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Gabe Thorburn
io Express problems
on Mar 4, 2010 at 12:52:50 am

Hello - I've been having problems with my io Express. I sent AJA tech support an email, but I thought I'd share the problem here too in case someone had any insight.


The problems:
1.) When playing any kind of ProRes file (HQ, 422, LT or proxy) the Final Cut Pro timeline holds sync, but the video output gets way behind. It starts out playing in sync on the video output, but within a couple seconds it is noticeably not matching the FCP timeline or audio output coming from the io Express headphone jack. I get inconsistent performance (in terms of dropped frames) within FCP when playing ProRes with External Video through the ioExpress. Sometimes it will drop frames every second with all the ProRes codecs and other times I will be able to play up to 1 minute 30 seconds without dropped frames. With External Video turned off, I am able to play ProRes 422 in the timeline perfectly with no dropped frames. So I know the computer is fast enough to play ProRes 422.

2.) When working with DVCPro HD 1080i, and when playing through a section of black (nothing in the timeline) the video output stays on black when picture resumes in the FCP timeline. The picture eventually comes back on the video output, but it is way out of sync and playing faster than real-time.

3.) There have been inconsistent and strange things with the ioExpress. Sometimes I am unable to get External Video to turn back on (i.e I have it on, turn it off, then turn it back on, but with no video). I haven't been able to re-produce this problem.


My system:
MacBook Pro 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
2 GB RAM
OS 10.6.2
Final Cut Pro 7.0.1
QT 7.6.3
AJA 7.5 driver
G-RAID connected via FW 800
ioExpress with Express 34 card


My workflow for ProRes:

1.) Before opening FCP make sure the ioExpress control panel is set to 1080i 29.97 as the primary format and make sure that the analog out is set to 525i 29.97. In FCP, set the Easy Setup to AJA ioExpress- 1080i 29.97 Apple ProRes 422. Make sure in FCP under the preferences menu that 'report dropped frames during playback' is checked.
2.) Set the video playback setting under the View menu to AJA ioExpress 1080i 29.97 10bit (1920x1080)
3.) Import a ProRes 422 1080i 29.97 clip that originated as a 30 fps clip (from the Canon 5D Mk 2 camera), and was conformed in Cinema Tools to 29.97.
•NOTE that the same problems with ProRes occur from 29.97 clips that are not from the 5D Mk 2 camera. I'm just giving a very detailed look at my workflow in case it is helpful.
A.) Convert the original camera file in Compressor to ProRes 422, preserving the 30fps frame rate.
B.) In Cinema Tools, File / Open Clip.
C.) On the bottom right corner of the window select the conform button
D.) The window should say that the current frame rate is 30 fps. Select 29.97.
E.) Open the newly conformed clip into FCP. Verify that the clip is 29.97 in the browser
4.) Lay a short portion of the clip that can be used to judge sync (a clap board) into the timeline and repeat the clip for up to 5 minutes.
5.) Play the timeline from the start. For me, it will either drop frames every second or the video output will get way behind. So in addition to be being out of sync, at about 1 min 30 seconds, it will drop a frame.
6.) Set Video playback to none and turn off external video.
7.) Play the same timeline again, but this time for me it will play the whole 5 minutes without dropping a frame.


My workflow for DVCPro HD:
1.) It is the same as the ProRes workflow except that the Easy Setup is set to AJA ioExpress 1080i 29.97 DVCPro HD and the video output is set to AJA ioExpress 29.97 8bit (1920x1080)


Thank you for your help!


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gary adcock
Re: io Express problems
on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:08:30 pm

[Gabe Thorburn] "Sometimes it will drop frames every second with all the ProRes codecs and other times I will be able to play up to 1 minute 30 seconds without dropped frames."

Drop frame issues are almost always a result of your disk drives not being fast enough.

"when playing through a section of black (nothing in the timeline) the video output stays on black when picture resumes in the FCP timeline. The picture eventually comes back on the video output, but it is way out of sync and playing faster than real-time. "

are you using a SLUG for the black? or is the track empty. Slug's are always NDF or having holes in the timeline can cause FCP to Skip those areas in RT so that it can cause the Video to play out of sync with the audio. This can also happen with audio that is not at the proper bit depth (like Mp4's used in VO)

"3.) Import a ProRes 422 1080i 29.97 clip that originated as a 30 fps clip (from the Canon 5D Mk 2 camera), and was conformed in Cinema Tools to 29.97. "

A conform does not correct the audio sample as encoded in the H.264 only the video.



gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows for the Digitally Inclined
Chicago, IL

http://blogs.creativecow.net/24640



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Gabe Thorburn
Re: io Express problems
on Mar 5, 2010 at 4:23:15 am

Yes, one would suspect the hard drive, but it plays fine when external video is turned off. The ProRes proxy codec is giving just as much trouble as ProRes 422. DVCPro HD 1080 plays fine, and DVCPro HD is at a much higher data rate than ProRes proxy. It must be something with either Final Cut or the io Express.

