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Is it my Mac?

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Julian Bowman
Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 10:53:47 am

hey. So I have been suing FCPX now within a large project with a tight deadline (paid) and have now gathered enough real world experience to be able to probe further about my mac, newer macs and FCPX.

I have a 2x2.26 quad core mac pro. I was running FCPX and it felt a bit sluggish in the response time from my doing actions, such as clicking on clips, jumping around the timeline, opening the filters tab, actioning changes to filters etc.

I wasn't getting the beach ball, but there was a definite delay in actioning something and it happening, to the point where I was getting ahead of myself with my actioning and having to wait for FCPX to play catch up. Something I never experienced in 7. Or even the limited test run of CS6 PP.

Basically I describe it as like running through sand as opposed to running on earth or tarmac. I can do it, but it hurts a lot more over a long distance.

After reading up I upgraded my ram to 32 gigs from 16 and bought a ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024 MB and I cannot say i've noticed a blind bit of difference. FCPX still has this sluggish response time.

Is this because of my machine? Is this just the way FCPX is? If my machine with the current hardware is good enough then what else could it be?

I have read a lot on the new i7 iMacs and am trying to wrap my head around buying a sealed disposable mac as my editing machine and using my current mac as my home computer (I do use my current mac as both, so yes I may be creating issues but the Activity Monitor isn't suggesting I am).

I guess if I use an iMac as solely an editing station with external raid like drives (which poses other questions for another post) then I don't actually need more than the single internal HD or loads of additional firewire ports for all my crap to charge off, etc.

I do, though, have a Blue Ray burner I use to archive large self contained completed projects, which is not thunderbolt, so could I still hook that up to an iMac or is there some way of making my two macs (when i get a new one) of sharing data through a drag and drop method?

I am a one man band and make videos for the not for profit sector in the UK and have been doing so for 10 years. I do not need to share or play with others. I shoot on D60s at the moment and capture audio through my Zooms.

So, to make it easier these are my questions:

1) Is it my mac that is causing constant lag on FCPX and does the i7 iMac not have this lag?
2) Can I make my mac run FCPX better or is this my lot with that machine?
3) Is an i7 imac with 32g ram and the 1TB graphics card (heard of issues with the 2TB) suitable for a one man band using an iMac solely as a workstation for FCPX and Motion template manipulation, using external raid like hard drives?
4) Can I easily hook up my current mac and the iMac to transfer files between the two without using third party apps such as dropbox... as in can they share one external hard drive? Or do I need to get a portable and move it between the two.

I will probably hold off till the new Mac Pro is released (I'm guessing around June) in case it offers hugely improved performance for not a huge price increase, but it may be that for me the iMac i7 is still the more sensible choice, especially given I won't be getting rid of my current mac as it is still in great condition.

Many thanks if you have gotten through this long and winding post.


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Oliver Peters
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 12:17:10 pm

I'm afraid this is all normal. In my experience, X gets more sluggish after several hours of use on large projects. Close and relaunch and sometimes it will improve.

The UI has lots of animations, which take time to perform. Make sure you have no background functions running. This includes things that don't show up as background operations, like drawing waveform caches. Sometimes it is better to ingest, organize and then let X "cook" overnight.

Make sure you are ONLY using optimized media. Forget the bunk about using native H264 or AVCHD files. Convert these to ProRes - even externally if you have to. Avoid working in bigger-than-HD timelines. It's possible, but those workflows are better if you work in the proxy mode.

FWIW - Premiere Pro, Media Composer and FCP 7 UI responsiveness (forgetting about the benefits of X for a moment) are significantly better. Good luck!

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Julian Bowman
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 12:22:07 pm

Cheers oliver. Figured that may be the case. Is it better with the i7? Do you know? If not, does anyone else know?

I encode using QT7 to ProRes 422 then drop the folders into my event as keyword collections. I turn off background rendering. I actually use the waveforms whilst I edit. I turn thumbnail images on my clips and use the waveform option and I find them useful a lot of the time so am not really willing to turn those off. Although this may not be what you mean by waveform cache.

My timeline is 720p50 (I think that['s the correct term for it... basically 1240x720 at 50fps).

Basically it is exhausting having to edit through treacle. I'm not sure I can suffer it over years so I am hoping that because my machine is old I am suffering. It is hard to believe a bit of software like this can't be run optimally on some machine, even if mine is too old and wasn't even top end at the time of purchase.



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Oliver Peters
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 1:59:17 pm

[Julian Bowman] "Figured that may be the case. Is it better with the i7? "

I'm afraid I don't know. I do have a friend with a decked out iMac + T-bolt Promise array and he's very happy with his experience. His machine is definitely more responsive with X, but I haven't done any direct comparisons with the same job in an iMac and a Mac Pro.

