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Old May 15th, 2011, 06:57 PM   #1
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Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

Has anyone else noticed this? For many years I have worked with just a few Sequences in FCPro, and the render times seem to be similar in them all - at least that I've noticed. When I slow motion scenes, or render simple graphics - I kind of have a feel for how long I have to wait for various things. Both with my MacBook Pro (2010) and Mac Tower (2 years old). I've always found render times, not excessive. Usually I've worked with DVCProHD.

BUT NOW . . . I'm noticing I'm waiting 2 to 3 times longer for any render. By NOW, I mean since I bought the XF300 and am natively importing 50mbs 12x720 footage into FCPro. (I overcrank a lot, so I tend to stay with 720.) It can now be done after the firmware upgrade a few months back. I love how much faster "native" import is, and I love it using 50mbs as it should, not 70mbs, which it did using ProRez import.

BUT I'm noticing much longer times to render in the XDCAM 422 720p30. Render screen says "conforming edited MPEG-2." Of course, this takes away some of the excitement, and is downright annoying! Has anyone else noticed this, or is it just me? Can render times change significantly, depending simply on the timeline Sequence setting? If they do, I'll just live with it - but I need reassuring that it's normal to take much 2 or 3 times the time - or I'm kinda hoping I'm doing something wrong!

Thanks,
Larry

Last edited by Larry Cohen; May 15th, 2011 at 10:21 PM. Reason: few typos and added a phrase
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Old May 16th, 2011, 02:49 AM   #2
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

I may be barking up the wrong tree, but have you tried the following in FCP:

- Open the sequence settings (Cmd-0)
- Click the Render Control tab (4th from left)
- Codec pop-up select Apple ProRes 422
- Click okay.

This may help. Essentially, all footage is native until you do anything to it, where it renders in ProRes, rather than MPEG2. Helps a lot for XDCAM.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 03:23 AM   #3
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

Canon XF/XDCAM HD422 is a highly compressed acquisition codec. It is not a good idea to render back to it. For reasons of quality and speed, it is much, much better to set your sequence render settings to ProRes. Ingest as 'native' as you are doing and render to ProRes - that's the best balance of quality and efficiency.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 02:12 PM   #4
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

Hi Antony,

Boy, I have never done anything you guys are suggesting . . . nor would I have ever thought of it on my own! So just to confirm I'm understanding . . .

You AGREE with Matt Daviss - I Log & Transfer Natively from the camera (or backup copy of it.) using this setting in FCPro (which it now defaults to) "XDCAM HD422 720p30"

That seems to keep the transferred clips playing at 50mbs. (NOT 70mbs which it'll do if I L&T at ProRez422, which I'm trying to avoid, correct?)

But NOW you're saying to keep the sequence set to the settings above, just CHANGE THE RENDER settings as Matt indicates below and that will keep the Sequence setting to XDCAM HD422, but it will RENDER using ProRez422. OMG! I never would have thought of that! Now when I do that, I'm assuming the output self contained QT of the master will still be playing at 50mbs - (not 70 as with a ProRez timeline.) - is this what you're saying? I think so . . . but would love for you to say "YES!" so I'll be sure I'm following. So the Sequence is actually capturing in XDCAM HD, but rendering in ProRez?
Thanks,
Larry
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Old May 16th, 2011, 02:15 PM   #5
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

And thank you, Matte for opening my eyes to this "new" idea potentially solving the long rendering times.

Larry
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Old May 16th, 2011, 02:20 PM   #6
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

Hi Antony and Matt,

I also posted this question on the Apple Final Cut Pro discussion boards - here's how they answered it. A little different than your response . . .
What do you think of this answer

https://discussions.apple.com/message/15210220#15210220

From my view, I think Shane is addressing my question properly, but you guys across the Atlantic seem to have a "better" way to address this yet? Just asking!
thanks,
Larry
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Old May 16th, 2011, 03:27 PM   #7
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

We're all saying the same thing, just varying the amount of technical and practical details in our answers.

