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What hardware do you need for fast 4K editing?

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I put my hand on a new MSI computer, with cpu i7-6700HQ + 16GB RAM + Nvidia 970M + SSD Samsung 951 (one of the fastest drives today).

I work with Sony Vegas, on H.264 Files from Sony A7S II, Panasonic G7 and Sony RX100M4.

To my surprise, encoding time (final rendering) time to MP4 2160p 50Mbps (5 minutes long clip) were cut only to half comparing to an old computer with an Intel i5-750 cpu and GTX 960: down from 02 hours 33 minutes to still long 01 hour and 16 minutes. I thought it will be much faster.

Also, even timeline preview does not play smooth when you add LUT and more to the editing (with proxy files). You have to set preview to only 1/4 quality.

So, do we need a nuclear station to edit 4K?

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

well, for 4k h.264 yes...you probably ask yourself what kind of computers do pros use for 4k work. well the thing it that you never edit/color h.264 footage. I work on like a 5 years old HP workstation with 2 4 core cpus, a gtx960 card and 16gb ram. hardly cutting edge, but I work on either raw or prores/dnxhd files 4k files and it works perfect for the most of times. But I do usually work on half resolution.

So in short, you either transcode your footage or deal with the lag.

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If you look at the CPU performance 2X makes perfect sense for a task that is mainly CPU dependent. The GPU is only rendering the effects during encoding to H264, so that is relatively minimal.

Also the GTX 960 is more powerful than the 970M, which affects the performance during playback. Previewing effects can take A LOT  of GPU power (see here with a GTX Titan X). Previewing at a lower resolution makes sense during editing that detail is not that important. When you want to preview in full resolution in a 4K display, then you can render the effects and do it. 

Keep in mind that while the hardware improvements have been substantial, 4K has 4X more pixels than HD so it is still a hard task. Especially for a laptop! 

 

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I use an i7 4790k and GTX960 with only 16GB memory. I transcode my h.265 files to ProResHQ and it seems Resolve can handle them well. However in the grading tab the resolution of the video looks much lower, don't know why it's like this but I can live with that.

I think you can't compare laptop components to desktop components, even my 4790k is much faster than any new generation laptop cpu at the moment, the same for the video card.

Here is a good website for a general performance comparison: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html

Hope that helps.

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The i7-6700HQ is the strongest cpu today for laptops. I thought that in 2016, we won't have to transcode H.264 files in order to edit them. Funny thing that Apple FCP does that on a much weaker hardware with no problem. I guess Windows software's has to go long way in optimization.

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The i7-6700HQ is the strongest cpu today for laptops. I thought that in 2016, we won't have to transcode H.264 files in order to edit them. Funny thing that Apple FCP does that on a much weaker hardware with no problem. I guess Windows software's has to go long way in optimization.

It's less windows and more Sony Vegas not being optimized for H264 playback compared to Premiere and Final Cut.

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I can edit 4k Prores on a 2009 Mac Pro on FCP 6, quad Intel; but it can get a little choppy. But I deliver 1080 so I down convert to 1080 and also put a 4K layer on the timeline; when my cutting is done, I can turn on the 4k layer and do any punch-ins, send 4K to After Effects, etc. (Yeah, there's a new Mac Pro and FCPX in my near future…)

I always do my final edit render to prores though and consider it a "master", and then output whatever is needed from that, be it MP4 or 720 H264, etc. Doesn't add much time, though my projects are usually under 10 minutes or so.

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How does Resolve fare in this comparison? I only edit Raw and Prores, so I don't know how well it handles H.264.

Terrible. I use a 3930K (admittedly an older 2011 socket CPU, but still packs a punch,) and 980 Ti with Resolve. h.264 stutters while scrubbing.

4K RAW or ProRes from the Production Cam with noise reduction, and usually a dozen or so nodes of correction? Scrubs buttery smooth, never drops a frame on playback.

