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Encoding speed in Compressor vs FCPX

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Cees Timmer
Encoding speed in Compressor vs FCPX
on Nov 5, 2019 at 3:11:22 pm

I consider buying Compressor. Currently I am using FCPX 10.4.7 on my iMac Pro with macOS Catalina. I mostly export 4K projects to h.264 mp4 in FCPX.

Is there any benefit in speed using Compressor for that purpose compared to FCPX export? Your input is highly appreciated.


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Joe Marler
Re: Encoding speed in Compressor vs FCPX
on Nov 7, 2019 at 8:46:27 pm
Last Edited By Joe Marler on Nov 7, 2019 at 8:48:52 pm

There were past periods where FCPX was faster at certain encoding tasks, but I think they now use the same code and are similar in performance. However Compressor gives much more flexibility in encoding options.

The FCPX export bit rate for H.264 master files is about 2x the bit rate Youtube recommends. So it is good quality but you could probably get by with about 1/2 that rate for some things. Compressor lets you do that.

You can create a Compressor pre-set and use that within FCPX: https://support.apple.com/guide/final-cut-pro/share-using-compressor-ver1ff...

If you have multiple machines available, Compressor can do distributed encoding across them. I have not tried this:







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Cees Timmer
Re: Encoding speed in Compressor vs FCPX
on Nov 8, 2019 at 9:57:05 am

Thank you for your valuable response.

In the mean time I purchased Compressor and did some testing. Encoding speed of Compressor is indeed about the same as in FCPX. As you also indicated there is much more flexibility in encoding options. An interesting option is to use multiple machines which I will explore in the near future.


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Tangier Clarke
Re: Encoding speed in Compressor vs FCPX
on Nov 9, 2019 at 3:33:44 pm

My understanding was that using the "Send to Compressor" feature within FCP X will offload more of the work in Compressor to the GPU giving you improved performance.


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Joe Marler
Re: Encoding speed in Compressor vs FCPX
on Nov 10, 2019 at 12:55:21 pm

[Tangier Clarke] "My understanding was that using the "Send to Compressor" feature within FCP X will offload more of the work in Compressor to the GPU giving you improved performance."

I have never seen Compressor encode faster than FCPX, although it's theoretically possible if using multiple machines for distributed encoding.

A few years ago FCPX was definitely faster at encoding for some H.264 cases, I think because Compressor had not been fully upgraded to use Quick Sync as efficiently. Today they seem to be the same.

There are two conceptual phases in exporting, render and encode. A lot of GPU-intensive work is in the render phase, not the encode phase. I have never tested how a timeline requiring GPU-heavy rendering (e.g. Neat Video, etc) is handled by Compressor.

From the standpoint of software development, it would make sense to share as much code as possible between FCPX and Compressor. I don't know why Compressor would be faster (outside the distributed case), but anything is possible, as demonstrated by it formerly being slower.

Was there ever a period where Compressor could use multiple GPUs and FCPX could not? Maybe that would explain a possible difference.


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Aaron Villa
Re: Encoding speed in Compressor vs FCPX
on Nov 12, 2019 at 12:11:02 am

I use Compressor all the time. Because in my job I need the flexibility and ability to render lots of files. Some advantages Compressor has:
  • Prioritization of batches

  • Customization of the output of just about any format

  • Pause renders

  • Resume of renders after a restart

  • Multi-file (or segment) rendering depending on the amount of your systems ram and processor cores.


  • From my understanding and use of Compressor it is mainly CPU, unless rendering was sent directly from FCPX, then it can be GPU if set correctly in preferences. There are some limitations of sending from FCPX. One being no distributed rendering.


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