… for Codecs & Media

Tip #150: USB Bandwidth

Different versions of USB provide different amounts of bandwidth

Topic $TipTopic The speed of USB has increased significantly since its initial release. For example, USB 1.0 was released January 15, 1996, with a maximum speed of 1.5 MB/second. Compare that to USB 4.0 which was released August 29, 2019, with a maximum speed of 5 GB/second! USB4 is based on the Thunderbolt 3 protocol.

However, recently, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) renamed virtually all USB versions and made things REALLY confused. Here are the new names and speeds of the different versions of USB.

Old Name Released New Name Speed
USB 2.0 April, 2000 USB 2.0 Up to 60 MB/sec
USB 3.0 Nov. 2008 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Up to 625 MB/sec
USB 3.1 July, 2013 USB 3.1 Gen 2 Up to 1.25 GB/sec
USB 3.2 August, 2017 USB 3.1 Gen 2×2 Up to 2.5 GB/sec
USB4 August, 2019 USB 4 Up to 5 GB/sec

NOTE: Keep in mind that all versions of USB, except for USB4, are optimized for small file transfers and generally don’t provide all the bandwidth that the spec calls for. I don’t recommend any version of USB earlier than USB 3.2 for video editing.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #148: Which USB Version Does Your Mac Support?

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

When in doubt, look it up.

Use System Preferences > Hardware > USB to determine your USB version.

Topic $TipTopic

Yes, the USB plugs on the back of your computer all look the same. However, here’s an easy way to find out what version of USB your computer supports.

Go to the Apple logo in the top left corner of your computer.

  • Choose About This Mac
  • At the bottom of this window, click System Report
  • In the display that follows, click Hardware > USB

This panel displays more than you will ever want to know about your USB ports and connected peripherals, including the version of USB your system supports.

Cool.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #149: The Five Types of USB Connectors

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Sigh… It’s no longer “one plug fits all.”

Five types of USB connectors.
Five types of USB connectors.

Topic $TipTopic

Not only are their different versions of USB, there are also different versions of USB connectors. Ever wonder how many different USB connectors there are and what they are called?

Well, here’s the answer:

  • Type A
  • Type B
  • Type C
  • Micro USB
  • Mini USB

Most computers use Type A or C, depending upon their age.

Most large peripherals use Type B, while smaller devices use either the micro or mini connectors.

Now you know.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #155: Change the Dock Icon to Show Disk Activity

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Monitor disk activity directly from the dock.

Change the Dock icon in Activity Monitor.
Activity Monitor must be running for the Dock icon to display data.

Topic $TipTopic

There’s a “hidden-in-plain-sight” option in Activity Monitor that allows you to monitor your system in real-time directly from the dock.

  • Open Activity Monitor (Applications > Utilities)
  • Choose View > Dock Icon
  • Pick what you want to see

Most of the time, I’m monitoring either Network or Disk activity.

NOTE: Keep in mind that Activity Monitor must be running to see these icons. However, you don’t need to have any of Activity Monitor’s windows open.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #132: Use QNAP Servers for FCP X

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

QNAP supports editing using Final Cut.

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J.J. Sereday writes:

I’ve been using the QNAP TVS-871T for 3-4 years now and have been able to keep/edit with my FCP X project files on the server using their NFS (for FCP X) connection. Plus you can take advantage of the Thunderbolt speeds using it as a Thunderbolt EtherNet connection. I tend to get 600-800 Mbps read/write with the 8-bay in RAID 5.

It’s been pretty amazing.

NOTE: QNAP also supports SMB3, which FCP X 10.3 and later also support. Visit the QNAP support pages to learn more.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #138: More RAM Isn’t Always Better

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Adding RAM has… implications.

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More RAM, as we all know, boosts performance for most media tasks simply because our files are so big.

However, there’s a downside to adding RAM. RAM, whether it is used or not, always consumes power when your computer is on. The more RAM you have, the more power it requires.

For desktop systems, this isn’t bad because they are always plugged into a wall outlet. But for laptops, adding RAM pulls more power from the battery, decreasing battery life.

