The Photopia Blog

Tips, tutorials & inspiration for making slideshows

JANUARY 23, By Photopia

How to improve a choppy preview

Sometimes, you may experience a choppy playback while previewing a show in Photopia. Occasionally, this can be caused by including several large video files in your show. Did you know that running multiple graphics programs or internet browser tabs can also impact video playback? Read more about reducing choppy playback in today’s blog.

When using video editing software such as Photopia, the preview may sometimes be choppy, but the final rendered video will still be smooth. Understanding the difference between live playback and a fully rendered video file can help you find what might be causing the choppy previews, allowing you to take steps to reduce it.

Live playback from inside a program is infinitely more complex than playing a single, rendered video file. 

For live playback to work, the program needs to calculate a multitude of data in real-time. This includes every photo or video file, every caption layer, every solid/gradient/masking layer, and any sounds being played, not to mention any modifications or animations added to each of these layers. Each frame of your video contains numerous data points that the program must calculate.

These programs are specifically created to perform complex tasks such as real-time playback, and they usually do this without any issues. However, there may be instances where the program struggles to provide a seamless playback due to the numerous calculations involved. In such cases, it’s essential to identify the cause of the problem and resolve it to ensure a smooth playback.

Your computer has a limited amount of resources, including its RAM, graphics/video card, and processors. If you have multiple programs running simultaneously, they might be competing for these resources, especially if they require the same resources, such as graphics rendering.

For instance, Adobe Suite applications can consume a significant amount of computer resources, even if you’re not actively using them but only have them open.

Temporarily disabling your anti-virus software can also reduce choppiness during live playback.

The internet can also be a resource hog, especially nowadays. 

You may not be aware of them, but some websites continuously play video ads, eating up your resources. Having multiple tabs open on your internet browser can decrease the power available for live playback in Photopia.

What can you do if your playback is choppy?

Close any graphics programs that you have open that you aren’t actively using.
Close any internet browser tabs that you aren’t actively using.  Are you saving all those open tabs so you can return to them later?  Try this instead:

Bookmark the tab. If you are using Google Chrome, click on the star at the far right side of the address bar to bookmark that webpage, then close the tab.

Use the Reading List option in Google Chrome.  Right-click on the tab you want to save to your Reading List, then select Add Tab to Reading List.  Your Reading List and Bookmarks can be accessed by clicking the side panel icon next to the address bar. The drop-down menu allows you to see your Bookmarks and Reading List.

Publish a test video out of Photopia. If you are still experiencing choppy playback from within Photopia, try publishing a test video. This can be done anytime while building your show; you don’t need to wait until you’re finished.

  1. Click on Publish in the upper right corner of your opened Project.  
  2. Choose a Video File option as your output, such as MPEG-4 > 1080p (Full HD)
  3. Click the Create button, then choose a save location that you can find easily.
  4. When your show is finished rendering, playback the video file to see if it’s choppy; it most likely won’t be.

Why does a rendered video play smoothly, while live playback can be choppy? The reason is that Photopia has to calculate numerous data points every second during live playback. However, when you publish your show, all these data points are pre-calculated, resulting in only two data points being read for a rendered video file: Video Frames and Audio. This process reduces the workload and makes the playback smoother.

These tips may help reduce the choppiness during playback. Try reducing the number of other programs running simultaneously that might be competing for your computer resources, including your internet browser. Rest assured that your final published show will be smooth and beautiful.

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