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Top MacPro grinds to halt on simple stuff

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Jean Piche
Top MacPro grinds to halt on simple stuff
on Apr 20, 2010 at 2:03:32 pm


My hardware: MacPro 8/16-core, 2.93Ghz, 32Gb DRAM, 8 Tb 7200rpm storage (almost empty). Running CS4.

Project to render is composed of:
3 ProRes 1080p sources in various pre-comps.
A total of of 2 CC WideTime plugins @ 2-3 frames of delays
1 Boris Copntinuum Composite plugin
2 CC Glass plugins.
Total duration: 5'05"

My AFX CS4 settings:
Render Simultaneous frames is ON
using 12 CPUs @ 2.24 Gb leaving 4 Gb for other apps.
OpenGL renderer is off everywhere.
DIsk cache is enabled @ 100Gb

Hello people,

I have the fastest machine available and my render times have never been slower. When I launch my render, the machine works fast enough for about ten minutes and then stupendously grinds down to calculating a frame once in a while and giving me a render time of 26 hours for this 5 minute simple project. According to ACtivity Monitor, the machine seems to spend most of its time idling with the disk scratching away at what sounds like paging. Nothing else is running and this is after a fresh reboot. My kernel_task hovers around 35% almost all the time. The machine is so frozen that it takes up to three full minutes before I can get control back from this sort of "deep sloth". This is astonishingly bad performance and I could get more out of a regular quad-core machine. I have scoured the forums and fail to bring up anything that could cause something as spectacularly bad as this. The same sort of project on a previous generaiton MacPro would take at most 2 hours.

I know this is a topic that has been covered but none of the solutions proposed previoously here seem to make any diference. I know that time-based plug-ins tend to slow down render times. However CC WideTime doesn;t complain at all when using multiple CPUs and seesm happy enough in other circumstances and on my other 8-core machine.

Am I forgetting something obvious?


Thanks for the help folks, tight deadline coming right up!


jp


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Top MacPro grinds to halt on simple stuff
on Apr 20, 2010 at 4:34:31 pm

A few things stand out to me:

I may be a Mac guy, but I am basically a Mac USER, not a Mac EXPERT. It appears that you may be trying to use virtual cores, which AE 9 can not deal with. My suggestion: cut back to 8 cores/3.5 GB each, or even 6 cores, 4GB each. A gent by the name of Walter Soyka on this forum seems to have the whole multiprocessing/RAM issue well in hand; perhaps he'll chime in. But I'm pretty close.

The Cycore (CC) effects have a reputation for being very processor intensive, particularly Wide Time, which has to refer backwards & forwards along the footage to accomplish its task. No getting around that.

Glad to hear Open GL is off. That's the best state for it in AE.

Do you have the free upgrade to AE 9.0.2? If not, you should -- it solved a lot of AE 9 weirdness.

It would also be interesting to know the nature of the footage to which you're applying Wide Time. AE doesn't react well to certain kinds of video. Here's the scoop:

Dave's Stock Answer #1:

If the footage you imported into AE is any kind of the following -- footage in an HDV acquisition codec, MPEG1, MPEG2, AVCHD, mp4, mts, m2t, H.261 or H.264 -- you need to convert it to a different codec.

These kinds of footage use temporal, or interframe compression. They have keyframes at regular intervals, containing complete frame information. However, the frames in between do NOT have complete information. Interframe codecs toss out duplicated information.

In order to maintain peak rendering efficiency, AE needs complete information for each and every frame. But because these kinds of footage contain only partial information, AE freaks out, resulting in a wide variety of problems.

-----------------------------

So what do you convert such footage to? I recommend QT's PNG codec (not a PNG sequence) at best quality, which means it's lossless. What do you use to do the conversion? Apple's Compressor, QT Pro, Adobe Media Encoder, or Sorenson Squeeze, if you have it.

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


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Walter Soyka
Re: Top MacPro grinds to halt on simple stuff
on Apr 20, 2010 at 5:16:35 pm

[Jean Piche] "When I launch my render, the machine works fast enough for about ten minutes and then stupendously grinds down to calculating a frame once in a while and giving me a render time of 26 hours for this 5 minute simple project."

Can you trace the point where it slows down to any new layers or effects coming in?

[Jean Piche] "According to ACtivity Monitor, the machine seems to spend most of its time idling with the disk scratching away at what sounds like paging."

What's the RAM usage look like in Activity Monitor? If you are in fact running out of RAM (which could happen, due to the caching for the time-based effects), you might benefit from the Secret Menu -- though I always treat this as the tool of last resort.

Hold down the Shift key, and keep it down. Click After Effects > Preferences > General. Continue to hold the Shift key, and click on the list of preferences. You should see a "Secret" menu item. In there, you can disable layer caching, and choose a frame increment at which AE will automatically purge memory. You might start with a value like 30 frames, and decrease it if you still see the render hanging.

If your renders were working perfectly, you would see a big performance hit for mucking with these settings; however, since they are not, it may help. Don't forget to reset them for your next project.

[Dave LaRonde] "My suggestion: cut back to 8 cores/3.5 GB each, or even 6 cores, 4GB each."

Thanks for the kind words, Dave -- and this is a great suggestion. Multiprocessing only CS4 uses physical cores, though it can see the virtual cores. CS5 will apparently support hyperthreading (virtual cores).

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Jean Piche
Re: Top MacPro grinds to halt on simple stuff
on Apr 21, 2010 at 2:09:25 am

Thanks so much Dave and Walter.

I still need to do some more experimenting but it looks as though Dave marks a point with the virtual core business. Reducing the number of cores to 8 sped up the crunching by a huge amount and brought it back to where it should have been in the first place. That is the only thing I tried. Haven't given the "secret menu" approach a try yet. But right now, I am at least getting some performance. Perhaps it would be worth a place in a FAQ of some kind about the virtual cores... Adobe is, as far as I can tell, silent on the issue.

Best!

jp


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