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Dropped Frames and Latency Woes

I recently switched from Final Cut Pro X to Premiere Pro, and I've run into a performance issue. To be clear, I've seen several questions about Premiere's rendering performance, but none about its editing performance. Since I started adding clips to the timeline, it has started dropping way more frames than I'm seeing during playback. And its latency for "play" and "pause" when I hit the spacebar has become very noticeable. None of these issues were present when I was sub-clipping.

Storage

All of the footage is located on my 1 TB SSD boot drive, where the application is installed. I realize this would be a problem if I was using an HDD, but with my SSD, I'm not sure it is. Full hardware specifications below.

The Question

What are the best practices for increasing Premiere's performance while editing and playing back in the application?

Hardware

  • Model Name: MacBook Pro
  • Model Identifier: MacBookPro11,3
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M 2048 MB
  • Memory: 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
  • Storage: 1 TB SSD (55% full)
  • Processor Name: Intel Core i7
  • Processor Speed: 2.6 GHz
  • Number of Processors: 1
  • Total Number of Cores: 4
  • L2 Cache (per Core): 256 KB
  • L3 Cache: 6 MB
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There are a couple factors which can be giving you lagy playback.You don't specify your bit rate or codec. If you are editing a processor intensive codec like h.264 (not a good idea) -the processor could start to be a bottleneck. If you are editing a less compressed format like ProRes your drive or RAM can start to become the bottleneck. Since that is the most likely, I'll address that:

Because you have only one hard drive; Premiere is running off it, the OS is using it, preview files are trying to run off it at the same time. Easiest thing to try first is adding a hard drive or two. Ideally: Drive#1: OS/PPro, Drive#2: Project/Source Footage, Drive#3: Previews/Final Exports. If need be: put your Project and Source footage on an external drive and put your Previews on the local (fastest) drive. Once your previews are created, the project won't need to access the project and source very much. Use an "uncompressed" codec like ProRes or DNxHD for editing -a good SSD should be able to handle several streams at a time.

16Gb may be enough RAM, but it's not a given. It depends on the number of streams, bit-rate, size, length of the timeline, etc..

  • So, part of this is absolutely accurate: if editing "native" camera media (most especially the H.264 variety), the hardware is working a bit harder to get the precise frame that your playhead is on. Choosing to transcode to an intermediate format such as ProRes or GoPro Cineform will help with some of that. – WineSoaked Aug 10 '15 at 3:43
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    @WineSoaked Your suggestion of adjusting playback is indeed a valid one to the asked question: "What are the best practices for increasing Premiere's performance while editing and playing back in the application?" – integris Aug 10 '15 at 5:58
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    If it wasn't for the fact that I have a three year old Mac that I've been doing three-hour multicam edits on, I wouldn't know as much as I do about how to squeeze as much as I can out of the hardware. – WineSoaked Aug 10 '15 at 6:06
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Something that isn't mentioned, but has a direct impact on performance obviously would be what effects (even fixed effects like motion & opacity) are applied on the footage while trying to cut.

Other things to consider (some mentioned before, some not), in no particular order:

  • Overall effects applied (including color correction).
  • The number of non-empty video tracks in your sequence.
  • What codec your footage is using.
  • Adjust the playback resolution to 1/2 or 1/4, depending on source footage.
  • Experiment with exporting the sequence you are editing using the Project Manager, and then reopen the new project file and see if the project file itself was causing some of the issue.

None of these are a slam dunk for increasing performance, but I've used these tips to help stretch older hardware to be able to edit with the latest CC updates. Let's face it: a 2.6GHz i7 is not what it once was in terms of the performance ladder.

  • I should include that new color tools in Premiere Pro CC (i.e. Lumetri Color Control) at least anecdotally have a smaller impact on performance than the more traditional color effects (Three-Way Color Corrector, as an example). So, adopting the latest color effects like Lumetri may not have as big a performance hit, though it does still take compute cycles... – WineSoaked Sep 26 '15 at 18:20

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