Stuttering Playout, Dropped Frames, Glitches

If you experience stuttering video or audio, or even small glitches during the playout, you find here some ideas to lookout for. Most likely this happens, because the system is not able to deliver the video frames fast enough for the decoding process of PLAYDECK. This may result in hearable stuttering of audio. If it glitches here and there, but the file runs smoothly otherwise, something is interfering with the playout process causing a bottleneck.

Quickstart: Symptoms and Fix

Please note, that if you see glitches in the PREVIEW, it doesnt mean that there are glitches in the Playout.

Constant Stuttering in Audio Output
This is a clear indicator of a system overload. Use common video codecs (H.264). Use a decent NVIDIA GPU. Avoid transcoding. Avoid HTML/Overlays. Disable Channel names in Previews. Reduce resolution. Use a dedicated SDI output card (e.g. Decklink).

Frame Drops on start playing a new Clip, otherwise ok
This indicates a bottleneck from HDD or GPU or CPU. Use SDD. Disable any form of HDD/SDD sleep. Set energy settings to maxium performance. Use lates NVIDIA driver. Play files locally instead of network or NAS. Check for possible overheating problem of GPU. Disable CPU sleep/parking (pref. on Notebooks)

Some glitches here and there, otherwise ok
There is something external interfering with the decoding process. Close all Apps, especially Broswer, or any App that has access to the GPU. Disable Anti-Virus. Check for GPU/CPU peaks in Task Manager.

Find more detailed approaches down below:

Clip as Bottleneck (DNxHD 185x, HAP or ProRes Codec + MXF files)

ProRes unfortunately is not well suited for playback on Windows-based systems. This is because Apple does not provide Windows-optimized codecs. DNxHD 185x, HAP Codecs or MXF files cant be decoded via GPU and are forced to be decoded on the CPU.

In both cases, we recommend switching to H.264 or H.265 instead. For Alpha we recommend HAP. We also recommend to use clips with the same resolution and framerate as the PLAYDECK playlist setting to avoid transcoding.

Harddisk/Network as Bottleneck

Please make sure, that the data rate of your clips can be transferred flawlessly through your system. if your clips run over the network, test them on your local harddisk.

In PLAYDECK under Workflow -> Advanced Settings, disable “Anti HDD Sleep Mechanics” and “Automatic file check and clip reloading”.

Edit your Windows Power Options and disable any HDD sleep mechanics.

GPU as Bottleneck

Since all rendering and decoding processes of PLAYDECK are executed on the GPU, a powerful graphics card is indispensable. PLAYDECK has been developed for NVIDIA graphic cards. It is very unlikely, that you get a good performance out of the CPU alone.

Also make sure, that your NVIDIA is the default graphics adapter in the system. You may have an Intel Onboard GPU. In this case, open the NVIDIA Control Panel, select “Manage 3D settings”. In the “Global Settings” Tab you set “Preferred graphics processor” to “High-performance NVIDIA processor”.

Please always use the latest NVIDIA driver.

CPU as Bottleneck

Lets assume, you have a powerfull GPU and the CPU usage % in PLAYDECK isnt rising above 70%. This still does not mean, that your CPU isnt clipping. It could be, that not all CPU cores are used.

Watch your CPU cores carefully in the task manager, while playing the glitching clip. Maybe one CPU core is clipped at 100%, while other cores are barely being used. This phenomenon is called “CPU parking”. Check, if the CPU usage goes UP, if you DONT play any clips. This indicates, that the CPU cores are been parked, because there is less activity. Here is some information on how to proceed:
https://ostoday.org/windows/how-to-unpark-cores-windows-10.html

Watch out for specific processes in the task manager, which have sudden CPU spikes and disable those processes. One known process is “Antimalware Service Executable”, which is the Windows Defender:
https://blog.emsisoft.com/en/28620/antimalware-service-executable/

Also check the energy settings and make sure, that everything is set to “High performance”.

Decklink (or other) Ouput card as Bottleneck

Since the frame rate control is handed over to the decklink device, once it has been activated, the device itself may cause the glitch and not the system. There are some cases, where customers had installed the decklink to a shared PCI slot, where bandwidth would be reduced. We recommend switching the production format to PAL for testing purposes and watch, if the glitches still appear. You could even deactivate the decklink completly and do a testrun.

