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Opinions Please- Feature Doc in Premiere Pro CC?

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Erin Chan
Opinions Please- Feature Doc in Premiere Pro CC?
on Dec 7, 2014 at 8:32:48 pm

Hi All,
I know there have been a few posts on this previously, but I didn't see a recent one and would love some insight on the newest versions of the software. I'm a FCP7 editor starting a new project and inheriting Premiere Pro CC projects from a previous assembly. I'm interested in working in Premiere because of the eminent demise of FCP. I've played around with the program and find it fairly easy to use coming from FCP. My issue is that it's not performing well. The project can take 10 min to open (it's a 12 MB project), response time when I try and open a sequence or clip can be 10-20 seconds or more, saving the project takes about 5 min, and generally it's just slow. Much much slower than a FCP 7 project of similar size would be on this machine.
It's a mix of about 100 hours of all 23.98 mostly EX3 and canon 70D footage, raw, on a external G-tech with esata connection.
I'm on a 2 year old Mac Pro 3.2 GHz Quad Core 16 gigs ram, OSX 10.8.5
Is the computer just not up to snuff to deal with this? Can someone tell me the minimum specs recommended? is there a max PPCC file size for good performance?
I've been assured that there's no benefit in transcoding the footage to a standard format, but coming from FCP I'm skeptical- my first step in FCP would be to convert it all to Prores. From conversations with other editors, I've heard both that Premiere Pro CC should be up to the task, and from others that it can be very slow and unstable with projects this size. I can just jump ship and cut this in FCP7, but I'd like to use this opportunity to get familiar with Premiere if possible. I'd really appreciate any advice from anyone with good or bad experiences cutting a feature or any larger project with premiere.

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Douglas Morse
Re: Opinions Please- Feature Doc in Premiere Pro CC?
on Dec 8, 2014 at 8:49:29 am

I have just finished a feature documentary in Premiere (and a fiction feature before that). Both primarily shot with various flavors of DSLR-s on both an iMac from 2010 and a 2014 Macbook Pro Retina. My current project size is around 45MB running about 1TB of footage of a USB3 drive that should be RAID, but is not. So I run into a few bottlenecks there, but not as many as you might suspect. Sometimes I have to wait for the drive to catch up and I have to render a few effects that I might not have to otherwise.

My project can take a couple of minutes to load all the footage. There are many, if not too many variables to your question. In general, you should see better performance, but Premiere does have bugs and can get hung up. So it is a question of both configuration and troubleshooting. In my experience, all editing programs have their strengths, weaknesses, and troubleshooting necessities. If you get it running right, it's a great program and everything Final Cut Pro 8 should have been....

One thing to check is that you are running graphics acceleration Open CL if you have an AMD card. That said, if you are trying to edit RAW footage, that could be the MAJOR bottle neck. You can either transcode or run in reduced resolution -- say 1/4. To find out how to do these things, please google.

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Mike Jackson
Re: Opinions Please- Feature Doc in Premiere Pro CC?
on Dec 14, 2014 at 4:03:15 am

I've been cutting a dramatic feature on Premiere the last few months, and I've been very happy with it. Like any program it has its quirks and bugs, but really no more than I used to run into with FCP 7. They hang me up at first, but once you figure out the work-arounds, they stop being a problem.

Our movie was shot on the RED Dragon, and although Adobe encourages people to use the RAW files, performance is just not good enough for heavy editing - Cutting at 1/4 rez isn't really a good option, imho. So we transcoded everything to ProRes for our offline, and we'll switch back to the RED files when we lock picture.

We also have some 4k GoPro stuff, and I always lose audio sync after playing back more than a couple seconds of it (unless I force a render). So yeah - technically Premiere can play anything, but some codecs are worth transcoding.

I'm cutting on a 2008 MacPro with 16Gb RAM, and I've actually been playing all the footage (3.5Tb worth!) off a single drive with an eSATA connector and performance has been great.

All that said, the project usually takes 10-12 minutes to open. That's about twice as long as a similar-sized FCP project would take. And once its done loading and indexing, it keeps doing SOMETHING. I don't know what, but until it finishes this final step, all functionality is terrible (like taking a long time to switch sequences). I have a program that shows my processor activity at all times (iStat), so I basically just wait for all my processors to flatline. Once they do, Premiere wakes up, and performs perfectly from then on.

But do make sure you've set it to use Mercury Playback, with whichever setting suits your graphics card (likely OpenCL).

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David Roth Weiss
Re: Opinions Please- Feature Doc in Premiere Pro CC?
on Mar 3, 2015 at 11:46:09 pm

[Mike Jackson] "Our movie was shot on the RED Dragon, and although Adobe encourages people to use the RAW files, performance is just not good enough for heavy editing"

Adobe encourages people to use the RAW files because, if you have the right hardware, you can edit just about anything seamlessly on the timeline without transcoding, and that's what separates Premiere from all the other NLEs. Premiere is plenty good enough for heavy editing of 4K R3D files, but most Macs unfortunately are not.

It's no wonder you can't playback 4K R3D files as you'd like, as your hardware is not really up to the task. The most important issues you have are:

#1) You're editing off of a single eSATA hard drive (you need a six or 8-drive RAID for seamless playback of 4K R3D and beyond).

#2) Your old ATI graphics card (get yourself a GTX 680 Mac Edition or 780 Mac Edition)

#3) Not enough RAM (double-up to 32Gb)

Your old and slow processors aren't helping things, but if you upgrade at least #1 and #2 above, you will increase your realtime performance dramatically.

David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions

David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.

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Mike Jackson
Re: Opinions Please- Feature Doc in Premiere Pro CC?
on Mar 4, 2015 at 12:11:26 am

You made a few assumptions about my system here David, and kind of missed my point ; )

I actually have a powerful NVIDIA card in my system (which I use to great effect for ray-traced rendering in After Effects). And I'm well aware that more RAM would be beneficial, but RAM for my vintage of MacPro is now hard to find and expensive.

At any rate: My key point about RED footage is that although Premiere CAN play it back (with a beefy enough system, usually at 1/2 or 1/4 res), that doesn't mean that's going to make for your best workflow. Any codec with less overhead and smaller file sizes is going to deliver more streams simultaneously, with better overall performance. Personally I (and many others) believe that the time spent transcoding RED to ProRes is well worth it, because the editing will then go faster and smoother (and be at full resolution).

All that said, I love that any time I want to go back and look at the source R3Ds, Premiere lets me do that quickly and easily.

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