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Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?

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Joe Marler
Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 25, 2015 at 2:33:56 pm

A recent post on EOSHD.com discussed 4k editing performance Premiere CC 2015 on a very high-end PC:

http://www.eoshd.com/comments/topic/18574-a-story-about-4k-xavc-s-premiere-...

In short his only real solution was externally transcode all files to a lower-compression codec before importing.

In FCP X we have a seamless proxy workflow and I definitely use that for 4k, esp. multicam.

As the industry moves toward 4k, what is the solution for Premiere users? My group mostly uses FCP X but we have a couple of people on Premiere CS6 and 4k is looming as a wall. I would hate to adopt some external transcoding or manual proxy solution just for them.

What is the common practice for Premiere users editing camera-native H264 4k? Is there some super-hardware solution or some configuration trick that makes smooth timeline editing doable for camera-native H264 4k material? Or does everyone just transcode externally prior to import?


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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 25, 2015 at 3:06:03 pm

[Joe Marler] "people on Premiere CS6"

er, you're asking this in relation to CS6?

PPRO CC can cut 4K AVCHD coming off a GH4 like, you know, butter - on a three year old laptop. it did for me.

PPRO CC works as well or better, with more formats, than FCPX, on older hardware. I think most people on here who use both would agree on that.

http://ogallchoir.prosite.com/
producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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James Culbertson
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 25, 2015 at 7:00:46 pm

[Aindreas Gallagher] "PPRO CC works as well or better, with more formats, than FCPX, on older hardware. I think most people on here who use both would agree on that."

FCPX or Premiere appear to cut 4K subjectively better based upon each commenters biases. I have not needed to cut much on Premiere in the last year or two, but FCPX cuts 4K like butter too. So I guess we need discuss the relative merits of butter to get to the bottom of this conundrum.

I'd also question whether the industry as a whole is moving towards 4K; It's way overkill for most projects so I hope not.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 25, 2015 at 10:18:35 pm

[James Culbertson]"I'd also question whether the industry as a whole is moving towards 4K; It's way overkill for most projects so I hope not."

Depends on the area you work in. For me in doco post the main deliverable is still HD but camera aquisition is rapid moving to larger frame sizes. With all the low cost 4k cameras out there and the fascination with reframing, 4k is being shot a lot more. I am about to start a production that will go until early 2017 and we are shooting 4k or larger and posting in 4k for cinema and TV release. 4k TVs are selling well and within a few years 4k will be perfectly normal just like HD has become.

For web delivery I see little point in 4k but broadcast is going 4k.


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Bret Williams
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 26, 2015 at 3:10:31 pm

For web delivery 4K is doing very well for my last couple projects where delivery is 720p. Enables me to reframe up to 300% for a pixel to pixel ratio. Sure it helps cut up an interview, but it also allows broll to be stretched 2-3 times as far, or give you 2-3 times as many choices for cutting a scene together.

I see it as less useful for 4K broadcast where you lose the opportunity to reframe. In 1080p broadcast it's very useful for reframing run and gun news or interviews,

Takes me back to that brief period where we were editing anamorphic SD for DVD, but everyone had started shooting HD.


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Tim Wilson
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 26, 2015 at 5:02:38 pm

[Bret Williams] "Takes me back to that brief period where we were editing anamorphic SD for DVD, but everyone had started shooting HD."

Or that very long period where people shot on film for delivery to SD broadcast and VHS.

The notion of identical acquisition and distribution formats is an incredibly brief aberration in the history of video and film production. They've historically had little to do with each other, and in most contexts, they still do.

I promise you there was never a conversation that went, "Why are we shooting Gilligan's Island on film? It's not like people have movie projectors at home."


Most people do what most people have always done: choose the production format that offers the most advantages for production, and treat distribution as a separate issue.

You know the old saying: fix it in telecine. LOL


You're absolutely right to bring up web video in this context, Bret. From the beginning, it showed even more starkly than DVD the advantages of high resolution input for higher quality compression.


For that matter, devices show even more starkly than tvs the advantage of density. We can argue all day whether or not people can tell the distance between HD and 4K on their TVs, but it's actually pretty striking on a phone or tablet.

And now that the economic and workflow considerations of 4K+ are just that -- something to consider, rather than some massive obstacle -- decoupling is happening more and more broadly.