[Julian Bowman] "My timeline is 720p50 (I think that['s the correct term for it... basically 1240x720 at 50fps)."

That will be more taxing than other combinations and requires the fastest drive arrays. I tend to work on 1080p/23.98 projects and those are a bit less taxing overall.

[Julian Bowman] "Basically it is exhausting having to edit through treacle."

I would suggest a direct comparison with Premiere Pro CS6 on the same machine and see if it's more responsive. At least that will give you some idea if the machine is the issue.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Julian Bowman
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 2:03:49 pm

Cheers Oliver. Will wait and see what others suggest but nice to hear some good feedback from the latest macs.

I cancelled my cloud sub with Adobe as CS6 wasn't what I was hoping for after FCP7 and the other software of theirs I use I am happy with my paid for CS4 versions so I no longer have CS6 to compare it to I'm afraid. I do know FCP7 doesn't act like this on the same machine with the same type of rushes and I have done very large projects in a single timeline with no real treacle effect at all, but not sure if that is a valid comparison in this issue.

Many thanks again for posting and I will wait and see what others come back with.



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Steve Connor
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 2:07:24 pm

What drives are you using?

Steve Connor

There's nothing we can't argue about on the FCPX COW Forum


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Mark Dobson
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 2:34:06 pm

[Julian Bowman] "After reading up I upgraded my ram to 32 gigs from 16 and bought a ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024 MB and I cannot say i've noticed a blind bit of difference. FCPX still has this sluggish response time."

I was in your situation - I had ( still have ) a 2008 Quad core MacPro and like you I upgrades my Ram, to 22GBs, installed a new 5770 graphic card and still found that my experience was frustrating and very sticky on longer projects.

So rather than wait for a new MacPro I bought the 27" 3.4 GHz iMac and installed 32 GB of memory and I have to say it a huge improvement, not perfect, but a lot more responsive.

I'm still clearing the preferences on a regular basis with Preference Manager but spinning ball crashes are almost non-existent.

I am editing using native files from a C300, I don't optimise the media and touch wood it's all been worth it. It has also allowed me to move forward into thunderbolt and USB3 storage devices and to enhance the eSata drive performance using a Lacie TB Hub.

Should a new MacPro be released with superior performance I would probably sell the iMac and get that but for the moment I feel as if I've moved forward in the right direction.


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Oliver Peters
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 2:39:25 pm

[Mark Dobson] "I am editing using native files from a C300, I don't optimise the media"

I concur with everything you mentioned. I would point out though, that FCP X sees the C300's native MPEG2 XF codec as already optimized. It will not transcode it to ProRes (only rewrap as MOV).

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Mark Dobson
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 2:48:33 pm

[Oliver Peters] "I concur with everything you mentioned. I would point out though, that FCP X sees the C300's native MPEG2 XF codec as already optimized. It will not transcode it to ProRes (only rewrap as MOV)."

Thanks Oliver - I've just finished a 20minute edit on a 25p project timeline mixing the MPEG2 XF Progressive files with native 1080i XDCAM files and it all worked pretty smoothly.

The main cause for crashes is the unresolved problem with the CoreMelt plugins, Lock and Load and SliceX.


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Lance Bachelder
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 6:35:36 pm

I also recently updated from an aging Mac Pro with 5770 to the top of the line iMac with 32GB memory, Fusion drive and GTX680 w/2GB and external Thunderbolt RAID - my performance is dramatically better with everything. FCPX runs great even with files larger than 1080p. The only things that are still sluggish are plug-ins such as Magic Bullet stuff that is obviously not optimized for FCPX (I love how Red Giant still blames Apple, yet most of my plug-ins run in real-time) Photoshop is now faster than my very fast PC.

I'm very happy with my purchase and now waiting on Apple to update the Thunderbolt Display to match the new iMac display.

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


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Oliver Peters
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 7:24:59 pm

[Lance Bachelder] "The only things that are still sluggish are plug-ins such as Magic Bullet stuff that is obviously not optimized for FCPX (I love how Red Giant still blames Apple, yet most of my plug-ins run in real-time)"

That's because they are correct. There is a bug in rendering. General real-time performance and UI responsiveness with third-party plug-ins is awful. All developers off-the-record complain about trying to stay ahead of the curve with issues that Apple tosses at them, due to updates in the app and OS. It's an Apple issue that all developers are struggling with.

There is no FCP X plug-in architecture like there was in "legacy" or is in Premiere Pro, MC, Vegas, etc. It is FxPlug by way of Motion, so all effects in FCP X are Motion templates, not true plug-ins. Apple can deviate from that, so the built-in stuff runs faster. Outside developers can have fast plug-ins if they don't do very much with them - that is don't gang a lot of processes into one filter. These have to be designed and published as Motion templates. So, for example, BCC8 for FCP X are filters that install into Motion and then a subset of those appear in FCP X, because Boris has built the corresponding Motion templates.