The community here is made up of people who aren't paid to answer questions, we just help out because people helped us when we were learning - and quite frankly we're all still learning.

You can't assume knowledge when answering questions, you can't assume you're only answering the person asking the question (so most of the time you're answering a huge crowd of unheard listeners-in).

On the flipside, you the asker are getting a number of responses that concur with each other, which means that's probably where the correct answer lies. But don't take our word for it! :o)

For a brief and irreverent look at the differences between iFrames and GOP structure, may I blatantly advertise the following blog I wrote:

TV Soup – or how video compression really works Travelling Matt

(which started here on DVinfo.net and got its face washed for the blog)
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Old May 16th, 2011, 09:27 PM   #8
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

Very interesting, Matt - I just ran some tests, and here's what I found. I sent this to Shane Ross over at the Apple chat boards:

I've done a bit of work here - this might surprise you? Maybe you'll learn something, we'll find out. But you've certainly been helpful to me!
OK, I took a 5 minute Sequence, shot with the Canon XF300, imported natively into FCPro. The test here is to now render in XDCAN vs. render in Prorez. I LOVE Logging & Transferring in NATIVE as the files are 30% smaller (50mbs vs. 70mbs - and that goes for the ProRez exports as Self Contained movies, too - 70 vs. 50mbs.)

So now it gets interesting . . . to render the 5 minute movie using XDCAM HD rendering (same codec) as importing footage = 5 minutes to render the timeline. Not much rendering was needed. Coincidentally, 5:00 even to render about a 5 minute movie. The total render "space" it used was 932meg.

Now . . . I did the same render (after I deleted all renders) but this time I had it render in ProRez instead. It took 3:30. Soooo, it saved 1:30 in the rendering process. GOOD! So we "learned" FCPro renders faster in ProRez as compared with XDCAM, which is exactly what you said! Oh, it ony used 832 meg for the ProRez renders, which means not only is ProRez faster to render, but it uses about 10% less space to actually "do"it.

But here's the GLITCH I can't explain. I then exported to self contained movie (which we normally do in our workflow, master to a self contained movie to save). In the XDCAM render sequence, it takes 1:35 to export to self contained movie, about normal for a 5 minute movie. But the ProRez render took almost 6 minutes to export!!

WHY would it take over 3 times longer to export the ProRez sequence compared to the XDCAM sequence? This is what didn't make sense to me. (I'm wondering maybe in the export process, FCPro doesn't "see" the (ProRez) renders and has to rerender it just to export it? And that's why the export time is so much longer with ProRez? What do you think?

So to sum up, NATIVE import is faster and smaller files. Then ProRez render is faster and smaller files. So I'll do that! BUT then it takes longer to export the "ProRez" rendered Sequence You just can't win!!! If you have a 60 minute timeline, it's seriously longer!
Do your findings parallel mine? Anyway, thanks for your time, and if you can't tinker with this, I certainly understand. I'm just trying to setup a workflow here. I've tested this 3 times, my results are consistent.
Thanks again,
Larry
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Old May 17th, 2011, 03:32 AM   #9
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

No free lunch. :)

Good stuff with your detective work.

I'll just add that I'm an interloper here - I usually shoot XDCAM EX, so my edits benefit being exported to ProRes as everything moves from 4:2:0 bit to 4:2:2 and my 8 bit footage now gets manipulated in a 10 bit environment - along with any graphics I may add or generate. Strong colours, fine areas of gradation and an extra bit of headroom all benefit the final stages of editing. Whilst I may output natively in the rough-cut or crash edit phase, I'll take the pain of a full ProRes render (re-rendering all effects natively) for a final output when the client is paying (or when the client is me).

There is no one perfect camera, there is no one perfect workflow. It's all Spaghetti Sauce and the above is Extra Chunky. (c.f. Malcolm Gladwell at TED: YouTube - Malcolm Gladwell: What we can learn from spaghetti sauce)
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Old May 17th, 2011, 09:35 AM   #10
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

Larry, et al:

Let me preface my comment with the fact that I am a still photographer just venturing into video. I shoot with a GoPro, a Vixia HF S10 and now an XF100. Love all of them.

