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Watchout Display Freezing

Derek Nickell

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First post...no one cares....lol


I am controlling a Z400 machine that has a brand new build (OS, drivers, applications, etc.) and the OS has been scrubbed with the Win7 tweak list.


I can load a video for testing into all three 1920x1080 outputs, create cues and the whole 9, but when I play back the video from a cue or playback from the beginning of the timeline, the video will play for 15-20 seconds and then freeze.


Has anyone seen this issue?  This is currently happening on two of our Z400 machines and not all 4 of them with the exact same specs and OS image.



Thanks in advance, 




Z400 Specs

ATI 6870 GFX

Xeon 3550 @ 3.07

16Gb RAM

OS/Media on separate SSDs


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I assume this is occurring on the Production PC because a Display PC would not play display 3x1920x1080 unless it is a 4K Display.


Perhaps the cpu and/or graphics card are not sufficiently powerful enough to handle 3 x 1920x1080 even in a scaled full quality mode in the Stage Window. Use thumbnails instead. Or to test, Try only one 1920x1080. If that works, then try two 1920x1080. If that is ok, then the system is not able to handle three 1920x1080.


[above edited by Thomas]

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What codec are these video files encoded in? Maybe test using some other format ...


Good advise ...


... or use a lower bitrate.


Lower bit rate would help if the bottleneck is data transfer limitations (disc drive, memory channels, etc).


It would actually make it worse if the bottleneck is cpu capacity.

Increasing the bit rate will help if the CPU is maxing out,

as that lowers the decoding workload.

Also consider, that a CPU monitor may not tell the whole story.

A CPU operating at 6% to 25% could be maxing out on decoding CPU threads.

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Increasing the bitrate (while keeping all other parameters equal) for h264 or MPEG-2 will increase the CPU load, not the opposite. The reason is quite simple, higher bitrate means a greater amount of compressed data to process, which increases the CPU load. I just did a test with a 4k h264 movie encoded at fixed bitrate 5 Mbit/s and 30 Mbit/s, and the 30 Mbit video uses about twice as much CPU in Watchout. 


It will probably be possible to find a codec that behaves in the opposite way, but for most of the common codecs it is a good idea to keep the bitrate as low as possible as long as you are happy with the picture quality. 


To increase the decoding performance for h264 and MPEG-2, it is a good idea to not use B-frames. If there is a setting for the number of reference frames to use in the encoder, it is also a good idea to keep this number quite low. 4 is a good starting point, going beyond that will hardly be helpful in terms of quality or lowering the bitrate, but the memory consumption and decoding complexity will increase dramatically. 



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On my systems I've had some disastrous issues using H.264's "Main" or "High" profiles due to the CABAC coding it introduces. From what I've read it requires more processing power compared to the Baseline profile's CAVLC coding. I've thoroughly tested this and while playing two otherwise identical files simultaneously on two separate display machines, stuttering occurred only on the file encoded using High profile.

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Firewall and Antivirus off. Windows defender off.


This happens on one, two or three or four 1080p 60 outputs. The Evision 6870 has 6 mini DP outputs.


Did Watchout Production give any error messages, eg. Display Connection Lost.

Check the logs in Watchout Production, Watchout Display (both in the folder where Watchout is installed), and Event Viewer of both Production and Display. Any leads in these logs?


Thomas Leong

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"...Z400 machine that has a brand new build (OS, drivers, applications, etc.)..."


A not so obvious possible cause of the freezing you are experiencing is a manufacturer's application. The Z400, being a pre-built hardware from HP, I would look hard at those applications. If able to, uninstall one, test Watchout, uninstall another, test Watchout, etc...until hopefully a culprit puts its hand up.


Thomas Leong

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