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Media Player FAQ

What media player should I use?

Folkstreams films are streamed using the Real Video format. Excerpts of films are provided in Quicktime format to provide an opportunity for visitors to view a high quality stream even if they have a low bandwidth connection. Folkstreams only supports the Real and Quicktime players.

I have cable/DSL broadband but my image is still poor quality.

If you move from dialup to broadband and your streaming image quality does not improve, you may have neglected to tell Real Player about your new bandwidth. Like most Real Player users, I assumed that with modern adaptive streaming technology (Sure Stream), the player would adapt automatically to my faster connection. However, this is currently (Real Player 6.0) not the case.

Although Real Player will attempt to negotiate a higher bandwidth stream, it appears that it retains the "decoder" best suited to 56K dialup bandwidth resulting in poor image quality. The image quality is about the same at broadband speeds as it is with 56K dialup. This is why it is important to update your Realy Player "Connection" setting to the correct bandwidth when changing connections.

When there is a mismatch between the bandwidth available and the connection setting, you will notice slowing, jerkiness, blockiness, blurriness and motion breakup in the video. Restarting the stream after making changes to the Connection settings in Real Player will result in a crystal clear broadband image.

To be sure your Real Player is correctly configured after moving from dialup to broadband (or when increasing bandwidth, such as moving from a lower speed service to a higher speed service):

  1. Go to the toolbar in Real Player. Select the Tools menu.
  2. Select Preferences from the menu.
  3. Locate the Connection entry in the preferences. Select it.
  4. The Bandwidth section contains settings for Normal bandwidth and Maximum bandwidth.
  5. Open the pull down menu, select the setting that most closely matches your new broadband connection. Be sure to check with your provider to know what speed your connection is. Many High Speed Internet cable providers are at 1.5Mbps and moving rapidly to 3Mbps connections, so you would want to select DSL/Cable (400 Kbps and above) at minimum if you have such a connection.

The Connection setting in Real Player can easily be misread. It has two settings, which look at first like minimum and maximum bandwidth. But in reality, one is the "normal" bandwidth and the other maximum. "Normal" is actually the desired bandwidth.

How do I make screenshots or capture screen images?

To make a screenshot on the PC using Windows. hit the Print Screen key. If you have trouble making a screenshot, see the instructions below.

RealOne Player:

  1. In RealOne Player, click the Tools menu and choose Preferences.
  2. In the Category panel, click Hardware.
  3. On the Hardware panel, click to clear the Use Optimized Video box.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Exit and then restart RealOne Player.

Now hit Alt and Print Screen to take the screen shot.

How do I test my broadband connection speed?

There are several websites where you can test the speed of a broadband connection. Some charge a fee, but TestMy.net currently offers a free test. Choose the Download test to find out how fast your connection is for streaming from our site.

Can you show me a comparison of broadband connection speeds?

First, a note. Some connections are symmetrical and others are asymmetrical. What does that mean? Typical cable High Speed Internet connections are asymmetrical, meaning that your download bandwidth (speed) is much greater than your upload bandwidth. This should not affect your viewing of folkstreams because we are downloading to you and you will not typically be uploading anything to us.

How does this compare to a T1 connection? T1 is 1.544 Mbps and a typical cable HSI connection:

Maximum download speed: 3.0Mbps.
Maximum upload speed: 256Kbps.

The cable connection is double the T1 on download, but much slower on upload. This is an asymmetric connection, meaning that the higher speed is only one way, a T1 has 1.5Mbps both ways making it good for teleconferencing. Cable is also affected by demand in the local area, where a T1 may not be. A T3 or the newer "future internet" connections that you might find at a university would be much faster. For more on connections speeds and bandwidth take a look at this connection speeds comparison.

Modem Users

Although Folkstreams films can be viewed over a dialup moden connection, the experience does not offer the smoothness and quality of a broadband connection. The films are best viewed by broadband. Quality can match or exceed a good VHS image at broadband speeds, although you may notice digital video has a different look than analog. At dialup speeds, quality can be acceptable.

It is important that those acessing films over dialup ensure their Real Player is set to a connection "Normal" bandwidth that matches your modem speed. This is typically 56k.

For those who have difficulty obtaining acceptable image quality over dialup connection, look for a Quicktime stream which you can download (it may take a long time) and play from your hard disk.