Please also use the latest driver for your hardware. Some hardware even require you to apply firmware updates.

Remote Desktop Software / VPN

Some users report stuttering audio (or any other form of instability), when remotely logging IN or OUT of the target machine. This is due to the fact, that those applications reserve ALOT ressources for themselfs. Even the installation can mess with your system. Most common cause is the RD Software inserting a virtual GPU driver as primary GPU into the system (e.g. TeamSpeak does this). Since PLAYDECK is mainly using the primary GPU for all rendering, this will inevitably lead to stuttering. Stuttering always is the first sign of the GPU/CPU not delivering enough rendering for PLAYDECK.

If you already tried all the things above (esp. setting your NVidia GPU as primary GPU), you could try AnyDesk – we made good experience with this and it doesnt switch GPUs. If this still isnt enough, you would need to upgrade the hardware, since any RD Software is always very ressource hungry. You could also try to manually limit ressources to RD, by watching the GPU usage closely (with 2 man, one local, 1 remote) and change system/app/power settings.

In addition, some users reported fixing the problem with connecting a monitor/display on the remote PC, that is running PLAYDECK.

Other Apps as bottleneck

Other applications may use the harddisk, or network, or GPU/CPU. This may not be recognized as GPU/CPU peak, because the app produces only a very short burst/bottleneck. This is harder to detect. Especially if your clips run smooth most of the time and sometimes/rarely glitch or drop only few frames.

Disable any other applications, that might interfere with the clips you are playing. This would most likely to be Anti-Virus/Malware software.

Also try to create a new user within Windows and start PLAYDECK with the user, who has no administration rights. This might block other apps from interfering.

Other Hardware related bottlenecks

Sometimes you might not even realize, that even the power unit of a system can bottleneck the playout. This is especially true, even you use a powerfull graphics card and another playout card (e.g. Decklink), but only provide, lets say only 600W power, which most certainly isnt enough and would cause the graphics card to cause stuttering (especially on the start of the clip, when power is drawn).

If using several video adapters, a good airflow is also very important to prevent overheating of components, which most likely result in glitches happening more later than sooner.

You can use this Bottleneck Tester to see, if any of your components is underperforming:
https://pc-builds.com/calculator/

Unable to start PLAYDECK

If you receive the following error message or if you cannot start PLAYDECK for any other reason, please try one of the solutions below.

Missing user rights or missing files

Please perform a new installation of PLAYDECK under the Windows user account under which PLAYDECK will be used later. If this is not possible, please install PLAYDECK as Windows Administrator. You can then start PLAYDECK from any admin and user account. PLAYDECK supports multiple user accounts.

Antivirus software is blocking PLAYDECK

Please check that PLAYDECK is not blocked or blacklisted in your antivirus software. You may need to add PLAYDECK.exe as an exception to your antivirus software:
c:\Program Files (x86)\JoyEventMedia\Playdeck\Playdeck.exe

Unfortunately, our license protection system is sometimes recognized as false positive by some antivirus programs. We are in regular exchange with all major antivirus manufacturers, but we cannot always exclude such a false-positive finding.

Windows Version Vista/7/8

PLAYDECK is not supported on older Windows Versions. Please use Windows 10 (32 or 64bit). Windows has ended official support for Windows 8 on Jan 2019.

Firewall is blocking access

PLAYDECK asks for firewall allowance during the first installation. This looks like this:

If you accidently skipped this allowance, PLAYDECK may not work. You can later add this to your firewall manually:

Open Start Menu and start typing “firewall” and start “Firewall & network protection”.
Select “Allow an app through the firewall” and select “Change settings”.
Allow “JoyVideoEngine”. If not found, please add with “Allow another app..” and select
c:\Program Files (x86)\JoyEventMedia\Playdeck\engine\Win64\JoyVideoEngine.exe

Notebook Performance / Multiple GPUs

In case you want your Notebook to perform optimal with PLAYDECK, you might need to adjust some options.

