17 Replies Latest reply on Oct 8, 2012 8:34 AM by codexplorer

    Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac

    codexplorer Level 1

      I am experiencing a number of issues with PP on my new iMac 21.5 i7 12 GB RAM 1TB SATA. This is certainly not the most powerful machine to edit AVCHD footage, but that's what I can afford. Now the problem I want to report is not that AVCHD footage is playing back erratically (it is!) but that PP seems sometimes to just go into the 5th dimension and becomes totally unresponsive: I move the cursor in the timeline, double-click on clips in the timeline or the project explorer, switch to another sequence, press on buttons, etc and absolutely nothing will happen. If I check the Activity Monitor, PP does not seem to use more that a few % of CPU, there is no apparent disk activity (maybe a spike here and there, but I could not guaranty this is coming from PP).

      In those cases, if I quit PP, it is labeled as "PP is not responding" in the Activity Monitor and will stay like that for a few minutes until it eventually quits.

      That is becoming a real concern...

      Anybody has experienced anything like this or could suggest some fixes?

        • 1. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          iMAC is not really suitable for video editing and especially not with a difficult codec like AVCHD. Let's be realistic, iMac does not meet minimum requirements for editing, the video card can not be changed to a nVidia CUDA capable card, there is no expansion room for extra disks, so you have to revert to external disk storage if at all possible.


          Unresponsiveness is completely due to lacking hardware.


          This is certainly not the most powerful machine to edit AVCHD footage, but that's what I can afford.


          Had you gone the Windows route, you would have saved money and gotten better performance, but that was your choice...

          • 2. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
            codexplorer Level 1

            Sorry if I have not been clear enough: I am not looking for recommendations to use PC vs Mac but recommendation on how to best use my iMac.

            I am well aware of the fact that my machine is not the best for the job, but I think that what I am experiencing is not performance related and to say the word, buggy: there is no CPU activity, no disk activity, yet the actions I am requesting are not performed.

            If anybody on a Mac has experienced such a behavior, I'd be interested to learn about it.


            • 3. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
              ExactImage Level 3

              Yes, I've seen what you are talking about on our iMac, i7 Quad, 12BG Ram.  The iMac is now sat in the corner used as a utilitiy machine for transcoding.


              My suggestion is that you transcode your AVCHD footage to something like the (free) Avid codecs (DNxHD) which will edit much more easily.   You can to this as a batch in Media Encoder.

              We're mainly a Mac house here and not being able to add a CUDA card to the iMac has proved a real stumbling block.   If you want/need to stay with the iMac then you may want to start transcoding the AVCHD.
              We found H264 not too bad, but AVCHD was problematic.


              The other route you could go is to transcode to ProRes if you have the codecs.

              • 4. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                codexplorer Level 1

                Just to make sure: I am not talking about painfully slow playback or reaction when moving from one AVCHD clip to the next. These are totally different behaviors, which I would characterize as CPU overwhelming (the floating CPU activity monitor would show all 8 virtual  cores maxed out). Those, I understand.

                What I am talking about is, in the middle of editing a sequence, say, I move to a different clip on the sequence with my timeline playhead and...nothing happens. The playhead is where I want it to be, but neither the program monitor, nor the source monitor reflect any of this. I can select or double click a clip in the project manager, do whatever I want: nada, brain dead. And all the while, the CPU activity is close to zero, there is no disk activity whatsoever, there is plenty of available memory. PP is just gone.

                That sounds like a bug to me. Nothing that has to do with hardware limitation or this kind of thing.But before I report it or try to raise the attention of Adobe (wish me good luck), I'd like to gather some evidence that I am not  the only poor ******* to have to deal with this.

                I'll certainly try the transcoding thing.

                • 5. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                  codexplorer Level 1

                  The edited word is kcumhcs in reverse...nothing to fret about, IMO!

                  • 6. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                    codexplorer Level 1

                    As far as not meeting the minimum specs, I am a bit puzzled. This is a 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 chip, it has an AMD Radeon HD 6770M 512 MB to drive a HD screen, 12 GB of 1333 MHz DDR3 memory, a 1 TB SATA 7,200 rpm drive, so it is not exactly a brick.

                    Of course, like all non Mac Pro, it has an ATI GPU therefore it cannot take advantage of some of the Mercury Engine features, but except for the lack of multiple internal drive (there was an option to include a second, SSD drive, but it was a bit costly), it is a fast machine.

                    This being said, I understand that between pulling the data from disk, caching frames and other pieces of software accessing the disk, a single disk might be a problem.

