Best Set up for MacPro (late 2013) editing h264 4K footage

New Here ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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Hi,

I am editing 4k footage from a G85, but it does not play back smoothly, even at ¼ resolution (1/8 is greyed out). It’s a 20 minute interview, no effects or anything done to it yet. 1080p footage plays fine at ¼ resolution.

 

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best set up for performance, but haven’t been able to find a clear answer on forums, other questions, etc.

Can anyone tell me what I need to do differently for a smoother play back?

 

My set up:
MacPro (late 2013)

6 core intel xeon E5 3.5 GHz

32 GB Memory

AMD FirePro D300

>>has OS, Programs, Media Cache

 

Samsung T5 connected via the USB 3.0 port

>>has media, project, previews, exports

 

 

4K mp4 footage, h264

Rendering optimization set for: Performance

Renderer: Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration

 

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Hardware or GPU , Performance

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Advocate , Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020
Your CPU is pretty much topped out.  Moving the media internally may help, but I'm not too sure by how much.  It's worth a test, of course; it can't hurt.  Ultimately I think you're just hitting a hardware limit of your Mac and you actually do need to transcode to ProRes.  Just understand that's going to make each of your files quite big in comparison to what they are now.  And it's going to take some time to do for each file.

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Advocate ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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Your machine isn't really set up well to deal with large long-GOP formats like h.264.  It can do it, but it's going to do so slowly.  I suspect you're running into a combination of CPU and storage issues.  Call up the Activity Monitor while you're trying to play back the media in Premiere.  In Activity Monitor, Window-->CPU Usage.  This will bring up a graph of each of your CPU's cores.  Now play the media and see if your cores all jump to or near 100%.

 

If they don't, then your storage is not helping.  USB 3 isn't... fast.  At all.  It's a lot faster than USB 2 of course, but it's still pretty limited in speed.  The next test should involve moving the media to your internal SSD and seeing if that helps.

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New Here ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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Thanks for the reply.

I'm testing it again now. In playback, it starts of choppy, but eventaully catches up and becomes more smooth. But I suspect once I start to make more cuts and add transitions and such, it will become more consistentkly choppy. 
Here is a screenshot of the CPU load during playback.

Screen Shot 2020-01-14 at 11.43.32 AM.png

 

As far as storage goes, I have 116GB free (out of 500) on the Mac and 1.83 TB free on the T5. Are you saying free space isn't helping?

I realize this set up isn't ideal, but I'm in a situation where I need to make the most of it. 
Would it be better to put everything on the internal SSD and just use the T5 for storage? I needed it for additional storage, but was trying to see if splitting th work load would make a difference. However, peoples opinions differ as to where to put your cache/media/etc. 

So any help with a good set up is welcome. Thanks for the advice. 


 

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Advocate ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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OK, that's not the shot of the Activity Monitor I was hoping to see.  You can see the individual core usage.  In Activity Monitor's menu bar:

 

Window --> CPU Usage

 

Or just hit CMD 2.  Another window should pop open showing you 12 bars (6-core CPU with hyperthreading).  Play your footage in Premiere and watch that new window.  Do the bars start kissing 100% or so?  Do some of them?  None of them?

 

As for storage, USB3 maxes out at a theoretical 5Gbits/sec throughput.  That's theoretical; rarely do USB 3 attached drives even hit that.  5G might seem fast, but... it's not.  Not for storage.  Do you have enough room on the internal drive to temporarily store the media while you're editing?  I'd try that, too.

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New Here ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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Alright, here is the proper shot:

Screen Shot 2020-01-14 at 12.03.06 PM.png

 

So you think storing it internally might be faster? 
I could possibly. Is there a recommended amount of free space in storage to have left?
I'll copy the media over and try it out.

