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Brad Coulter
Crazy slow footage
on Feb 25, 2014 at 2:36:51 pm

Good morning from beautiful Tennessee!

I'm using Avid Media Composer 6.5.3 on a Mac mini, iCore5 with 8GB of RAM (that's the max for the machine). That could be all of my problem right there, but I'm not sure. I'm doing 720p projects at 29.97. My footage comes from a Canon Rebel T3i and is in .mov format and I AMA link it.

My footage only plays smoothly for a couple of seconds and then starts to lag. I mean, really really lag. I have been previewing the footage in VLC and noting my mark in and out points, marking them in Media Composer, adding them to my sequences and exporting them out to QT. That process is crazy slow and since I can't really review the sequence until after it's exported, I always have to go in and tweak, run an export, and then go in and tweak some more.

I tried importing the footage as opposed to linking, and get the same results.

So here are my questions.

1. Is this just due to my machine being underpowered?
2. Is there something I could do to the footage files prior to linking that would help?
3. Could I do some type of conversion prior to editing to make the files just scratch reference files, line up all my edits using those, and then do another sequence with the real files once I know where I want all my edits?

Many thanks to anyone who could lend some expertise.


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Michael Hancock
Re: Crazy slow footage
on Feb 25, 2014 at 3:11:47 pm

[Brad Coulter] "1. Is this just due to my machine being underpowered?"

Possibly. Other things to consider first.


[Brad Coulter] "2. Is there something I could do to the footage files prior to linking that would help?"
The files are .h264, which Avid doesn't deal with very well. Your best bet is to AMA the files into Avid then transcode them to DNxHD. You can also import them, but that's much, much slower than transcoding after AMA. And it doesn't gain you anything.

Couple of things to consider - where are these files stored? If they're on your internal hard drive, that is likely the issue. You'll need an external hard drive, as fast as you can afford, for smooth playback. We use a lot of GTech drive, but Lacie, Caldigit, etc... all make great external drives for editing.

Also, when you transcode to DNxHD, check what bitrate you're transcoding to. The higher the number, the faster your drive will need to be and more taxing it will be on your system.

You may want to consider an offline/online workflow. AMA the clips into Avid, transcode to the lowest DNxHD available (do not delete the original AMA links - just put them in another bin), edit, then relink back to the original AMA files.

I haven't used the t3i, but does it have timecode it embeds in the clips? If it doesn't, you may want to consider getting QTChange from http://www.videotoolshed.com/product/42/qtchange This program will add timecode to the .h264 files so you can relink with confidence in Avid. You'd run the QT files through the program prior to AMA'ing them into Avid.

----------------
Michael Hancock
Editor


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Brendan Charles
Re: Crazy slow footage
on Feb 25, 2014 at 3:47:08 pm

I believe it is the AMA linking that is causing the slowdown. I usually work in a similar way as you do and have experienced slowdown by AMA linking clips coming from DSLR's.

You could try importing the footage, or transcoding what you have already done and playback should go back to being smooth.


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Shane Ross
Re: Crazy slow footage
on Feb 25, 2014 at 6:03:01 pm

Avid doesn't edit H.264 smoothly, and your Mac Mini is very underpowered compared to higher end computers...but even they wouldn't edit H.264 smoothly. It is best to AMA, then transcode the footage to DNxHD. Either full res 145, or to the offline/online workflow...depending on the storage options you have.

Editing native formats that aren't MXF based (like XDCAM, Canon XF, P2) is not recommended in Avid. If you want to edit native, use Adobe Premiere Pro.

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


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Brad Coulter
Re: Crazy slow footage
on Feb 25, 2014 at 10:28:54 pm

Thanks for all the advice guys. I'm back in front of my machine and getting ready to do some edits. I'll start with the transcode technique and see how it goes.

I really appreciate the help. Hopefully this will save me a ton of time.

Cheers!


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Brad Coulter
Re: Crazy slow footage
on Feb 26, 2014 at 1:30:31 am

Transcoding makes a huge improvement. The process is still pretty time consuming, but it's really the only way to work with my setup.

I have a Creative Cloud membership and never even thought about using Premiere, but I went ahead and downloaded it and it's a great tool for the project I'm working on right now. I've got several footage sources, different file types, different fps, etc.

Premiere slurped it all up and I was making edits and sequences in no time. I'm not leaving Avid, but it's really nice to have some options for when Avid is too time consuming.

I'm checking my external drive speed and my T3i settings to try to maximize what I've got until I can afford that new $5k Mac. :)

Thanks again to everyone who chimed in. I'm in an immensely better position to get my work out now.


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Michael Hancock
Re: Crazy slow footage
on Feb 26, 2014 at 2:20:54 am

It really pays to know more than one NLE these days. For long form work, work with transcriptions, or when we know we'll be spending a lot of time refining an edit with a client over our shoulders we go with Avid.

For fast turnaround edits with weird footage or lots of different frame rates, resolutions and codecs we typically go with Premiere. Or if it's a graphic intensive piece we'll cut in Premiere and send it to our motion graphics guy to copy/paste the timeline into AE.

Both are great programs when used with the right type of project.

----------------
Michael Hancock
Editor


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Brad Coulter
Re: Crazy slow footage
on Feb 26, 2014 at 7:33:51 pm

I follow what you're saying Michael. A Jaguar looks great and gets you somewhere in style, but when you're hauling a load of 2X4's across town, you better have a pickup.

Premiere is really easy to use, by the way!


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