk, Your post is quite wordy so I'm going to summarise and make sure that I've understood what your issues are. Let me know if I miss anything:
  • situation: you used to use PS3 MediaServer to stream content to your PS3, but you are now using AppleTV 2 with content streamed over SMB
  • situation: you are using a wired network connection
  • problem: you have random crashes on specific video files, but that's not what you want to know about in this topic
  • problem: video playback appears to be jerky
  • question: is it something wrong with your setting up of video files/sharing that is causing the poor playback?
  • question: Are the settings that you have listed correct?

If hardware acceleration is not checked in settings, then check this, though this won't help for all formats you are trying to play. Apart from that, from what I can tell there's nothing obvious that should be wrong with your setup. There might be something wrong with your description though: you said
Quote:I'm Filesharing from the MacPro using SMB, with my video folder indicated in XBMC as smb://192..... with the IP taken from the Apple TV's Settings display.
If you were using the IP of your AppleTV as the source (for your video folder) then XBMC wouldn't be able to find it because it'll be looking on your AppleTV rather than on your Mac Pro. So you might not have described this right, but I'm presuming you have it set up right or else you wouldn't see or be able to play any content at all.

So what might be causing the choppy playback? As I said, there's nothing immediately obvious that stands out to me, but quite a number of users have been experiencing problems with streaming over SMB. As far as I know the root cause of this hasn't been established yet, and I'm one of those who don't experience the problem so can't offer any advice from personal experience. There are several threads on issues of streaming over SMB, so my advice would be to look through some of those, and keep track of the most active one.

The SMB streaming problem has recently been added to the known issues under the "Playback, video" header:
Quote:
  • Although not universal, a significant number of users are reporting difficulty in streaming video over SMB - there are numerous threads on the subject, use the forum search for further info (thanks haffi)

I believe the PS3 MediaServer works by streaming using the UPnP protocol which is also supported by XBMC. You could try adding the PS3 MediaServer as a UPnP source in XBMC which might give you smooth playback. You'd probably only want to use this as a stopgap though as media from UPnP sources cannot be added to the library.

Other than hardware acceleration not being on in video settings then I can't see anything in particular wrong with your settings.

Hope that's useful
(This post was last modified: 2011-03-21 02:45 by procrastinator.)
find quote
ZeldaZonk Offline
Junior Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2011
Reputation: 0
Post: #4
procrastinator Wrote:There might be something wrong with your description though: you said

If you were using the IP of your AppleTV as the source (for your video folder) then XBMC wouldn't be able to find it because it'll be looking on your AppleTV rather than on your Mac Pro. So you might not have described this right, but I'm presuming you have it set up right or else you wouldn't see or be able to play any content at all.

Hi.
Yes, you're right - the IP i'm using is that of the MacPro, and not the Apple TV itself.
find quote
bircoe Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 192
Joined: Feb 2011
Reputation: 1
Post: #5
ZeldaZonk, you've provided a huge amount of information, but done little to describe the media files that are suffering from this issue.

What resolution are they, how high is the average bitrate, what video and audio codec, what container etc.

If you don't know how to get this info, use a program called Mediainfo, Bitrate Viewer is another useful program for analyzing the bitrate of videos.

PS Comparing the Apple TV 2 and PS3 is not a fair comparison, on one hand you have a device based off portable electronics hardware (iPad and iPhone) on the other hand you have a power house gaming console that was built from the ground up to support Full HD Bluray and high resolution gaming... it has a 3.2GHz IBM PowerPC CPU with 6 "SPE's" that it can offload work to, the graphics unit is a custom unit provided by nVidia which is based around the GeForce 7800 GTX graphics core, the PS3 is massively more powerful than the ATV2.

The reason the PS3 refuses to play some files is Sony's refusal to support all containers and formats, ie MKV, Sony feel that supporting all of the available containers could potentially hurt their online video purchase service.

I also have to wonder why you'd expect netflix to look better on an ATV2 compared to a PS3, the PS3 supports display output at up to 1080p where as the ATV only supports 720p, depending on the content I would expect the ATV2 to look worse.
(This post was last modified: 2011-03-21 03:18 by bircoe.)
find quote
ZeldaZonk Offline
Junior Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2011
Reputation: 0
Post: #6
Hi, bircoe.

