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playhead scrubbing lag with 4K footage

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Andrew DeJohn
playhead scrubbing lag with 4K footage
on May 31, 2018 at 3:06:20 am

Greetings,

I am trying to edit 4K XAVC-S footage on my Power Mac tower (specs below) and basically wondering what my limiting hardware factor is that I can upgrade that would enable me to edit and scrub footage more smoothly, or if it’s even possible. I edit on Premiere Pro CC.

The problem:
I have a mid-2010 mac tower and am basically working on a dance documentary with over 100 hours of footage, most of it 4K XAVC-S from Sony a7sii. I AM able to play, edit, and export single or multiple tracks of video. But my sticking point is when it comes to scrubbing the footage, it take 3 to 5 seconds (sometimes more) to bring up the next frame when I move the playhead. I can technically edit and it plays ok, but there is significant enough lag that it inhibits my creativity and efficiency.

Generally, I work in a 1080p, 23.976 timeline and "set to frame" the 4K footage. Part of the footage is 1080 59.94, which edits more smoothly. Usually my resolution is set to ½ or Full.

The Question:
What is the most important thing to upgrade so that I could scrub more efficiently?

What is the most likely problem (aside from codec) causing lag in scrubbing video?

(NOTE: I realize that the number one answer would be to transcode xavc-s to an edit friendly codec like prores or cineform, but given my massive amount of footage, I am loathe to do that, for storage and time reasons. I am editing on my own and it’s taken months to just to organize all the footage to this point, so am really hoping there’s a way to power through with the xavc-s. I could bite the bullet and buy some more drives, and spend next couple months transcoding, but really want to avoid if possible. Even prores proxies are much much bigger than the original files.)

Here are the areas I wonder about and the things I’ve tried so far:

External drive connection?
I upgraded USB 2 to USB 3 ports on the back. This helped with transfer obviously, and I notice less lag with editing in general, but still tons of lag in the scrubbing. I can’t use thunderbolt with this processor, so should I try upgrading processor and installing thunderbolt to use thunderbolt drives?

External hard drive?
I bought a 12TB Western Digital raid drive (2x6) but the disks are 5200 rpm. It helped a bit, but the lag’s still there. Should I try to find a 7200 raid drive that uses USB 3? Or again, upgrade to thunderbolt somehow?

Memory / RAM?
I upgraded my memory from 8GB DDR3 to 16GB. Seemed to help some, but would upping it to 32 or even 48 help even more?

Video card / GPU?

Should I upgrade my video card from the original ATI Radeon?

Thank you for any advice. And if there is a better forum to post to, please let me know.

Mac Pro (Mid 2010)
3.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
16 GB 1066 MHz DDR3
SSD SIERRA 500GB (OS, apps) / HDD 1TB
ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024 MB

OSX Sierra 10.12.6
External Drive: 12 TB (2x6) WD 5200 Raid Duo, USB 3.1
Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018


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Shane Ross
Re: playhead scrubbing lag with 4K footage
on May 31, 2018 at 3:56:36 am

You are working with 4K footage, in a complex codec (as you mentioned)...on a severely underpowered machine. You need faster processors, more RAM (32GB)...a GPU that has at least 4GB of RAM (yours has 1GB). USB3 won't cut it...you need at least Thunderbolt 2 and two or more RAID 0...or four-six RAID 5.

Basically, to cut that footage native, you need a new computer...and you need to shell out money for it. Upgrading the one you have will be throwing good money after bad...it MIGHT get you where you need to be, maybe....but you are spending money on a very VERY old computer. If you want to use that computer, then you need to transcode. Don't want to transcode, then you need a new computer with high end GPU with 4-12GB of RAM, 32GB of system RAM, an i7 or better processor...and Thunderbolt RAID at least. Talking the new iMac Pro if you are going to stick with a Mac...or HP or build your own PC. Editing native 4K XAVC is possible, but requires a LOT of system resources..a fast computer.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Andrew DeJohn
Re: playhead scrubbing lag with 4K footage
on Jun 5, 2018 at 12:15:36 am

Hi Shane,

Thanks so much for the info. I feared that might be the case.

I had seen Mac upgrades like https://create.pro/upgrade, where for about $1,000 I could upgrade to a 12 core processor. And then add better GPU and memory. But if I can't add Thunderbolt, I guess it's probably not a good call. iMac Pro for now is out of my price range. I am thinking if / when I upgrade, I may switch to a PC build to to get the most bang for my buck. And from what I've read unless I'm tied to Final Cut, a good PC could be the way to go with Premiere.

The good news is that I tested some proxies again, and it might work out. I'm not sure what I did before to make them balloon in size, but my 720p ProRes 422 proxies from H264 4K come out about 1/5 of the size, and they work great. I'll probably move forward this way for now. And we'll see what the new 2019 Mac Pro brings with it!

Thanks

Mac Pro (Mid 2010)
3.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
16 GB 1066 MHz DDR3
SSD SIERRA 500GB (OS, apps) / HDD 1TB
ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024 MB

OSX Sierra 10.12.6
External Drive: 12 TB (2x6) WD 5200 Raid Duo, USB 3.1
Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018


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