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Prores playback issue

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Anhtu Vu
Prores playback issue
on Nov 29, 2010 at 11:42:19 pm

My prores QT plays fine when i'm in FCP but when playback through Smoke, it's stuttering and audio is out of sync.

My config is : Apple Mac pro 2 x 2.8 Ghz ( 3.1 model ), 8 Gb ram. I'm using a un-approved graphics ( ATI Radeon HD2600 )I have disabled the Kona3 and using only Core audio. System response is also quite sluggish, when i hit play it takes a few seconds before playback kicks in. I did a soft import using my Lacie raid firewire 800 disk.

Is this normal ?? Thanks



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Brian Mulligan
Re: Prores playback issue
on Nov 30, 2010 at 12:34:50 pm

It could be an issue with the firewire playback speed. I get a similar issue with P2 clips from USB hard drive. (Linux)

Try and work in proxy mode. I assume you have proxies enabled on your project. The proxies are stored on the framestore and should playback in realtime. Working with proxies is a transparent operation on Smoke.

Proxies are embeded in the clip, so it's just a toggle to work with them. They will also help speed up Action workflow. And you can make fast proxy renders for checking your edits and animations.



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Anhtu Vu
Re: Prores playback issue
on Nov 30, 2010 at 2:26:36 pm

I have proxy disable when i created the project. I find it takes forever during the import when proxie is enable. Why does the Prores play fine in FCP or QT, basically any apps that can play Prores on that same drive but Smoke is having such a hardtime.

One thing i've notice is that the audio plays in realtime but the image is playing back slower. The FCP sequence where the clip originated is in : 1920x1080i @ 29.97 DF



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Hans von Sonntag
Re: Prores playback issue
on Dec 1, 2010 at 12:16:25 am

Anhtu,

your machine is clearly not matching Autodesk's specs.

Besides a Nvidia Quadro fx card a fast raid is needed. Smoke works internally with uncompressed DPX files that need in 10bit and 1080p24 resolution at least a 180Mb sustained data stream. Your firewire Raid is far from this performance.

Without the right hardware the evaluation will be not a satisfying experience, at least if you want to work with 1080p. My advise is to use SD footage. Generating proxies is a pain and defeats softimport, hardly anyone is using this option.


Hans


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Anhtu Vu
Re: Prores playback issue
on Dec 1, 2010 at 2:04:03 am

Hans,

thanks again for the explanation while i try to get my head around Smoke.

Maybe i misunderstood Soft/hard import but if understand correctly, soft import only reference to the original clip and DPX files are only created when using hard import...is this correct ?? If so then soft import playback should be no different then FCP .

If the above assumption is wrong then what is the advantage of creating huge DPX file ?



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Hans von Sonntag
Re: Prores playback issue
on Dec 1, 2010 at 8:53:21 am

Anhtu,

I'm not an Autodesk software engineer but AFAIK this is what Smoke is doing regarding footage:

1. Hardimport means that all imported footage will be converted to DPX in a resolution set by the operator. These DPX files find a new home in Smoke's Stone, a directory that is exclusively used by Smoke where all hard-imported and by the operator generated footage resides such as renderfiles, etc... All these files are DPX.

Hardimport makes a lot of sense when conforming a 30sec. TVC off an SR tape. But this is mainly Flame territory. Although Smoke is more used for longer projects it also has this option. But typically Smoke users use Softimport.

2. Softimport means that Smoke understands various codecs and references to them. However, the timeline is uncompressed 10 or 12 bit. Any manipulation will become manifest as DPX. On the contrary to FCP Smoke reads ProRes but does not write to it. DPX are very heavy. I just finished a 40 min. documentary on Smoke using ProRes camera footage. The footage, over 20 hours, was clearly under 1TB. In the end I have an archive now of over 4TB, go figure. When you colour correct shots, use Axis effects, titles, some Action composits, etc.... every time Smoke creates a new DPX sequence. Large and fast storage is mandatory with such an application. With 2TB you are going not really far.

Smoke is not compromising quality. From Autodesk's perspective only a uncompressed picture sequence format guaranteers this aim, plus image sequences are better to handle internally.

Long story short: Even if Smoke is comparable cheap it needs high-end hardware to meet the required specs. This has been one reason why Smoke was only available as a complete system, including all necessary hardware before Smoke on Mac entered the market. Now Autodesk changed it's policy in this regard (which is great) but people run into problems when evaluation the software.

When adding a fast raid and a Nividia 4800fx, 12 GB of RAM plus a Wacom A3 board you will see that your Smoke workstation turns into a very, very powerful NLE on steroids.

Hans


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Prores playback issue
on Dec 1, 2010 at 2:03:51 pm

[[Generating proxies is a pain and defeats softimport, hardly anyone is using this option.]]

I disagree. If you are going to do any amount of effects work, then you need to have proxies enabled. There are also many styles of proxies. i personally use DRAFT, which is good enough to edit with and is generated fast. Also, proxies get made in the background, so time is not a factor. You can start to edit about 10 sec from when you imported your media via Gateway.



