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MBFrancis

Boost Performance for 4K editing on a Macbook Pro Mid 2012?

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Been working with a Macbook Pro 2012 for some time now, and while it does a decent job for smaller 4k projects, bigger files will slow the hardware down and sometimes crash.

All I've done is upgrade my ram from 8 to 16gb.

I have an external Touro drive running at 7200rpm but I honestly barely use it... would that help ease the macbook's strain by editing through the drive? 

Then there's the video card issue. It's an integrated Intel Graphics card which isn't much, but I hear a lot about external video cards. At the price though (around 800 USD at the very least), it seems like I could put those funds in getting a solid desktop or laptop, but then I couldn't work with FCPX which leaves me in a rut. 

Any advice? Trying to be cost effective here, so the lower the cost is, the better.

 

 

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To speed up file reading use USB3 or thunderbolt ssd maybe... I doubt that's your bottleneck unless you're running very big file sizes.

If you want high spec for a low price try a Windows tower with a good Geforce GPU and Adobe suite. If you want to stay in FCP-X you'll need to upgrade your mac at some point.

I can't help much more because I moved away from Mac for this reason, perhaps others can give some more advice. I think FCP-X is very nice so I can understand the desire to stay Mac. Hate to break it to you though, but the sad reality of Apple is that you gotta buy a new one to stay in the race. They have a vested interest in selling new computers. You can't just swap out parts and stay on top like you can with a PC tower :/

I hope you find a solution!

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10 minutes ago, dafreaking said:

Does it have USB 3.0 support? Maybe invest 200-300 USD on an external SSD for media

I believe so. What advantages would an external SSD have over a fast external HDD for editing? 

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11 minutes ago, jgharding said:

If you want high spec for a low price try a Windows tower with a good Geforce GPU and Adobe suite. If you want to stay in FCP-X you'll need to upgrade your mac at some point.

I can't help much more because I moved away from Mac for this reason, perhaps others can give some more advice. I think FCP-X is very nice so I can understand the desire to stay Mac. Hate to break it to you though, but the sad reality of Apple is that you gotta buy a new one to stay in the race. They have a vested interest in selling new computers. You can't just swap out parts and stay on top like you can with a PC tower :/

I hope you find a solution!

Not sure if you use it or not, but would DaVinci Resolve be a good alternative? Seems like it would make for an easier transition.

4 minutes ago, dafreaking said:

Unless it's a fast RAID setup the SSD will always provide better read/write speed. Think  of it as faster scrubbing, loading of files etc. Should decrease render/export times too.

Ah, makes sense. I remember reading that SSDs don't work well with constantly changing data though? 

But yeah, a RAID setup through Thunderbolt is something I would consider too.

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I think resolve relies on GPU for playback, so you may struggle with an Intel GPU. I'm not a Resolve user at the moment though, download the free version and try it!

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On 4/30/2016 at 5:16 AM, MBFrancis said:

Been working with a Macbook Pro 2012...while it does a decent job for smaller 4k projects, bigger files will slow the hardware down and sometimes crash.

All I've done is upgrade my ram from 8 to 16gb...I have an external Touro drive running at 7200rpm but I honestly barely use it... would that help ease the macbook's strain by editing through the drive? ...video card issue. It's an integrated Intel Graphics card which isn't much, but I hear a lot about external video cards....it seems like I could put those funds in getting a solid desktop or laptop, but then I couldn't work with FCPX which leaves me in a rut. 

4K can be challenging to edit on even higher end machines.  Since FCPX has seamless, built-in proxy support, your best approach is transcode to proxy on either import or afterward. This will yield a major editing speed improvement and doesn't cost anything. Procedure:

- Select clips in Event Browser 

- Right-click, select "transcode media", then pick "Create proxy media"

- In upper-right corner of viewer, click drop down triangle and select "Proxy". Do not select "optimized", since that will take up too much space in your specific situation.

- Before final export to a file, change viewer back to "optimized/original", else output will be in proxy resolution

In most cases editing H264 content (even 4K) is not extremely I/O bound due to the compressed nature. It is generally CPU bound and effects often use the GPU. However editing itself, rendering the timeline (minus effects) and exporting (ie encoding) to a file are typically CPU bound operations. So you want good I/O performance but if you are already bottlenecked on the CPU then infinitely fast I/O won't help. Using proxy media greatly reduces the CPU burden.

That said, it is good practice to have your media on a different drive than your boot drive. The HGST Touro S 7200 rpm USB 3 drive is quite good for a bus-powered drive but it's not equal to an AC-powered 3.5" external drive. You could move your media to the Touro drive and see if this helps. The 2012 MacBook Pros have USB 3.0 so at least you don't have the problem caused by slow USB 2.0 ports.

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Thanks! I'm somewhat familiar with the approach but never fully quite grasped the use and effectiveness of proxy files. Is editing the proxy also editing the original media? Wouldn't it take up more space or am I getting that wrong? 

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38 minutes ago, MBFrancis said:

Thanks! I'm somewhat familiar with the approach but never fully quite grasped the use and effectiveness of proxy files. Is editing the proxy also editing the original media? Wouldn't it take up more space or am I getting that wrong? 

One would usually create proxy files (lower res and bitrate than original or editable codec) as a lot of systems earlier on couldn't handle big files. You probably still  need to while shooting RAW. Creating proxies do take up additional space! When you edit proxies you don't edit the original media. The proxies proveide a reference to the original media which you reconnect/relink before your final export, grading etc.

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1 hour ago, MBFrancis said:

Thanks! I'm somewhat familiar with the approach but never fully quite grasped the use and effectiveness of proxy files. Is editing the proxy also editing the original media? Wouldn't it take up more space or am I getting that wrong? 

Proxy files are at 1/2 resolution (1/4 total storage size) but they are in ProRes which is less dense than camera-native format. In general they require about 50% more space than the original files, so if your media is 100GB, the proxy files once created will take another 50GB. This is a very rough approximation. In return you get vastly improved performance. Everything is faster -- skimming, editing, effects, etc.

Using the proxy files is transparent. You don't have to change file pointers or move folders or keep track of locations. After generating the proxies, just change the viewer to "proxy".

You perform the editing tasks exactly the same way. You cannot even tell you are using proxy except it's a lot faster. Then before the final output, change the viewer back to optimized/original and the rendered output will use the original resolution files, applying your edits. It is very reliable and I've never seen it lose sync with what files it's using.

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