I've long been a reader here, but this is my first post, because just reading isn't getting me my answers at this point.
I've got a fledgling videography business, doing (among several other things) videos of baseball games that are edited in post to look like they were broadcast on television—custom graphics, play-by-play commentary, replays, etc., all in there. (A very early sample can be seen
.) The problem is, each game video is taking beyond forever to export, and exports will crash from time to time, and I'm overdue on our most recent event orders.
Here's my setup: Mac Pro 3,1: 2.8 GHz eight-core • 16 GB RAM • GeForce GT 120 512 MB • All HDDs 7200rpm, between 1-2 TB, mounted inside the Mac Pro • OS X 10.8.5 • FCP X 10.0.9.
I bought this computer used on eBay last year, despite its age, because the price point was right, and it came preloaded with a lot of software I just couldn't pass up having in my back pocket.
Most game videos I'm producing run between 1.5-2.5 hours (occasionally closer to 3). I'm shooting AVC, I've tried editing and exporting both with and without optimized media, and I print a master file from FCP X to a different drive than the project drive, which I then transcode for DVD, BD, or online distribution with Compressor. My graphics are all custom and utilize MotionVFX's mFlare in some instances—there are at least 3 dozen Motion generators, and at least one is on the screen most of the time (the now ubiquitous score bug). When I'm done with a video, I try to save time by exporting without rendering, but either way, export time takes 2-3 days… when it doesn't crash. The video I'm working on now has crashed three or four times now, wasting a week's worth of effort. Which brings me to my question.
I know I really need to upgrade the graphics card, but I'm not sure if that's the critical weak point in my system. For all the research I've done, I'm not quite sure how FCP X's architecture is set up—that is to say, I don't know which processes are completed by which hardware components—so I'm not sure if, say, getting an external RAID setup would do better for render/export than a graphics card upgrade. So if anyone can point me somewhere that sheds light on this mysticism, I'd appreciate it. Based on what I've said, what would you all think is my weakest link here, most in need of upgrade? And if it is the graphics card, what's recommended? One card? Two cards? I don't use CS6 much, but would like a graphics setup that could leverage OpenCL and CUDA for each suite, just in case it's needed in the future.
Thanks for reading, and for your help. I know it was a bit of a long slog.
1. GPU is king with FCP X. It handles realtime performance, rendering, and lots of other stuff that is way over my head. The Sapphire 7950 is great bang for your buck at under $500. Otherwise a 5770 is a decent card you can find the mac versions used on ebay. I don't think your card is supported.
2. CPU which you have a decent one of already.
3. RAM, 16gb is not bad, 32gb is better esp after the 10.1 update.
4. An SSD boot drive for the OS and apps. (Won't speed up FCP X's performance, but it will open in mere seconds.)
5. Fast storage. The plus side of the old ironsides Mac Pro is you can easily put three additional drives inside. You can even create a software based RAID with them that actually works decently. Get two drives the same size and you should be all good.
Thanks, Darren. I've read on barefeats and other sites that two GPUs may be preferable to one more expensive card, but I'm reading that the 7950 uses two power cords, whereas the 5770 only uses one (and sidebar, this thing with different companies making identically named cards confuses me). Would two 5770s be better than one 7950, do you think?
Also, I'm hearing good things about how Mavericks/10.1 handle rendering and exporting, but (1) I've heard that Encore breaks with Mavericks, which I need for BDs/I'm worried other apps may break with Mavericks, and at present I don't have a spare drive to clone my system drive, and (2) I'd like to get these games done before upgrading, so I have time to learn the new library structure. I'm not sure if the benefits would outweigh the risks if I upgrade now.
As our business profile increases and work becomes steadier, I plan on upgrading to 32 GB of RAM as well as an SSD boot drive, and maybe an external array for video work. (Currently in the Mac Pro, I've got a system drive, documents drive, project drive, and sample library drive [because I'm primarily a composer, if only in my heart. lol]) I've also got an eSATA drive dock from when I was working exclusively on a MacBook Pro that I'll probably buy a PCIe-to-eSATA card to put back in use.
Are your score bugs animated constantly?
I'd generate a png for each score change and relieve the system of that calculation.
Do the same on other graphics where you can and see if there's a difference. (deactivate the role of underlying video, export png, reimport, lay in until the next score change).
Also, i'd export master and compress with compressor. When setup right, you can get 16 cores pumping and it makes a huge difference with multi treading.
I just upgraded to Comp4 and haven't worked out the new way that's accomplished.
