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Level 8

Visual Seek with USB video on Roku TV?

Hi. This question is about playback of video files from USB flash drive on my newly-purchased Roku-TV, the TCL 6 Series 55R625.

Everything plays fine, but my question is how I can do VISUAL seeking (aka visual searching aka visual Fast Forward or Reverse). Preferably this would have the fast-moving video visible as I seek, but failing that, position-dependent thumbnails (like those I have seen on some of the Roku channels) would be helpful.

This kind of feature, which has been a staple of video playback since ancient VCR days, is invaluable when, say, I am trying to find a certain scene in a video, but don't recall exactly where it is located. I have a Seiki blu-ray player that does this with USB videos, but the Roku Media Player on the TCL has much more dependable, less problem-prone playback...and I don't have to depend on a second remote.  But visual seek is so important to me that I would still choose to use the cranky old Seiki if that's the only way I can get it.

If I can't do what I need directly on the TV with the Roku Media Player, is there perhaps an app I can download that will do visual seeking on usb media? Or would using a different codec enable the feature (I typically use H.264 as MP4)?  Thanks.

4 Replies
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Level 18

Re: Visual Seek with USB video on Roku TV?

Roku refers to that as "Trick mode".  In order to get "scene based trick mode" you have to create a BIF file for each video.  Not for the faint of heart:

https://developer.roku.com/docs/developer-program/media-playback/trick-mode.md

You can search for "Roku BIF file creation" to find other methods, but none of them are trivial.

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Level 8

Re: Visual Seek with USB video on Roku TV?

Thanks for the reply.  But no app that will do it for me?  Uh, I'd rather go back to using the cranky Seiki than try to create bif files.

When I was using Roku Express on my analog TV with cable, I had trials of Hulu Live TV and You Tube TV, and both of them had this kind of "Trick Mode."  IIRC, for Hulu it was a bona fide full-motion visual seek, and for YTTV it was thumbnails.  Just today I added Comcast Xfinity Stream beta to Roku on the TCL, and was surprised that it doesn't have any kind of visual seek, despite having it on both my X1 XG-1 DVR box and their X1 stream apps for Windows, iPhone and Android.  (Not that I need it for that, since I'm keeping the box for at least another 1.5 years.)

Believe it or not, the TCL is my first flat-screen TV.  Can you (or anyone else) report whether any other TV brands' USB video playback has visual seek?  Despite my disappointment, I certainly wouldn't return the TCL over that omission alone.  I'm very happy with the TV and Roku in most respects.  Instead I'm just curious as to whether the situation would've been different with other brand TV's...can't find anything about this in online documentation or discussions.

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Level 18

Re: Visual Seek with USB video on Roku TV?

All Rokus (TVs, sticks, boxes) operate the same.  I'd be surprised if Hulu had a full-motion visual and I'd be interested in how they accomplished that within the Roku limitations.  Every app (channel) is bound by the same limitations.  I can almost understand why Roku never implemented visual seek for streams, but why they can't do it for USB connected devices is beyond me.  They have just never seemed very interested in being a personal media player.  Any type of support was very slow in coming.

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Level 8

Re: Visual Seek with USB video on Roku TV?

Yeah, as I think back on it, maybe what the Hulu Live TV Cloud DVR on Roku offered when fast forwarding and reversing was instead much larger -- and perhaps more numerous -- thumbnails than You Tube TV...to the point where it seemed nearly as useful as actual visual search.

Would still be interested in whether the usb video-file playback options on other TVs offer visual seek.  Your comments seem to imply that others *do*? 

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