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Improving speed in Premiere Pro CS5
  • My system's a quad-core 3.2mhz machine, with an Nvidia Geforce 670 card (lots of CUDA) and more than enough memory. Sadly, though, the playback of my AVHCD files is frustrating; sometimes, even playing at quarter-resolution turns choppy. (That may be because the files are very long, and the compression algorithm requires a lot of back and forth.)

    Anyway, I'm looking to get better performance without having up upgrade the system, and it appears that there may be 2 strategies. The first is to set up a RAID disk system for video editing. The second is to convert my video files to a less-compressed, more intraframe-like format, so playback may be faster, and edit that. So I have a few questions.

    1. Let's say I want to take my hi-def AVHCD files, and render copies in another format that PP can play back faster. Is there a video format that'd work for this purpose?

    2. How much can a decent RAID system speed up playback in Premiere Pro?

    3. Which is preferred; SATA drives hooked to the motherboard, or USB 3.0 drives?

  • 29 Replies sorted by
  • I should probably double check but I'm pretty sure my laptop has an easier time playing back DNxHD .mov files than it does the straight out of camera .mts files.

    Avid offers the DNxHD codec for free on their website.

    The DNxHD codec offers a range of settings for each frame rate.

    You could either use a low setting like the 23.976 36Mb and do your edit and then replace your files with the original .mts before your final render or you could use one of the higher quality settings like the 23.976 175Mb.

  • Benchmark your drives, then fire up Premiere Pro and check the disk and CPU usage in Resource Monitor (assuming you're using windows). If the bottleneck is the drive then RAID is one possible solution. SSD is another.

    I'd try using DNxHD as it's free, but my hunch is that if it's the drive speed that's the bottleneck that using a less compressed format won't help.

    Certainly in my system the SATAII 32MB Cache 7200RPM drive is regularly running at it's limit with AVCHD assets. (Luckily I have a four 1TB drives and two hardware RAID cards that's just become spare, so I'm going to try a RAID 1+0 configuration :)

  • is there some kind of converter to DnxHD? if so, how long does it take?

  • @f1lm3r

    It depends on how long your files are and what settings you are using.

    I use Adobe Media Encoder for my transcoding to DNxHD.

    You have to choose quicktime as the file type and then you can choose DNxHD as the codec and then finally you can click on codec options to choose the overall bitrate settings.

  • @jpbturbo

    Would it speed up work in Premiere if I were to convert my MTS files to this DNxHD format, and edit those?

  • I suggest you buy 2 new seagate hdd 2 Terabyte and set up a raid connected to your motherboard also read up on how to set scratch disc and media cache file optimal in premiere. Your system should play avchd without problem. How much memory you have ?

  • I noticed diminished performance the other day, and realised my drive was over 70% full. Moved some data to other drives, defrag and all is fine. Running i5 2500K water cooled/overclocked via mobo option with and GTX570 overclocked with MSI Afterburner. Hope you work it out, 670 should be running great. Bottleneck likely elsewhere, as suggested above.

  • @robbin: I have 16 gig of memory onboard. Will look into installing a RAID disk. Tell me which is faster: two internal SATA drives, or an external USB 3.0 or Firewire drive?

  • I don't think you should be having any AVCHD playback issues with the hardware you have described. My secondary system is quite a bit older than yours, P6T mb and gtx470 gpu, 16mb ram and it runs AVCHD like butter.

    One thing you might check is where you have PP storing your media cache files, in PP preferences you can select where the media cache files go but they default to the drive where the application is installed. There is also a "clean media cache" button in preferences. I relearned all this because 6 or 7 months ago I didn't have enough room on C drive to install CS6. Having less than 10% available on your system drive is likely to choke up things a little.

  • I dont have usb 3.0 on my computer. But i would go with 2 hdd connected to motherboard raid0. Use external drive for backup

  • Before you do anything you need to use a few tools to figure out where the bottleneck is. Download the free util GpuZ and fire that up and play some files. But the fact is, if you have CUDA enabled, that should not be the bottleneck. But check it anyway, you may not have CUDA working for some reason.

    Check the drop down menu to see that Mercury Playback Hardware is showing. I figure you did this already. You then have two areas to look at: the CPU and your memory usage. If you aren't running a 64 bit OS with more than 6gb, then that is issue number one, and, while you can get by with a quadcore there is nothing that will chew through vid like an i7.

    For me, the minimum is 12gb ram, 64 bit OS and an i7. You have to have CUDA, but even a basic card will give you enough GPU. My GPU usage runs around 20 percent--it is not a factor. 16gb ram is not necessarily better but it doesn't hurt if you want to use Firefox while rendering your video.

    IMHO the disk speed is not important as long as it works at a basic standard. I mean, don't run it off a floppy. I'm using turtle WD green drives with no issues.

    But you say you have the 16gb, the GPU, and a quad core should do it, so that is a pickle. Sounds like your CUDAS cores are not working or you have not allocated your memory properly in the Premiere settings.

    I still recommend the i7 as the "fix it all" of playback problems, but make sure you are using all your memory. I'm assuming you are on 64 bit OS? But when I used a slower quad core, I was still able to play files back smoothly. You should just be able to dump AVCHD files on the timeline and play them.