It's playing through a gap in the timeline that gives me the problem. I've never had external video mess up like that on the gaps before.

With the audio , there is a missing step in my outlined workflow. It is recorded separately, slowed down by .1% and synced together in FCP.


Gabe


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gary adcock
Re: io Express problems
on Mar 5, 2010 at 2:59:04 pm

[Gabe Thorburn] "Yes, one would suspect the hard drive, but it plays fine when external video is turned off."

Sorry gabe, but that EXACTLY is the issue.
See when you turn the V-Out off, you are telling Final Cut that you are not trying to output accurate SMPTE standard content- so playback become "lazy" and allows for things like timing to drift.
( bet your RT timeline does not say "Accurate" for TC and your Prefs are not set to "Force all frames"

"The ProRes proxy codec is giving just as much trouble as ProRes 422. DVCPro HD 1080 plays fine, and DVCPro HD is at a much higher data rate than ProRes proxy. It must be something with either Final Cut or the io Express. "

Not Really that would be a CPU and RAM issue according to your machine specs.
ProRes Playback is a CPU/ RAM hog, DVCProHD is not. Funny as it may seem to people Uncompressed is the easiest codec for the CPU to handle- it is always the drives that cannot keep up- sorry but this is the nature of compressed codecs.


You are at the bare minimum for playback using the IoExpress according to the specs, while adding additional Ram might help you can completely render the timeline to solve some of these issues, but in reality you are right on the edge a cliff.

gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows for the Digitally Inclined
Chicago, IL

http://blogs.creativecow.net/24640



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Gabe Thorburn
Re: io Express problems
on Mar 5, 2010 at 4:55:35 pm

Gary,
Okay, thank you for the insight.

"( bet your RT timeline does not say "Accurate" for TC and your Prefs are not set to "Force all frames" )"

My RT settings are as follows: Safe RT (checked), Playback Video Quality (Dynamic), Playback frame rate (full), Gamma correction (accurate). What are you refering to with the "accurate" for TC setting? If my frame rate is set to full, how could it be lagging behind with external video turned off? I appreciate your help, but I'm just trying to understand this fully.

I apologize, but I am confused about what you are saying with ProRes and the hard drives. I can accept that my MacBook Pro is on the fringe of its capabilities of playing ProRes. I've known ProRes to always be CPU / RAM based, but how are the hard drives an issue? Hard drives deal with data rates only, no? DVCPRO HD has a higher data rate and the same data rate as ProRes proxy and ProRes LT.

Thank you again,

Gabe



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gary adcock
Re: io Express problems
on Mar 5, 2010 at 7:17:54 pm

[Gabe Thorburn] "What are you refering to with the "accurate" for TC setting? If my frame rate is set to full, how could it be lagging behind with external video turned off?"

Sorry about the naming- I was working from my phone. but I was talking about this in the UserPref



Its not the video that is lagging behind- the holes in the timeline are causing the audio to play faster as it is rendered - as I said in the first post - conforming the Video does not conform the audio. If the Audio is not 48K it can be a problem, I do not believe that the canon cameras use 48k audio.

"If my frame rate is set to full, how could it be lagging behind with external video turned off?"
that is not what you said. I quote you from the first post under #1 "With External Video turned off, I am able to play ProRes 422 in the timeline perfectly with no dropped frames"

Again- the Aja (BMD or Matrox) hardware forces FCP to act professionally, even more than just the settings- its why hardware is needed to do really highend output and delivery- go back and re-read what I wrote.


" I've known ProRes to always be CPU / RAM based, but how are the hard drives an issue? Hard drives deal with data rates only, no?"

Storage is part of the mix for the RT extreme engine, The faster the storage the better the computer can handle the scratch or temp memory space- my comment in my last post was commenting that while Uncompressed is much more data throughput to handle- yet it is far easier for the CPU to playback- ProRes is harder for the CPU to handle since it is more highly compressed.

