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Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?

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Billy Moss
Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?
on Jan 27, 2013 at 5:21:01 pm

Hi

I'm just curious as to how long of a video you could create using Final Cut Pro 7.

The following story is VERY long, I don't blame you if you don't want to read it. So here's the shorter version first:

I shoot in 1080P on a Canon 550D. I convert the files taken from my camera to Pro Res 422 LT. I then edit the videos in Final Cut Pro 7 using Magic Bullet looks to colour grade. How long of a video do you think I could make before I started to encounter problems? By that I mean problems with processing power, dropped frames, frame rate issues and playback issues etc within my time line? Issues that would cause the finished video to look unacceptable. Or issues that would force me to start all over again or try to scale back my video. I'd rather not resort to splitting the video into halves or thirds, exporting them then making a new video out of the the exported videos. I've done that in the past for other videos I've edited in Camtasia but in FCP it would severely hurt my editing options.

These are my specs. I'm editing on an iMac that is from 2008, it's the smaller of the two. It actually has 5GB of RAM as opposed to the standard 2GB it came with. I just want to know a ball park figure of the length of video my set up is capable of producing. I don't want to get to the 10 min mark of a video that has or maybe hasn't been colour graded to find that FCP is crashing and that I'm screwed.

I'm finding that for the longer videos I now need to produce I cannot rely on FCP. It's simply too slow and unreliable when it comes to longer videos. Thanks to the godfather of DSLR shooting Philip Bloom I'm now considering making the full transition from FCP to to Adobe CS6. He loved FCP but he makes an excellent case for moving from FCP to CS6. But if there's anyone out there who can shed some light on the limitations of FCP given my specs that would be very much appreciated.

Thank you.


VERY LONG VERSION:

Let me explain I've been working with Final Cut for a few years now and I'm at point where I want to be able to create videos that are longer then just a few minutes and won't just go online. With the new work opportunities I have I may be required to edit a video that is at least 30 minutes long, has been shot in 1080P on a Canon 550D, and is Broadcast ready.

But I understand that for a 30 minute video I would need something much more powerful then what I currently have. I'm editing on the smaller version of the iMac which is from 2008. I actually have 5GB of RAM ass opposed to the standard 2GB that it came with.

As I said before I'm shooting on a Canon 550D at 1080P and editing in FCP 7. I'm using the Magic Bullet Looks plug-in to colour grade.

For some background info I shot a music video a while ago and it ran just over 4 minutes. I used different colour grading effects from Magic Bullet Looks for each clip and that's when I noticed I had playback issues within my time line as well as issues when I exported the video. The frame rate was just off, it wasn't dropping frames but the play back was not smooth in parts. I would have hoped that FCP was capable of more than this. But luckily that project was out of interest and not important.

I also had to export a 3 min 1080P video recently using Quicktime Movie rather than Quicktime Conversion which is what I normally use and was taught to use. My employer for this video specified that I had to choose either Apple Pro Res 422 LT or HQ. I tried both and both videos resulted in the screen flickering to black every few seconds. We came to an agreement to simply use H.264.

For reference I always use Quicktime Converison when exporting videos. I've never had any issues using the following method for my short web videos: I export using the current frame rate (usually 24p) and I actually don't limit the date rate to 1200 kbps, I don't limit it at all which I know is frowned upon. But I just finished editing a 10 min video, the longest I've ever edited in FCP. I did not colour grade the footage as I thought all that extra data would cause my project to crash. The playback in the timeline was great except for one small part but I could live with that. To save time and space I thought I would limit the data rate to 1200 KBPS (as I was taught to do but no longer do.) It took a life time to export as I'm sure you can imagine and when I watched it the video looked like it was filmed on the very first camera phone, just awful quality.

So now I'm exporting the video again with all of my favourite settings. I have a feeling that limiting the data rate on a ten minute HD video is causing problems. And this video is intended for the web only, not for TV.

Yep, 2 hours or so later and the 10 min video has come out crystal clear with perfect playback in VLC. The only difference between this perfect video and the last one that was more pixelated than Doom 1 is that I did NOT restrict the data rate to 1200 KBPS. I left it unrestricted. I was always told and have always heard that I should restrict my videos to 1200 KBPS to make my videos smaller and therefore easier to watch online but if it means poor quality videos than I can't justify it.

Any insight at all would be much appreciated.

Sorry if this seems muddled or if there are spelling or grammatical errors, I haven't slept properly in 4 days and it's currently 3:20AM. I'm running on fumes. Bed time now.

Thank you again.


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Rafael Amador
Re: Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?
on Jan 27, 2013 at 5:39:47 pm

I make movies till one hour with heavy effects without problems.

