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Codecs and Speed

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Gabi Bucataru
Codecs and Speed
on Apr 19, 2016 at 3:03:45 am

Hi Gang -

So I understand that Premiere Pro (CC 2015) works easier with uncompressed footage in the source window and/or Timeline.
However, that is not my experience.
My Pr CC 2015 seems to be working better (smooth playback) with H.264 footage 1080p, (copied right off the card onto HDD).

Using the same footage converted to Apple ProRes HQ with MPEG Streamclip, Pr seems to be having hiccups playing it back.
I always thought the processor should work easier with uncompressed footage since it doesn't need to decompress on the fly, etc.

Curious to know if I am doing anything wrong, or missing something.

Much obliged! Thanks!

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David Roth Weiss
Re: Codecs and Speed
on Apr 19, 2016 at 3:42:32 am


You're post is missing an important aspect of the science, or black art, of video playback, i.e. you don't seem to be giving the throughput of your hard drive subsystem enough credit for its contribution to realtime performance. In fact, you haven't even mentioned anything about your media storage, without that info it's tough for us to know why you're not getting the performance you're expecting. So spill, give us some info on your media storage. Not a single spinning disk I hope?

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles

David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.

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Chris Wright
Re: Codecs and Speed
on Apr 19, 2016 at 4:16:30 am

since its working fine, count yourself lucky as it sounds like you're using one of the native supported flavors of h.264. A lot of people have issues with h.264 because it can cause lag from high cpu usuage or strange errors. I think you're the first one to have a super fast cpu and slow hd. It's usually the other way around!

It sounds like your hd simply isn't fast enough for larger bitrate footage. most users nowadays for going for samsung T1's or internal SSD 850pros or 950pros(if they have m.2 x4 support)

But in my opinion, if you're happy then, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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Jerry Michaels
Re: Codecs and Speed
on Apr 19, 2016 at 11:27:26 am

It's weird to hear that "A lot of people have issues with h.264 because it can cause lag from high cpu usuage or strange errors", I though decoding h.264 is like a menial task for any even not so modern CPU, even without a dedicated hardware decoder (which all CPU/GPU/APU combinations, thus all systems, have nowadays). This is the kind of sentence one would have expected to hear 10 years ago, but today?.. And how can this happen to a system that was built for video editing? My only guess would be that there's a software problem causing this, not hardware.

Anyway, getting back to the original question: Apple ProRes is not the same as uncompressed; it is also compressed, also lossy, and also has to be decoded. Which could cause high CPU usage in some cases. In my opinion, HDD speed should not be a problem in this case, as any normally functioning HDD should be able to easily handle 220 Mbps, unless it has some problems or the system is somehow mis-configured.

People tend to have excessive requirements for storage speed these days, see the GoPro case (recommending micro-SD cards with sustained write speeds of 90 MB/s for a camera that shoots at a maximum bitrate of 60 Mbps).

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