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I shot 45 minutes of stereo VR footage (6400x6400 frame size, 29.97 fps) and after adding color correction, rotation, adaptive de-noise and re-sharpen I got 2000 hours estimate to render and encode to H264. This is on maxed out MacBook Pro 2018.

I'm thinking it's time to build a video rendering machine, so I can edit, render and encode larger projects without keeping a laptop running for months. Any recommendations for what kind of hardware to get? Number of cores vs base clock vs memory speed and so on?

The render times break down like this:

  • 2-pass VBR and all effects = 2000 hours, CPU at 100%, GPU at 5%
  • 1-pass VBR and all effects = 800 hours, CPU at 100%, GPU at 5%
  • 1-pass VBR and Lumetri Color + VR Re-Orient = 400 hours, CPU at 20%, GPU at 5%

It seems like I need to hit hard on CPU power and disk/memory speed, since that last estimate means I am I/O bound.

Rendering with few effects and VBR-1

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    Soliciting advice for product recommendations on stack exchange is going to get this question flagged as opinion-based. You might want to look over this video.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask Keep in mind, you can always edit your question to better meet the site guidelines. Having said that, I did my best to give a helpful answer. – Jason Conrad Oct 26 '18 at 1:48
  • I found a better site dealing specifically with "what components to get": pcpartpicker.com/b/MbdXsY. We can limit this thread therefore to "what kind of components to get" – Valeriy Novytskyy Oct 26 '18 at 19:07
  • Your post has inspired me to do some benchmarking of my own. My requirements aren't nearly as intense as yours, so I've been testing 5000 frames of 60fps UHD 4K. I'm testing a 2017 15"MBPi7 580, a 2013 12core 2xD700, and a 2018i7 mac mini with various combinations of eGPUs, and codec decode/encode scenarios. I'm finding GPUs don't matter much except that intel discreet is actually best for h.264 encode, CPU cores help prores encoding. New 64 bit apple compressor dramatically improves HEVC8. HEVC10 still sucks on everything I've thrown at it. – Jason Conrad Nov 19 '18 at 21:42
  • I ended up building a copy of pcpartpicker.com/b/MbdXsY, but with a high-speed SSD RAID0 drive and two M.2 drives to ensure I am not IO bound. I also gave up on rendering 6K stereo with effects, so now I do stereo 6K with color correction only and a separate mono 4K with all effects. Going to write an article when I have more time. – Valeriy Novytskyy Nov 22 '18 at 16:07
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Before you go out and spend a lot more money on hardware, optimize your process. Run tests on short pieces of your video, and see what you can adjust to get faster results.

For example, H.264 is pretty taxing to encode, especially at higher frame sizes. Experiment with writing to intermediate codecs first, and then transcoding to your delivery format. Often, that method is faster than writing directly to the delivery format. See how long it takes your setup to churn out a five second clip directly to h.264, then time the same export to an intermediate codec + transcode.

Another thing you can optimize is your disk caching strategy. If your disk cache is on your system drive, try moving it to something speedy and external. Some NLE's give you the option to use the disk cache at render time. Experiment with these settings. Also maybe try changing your GPU driver settings if your system allows (OSX mojave deprecates OpenCl. Depending on your NLE/OS, Metal may be your only option).

Another small piece of advice, get a good process monitoring utility and use it to help clue you in on where bottlenecks occur. I use XRG for Mac. It's free, and provides more information than Activity Moitor. If you notice that your GPU's are pegged, then think about adding GPU horsepower. If they're not pegged, your CPU isn't either, but you notice a lot of disk activity, then think about how you might improve that.

  • I like the XRG suggestion. I tried to find a monitoring utility for Mac, but kept hitting articles telling me to use Activity Monitor. – Valeriy Novytskyy Oct 26 '18 at 16:23
  • Jason, I updated my post with XRG screenshot. I still can't tell for sure, is it I/O bound when effects are off? – Valeriy Novytskyy Oct 26 '18 at 17:41

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