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Is Compressor a serious product?

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Gabriele Sartori
Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 11, 2017 at 4:07:05 pm

I'm always puzzled by Apple Compressor. I like a lot the interface, I like to use it offline for transcoding. It's dramatically slow, we are in 2017 and to see only 21% of my resources used is depressing. Sure I could use an iMac with the HW encoding for H264 but I rather use my MacPro with dual Xeon and twelve physical cores.
I'd like to use it very badly but I always end up using the free "HandBrake" product. It uses my cores so well that it's even 400% faster than compressor for equivalent quality. It is virtually bug-free and while Compressor is not an expensive product I would expect some more CPU utilization by Apple at this point. HandBrake can do it, why Apple can't? What is your experience with it?

Gabriele - California


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 11, 2017 at 4:17:15 pm

How do you have it setup?

Have you looked in the preferences and turned on the "enable additional instances"?

What are you compressing and what kind of processing are you adding, if any?


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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 11, 2017 at 4:19:52 pm

Yes, thanks. Sure I try 1,2,3,4,5 I always get my CPU usage around 25-27% using the same test file. I run tests with H264 output that is my typical format. For testing purposes, I tested with the preset 1080P available in compressor.

Gabriele - California


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 11, 2017 at 5:01:57 pm

[Gabriele Sartori] " For testing purposes, I tested with the preset 1080P available in compressor."

In "Video Sharing Services" or which 1080p setting?


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Brian Seegmiller
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 13, 2017 at 11:37:33 pm

Do you have settings set that could be turned off that you don't need to speed up the process.


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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 14, 2017 at 12:33:08 am

I tested many settings. Simple or complicated I just can't fill the CPU pipelines. Same Mac Pro with "HandBrake" I get 80% sometimes even 90% of CPU utilization and the quality is great. This CPU utilization with Handbrake let me compress really, really fast. FYI I did SW compression for 20 years and design compression solution in HW and SW myself, I know the parameters. I'm wondering what is your CPU occupation doing HD H264 compression with Compressor. I was never able to use it due to the slowness. It could be the Apple H264 Codec that is not multithreaded I don't know, but in this case why Apple doesn't do a new codec? They had major advances in speed with Final Cut, it is time that we see compressor using all the cores available, we are in 2017. It is still possible that I do something wrong although it doesn't seem to me. I'm wondering about the results you guys get from it.

Gabriele - California


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 14, 2017 at 2:04:07 am

I get multicore/thread all the time on my MacPro using Compressor.

This is why I am wondering what you’re doing to the settings.

Screengrabs would help.


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Douglas K. Dempsey
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 14, 2017 at 4:01:45 am

Have an 87 minute timeline, ProRes 422 HQ, 24fps 1080, a single file (no cuts, no titles, no corrections). Send to Compressor, output h.264, resize to 960 x 540, 6835 kbps ... on a 2013 MacBook Pro 13" Retina w/16GB RAM and 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7. My Apple Activity Monitor graphic bars always max out.

Doug D


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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 14, 2017 at 5:06:30 am

Yes but that it's relatively easy. You don't have 12 cores on two CPU and separate memory channels.

Gabriele - California


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Douglas K. Dempsey
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 14, 2017 at 5:53:10 am

Right. I don't understand what happens with the 12 cores and 2 threads. Is the theory that since the processing is distributed over so many cores, there is less usage of each? Or, is your opinion that, ALL cores/threads should be used to the max, and processing should therefore occur much more quickly? I guess what I need to do is try the output I described to you using Handbrake, and see if the times differ? The 87 PR422 to h.264 I described takes about 46 minutes.

Doug D


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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 14, 2017 at 6:58:34 am

Yeah, parallel programming is complicated. Video compression lends itself to it because you can assign different task to different 8x8 (or other square sizes) blocks but there is a limit to that since you have to tie everything together. I do have a Macbook 13", core i5 and I fill both CPU four thread, I used to have an i7 before and I almost filled the 4 cores, you are also scaling down and doing other things so maybe there are more parallel tasks. With the 12 cores 24 threads I get between 25 to 30% of overall CPU utilization that it's about equivalent to 4 cores indeed.

Problem is that I bought years ago this monster assuming that I would run faster than a quad core MacBook. It never did with Compressor, it does it with FCPX and Handbrake . Pretty depressing. Apple next month with be out with a 18 cores machine. Will they do something about this? I'm not too upset because handbrake is freaking fast but I really wish the integrated environment. Normally what I do I export with a lightweight codec so the export is very fast and then I pass it with Handbrake. Thanks for the help

Gabriele - California


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 14, 2017 at 4:39:56 pm

[Gabriele Sartori] " Normally what I do I export with a lightweight codec"

Which codec? Perhaps Compressor is only getting a 32bit decode out of it?


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 14, 2017 at 4:57:10 pm

Also, if you are getting multithread performance from FCPX, why not make a Compressor setting and export to that setting right out of FCPX?

There's a preference setting to use the GPU from FCPX if you want to do that as well (which may or may not be why your CPU is not running up).

If you want actual help, I would suggest posting actual workflows, no matter what the experience.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 14, 2017 at 5:20:01 pm

I can't speak to Apple in detail but with my background working with the Telestream Episode Encoder developers, they were often asked the same question regarding the cores maxing out.

Their general response was that the goal of compression isn't to "max out" the cores. It's to use the resources necessary for quality and speed (depending on your settings). If the encoder is efficiently designed it may not need to max out the cores. Sometimes maxing out cores is a result of less the optimal programing.

Of course HandBrake could even be less efficient but still faster (perhaps as a faster car may actually be less fuel efficient). It's just that maxing out the cores may not be the best litmus test for faster.



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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 14, 2017 at 5:52:00 pm

I can guarantee you that we are in front of a marketing crafted BS answer. If you use 30% of your CPU and you are able to go to 60% you will encode in half the time preserving all the other technical choices and the identical quality. These answers are really upsetting because they offend the customer intelligence

Gabriele - California


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Scott Thomas
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 17, 2017 at 8:50:19 am

Who is "we"?


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Tom Sefton
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 17, 2017 at 9:25:55 am

I have no clue about this at all so it’s only a question.

When you talk about processor usage, isn’t it logarithmic, so twice as fast as 30% would be 130%?

Co-owner at Pollen Studio
http://www.pollenstudio.co.uk


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Craig Seeman
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 17, 2017 at 1:53:32 pm

[Gabriele Sartori] "we are in front of a marketing crafted BS answer."

No, my conversation is with coders not marketing people. Depending on the codec and the encoder, more CPU cycles don't always mean faster. There are times when more CPU cycles are simply wasted cycles. Just as more bits doesn't necessarily mean discernible quality improvement.

Perhaps it's the "more is better" is the marketing hype. Sometimes more CPU cycles (or more bits) helps but sometimes they don't.



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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 17, 2017 at 2:19:37 pm

Trust me, I developed H264 compression routines for 10 years. That is not true. Giving a good code if you fill twice the pipelines you go twice as fast. It is a basic law of physics. (and math as well). The "engineers" were giving the marketing party line as they are directed too.

Gabriele - California


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Tom Sefton
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 17, 2017 at 4:18:37 pm

If adobe media encoder uses 100% but encodes at the same speed as compressor what does this mean?

Co-owner at Pollen Studio
http://www.pollenstudio.co.uk


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 17, 2017 at 5:32:45 pm

[Tom Sefton] "If adobe media encoder uses 100% but encodes at the same speed as compressor what does this mean?"

Space and time have been ripped apart. We will never be the same again.







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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 17, 2017 at 5:45:00 pm

it is irrelevant, it is probably bad coding or much higher quality. My reference point is HandBrake that actually has better quality than compressor and makes a better use of the CPU. I wish to use compressor because I like the Apple integrated solution. I stopped using Adobe products for Video over 10 years ago when it was impossible to finish a project without a crash. A CPU is a mathematical device, there is nothing to gain "going slower", there isn't an tiny artisan inside that does a better job taking more time. If you are good at writing your code, you go as fast as the CPU can go for an equivalent output quality.

Gabriele - California


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Craig Seeman
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 17, 2017 at 7:26:01 pm
Last Edited By Craig Seeman on Nov 17, 2017 at 7:32:02 pm

Larry Jordan ran these tests in early 2015. I believe Compressor may have improved since then with the 4.3 update as well.

Note how Compressor compares to Handbrake on the 21" iMac. But note how HandBrake compares to the MacPro.

Here's the article.

Larry notes:
If you own a new Mac Pro, HandBrake is the leader by a wide margin, followed by Apple Compressor.
If you own an iMac or MacBook Pro, Apple Compressor is fastest, with HandBrake second.







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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 3:15:30 am

Thanks, Craig Seaman, I never saw this article before It is a bit old and at a first look it seems well done; he seems to have pretty different results from mine on HandBrake but I will definitely spend some time on this, thanks.

Gabriele - California


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 17, 2017 at 7:27:40 pm

Until you are willing to share your settings or compare settings, it is impossible to consider any action.


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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 3:19:20 am

You see Jeremy is not that I don't want to share settings. I have too many settings and all bring me the same results. Compressor doesn't fully utilize 12 cores 24 threads in my case and I suspect in all cases. If you have experience with a 12 cores machine it is definitely a good thing, but if you have experience with a quad-core is not that I don't like what you are telling me, I have the same results on a quad-core. I fill the pipelines on a quad-core. The problem is with 12 cores. Thanks for your help and good intentions though.

Gabriele - California


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 4:00:59 am

[Gabriele Sartori] " I have too many settings and all bring me the same results. "

But you aren't using x264 in Compressor, so of course you're going to get different results.


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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 5:48:32 am

Obviously I was talking about H264. This is the only format I'm interested in because it's so heavy on the system.

Gabriele - California


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 2:36:57 pm

[Gabriele Sartori] "Obviously I was talking about H264. This is the only format I'm interested in because it's so heavy on the system."

But Handbrake uses the x264 encoding library, Compressor does not, although you can setup Compressor to use x264 with some amount of minimal trouble.

Compressor defaults to multi pass, Handbrake does not.

Compressor does a lot more than h264 and is more “serious” in that it is a multifaceted tool that will deliver all types of broadcast, cinema, and web media. If Handbrake meets your needs and is faster, then why not use it? It’s free, does a good job, has a subjectively better encoding library for h264 media, and apparently is “faster” at its limited task of creating h264.


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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 5:01:20 pm

You are saying a number of things that are correct but as you said Compressor is more tunable and it is integrated I'd like to use it but I can't wait hours to compress, particularly now on 4K, I get impatient. So far I'm using Handbrake that is indeed enough for me but I hate to have an extra app. Handbrake does a decent job also with H265 BTW but for compatibility reasons, I output H264 for now. I came here assuming that some Compressor expert with experience on a 12 core machine can give me a magic solution but I understand it is a corner case not the mainstream utilization. I just don't understand why Apple doesn't support well their own high-end HW especially now with a new iMAC Pro with 18 core on the horizon. That machine runs only at 2.4GHZ but it would kill if all the cores can be used. Thanks for all the good intentions though.

Gabriele - California


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 5:43:07 pm

[Gabriele Sartori] ". I came here assuming that some Compressor expert "

id imagine a “compressor expert” would ask what you’re doing because there is something wrong if you are only using 21% of your hardware.


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Tom Sefton
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 12:14:21 am

I’m really curious about this. If you are saying that there is not a chance that a program can make a faster encode without using the processor at 100% for its full duration of the project, how is it possible to quantify the efficiency of software by ignoring the amount of time it takes to do a job?

Perhaps the task being offloaded to GPU or hardware acceleration of h264 might help?

Co-owner at Pollen Studio
http://www.pollenstudio.co.uk


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Craig Seeman
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 12:44:23 am

[Tom Sefton] "Perhaps the task being offloaded to GPU or hardware acceleration of h264 might help?"

Recent versions of Compressor use Intel QuickSync to speed encoding. Xeon processors don't have the integrated GPU that supports this. That's why an iMac can be faster than a MacPro when encoding H.264. The 2013 Mac Pros are particularly slow compared to a 2017 Quad i7 iMac or MacBook Pro.

I've heard Xeon processors may (may soon) support accelerated H.264 (and H.265?) encoding which is why I'll be very curious how a base iMac Pro compares to the latest iMac (non Pro).



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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 3:35:34 am

You are correct, Quicksync is great but for now it seems to be a consumer technology. Is not based on GPU is based on "hardware primitives" basically a disaggregate H264 hardware encoder where the SW can call the elementary functions. My experience with HW encoder is partially good. They usually can't do double pass encoding so the quality is inferior. They also have hard time to do variable bit rate although in satellite communication there are sophisticated encoder doing variable bit rate for statistic multiplexing. My MacBook is very fast when I use encode but my question was about SW encoding that I love and can be fast. I would be happy if my 12 cores Mac Pro is as fast as handbrake when I use compressor. At least for now, my output looks better than what I get with Quicksynk.

Gabriele - California


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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 3:30:56 am

During the period around 2007/2008 there was a great deal of enthusiasm about GPU encoding. At that time I was CTO in a company doing "desktop virtualization" basically we were sending the screen of many virtual machines to remote thin clients. I was immediately attracted by GPU transcoding and I spent a good deal of time with a company called Elemental Technology doing that. I've to admit, their results were pretty impressive but at least in my case I found out that GPU transcoding is good if you only do that. "Context Switching" pay a big price in latency that translates into low performance. It may be the case here, Apple made a big deal about OpenCL but now they don't use it in Compressor for what I know. The usage of OpenCL is done when FCPX transcode directly using compressor and OpenCL does the rendering part of the process not the actual compression. It seems a good thing in theory but not as effective in practical terms.

Gabriele - California


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Helge Tjelta
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 8:51:08 pm

yes it is.

We have 10 seats of FCPX/compressor with our Xsan.
We use compressor/H264 for coding.
We have macpro's 2012 and 2013 and iMacs
No problem setting up compressor to use all 24 threads. I do it all the time. but remember some codecs will not do multicore very well.
But h.264 does as does prores.

Helge Tjelta
Creative apps for the FCPX ecosystem.


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Gabriele Sartori
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 18, 2017 at 9:57:08 pm

This is good news Helge Tjelta, any suggestions? I usually convert from Apple Prores 4:2:2 into H264 but I can use other input formats if it helps. Any high level setting (i.e. input codec - output codec) that you can recommend. I do prefer H264 in MP4 container but I could live with H264 in MOV container. Thanks!

Gabriele - California


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Helge Tjelta
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 19, 2017 at 9:46:47 am

Hm, I spoke to soon.

H.264 only gives me 600% max out of 2400%.... the full maxout is when more jobs is running or doing prores output.
All codecs that allow the segment flag to be on, will use full CPU count.


Looks like the x264 is much better at multicore.

cheers Helge

Helge Tjelta
Creative apps for the FCPX ecosystem.


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Andreas Kiel
Re: Is Compressor a serious product?
on Nov 19, 2017 at 3:56:33 pm

Helge Tjelta: "All codecs that allow the segment flag to be on, will use full CPU count."

That's true.
Apple H264 doesn't allow.
One file won't use all cores, 10 files will use more.
From my experience (from those times I was working in daily business) it's better to leave 1 core untouched.

Spherico
http://www.spherico.com/filmtools

"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby
become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will
also gaze into thee." - Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil


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