Multiple GPUs

If you have multiple GPUs in your system, PLAYDECK doesnt know which one is the most potent and will always use the primary GPU of your System. To see, which GPU is recognized as primary within PLAYDECK, click “Settings > Workflow > Performance > Show GPUs”.

If your potent GPU is NOT listed as primary GPU, you are missing out on the best possible performance. A good scenario is a Notebook like the Razor Blade, which provides an onboard Intel GPU and a seperate dedicated NVidia GPU.

Please note, that decoding (of videos) will ALWAYS be done on the NVidia (if found) and afterwards the Intel (if found) – in this case it doesnt matter if the NVidia is primary or not. The primary GPU is only used for 3D/Rendering (Transcoding, Previews, Outputs, Streams,…).

Change the primary GPU

There are several ways to the another GPU as primary. You have to check, which applies to you:

  1. Open NVIDIA Control Panel, select “Manage 3D settings”. In the “Global Settings” Tab you set “Preferred graphics processor” to “High-performance NVIDIA processor”.
  2. Restart your PC and open the BIOS and deactivate your Onboard GPU or set the primary GPU to the dedicated PCIe slot.
  3. Reconnect your Monitor/Display device. During system boot, Windows may decide for you, which GPU is primary, if it has a monitor connected.
  4. Sometimes, especially on Notebooks, a specific driver/manufacturer software is required to change the primary GPU
  5. Starting with PLAYDECK 3.6 you are able to force using a specific GPU for 3D/rendering

If this doesnt work, your Notebook might not have a dedicated GPU Mode; some older Razer Notebooks for example dont support a Dedicated GPU Mode. There is nothing you can do then: The NVIDIA GPU needs to be the Primary GPU of the System, otherwise it cant be fully utilized by PLAYDECK.

Remote Desktop software

Another scenario is connecting to the system via Remote Desktop software. Some tool will create a new virtual GPU upon connection to handle the picture transfer. This interferes greatly with PLAYDECK and may to bad a performance, since the primay GPU is now the virutal GPU of the remote desktop software. In this case we recommend to only use remote desktop software, which DOES NOT interfere with the primary GPU. Currently AnyDesk or the native Windows RDP connections work flawless, while TeamViewer causes problems.

Reduce GPU/CPU usage

In case your PLAYDECK runs on an older Onboard GPU (Intel) or even on CPU alone, it might be difficult to get a good performance for dual HD output. To reduce GPU/CPU usage of PLAYDECK you have several options:

  1. Reduce overall Quality (and therefore CPU usage) in “Settings > Workflow > Performance”
  2. Prevent PLAYDECK from needing to transcode video clips during playback: Have videos in the same video format as the playlist
  3. Configure Windows Power Management for Maximum Performance or disable Energy Saving completly
  4. Ensure that all CPU cores are used (Check in Resource Monitor)

NDI no video/audio

Please always use the latest update of PLAYDECK, since we update NDI drivers with almost every release.

Driver Issue

Please always use the latest update of PLAYDECK, since we update NDI drivers with almost every release. Sometimes the receiving side expects certain (latest) driver. Click HERE to get the latest release.

Compatible Settings (Output)

Depending on the receiving NDI device/software, not all video formats and color spaces are supported. Please try different settings and close and restart the NDI connection.

Network Location is not set to Private

Follow the steps below to enable the Private Network Location in Windows 10: 

1. Go to the Start Menu and select the Settings / COG icon
2. Select Network & Internet
3. Select Ethernet from the left hand menu.
4. Click the icon for the network card that says “Connected”.
5. Set the Network profile to Private instead of Public.

Firewall is blocking access

If you have a 3rd party firewall, such as Antivirus or Internet Security software, refer to the documentation to allow the PLAYDECK application and any other NDI related software full network access. This process will need to be completed on all computers using NDI.

IP Addresses are not on the same network / subnet

You may receive a blank NDI input, if the source device or PC is on a different subnet to the PLAYDECK PC. The easiest way to resolve this is to ensure all sources are connected to the same Router or Modem and are set to have their IP addresses automatically assigned (the default).

The PC is connected to multiple networks at the same time

For best results with NDI, the PC running PLAYDECK should only be connected to one network at a time. For example if the PC has an ethernet connection and a wifi connection, make sure the wifi connection is disabled.