I went to the Apple store for some help with the guys there on Final Cut because I am WAY behind the power curve with this software, and during a one-on-one lesson, commented on the long render times. According to the tech that was working with me, the bottleneck for rendering times is the hard disk write speed. I even asked about somehow using my old MacBook Pro to somehow put the rendering chore on that computer allowing me to continue to work on other things on my newer MacBook Pro. That is when he commented on write times.

My main computer is a 2.8GHz Core i7 processor with a 7200 RPM hard disk. According to the tech, the only way to improve rendering time is to get a faster hard disk. This assumes using the same workflow/settings.

My thought on attacking this problem is to get a solid state drive either to replace the internal drive or as a Firewire 800 external drive. For the external drive, the bottleneck would be the Firewire connection, if what this tech told me is correct.

Anyway, I will check my settings in Final Cut to ensure I am exporting/rendering in ProRes to gain whatever advantage is there.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 10:19 AM   #11
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Kappes View Post
According to the tech that was working with me, the bottleneck for rendering times is the hard disk write speed.
(hems and haws a bit) ... Let's look at this a different way.

You may be better off using MPEGstreamClip ...

Squared 5 - MPEG Streamclip video converter for Mac and Windows

... and converting all your GoPro footage and ... well, maybe the other stuff too ... to ProRes LT or ordinary garden variety ProRes (LT is good if you're not going for complex delivery - think of it as Diet ProRes rather than ProRes Lite).

The bottleneck you're probably experiencing is the hard disk scuttling all over your clips trying to reconstitute editable footage with REAL frames in it. MPEG and H.264 footage 'fresh from the camera' will play back nicely, but as soon as you stop, shuttle, jog and otherwise twiddle, the hard disk is doing a lot of extra work.

Any hardware salesman will point to a solution that involves selling you extra hardware. Whereas the software person may say 'move your footage to a format that doesn't bash the living daylights out of your hard disk'.

Now, I don't think the problem of the hard disk is as bad as your salesman makes it. There's a limitation in the number of streams, or channels, of video FCP can handle, and that's to do with FX and multi-camera work, and is a careful balance of format and file size. We can do some beard-stroking over that if you wish, but to cut to the chase: to avoid tears before bedtime, don't edit anything inside FCP that isn't made of discrete frames.

Ahem... With the exception of SOME MPEG2 formats...

I've edited GoPro, Flip, iPhone and all sorts of footage from very strange sources, and the simplest way to get all these non-frame based formats to play nice is to get them into ProRes. PC users can use CineForm, DNxHD or whatever - essentially, use an editing format to edit with.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 12:50 PM   #12
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

Matt,

Like I said, I'm new to all of this and was only passing along what the Apple trainer told me. In the specific case when he made the comment, I was only working with a single GoPro clip and the render times were really long.

I do have, and have used, MPEG Streamclip, but with the XF100 have been using the Log and Transfer method for importing. I will take your advice and start to convert my GoPro raw footage to ProRes to see if that helps with render times. Thanks for the input.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 01:02 PM   #13
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Re: Final Cut Pro render times - WOW!

Hi Matt,
Love your statement: "There is no one perfect camera, there is no one perfect workflow."

We do very specific things over and over again, and I was just playing around - not even knowing about these diferent workflow approaches (like capturing in NATIVE, but rendering in ProRez) - which seems best for us - except for the double to triple the time it takes at the end of the project to export to self contained movie.

WHY would it take triple the time to export (when I capture Native and render in ProRez vs. Capture in NATIVE and render in the same, XDCAN HD)? Is it that when FCPro exports to SC movie, it maybe doesn't "see" the "ProRez renders" and has to re do them as it's exporting?

But if you keep the importing and rendering in the same codecs, then it DOES see the renders, and exports much faster?

BTW, in your experience, is there any difference in final QUALITY of the image, cross-platform rendering, etc. Or does it all 'look' the same in the finished product?
Thanks,
Larry

Oh, you might enjoy this - just playing around with a new camera!
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