Previous 1 2 Next 16 Replies Latest reply: Dec 31, 2012 1:22 PM by Matt13
Matt13 Level 2 (390 points)

Hello all,


Using Compressor 4.0.6 and FCX 10.0.7.  Have a few iMac's, all core i7's, 2011 or later, all with a minimum 8GB Ram.  The projects I create are on average 2 hours long, and I produce about 160 of them a year.


I've exhausted trying to find answers on the dicussion forums and online and I can't figure this out.  I'm probably an idiot overlooking something, so I'm here seeking guidance.


I finally completely dived into FCX this past month after all the great updates.  I LOVE the program.  There's been some growing pains getting myself up and running, but I'm pretty much to the point where my workflow is becoming second nature like it was in FC7. 


But, Compressor 4 is leaving me stumped.  Here's my issue.  If I take a master H.264 file that I produced from FCP (7 or X, doesn't matter), that's between 8-10GB's in size and put it in Compressor 3, not changing anything about it's native settings or anything with Q-Master and/or clusters (picture installing it, then instantly create a DVD image file from a master H.264... not touching any preferences), it'll shoot out a disk image file in about 2 hours for me.  A Bluray image in maybe 3-4 hours. 


This all using i7 quad-core processors in iMacs. 


If I try to do the same in Compressor 4, it might take 4-6 hours to produce a DVD image file.  6-8 hours for a Bluray image file.


This isn't isolated to one computer, but on any computer I try.  It's PAINFULLY slow.  Being 64bit, I was expecting it to be twice as fast as C3. 


Then I got into clustering and Q-master and all of that.  I've spent days trying to get it right with a lot of trial and error.  But whenever I create a cluster following tips on these very forums and others that match the specs of my machines, there will be no dramatic increase in these speeds and most of the time I'll get some crazy number like 36 hours to process.  In which case I turn the virtual cluster off and have to settle for the usual 4-8 hour timeframes for it to spit out files (whether they be DVD files for Bluray).


Can somebody with extensive knowledge of C4 please tell me why it's not fater than C3 (I'd be happy with equal results) and what, if anything, I'm doing wrong. 


If it helps, one of the computers I'm using is an iMac quad core i7, 2.93ghz, 8GB ram.  Just want to throw that out there so if anyone wants to offer "step-by-step" instructions on how to maximize the power of C4 for me on one computer (not interested in daisychaining imacs, yet), they have the vitals for one of my computers that I'll apply those settings to and hopefully figure this thing out.


Thanks to any help or advice in advance!!

  • Russ H Level 7 (20,285 points)

    Matt13 wrote:


    Being 64bit, I was expecting it to be twice as fast as C3.


    Would that were C4 64 bit…unfortunately, it's still 32 bit.


    So that's the bad news. The good news is it should be about the same as C3 or C3.5, assuming the preset parameters are the same. Check those, because some have changed.


    FWIW, I haven't found much difference in the processing speed of the current version vs previous versions. When I need speed more than anything I use MPEG Streamclip…much faster.


    Here is an article by Jon Chappel, which gives some tips on getting the most speed out of the software.


    Good luck.



  • Russ H Level 7 (20,285 points)

    Just to add that although Jon has a link to a cluster discussion in that same article, you can also post a screenshot of your Apple Qmaster Settings window and if you want I'll be glad to take a look at them.



  • Matt13 Level 2 (390 points)

    Thanks to the info guys.  The 32 bit stuff is actually news to me!  Thanks Jon for the heads up.  I would still expect C4 to work just as well as C3.5, but it's still twice as slow.  C4 doesn't have the same presets as C3, but I mirrored them, going through every tab to make sure they look alike and giving the custom presets in C4 a custom name, of course.  The link you provided for Compressor setting, Russ, is for C3.  Not sure if I can do the same stuff for C4, but I followed another thread on how to create a cluster in C4 from within C4.  I appreciate your help.  I'm familiar with MPEG-Steamclip, but I actually encode right from FCX, which is pretty much 'real time' (2 hour video takes 2 hours to export to a .mov/.m4v using native FCP settings for 1080p Apple Devices). I'm happy with that.   I then take that file and drop it into Compressor to create DVD's (SD or Bluray), utilizing the menu options there.  They're basic, but do the job and actually look pretty good compared to any alternative out there.  I'm open to suggestions for DVD authoring though!  I might be missing out on something great I don't know about.


    Russ, I appreciate your willingness to see if I'm doing things right too. I posted a screenshot of what I'm doing with Qmaster from within C4 as suggested by other posters.  Note: in the 'Options' field for 'Compressor' (below the 'Rendering' checkbox), I selected 2 instances since I have a 4 core iMac.


