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I have a somewhat older computer, and it's fine with most things, but on super high-res video it's choppy and the CPU's at 100%. Should I downsample these videos, or is there a setting that I can use to make them play without stopping?

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difficult to say - what graphics card and what graphics driver are you using? What version of ubuntu? what type of video? What resolution? –  fossfreedom Sep 10 '11 at 20:53
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You have to downsample them before playing them. (Might take a few hours and you loose quality.)

The hard work is really decoding the video and not displaying it. That means no matter if you display a lower resolution video, the work is all the same.

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