 

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new MSI computer, with cpu i7-6700HQ + 16GB RAM + Nvidia 970M + SSD Samsung 951...Sony Vegas...To my surprise, encoding time (final rendering) time to MP4 2160p 50Mbps (5 minutes long clip) were cut only to half comparing to an old computer with an Intel i5-750 cpu and GTX 960: down from 02 hours 33 minutes to still long 01 hour and 16 minutes. I thought it will be much faster...Also, even timeline preview does not play smooth when you add LUT and more to the editing (with proxy files). You have to set preview to only 1/4 quality....I thought that in 2016, we won't have to transcode H.264 files in order to edit them. Funny thing that Apple FCP does that on a much weaker hardware with no problem.

1 hr 16 minutes to export 5 min. of MP4 2160p/50 seems slow. Using FCPX, I just exported 5 min of 4K UHD from an A7RII to H264 2160p/30, and it took 3 min 10 seconds. This was on a 2015 iMac 27 which has a 4Ghz i7-6700K.

On that same machine I exported the same 5 min clip to the same format using Premiere CC 2015.1, and it took 12 min 15 sec, or 3.9 times slower than FCPX, but at least Premiere was 16x faster than your export time on Sony Vegas.

Exporting to MP4/H264 requires long GOP encoding which is an inherently sequential CPU-bound process that cannot be meaningfully accelerated by a traditional GPU. There are only two ways to make that go faster:

(1) Software which uses Intel's Quick Sync, which is essentially an on-chip ASIC encoder

(2) Software which uses nVidia's NVENC, which is dedicated transcoding hardware built into (but architecturally separate from) the GPU.

FCPX uses Quick Sync which is one reason it's so fast. Premiere uses NVENC on some formats, provided you have a compatible nVidia GPU. It was obviously not used in my above test because the 2015 iMac has an AMD M395X that doesn't support NVENC. I don't know if Sony Vegas uses either Quick Sync or NVENC.

I can't explain why Vegas was so slow on your export. You might experiment with different export settings and confer with other experienced Vegas users. It is possible you have selected some export setting which entails performance cost without returning much quality benefit.

Re "in 2016 won't have to transcode H.264 to edit", on FCPX you can edit a single stream of camera-native H264 4K without transcoding and have pretty good performance. Premiere CC on the same top-spec 2015 iMac is much slower. However it's possible to configure a high-end Windows PC so Premiere has decent performance editing 4K H264.

Fast as it is, even FCPX on a top-spec iMac is a bit sluggish on multicam 4K H264. For multicam 4K I usually transcode to proxy, which is fortunately integrated and seamless. 

Editing 4K H264 is just very challenging -- using any software and almost any hardware. It generally takes a high-end computer, hardware-accelerated encode/decode (Quick Sync or NVENC), and editing software which harnesses that.

If you can't find a configuration solution with Vegas your options are transcode everything or consider switching to Premiere.

 

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Vegas is a bit slower than premiere/fcpx in render times using the same machine but man that UI is addictive. Could never leave it for something else. So easy, manual, quick, visual and tactile to edit and colour images. I even now use it for stills vs Lightroom because of the user-interface. 

Vegas with FCPx speed would be my dream.

OP: the slow speed you're getting is excessive, too excessive. The difference between Premiere and Vegas 12 here is 1.5x slower, not 15! (and I hear 13 is faster). Something's wrong either with the way Vegas is set up to use the hardware or the footage. Go to a dedicated Sony Vegas board.

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Joema, Thank you for the long and thorough answer!

Ebrahim, I just tested on my computer Vegas 13 vs Premiere Pro CC 2015 (with the last update that came today).

Used a 0:46 seconds video (UHD 100mbps from A7S II).

After some basic color adjustment, these are the results of final export to H.264 UHD 50Mbps: Premiere took 02:27 minutes, Vagas took 05:47 minutes.

But, if I apply LUT, premiere kept same exporting time, and Vegas became twice slower than before!

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