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Advocate ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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Your CPU is pretty much topped out.  Moving the media internally may help, but I'm not too sure by how much.  It's worth a test, of course; it can't hurt.  Ultimately I think you're just hitting a hardware limit of your Mac and you actually do need to transcode to ProRes.  Just understand that's going to make each of your files quite big in comparison to what they are now.  And it's going to take some time to do for each file.

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New Here ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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Okay, gotcha. Thanks for the help.  I moved the footage over and the performance is similar, perhaps slightly better. 
I'm interested in knowing, does the program not use GPU at all? Only CPU?
If there is somewhere good to read about this, let me know. I'm not very familiar with how the two processes work, but I am under the impression that both are important. Yet in this situation, GPU does not matter?

Also, different question, what set up would handle this situation well? (i.e what system/hardware improvements would make it perform well) In order to use the T5 to improve the performance, would i need a system with a faster external port? 

Also, if I were to use a PC, what build?
Okay okay, I know thats more than one question, and they have extensive and varying answers. If there is a simple answer for basic hardware/set up recommendation, let me know or redirect me to a specific post (or I can just search the forums). Also, pc specific set up for editing this kind of footage, not some thing that costs upwards of $3k.

 

All in all, thanks for the prompt help. Its nice to get direct feedback vs. trying to figure it out based off of other peoples posts.

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Advocate ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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Lots to write here between bites of my late lunch.  Let's see...

 

Your GPUs aren't being used by Premiere for playback of h.264 footage or any other footage for that matter.  Premier would use the GPUs if you had accelerated effects on your timeline, but you're not there yet.  For raw playback of the footage you have, it's all CPU.  Adobe could and should go a long way to include access to AMD's VCE and NVidia's NVDEC for handling h.264/h.265 files, but, sadly, they've avoided doing that.  These hardware encoders/decoders would make handling playback of h.264 much faster as it'd all be done in: hardware.  However, regardless of that, your older AMD GPUs don't have those encoders/decoders, so that rant is pointless. 😉

 

Your Mac is the reason I stopped editing on Macs for almost 7 years(!)  Apple stepped on a land mine with the Mac Pro 6,1, and it's just a very limiting device in so many ways.  Even the top of the line GPUs are weak, and all of the hardware in the device is poorly cooled.  Further, there's the challenge of storage and add-on devices.  Right now, you're not using a good solution for storage.  USB 3 drives, even SSDs, really shouldn't be used for direct editing unless you're in a crunch.  Yes, use them to move media around.  And definitely use them to back things up.  But when editing, you want to take advantage of all of those Thunderbolt-2 ports on the back of the Mac.

 

Bear in mind, Tbolt-2 has a max throughput of 20Gbits/sec; that's four times what USB 3 can do.  To give you an idea, NVMe drives are capable of an absolute max of 32Gbits/sec; and there's little out there you're going to find, storage wise, faster.  Where I'm going with that is: if you need BIG STORAGE on top of the 1/2 terabyte on your system, I'd look to a Tbolt-2 enclosure that can let you install a few SSDs or NVMe drives.

 

After you perform the test that Meg suggests, you'll know whether your system is adequate for your needs.  Assuming you're OK with the time it takes to transcode before editing, then you'll definitely want faster storage for your newly-expanded ProRes (and it's gonna be big, too...)  Given that, I'd be hunting around for an enclosure and some drives.

 

Aside from that, you have the option of going to a PC for editing.  That's what I did 7 years ago.  I'm now back on a Mac, but it's because I could afford a monster Mac Pro (2019).  It doesn't need transcoding or any such thing, it munches on h.264 without any issues.  I can't really recommend a good PC for a given price as my PC goals are usually different than others'.  I was building combo editing and gaming boxes, which need a lot of very fast cores (overclocked), and very expensive GPUs that can also overclock.  There are bunches of others here that can guide you if that's the route you want to go.

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New Here ,
Jan 15, 2020 Jan 15, 2020

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Alright, thanks. 
I tested it with ProRes footage and it runs much better, even with more edits/effects. But yes, then the issue is storage. So thanks for the input, it really helps me see what I may need moving forward. 

