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Mary Beth Koplin
Dropped frames problem
on Nov 21, 2008 at 2:09:48 pm

My Computer, etc:

Mac OS 10.4.11
Processor - Dual 1.8 GHx PowerPC G5
Memory 1.25 GB DDR SDRAM

My hard drives:

Drive #1 - (Partitioned)
a)Storage Drive: capacity 149, Available 79 GB
b)MacIntosh HD: capacity 149 GB, 93 GB

Drive #2 - Working Drive (additional internal hd used for Capture Scratch, etc.) : capacity 279 GB, Available 72 GB

Software:
Final Cut Pro 5.1


As I playback my sequence, I intermittently get the Dropped Frame error message.

I've searched the forum and looks like this might be a common problem, but none of the solutions I read has fixed this.

This problem occurs more often than not and seems to occur less the more I play the seequence during a single work-session.
This is a very short project. Ultimately, if I can burn a DVD successfully, I'd be happy, but I'd really prefer to learn what I'm doing wrong!

Here is what I have done:

- When they offer solution "change data compression rate" , how would you do that? I may have done that already in the sequence settings I've used Uncompressed 10 bit and also DVD/DVC PRO NTSC. I'm inexperienced so not really sure what this is affecting. I can't see any difference in the playback, and the problem is intermittent, so diagnosing this is taking a long time.
- I am using SAFE RT, not Unlimited RT.
- closed all sequences
- Changed Settings in User Preferences: Realtime Audio Mixing - 8 tracks (I'm using 7 although I could combine some of the media onto less tracks.
- Set Audio Playback Quality to low
- even freed up memory on all my drives (that's a good thing!! I had a lot of stuff on there!!)

What do you suggest?

Also, in case I can't fix it - how will this affect the creation of my QT self-contained movie and subsequent burn to disk in DVD Pro?








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Bill Dewald
Re: Dropped frames problem
on Nov 21, 2008 at 3:38:06 pm

The "storage" partition on your system drive should not have any media files on it. Even though it's a partition, it's still physically on your storage drive. This could be the source of your trouble.

Also, 1.25 GB is an odd amount of RAM. 2 or 4 GB might help.

Sequence settings will effect your playback capability. In short, if ├Żou're cutting off of a single drive, stick with DV.


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Mary Beth Koplin
Re: Dropped frames problem
on Nov 21, 2008 at 4:07:15 pm

Thanks for the response! I so appreciate this forum, and your help.
let me clarify: the media files on the storage drive are not being used in the project (although I cannot say for sure that they are not used in ANY project). hwoever, they are not used in any OPEN project!
this might be a ridiculous question, maybe I really need to know: the reason for 'no media files' on the storage partition of my system drive? .

your comment: sticking with DV when cutting off a single drive - application is on the system drive, and all media, project files, etc are on the drive #2, my 'working drive' . a separate drive.

would you then say I am cutting off a single drive? i am trying to think of what you mean by 'cutting'...i assume it's create a sequence.

so if I'm really using 2 drives, what compression choices might I have?

when you say "DV" does that mean compression DV/DVC PRO NTSC?

sorry I'm not a professional or even a very good amateur, so I'm even just learning many terms of speech.

Mac OS 10.4.11
Processor - Dual 1.8 GHx PowerPC G5
Memory 1.25 GB DDR SDRAM

Software:
Final Cut Pro 5.1



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bill dewald
Re: Dropped frames problem
on Nov 21, 2008 at 5:30:00 pm

[Mary Beth Koplin] "I really need to know: the reason for 'no media files' on the storage partition of my system drive? ."


Ok - I'll try to make this as coherent as possible (I'm self-taught in the realm of computer science).

Today's lesson is about Virtual Memory.

Your Mac has two types of memory. RAM (random access memory) is solid state and stores data as electric pulses. RAM is very fast and is used for data that must be accessed quickly, such as the operating system, program instructions, and your current frame of video. However RAM has a relatively small capacity, especially in the digital video realm.

Your hard drives are mechanical and store data magnetically. They can store 1,000s of times more data than you can fit in RAM, but are much slower than RAM.

On modern operating systems, a technique called virtual memory is used to stretch the machine's capacity. Virtual memory uses hard disk space as a scratch pad for the RAM. This technique allows the machine to perform operations (such as video editing) that would otherwise fail due to lack of RAM.

In order for virtual memory to do its job, it needs to have a monopoly on the read/write access to the system drive. When users place and access media files on the system drive, it causes the efficiency of the virtual memory system to be impeded (which can cause dropped frames).

So, back to your problem -

Even if your system drive is partitioned, writes are still being made to the same physical drive. When I refer to cutting on a single drive, I'm referring to your "Working Drive". For Final Cut Pro purposes, you should forget that your "Storage Drive" partition even exists.

Be sure that you are not rendering to your system drive, either. Check the "Final Cut Pro>System Settings>Capture Scratch" and make sure that you're pointing to your "Working Drive" for your renders. Renders are just like any other footage, and if its on the system drive, its no good. If you were rendering to the system drive, you should re-render (or move the render files) onto your "Working Drive".


[Mary Beth Koplin] "when you say "DV" does that mean compression DV/DVC PRO NTSC?"

Yep. Different sequence settings have different codecs, which require different amounts of drive bandwidth. The "DV" codec, formally known as NTSC-DVCPRO/DV has a bitrate of 3.6Mb/s, which is easily accessed from a single media drive. Other formats, such as uncompressed, will require much more bandwidth, and can cause dropped frames.