They're not animated, per se, though it's much more than just the score: balls, strikes, outs, pitch count, and the occasional statistic banner. So with each pitch, there's effectively a new bug, which is part of why I went the Motion generator route with published settings.
That's rough. Failing after days of export rendering, whew . . . frustrating. But that's a very ambitious project.
Have you tried breaking it up into innings?
Is there a way to optimize the graphic (dumb it down) so it's less taxing?
I have the same machine and am expecting my second 5770 this week. II would do a comparison for you on one inning but i don't have that plugin set (almost bought it in November). No doubt you would benefit from upgrading RAM and GFX but would it be enough after a $600-800 investment. I just went through the same calculation with my system.
Seems my reply from a couple* days ago didn't actually post.
Ultimately I exported individual innings for that project and then put them back together in a new project.
I do plan on reworking my "broadcast package" (including the bugs) but I'm not sure how much it can be dumbed down. The templates are highly modular—in my opinion, potentially sellable if I wanted to go that route—with a lot of rigging and published parameters, and mFlare really only factors in with titles and lower thirds; with the score bug there's only a quick flare when it animates in and a flare for the home run animation. The only thing I can think that could "optimize" the graphic without it losing its uniqueness or "broadcast-quality design" is re-exporting the individual .png elements at a smaller resolution (which, with the software I used to design the graphics themselves, only vaguely has settings for DPI, which I grossly overshot).
I'm thinking my best bets are upgrades to the GFX, HD>SDD, and RAM, in about that order. Whether for our sports videos or other videography projects, I think the system could stand to get those upgrades either way.
As far as payment goes, this event was our first time out testing the business model and concept, and was really a cross-promotional agreement with the team hosting the tournament to "launch" our business and make that particular tourney, being the first edition ever, really appealing for teams to return. So it was really a loss financially, though we got some good trial experience out of it. I think locally the interest is more in live streaming and probably football or basketball more than baseball, but I'm still optimistic, even confident, that with a good business model and good ad/sponsorship opportunities, we can generate some interest, though maybe not as much as I'd hoped originally. (I'll probably have to do weddings after all. lol)
I hear ya . . . when i first started i said, "i do everything BUT weddings"
It's tough to get a decent dollar in athletics. I shoot a local HSFB team and see a team of folks streaming some games with a laptop and a single cam, play-by-play and score overlays. 4g phone uploading (upstreaming do you call it?)
Landing sponsors is key, getting metrics to quantify views is before that, getting the word out is before that . . . then permission/agreement to shoot from the venue and teams each week. It's a whole world unto itself.
I would say your upgrade path is sound but i'd do RAM before SSD.
Over the past 2 years, i upgraded my 3,1 2.8ghz MP to SSD, 28g, and now 2 5770s to the tune of about $1000. I see an improvement in performance but now my eSATA speeds are down to 80MB/s due to using the 4 lane slot. I'm awaiting a 2013 iMac delivery (delayed by the ice in the South). Expecting better performance from the iMac but longer final renders on longer edits with only 4 cores. I may keep the MP for render farming via Compressor.
It would be great if FCPX could tap into render farms.
Sorry to revive an old thread, but I've got more of these projects to get done, and I'm just coming off a corporate gig that gave me some headroom to make a move on the graphics card front. So coming from a solitary GT 120 (512 MB), does anyone have any insight whether I should push for dual 5770s or a single 7950 (or maybe even a single or dual 5870 setup)? I'm now running OS 10.9.4 and FCP X 10.1.2 (the latest updates at press time). Thanks in advance.
This is an old thread.
First I would recommend updating both OS and FCPX. Both updates really improved speed and better rendering. Don't forget Motion and Compressor.
Since you mention BareFeats, there are some very well done comparisons of GPUs there. See this article on "Sweet Spot for Mac"…http://www.barefeats.com/gpuss.html
The 5770 falls 30-40% slower than the 5870 shown on the comparison. 2 would almost double the speed in some cases, but not others.
There is also info here at FCP.co via this thread…http://www.fcp.co/forum/hardware/18250-brucex-try-this-new-final-cut-pro-x-benchmark
Some folks are using 2 5770s so you can see the speeds.
I would definitely upgrade the GPU, but wouldn't bother with either the 5770/5870 and go for something newer.
You can use almost any GPU even if it is not "Apple Blessed" you just lose the grey start up screen and get log-in screen. You can also get/or flash a card to make it "Apple Blessed" by adding the EFI boot file.
Hope this helps, Greg