Red Giant MB Looks, Sapphire Edge Tiffen Dfx and the DFT products work completely differently. All processing is external of FCP X, so the plug-in is really a "conduit" that sends a frame to the engine (a separate application) for processing. This is returned to FCP X as the effected frame. This adds overhead and in all likelihood may require some non-standard "hacking" because of the limitations of FCP X.

The bottom line is that if you want fast-running filters, stick to those that are purely Motion templates. If you want advanced filters that give you a lot more control - use After Effects and buy the filters for that.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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John Davidson
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 7:42:19 pm

[Oliver Peters] "The bottom line is that if you want fast-running filters, stick to those that are purely Motion templates. If you want advanced filters that give you a lot more control - use After Effects and buy the filters for that."

Yep. Totally agree. I find that when most Apple products have issues it's with 3rd party products or software. I feel like we avoid so many problems by building our own filters, generators, and transitions. I love my red giant products, but not having to maintain a database of 3rd party plugins and keeping them all up to date is a big time saver.

My dream in life is for all 3rd party plugins to be sold over the App store and auto-update with Apple's software update. I'd like for Adobe to do that too, but I don't think that will ever happen.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Steve Connor
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 7:53:50 pm

[Oliver Peters] "That's because they are correct. There is a bug in rendering. General real-time performance and UI responsiveness with third-party plug-ins is awful."

There is certainly a bug in rendering but not everyone seems to have it, MB Looks works fine for me in FCPX, UI is as quick as PPro and After FX, frame rate in FCPX with filters applied is better than AFX but not as good as PPro.

I haven't had the green frames problem at all (yet!)

Steve Connor

There's nothing we can't argue about on the FCPX COW Forum


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Lance Bachelder
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 9:50:54 pm

I'm not talking about rendering - I'm talking about playback performance - Red Giant stuff sucks, it hasn't been improved in any app in years. Yes they off-load some heavy lifting to graphics card and this was great 3 or 4 years ago, but they've fallen way behind in the era of CUDA etc.

I have a LOT of paid 3rd party plugs in FCPX - regardless of the architecture and Motion blah blah - they all playback very smoothly compared to Magic Bullet stuff which chokes - even in Premiere etc. The only other really slow plug-in I've tried in FCPX is Film Convert, which is even worse than MB stuff.

But thanks for the tech lesson and deep insight into what ALL the companies are saying "off the record".

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


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Oliver Peters
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 10:50:02 pm

[Lance Bachelder] "I have a LOT of paid 3rd party plugs in FCPX - regardless of the architecture and Motion blah blah - they all playback very smoothly compared to Magic Bullet stuff which chokes - even in Premiere etc. The only other really slow plug-in I've tried in FCPX is Film Convert, which is even worse than MB stuff. "

Sorry, but there is no blah, blah, blah. It's physics and engineering. EVERY plug-in that uses an external pipeline to an outside engine has the same problem. I'm also talking about playback, not rendering. Nearly all 3rd party plug-ins for FCP X are Motion templates. That is a completely different architecture and it affects performance. For example, most of the FxFactory plug-ins use this structure. Just having a lot of 3rd party plug-ins doesn't mean you have the ones that cause issues. CoreMelt's various plug-ins also have issues, thanks to bug in the app. For example, do you have Tiffen, Sapphire Edge or any of the DFT filters? These are glacial as well. FWIW - MB Looks on Premiere Pro on my machine plays reasonably well in real-time at 1/2-res.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Lance Bachelder
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 21, 2013 at 12:44:54 am

This is just getting stupid now - EVERY plug-in does NOT have the same problem - many perform fantastic with smooth playback that allows a workflow without rendering until the cut is done - sorry you don't believe that - maybe the physics part is your Mac? Although many plug-ins performed well even on my old Mac Pro with 5770.

Back to cutting and applying plug-ins....

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


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Oliver Peters
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 21, 2013 at 1:06:55 am

[Lance Bachelder] "EVERY plug-in does NOT have the same problem"

Calm down, I'm not arguing your point. I just think you misunderstand what I've been saying. Specifically this: "EVERY plug-in that uses an external pipeline to an outside engine has the same problem"

This is talking about plug-ins, like MB Looks and Sapphire Edge that send the image out to an external engine to apply the effect. That's different than what BCC or the FxFactory plug-ins do, for instance. That's all I'm saying. In addition, the more processes you apply in a single filter, the more sluggish it becomes. For example, a grading filter like DVShade, which also has diffusion and gradients among other things built in, does not perform as well as Yanobox Moods or Nattress Curves, which only deal with color levels.

