19 Replies Latest reply on Dec 30, 2011 3:50 PM by lasvideo

    AJA playback dropping lots of frames

    Jim Curtis Level 3

      I have some ProRes 4444 that was recorded onto a KiPro or something similar.

       

      I drag the footage to a New Sequence, which produces settings of AJA ProRes, which is correct.

       

      After conforming, the video skips like crazy on playback... drops a lot of frames, audio and video.  CPU usage seems kind of high for i-frame footage: around 30% for all 8 cores.  If I drag the CTI, it skips massive numbers of frames.  My RAID has over 2GB/s reads; plenty adequate to be playing this kind of footage.

       

      So... I put the same footage into a Desktop Sequence (no AJA settings) that's 720x486.  The video then plays and scans as smooth as you please.  This seems odd, because the footage has to be scaled down as it plays.  Seems to me this would be more of a load on the CPU than playing it native size (1920x1080).

       

      I import the same footage into FCP, set it to View the footage through the AJA, and it plays smooth there, with the CPU meters hardly registering.  I can drag the CTI, and the video keeps up fairly well.  It drops some frames, but not nearly the amount as in Pr.

       

      So... this seems to suggest that either the Adobe AJA plug for Pr is lousy, or Pr itself isn't interfacing very well with the card and driver.  Since I have a very pleasant experience with Ae and the AJA card and driver, this seems to exonerate the AJA driver, and point the finger at Pr.

       

      I'd just like to know what I have to do to get similar performance in Pr that I get with FCP and my Kona LHi.  Or, should I just throw in the towel, and go back to FCP?

        • 1. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
          lasvideo Level 4

          Jim, I have worked with a lot of different formats and codecs (P2, Proress, Photo-JPEG, Red 4K, H.264) with very few issues I have the AJA Kona 3 and all the latest drivers (2  1 for AJA and 1 for Adobe). If I set the right Program for either Full or HALF resolution things are smooth.

           

          AJA Mac Plug-ins for Adobe CS5.5 Version 9.1

           

          KONA 3 Driver Version 10.0.1, Control Panel, and Notes

           

          Id be glad to try one of your problematic clips on my system.

           

          Tom Daigon

          Avid DS / PrP / After Effects Editor

          www.hdshotsandcuts.com

          Mac Pro 3,1

          2 x 3.2 ghz Quad Core Intel Xeon

          10.6.8

          Nvidia Quadro 4000

          24 gigs ram

          Kona 3

          Maxx Digital / Areca 8tb. raid

          • 2. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
            Jim Curtis Level 3

            Hi Tom,

             

            Thanks for your response.  Since posting this, I retrograded to the 9.1 version of the AJA Control Panel, and I re-installed the AJA Adobe driver.  I'm now able to play my AJA sequence without it dropping frames.  This is an improvement.  But, shuttling is still dropping lots of frames.  And when I'm playing back, I'm still seeing 50-60% of my CPU cores being utilized.  I don't understand why Pr needs so much CPU, but FCP doesn't for the same footage (FCP exhibits 15-25%).  Also, the response time between hitting play and Pr playing is much slower than in FCP.  Going to half-resolution doesn't improve performance much.

             

            Your system and mine are similar.  We have the same MacPro, same OS, same GPU.  I have 32G RAM.

             

            How responsive is ProRes4444 on your system?  Do you get instantaneous playback when you hit play?  Do you get snappy updating when you drag the CTI?

             

            I get snappy response when the footage is in a Sequence that's NOT an AJA preset or derivative, but using an AJA Sequence setting just bogs things down.

             

            Thanks again,

            Jim C.

            • 3. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
              lasvideo Level 4

              Jim Im glad the retro helped your performance. I volunteered to try your clip because I have never worked in Proress4444, just 444 and LT. My Adobe and AJA sequences seems to perform about the same these days.No dropped frames or playback issues.

              • 4. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                Jim Curtis Level 3

                Send me your email, lasvideo, and I'll send you a download link to a short clip.  Click my name on the forum, and you should see my email.

                 

                I'm intrigued that you don't get slower performance with your Kona than without it.  The difference I'm seeing is quite obvious. 

                 

                I wish, as an afterthought, that I had bought the Kona 3 instead of the LHi.   I bought the LHi because it was the only AJA card at the time with HDMI output, but I don't use it at all.  My monitor is a HP DreamColor, which only displays Deep Color in 60p mode; so I had to buy an AJA HDP2 to convert whatever HD-SDI I feed into it (24p, etc.) into 60p HDMI. 

                 

                I have a client who has a Kona 3 on their FCP system, and it seems to be snappier than my LHi.

                • 5. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                  lasvideo Level 4

                  Jim, your email is not viewable at your profile for other users. I sent you a Private Message at this forum with my email address. How big is the file?

                  • 6. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                    Jim Curtis Level 3

                    Tom, boy do I feel dumb now that I reviewed the thread and saw all the info I needed to send you a link to a 180 MB file.

                    • 7. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                      lasvideo Level 4

                      No problem. Jim. I got the clip and applied the Cineon converter. The midrange looked a bit to crushed so I elevated the the Gamma. I tried both sequences and yes the Adobe Seq plays smoothly at Full Resolution setup on the Program Monitor right out of the gate.