[Billy Moss] "Thanks to the godfather of DSLR shooting Philip Bloom I'm now considering making the full transition from FCP to to Adobe CS6. He loved FCP but he makes an excellent case for moving from FCP to CS6."
I don't think this is because the length of the movies you can edit in one application versus the other.
If P. Bloom has moved is because he can edit native DSLR stuff on PP.



[Billy Moss] ". It actually has 5GB of RAM as opposed to the standard 2GB it came with."
5GBs is not a good number. Traditionally Macs liked even numbers of RAM chipsets: 2, 4, 6...They have many many reports of problem due to odd numbers.

About your problems on play; D you use an external HD for your media and renders?
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Billy Moss
Re: Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?
on Jan 27, 2013 at 6:36:18 pm

Hi Rafael

You say you make movies up to one hour? Wow, can I ask what hardware you use? Sounds like you must have a very powerful and expensive machine. Unfortunately for me that is not feasible for my situation right now.

Yes you're right about PP, I wasn't saying that PP can edit more than FCP if you're using the exact same hardware but Bloom is saying that FCP does not take advantage of all of your computer's power. That obviously results in a much slower work flow.

Bloom makes a lot of good points about PP being better than FCP, the one you mentioned about how you can simply take your clips straight from your memory card and bring them into your time line really interest me a lot. So much time is spent converting my clips to Pro Res.

If anyone is at all interested in Philip Bloom's opinion or perhaps wants to counter some of his points this is a link to the article, there's an ethics statement at the top of the page that says he is NOT in any way being paid by Adobe.

http://philipbloom.net/2012/09/30/cs6/

I didn't realise that even numbered RAM chipsets was a problem, thanks for opening my eyes to that. That may explain a few new bugs I've been having lately within my OS. But those particular bugs might be because my iMac is just getting old. I've considered getting another 4GB of RAM but I wasn't sure if that would make a noticeable difference in FCP. It's actually only a 3GB increase because I would have to take the 1GB stick out. So that would make it 8GB of RAM in total. And here 4GB of RAM costs $300 or so. Not a lot of money but it is if it makes no difference.

And yes I do use an external HD to store my media and renders.

Thanks so much for your help and quick response Rafael.


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Neil Patience
Re: Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?
on Jan 27, 2013 at 7:23:04 pm

Just to add to Rafael's points I don't think the length of the timeline matters much in terms of playback capability.
You could capture a 1 min clip and repeat it in a sequence for an hour. Thats not going to be more tricky for the system in terms of playback than if you made it 4 mins long or 30 mins long. I have created a 2 hour 30 sequence without problem. There used to be a 4 hour limit in earlier FCP versions but no idea if that stands.

Its much more likely your problems are drive speed related, and as Rafael says the 5Gigs of Ram has been known to throw up oddities, not just FCP related.

[Billy Moss] "My employer for this video specified that I had to choose either Apple Pro Res 422 LT or HQ. I tried both and both videos resulted in the screen flickering to black every few seconds. We came to an agreement to simply use H.264. "

This is a mistake, you were totally correct to use ProRes LT or you could go for 422, (you don't really need HQ for 550D footage) Using the H264 directly is likely to cause you loads of issues. You will find thread after thread here of people doing that and having problems with drop frames. flash frames, odd colour flashes, audio sync - pretty much you name it. Its not at all consistent though, sometimes it works and other times it goes very wrong. ProRes is the answer.

Again as Rafael asks, what is your current drive set-up ? Thats the first place to look for your type of problem.

[Billy Moss] "I export using the current frame rate (usually 24p) "
One other point, not related to your issue. (I hope I am not teaching grandmother to suck eggs here) I am guessing you are in the UK, if you do get any UK TV broadcast work don't shoot 24P make sure you shoot 25P or that will come back to bite you when it comes to delivery.

best wishes
Neil
http://www.patience.tv


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Rafael Amador
Re: Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?
on Jan 28, 2013 at 2:56:04 am

God points on Neil's post.
Just to answer your question about my system, Billy, I work with a MBP of 2010 and one of 2007. The only difference is that the 2010 one render faster and is not limited by the GPU as the one of 2007 (problems some times to render MB Looks at 1080/10b).

But I want to tell you something; Running properly FC (or whatever other application), is not just about harware.
FC seats on top of a Mac OsX system, and if this is not optimized the application won't runs smoothly, whatever the hardware you use.
As any system, some maintenance is necessary. I take care of repairing Permissions and keep the HDs directories in order. I use DiskWarrior to do that, and i get FC works fast and without any king of glitches.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?
on Jan 28, 2013 at 2:59:20 am

Basic question: is he trying to store and edit his video on the same drive as the OS. That's a no-no.


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Billy Moss
Re: Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?
on Jan 28, 2013 at 4:50:22 am

No no, all of my editing and media storage takes place on external HDs and the OS is on the Mac HD. I've never moved it.