    I would also check that your sequence settings are correct. Just drag a clip onto the new sequence icon (not into the trash) and it will create a new sequence with the prooper settings. Could be you are resampling the vid and it is clogging the system.

  • Thanks, Dr. Dave. I've got Premiere pro using Mercury hardware, and I'm running Windows 7 64 bit version. So chances are, my CPU-- it's an AMD quad core, Phenom II 955, 3.2 ghz-- is a bottleneck, and my hard drive setup may need tweaking.

    I ran GpuZ, and I may have a hint of something. GpuZ reports that I have 2 gig of memory on the graphics card. But when I try playing a video in Premiere pro, memory used runs at 233 mb, and the loads for the GPU Memory Controller and Video Engine stay at zero.

    I'll research this, but any insights'd be appreciated.

  • @ Brian_Siano

    "my CPU-- it's an AMD quad core, Phenom II 955, 3.2 ghz"

    bingo, I didn't see this part.

  • @Brain_Siano Seriously, fire up Resource Monitor and you'll be able to see if the bottleneck is CPU, Disk or Memory. GPUz has already told you it's not the graphics card. Make sure you're using CUDA though.

  • havent used amd cpu for many years. Are they so much slower then intel? I have in my older computer a intel q8400 and it works fine.

  • The CPU's that bad, eh? I'd jumped from a single-core machine to a quad-core, so the speed jump was massive for me. Time to save up for a new mobo and CPU, I guess.

  • I had an AMD box running a quad and I swapped it out for a six core AMD part--a lot of the AMD stuff is backwards compatible, and it ran OK, not great but OK. But an Intel quad is much better for this. What your really want is hyperthreading with an i7, so you are running 8 virtual cores with optimation, or 12 cores if you get the six core i7.

    Your memory loads during playback should not run at zero. They should run 20-35 percent. So the GPU is not being used (hence the zero). Make sure the two part process for activating CUDA is in place. Make sure you have the line for your card in the supported_cards text file, and make sure that when you load the Nvidia control panel that you have selected Adobe PP for use with your card. Also make sure if you have another card or on-board GPU that it is disabled, you may have to make a trip to the bios for that one.

    Running task manager in the background, you might see spikes in the CPU, and if so this is a problem, but if the GPU isn't being used, you are going to see those spikes anyway.

  • Running a Quad i7 3.4Ghz, 16GB RAM, and GeForce 560 GTX and it took a little over 2 hours to render 7 minutes of 1080P H264 footage at 10MB VBR. I love the way CS6 handles the DSLR colorspace but absolutely hate the rendering times, compared to my previous NLE Sony Vegas. I'd use Vegas but Premiere just turns out better colors.

  • My i7 will render 7 minutes of H264 footy anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on the effects loaded (Neat Video is slow). Something is wrong there.

  • @DrDave Dude, I wish I knew how to fix this because my Sony Vegas render using the same footage and color correction absolutely flies.

  • Well, I had a look at my system to try everyone's advice.

    @sam_stickland : I'm not sure what I should be looking for in the Resource Monitor. I do know that, when I play a project in PP, the CPU use shoots up to nearly 100%.

    @DrDave : The card name's in the supported-cards file, definitely, and hardware acceleration's turned on, and the sequence is marked for maximum quality. (The color line at the top of the sequence is a nice yellow.)

    I'm starting to see some GPU use at 6% at most. I tried disabling my onboard graphics card in the BIOS, but that didn't seem to affect things. The NVIDIA control panel is geared more for games, and the special ticks for Premiere Pro don't seem to affect things very much.

  • BTW, found this on the Adobe forums. Some kind of registry hack to re-enables the quad cores. See if that helps: http://forums.adobe.com/message/4678868

  • Are you absolutely sure you have the correct sequence settings? Try a few different ones. Did you drag the file onto the create new sequence marker? It could be the CPU is the bottleneck but that seems pretty slow for a CUDA enabled system.

  • @DrDave Yeah, man, the sequence settings look correct as I dragged the clip onto the New Item button so it creates a new sequence. Renders extremely slow. CPU usage never goes above 40% (if that). GPU monitor shows use at less than 10%. Dunno, really wish I could figure it out.

  • I'm suspecting the CPU and the hard drives more and more; from what I can tell, playback is handled mostly by the CPU, and the GPU's advantage comes when you're rendering video.

    I tried that GPU-X while playing Crysis, and the GPU definitely starts churning when handling data from that graphics hog. So my computer definitely uses the GPU. So maybe PP uses it only when rendering, and my bottlenecks are my CPU and hard drives.

    I have another theory about why I'm getting these slowdowns. The project I'm using is a stage play, where three cameras basically recorded as long sequences that ran close to an hour. Since playing the files requires compression-on-the-fly, these files may require a lot more math than playing shorter sequences would. Also, they're three such files, running in parallel, so there may be some cycles wasted in evaluating the video streams lower on the timeline.

    So I'm wondering about taking my files, and exporting copies in some less-compressed format that PP can play back with less hassle. After I settle on the editing, I can apply those edits to the original files, and then handle stuff like color correction.

    Oh, @superset : That link deals with hyperthreading, and that's Intel-only.