                       

                      FYI I have tweeked my Kona 3 card to maximize performance on my machine.

                       

                      I  created an AJA Seq. I set the Program Monitor to Half Resolution. It played fine as well. Here are 2 pix to guide you to the AJA Configuration menu. AJA suggests that playback issues can be addressed by setting quality to low (Same as what Adobe uses) on the lower left of the panel. And Aggressive Cache ins the lower right might help as well.

                       

                      Screen shot 2011-12-29 at 12.59.10 PM.png

                      Screen shot 2011-12-29 at 12.59.23 PM.png

                       

                       

                      I know for good performance the Mecury Engine relies on lots of ram, a fast raid array, fast processors and the Nvidia CUDA card (Nvidia 4000 in my case.)

                       

                      Tom Daigon

                      Avid DS / PrP / After Effects Editor

                      www.hdshotsandcuts.com

                      Mac Pro 3,1

                      2 x 3.2 ghz Quad Core Intel Xeon

                      10.6.8

                      Nvidia Quadro 4000

                      24 gigs ram

                      Kona 3

                      Maxx Digital / Areca 8tb. raid

                      • 8. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                        Jim Curtis Level 3

                        I did as you suggested, Tom, and changed my Quality and Aggressive Cache to match your settings.  It had no discernable effect on my scrubbing performance.  Although, as I mentioned earlier, I now can get Pr to play the source or the Sequence w/o dropping frames once I let the app sit for a few minutes after launching, and do whatever it needs to do to play smoothly.

                         

                        Take a look at the screenshots below, with particular attention to the CPU monitors at the top.  This looks pretty clear to me that it's Pr that is the problem, not a configuration setting.  I wish I knew why Pr needs to use double to triple the CPU power than FCP does to play the same footage.  But, regardless of why, it makes sense to me that it's related to why the screen updating performance is so inferior in Pr.  For some reason, Pr is adding (and wasting) unnecessary overhead to the playback of footage.

                         

                         

                        Pr; 46-65%: 

                        Screen shot 2011-12-29 at 4.00.20 PM.png

                         

                        FCP; 16-22%:

                        Screen shot 2011-12-29 at 4.04.03 PM.png

                         

                        When I scrub the CTI in FCP or AJA TV, the screen updates just about as often as it does with i-frame footage not using a video card.  The experience is awesome in FCP, dismal in Pr.

                         

                        Please try another test:  Drag your CTI back and forth rapidly in Pr with my footage clip.  Do the same thing in the AJA TV app.  Is your performance virtually identical in both apps?

                        • 9. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                          lasvideo Level 4

                          Jim, yes I do see a little difference when the CTL is dragged, which I dont do very oftern. 

                           

                          FCP and PrP are totally different in design and workflow at this point. Their design differences account for some of the enhanced performance on a Mac that you see with FCP. But its the need to transcode EVERYTHING to Prores which gives the smooth results in FCP that you note in your email.

                           

                          PrP is designed to need NO transcoding and works with LOTS of formats in thier native forms. FCP cant do this. You must standardize everything to Prores or it just doesnt work for FCP. Im sure AJAs and Adobes commitment to CS software will eventually resolve issues folks have.

                           

                          I suggest you communicate with  Adobe who enthusiastically listens to its users.

                           

                          https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/mmform/index.cfm?name=wishform

                           

                          PS Your clips play better over time due to clip caching I believe.

                          • 10. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                            Jim Curtis Level 3

                            So Tom... just a "little" difference?  The difference is stark on my system.  It's like the difference between 120 FPS and 2 FPS.

                             

                            Dragging the CTI is essential to the way I work, which is to put all my footage into a sequence, and to search it all by dragging the CTI around, and then copying the parts I need.  I've found it to be much faster than loading individual clips into the Player and setting in/out points and doing insert/overwrites.

                             

                             

                            I realize there are differences between FCP and Pr, but we're talking about a straight pass-through of media here:  same media, same frame rate, same frame size, and no effects in any app.  Seems to me the ability to play frames to the card should be on parity, esp. since Pr is doing absolutely nothing to the footage, other than playing it.

                             

                            The problem is clearly not my AJA card itself.  It's either Pr or AJA's implementation of the Adobe driver, or my configuration of the driver.  Since I'm not seeing a significant difference in Pr, no matter what settings I use, I can logically rule out the third possibility. 

                             

                            And there's also this:  I get pretty good performance in Ae with the LHi - not equal to FCP, but still much better than in Pr as far as dragging the CTI goes.  Image updating is about 10 times faster in Ae than Pr.  So, this tends to take the suspicion off the AJA driver, and put it on the way Pr is handling the media, and passing it to the card.

                            • 11. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                              lasvideo Level 4

                              Yes Jim, minimal difference for something that isnt an issue for me. For most projects  I screen all my clips and make subclips of what I need to work with. In some projects the scripts provide the timecode and I select the best takes. Obviously we have different workflows.