Regarding your 1.25GB of RAM - I have learned anecdotally here on the COW that certain hardware problems have been remedied by installing 1GB of RAM per processor - which would mean 2GB for you. I have personally worked on G5s with more RAM than that, so it probably won't hurt to go to 4GB if you want. Its as simple as having the RAM installed by a tech, or going to crucial.com (if you're brave).

Hope this helps - Bill


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Mary Beth Koplin
Re: Dropped frames problem
on Nov 22, 2008 at 8:04:41 pm

Wanted to take a minute and thank you for your detailed discourse. I have a lot to learn, and I am saving this email: it was really helpful,




Mac OS 10.4.11
Processor - Dual 1.8 GHx PowerPC G5
Memory 1.25 GB DDR SDRAM

Software:
Final Cut Pro 5.1



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Bill Dewald
Re: Dropped frames problem
on Nov 21, 2008 at 3:41:53 pm

Oh, and the dropped frames on the timeline will not affect an output to DVD.

One more thing - have you tried a full render? Any green or yellow bars above the footage? If so, they should be rendered first.


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Mary Beth Koplin
Re: Dropped frames problem
on Nov 21, 2008 at 4:10:39 pm

I usually render as I go, so everything has been rendered

also, good to know that the output to DVD will not be affected. sure would hate to get to that point and have a lot more work to do


---about your comment "1.2 RAM seems odd, 2 or 4 might be better": I guess I can get my local tech to install? in other words, it's memory that has to be added, or does it require some other kind of action?

Mac OS 10.4.11
Processor - Dual 1.8 GHx PowerPC G5
Memory 1.25 GB DDR SDRAM

Software:
Final Cut Pro 5.1



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Mark Suszko
Re: Dropped frames problem
on Nov 21, 2008 at 9:58:37 pm

Mary's problem pretty much describes a similar one I have. One thing I have noticed with mine is the dropped frames problem is worse if you have audio tracks and better or non-existent if there is no audio in my timeline, which makes me think I have something set wrong in where audio is assigned to my external RAID media drive set and scratch drive assignments. I'm still troubleshooting and waiting to do some diagnostics, I don't dare until the current project I'm working on is approved and moved off the drives. Never do high-level maintenance or system repair work in mid-project unless it is absolutely borked and will not work at all or if you also like playing chicken with freight trains. Long as it is still working, even thoguh shaky, I'm going to just hang on and stick with it as-is until the project is signed off and archived off the system.

I turned off the warning for dropped frames and this lets me continue to keep working, then I mark the in and out of the whole timeline, render that out, and it is clean and plays clean using Preview, plays out to tape fine that way and burns to DVD fine.

My system is brand new with several gigs of ram, and a terabyte of RAID space. Which doesn't mean there may not be something wrong with the system drive anyhow, but my guess is, with an octo-core, large RAID and plentiful RAM, the issue on mine is pilot error on my file structure and where things are being put. Hopefully next week I nuke everything and start from scratch the right way, and all will be well. Other expert opinions right now include suspiction my Aja IO is befuddled with a bad driver. But the AJA is not in charge of rendering my timeline, so I have doubts on that front.


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Mary Beth Koplin
Re: Dropped frames problem
on Nov 21, 2008 at 10:11:06 pm

Mark - very interesting! I will turn off that warning so I can work a little more peacefully.
My hard drive was new a year ago, but that doesn't mean there ain't something wrong with it, right?
I will look with interest to see if you have a solution, that is, of course, after you are done your project. What is an external RAID media drive? I have a Lacie, but it's in mothballs right now. it's a little old, too.

I am just wondering if that 1.2 RAM is my problem after all. I'd be willing to get 2 to 4 total...if I thought this would help.



Mac OS 10.4.11
Processor - Dual 1.8 GHx PowerPC G5
Memory 1.25 GB DDR SDRAM

Software:
Final Cut Pro 5.1



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Mark Suszko
Re: Dropped frames problem
on Nov 21, 2008 at 11:03:38 pm

a RAID is a random array of independent disks, think a matched set of identical drives in a box, outside of your computer. The video and audio live on them so your computer's "c" drive or system drive can just handle normal housekeeping duties. By sharing the video over multiple drives, you get much higher speed and reliability, the computer sees the stack as just one drive.

You don't necessarily need a RAID if all you are editing is Dv, but an external firewire hard drive for that, turning at least 7200 RPM, would tend to be way better for use with a laptop or tower. Even just a single drive, long as it frees up your system drive to do its business undisturbed by constant calls to seek and play and write video to and from the same disk as the operating system.


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Robert Semeniuk
Re: Dropped frames problem
on Nov 22, 2008 at 6:11:49 am

Mark, you and I have very similar systems, right down to the problems experienced! I think you are being generous in writing things off due to "pilot error". I am somewhat disappointed that I've got this MONSTER machine, with 6TB of storage on an external, fibre-channel G Speed drive, 6 gigs of RAM, and I still get these "hiccups", weird stuttering video, and the frame dropping!

Mary Beth, the best I can do for you is to say I had the very same problem, and although it didn't "solve" the problem, Command "R" to re-render the sequence, even if it's been rendered, seemed to help.

I don't know if I've got a compatibility issue somewhere or what, because as well as having the same problems described here my MacPro also "locks up" and becomes unresponsive, with the deliriously spinning rainbow forcing me to hard reboot.

You've got the right idea with the RT setting I think, I sort of go back and forth depending on what kind of mood I'm in. I find the frame dropping gets worse as I add effects and such. Command "R" can smarten it up.

Hang in there!



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