Upcoming changes to video loading times and looping

It’s no secret that video loading times on the app are a bit slow, so I wanted to let you know why it’s happening, how we’re fixing it, and some of the necessary tradeoffs.

Why some videos load slow

Right now we download the entire video before starting to play it. This is essentially the same method that we used in Vine, and is part of the reason that we have been able to achieve seamless looping. When paired with a little bit of preloading, this method works pretty well with short videos (6 seconds) because the file size is low enough that loading isn’t usually very apparent.

But this also means that the longer a video gets, the longer it will take to load. This was slightly apparent with the move to 8 seconds, and far more apparent with the move to 16 seconds. That’s why loading times are quite slow on some videos. If we were to allow longer lengths, it would be basically unusable.

How we’re fixing it

We’re moving to a new format that allows us to play videos before they’re fully downloaded. For those if you that care, this format is called HLS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_Live_Streaming) and is the same format used on most streaming apps (Netflix, etc) along with many other video apps.

The net effect of using HLS will be extreme improvements in loading times — hopefully nearly instantaneous in good network conditions. The quality of videos should not be affected, but we will of course need to test this and adjust accordingly based on feedback. (We are working on other ways to make video quality even better but this is a separate thing.)

The tradeoff

Unfortunately, the one issue with any sort of progressive download is that breaks the current way we implement seamless looping. This is why there is a slight “hiccup” in the looping implementation of basically every other app besides Byte and Vine. We don’t love this, but the speed improvements are obviously very important. So we’re currently building the current tradeoff in mind:

  • Short videos are quick to download, so they will use the old implementation and support seamless looping
  • Longer videos take longer to download, so they will use the new implementation and will have a slight hiccup when looping

We haven’t determined what the length cutoffs are going to be yet, but it’s probably something like 8s and below is “short”, and everything else is considered long. We will experiment with this and would like to hear your feedback.

The possible miracle

We have one person on our team, who I will call The Looping King. This person is responsible for the near seamless looping on our website (something no other company, including Vine, has achieved) and basically knows way more about this than anyone.

Anyway, The Looping King (TLK) is currently investigating ways we can build a custom implementation on our apps that allows both HLS and seamless looping. This is a pretty large effort, and is unproven, so it remains to be seen if we can pull it off. But we’re very hopeful.

Next steps

That’s where we are now. We’re not too far off from being able to test the new format and will post another update when we get there. We’ll also keep you posted on TLK’s efforts.

P.S. Since the miracle scenario is something we all want to see, I encourage anyone who wants to let TLK know how much we appreciate their hard work.

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Thanks for your hard work TLK and team!

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thanks for the update, best of luck to the looping king :crown: (and all y’all too :pleading_face:)

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Is the looping king @The_Ginger

I bet it’s @The_Ginger

Even though he’s not on your team… I’m certain it’s @The_Ginger :relieved:

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Appreciate you TLK. And thanks, Dom, for the update :fire:

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thanks for the update, well done team and good luck TLK! i am very hopeful and grateful. you can do this :muscle:t3: seamless looping is everything :blue_heart:

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tysm for the update. and thank you to the team and TLK for everything

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Crossing our fingers for The Loop King

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in The Loop King we trust

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Thank you so much for keeping perfection loops for shorter videos. I thought you were going to say perfect loops were going it the window entirely and I would have been very disappointed. Best of luck to The Looping King :infinity: :crown:

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Humm, as for seamless looping. What if the last second of the video was loaded in and then the rest of the video was loaded in after that? If seamless looping initially required the whole video to be loaded in, did that subsequently indicate that the end needed to be loaded in? So if that is done in advance could that make a difference?

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This sounds great, Dom! I think looping just the shorter videos is actually a very good tradeoff, especially if the camera could have a setting to limit the video recording length to 8 seconds for those who want that. I think that people who make longer videos don’t expect them to loop seamlessly. But if that eventually becomes possible, even better!

High five to TLK :raised_hand:t3: Maybe he should get a forum account, too.

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Will it affect compression and overall quality? Also will bytes load at lower quality when wifi/data signal is low, and the opposite for faster speeds?

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no, iOS and android’s default implementations both require the entirety of the file to be loaded

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it should not affect quality. there is the possibility of doing variable qualities for different bandwidths but that is something we’ll tackle separately. netflix and twitter both do that but its the reason the video is typically blurry for a few seconds before clearing up. which isn’t desirable here

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The Looping King goes hard in the paint

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Feels so good to see one of these again…:slight_smile:

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I really appreciate this effort to preserve the Vine-esque experience a lot of us enjoy while moving forward with the longer lengths others want. Thank you for this.

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Seamless looping is the one thing this app has, that other short form video apps do not. One of the main reasons I don’t use TikTok or IG for video, is because of the no-loop.

I love byte, and I love the community & immediacy of the app. We can ‘call/response’ in almost real time. It’s another thing that sets us apart.

I know I am in the minority and I will get the dismissive and snotty “you don’t have to watch long videos if you don’t want to“ response. But I don’t really care about longer videos, or the self indulgence that seems to accompany it. Allowing for long videos that don’t loop feels like a baby/bath water situation. I understand about competition, and being relevant in the marketplace, all that stuff. I rather see you guys take a long time to perfect it then rush something out. I’d rather see editing tools over any of this tbh.

My hope for the app is to that of a unique platform rather than keeping up with the Joneses (TikTok.) but we have no choice but to “wait and see“ More than anything losing some of the immediacy/seamless looping is definitely a concern of mine.

I do not envy TLK, god speed. Thank you @dom and team for your hard work and transparency

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Thanks to the Byte team for their hard work, and best of luck to the looping king. :clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap: