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jerky playback and render paralysis?

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Kyrina Bluerose
jerky playback and render paralysis?
on Nov 8, 2018 at 6:48:45 am

My apologies for noob issues; I'm scouring the threads, confused and lost. Still trying to learn how to use this, let alone know how to troubleshoot with all the proper vocabulary, is driving me insane.

My brand new FCPX has become unusable and I don't know why or how to fix it.
The little circle at the top is almost always check-less now and clicking on it shows "rendering" but at 0%, and letting it run or X out of it just leads to a repeat. I couldn't share/bounce and it was stuck at 4% for hours. Dragging the playhead over areas often doesn't show what is there - viewer just shows something else, where it was previously. Viewing the project more times than not just shows one of every 15 frames, even viewing proxy. Hitting play results in nothing for 2-30 seconds most of the time now. Playing sometimes doesn't even show all the layers. Let's not even waste breath on rainbow-spinny-disc-from-hell. It also goes without saying I've put a lot of work into this project and would prefer not to lose it and would like to finish it.

What I've tried to no avail:

-Trashed preferences
-rebooted
-copied and pasted into a new project
-deleted generated unused render files in every project of every event
-deleted every SFX that had come from LPX (without any of the hours of edits I made there either, will have to figure that out separately apparently.)
-closed everything else
-turned off background rendering (and don't really understand that)
-read countless threads which left me more confused
-cried

Should I be learning some other program that isn't going to be constant nightmare of endless troubleshooting?

Thanks for any help you might have for me. LACPUG is still weeks away.


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Joe Marler
Re: jerky playback and render paralysis?
on Nov 8, 2018 at 3:14:05 pm

Sorry to hear about these problems, normally FCPX works very reliably, even on huge projects.

I understand you're on FCPX 10.3.1 and High Sierra 10.13.6. What are your machine specs? Just a standard question -- even an underpowered machine shouldn't cause this.

Also where is your media, and on what type of hard drives?

Is there any chance you don't have sufficient free space on either your system drive or media drive? Being almost out of space can cause FCPX to act erratically. Ideally you want at least 20% free space. BTW all your media should be on HFS formatted drives, not on exFAT or anything else.

What type of media (inc'l resolution) and codec are you using? If you're not sure, what camera did it come from? Is any of it AVCHD? Sometimes if AVCHD clips are copied out of the package and imported with "leave files in place" that can cause erratic slowdowns.

What is the history of the problem onset? Did it happen suddenly after some change, or gradually? If it happened suddenly what was the change?

Here are some other troubleshooting steps:

- Make sure everything is backed up

- Make sure you have installed the latest Apple Pro Video Formats: https://support.apple.com/kb/dl1947?locale=en_US

- FCPX automatically creates periodic library backups which are in /Movies/Final Cut Backups. Use Finder to copy those to a safe place, just in case they are needed later. These don't include media or cache so they are pretty small.

- In FCPX delete all render files and proxies, then restart FCPX and observe the behavior. It it's still a problem don't recreate the proxies while you are still troubleshooting. It just takes more time and there's a deeper issue.

- Some compute-intensive plugins can cause erratic behavior, especially if the plugin version conflicts with the FCPX version. I suggest making a snapshot duplicate of your current project (right-click, pick "create snapshot"), then open that and delete all effects from that test project. Method: select the project in the Event Browser and use the command Edit>Remove Effects to remove all effects from the test project. See if the behavior is any better on the test project with no effects.

- Run Apple Diagnostics on your hardware. This is not guaranteed to find all problems and a clean pass doesn't mean everything's OK, but it's easy to run. If it finds something there's definitely a hardware problem: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202731

- Run Disk Utility First Aid on all volumes, including the system volume. https://support.apple.com/guide/disk-utility/dskutl1040/16.0/mac/10.13

- If the above tests are OK, drop and rebuild all Spotlight indexes. FCPX uses these to rapidly locate files. Normally this won't cause the problems you are seeing but it's easy to do and eliminates one thing: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201716

- Run Blackmagic Disk Test on each drive, including both system and external. Tell us what the performance of each one is. Normally even a slow disk won't cause this behavior, but if you get an abnormally slow number (say 20 MB/sec) for some unknown reason, that could cause problems: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blackmagic-disk-speed-test/id425264550?mt=1...


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Kyrina Bluerose
Re: jerky playback and render paralysis?
on Nov 9, 2018 at 9:06:29 am

WOW; thank you so much for all your detailed help/info! So generous.
Had to psych myself up to try to figure this out and start looking at it.
The playback and incorrect display persists without any rendering activity listed.

Mac 10.13.6
2.5GHz i5 Intel
16GB 1333MHz DDR3
500GB SATA 170GB avail
6TB ex Seagate HD 3GB avail
Canon 80D
Insignia SD card reader
FCPX 10.4.3 (standard issue, no aftermarket mods yet)
LPX 10.4.2

All media on the external, library, audio - all in one place. I don't work off SD card - save to exHD first. Created optimized and proxy on import.

My project isn't what I'd call huge. Many layers, but under 2 minutes. Animated. My backup external to my main external is only 2TB (need new one asap) so only copy is on the 6TB. HFS journaled yes.

History - recent gradual slowdown, over a couple days. I can't remember exactly, since it was gradual, what I imported that may have caused anything. I keep importing as I create. I deleted the SFX from LPX (no edits anyway) and the SFX from freesounds. (they may still be there in "rejected"?)

Don't believe there is any AVCHD - all came from the 80D, so .mov and Mp4 most likely. Some was time-lapse, some were photos, some were video. 24 FHD, some may have been 60HD. May have "left files in place" since media was in same folder as library, thought extra copies would slow it down.

-OK, downloaded Apple Pro Video Formats. (Do I do something with it?)
-Copied FCPX backups.
-Deleted render files and proxies.
-Closed, opened, playback still is still skipping by 16 frames on average.
-I noticed there is a line of dots across the top of the timeline. I am new at this, but i don't remember them being there this whole time. The check is in the circle, no background activities active.
-Created snapshot, removed effects. same skipping, still about every 16 frames. Water pane was still there, isn't that an effect? Placing playhead still has slow/no response.
-Apple diagnostics showed nothing. Same problems.
-Disk repair on mac HD & 6TB ex HD, no problems detected. re-boot seemed to take longer, thumbnails of desktop icons took longer, opening chrome/loading pages took longer, and no change to the FC problems. Unusable lags.
-Spotlight indexes: don't know what to put in with the + so just put in my 6TB exHD, then hit -.
-brought my entire external HD (couldn't bounce/share project) to someone else's mac and had the same issues so think it might be a bug in the library?
-Opened a different library; similar problems, PLUS it appears disturbingly wonky different from what it looked like before. I had to "update" to be compatible with the later version of FC; perhaps therein lies the problem there, but the new project was begun in new version. Sure hope the artist won't want any changes; I'd be so screwed.
-BM disc test - selected exHD and both meters run, but after the first cycle one of each, nothing below is changing, and the speedometers keep alternating. Is it finished? There are some green checks and white x's. I suppose I'll just let it keep running and check back on it later.

In summary, I've done every thing on the list the best I can figure out how and no change. I'm feeling confused, overwhelmed, demoralized, wasting my time not learning anything. That describes half the time I've spent on FCPX in totality. I've had this new FCPX not very long. It was working fine (better than the cracked one I started on to decide if I wanted to buy it) and now it's not. I have no idea why, and no idea how to make it work. I feel badly I've wasted your time and generosity trying to help me. I don't know what to do, but am grateful for the time you took advising me.

Sorry this is long; I tried to be thorough and clear.
Thanks again.

Much appreciation for your sharing your admirable knowledge!


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Joe Marler
Re: jerky playback and render paralysis?
on Nov 9, 2018 at 1:07:45 pm

Thanks for doing all this, please don't give up. My comments below.

General: you apparently have a 2011 21.5" iMac, 2.5Ghz quad core "Sandy Bridge" quad-core i5 with a 500GB hard drive. It might have an AMD Radeon HD 6750M GPU with 512MB VRAM. Let me know if wrong. This isn't a speed demon but you are "only" editing 1080p H264 from a Canon 80D, almost anything can edit a single stream of that -- normally without requiring proxies or optimized media.

[Kyrina Bluerose] "...Created optimized and proxy on import...

More layers is harder but in proxy mode nearly any machine should be able to rapidly edit 1080p material.

[Kyrina Bluerose] "...May have "left files in place" since media was in same folder as library, thought extra copies would slow it down...

In proxy mode it's not even touching the original media files. The proxy files are ProRes 422 at 1/4 the pixel resolution but the less dense coding makes them about 60% of the original H264 file size. It should be super fast on that.

[Kyrina Bluerose] ...
-OK, downloaded Apple Pro Video Formats. (Do I do something with it?)


That was just part of a blanket list. Based on your codec I don't think it's needed but it shouldn't do any harm to install it.

[Kyrina Bluerose] ...-Deleted render files and proxies...

You apparently also have optimized media. Normally that helps but all your media is on one drive and optimized media (while easier to decode) is about 6x the data rate of H264. For 1080p that's about 22 MB/sec per layer. Nonetheless the drive should be able to handle that. It shouldn't be showing 90% black frames.

[Kyrina Bluerose] ...-Closed, opened, playback still is still skipping by 16 frames on average.

This is at normal 1x playback speed? You mean the playhead isn't just skipping but 15 out of 16 frames are black?

[Kyrina Bluerose] ...-I noticed there is a line of dots across the top of the timeline. I am new at this, but i don't remember them being there this whole time...

Those are render dots which means that region is not rendered. Normally that's no problem if using either proxies or optimized media. You deleted proxies but you still have optimized media, I think. Even without that most older machines can edit 1080p H264 without much problem.

[Kyrina Bluerose] ...-Created snapshot, removed effects. same skipping, still about every 16 frames. Water pane was still there, isn't that an effect? Placing playhead still has slow/no response.

If the water pane effect is still there, the effects were not removed for some reason. Please check this again. Make sure the snapshot is the current project (name is at top of timeline), then do Edit/Remove Effects again. All effects should be gone after doing that step. We need to verify whether the behavior exists on a project with zero effects.

[Kyrina Bluerose] ....-brought my entire external HD (couldn't bounce/share project) to someone else's mac and had the same issues so think it might be a bug in the library?

Very interesting. They were running a different installation of FCPX, different plugin history, etc. Yes this might imply it's the hard drive itself, or something in the library.


[Kyrina Bluerose] ...-Opened a different library; similar problems...

This might imply a hard disk problem; a different library is a stand-alone entity.

[Kyrina Bluerose] -BM disc test - selected exHD and both meters run, but after the first cycle one of each, nothing below is changing, and the speedometers keep alternating. Is it finished?...

It keeps running -- that's normal. We need to know what the read and write performance is -- approximately the peak of each dial. Also if possible in BM select File/Target Drive and select your system drive. We also need to know the performance of that.

We still need to verify whether your project (minus effects) shows this behavior. You can create a new test library, then within FCPX drag/drop the project icon on that new library. By default that should be a "managed" library with all media internal.

It will ask "copy proxies or optimized media". You say no. When the copy is finished click the library in the left side bar, then in the inspector at right click "consolidate media". This verifies the media for the project is copied to the new library. This is only what's necessary for the project, not all the unused clips.

After that close the original library, restart FCPX, go to your new test library containing only the project and related files, then examine the behavior. If there are any effects on the timeline remove those via Edit/Remove Effects.

