PC settings for smooth playback

This may be old hat for some on this list but there are a number of new folks who could probably benefit.

There are a number of things that can effect smooth playback on PC.

You need to make sure your hard drives are configured properly. On a PC with IDE drives, this means hard drives should be on the primary, which is usually the faster IDE port, removable media drives on the secondary. All drives should be jumpered correctly, (one master one slave per port) as I have seen incorrectly jumpered drives on one port affect performance of correctly jumpered drives on the other. Some sort of crosstalk. I've seen this effect on both PC and Mac with IDE. The other thing is to make sure DMA is turned on for your hard drives, if not, you will not be getting the full throughput your drives are capable of and will probably see dropped frames, skippy playback, etc. DMA is turned on under 95/98/ME in the system control panel, device manager. Click the + next to disk drives and click on the "generic IDE" entries. A new dialog box will come up. Click "settings" and midway down the panel you'll see a bounded area labeled "options". Check the DMA box. On Windows 2000, system control panel, hardware, device manager, click the plus next to hard drive controllers, click on Primary IDE controller, use the pull down menu to select "DMA if availible" for each drive. CD ROMS and removables will only allow PIO.

The Sound Out settings in the Quicktime control panel affect smoothness of playback/audio sync when you are doing SoftDV or LiveDV playback and the audio is coming out of the computer speakers, as opposed to print to DV where the audio and video are both going out the firewire. If you have no dropped frames on capture, smooth playback in sync when doing print to DV (either play or record) but SoftDV or LiveDV playback is skippy and not in sync, then it is most likely this setting that is affecting you. Open the QT control panel. Select "Sound Out". Change "choose a device" for playback from the default "direct sound" to "waveout". If there is more than one "Waveout" option, choose either "Waveout window preferred" or "waveout (name of your sound card here)" Then set the sample rate to stereo and the same Khz as the clips and project settings in Cinestream.

VIA Chipset motherboards. Users with motherboards that use the VIA chipsets may still see dropped frames even if all the above items are configured correctly. If you are on a clone system, go to VIA's website, www.viatech.com and download the latest upgrades for the particular VIA chipset you have. These are usually called "4 in One" updates by VIA and usually include a bios update and some updates for IDE and USB controller drivers. If you have a name brand (i.e. Compaq, HP, Gateway etc.) CPU with a VIA chipset, check that particular manufacturers website for updates for you specific model CPU (I've seen this a lot with HP Pavilions, BTW) How to tell if you have the VIA chipset? Click the + next to USB controllers in the device manager, and if it says the USB controller is VIA then you have the VIA chipset.

Defragmentation utilities: It's a good idea to defragment your hard drive before starting a DV project.

"Systray" items. Back in the old DOS days they used to call these things TSR's Whatever term you use for them, it's a good idea to minimize the number of them running, and turn off any that may access the hard drive while you are trying to capture and/or playback.

Other applications running in background: I avoid doing this while doing capture and playback, just to make sure nothing else is trying to access the hard drives.

SCSI cards, additional IDE controller cards, RAIDS. SCSI cards may require software/bios for the card to be tweaked to achieve proper capture/playback. Your SCSI card manfacturer should be able to assist you to find the proper settings for DV capture and playback.

Additional IDE controllers such as the "Promise Fast Track" can be the source of playback problems. Users report mixed results with these. You may have to change its slot position with relation to the firewire cards, or remove it entirely and use the motherboard IDE controller.

RAIDS: unlike Analog video capture products, which require more drive throughput RAIDS are not necessary for FireWire DV and in some instances may even be too fast.

Mat Thompson

Some Further Windows Tweaks From Cinestream Users

Windows 98

Go into system properties (Windows key + Pause) or via the control panel.
Under the perfomance tab, file system button, change the 'typical role of this computer' to 'NETWORK SERVER'
instead of it's default 'DESKTOP PC'.
Seems to handle the disk 'late interupts' better, and keeps the 'stuttering' down in cinestream.

- Dean

For Windows 2000 the tweaks at the following link should help:


But there is no similar tweak for Win2K to the setting that Dean mentioned for Win98 - it's simply not needed for NT5 which already has very robust settings. Here's what Microsoft says about the tweak :
"When you use the Network Server setting, VFAT allocates memory to record the 64 most recently accessed folders and the 2729 most recently accessed files". http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q140/6/79.asp
Windows 2000 is already highly optimized for this.

Regarding virtual memory, I just go with the default setting. I've never had a need to change it.

- Keith

For some more tweaks and tips for getting the best performance from your non-linear PC video setup check out the Videoguys Support Page


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