I didn't describe the media files more thoroughly because they are so numerous, and so diverse. They all, though, are either .wmv, .avi, or .mp4. They range from extremely low resolution up to full HD, but most are around 720x480. The issue doesn't seem to be related to the resolution or size of the file. The lowest res/smallest files suffer the same playback issues and None of them play as smoothly and scrub as easily as when they're going through the PS3.

Only two of my files are MKVs, so i'm not concerned about them so much.

I thank you for the PS3 "powerhouse gaming console" comment, as i do not understand how these things work. I was under the impression that the PS3 wasn't actually doing any 'work,' and that the load was being carried by the PS3MediaServer app/utility on the base computer. I sorta thought the PS3 was just 'passing the info through' to the display.

And, because both the PS3 and the Apple TV 2g seem to handle other streams (NetFlix, for instance), i thought both had similar capabilities. It didn't cross my mind that the Apple TV would have difficulty working with a 90MB, 540 pixel video file. I think even my iPhone can play some of these things more easily, actually....

I guess i could accept that the Apple TV is less capable if it didn't seem like other people ARE able to play video without these problems. I haven't even tried yet to play a DVD rip.
find quote
procrastinator Offline
Fan
Posts: 443
Joined: Aug 2008
Reputation: 4
Location: UK
Post: #7
It's not unreasonable to assume that the Apple TV 2 would playback content smoothly. Personally I am able to playback all my standard definition content, and h264 encoded 720p files without a hitch over 802.11G wireless network. Although I don't have any 1080p files, or any non-h264 720p, it has successfully and smoothly played back everything that I've thrown at it.

Have you tried adding the PS3 MediaServer as a UPnP source to XBMC? If SMB is the issue here then you should get smooth playback when playing via a UPnP source. As you've just read above the MediaServer will just be serving up the files, its still XBMC that'll be doing the leg-work of decoding. So if you are still getting problems after switching to a UPnP source you can tell that it's not necessarily SMB, but may be the files themselves, or something to do with XBMC which is separate from use of the SMB protocol that is casuing the issue.
find quote
dazex Offline
Donor
Posts: 539
Joined: Nov 2009
Reputation: 0
Post: #8
Couple of things. Have you tried playing the videos on the ATV2 going through PS3MediaServer? That way, it can be a more apples to apples comparison of the video quality between the PS2 and ATV2.

Secondly, which version of XBMC are you using. You can find out via the homescreen, go to System and pressing right. From the slide out menu, choose System Information. Let us know which version and build you are running.
find quote
bircoe Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 192
Joined: Feb 2011
Reputation: 1
Post: #9
ZeldaZonk Wrote:I thank you for the PS3 "powerhouse gaming console" comment, as i do not understand how these things work. I was under the impression that the PS3 wasn't actually doing any 'work,' and that the load was being carried by the PS3MediaServer app/utility on the base computer. I sorta thought the PS3 was just 'passing the info through' to the display.

You're not quite on the right track, while yes the server app does stream the video to the device in question, the device still has to decode the information it's being sent and display it, weather playing a local media file or streaming a file assuming both scenarios involve the same file the amount of work done by the device is about the same, streaming is probably harder because there is also the overhead of the TCP/IP stack, ie the network protocol...

Don't get me wrong the ATV2 is quite a capable little beast, but in terms of raw horse power the PS3 has it beaten well and truly.

I'm not exactly sure what could be the problem in your setup, I seem to be one of the lucky ones that have no issues playing almost any content... except for stupid high bitrate full HD stuff, but that comes down to hardware limitations.

I have 3 ATV2's and none of them exhibit the stuttering or buffering that others are complaining about, the only thing i can put it down to is the network/sharing setup.
find quote
procrastinator Offline
Fan
Posts: 443
Joined: Aug 2008
Reputation: 4
Location: UK
Post: #10
@ZeldaZonk

I just did a little bit of digging and found that the PS3 MediaServer is one of few UPnP servers which you CAN use to add content to your library - according to this post at least:
http://forum.xbmc.org/showpost.php?p=751...stcount=30
So if you find that the videos do stream OK over UPnP then there's your solution!
find quote