                    My question for Mac users is thus: did you figure out a configuration of external drives and Preferences>>Media allocation that has improved your performance? I read in another thread that simply addding a FireWire 800 RAID drive helped. The so-called "minimum" configuration that I think is understood in this forum has two or more drives, preferably internal.

                    Internal is not an option for iMacs and since thunderbolt drives are not exactly abundant at this time (and quite costly), I am left with FW800 (which is just twice faster than USB 2, the only other option on iMacs).

                    I am tempted to use USB2/FW800 external drives. I just tried connecting two USB2 drives to my iMac and noticed a slight improvement (I don't think I have experienced the unresponsiveness yet), but there is still some chocking of the CPU at time, especially when trying to play unrendered clips with effects. I think one of the drives might be a 5,400 rpm only, whereas my newest one is a Western Digital WD Elements 3 TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive, which, I think, is a 7,200 rpm drive.

                    Feel free to blast me for having bought an iMac, but any insight or advice would be very helpful, since Adobe is essentially mute on this issue...

                    • 7. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                      codexplorer Level 1

                      Well, I guess I was being optimistic...

                      The playback seemed to have improved, but as soon as I resumed editing, I lost PP which went in the 5th dimension do its stuff...

                      I am really at loss here. I won't bother contacting Adobe, since I can only work on this in the evening but if I look at the Activity Monitor and inspect PP, I see:


                      Recent hangs: 1


                      it seems to be doing something (10% of CPU out of a max of 800%) but certainly not reacting to most of my user actions. It will change my worskpace, open the color editing tool, etc, but won't playback a clip in either the Source or Program Monitor. I can save my project and quit, but it will take ~30 s or more to disappear from the Activity Monitor and  it then displays a second "hang".

                      To me it looks like... a hang.

                      • 8. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                        codexplorer Level 1

                        A little update after some more attempt to work on my first project and additional reading/tutorial watching.

                        My external drives turned out to all be 5,400 rpm/USB 2 ones, so not much performance increase to be expected here.

                        Clearely, choosing to buy a single internal hard drive iMac was a mistake. I should have gone at least for a dual 1TB 7,200 rpm configuration. Since this is not easily fixable after purchase (without some serious surgery and risk of voiding the warranty), I need to wisely choose additional external storage.

                        on the iMac, the only options are USB 2, FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt.

                        There are external FW800 7,200 rpm units out there and there is so far a single brand of Thunderbolt external hard drives (Pegasus RAID), the smallest unit starting at $1K.

                        My question is: would, say, a 1TB FW800 unit be sufficient for me to already see some significant improvements, or would two be a minimum? Would the bandwidth leap justify investing in the (much) faster Thunderbold unit?

                        • 9. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                          John T Smith Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                          Since the forum search doesn't work well (if at all) go to Google and enter


                          site:forums.adobe.com firewire 800


                          site:forums.adobe.com fw 800


                          site:forums.adobe.com fw800


                          There have been previous discussions of using Firewire 800 for editing


                          With Firewire, I have read of problems with more than one device connected, so I would  say buy one FW800 drive and test

                          1 person found this helpful
                          • 10. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                            digitlman Level 1

                            You can eliminate the AVCHD part and just make a project with built in bars+tone and create a little sequence with that and some pictures and create some titles and see how it edits. that way you are not decoding video nor loading it from FW drives. if it goes laggy then it must be a premiere or MAC Operating system issue.

                            • 11. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                              codexplorer Level 1

                              I have never felt so miserable in front of a new computer...

                              I just purchased a 1TB FW800 drive (LaCie d2 Quadra 7200 rpm) and tried to follow the general guidelines of this thread cited in this tutorial.

                              Namely, I put all my AVCHD clips on the FW800 drive, as well as the project file and its scratch files (I also tried various other configuration with no more luck as I describe below).

                              The rest (basically Preferences>>Media) is on the root drive. None of these drives is partitioned (well, they have one partition only...hmm not quite. The root drive has a CD-sized recovery partition which came with the iMac).

                              I don't see any improvement in playback at all... I did not even bother to edit further. The worst is that the Activity Monitor shows absolutely zero disk activity when I try to playback the sequence, which stutter so badly I don't even have words for it. I guess the Activity Monitor is not trustworthy? But while copying my whole media library to the new drive, I had a sustained 80 MB/s write speed. so I suppose reading should be even faster!

                              For the life of me, I can't understand while playback in the Bridge is fluid, while some of the clips. even played back at 1/4 resolution seem to choke the CPU. Plenty of RAM left BTW.

