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Re: Playback performance not perfect

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Oliver Peters
Re: Playback performance not perfect
on Sep 27, 2013 at 12:33:05 pm

From my experience, even iMacs haven't been flawless. The optimum "stock" set-up, though, seems to be a fully-loaded iMac (max RAM, best GPU, SSD or Fusion drive) with a Thunderbolt RAID (Promise Pegasus, for example). That's until the Mac Pro "tube" comes out.

For the film I'm cutting, we hot-rodded a newer model Mac Pro Quad-core and it's one of the better performing machines I've worked on with X. It has 32GB RAM and the ATI 5870 plus a Kona LHi. I replaced the boot drive with a Crucial SSD. There are 3 x 1TB internal drives as RAID-0. Projects go on the SSD, Events on the internal RAID (linked media only). Then all media is on a MAXX Digital EVO array connected via SATA/Mini-SAS to an ATTO card.

On this Mac Pro, I can typically play long timelines (the whole movie in fact) without hiccups. The main problems occur when I jumps around in sequences during revisions while working with the director. Most of the time, I will see hiccups on the viewer, but not with LHi's output. Occasionally it hiccups on the output, too. This is with 1080p/23.98 ProResPROXY media. Generally, when it does hiccup, I will stop and restart the timeline playback and it settles down.

FCP X seems to suffer from two issues. The first is that if you have a large job in there, you really need to let it fully load and really get settled in. These means on a large movie, give it several minutes. Even though it looks like everything it needs to buffer is completed, it often isn't. The second is that is has a huge RAM leak problem. The longer you run it, the "stickier" it becomes. This is often fixed by relaunching X. The best performance is if you shut down nightly with a complete fresh start in the morning (power off completely if you can, not just a computer shutdown). Then during the day, restart FCP X 2 or 3 times.

I also see some issues with how one starts and stops a sequence. I have seen the same in FCP 7. If you start/stop playback using the space bar, you will tend to see more stuttering, than if you use the JKL keys.

Unlike Ronny, I have output to tape directly from FCP "legacy" and Avid MC/Symphony/NC for years and never had the same issues. There is however a big difference in how these NLEs interact with external i/o hardware and how X does it. With X, there's less direct control between the NLE and the card. Instead, X hands it off to the card by way of the OS's video subset. So everything is a bit "looser" than with FCP "legacy", Avid or Premiere Pro.

FWIW - on the Mac Pro described above, I did a clean install onto the SSD before starting this film.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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