If there's no problem, the issue is caused by some effect. If the problem is still there, take that library to another machine, copy it to another hard drive on that machine, open it in FCPX and examine the behavior. You only need the library file itself because all media will be internal to it. This is an attempt to eliminate problems from the original library, effects, external hard drive, or anything else on your machine.

Again, sorry about the problems, normally FCPX is very reliable. These cases are rare. If anyone else has any ideas, please speak up.


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Kyrina Bluerose
Re: jerky playback and render paralysis?
on Nov 9, 2018 at 9:38:48 pm

It is SO very kind of you to take so much time to help with this - even if we can't fix it, I sincerely appreciate what you are doing for me!

I'm trying to upload a screenshot of the about this mac and the BMD scan and now that isn't working either! Oh and now my internet is gone. sigh. I should walk down to the ocean and back.
Mac Mini Late 2012
bought it new in 2013
High Sierra 10.13.6
Processor 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5
Memory 16 GB 1333 MHz DDR3
Startup Disk Macintosh HD
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB
Very basic. I'm no tech whiz or know much about modifying computers; simply trying to use one.

Playback isn't showing black frames - holding on one every 16 frames, skipping ahead to the next one, holding that - and the clock/counter reflects that. Once in a while, here and there it runs smoothly- but it is increasingly rare. Even the long clip of a single photo with no effects is skipping. yes, normal playback - using space bar or L.
Copied entire folder with all media and library to a second external just in case i mess anything up.
The same problem is in every project in every library now.
There are little dots spanning the entire length of all projects.
The check is in the circle and reveals no background tasks running.
I did remove effects on the snapshot yesterday and it did nothing. I was very careful.
I deleted that snapshot at the end of the night.
Created another today, but now, delete effects is greyed out.
Are all these problems due to having the student version?
Trying to do BMD on "system drive" but a) i don't know exactly what that is, which in the list to choose from, and the ones I choose (Mac mini, Mac hard drive, folder labeled System) flash a message "disk speed test cannot be run on the selected location because it is read only." I'll attach a screen shot of the run I did on the external 6TB.
Opening the library from a 2TB exHD: same problems.
Created Test library, followed directions carefully, same problems. (some missing/red) Remove effects not greyed out, clicked it, nothing happened. effects still there, dots still there, background tasks silent, check in circle.
Opened other libraries that worked fine last I saw them, same problems and then some. Looked much worse.
A friend will try running it this afternoon.
I will also try a complete reinstall of FCPX.
I'm really anxious to finish this project before I lose my ideas and momentum - which is starting to happen.
Thanks for your help again; really appreciate it.

Much appreciation for your sharing your admirable knowledge!


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Joe Marler
Re: jerky playback and render paralysis?
on Nov 10, 2018 at 2:23:08 pm

[Kyrina Bluerose] "
Mac Mini Late 2012
High Sierra 10.13.6
Processor 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5
Memory 16 GB 1333 MHz DDR3
Startup Disk Macintosh HD
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB
....
Playback isn't showing black frames - holding on one every 16 frames, skipping ahead to the next one, holding that - and the clock/counter reflects that. Once in a while, here and there it runs smoothly- but it is increasingly rare...yes, normal playback - using space bar or L....


OK you have a 2012 Mac Mini with a dual-core 2.5Ghz "Ivy Bridge" i5-3210M CPU. Graphics is integrated HD Graphics 4000, which has no dedicated VRAM but shares about 1.5GB with main memory. Hard disk is a 5400 rpm 500GB SATA drive. That is a pretty limited machine but it shouldn't be causing the behavior you're seeing on H264 1080p, especially since you tried proxies. The Ivy Bridge CPU does have Quick Sync acceleration for H264, so at least that's favorable.

Note when you generate proxies it won't use them unless you switch the viewer to proxy mode. In the upper right corner of the viewer, click View>Proxy. Just trying to cover every base.