Furthermore, Apple has their own secret sauce that deviates from their architecture for 3rd party developers. I can apply 5-6 instances of the Color Board and still have real-time playback, whereas I cannot do the same thing with 5-6 instances of any 3rd party color correction filter. And that's the same on every Mac I used, including MBPs, iMacs and MPs.

[Lance Bachelder] "Although many plug-ins performed well even on my old Mac Pro with 5770."

Just so we are talking apples-to-apples so to speak, which plug-ins are you using? I don't doubt that you are having good experiences with many of them. I do as well. I just think we are comparing very different types of filters.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 3:35:00 pm

While there's not much to the description beyond Grand Central Dispatch Apple notes FCPX's uses of AVX technology in Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPUs.... which are not available in the Xeons in the aging MacPro

http://www.apple.com/finalcutpro/all-features/
Grand Central Dispatch
For even more speed, Final Cut Pro utilizes the AVX capabilities of Intel’s Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors.

Also based on some of the tests on Barefeats in relation to Apple's Pro Apps, the GPUs in the higher end iMacs and I believe the Retinas as well, exceed the 5770 and maybe even the 5870.



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John Davidson
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 6:20:08 pm

I have the new iMac 27 with everything maxed out and the 3TB fusion drive. Since getting it in early Jan I've been pretty pleased with it. So much so that I ordered a second one yesterday. There are little things about it that won't occur to you until actual use that will make you happy later.

Pros:
*USB 3 drives are significantly faster - you will hate any non USB 3 external drives you have.
*The screen reflections over older iMac and Cinema Displays are dramatically less.
*The iMacs are not, in fact, disposable. We have 3 (4 with the next one coming in a few days). Our 2009 iMac isn't good for editing, but is excellent for web/email/general office use.

Cons:
There is no firewire and optical disk drive, so any blue ray burning you want to do will have to be done with a usb 3 external burner. I don't know about purchasing one of those but they probably exist.

If I had my way, our Mac Pros would be for server use only and all editing and designing would be done on new iMacs. That's the goal for us now - simplicity and power. It's pretty awesome that you can buy a new computer that's this powerful for 3k. Thunderbolt is pretty fantastic with a TTap or Mini Monitor tethered to a RAID.

If you get an iMac, check out the Satechi 10 port USB 3 hub (or something similar).

Good luck with whatever you end up getting!

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Oliver Peters
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 7:10:12 pm

[John Davidson] "so any blue ray burning you want to do will have to be done with a usb 3 external burner. I don't know about purchasing one of those but they probably exist."

Anything that works USB2 will work fine over USB3, including burners. For FW and FC you can get Thunderbolt adapters.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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craig slattery
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 9:49:21 pm

Thursday Last week, we set up our new 27" iMac maxed out with RAM, 3TB Fusion Drive plus 27" Thunderbolt display. We moved our 1.5 TB event from a MacPro which was also Maxed out. I was experiencing all the issues you mentioned on the MacPro. Sluggish performance, me having to wait for the computer to catch up. Im happy to say the performance on the iMac v the MacPro is like chalk and cheese.

Go out and get a new iMac now ..... I said Now!

I noticed that this has been uploaded to youtube. I cut this in FCPX







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Oliver Peters
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 10:51:28 pm

[craig slattery] "We moved our 1.5 TB event from a MacPro which was also Maxed out. I was experiencing all the issues you mentioned on the MacPro. Sluggish performance, me having to wait for the computer to catch up. Im happy to say the performance on the iMac v the MacPro is like chalk and cheese."

Thanks for that. It's the first time I've seen someone post a direct comparison. Good news.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Tangier Clarke
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Jan 22, 2014 at 7:09:32 pm
Last Edited By Tangier Clarke on Jan 22, 2014 at 7:18:03 pm

Was there a definitive answer on this? Is it just to buy a better machine? We have almost identical computers and my machine gets bogged down on even small projects (6-10 minutes). The iMacs with less RAM but equal VRAM in our office (i5 processors) scream with FCP X. I click wait, drag storyline clips, wait. The machine just can't keep up.

Mac Pro/ Mavericks 10.1/ FCP X 10.1.1/ 2 x 2.26 Quad Core Xeon/ 16 GB RAM/ ATI Radeon 5770/ Blackmagic Multibridge Pro 2/ Drive bays running 7200 RPM Hitachi Drives / Always use Pro Res (optimized)

Tangier


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Julian Bowman
Re: Is it my Mac?
on Jan 23, 2014 at 7:27:48 am

This was my post. In the end I never really got any better performance on this machine. I have to close all other events down when one gets too big. I have sucked it up till the new mac pro came out and one is on order (feb) so hopefully my issues will come to an end, but it does also seem like the nicely spec'd iMacs did the trick too.



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