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Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow

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Adam Craig
Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 2, 2011 at 9:30:31 pm

Hi guys,

So I'm pulling my hair out about this. I have a 2.66 Quad Core Xeon Mac Pro with the NVIDIA GeForce 120 and 16GB of RAM on 10.6.8. I have Final Cut 7.0.3 installed. And I cannot, for the life of me, get FCP to run at any normal performance level.

I have a completely rendered, "blue bar", one layer ProRes 1080p sequence that cannot play back more than 1 second without stopping with a dropped frame warning. When I can get it to play back normally, the frame rate is all over the place to try to keep up. The footage is being played through a RAID0 FW800 drive, and everything functions perfectly even on older/slower Mac Pros. And it's not just this project, it's everything.

I deleted the preference files and repaired all the permissions on all associated drives. I'm usually pretty good and troubleshooting FCP and I'm just at a complete loss.

Do you guys have any suggestions?

THANKS!


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Amir Abed
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 2, 2011 at 10:21:09 pm

What kind of footage are you using? Do your sequence settings match your clip seetings?


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Adam Craig
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 2, 2011 at 10:30:14 pm

It's ProRes 422 (non-HQ), and yep, the footage matches it exactly.

I've been trouble shooting problems like this for years, and I just cannot explain this one.


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Bret Williams
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 3, 2011 at 5:49:43 am

Do you have video scopes playback on? Do you have playback frame rate settings set to low or medium? You sure the renders went to the FW800 drive? Have tried a faster internal sata drive? FW800 should be ok for 1080P, but you could be having trouble with your FW800 ports. I was recently having problems with mine. Might run the AJA speed test on that drive.


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Joseph Hung
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 3, 2011 at 6:40:45 pm

At 1920x1080 at 60i, ProRes 422 needs 145 MB/s, while HQ needs 220 MB/s. Your external FW800 should be able to handle 145 MB/s. Codecs and speed is dependent on the number of video streams (tracks) that you are using in your timeline.
Make sure the number of video tracks in your timeline is not overly excessive. The minimum number of tracks as possible. Same for audio, but not as important. Also check to see if you are feeding any video out to an external monitor? If so, turn it off and see if this helps.
Don't run extra windows like scopes or audio mixer. Are you rendering heavy effects and filters and CC? This ups your need for speed.
Keep everything on your external, except your project file. Check your connections.
Also how much RAM do you have? Maybe RAM is going bad? You can download free software that will check the health of your RAM. Speaking of which, check the health of your external. Try a different FW800 cable?
I had this issue at one point cutting at 422 HQ. Other than upgrading my hardware, I was able to get it to work a little better by doing all of the above. I still had skips and dropped frames here and there, but it helped alot to finish the project. I also moved all of my audio files to another drive. At the time I had 2 striped internal SATA drives in RAID 5. Internal software based RAIDs generally don't work, there is an inherent bottleneck. Maybe try a new drive, it could be the external itself.
In the end, the real fix for me was to build an 8 TB DIY RAID 5 array connected with a hardware based RocketRaid card and mini SAS cables. This fixed everything, and at 3/4 full I'm still sustaining numerous full quality streams of ProRes 422 HQ, generally around 500-600 MB/s Read and Write. It wasn't cheap, about $2k, but cheaper than already built arrays. For me, it was a speed / bottleneck issue. But you have to go through the work and time to narrow it down. Good luck.

http://www.tulpapictures.com
Twitter: @tulpapictures
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tulpapictures

Mac 2.66 GHz Quad Intel Xeon
OSX 10.6.8
FCS2
CS5
8GB RAM
ProAvio 8TB RAID 5 Dual Mini-SAS
Blackmagic Intensity Pro
ATI Radeon X1900
RocketRAID 4322 via dual MiniSAS
Panasonic Lumix GH2, Canon 5DMKII, 7D, Panasonic HVX200A, Panasonic DVX100A


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Bret Williams
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 5, 2011 at 10:13:25 pm

[Joseph Hung] "At 1920x1080 at 60i, ProRes 422 needs 145 MB/s, while HQ needs 220 MB/s. Your external FW800 should be able to handle 145 MB/s. Codecs and speed is dependent on the number of video streams (tracks) that you are using in your timeline. "

FW 800 is 800mb/sec which in reality is equal to maybe 85MB/sec. But generally you'd get about 75MB/sec. SATA will reach 120 or so and if you get a sata raid card you can get 200 mb/sec.

