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Old June 21st, 2008, 02:26 PM   #1
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HD playback issues with MBP

I'm having trouble playing back 1080p footage from my EX1 on my Macbook Pro. It's very stuttery, there's a lot of tearing, etc... Totally unusable. With lower res formats, there are also problems, but basically less playback problems with each step down (i.e. some problems with hdv, a few problems with dv).

My system should have plenty of horsepower, so I'm trying to figure out what's going on. I'm on a 2.4g Macbook Pro, 4gb RAM, 7200 RPM drive. Running 10.4.11, FCP 6.0.3, QT 7.4.5. The problem occurs only on my laptop screen, not when playing out to an external monitor. And the problem is significantly worse when playing back full screen compared to in a small canvas/viewer window.

Any ideas?
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Old June 22nd, 2008, 02:48 AM   #2
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Perhaps your computer has plenty of power to actually capture, edit, and process the video but not enough dedicated graphics RAM to properly display 1080p at full-resolution in real-time (or maybe not even enough to playback some lower rez stuff either).

Note: I thought I would chime in since no one had responded yet, but I am really not a super computer-knowing dude. My gig is the shooting and the cutting-- I leave the computers and the decks to the engineers.

Last edited by Maat Vansloot; June 22nd, 2008 at 02:50 AM. Reason: (added parenthetical about lower-rez stuff not playing well either)
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Old June 24th, 2008, 03:29 PM   #3
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Thanks, Maat. My graphics card should be good- Nvidia Geforce 8600. It seems like other people with a similar setup aren't having trouble, so the answer must be out there somewhere...
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Old June 24th, 2008, 11:13 PM   #4
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Andy,

If you're only using the single, internal drive for everything then that is the source of your problem; you need a dedicated external drive to hold your footage.

Depending on how you're playing the clip - from the timeline with all effects and filters turned on (is everything rendered?) or if it's a single QT clip at full-res will make a difference too.

Keep in mind full-res HD played back from a single drive much less a single internal laptop drive is pushing the limits of how much data the drive can push out at any given moment. The drive has to run the OS, the apps, cache files PLUS handle the bandwidth requirements of your HD clip in playback - that's an overload situation for even the best laptops.

If you put your clip on an external HDD (preferably with an eSATA connection via adapter) then you'll be in full-res HD playback heaven. External FW drives may be up to the task, but only up to a point where the drive's cache fills up and then you'll get more stutters.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 01:43 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info, Robert. I'm playing back from external drives, primarily G-Raid2 (raid 0), connected via firewire 800. It happens with the original quicktime files, playing unrendered in a matching sequence. Maybe I should look at an eSATA array, but then I lose the ability to use my expresscard slot for the sxs cards.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 10:29 AM   #6
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Keep in mind Andy, that an external FW drive regardless it it's a single drive or an array is only capable of pushing out appx. 60-70 MB/s - and that's assuming the drive cache hasn't filled up. The FW connectivity speed (like other types) is rated higher but that is a *theoretical* limit; real-world usage is far lower than marketing specs would have you believe.

You mentioned this is an un-rendered clip (?); that being the case that *is* the heart of your problem. You should fully render the clip before playing back in the timeline. You can't expect full-res HD playback from any machine without first rendering it, especially if you've got filters and effects applied.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 02:34 PM   #7
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I meant unrendered in that it doesn't need to be rendered. It's the original 1080p quicktime file brought into fcp via xdcam transfer. Sequence settings match the media, no effects applied.
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Old June 28th, 2008, 05:52 AM   #8
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Are you by chance running on battery power.
I have a Dell XPS M1730 which is as powerful as your Mac Book Pro and the multimedia playback is awful on battery but fine on mains power.
On battery power it is common to slow down the CPU to save power.
Strangely Sony XDCAM EX Clip Browser does not suffer on battery.
If you are on battery look to disable any power saving settings.
Malcolm
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