    Thanks again!screenshot_237.jpg

  • David M Brewer Level 6 (9,365 points)

    I have the same iMac that you have... set the number of instances to 4 instead of 2. I have tried all of the difference instances combinations and have found that 4 instances work the best. Your Mac will use 8 hyper threads to compress the video.


    Let me check and see how long a video takes to compress to a disc-image. I think 2 hours is still to long.

  • Russ H Level 7 (20,285 points)

    Matt13 wrote:


    I'm familiar with MPEG-Steamclip, but I actually encode right from FCX, which is pretty much 'real time' (2 hour video takes 2 hours to export to a .mov/.m4v using native FCP settings for 1080p Apple Devices). I'm happy with that.   I then take that file and drop it into Compressor to create DVD's (SD or Bluray), utilizing the menu options there.  They're basic, but do the job and actually look pretty good compared to any alternative out there.  I'm open to suggestions for DVD authoring though!  I might be missing out on something great I don't know about.


    Hey Matt.


    Just to point out that you can also create the DVDs and BluRay disks directly from FCP as well. Whether it would save time, all-in, maybe…I'm not sure.  In my limited time working with FCPX, my impression is that my exports, which used to be speedy, are somewhat slower since the past couple of updates. You'd have to test with your setup.


    David Brewer has already given you feedback on your Qmaster settings so I'll just comment on authoring. The cheapest DVD alternative might be iDVD, You can probably still find a boxed copy of iLife for about $45 on Amazon. You can bypass Compressor completely because iDVD does a decent job of encoding. But it has no BluRay capability.


    Many Final Cut (X and earlier) users are using Adobe Encore because it is full-featured and it does both DVD and Blu Ray. It can be "rented" as part (a relatively small part at that) of the Creative Cloud Master Suite for $50 a month. I have an earlier version but prefer DVD Studio Pro. There is a 30 day trial download if you want to test for yourself. There are, of course, PC solutions, but I won't go there.


    Good luck.


  • Matt13 Level 2 (390 points)

    Hey David,


    Thanks for that tip... it seems to have gotten C4 back up to on par with C3 for exporting.  I just exported a Bluray disk in about 5 hours (using a 2 hour long, 9GB master m4v file as my source)... which is about the time it took C3 without any clustering.


    I am curious though... do you think it should even be running faster than that? 


    Thanks for your help!

  • Matt13 Level 2 (390 points)

    Hey Russ,


    I actually knew about the export features directly from FCPX.   It's actually very nice.  The only problem is, withmy videos mostly being 2 hours in length, FCPX encodes them at a bit rate too high to squeeze anything onto a standard DVD or Bluray disk (the resulting files are too large for either format).  Too bad FCPX doesn't allow you to tweak the bit rates, otherwise, it's a great option and I actually found it to be as fast if not quicker than the usual Compressor workflow I've been using now for some time.


    I used to use DVD SP, and still have it, but it won't handle my master files nor create Bluray, which is a deal breaker for me.  I've found the Compressor route to be quick and more streamlined anyway, albeit with very simple menus (which I add an image from the video to, which makes it look simple yet professional).


    I am entrigued by Encore, but it's not worth the $$$ as long as I can keep Compressor doing what I need it to do.  I'm really hoping Apple does a nice Compressor update here in the not too distant future.  I'd be happy with 64 bit architecture alone!


    Thanks again for your feedback and time here.

  • David M Brewer Level 6 (9,365 points)

    Here are some test I did today:


    I think the problem for such a long encoding time is your master file. Compressor will take longing to transcode a h.264 (any type of MPEG file) to DVD or Blue-ray, compared to using ProRes or ProRes LT as a mater file.


    The below examples are encoding times for a 2 hours video... 4 instances... both from the same video that are m4v and ProRess,




    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------


    The ProRes file is twice as fast as the m4v to transcode. And utilize all of the cores (hyper-threads) more efficiently compared to the m4v video file.


    Same holds true with Blu-ray encoding. (Blu-ray encoding doesn't allow for job segmenting, so it take longer to encode to begin with...) I encoded a 10 minute 1080p ProRes and h.264 file to Blu-ray. The ProRes file took about 15 minutes to encode and the h.264 file to almost 30 minutes.


    If your going to do alot of this your best bet is to encode your master video to ProRes (LT for a smaller file).


    If you need to see your Blu-ray on a Mac you can use this free app to do so:


    Just drop the xxx.264 file into the open window and hit play.

  • Matt13 Level 2 (390 points)

    Hi David,


    Thanks again for your taking the time to investiage some of this stuff for me.  I never would have thought to even try a ProRes file, so you learn something new everyday.  After your tests and results above, I decided to do some tests of my own.  I took 35 seconds of raw footage from FCX and exported using "Master File" and changing the settings to 'LT'.  The resulting file was 490 mb's in size, but only took about 6 seconds to export (impressive).  I then tried the m4v 1080p route.  The resulting file was 44.9 mb's in size, but took a little under real time (about 32 seconds) to export.  Both videos look exactly the same when played back in QT.


