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FCPx is seriously lacking Playback Performance Compared to Other Apps

2017 Views 30 Replies Latest reply: Nov 1, 2013 8:03 AM by digibudII RSS
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Studio Engineer Level 2 Level 2 (445 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Feb 12, 2013 3:21 PM

I LOVE FCPX and this is NOT intended as a rant.


I cannot wrap my head around this following fact


Thesis :

Playback of an H.264 | 1080p Movie File (No Audio) @ High Quality PB Setting & 25fps

The Movie File is residing on a drive capable of RAW Image Sequence Playback

CPU = MBP Retina, 2.6GHZ, 1GB Graphics set to High Performance, SSD Drive & 16GB RAM


I have never (on any CPU) been able to reliably playback above inside FPCx. The movie will start off just fine but half-in it will start to get choppy.

(No Effects etc applied of course)


Today, I wanted to trouble shoot it...


I started with Activity Monitor (Checking CPU Cycles) and here are the results from different apps when hitting play in accordance with above thesis


FCPx = a WHOPPING 245% Resulting in choppy playback

Adobe Premiere Pro (Set to High Quality) = 20-30% = Smooth Playback

Quicktime Player 10 = 9%

VLC Player = 9%

Quartz Composer = 9%


I tested this on 5 different Macs and ratios between the apps are concurrent.


Why on earth would FCPx need so many CPU Cycles to playback the SAME files others are playaing back at 10 times less the cycles.

In my book there must be something seriously wrong with its programming - at least in its playback department.


I am on ML 10.8.2 and FCPx 10.0.7 and Playback is a nightmare in comparison to the other apps. And it has been that way since 10.0.0




I have tried to create optimzed media... PR 422 as well as 4444 and here are the results


FCPx 100-120%

PPRO 1-2%

QT Player 10 1-2%

VLC - NOT APPLICABLE as it does not play PR


This too is downright rediculous in comparison...



If anyone has ANY clue to why this is a fact --- I would love to hear about it...





  • hipshaker Calculating status...

    I can only say I've experienced similar symptoms.


    The same DSLR h.264 footage is more choppy in FCPx 10.0.7 than Premiere.


    The FCPx UI itself is also moderately choppy, and that's with only 20min of 1080p DSLR material (prores422) on the timeline.


    It should of course be noted that "background" rendering is off.


    Macbook Pro 17" (late 2011)

    16GB of RAM

    SSD drive

    thunderbolt drive for media

    Mountain Lion 10.8.2

  • Russ H Level 6 Level 6 (12,875 points)

    No playback problems here – whatsoever, regardless of resolution.


    CPU typically 60-80%.


    Not running ML, however. Running 10.6 amd 10.7.



  • Karsten Schlüter Level 7 Level 7 (29,460 points)

    Studio Engineer wrote:

    …  Why on earth would FCPx need so many CPU Cycles to playback the SAME files others are playaing back at 10 times less the cycles. …

    me no engineer, but if I would …:


    maybe, it is not 'just' playback?

    h264 is a interframe codec, to make it editable, tons of computation is needed on-the-fly.

    maybe tools like Premiere have two routines - playback (as a just-a-player as VLC) and some 'edit mode'?


    … which doesn't explain, why even OptimizedMedia asks for computation ...


    but to go with Russ: my under-powered setup of an antique MacMini has no choppy playback, but I had never measured my CPU performance either ......

  • fox_m Level 4 Level 4 (3,335 points)

    MenuMeters is a fun gadget to have:


    CPU, RAM, Network, and disk activity...

  • Karsten Schlüter Level 7 Level 7 (29,460 points)

    fox_m wrote:

    MenuMeters is a fun gadget to have:

    thanks, fox, for your recommendation …

    but I'm a huge fan of LESS data …


    that's why I allways got into debates with the breed of 'engineers', who, in their nature, want all data and all options.


    I want less.

    why two sliders when I can have one, doing the same thing …?

  • fox_m Level 4 Level 4 (3,335 points)

    I don't follow the data so much as use them to be a first indicator something is *seriously* wrong... when the meters stop moving and something is supposed to be busy, I know it's usually toast -- or the flipside -- the meters are really busy but *nothing* should be happening -- I'll have a little 80's Frida flashback.


    For FCPX, if there's a spinning beach ball ("wait cursor" <wink>) and the meters don't move, I know it's hasta la vista fcpx -- catch u on the flipside. Or in Motion, if they're working really hard, I know I have to put up with the slow playback (and consider trimming back emitters and such... )  Transcoding to H.264 usually slams all the cores (especially with QT7Pro), and I know I just have to wait it out if I want it to go quickly. If I occupy the system with anything else, it takes away from the transcoding tasks and it takes much longer.  (The progress bar on an H.264 transcode is always so weird to me... It's like nothing really happens for about 1/3 of the process -- it seems like it's going to take forever --  and then it all finishes in less than a few minutes for the last 2/3's... )


    It's just a good indicator of what's going on. I could care less about the "beans" (you actually have to right click on the menu to get a dropdown with all the specific data).  I got used to having it around since my original (core duo) MacBook running Tiger and it's a little more convenient (and out of the way) than the Activity Monitor.


    --- not trying to sell it... it's just a habit of mine

  • Wild Giles Level 2 Level 2 (310 points)

    I have a similar setup, I'm getting only 10% with audio 9% without Audio of CPU usage for playback of H264 and no stuttering at all.

  • Alchroma Level 6 Level 6 (16,875 points)

    I'm  running the same MBPro with similar specs as yours exepting the system drive is a Hybrid 750 gig.


    FCP X reading Optimised media runs at 60-100% CPU.

    AVCHD 1920x1080i50 (not optimized) CPU reads 60-120%.

    DV 50-55%

    HDV 55-62%


    So far no stutter or dogey playback.


    Is there any other stuff running in the background?



  • sundogme Calculating status...

    I've just tried 1080p25 clips in FCP X 10.0.7 on this non-retina 15" MBP i7 2.66 1GB GeForce GT 650M and they play with no problems with High Quality playback selected in the prefs. This is from the internal stock 750GB 7200 drive.


    The clips are H.264 from a 5D MkII.


    This laptop also has Premiere Pro 6.0.2 and it also plays the clips smoothly with quality set to Full.


    During playback FCP X is hovering around 100% in Activity Monitor


    PP CS6 is around 32% but there's also Adobe QT32 Server at 70% (whatever that is)


    The laptop is running 10.7.5. I did have the FCP X 10.0.6 trial running on my Mac Pro with Mountain Lion and I didn't notice any choppy playback.



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