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Tony West
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 26, 2015 at 5:53:29 pm

[Tim Wilson] "Most people do what most people have always done: choose the production format that offers the most advantages for production, and treat distribution as a separate issue. "

That's exactly the mistake they made with 3D in my opinion. They didn't think enough about the end user.

The whole point of shooting 3D was that people needed to SEE it in 3D at home.

That required people buying 3D TV's and they didn't. Which I predicted. I felt like they had already spent a lot of money on their Hd TVs and would be fine with those for a while.

You are right though, it didn't stop them from shooting those games in 3D to begin with.

Just like HD, once there is a lot more out there to watch in 4K it will pick up.


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Tony West
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 26, 2015 at 5:20:35 am

[James Culbertson] "I'd also question whether the industry as a whole is moving towards 4K; It's way overkill for most projects so I hope not."

I must agree here. Way overkill with those giant file sizes.

I don't see a real demand for it in broadcast TV until somebody starts broadcasting in 4k over the air.

You gonna shoot the coaches press conference in 4K, why?

I remember shooting 3D for ESPN. It was gonna be the next big thing. it never went anywhere in the end.

I can see it for the big screen though.


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Gabe Strong
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 25, 2015 at 11:54:30 pm

[Aindreas Gallagher] "Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
by Aindreas Gallagher on Nov 25, 2015 at 6:06:03 am

[Joe Marler]
PPRO CC works as well or better, with more formats, than FCPX, on older hardware. I think most people on here who use both would agree on that.

http://ogallchoir.prosite.com/
producer/editor.grading/motion graphics"


Mmmmmm.....I don't have CC but I tried a trial version of it
and I would certainly NOT agree with what you say.
This is with a 2009 Mac Pro, maybe what type of
'Older hardware' you have matters.....

Gabe Strong
G-Force Productions
http://www.gforcevideo.com


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Bret Williams
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 26, 2015 at 3:14:56 pm

What GPU matters. Both rely heavily on the GPU so if your 2009 doesn't have the right GPU, yeah.


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Gabe Strong
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 26, 2015 at 5:54:15 pm

[Bret Williams] "What GPU matters. Both rely heavily on the GPU so if your 2009 doesn't have the right GPU, yeah."

Interestingly, I actually have a GPU which should favor CC more
than FCP X......a GTX 989Ti (6GB).

Gabe Strong
G-Force Productions
http://www.gforcevideo.com


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Joe Marler
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 27, 2015 at 12:14:40 am
Last Edited By Joe Marler on Nov 27, 2015 at 12:16:52 am

[Aindreas Gallagher] "PPRO CC can cut 4K AVCHD coming off a GH4 like, you know, butter - on a three year old laptop. it did for me...PPRO CC works as well or better, with more formats, than FCPX, on older hardware. I think most people on here who use both would agree on that."

That is not my experience, but maybe it depends on your definition of "old". I just re-tested some 4k material from a Sony A7RII, Panasonic AG-DVX200, GH4 and DJI Phantom Vision 3 Pro on both Premiere CC 2015 and FCP X. The Windows machine has a 4Ghz i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, GTX-660 and 7200 rpm media drive. The iMac is a 2013 model with 3.5Ghz i7, 32GB RAM, GTX-780m and single 3TB Fusion Drive with programs and media. I'd say the hardware is very roughly equal -- the iMac CPU is slower but a couple of generations newer. The Windows machine GTX-660 may be faster than the 780m in the iMac; at least it did better on LuxMark tests.

I tested single and multicam projects on both machines. In general Premiere was quite sluggish at JKL timeline editing on the native 4k files, even on a single stream. It seemed a little more responsive on the GH4 material than the A7RII and DVX200 stuff, so if you've only tested one 4k camera, maybe that's it. On 4k multicam, the timeline and viewer update response slowed for both Premiere and FCP X. However FCP X was still far more responsive. E.g, when fast forwarding in the timeline, Premiere updated the program and multicam monitors about once every 4-5 seconds. By contrast FCP X updated them 5-10 times per second -- that's with Premiere on 1/4 res and the FCP X viewer on "better performance".

