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Old January 8th, 2008, 04:59 PM   #1
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Advice required - Optimizing Performance 101

I have some reasonable equipment but am increasingly frustrated by the performance. I am looking for some advice on how to achieve some quick wins. I realise that this has probably been covered numerous times already, but I couldn't find quite the answers I was looking for when I did a search.

My PC is only a few months old and has the following components:
- Intel Core 2 Duo 6600 @ 2.40Ghz
- 2Gb RAM
- Radeon 1550 Graphics card
- 500Gb System drive (RAID 0)
- 500Gb USB2 external media drive
- Premiere Pro CS3
- Windows Vista Home Premium

I have been editing a project which has a running time of approx 1h30m. Edited down from approx 5h HDV footage. I have created multiple sequences which are then nested on a master timeline. My assets are arranged in several bins. I am editing in HDV and down converting when exporting to Encore. The client has stated that they may want a Blu Ray disk at some future stage.

When I open the project, it takes approximately 10 - 15 minutes before I am given control of the application. When I exported from my master timeline to Encore CS3, it took over 6 hours. Is this normal? Would a dedicated capture card (e.g. Matrox RT.X2) make a significant difference?

I am a self taught Premiere user, with all the dangers that are implied by that statement. Is it possible that my workflow or organisation of assets, timelines, etc is causing some of my performance issues?

Simply put, I am hoping that this knowledgeable group will be able to give me some practical pointers. I would book myself on a course, except that a) that's expensive and my income is limited at present and b) I don't know how I go about choosing a training organisation who can give me the advice I need and not merely run through a standard curriculum.

Any advice would be welcome.

Thanks,
Iain
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Old January 8th, 2008, 06:18 PM   #2
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Your media drive is the weakest link. Even if it had a nice, fast hard drive (which I doubt), it would be limited by USB. The theoretical limit of hi-speed is 480 mbps (60 MB/s), but in practice I've never seen it top 240.

Pop a new Samsung Spinpoint F1 in your computer and be blown away by the speed (I'm getting 104 MB/s average at half-full).

If you need external, get an eSATA controller and external enclosure for between $15 and $45: that should give you 1064 mbps (133 MB/s) if you use PCI, more for PCI-Express x1.

Also, make sure that your cache/temp/render files are on the RAID-0.

Microsoft came out with a major speed upgrade that you can get for Vista. I've already upgraded four computers for friends and family and they are very happy with the 200% or greater performance boost. Hopefully Microsoft will start selling it on new computers. It's called "Windows XP".
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Old January 8th, 2008, 06:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Browning View Post
Microsoft came out with a major speed upgrade that you can get for Vista: it's called Windows XP.
ROFLMAO!!!
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Old January 8th, 2008, 06:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain Jeffrey View Post
When I open the project, it takes approximately 10 - 15 minutes before I am given control of the application.
By the way, the reason for this is probably that Premier is not opening the files in the same order that they are layed out on disk, which causes a lot of seeks. Reads with seeks, so you know, are hundreds of times slower than sequential reads.

Defragmenting would help a little bit, but the biggest difference would be from arranging them on disk in the same order that Premier accesses them, if it's even consistent. O&O Defrag can do this (by "access time", I believe.) Check out the trial version.
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Old January 9th, 2008, 01:16 PM   #5
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But even then, you will probably experience severe lags when working with this much material in Premiere. It's notoriously bad when dealing with larger projects even in SD. It cannot even cope with several hundreds of clips in bin - when I scroll up or down more than a little bit, it needs to refresh the thumbnails EVERY single time. And yes, I have defragmented and I use XP with 3.1.1 update.

Premiere is great for short projects and prosumers. If you are beyond that, go for another Final Cut. It's more powerful, more of a standard and it's even cheaper. If I only knew this before purchasing Matrox RTX2 workstation... oh well.
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Old January 11th, 2008, 12:46 PM   #6
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Some things to consider.

I don't necessarily agree that Premiere cannot handle a project with a running time of 1h30m and the raw materials attendant on such a project.

I have personally edited up to a 2 hour doc with over 50 tapes logged using premiere, although I did have a Dual SCSI-Raid w/10 drives in Raid0+1, a Dual CPU Workstation, and a Matrox Realtime/Hardware Card with no problems.

I will say as well, the workstation was clean of any software not used for post-production, and was a rock solid install of WinXP SP2.

What interests me aside from any potential problem with your PC, since it probably is an off the shelf configuration not an actual workstation built solely for post-production by a vendor, is your nested sequences. I've found that nested sequences do drag the timeline down in terms of performance.

