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Hel! the ghost in my machine is starting to get vindictive...

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david furst
Hel! the ghost in my machine is starting to get vindictive...
on May 24, 2018 at 10:10:36 pm

i'm running ppcs6 on a windows 7 x64 pc.

i've recently run into some problems with video playback. sometimes the program window i've got running on my preview monitor 'stutters' ; the image will temporarily freeze, only to resume a few seconds later farther on in the timeline. this 'stuttering' happens both in areas with and without rendered previews, and seems to get worse the bigger my projects are. things have recently come to a head in a project i'm working on where playback completely froze up and wouldn't restart again, no matter how many times i pressed the space bar. i just about jumped out of my seat when it spontaneously started up again about 10 seconds later. there seems to be no problem with the source monitor, and my scopes in the reference monitor stutter at the same points as the image in the program monitor.

other weirdness:
  • the playback cursor in the main window will also get 'stuck' sometimes when i try to scrub back and forth by holding down one of the arrow keys. it simply won't move.
  • sometimes i will move the playback cursor back to a previous section using the mouse after one of these 'freezes' and press the space bar, but playback will start where the cursor was before i moved it back. sometimes the cursor will 'ignore' me, repositioning itself back where it was before i grabbed it and moved it.

i read through some of the posts on this forum and came to the conclusion i may have a resource problem, so i took a look at system performance. the whole system w/my project loaded only uses about 8gb of the 32gb memory i've got, of which premiere is using about 4gb, so i think i'm ok there. when premiere is playing, the cpu is at only about 20%. there is also actually very little disk activity showing up at all, and no long wait queues. it seems to me my system is far from being overloaded.

so there's no smoking gun and i'm mystified. is there something i can tweak to make this work, or do i need to look at getting a new system ? and if the latter, does anyone have any hardware recommendations ?

here is my current system :
mobo - asrock z77 extreme6 tb4
cpu - intel i7-3770k 8-core
video - sapphire radeon ultimate 7750 hd
memory - 32gb kingston ddr3
disk1 - 7200rpm seagate 1tb disk for programs, swap, main
disk2 - 7200rpm western digital 2tb disk for video

dual-head display -- main screen run from sapphire radeon, 2nd screen [for previews] from mobo onboard graphics. [but the same problem occurs when i switch the monitors]

thanks much, ghost busters ! i'm at my wit's end here...

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david furst
Re: Hel! the ghost in my machine is starting to get vindictive...
on May 25, 2018 at 8:41:25 pm

well, i've solved this issue -- finally. long story short, it turns out there were several adobe weaknesses working against me here. i'm posting my results in hopes that other unfortunate souls who run into similar issues won't end up committing seppuku, as i was about to do...

one problem was that adobe software can't handle multi-head setups where the displays use different graphics hardware. i connected both monitors to the same card and voilà, problem gone.

the most difficult issue, however, is that premiere pro cs6 can't handle h.264 very well, and it can't handle 4k at all -- it simply chokes. although i didn't have much 4k stock in my project, there was enough to cause grief, and most of my stock was in 1920x1080 h.264 mp4. after quite a bit of research, it seemed most of the knowledgeable posts i read recommended scaling down 4k to a more manageable size [e.g. 1080] and transcoding anything in h.264 to an 'intermediate codec' for editing. they had favourable things to say about DNxHD, which i'd never heard of before, and which, even though it yields a much larger file size, allows pp to work w/the video much more quickly. in order to fix this second problem, i transcoded most of my footage into DNxHD MXF and, finally, into DNxHD MOV. if you're not interested in the steps to do this and how to get the software, stop here.

my search led me to a nifty little program called 'ffmpeg', which will allow you to transcode from dozens of formats to dozens of formats, in ways you can customise down to the smallest hair on your aunt's rear end. best of all, it's freeware [you can get it here]. there is a windows-based ffmpeg site here.] getting it to work correctly was difficult; the language used to make it go is pretty arcane. i found a useful ms-dos batch script here that will allow you to convert a number of common formats to DNxHD.

i also found a somewhat-friendlier front-end called 'streamclip' and another one called 'ffmpeg console'. both are much more limited than the command-line tool, but if you're only looking for common conversions, save yourself a few headaches and try them. streamclip requires the actual dnxhd codecs from avid. it's installed as part of quicktime, so using it means you have to use quicktime. one caveat : in streamclip, don't select 'file=>export to quicktime', but rather 'file=>export to other formats'. then on the following page, select 'quicktime' on the pull-down and click the 'options' button to select dnxhd.

i wanted to get away from being dependent on quicktime, though, so i used the ms-dos script as a starting point to transcode my footage to mxf-encapsulated dnxhd. unfortunately, despite what adobe says, ppcs6 can't import mxf -- or at least it wouldn't for me, as i continually got the incredibly-informative 'The importer reported a generic error' message. >:( so i finally ended up transcoding everything into dnxhd in a .mov container, imported those, and now premiere doesn't freeze up any more. i wish the mxf had worked, so i wouldn't have all of these quicktime processes hanging about.

all in all, this was an extremely disappointing exercise, i lost 2 days with this shite. hopefully my experience will save someone else some time.

good luck !

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Ole Kristiansen
Re: Hel! the ghost in my machine is starting to get vindictive...
on May 26, 2018 at 6:33:34 pm

Your Intel i7 3770K cpu is only 4-core - if you want to with UHD/4K you better off with a 8-core cpu !

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