    I then dumped both in Compressor 4 and had the same results you had.  The m4v took twice as long as the LT file to export to DVD (one pass) and four times as long in two pass mode. 


    The next thing I'm going to do is burn a couple test DVD's, one with one pass and one two pass and see if there's any difference in quality.  I've been exporting as two pass and if one pass is twice as fast, I'd be extremely happy with that.

    As must as I'd like to go the Pro Res LT route for faster Compressor exports, the resulting master file sizes would be way too big for me.  I tested a two hour long video and according to FCPX estimates (I didn't actually export the video in this case... just going by what the program is estimating), a Pro Res LT file would be 96.7 GB's in size vs. 8.87 GB's for an m4v file.


    Since I include the m4v files as part of the package I return to the client so they can play them in iTunes or Quicktime, on top of DVD's, even if I used the ProRes master file I'd still have to produce an m4v from that.

    So for my workflow and for storage reasons, I'll probably stick to creating m4v files as masters since I see no difference in quality.  I'll just have to live with the time it takes to produce the DVD's, but if I'm able to get away with 1 pass vs. 2 pass, that would dramatically speed things up.


    So you've helped me on two fronts Dave... one with the number of instances for the clusters, which has worked wonders on real projects here for me the past couple of days (and going forward), and the second with the insight about ProRes files, which led me to determining if one pass or two really makes a difference when exporting m4v files.


    Thanks again!

  • Lewis Kopp Level 1 (0 points)



    You'd probably gain at least some of the speed benefit by saving your master file as a HDV file.  Working with H.264 files is extremely processor intensive.


    One of the reasons that the export was so much faster with the ProRes file is that if you have the Import Preference for transcoding set to Optimize media, your video files have been converted to ProRes already as that is pretty much the native format of Final Cut


    As for the difference between one pass and two pass encoding, in theory the two pass file should end up being smaller and have fewer artifacts and smoother gradients.  Rather than worry about it, I just use the two pass. Fortunately I have a fast enough MacPro now that I can get the video file generated in about 46% to 75% of realtime.


    I will also admit that I recently had Compressor 4 crap out on me and not allow me use a QuickCluster. After spending a weekend rebuilding things and not getting it to work properly, I gave up and am using Compressor 3.5.x for now.  I'm not aware of any particular benefit to 4 over 3.5 but using a QuickCluster on a multicore and multiprocessor box will definitely speed things up.



  • Warwick Teale Level 3 (580 points)

    Hi Matt, all the info advice you have received om this is excellent. I'd like to add one more thing that if not disabled will really crunch the throughput of your transcodes.


    Symptom: compressor in qmaster (or computure plus with qm) seems to takes ages to perform a smple transcode. Plenty of CPU adn RAM available with optimum I/O and networking.


    Possible Remedy that will work if set:

    1. select the INSPECTOR for the SETTING you have used.
    2. in the inspector select FRAME CONTROLs (3rd icon form the left)
    3. make sure FRAME CONTROLS is set to OFF  (OFF!) (click on the gear wheel to disable it)


    I've noticed some SETTINGS from Apple have this set to ON by default. Admirable however not useful for soem instances..


    I've used it for some projects however if it is in it uses an enormous amount of time and resource to perform its (FRAME CONTROLS) magic with optical flow maybe.


    If this is case, then SAVE the setting after youhave disabled frame cotrols to your favourite setting and then use that in future.


    Worth a look. I guarantee that if FRAME CONTROLS is set in he transcode tha tis will be contributing the slow throughput you are seeing in V4.06


    BTW I use a predefined CLUSTER with tis mac pro nd two mac minis... works a well.





    Hong Kong

  • Matt13 Level 2 (390 points)



    Thanks for your input!  Indeed, Frame Controls on my end was set to 'On'... so I've changed all of my settings on all computers to 'Off'. 


    Very helpful tip!  Hopefully I'll see a speed benefit from this as well:)




  • Warwick Teale Level 3 (580 points)

    Hi Matt! cool. I think you will see a DRASTIC reduction in the processing time when this FRAME CONTROLS is set off.


    Please let us know if this does work so that others might know.





  • Matt13 Level 2 (390 points)



    It worked like a charm!  I had to export a DVD file today (2 hour project) and it only took about 35 minutes.  Combined with the pointers from the other guys in this thread, your pointer was also very helpful.  Something I've overlooked really for years!  So thanks... I'll be saving a lot of time from here on out:)



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