DVCProHD was designed 8-10 years ago or 3 versions of the CPU chip designs ago, so of course it has a much lighter compression schema than the much newer ProRes which can really only capture correctly on intel proc's.




gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows for the Digitally Inclined
Chicago, IL

http://blogs.creativecow.net/24640



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Gabe Thorburn
Re: io Express problems
on Mar 5, 2010 at 8:19:29 pm


"If my frame rate is set to full, how could it be lagging behind with external video turned off?"
that is not what you said. I quote you from the first post under #1 "With External Video turned off, I am able to play ProRes 422 in the timeline perfectly with no dropped frames"


My first post is accurate. ProRes plays perfectly with external video turned off. You did give an explanation about the ProRes, which I guess makes sense (about the AJA making FCP play out higher quality video). If you can direct me to an in-depth tech explanation on this, that would be helpful.

Again- the Aja (BMD or Matrox) hardware forces FCP to act professionally, even more than just the settings- its why hardware is needed to do really highend output


What hardware are you referring too? I thought the AJA is the hardware that the computer needs to move the video along at the highest standards?


Its not the video that is lagging behind- the holes in the timeline are causing the audio to play faster as it is rendered - as I said in the first post - conforming the Video does not conform the audio. If the Audio is not 48K it can be a problem, I do not believe that the canon cameras use 48k audio.

The holes in the timeline that I have are gaps without video/audio. I am not using slugs. I'm just trying to play through a gap (i.e different versions of a scene spaced out in a timeline), but the video takes several seconds to re-appear on the monitor, and when it does appear it is playing in slow motion. Again, this is for a DVCPro HD timeline through the ioExpress. The audio that I do have in the timeline is all 48K aiffs recorded separately from the 5D. This has to be something with the AJA ioExpress, no? It seems very buggy. I have no idea what is going on here.

Thanks again for your help,
Gabe



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Gabe Thorburn
Re: io Express problems
on Mar 6, 2010 at 7:16:45 am

its why hardware is needed to do really highend output

After a second look at your post, I see you are referring to the CPU hardware, obviously. Sorry for the misunderstanding - I was confused at first in regards to what you were saying. However, I am curious about what the AJA does exactly in terms of actual hardware acceleration.


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gary adcock
Re: io Express problems
on Mar 6, 2010 at 3:48:26 pm

[Gabe Thorburn] "However, I am curious about what the AJA does exactly in terms of actual hardware acceleration."

Absolutely nothing. Apple does not allow hardware acceleration for rendering or effects in Final Cut. Apple sells hardware and they want you to buy their stuff to keep you current.

The Aja cards do support hardware based scaling of HDV and DVCProHD and the other "thin raster" codecs, but not for filters, effects or transitions.



gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows for the Digitally Inclined
Chicago, IL

http://blogs.creativecow.net/24640



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Clark Morris
Re: io Express problems - Kona 3 as well!
on Mar 19, 2010 at 9:02:22 pm

I am having very similar problems with a Kona 3 card.

Just upgraded from Tiger/FCP 6 to Snow Leopard/FCP 7 on Mac Pro 3GHz Quad Core - 4GM RAM. Have always used the fast CalDigit HDONE for storage.

Before the upgrade, no problems. After upgrade, very similar problems to your #2 and #3 (in your original post).

Going thru empty spaces on timeline doing just as you say, video on desktop running in sync, but output thru Kona 3 is delayed by quite a bit (about 1.5 seconds). This is a ProRes HQ 1080 23.98 sequence using XDCAM footage that was converted to QT in Sony XDCAM Transfer tool.

Also getting random times when video is just black output. Takes a bit of opening other sequences, randomly scrubbing thru them, then it so far has always come back.

I had absolutely no problems like this before the upgraded OS/FCP. And of course, this means new Kona drivers as well.

--I had been outputting my ProRes HQ sequence as (Video Playback in the 'Audio/Video Settings) "1080psf23.98 8 bit." When I changed to the same, but "10 bit," most of the problems seemed to go away.

--Also, I had the "Playback Video Quality" on the timeline set to "Dynamic" (which I'm used to doing). When I set that to "High" only (all other choices never worked), most of the problems seemed to go away, in either 8 bit or 10 bit playback.

NOT fully tested, but that's what I've just seemingly found out. Good to know someone else having same issues (sorry, but it is).

Had you upgraded recently? Our AJA devices are different, but our problems are very similar.


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Gabe Thorburn
Re: io Express problems - Kona 3 as well!
on Mar 19, 2010 at 10:34:00 pm

I started using the io Express after upgrading to Snow Leopard, but I have never seen anything like this on Tiger with Kona 3.

Yes, it\'s good to know someone else with the problem. I\'ll check in with AJA again, and be sure to let you know of anything I learn.


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Gabe Thorburn
Re: io Express problems - Kona 3 as well!
on Mar 30, 2010 at 8:43:50 pm

I just updated to the latest Kona driver (7.5.1) that was released not too long ago, and the problem with playing through the gaps has been fixed.

Gabe


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