The less layers you have the better the timeline responds (regardless of NLE or Compositing Software). If it is possible for you to export your nested layers and reimport the exported file you may notice an improvement. You should use an intermediate codec for best results and if you do any processing in an external application, it is a must. In After Effects I create 16bit projects and we use cineform as our codec.

USB drives are a no no. USB connections all draw on a fixed bandwidth, so the more USB devices you have the less bandwidth you have available. Also, USB connections utilize CPU power, unlike Firewire which is a hardware protocol and does not require CPU power. So, that is also a potential bottleneck within your arrangement.

You should ideally go to a firewire 800 raid subsystem or faster, eSATA as mentioned before.

As for RAM, I think 2GB is the minimum, you should consider 3-4GB.

As a general rule in terms of capturing clips, 3-5 secs of pre and post-roll are the max you should capture. Some editors capture up to 10 secs or more of pre and post-roll which stresses the Hard Drive System, so perhaps you can examine that as well.

There's more I could say, but I don't know enough about your system or actual style of editing to know if it would make a difference.

Just my 2c.

K.

PS: I work with FCP, Avid, Premiere, Media 100. They all choke if the workstation/system is not configured properly.
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Old January 11th, 2008, 05:52 PM   #7
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Krystian, I am about to begin a huge documentary project involving tens of hours of footage and the output will be 4 2 hour DVDs. I too have Matrox RTX2 but even on turnkey certified HP dualcore workstation and XPSP2, it crashes from time to time. I am not quite sure that RTX2+Premiere CS3 combo is up to the task, especially reliability-wise. I really don't want to get stuck in the middle of this huge project with crashing Premiere or damaged project file. This is my experience, sadly. Premiere is VERY picky and crash-prone.

I guess I will have to go to Final Cut Studio 2 for this project. Oh well..
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Old January 11th, 2008, 10:24 PM   #8
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Hey Jiri.

I hear you. I will say, it could be a Matrox Driver problem, it may not be a Premiere problem.

The Matrox board I used was a more higher end board though, the Digisuite Lossless Board, and like I mentioned, this Workstation had nothing but Post Software on it. It was not connected to the internet. Nor did it have anti-virus software.

I've worked with just about everything out there and they have all crashed on me: avid, premiere, fcp, dps, media100, newtek, even, lol, a grass valley online A/B/C/D system. They all can and will crash.

Some advice regardless of NLE, though again, I've never had a problem with Premiere.

I find logging both BEFORE capturing and DURING capture to be invaluable to recreate projects which are huge in scope and time critical.

I would even suggest doing things the old fashioned way: capture lower res proxies or from VHS/SVHS/miniDV with time code window burns and when you have picture lock or a fine cut, do an EDL and recapture only what you need. This way your system can handle whatever you throw at it.

It is a lot of work, but you'd be surprised how easy it is once you get accustomed to it. This is how I was taught a long time ago, but a lot of people today don't have experience doing things like this, and I'm not even that old!!!! I just had good teachers.

To back up your projects you should do 2 things:
1 - everyday create a duplicate sequence with the date and 1 bit of info, e.g. 21st July 2008, RoughCut and continue duplications each day till you arrive at 30th September, Fine Cut. This way you can go back to any days work even if your project crashed. However step 2 is what really makes this work.
2 - Save a copy of your completed project on a separate drive, e.g. save project file as 21st July, RoughCutCopy, to a flash drive or other device at the end of every day.

IF your project crashes, you at most lost 1 day of work.

Also, I never keep all my media on the same RAID/Drive.

Footage is on 1 or 2 drives/raid
Graphics, Stills, Exports, MixDowns, etc . is on another drive usually (not raid)
MetaData is always on a separate drive (project files, edl's, etc.) I like flash drives as I can keep them safe.
Audio I normally place on an internal drive separate from the system drive.

May seem like a lot, but I've NEVER lost a project regardless of NLE.

K.

PS: if you want me to explain anything in more detail or if you get stuck, PM me and we can talk.

PPS: i edit on a dual xeon FCP 6 workstation everyday (we have 2 FCP 6 systems and 2 FCP 5.1), but at home I have a premiere system, and am thinking of getting an Avid/Mojo to supplement wat I have.
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Old January 12th, 2008, 04:26 AM   #9
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Thank you Krystian for your very detailed info. I basically do the same stuff as you do (keeping separate things on separate drives, no internet on edit machine...) and am BASICALLY fine, but I've never done a project of these proportions. Matrox really got their act together in last driver update and it works much, much better that a year ago. I quite like Premiere for many little details and streamlined editing. I will PM you if any new questions arise. Thanks!
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