I'm not sure about your 145MB/sec numbers, but I think you meant megabit (mb not MB) but if it really is 145mb/sec, you're not going to get that over any FW800 cable. ProRes is variable I believe and perhaps that number is the max. I have edited ProRes 1080i over FW800 sure, so generally it can't be running at 145mb/sec.

Everyone worries about playback, but there are so many options to lessen the quality a little on playback that it really doesn't matter unless you have to play back to tape.


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Adam Craig
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 5, 2011 at 10:25:11 pm

Thanks for the responses guys, I'm working through some of those lists of things to try.

The thing that's most confusing to me is that these exact same projects, on the exact same drives, on the exact same (or lower spec'd) machines have absolutely no problem with any of this.

And as far as the numbers go, my drive is testing at 60MB/sec (byte, not bits) write and 75MB/sec read speed, and the files I'm playing back are 16.50MB/sec (all of these figures are from the Aja tools). At that rate I should be able to easily play 4 layers, and my computer is dying getting through one second of one track...


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Joseph Hung
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 5, 2011 at 10:59:45 pm

It could still be the simple fact that a HDD is dying too. I think that happened to me before: having speed issues, nothing was coming up saying the drive was bad or dying, then one day it did, I replaced it, and suddenly all's good.

http://www.tulpapictures.com
Twitter: @tulpapictures
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tulpapictures

Mac 2.66 GHz Quad Intel Xeon
OSX 10.6.8
FCS2
CS5
8GB RAM
ProAvio 8TB RAID 5 Dual Mini-SAS
Blackmagic Intensity Pro
ATI Radeon X1900
RocketRAID 4322 via dual MiniSAS
Panasonic Lumix GH2, Canon 5DMKII, 7D, Panasonic HVX200A, Panasonic DVX100A


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Joseph Hung
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 5, 2011 at 11:10:34 pm

Wait, did you actually move the project and associated HDDs to another machine and you had no playback issues?

http://www.tulpapictures.com
Twitter: @tulpapictures
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tulpapictures

Mac 2.66 GHz Quad Intel Xeon
OSX 10.6.8
FCS2
CS5
8GB RAM
ProAvio 8TB RAID 5 Dual Mini-SAS
Blackmagic Intensity Pro
ATI Radeon X1900
RocketRAID 4322 via dual MiniSAS
Panasonic Lumix GH2, Canon 5DMKII, 7D, Panasonic HVX200A, Panasonic DVX100A


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Adam Craig
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 5, 2011 at 11:24:17 pm

Yep, I've tried the project on multiple machines (most lower spec'd, actually) and it works no problem. And I don't think it'd be a drive issue because according to the write/read tests on the actual throughput on the actual computer, it's only using about 20% of the available performance bandwidth.

The video card is lower-spec'd than the slower computers, but given that it's playing something fully rendered that should be an issue, correct? Also, this is my first FCP7 project (I hung around to 6 for ages)... I can't imagine a scenario where that would have anything to do with it, but who knows.

Like I said, totally pulling my hair out over this. Thank you guys for all the responses so far, btw.


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Matt Lyon
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 6, 2011 at 10:26:46 am

Hi Adam,

I'm jumping in late on the thread, but it seems like all signs are pointing to an issue with the machine, not the hard drive (since it works fine when connected to another machine). Do other projects play back fine on the machine in question, or is all video playback affected?