IOW FCP X was faster at JKL editing 4k multicam at full resolution than Premiere was at 1/4 res. Typically on FCP X you'd just use proxy for 4k multicam since it's so easy and built in. Using proxy mode, multicam 4k was fluid and very fast; I'm tempted to say "like mercury" :)

With Premiere you can render the timeline but in my tests it took longer to do that than FCP X took to generate proxy files. Then if you apply an effect to the Premiere timeline it's no longer fully rendered and it slows down. Of course you can transcode externally before importing to Premiere, but...

It says on the Premiere overview video it "allows editors to work with 4k and beyond, without time-consuming transcoding", and "never needing to render until your work is complete": https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/how-to/what-is-premiere-pro-cc.html?se...

Having edited for years on CS5 and CS6 before switching to FCP X, I agree the "no transcode" thing worked pretty well on SD and HD but it's not working that well on H264 4k. Maybe there is something wrong with my Windows machine. Maybe I need a much higher end machine, although if you can fly through 4k AVCHD on an old laptop "like butter", maybe not. This guy had a super machine and he was forced to externally transcode for A7RII 4k material: http://www.eoshd.com/comments/topic/18574-a-story-about-4k-xavc-s-premiere-...

If Premiere can edit native 4k H264 multicam with "butter smoothness", what hardware, configuration or procedure is required for this?


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Shawn Miller
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 27, 2015 at 6:03:37 pm
Last Edited By Shawn Miller on Nov 27, 2015 at 6:15:21 pm

[Joe Marler] "The Windows machine has a 4Ghz i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, GTX-660 and 7200 rpm media drive. The iMac is a 2013 model with 3.5Ghz i7, 32GB RAM, GTX-780m"

Your PC has half the RAM and a slower GPU...



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Joe Marler
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 27, 2015 at 7:23:46 pm

[Shawn Miller] "Your PC has half the RAM and a slower GPU..."

Based on Windows Performance Monitor, RAM is not an issue. This is indicated by the global perf. counters "available bytes", paged and non-paged pool, plus the Premiere Pro per-process counters "private bytes" and "working set bytes". So whether it has 16GB or 64GB would not make any difference in this specific case.

The GTX-660 GPU while a few years old is a big PCIE-bus card that pulls about 240 watts -- more than my entire iMac. The GTX-780m in the iMac is essentially a laptop GPU. It is the "m" version. In AnandTech's test, they found "the GeForce GTX 780M...ends up delivering performance that falls roughly half way between the GTX 660 and GTX 760". So the PC GPU is faster overall than the 2013 iMac GPU: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7287/analyzing-the-price-of-mobility-desktops...

As a sanity check I installed and ran Premiere CC 2015 on my 2015 iMac which has a 4Ghz Skylake CPU, M395X GPU and 32GB RAM. It didn't make much difference. It was a little faster but the overall situation was roughly the same.


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Shawn Miller
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 27, 2015 at 8:21:31 pm

[Joe Marler] "The GTX-660 GPU while a few years old is a big PCIE-bus card that pulls about 240 watts -- more than my entire iMac. The GTX-780m in the iMac is essentially a laptop GPU. It is the "m" version. In AnandTech's test, they found "the GeForce GTX 780M...ends up delivering performance that falls roughly half way between the GTX 660 and GTX 760". So the PC GPU is faster overall than the 2013 iMac GPU: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7287/analyzing-the-price-of-mobility-desktops....."

Fair enough, Cinebench OpenGL scores seem to bear this out as well, with the 780m performing about the same as the GTX 660.

[Joe Marler] "As a sanity check I installed and ran Premiere CC 2015 on my 2015 iMac which has a 4Ghz Skylake CPU, M395X GPU and 32GB RAM. It didn't make much difference. It was a little faster but the overall situation was roughly the same."

So, Premiere PPro performed roughly the same on both platforms, while FCPX was generally more responsive dealing with 4K H.264. Overall, how responsive would you say a project like that is (in FCPX)... good enough to get by while editing remotely for a day or two, or good enough to carry through a long(ish) project. Say, maybe a month of 8 hour edit sessions? At what point would you make the decision to transcode for better perfromance?