And I ask about the PC because I use PC personally, but have always had Macs at work. So I'm often comparing systems and setups. I don't need a better PC set up for myself right now, but I may in the future. So I'm always trying to sift through the forums and opinions to get an idea of what kind of options are out there, how they works, etc. Mostlyl educational at this point. and yes, I imagine it definitly depends on the goals. 

 

Anyway, thanks for the help!

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 13, 2020 Jun 13, 2020

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I have same problem.

MacPro 2013, 64gb ram, and 2 TB of SSDs EVOs faster disks connected to Thunderbolt port.

It tested on Blackmagic app 645 write and 750 MB/s read speeds.

Still problems about editing on 4K, and obviusly just playback them...

I think is a software problem. And even a part of hardware about AMD FirePro D700 obsolete at this time in my machine...

It's incredible that a piece of videos not playing correctly.. at this time with a bunch of optimize codecs and resolutions

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LEGEND ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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If it were me, I'd transcode the source footage to ProRes and edit from that.

 

MtD

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Advocate ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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Sure: transcoding to ProRes is probably one solution our OP can do.  But before that, let's figure out where the challenge really is.  If they transcode to ProRes and it's a storage slowness problem, that may make things even worse. 😉

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New Here ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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Yes, I've read a bit about doing that. What is the easiest way to do it, if it ends up being the best solution?

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Advocate ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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With your current storage limitations, I'd hold off on this one.  ProRes is going to munch on a lot of your free space, and you'll likely be forced to use more of that Samsung drive, not less of it.  That means more pulling/pushing media across that USB 3 link.

 

Sub-optimal.  Let's figure out where the problem actually is, first.

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LEGEND ,
Jan 14, 2020 Jan 14, 2020

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You can use Media Encoder to transcode the source footage to ProRes.

Try a short sample and see if you get an improved editing experience if you use the transcoded material as your source.

Screen Shot 2020-01-14 at 7.25.19 AM.png

 

 

MtD

 

 

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New Here ,
Jan 15, 2020 Jan 15, 2020

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Oh right. Thats quite straight forward. I suppose I just have never done it before. 
I tested it out and it does run much better—thanks for the input. Of course it takes time to transcode (not really an issue) and also much more space (more of an issue depending on my projects), so I'll have to work through that.
Thanks for the help!

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Adobe Employee ,
Jan 21, 2020 Jan 21, 2020

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JBBSCTID,

Hi!

You might try ProRes LT. It's got good quality and takes up less space than ProRes 422. 

 

Respectfully,

Kevin

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 14, 2020 Jun 14, 2020

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why isn't anyone suggesting a proxy workflow?  Will speed up the playback enormously, save drive space over transcoding to a fullrez prores flavor , but still involve slow export times...    it's not the simplest process to wrap your head around, but once you've worked it out, it's usually rocksolid.  

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New Here ,
Feb 07, 2022 Feb 07, 2022

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Could you by chance point me toward a good source to learn how to do this. I've heard about it but don't know where to begin my search for how to do it. I just had to edit a music video in 4K 10bit color and I'm either investing into a monster Mac Pro, or I need to figure out a significantly more optimized means of editing in real one -- and this sounds like it could be my solution to this!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 07, 2022 Feb 07, 2022

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LATEST

check out what's available on the adobe site and google premiere proxy workflow and see what's available on youtube...  then if there's something you don't understand, post back and I'm sure you'll find plenty of help.  You can always DM me with any specific question.  I'm getting hammered with work right now (not complaining, just explaining), but I'll do my best to answer you.  First thing though, when you start doing this, just do a test with a small file to make sure you've got it working properly.  You can doublecheck that the proxy is attached properly by making sure the proxy option is turned on in either the source or program monitor, and then select the clip in the timeline and control clicking and "reveal in finder" and make sure the proxy file is revealed rather than the camera original.   

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