iTunes, let me watch this TV show please!
March 4, 2009 4:02 AM   Subscribe

How can I make iTunes play a large video file?

I am trying to watch an HD video on iTunes. The file is 1.62 GB (aka huge) and my iBook G4 does not like it.

Basically, the audio runs ok but the screen glitches and freezes and does not "keep up" with the audio. The whole thing runs slowly.

I would download a poor-quality video just to watch but it was only available on iTunes in HD (bah). I have shut down all other programs running to make it run faster, to no avail. My RAM is limited but I can't help that.

What are good short-term solutions? Some way to degrade the file quality to shrink it? Some hidden process on my mac that I can shut down to speed things up?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
posted by fantine to Technology (10 answers total)
The problem is that you have the HD version; your G4 can't play HD clips in Apple's H.264 format. (to be honest, it is a 'standard' - mpeg4 part 10).

You MIGHT be able to get away with running MPEG Streamclip and converting it to something else.
posted by filmgeek at 4:26 AM on March 4, 2009

Really? There is no way to play the HD clips on the G4?

I tried putting it on my iPod Nano (software version 1.1.3) and got the message "Stage Fright was not copied to the iPod because it cannot be played on this iPod. So I need a new version of the Mac OS or something to see it?
posted by fantine at 6:03 AM on March 4, 2009

I don't know if it would help, but you could try playing the file in VLC, it tends to play videos a bit better for me when the overhead of iTunes gets to be too much.

On preview: I reread your question to see that it was an iTunes store file, and thus DRM'd out the wazoo. Perhaps you can try playing it in standalone Quicktime?
posted by shinynewnick at 6:11 AM on March 4, 2009

I'm afraid you're probably out of luck. The HD files do take a significant chunk of processor speed to play, and the iBook G4 is definitely as the shallow end of the pool here. A new version of the operating system will not help you. If this weren't a DRMed file you could convert it to a lower resolution file that would play, or even convert it to a file that would play on your iPod, but you've been a good and lawful consumer and that means you get screwed.
I think it's time for some civil disobedience. I suggest you install bit-torrent and download a lower resolution, DRM free copy of the file. Here's a search for torrents of "Stage Fright."
Good luck.
posted by raygan at 6:18 AM on March 4, 2009

The minimum system spec for HD video, according to Apple's Quicktime Specs page, is a "1.8 GHz PowerMac G5 or 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo or faster Macintosh computer" which unfortunately means you're not going to get good performance even if you strip out every extraneous process on your machine.

However, according to this iTunes 8 page, "when you buy HD, iTunes doubles your viewing pleasure: You also get an iPod-ready version with a file size and resolution that's ideal for smaller screens." So you could look on your hard drive for a second video file and try playing that one instead. I don't have any iTunes videos on my Mac right now but I'm pretty sure they're stored in ~/iTunes/iTunes Music/Movies (where the ~ is your home folder). Worth a look, right?
posted by bcwinters at 6:39 AM on March 4, 2009

Oh wait a second—are you trying to watch the episode of Dollhouse from last week?

You can watch it on Hulu right in your browser for free if you want.
posted by bcwinters at 6:56 AM on March 4, 2009

Thanks for the responses so far! I will keep trying. bcwinters, I am in Europe, so no hulu for me (that is where I go first!)
posted by fantine at 10:04 AM on March 4, 2009

fantine, if you want to watch last week's Dollhouse, I will hook you up. MeFi mail me, and it shall be done.
posted by shinynewnick at 10:10 AM on March 4, 2009

Mission accomplished! dcwinters, your suggestion was right on target -- I just watched the iPod-quality video. Long live standard definition!

shinynewnick, thank you for your offer. : ) It is much appreciated and I would have definitely taken you up on it had the other file not turned up.
posted by fantine at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2009

Glad to hear, I'll take it out of my Dropbox account, enjoy the show.
posted by shinynewnick at 1:38 PM on March 4, 2009

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