8 Replies Latest reply: Sep 23, 2012 7:56 AM by chalkypinch
chalkypinch Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

Hi all,


Can anyone help with this issue or am I just pushing my old Mac Pro too hard?


I've been editing for a while in FCPX and generally it's a quick and easy process. I'm using keying for the first time in FCPX on a project and it's pretty quick untill I start adding beautifications to the background (gaussian blur) or mess about too much with the paramiters in the standard key effect.


My Mac is an 2008 2x 3 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon with 10 GB DDR2 (I need aother 8GB to balance it out for it to run perfectly, coming shortly). Graphics card is a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT.


FCPX starts to run very slowly, lots of short stints of wheel of death etc., when I start applying extra effects on a basic key with a colour background.


Just had a quick look and it was running at 758% CPU, 88 Threads, 2.98GB real memory, 2.24GB virtual memory. 33.73% User and 66.27% System.


Nothing else was drawing any CPU usage.


What does that even mean!? I know it's bad anyway. Anything I can do to calm my Mac down or am I expecting too much?


Thanks all!

  • chalkypinch Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Also, it's a 3 angle multicam edit (2 cameras, 1 audio) and I am editing in Proxy.

  • chalkypinch Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    And it increases export time to the desktop from 40 secs for a 40 sec sequence to 3-4 mins. That's gonna be a pain for the longer sequences

  • chalkypinch Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Background rendering is off too. It might not help that I have 22 projects on the go at the same time but this wasn't an issue before the extra effects added. I'll try working on one at a time to see if this helps and report back.

  • chalkypinch Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Also, time machine is off at the mo too.


    Right, working on one or two projects at a time has returned my semi happy Mac to me, it's almost back up to full speed but the fans are putting a shift in


    Any ideas on improving the situation? Will more RAM do it or should I just work on one or two projects at a time?

    I'm open to suggestions as although I want a lovely new MBP I'm hoping to get the last bit of life out of the old work horse


    Thanks in advance.

  • andynick Level 5 Level 5 (4,925 points)

    I presume you mean you have 22 projects in the Project Library?


    I currently have 136 Events in the Browser -  and 22 Projects in my Project Library too. The average number of clips in each Event is around 40 - some over 200. There are over 5,000 clips in those 136 Events.


    Admittedly, I avoid selecting all the Events at once (that makes the Mac's eyes water for a while) but I regularly work for days on end without a crash. Occasionally things go a little strange, but trashing the prefs always seems to fix it.


    I work with XDCAM EX and H.264 footage - nothing is Transcoded - I tried Proxy but abandoned it as I didn't see any advantage - and it looks horrible in the Viewer. When I abandoned Proxy, I was able to trash nearly a terrabyte of unwanted files.


    I run all this on an early 2009 Mac Pro 2 x 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon with 16GB RAM. OS 10.7.5.


    FCP X is an outstanding application that has saved me hundreds of hours editing, and has enabled me to be far more creative than I could be with FCS (which I used professionally from FCP 3 - and FCE before that).



    This is my pet checklist for questions regarding FCP X performance - I know you have already addressed some of the items (and others are duplicates of the above, but it's worth checking.


    Make sure you're using the latest version of the application - FCP X 10.0.5 runs very well on my 2009 MacPro 2 x 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon with 16 GB RAM and ATI Radeon HD 5870 1024 MB. I run it with Lion 10.7.5.


    First, check that you have at least 20% free space on your system drive.


    For smooth playback without dropping frames, make sure 'Better Performance' is selected in the FCP X Preferences - Playback Tab.


    If you have not already done so, move your Projects and Events to a fast (Firewire 800 or faster) external HD. Make sure the drive's formatted OS Extended (journalling's not required for video). You should always keep at least 20% free space on the Hard Drives that your Media, Projects and Events are on.


    Check the spec of your Mac against the system requirements:



    Check the spec of your graphics card. If it's listed here, it's not suitable:



    If you are getting crashes, there is some conflict on the OS. Create a new (admin) user account on your system and use FCP X from there - if it runs a lot better, there's a conflict and a clean install of the OS would be recommended.


    Keep projects to 20 mins or less. If you have a long project, work on 20 min sections then paste these into a final project for export.


    If your playback in FCP X is not good, I strongly recommend you use ProRes 422 Proxy - it edits and plays back like silk because the files are small but lightly compressed (not much packing and unpacking to do) - but remember to select 'Original or Optimised Media' (FCP X Preferences > Playback) just before you export your movie, otherwise it will be exported at low resolution.


    The downside of 'Proxy' is that it looks awful. DON'T use Proxy when you're assessing things like video quality - especially focus.


    If you have plenty of processor power, for the ultimate editing experience, create Optimised Media - most camera native files are highly compressed and need a great deal of processor power to play back - particularly if you add titles, filters or effects. ProRes 422 takes up much more hard drive space but is very lightly compressed. It edits and plays back superbly.


    Personally, I work with XDCAM EX and h.264 from a Canon DSLR. Both of these run fine with my system, but I do transcode multicam clips.


    Hide Audio Waveforms at all times when you don't need them (both in Browser and Storyline / Timeline). They take up a lot of processor power. (Use the switch icon at the bottom-right of your timeline to select a format without waveforms if you don't need them at the moment, then switch back when you do).


    Create folders in the Project and Events libraries and put any projects you are not working on currently, in those folders. This will help a lot. There's a great application for this, called Event Manager X - for the tiny cost it's an invaluable application.



    Unless you cannot edit and playback without it, turn off Background Rendering in Preferences (under Playback) - this will help general performance and you can always render when you need to by selecting the clip (or clips) and pressing Ctrl+R.


    The biggest single improvement I saw in performance was when I upgraded the RAM from 8 GB to 16.


  • chalkypinch Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi Andy,


    Thanks for the info. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaing about FCPX, I think it's good and quick like you say. It's just this time it went mad and I'm in a bit of a hurry with this project.


    I checked all your points, on the technical side everything is suitable with the appropriate amount of free space etc.


    I was flipping from project to project so all 22 had been open and I was copying effects between them etc. This probably was the issue. I've started moving projects around so only a couple are in the library at a time and it's made a big difference.


    I will ditch audio waveforms when I don't need them in future, I'm always too lazy to switch back and forth as it doesn't normally become an issue.


    Did you notice an improvement going from Snow Leopard to Lion? I've not bothered yet but I think I will if it makes a difference. Also the extra 8GB of RAM sounds like a must if it made a massive difference for you with a similar set up.


    Thanks again.

  • andynick Level 5 Level 5 (4,925 points)

    chalkypinch wrote:

    I will ditch audio waveforms when I don't need them in future, I'm always too lazy to switch back and forth as it doesn't normally become an issue.

    I'd advise you to do this sooner rather than later - it's surprising how much difference it can make.



    chalkypinch wrote:

    Did you notice an improvement going from Snow Leopard to Lion?

    No - I can't say I noticed a difference with FCP X.


  • chalkypinch Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks again for the info