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Anhtu Vu
Re: Prores playback issue
on Dec 1, 2010 at 3:35:42 pm

thanks for the explanation,

So if i understand correctly:

1-Under Soft import, Smoke reference/reads the original prores media but the timeline is still 10 bit uncompressed meaning any edits/color correction/fx will be rendered as DPX, therefore the need for a huge robust raid no matter what the imported format is. Correct ???

2-If one's worflow is Prores, Xdcam, basically a compressed format, is it necessary to use 10 bits uncompressed DPX as delivery/edit format ???
I've done several gigs in FCP delivered to broadcast where the original material was prores and Xdcam. We've compared the original prores workflow ( edit + color correction ) to a 10 bits uncompressed of the same project and there's no quality difference other than the crazy hardware requirement that 10 bits uncompressed required.



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Hans von Sonntag
Re: Prores playback issue
on Dec 2, 2010 at 3:20:06 pm

Anhtu,

1- I don't exactly how Smoke works internally but if I try to playback a longer ProRes Sequence off my system disc I'll get dropped frames. I don't get this when using my fast raid. Regardless how Smoke works technically - for HD you need 180+MB sustained data transfer speeds. Better is to have much more, in the realm of 600 MB. This way you can be sure that your system is capable to playback back two layers of 1080p with some headroom. HD become slower when they fill up. My Raid has 800MB/s when it's empty. At 75% filled with data I get just about 600MB/s.

Raids become more and more affordable. Please check out SAS connected raid systems with the raid-controller mounted on the SAS-raid board. Such a raid can be found for under 5.5k with 12TB gross (8TB net with R6 and hot-spare).

2- With Autodesk's finishing tools the phrase "good enough" is answered with "only the best is good enough".

Seriously, all other NLE's offer workflows from cheap to good, they accept camera codecs to work as an intermediate post production codec, often advertised as "native" editing - but none, except Avid DS, does not compromise quality, and if not with a mediocre codec than with less than optimal tools.
Smoke is not a contender of FCP. It's an editorial finishing application that can be used very well for creative editing but its core virtues are the excellent tools that are among the best on the market. If ProRes is good enough for you because you can bare the gamma shifts when exporting to AE for VFX, time consuming roun-tripping to Color for grading is a non-issue and matte generating/handling is fine for you than FCP is your best fried. Thousands asked the same questions that you asked and happily answered them selfs: yes, FCP is good enough for finishing.

We have all different needs, jobs and views on the world.

Warm Regards,

Hans


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Anhtu Vu
Re: Prores playback issue
on Dec 3, 2010 at 12:04:20 am

Hans,

I must correct you on the Prores HD playback. Bandwith requirement for for Prores HD, for example 1920x1080 @ 29.97, is 220 Mbps. This means even a macbook pro's internal drive can playback your Prores HD. I do it all the time for on the road client approval. Maybe you're mistaken betweeen Mb/s versus Mbp/s.
Don't worry, i have a 700 mb/s raid tower here but i just thought that since Smoke is referencing to the media ( under soft import ), it should be the same as FCP playback and since FCP breeze through Prores workflow, i assume the same for Smoke, i guess i was wrong.
This is not about wether FCP or Smoke is better, i'm just trying to figure out if Smoke can improve my workflow and quality for finishing. Most of what i do is on line editing ( grading, titling, output ), not much VFX yet.



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Hans von Sonntag
Re: Prores playback issue
on Dec 3, 2010 at 2:39:56 pm

"I must correct you on the Prores HD playback. Bandwith requirement for for Prores HD, for example 1920x1080 @ 29.97, is 220 Mbps. This means even a macbook pro's internal drive can playback your Prores HD. I do it all the time for on the road client approval. Maybe you're mistaken betweeen Mb/s versus Mbp/s."

I probably made myself not clear when I said: "...but if I try to playback a longer ProRes Sequence off my system disc I'll get dropped frames." This was meant when I was trying to play back ProRes files within Smoke off the system disk.

Surely, FCP works fine with ProRes off normal disks. Smoke cannot do this due to it's internal architecture. If you want to dig further into this try to contact Autodesk support. They may eventually tell you the technical reasons behind this.

Smoke is an editorial finishing system. If grading and titling is your daily task Smoke may fit very well in your workflow.

Hans


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Hans von Sonntag
Re: Prores playback issue
on Dec 2, 2010 at 2:44:34 pm

Brian, thanks for the head-up.

I never checked into the proxy workflow. Besides the obvious advantage when creating animations in 3D space I see see no much use for them, chroma keying and such is very crippled when working with proxies.

Anyway, I will check DRAFT out.

Hans


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Prores playback issue
on Dec 2, 2010 at 3:04:50 pm

When you enter the KEYER, it defaults to FULL Res for the obvious reasons you elude to. Smoke is that Smart!



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Hans von Sonntag
Re: Prores playback issue
on Dec 2, 2010 at 3:22:28 pm

Ha Ha. Should have thought of this.

Thanks again,

Hans


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