                               

                              http://www.amazon.com/Editors-Guide-Adobe-Premiere-Pro/dp/0321773012

                               

                              I suugest you read this book. Not only is it a wonderful resoource for new editors to Premiere, it helps you understand how PrP functions  different than FCP. I leave the engineering design to AJA and Adobe, so I wont even speculate about what is causing the issue. I do know that some formats  are more challenging then others.  And of course the Prores 4444 will play back on FCP, Prores is the only codec really supported. 

                              • 12. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                                Jim Curtis Level 3

                                Tom, I ordered the book on Amazon, but I doubt the answer I want is in it.

                                 

                                On this shoot, the crew recorded the ProRes to an external recorder, and to XDCam EX on the internal card (Sony PMW-F3).

                                 

                                I just imported the XDCam EX footage to do a comparison.

                                 

                                I get much better CTI dragging response, as well as no dropped frames on playback, with the LongGOP footage in an AJA sequence than I do the ProRes. 

                                 

                                That's the opposite of the way it should be by the laws of physics.  But, there it is.

                                 

                                I expect LongGOP to drop frames madly, but not i-frame footage (ProRes), which shouldn't be dropping any frames.

                                 

                                Anyway... I'm going to put this issue to bed, and just accept the fact that Pr can't handle this footage elegantly.  I'll off-line the project in a desktop Sequence - not using the AJA, or just use FCP, and then switch over to Ae when it comes time to color grade.

                                 

                                Thanks for all your thoughts and input.  I look forward to reading the book you suggested.  Happy New Year.

                                 

                                Jim

                                • 13. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                                  lasvideo Level 4

                                  You are right, Jim. Thats the exact opposite of what I would expect as well (Long GOP vs. I Frame).

                                   

                                  I strongly suggest you make a feature request since Adobe is very responsive to user input.

                                   

                                  Heres a question, if you get better performance with the XDCam EX, why not just use that as your source material? Its a fine video format very suitable for editing. This way the jump to AE might be easier for color grading.

                                   

                                  I keep the book on my edit console as a great reference after reading the whole thing. It may not address your specific problem, but it might help you avoid lots of others 

                                   

                                  Happy New Year!

                                  • 14. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                                    Jim Curtis Level 3

                                    Good suggestion about using the XDCam as offline material, but the two sources have different time-codes.  I'll just use a desktop Sequence for my off-line, and the AJA for grading.  I'll be OK. 

                                     

                                    And I'll put a note in the Adobe suggestion box.  I do it often.  I have a long list of suggested improvements.  And I report the bugs as I find them.

                                    • 15. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                                      lasvideo Level 4

                                      Wow, different timecode is a drag. Actually I was suggesting doing your rough and final (same thing for me these days) using the XDCam source. I do it all the time for commercial and corporate presentations. Its a very hearty codec.

                                       

                                      Its nice to know that time spent communicating to Adobe will continue to drive the changes and enhancements to PrP.

                                      • 16. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                                        Jim Curtis Level 3

                                        My client would kill me.  He went through a lot of anxiety (and expense) shooting S-LOG and ProRes for the first time.  The XDCam is a backup.

                                         

                                        No offense intended, I abhor XDCam EX.  It's 4:2:0, LongGOP and 8-bit; pretty much everything I hate in a codec.

                                        • 17. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                                          lasvideo Level 4

                                          Each to their own Jim. Ive cut a piece for HBO using XDcam EX as well as local and regional commercials. They look great. Obviously you have had a bad experience with it given your dramaric response

                                           

                                          Just a little sidebar...for my money recording backup without matching timecode is pretty ridiculous. Kind of takes the "back up" out of the backup shots, especially if a lot of footage was shot. Trying to find the matched clips could be a slow nightmare.

                                          • 18. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                                            Jim Curtis Level 3

                                            Oh, I've cut LOTs of XDCam EX footage.  I think it CAN look very good when lit well and exposed properly.  But, for example, in documentary situations where the camera is going from bright sunlight to dark shadows, it makes color correction a curse fest for me.  The brights clip very easily beyond redemption.  It just can't take a lot of manipulation because of the limited color space and bit depth.

                                             

                                            As I understand it (and I'm not that in to cameras), the S-LOG option (recording to ProRes444) is pretty new for the Sony camera.  I'm sure they'll figure out matching code at some point.  Using the XDCam would be a last resort.  I don't even know if the camera has a TC Out spigot.  To record ProRes4444, you have to use dual-link SDI as it is, which means two SDI cables from the camera to the KiPro, or whatever it is they used as a recorder.  And it also just could be that the crew couldn't or didn't bother to figure out how to do matching code.  This was their first shoot with this gear.  And I'm a bit responsible for that.  I convinced our client that shooting 35mm film isn't necessary any more.

                                            • 19. Re: AJA playback dropping lots of frames
                                              lasvideo Level 4

                                              Yes, I can see how a doc shoot could be more adversely affected by light changes and codec limitations then staged projects.

                                               

                                              As to the timecode thing, even though you take responsibility for suggesting no more film, its still reflects badly on the crew that they were not prepared or "took the time to figure out" something that you and the client might have had to relie on in a worst case scenario.