It appears you have extremely laggy, sluggish playback behavior on H264 -- like Premiere Pro except much worse ☺

If it's something in the machine, macOS or hard drive, I don't understand why taking a library to another machine and putting it on another hard drive shows similar behavior.

[Kyrina Bluerose] ...
...The same problem is in every project in every library now.
There are little dots spanning the entire length of all projects.


The little dots are normal for a non-rendered timeline. Your machine should not need a rendered timeline for smooth 1x playback of 1080p H264. Having background rendering enabled adds more complexity when we are trying to simplify things during troubleshooting. The fact it's happening in every project of every library implies a lower-level common cause, we just have to figure out what that is.

[Kyrina Bluerose]
I did remove effects on the snapshot yesterday and it did nothing. I was very careful.
I deleted that snapshot at the end of the night.
Created another today, but now, delete effects is greyed out.


This was caused by lack of clarity on my part. Remove Effects will only remove effects on selected clips in the timeline. You must open the timeline, then do CTRL+A to select all clips in the timeline, then do Remove Effects. If no clip is selected or the playhead is "moving ball" is not on any clip the option will be greyed out. Sorry about that. Please try this again on the snapshot of your project, then test playback behavior.

[Kyrina Bluerose] ...Are all these problems due to having the student version?...
I don't think so -- I think all FCPX versions use the same code and are fully functional and equally performant.

[Kyrina Bluerose] ...Trying to do BMD on "system drive" but a) i don't know exactly what that is, which in the list to choose from, and the ones I choose (Mac mini, Mac hard drive, folder labeled System) flash a message "disk speed test cannot be run on the selected location because it is read only."

It won't let you run it in the root of the hard drive. In Blackmagic under File>Target Drive, simply navigate to your documents folder and run it there.


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Kyrina Bluerose
Re: jerky playback and render paralysis?
on Nov 11, 2018 at 1:43:04 am

Hi Joe,
Thanks for hanging in.

[Joe Marler] "click View>Proxy. Just trying to cover every base."
Yes, good to cover all bases. Yes, have been creating and viewing proxies. I'm not offended. Sometimes the readers are on the person's head as they look everywhere.

I deleted and reinstalled FCPX, no change.

I haven't yet put the library on another hard drive on another machine. I ran it on Wednesday from my 6tb. Since, I've put the library on my 2TB drive and ran it from there (on my machine). A friend offered to load it on his drive and try it on his computer, but nobody in my area is going out unless necessary because of the fires. Not too much in danger where I am in Venice/Marina, but the smoke always gets carried out to the ocean and it's really thick here so it's an inside day, and still bad allergies.

I started using the Canon Digital Professional 4 software recently, possible coincidentally, possibly related to issues. Any problem inherent in media coming out of that? I didn't load everything straight from SD card - some was wireless. It's probably just coincidental since the worst of it was after a few days of using it.

I'm not sure why the behavior is happening suddenly across different libraries, or why it will be somewhat inconsistent, running a group of frames fine sometimes.

Little dots are not going away, nothing is rendering - perhaps because i deleted all render files?

[Joe Marler] "greyed out"
First time it wasn't. Second time it was (had selected project in browser not clips in timeline). Wrote reply. Went back, tried selecting all, then it was available to click, no change.

Opening BMD from applications folder - I see the time I reinstalled FCPX is there, but somehow without my involvement, the rest of the bundle and other mac apps I don't use updated at 6am. Today, I've been delaying the update queries (I like to wait to do any system updates like Mojave until after big projects-just in case) since I don't have it set to automatically do updates. odd. It also is taking a lot longer to reboot now. No problems using Word, Logic, or Chrome.

BMD: mac>mac HD>users>me>documents - correct? I don't use those folders, just fyi - I keep all my stuff on my 6TB, and programs use those folders as they do.




