Why is FCP X acting so slow on my new 27" SSD iMac?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by maf2k8, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. maf2k8, Dec 8, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014

    maf2k8 macrumors 6502

    Jul 14, 2009
    Hey all! Ok so i am new to using FCPX 10.1.3. i was using iMovie for along time and decided to make the switch and glad i did.

    I make YouTube video reviews. So my videos are usually between 10-40 minutes in length. I record in 720p.

    I import all my video clips directly to the SSD on the imac, I do not use any external drives, So its directly on the SSD.

    I have a new 27" iMac Late 2013
    Newest version of Yosemite
    3.5 GHz Intel Core i7
    8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
    512 SSD
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M 2048 MB

    I record my videos with a Sony HDR-CX150 via HDMI output into a Black Magic thunderbolt UltraStudio mini recorder.

    How i record my video clips is i open Quicktime and record in the "High" setting for 720p ( not Maximum which is 1080p )

    Now, I am having issues with FCP getting really slow, laggy and sluggish after i am using it for awhile.

    I record for example, 4 - 10 minute 720p clips. I then import the clips into FCP and i add 1 clip at a time to the timelime. I cut, split, adjust the clips as needed and then when finished with one clip i drag down clip number 2, Do the same, Then clip 3, edit, Then 4, edit. Then when i am finished i have all 4 clips edited sitting in the timeline and i either save it to a file/video or upload direct to YouTube.

    My issue is that when i am editing/splitting the clips ( cutting out sections i dont want ) after a period of time (normally when i start on the second clip ) FCP seems like it cannot keep up. It gets really slow and sluggish and just lags behind.

    I have noticed that if i ONLY do 1 10 minute clip at a time and then close FCP and reopen it for each new clip, It "kinda" fixes the problem.

    Can anyone tell me why FCP would be sluggish on my system? I have pretty decent specs and FCP shouldnt be sluggish. I also went down to 720p because i thought it would help with the lag/sluggish issue.

    As for my timeline settings i do have show waveforms because i need to see and hear the timeline in order to know where to split and edit the clips at. I know that having show waveforms on will slow down performance but why cant my machine handle it?

    Can anyone give me any tips? pointers? advice? as to what i can do to get rid of this annoying sluggish performance?

    I know the first thing that comes to mind when looking at my specs is, More ram but before i invest in new ram and upgrading to 16gb, I want to make it will fix the problem.

    I record my videos with Quicktime and i am pretty sure Quicktime records the files at .MOV Apple ProRes 4444 and then i import them into FCP. Would recording in another format with a different program benefit anything?

  2. ColdCase, Dec 8, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    You can view the video characteristics by showing movie inspector when the video is open in quick time. When I simply hit record, it is a H.264 format video. When I save the video or export, it remains a H.264 format

    I transcode all video to HQ-422 before importing into FCP and have not noticed sluggishness unless there is a problem with the video.
  3. maf2k8 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 14, 2009
    Ok so i want to transcode my video clips BEFORE i import them in FCPX?

    Ok, What do you suggest using to transcode? At the moment i have Handbrake and Compressor.
  4. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    There are several free apps in the app store that may work for you. MP4 Video Converter, AnyMP4 AVCHD Converter, Any AVCHD Converter, ****** MTS Converter, Free ADVCD to Mov. Although not in the name, some do prores.

    I use Bigasoft ProRes Converter as I do a lot of conversion and it seems to work better on videos with issues than others. I think there is a free version that does one video at a time.
  5. pemb145 macrumors newbie

    Jun 24, 2011
    I would certainly experiment with using footage stored on an external disk - editing HD video on the same SSD as your system and FCP can slow it down due to the number of read/write actions going on.
  6. HobeSoundDarryl, Dec 10, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2014

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    That combination of answers:
    -convert to pro res first (and edit that) and
    -don't write to the same drive you're reading from
    ...will do the trick.

    And OP here's 2 good tips:
    1. after you have finished editing, render (share) out the final to ProRes then let Handbrake make the compressed version for you.

    2. if you are doing other CPU-intensive stuff- such as rendering another video with HB- obviously that is going to limit the horses that can be supporting FCPX. If your situation is such that you need to render a lot while trying to edit other stuff, see if you can set your workflow up so you render in the downtime (while you sleep) so that your CPU can give FCPX all it has while you are editing.
  7. joema2, Dec 10, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2014

    joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    I also have a 2013 imac 27, i7, 3TB Fusion Drive, 32GB RAM, and I rarely see any slowdowns in FCP X. However I'm not sure it's the RAM. I've done basic FCP X editing on my 8GB 2013 MacBook Air, and even it does OK on AVCHD and H.264 video without optimization. I have everything on the MacBook's internal 512GB SSD.

    On the iMac I usually have the media on a Pegasus R4 RAID5 array, but I've also used the internal 3TB Fusion Drive for small projects and it works OK.

    On recent FCP X versions, it's not generally necessary to transcode or optimize before editing. It can handle most camera-native formats OK. Of course importing with "optimized media" is OK and makes a less compressed intermediate file. This tends to decrease the CPU load at the cost of increased I/O but you have plenty of CPU power on a 2013 i7 iMac.

    As a first pass, I'd suggest just taking the AVCHD material off the CX-150 and importing it into FCP X without optimization. That should mostly work OK. Of course optimized media should not slow it down, it's just usually not necessary on a 3.5 Ghz i7.

