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I wanted to edit a video and encountered some severe lag and preview stuttering.

I started looking around on the internet, but I'm just not getting any definitive and practical information on anything.

You'll read about how you need at least 32 GB of RAM and a 4 figures CPU to edit at all.

And others on forums say they edit HD videos on old machines with 2 GB RAM with no issues.

I'm running Windows on a SSD drive with an Intel i5 quad core (2.8 GHz), 8 GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA 1050Ti 4 GB GPU.

The videos I'm trying to edit are 1920×1080 30 fps (captured with a USB capture card from PS4 and encoded with Handbrake) they are 1-2 h long (I have many of these videos and I also put them together in a few videos that are like 10 hours long but I don't know if I should use them to edit; I don't know if it makes a difference if a have many small files or one huge one)

I used DaVinci Resolve, Lightworks, VSDC and Shotcut and every time its unusable. On shotcut just playing back a clip and looking through it works kinda ok most of the time but when I cut together some clips and want to see how it looks it starts to lag beyond being usable.

I know that Video editing takes a lot of horsepower, but is it really THAT much? I can't imagine that everyone, every student or just your average Joe who's doing their gaming montages and stuff for YouTube in their free time is sitting on a 2000 bucks high-end PC.

I've read about “Proxy files” for editing, but mostly when people are using 4k videos and even if not, creating lower quality versions every time for every video seems so unpractical.

I don't know, I really didn't think Video editing is so inaccessible.

To add to my confusion:

A view months ago I was editing videos with almost the same specs, the only difference, they were captured from switch, on the exact same PC. But at that time I was running Linux. And I used DaVinci Resolve and I don't remember having any issues at all. And I didn't use anything like proxy files or reducing playback quality, etc... I think maybe somethings wrong with my windows but with all that conflicting information I just don't know and I hope someone can help me here.

One thing I want to add: these Videos are kind of big. 2h long video with 8 GB, and they have a bitrate of around 9000.

I don't know much about video stuff, I know bitrates influence quality, but that's it, is 9000 much? Or can you reduce it without a huge quality loss?

Thank you very much!

  • 9000 kbps is on the high side if you're talking about 1920x1080 h.264, but you could be talking about 4K or h.265, or a combination, or none of the above. Plus, the level of detail and the amount of motion in the video will affect this number. This is a discussion in and of itself, and is addressed multiple times elsewhere in this forum. – Jason Conrad Mar 24 at 19:07
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Research how to use proxies. Proxies are copies of your original footage encoded at lower resolution, lower quality, or just in a less processor-intensive codec. You use them while you're working on your project, and then swap back the high quality files when you do your final export. A bit like offline and online video editing from the days when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

In your case for example, avoiding h.264 will probably speed things up. H.264 does a good job of making really small files at high visual quality, but it's awful for editing. So if you encode in an all-I-frame low-bandwidth codec, e.g. ProRes Proxy, or DNxHR LB the performance should increase markedly.

You can get away with much lower-powered hardware by using proxies, and you don't lose any quality in the process, because you go back to your originals at the end. A good guide, specific to the Resolve workflow, can be found here.

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Most likely, the issue is with the codec you're trying to edit. Temporal compression schemes require a lot of on-the-fly processing to decode. Players are optimized to do this sequential decode, but by definition, NLE's are non-linear.

All of the talk you see about proxies is really about converting temporally compressed formats into either uncompressed or spatially compressed formats such as proRes, or Avid DNx.

Some modern hardware, combined with the right editing package and operating system, can handle temporally compressed codecs. Some combinations don't work so well. In cases where editing is cumbersome, video professionals will transcode to a format which is easier on the hardware. This is still common practice in 2020 because even as computer processing power increases, so does the efficiency of compression algorithms, the computation necessary to decode them, and therefore latency in editing applications.

H.265 HEVC, for example, is a relatively new codec, and is supported by a lot of consumer devices for recording. It's popular because it's very efficient, supports larger resolutions and higher detail than older codecs at the same bitrate. But this codec is notoriously difficult to decode on the fly, and is a prime candidate for proxy workflow.

See this wikipedia article for information on intraframe vs interframe codecs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intra-frame_coding

DaVinci Resolve does have some fairly hefty system requirements, though, and 8GB of ram does not meet the minimum system requirements as described in the release notes.

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Thank you very much, you guys are very helpful! The stuff about codecs was the missing piece, now it starts to make sense in my head. I gotta look into video codecs and compression ect.

The videos indeed use H.264. The capture card outputs H.264 and I used the recommended settings in Handbrake, which use H.264.

Would you say it would make sense to change my process or should I stay with what I'm using now and work with proxies?

Here's my process:

I capture with an Aver Media LGP Lite onto my hard drive. These files are massive, so I run them through Handbrake, that reduces the size drastically without quality loss.
And recently I started to put these 1-2h long videos together into 10h Videos using a program called "mkvtoolnix". So I have 3 10h long videos instead of 30 1h.

Maybe I can streamline things a bit in some places:

  1. Capture card. I am able to set a bitrate for recording. It affects file size and quality, but that's all I know. I dont know how much I need. I'm using 18 Mbps. But maybe that's overkill? And I can choose from 2 Video formats: MP4(H.264+AAC) and TS(H.264+AAC). I'm using MP4.

  2. Would it make sense to use a different codec in Handbrake? Maybe one that's better fit for editing? Or does it make more sense to keep it and use proxies?

  3. Does video length have a huge impact on editing performance? Is it better to have 10 1h videos or 1 10h video?

Again thank you so much, you helped me a lot!

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