Much appreciation for your sharing your admirable knowledge!


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Joe Marler
Re: jerky playback and render paralysis?
on Nov 11, 2018 at 12:47:18 pm

[Kyrina Bluerose] "...I haven't yet put the library on another hard drive on another machine. I ran it on Wednesday from my 6tb. Since, I've put the library on my 2TB drive and ran it from there (on my machine). A friend offered to load it on his drive and try it on his computer, but nobody in my area is going out unless necessary because of the fires....

My gut feel is there's something wrong with your machine -- hardware, configuration or system software. If you don't have everything backed up, please do that. You can back up the system drive using Time Machine or clone it using Carbon Copy, etc.

The best and fastest sanity check is take your data and library on a portable hard drive and try it on a different machine. I have even done that at Apple Stores. I understand the fire situation may impede this.

[Kyrina Bluerose] "....I started using the Canon Digital Professional 4 software recently, possible coincidentally, possibly related to issues. Any problem inherent in media coming out of that? I didn't load everything straight from SD card - some was wireless. It's probably just coincidental since the worst of it was after a few days of using it..."

I tend to doubt that as a cause, but anything is possible. As above, the fastest way to prove/disprove this is try your data and library on another machine.

[Kyrina Bluerose] ".....I'm not sure why the behavior is happening suddenly across different libraries, or why it will be somewhat inconsistent, running a group of frames fine sometimes...."

This implies a lower-level common cause, such as the machine or system drive. If the system drive is unnaturally slow or intermittently doing lots of retries it will affect apps which make great demands on it.

What if you create a test library and import *one* clip. Does that show the halting, laggy behavior?

If yes, do you have iMovie on your system or can you download it? If you import one clip into iMovie does it also show the laggy behavior?

If you had an available external drive and cloning software like Carbon Copy you could clone your system drive then boot from the external drive. This would help rule in/out the system drive. Procedure: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202796

[Kyrina Bluerose] "....Little dots are not going away, nothing is rendering - perhaps because i deleted all render files?..."

Yes, but don't worry about that. Whether the timeline is rendered or not rendered is likely unrelated to this problem.


[Kyrina Bluerose] "....It also is taking a lot longer to reboot now. No problems using Word, Logic, or Chrome..."

The progressively slower boot time is a bit suspicious and the Blackmagic results of 84 MB/sec write, 65 MB/sec read seem slow (even for a 5400 rpm drive). I see other people have reported about 95 MB/sec read and write, so the 1TB mini HDD is not a speed demon in any case. As any HDD fills up it will slow down, and your system drive is nearly 70% full.

OTOH if your media and library are on the external drive it shouldn't take much system I/O. You have 16GB RAM so it shouldn't be under memory pressure causing paging I/O. Your 6TB external drive is likely an AC-powered 7200 rpm unit.

You could make a Genius Bar appointment and have them inspect your console log for I/O errors or other incriminating errors.


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Joby Anthony Jr
Re: jerky playback and render paralysis?
on Nov 12, 2018 at 4:23:24 pm

Not much to add Kyrina other than to support Joe's troubleshooting tips and +1 for hanging in there with you.

I did notice in one of your earlier responses that the 6TB external drive only had 3GB of available space. That's dangerously low for such a large drive. Giving it at least a 1TB of free space will give the system some breathing room, and might help with the issues.

But to Joe's point about back to basics. Disconnect all external drives and card readers. Work with just the mini. Record a brand new 2 min. clip from your 80D. Import it to the mini and create a new library on the mini, etc. With only 170GBs left on the mini, it's getting full as well, but this little test will be enough to give greater insight into whether the issues are coming from something more basic such as a failing computer as Joe suspects.

If things go back to butter-smooth with the little test you can start to build from there, such as applying effects, etc. like in your original project. I know I have one third-party effect in particular that would do this kind of thing to an unrendered timeline (i.e., laggy playback).

-- Joby.


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