    So you are ingesting the material live through the BlackMagic UltraStudio box? Or are you downloading from the CX-150 after it's recorded? Do you know what format the output is? Does Quicktime create a file that you then import into FCP X? If so that seems a round-about way to get the material in. I'm not sure if that's related to your slowdown problem but it's an unusual ingest path.

    I'd also suggest deleting all your temporary library and render files, then re-rendering everything. This can be done by clicking on the library in the browser, the File->Delete Generated Library Files, and selecting all the checkboxes. You can then do Modify->Render All.

    For an easier way to see and manage your FCP X files, see Final Cut Library Manager: http://www.arcticwhiteness.com/ It is a superb program, inexpensive (about $12) and very easy to use.

    For optimal export rendering performance, do that from within FCP X and use single-pass H.264. That utilizes the on-chip Quick Sync transcoder which is about 5x faster than other methods. Single-pass H.264 is perfectly adequate for HD Youtube videos. Select Share->Master File, select format: Computer, Video codec: Faster Encode, Resolution: 1280 x 720. I think the Youtube share option also uses Quick Sync but I prefer to export to a file, inspect it, then upload separately.

    Edit/add: also try setting Playback Quality for "better performance". Located in viewer options pop-up menu found in upper right corner of playback viewer.
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Why would you transcode BEFORE importing? FCPX can automatically transcode files as you import them.

    look in the preferences you can turn this on and off
  9. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    FCPX is very very slow at doing this and with any wee bit of video anomaly it will fail. It saves me a ton of time and money to use something better and faster than the built in FCPX feature.. but if you were doing one or two videos on occasion FCPX may suffice.
  10. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    You should evaluate how well the latest FCP X works on native camera files. While it's true transcoding to ProRes is a long-established tradition in the FCP world, in many cases it's no longer necessary. Even highly compressed .mts files are usually handled well.
  11. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    The question was why one would not use FCP X video import features and I just gave an example.

    Perhaps a misunderstanding, but pristine video from cameras is not what I was thinking about. I import video directly from my Canon 70D into FCP nicely and efficiently. But thats not the workflow example I was talking about and may not have made clear. Think about workflows that use mixed video files not directly from cameras. Perhaps better performance than a few years ago, but FCPX basically sucks at anything challenging. There are tools available that are just better.
  12. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    The OP may be doing tethered capture through the BlackMagic UltraStudio box when shooting with his HDR-CX150 -- I can't tell for sure.

    His main issue was a performance problem when editing a 20 min video. Is that related to his unusual ingest process? Unknown, but he's doing something not many people do.

    Since FCP X typically handles native camera files just fine, he should test shooting with the CX150 (non tethered) then just copy the AVCHD file bundle to his Mac and import without optimized media. That would greatly streamline his ingest workflow, and it would be a useful data point regarding the editing performance problem.

    It's also a good idea to verify Playback Quality is set for "better performance", not "better quality".

    Of course if he finds it necessary he could import with optimized media. Ingesting 20 min from a single consumer camcorder should be no problem for the built-in FCP X import function.

    In my documentary film group we rarely have performance problems with camera native files. We recently did a 20 min. four-camera shoot including 5D3, D810, GoPro, Canon XA25, and two external audio sources. The import was camera native without optimized video. There was no problem syncing them and multi-cam editing four 1080p/30 video streams. This was on FCP X, a 2013 iMac 27, i7@3.5Ghz, 32GB RAM, GTX-780m, 3TB Fusion Drive and 8TB Pegasus R4 RAID5 array. If needed we transcode before editing, but we find it usually not necessary.

    We never import straight from the camera. In the field the camera files are copied to two hard drives for immediate backup, then imported from there when editing.
  13. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    FCP X starts running really slow when you run out of free RAM.
  14. Unami, Dec 16, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014

    Unami macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
    DON'T record in h.264 and then transcode to prores. this will only blow up your heavily compressed h.264 files in size - there wouldn't be a point in using a capture card to do this either - in this case, just use the footage from the in-cam recording, and work with the native files.

    but, you've got a decent capture card and you're probably using it for quality reasons (unless the capture unit of your cam is broken). capture in a higher bitrate & more edit-friendly codec from the beginning (like prores). if quicktime x doesn't give you the option to use prores, try installing quicktime 7. look at the video-info in qt to see the codec used in a file. (or look at the filesize - one minute of prores 4444 should have about 2gb).
    but don't use prores 4444 either - it's just a waste of space, because your camera will only give you a 4:2:0 signal (so even prores 422 is theoretically more than you'd need).

    sometimes osx gets slow after some updates - a clean install will remedy that. don't have a lot running in the background, that could slowdown your computer (use activity monitor to look into this).

    hardware-wise, it's always good to have more ram, when working with video (16 gb is nice, 32 better). also, i'd recommend using an external drive - prores files are a middle ground in terms of filesize - but still, one hour of 1080p prores 422 will need 66gb of space. fcpx render files to that and you're easily at 100gb for a single 40 min project.

    apart from size constraints, it's never a good idea to edit on he system-drive. i had to edit on the internal ssd of a 2012 mbp last summer - while it handled the 1080i video fine, it frequently froze (spinning beachball) for seconds or sometimes even crashed.

    having said that - your system should be able to handle editing single timeline 1080p h.264 files (beware of stacked clips or compound clips) without becoming sluggish

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