Couple other things to investigate:

Disconnect any other FW drives connected to the machine. I've had situations where a dying drive slowed down the whole machine, even though it wasn't serving any FCP duties.

Bad UPS or bad power: a dying or underpowered UPS device could be throttling the machines performance.

If you're comfortable using the Console (Applications>Utilities>Console), then crack that open and look for error messages that pop up while you playback. (IO errors, in particular, would point to a hardware issue). On that note: try running the apple hardware tests on your machine.

Try rebooting the machine and zap the PRAM (hold down 'command-option-p-r' on startup)

Make sure Time Machine and any other backup software isn't running.

There could be an issue with the OS install, or the FCP install. It's never happened to me, but other people have reported problems with doing "update" style OS installs, instead of "clean" installs.

hth,

Matt Lyon
Editor
Toronto


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Joseph Hung
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 6, 2011 at 5:26:28 pm

Matt has some great suggestions, all of which I tried to help diagnose when I was having the same issues. I would also check the health of your RAM too, I think there's freeware out there to do this. You could also use Activity Monitor to see what's eating up alot of your CPU, especially when you hit play in FCP.

http://www.tulpapictures.com
Twitter: @tulpapictures
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tulpapictures

Mac 2.66 GHz Quad Intel Xeon
OSX 10.6.8
FCS2
CS5
8GB RAM
ProAvio 8TB RAID 5 Dual Mini-SAS
Blackmagic Intensity Pro
ATI Radeon X1900
RocketRAID 4322 via dual MiniSAS
Panasonic Lumix GH2, Canon 5DMKII, 7D, Panasonic HVX200A, Panasonic DVX100A


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Adam Craig
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 6, 2011 at 5:32:47 pm

Thanks guys! I have a gut feeling it's software related, if for no other reason than that a full-res QT made from the same rendered sequence plays flawlessly in QT Player but not in the timelineā€”from a disk and CPU perspective I'd say those should be equivalently taxing on the system.

I'll work my way down those (very helpful) lists and get back to you guys...


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Joseph Hung
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Dec 5, 2011 at 10:57:30 pm

Yes, that is what I meant, megabit, sorry about that. You are correct that it is a variable bitrate codec, thus the reason why I've been able to edit ProRes 422 from FW800 as well. From what I understand, that seems to be the "target data rate," which I'm assuming is the max.
http://tinyurl.com/89n6qx8
But this too is limited, if I'm running too many video tracks, or doing anything slightly heavy, the drive can't keep up. Editing with 422 HQ, my software striped internal RAID 5 crumbled under the pressure, even though SATA is supposed to give you 200mb/s, and ProRes is variable. I've changed it up with faster throughput, and have not had any problems since, so through experience, I can only assume that all of those factors: cable, drive, interface, throughput and inherent bottlenecks, number of video streams, effects and filters, were all culprits to my problem at the time. And as we all know, having enough speed makes a huge difference in how your system performs with certain codecs.
Although I don't layback to tape, I still prefer to be able to watch down my entire timeline without problems, at high resolution, no dropped frames or less frames, especially when I'm CC'ing and finalizing the project before output. I guess that's just how I need to work to feel like I'm maintaining quality.

http://www.tulpapictures.com
Twitter: @tulpapictures
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tulpapictures

Mac 2.66 GHz Quad Intel Xeon
OSX 10.6.8
FCS2
CS5
8GB RAM
ProAvio 8TB RAID 5 Dual Mini-SAS
Blackmagic Intensity Pro
ATI Radeon X1900
RocketRAID 4322 via dual MiniSAS
Panasonic Lumix GH2, Canon 5DMKII, 7D, Panasonic HVX200A, Panasonic DVX100A


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Adam Craig
Re: Final Cut CRUSHINGLY Slow
on Feb 14, 2012 at 5:16:49 pm

hey guys,

update: for reasons completely unknown to me, changing my video card from the stock NVIDIA card to an ATI mac radeon fixed everything. thought this might be helpful to others, and thanks again for everyone's help.


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