Shawn



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Joe Marler
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 27, 2015 at 10:14:19 pm

[Shawn Miller] "So, Premiere PPro performed roughly the same on both platforms, while FCPX was generally more responsive dealing with 4K H.264. Overall, how responsive would you say a project like that is (in FCPX)... good enough to get by while editing remotely for a day or two, or good enough to carry through a long(ish) project. Say, maybe a month of 8 hour edit sessions? At what point would you make the decision to transcode for better performance? "

FCP X was much more responsive, although to some degree this depends on how you measure it. In Premiere CC once the playhead starts moving it is very smooth, even on 4k. They apparently run that on a separate high-priority thread. However the program monitor can lag by several seconds -- even on single-cam 4k and it's worse on multicam. By contrast on FCP X the playhead is not as smooth -- it jerks and lags on H264 4k but the viewer stays in sync and the lag is typically much smaller -- 1/2 second or less. Using proxy mode it is totally fluid.

In other areas Premiere's UI response seems very good. I don't recollect cases where it just hangs trying to select an option or tab. By contrast FCP X can sometimes get in states where the UI itself seems laggy. E.g, if a compute-intensive plugin is running and you try to drag another effect to the timeline, the drag operation can be choppy. It almost feels like the old days of cooperative multitasking vs preemptive. IMO the UI should be on a separate thread and should never lag because of background processing.

Re suitability of H264 4k on FCP X without proxy, this is a different decision process than Premiere. With FCP X it is totally integrated and seamless, there are no files to move or sync issues. You would typically not hesitate, just select the material within the FCP X browser, pick transcode to proxy, then "flip the switch" in the viewer to proxy mode. It doesn't take that much space and you never see or manage the files themselves. Before final export, just change the viewer back to original media. I've never seen it lose sync or have any problem. This assumes you keep the native media with you. However if you want to copy the proxy files to an old laptop, edit those then copy them back, that's not as automatic, but still quite simple. This MacBreak Studio reviews the procedure:







With Premiere it requires manual transcoding before import so it's a bigger decision. There are two sub-options: (1) Transcode to lower-compression 4k (about 8x the file size) and use those for the remainder of the workflow, or (2) Transcode to 1080p proxy. A lot of people do #2 so it's viable but I personally don't like the complexity. Tony Northrup describes the process here: http://www.rangefinderonline.com/features/how-to/Getting-Acquainted-with-Of...

Re how responsive H264 4k is in FCP X, it's not bad on a higher-end machine but slower than 1080. In general I edit very small single-cam 4k projects without transcoding but since it's so easy I don't hesitate to transcode to proxy. It makes things a lot quicker and smoother, especially since effects are only applied to the 1/4 res proxy files until the final render and export.


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Shawn Miller
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 27, 2015 at 6:20:22 pm

[Joe Marler] "This guy had a super machine and he was forced to externally transcode for A7RII 4k material: http://www.eoshd.com/comments/topic/18574-a-story-about-4k-xavc-s-premiere-....."

That was Andrew Reid's recommendation as well.

"Meanwhile on a Mac I recommend to simply use EditReady, transcode to ProRes 422 LT and you will be able to playback full quality full res 4K on a laptop. There's no quality loss from XAVC-S."



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Joe Marler
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 27, 2015 at 7:32:40 pm

[Shawn Miller] "
"Meanwhile on a Mac I recommend to simply use EditReady, transcode to ProRes 422 LT and you will be able to playback full quality full res 4K on a laptop. There's no quality loss from XAVC-S.""


Yes I tested that also. If I transcode the H264 4k material to ProRes, then even multicam is quite fast on Premiere CC -- on either Windows or an iMac. I just wanted to make sure there was no other solution, hence the discussion.


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jerry wise
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 25, 2015 at 5:54:13 pm

Larry Jordan just finished a webinar on this subject.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Workflow and hardware implications of H264 4k for FCP X vs Premiere?
on Nov 25, 2015 at 10:24:08 pm

I get more feedback on Pr than X simply due to the fact that the majority of editors who are feeding work into my post facility to grade & mix switched from Legend to Pr. But all report that h264 4k can easily be cut on either so I doubt there is a clear winner.

Obviously having a computer with processing grunt and a beefy graphics card will make things easier but it isn't hard either way. I recommend the latest versions of Pr & X as well. The simplest post workflow is not to transcode to proxies but cut with original files if the system copes.


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