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Video flicker can happen for various reasons when viewing on-line videos. I'll look at some issues viewing video on-line, including video flicker.
Some (not all) of the time, when I attempt to watch a news clip or movie trailer online, the picture continually flickers. Why, and how do I fix it?
It depends on what you mean by flicker.
Various things can disrupt viewing video on-line. But the increase in popularity of sites like YouTube and Google Video, in addition to the news and movie sites you mention, has a lot of people giving it a try.
Let's look at some of the issues.
Let's start with a definition: there are two ways to play video: streaming and downloading. Both actually download the video to your computer, but it's what happens and when that makes the difference.
Streaming video, as its name implies, is viewed as it's downloaded to your computer. Typically the video player will buffer some amount of video - anywhere from a second or two, to a minute or two depending on the length of the video, and then will start playing as the video as soon as it can - well before the entire video is downloaded.
Downloadable video is exactly that - the video is first downloaded in its entirety, and then viewed using a video player. In a sense it's still "streamed" as you view it, but from your local harddisk, rather than across the network.
One assumption made to support streaming video is that you can download the video faster than it takes to watch it. If your streaming video periodically halts, or the video stops but the audio continues, or you get messages about "rebuffering" frequently, then your download speed isn't fast enough to keep up with the video.
If your download speed can't keep up, you have only two options, really: select a different quality for the video, if you can, or download the video before viewing it.
Many video sites allow you to choose which of several versions of the video you want to watch. The bigger, higher resolution video formats require a faster download speed to stream without interruption. If you run into that problem, try choosing the next lower quality video, if offered.
The other approach is to download the video. This isn't always an option, since it can enable content theft, but when available it works well. It doesn't matter that it might take an hour to download a five minute video because when you finally watch it, it's streaming off of your hard disk at top speed.
Download speed is perhaps the most common problem associated with viewing video on-line.
Other problems with video quality typically boil down to issues with your video card, or the horsepower of the computer you're using to view the video.
What confuses this issue is that different video formats place different demands on the video card and CPU. So videos from one site using one technology may work properly and look just fine, while videos from some other site might well have issues such as flickering. Everything from the actual video card hardware, to its drivers, to the version of DirectX that might be installed on your computer can come into play. Even the computer itself can be an issue.
If you are having problems, one thing I would certainly try is simply updating your video drivers and updating to the latest version of DirectX from Microsoft. Generally staying up to date with Windows Update is also a good thing.
Your CPU plays a vital role depending once again on the video card and video format. Video is compressed - meaning that in order to view it various calculations have to be performed in real time as you view the video to decompress it to a viewable form. "Various calculations" means math, and that means your CPU has work to do. A slow CPU could certainly cause some types of videos not to render fast enough for smooth viewing. Unfortunately, since the video card also plays such a big role in this, there's no hard and fast role as to how fast is fast enough.
If you have an older computer, or an older video card, it's possible that it's simply not up to the task. Depending on your resources, upgrading your video card could be the least expensive approach to the problem. Even in older computers, newer cards do a good job of off-loading much of the work from the CPU.
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