Firefox gets native HTML5 video play speed modifiers

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 9, 2013
Updated • Apr 1, 2013

I certainly see the use in changing the play speed of certain videos or audio files. You can for instance speed up an interesting but long winded tech podcast this way, or slow down an interesting scene of a video to not miss a single frame of it. Up until now though there was not really much that you could do in regards to audio or video on the Internet. While some sites offered controls to speed up or slow down the play speed, the majority of services or browsers did not come with those options at all.

Mozilla has added a new feature to Firefox's Nightly channel that adds native HTML5 video play speed modifiers to the browser. HTML5 video means that it is only working if you play HTML5 video and not videos using plugins such as Adobe Flash or Silverlight. It is also important to note that it depends on the player whether the control is available or not.

For YouTube for instance, it is not while you will find it available on sites that do not use their own video menu when videos are played on the site.

To change the play speed of a video, you simply right-click it and select a different modifier from the play speed context menu.

firefox play speed modifier

Available for selection are normal speed, slow motion speed which is half the normal speed, ludicrous speed which is twice the normal speed, and high speed which is 1.5 times the normal speed. The feature works considerable well for the most part. There is one bug that is already being worked on. When you switch away from normal speed, you can't go back to it unless you reload the page and video or use the seek option if available as it will reset the playback speed.

Websites who make use of the new API element can use finer nuances when it comes to different playback speed and that is certainly something that many users may request. You can read more about the new feature here on the Jaws blog.


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  1. Ken Saunders said on March 11, 2013 at 3:27 am

    Thunderbird is alive and well.

    Mozilla devs are just regular folks.

    “XUL (/ˈzuːl/ ZOOL), which stands for XML User Interface Language, is a user interface markup language that is developed by the Mozilla Project. XUL is implemented as an XML dialect; it allows for graphical user interfaces to be written in a similar manner to Web pages.”

    “The name “XUL” references the film Ghostbusters (1984), in which an ancient Sumerian deity called Zuul possesses the character Dana Barrett and declares, “There is no Dana, only Zuul”. Since XUL, like MXML, uses XML to define an interface rather than a document, its developers adopted the slogan: “There is no data, there is only XUL”. Hence the XML namespace URI at the beginning of every XUL document:”

  2. Caspy7 said on March 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Yes. It does.
    Mozilla will not allow patent encumbered codecs in its code, so Firefox only supports h264 encoding through the platform it is on. This includes direct hardware encoding, such as on Android, or through the OS, as with Windows 7/8 and OS X. I can’t speak to all the platforms, but Windows 7, 8 and OS X all support hardware acceleration when available.

  3. Chakra said on March 9, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Still doesn’t have h264 hardware decoding yet.

  4. city_zen said on March 9, 2013 at 11:45 am

    “ludicrous speed” is a gag line from the movie Spaceballs :D I like the sense of humour of some of Mozilla’s guys (still wish they hadn’t dropped Thunderbird, but hey …)

    1. Caspy7 said on March 9, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      Despite their announcement about Thunderbird. There have been further updates and additions. Also, I believe the address book is being rewritten.
      Other projects have used code from it (Firefox OS) and improvements made there could be folded back in.
      Also, I think Firefox OS will be gaining contact backup & sync. This should make its way back to Thunderbird.

    2. Jeff said on March 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      That phrase caught my eye too.

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