                              I am just staring at my iMac and thinking: how did I fall for Premiere on an iMac? Because reports of FCP X users seemed to suggest that even the most powerful Macs had problems achieving smooth results unless medias were first transcoded? So basically that's the same story here.

                              I wish my experience is at least useful to others...

                              • 12. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                                codexplorer Level 1

                                @ExactImage: did you try using DNxHD codec recently? I tried to install it from Avid's website, but the installation failed. I am wondering whether it is a MacOS X Lion issue. The version I tried is the latest for Mac.

                                Edited: I figured out that this is just a quirk. The codecs install fine. At least, using transcoded footage, I am able to playback smoothly (albeit at 1/2 resolution) from my external HD.

                                • 13. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                                  codexplorer Level 1

                                  I was about to start a new thread entitled "PP 5.5 on an iMac rant" but figured this thread could be the perfect setting for this update.


                                  As stated above about 1 year ago, editing AVCHD on a 21.5 2.8 GHz 4-core i7 iMac (12 GB RAM) is not an option. Just not powerful enough. Now I was under the impression that this was all due to number of drives and speed of said drive interfaces. FW800 is not fast enough, as I reported above. I had settled to transcoding my footage to an easier codec. I first use a high quality codec from Avid, but was getting tired of the exploding footprint of my footage, so I turned to using a MPEG low quality "proxy", with the plan to replace the footage once everything was in place. That worked fine as long as I did not used linked composition in After Effect and totally failed if I did.

                                  <Begin> long editing inactivity period due to the total ineffectiveness of my workflow<End>


                                  In the meantime, I was still checking out the external Thunderbolt hard drives offering, considering that this is the only other option for a 2011 iMac (no USB 3, no eSATA). Those have been few and expensive for a long time, but recently the situation has changed (slightly). A few weeks ago, I jumped the guns and bought a 4TB Raid 0 G-RAID Thunderbolt drive, which I thought would help.

                                  The sad news is: it does not. Premiere still becomes irresponsive after I have dropped a few clips in the timeline and even before I do that, playback is abysmal in the source monitor. So basically, I am screwed and need to transcode all my footage into a high quality codec before editing if I want to go anywhere. At least the 4TB drive should be up for the job.


                                  Note: I tried CS 6 but it turns out that my iMac can't take advantage of the Mercury engine, so basically it was no better than the 5.5 version!

                                  • 14. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                                    ExactImage Level 3

                                    We sold our iMac and now have only MacPros, MacBookPros and Windows 7 machines.   For somethings the Windows 7 (Quad i7 3.4Ghz) blows the doors of the 8 core Xeon MacPro, while others they are pretty much on par.


                                    We tend to use ProRes when transcoding, though we do have th DNxHD codecs installed and working.


                                    We also found a quirk of Premiere Pro / DNxHD combination when exporting with the broadcast safe filter - i.e we got lots of black dots the filter had been applied that don't appear with any other codecs, so we skipped DNxHD once again


                                    What playback resolution are you running?   If you are running at full playback res, try dropping to 1/2 and see if that fixes it.

                                    • 15. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                                      codexplorer Level 1

                                      I am transcoding using MPEG Streamclip (since Adobe Media Encoder crashes past a certain number of files) and  ProRes 422 (HQ). The codec is a nice gift from the FCP X demo which I have dumped after my first attempt. That blows up file size ~ 11-fold, but I should be fine with my 4TB of temporary RAID 0 Thunderbold storage...

                                      I'll post here how (and if) that works when I have tested this workflow.

                                      Playback resolution has always been 1/2 and I tried down to 1/4 to no avail.

                                      • 16. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                                        ExactImage Level 3

                                        Forget ProRes 422HQ, you really don'tneed HQ unless you need the alpha chanel (most don't) and most computers will struggle.


                                        Transcode to plain ProRes 422 and you should be good to go.  It's also smaller than HQ.


                                        MPEG is OK but is still a long GOP codec, so editing is still harder work for the computer than ProRes 422 would be.

                                        1 person found this helpful
                                        • 17. Re: Premiere Pro CS5.5 unresponsive on iMac
                                          codexplorer Level 1

                                          OK, thanks for the tip, although it appears that, except for the time it takes to transcode, that will work for me. Editing and playback appears smooth as butter, even without rendering effects (in other words, "red" sections on my time line playback just fine.


                                          Here is my setup:

                                          - transcoded media on RAID-0 Thunderbolt drive

                                          - project file and scratch disk on FW800 drive

                                          - cache on internal drive


                                          All drives are 7,200 RPM.