USL Live on Mac OS X – Fixing poor video streaming

Posted in Meta, Tech at 8 am

The following was sent via the USL Live Contact Us form. I’m guessing they won’t get to this until after the season is over, but in case any one wants to know how to get great video from their service on the Mac, read on.

Dear USL Live,

There is a lack of information regarding the set up for Macs to get the best playback on your site and in your Help section. At this point, most of the people I’ve talked to think that it’s impossible to watch USL Live on a Mac. The problem is, they (and your web site) is missing a critical setting that makes USL Live work on a Mac.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE add a section to your FAQs on both of these pages:

You need to add a paragraph that says something like the following:

For the best viewing experience on Mac OS X using the Flip4Mac WMV plug-in, you will need to set the following option in the System Preference Panel.

  1. Click on the Apple Menu in the upper-left hand corner.
  2. Select the System Preferences from the Apple Menu.
  3. In the System Preferences, look for the Flip4Mac WMV icon at the bottom of the window, in the “Other” section. Click on that Flip4Mac WMV icon.
  4. Click on the “Player” tab at the top of the Flip4Mac preference pane.
  5. Make sure that there is a check in the checkbox next to “Create Streaming Movies”.
  6. Close the System Preferences. (No restart is necessary.)

This setting controls how the software treats streamed video (like USL Live). The default method (when the box is not checked) causes Flip4Mac to access the stream without a buffer and without adjusting the video playback to accommodate the speed of your connection.

With this setting activated, Flip4Mac will now perform like a champ, displaying even full screen video with quality on par to the playback on the PC side of things.

In fact, while watching the Portland Timbers (as they defeated the Carolina Railhawks to reclaim first place in the USL First Division) at Slabtown with a contingent of the Timbers Army, the 4 or 5 people gathered around my PowerBook at the back of the bar got to watch the game a full 60 seconds ahead of the other group watching it via a PC laptop.

The amount of buffering that the Mac was doing vs. the amount of buffering on the PC side is the only thing I can think of that would cause this variance. Not that I’m complaining mind you, but when Amy and I started celebrating the Bryan Jordan goal in the 80th minute, I think the rest of the Army was wondering what the hell was going on over in our corner. The goal 50 or 60 seconds later on their screen probably made our whoops and hollers seem like a spoiler. Sorry guys!

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