Ok I've just read another idea from a different forum. This makes me sound even newbier than I already am but I haven't go the scratch disk set to the same HD as all my media and projects. The scratch disk is set to my Mac HD and all of my project and media files are in my external HD.

I would always just open FCP, bring in my media from my external HD and save the project to the same external HD. I know, I don't have the best knowledge of the software. But I'm trying to learn more.

That was one of the first things I ever learnt to do back when I started using FCP, was to set the scratch disk. But I never stuck with the habit once I left school. Damn.

Ok, could this be a reason why FCP is so slow to render and export?

If I open an old project and change the scratch disk from my Mac HD will that do something to the video? Will it say something like, "this project is currently being used

I should really time the rendering and exporting of a short video. A colour graded one and a non colour graded one and compare times with people using the same specs to see if my times are really slow.

I'll post about that later.

Thanks again everyone for your input.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?
on Jan 28, 2013 at 10:02:03 pm

[Billy Moss] "The scratch disk is set to my Mac HD and all of my project and media files are in my external HD. "

That's a bit confusing. If your Capture Scratch is on the Mac HD, it would mean the bulk of your media is on the System Drive: on almost all systems, the Mac HD IS the system Drive.

Are you certain you have your terminology straight?

It also wouldn't hurt to go back to what you learned in school, and quit taking the convenient route.

Dave LaRonde
Former Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Billy Moss
Re: Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?
on Jan 28, 2013 at 3:08:58 am

Hi Neil

I think I may have been misleading there. I meant that he wanted me to edit the video and export the video as a Pro Res file. Or perhaps I'm misunderstanding you. Creative Cow is my bible in terms of solving editing problems but this is the first time I've asked for help of any kind in any forum. I really appreciate everyone's feedback.

This is my usual process my camera shoots MOV files, then I convert them to Pro Res 422 LT, then I bring those Pro Res clips into FCP. Then I make my edit and export my video as H.264.

I was told that is the best way to do things in Final Cut Pro according to a demonstration from Philip Bloom. But in the demonstration he was using a 5D Mk II. Could my 550D possibly be to blame here? I know that the 5D Mk II and the 550D are quite different but every step Bloom showed me has worked perfectly for me.

The reason he wanted me to export the project to Pro Res was because apparently that's what AdStream says Final Cut Pro editors should be exporting to. AdStream are the governing body that tell you exactly how you need to make your video for it to be able to be broadcast on TV.

But yes I have encountered trouble when trying to edit clips that are straight from my camera.

I've exported to H.264 for all of my videos and never had one problem. When I venture out from that settings I get all kinds of problems. And that chews up so much time having to re-export the video.

My current drive set up is that I have a Seagate external HD and a Western Digital external HD. All of my project files and media files are on the Seagate. Both are formatted to use Macs and PCs, they're FAT32. I've just recently started using the Western Digital to back up what's on the Seagate because my latest work is not just my own.

And no I'm in Australia, not the UK. And yes as for the videos that may make it to TV they were shot 25P.


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David Eaks
Re: Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?
on Jan 28, 2013 at 1:55:48 pm

FAT 32? That is a problem. Backup and reformat your media drives to Mac OS Extended (NOT journaled).

*Edit

Found a thread on the subject-

http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/8/952969

As mentioned in the thread, if you need to read Mac formatted drives on windows get software for that. FAT32 is not the solution.

FWIW I've dropped like 7 hours onto the timeline, applied light effects and exported huge prores files to "bake in" the effect while I sleep.


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Neil Patience
Re: Just how long can a video created in Final Cut Pro 7 be?
on Jan 28, 2013 at 7:51:35 pm

[Billy Moss] "This is my usual process my camera shoots MOV files, then I convert them to Pro Res 422 LT, then I bring those Pro Res clips into FCP. Then I make my edit and export my video as H.264. "

Sorry for any confusion - that is the correct way to go you are quite correct. If my project was for broadcast I would probably use ProRes 422. No need for HQ.

[Billy Moss] "My current drive set up is that I have a Seagate external HD and a Western Digital external HD. All of my project files and media files are on the Seagate. Both are formatted to use Macs and PCs, they're FAT32"

How are these drives connected ? To which bus ?
Not totally sure that FAT32 is the best solution for MAC as it has a 4 Gig file limit so you are going to be creating spanned files which will almost certainly slow you down on larger files.

Edit just read Davids post - seem like this may well be a big part of your issue.

best wishes
Neil
http://www.patience.tv

8 Core MacPro, Kona 3, Tangent Wave, Mackie Universal
i7 2.7 Gig MBP (non retina) 16Gigs Ram Blackmagic Monitor Mini


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