If you tend to edit with a plugged in laptop, again, no big deal. But, if you tend to edit on battery in remote locations, you’ll need to balance more RAM with battery life.

Just something to think about.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #144: 4 Steps to Editing Better Interviews

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Don’t do everything at once

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After shooting and editing hundreds of interviews, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is: Don’t do everything at once. Rather focus on completing very specific tasks. This allows you to better concentrate on the story, rather than the construction.

Specifically, I build an interview in four stages:

  1. The radio cut. Build the foundation of the story by editing all the sound bites in order into the timeline. Don’t worry about the visuals. Create the best story you can first.
  2. Add B-roll. After the story is fleshed out, go back and add B-roll to illustrate what the speaker is talking about. (Adding B-roll before the story is complete just wastes time because the story you are telling keeps changing.)
  3. Add titles and graphics. With the story built and the B-roll in place, you now know where you can fit titles and which graphics you need.
  4. Finally, effects. When everything else is done, add effects. I’ve learned that effects will take as much time as you have between now and the deadline… plus an hour. Don’t get sucked into adding effects until the rest of your story is complete, you’ll run out of time to finish your story.

The benefit of this approach is that you are intently focusing on one element at a time, without wasting time creating, say, an effect for a shot that you ultimately decide not to use.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #031: What Determines Storage Speed?

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Storage performance is key to successful video editing.

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As you might expect, storage performance is dependent upon multiple factors – and how it connects is only a part. Storage speed, which is often called “bandwidth,” is determined by:

  • How it is connected to your computer, including the protocol used for communication
  • The number of drives or devices it contains

For example, Thunderbolt 3 is very, very fast – up to 3,000 MB/second! But, if that device only has one spinning hard disk inside, the actual speed will be closer to 150 MB/second. Here are three typical examples:

  • A single spinning hard drive transfers data about 150 MB/sec.
  • A single PCIe SSD transfers data around 400 MB/sec
  • A single NVMe SSD transfers data around 2,500 MB/sec

Think of it this way: The Thunderbolt 3 protocol is a very, very large water pipe. The devices connected to it determine how much water flows inside that pipe.

You can have a very large pipe, but if you are only filling it with a garden hose, you won’t get a whole lot of water through of it.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #012: Easy vs. Hard Frame Rate Conversions

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Changing frame size is easy. Changing frame rate is not.

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The basic rule of frame rates is: “Shoot the frame rate you need to deliver.”

Why? Because changing frame rates is non-trivial. Some frame rate conversions are easy, others will add jitter or stutter to the playback. The faster the frame rate, the more “real” the image will seem. Slower frame rates tend to have a lot of motion blur.

The good news is that if your project is bound for the web or computer playback, you can use any frame rate. The web is very flexible. Braodcast, cable and digital cinema are much less forgiving.

In general, it is easy to convert frame rates that are multiples of each other:

  • 24 to/from 48
  • 25 to/from 50
  • 29.97 to/from 59.94
  • 30 to/from 60

What’s hard is when frame rates don’t divide evenly. Now, the computer needs to play games creating false frames to get things to work out, or change the speed of playback, which is what we do to get from 24 to 25 or 25 to 24.

Tricky conversions are between 24 and 30 or 25 and 30 in either direction. These tend to cause jittery playback.

BONUS

If you are shooting high-frame rate video for slomo, keep your project frame rate slower to provide the best results when slowing your media. So, a project at 30 fps provides better slomo than a project at 60 fps.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #019: Pick the Right CPU for Video Editing

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

All CPUs are not created equal.

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Much of technology has become very opaque. CPUs now range from i3 to i9. GPUs range from 560 to Vega whatever. Is an editor’s life over if they get an AMD 570 instead of a 575X? Is an i5 really THAT bad?

NOTHING IS PERFECT

No matter how fast your computer, you can easily design a project in any NLE that will bring it to its knees. No computer can play every possible codec, frame size, frame rate, bit depth and effect perfectly in real-time. None. At some point, rendering or proxies will become necessary.

CPUs

  • There is no noticeable performance difference between a CPU running at 3.0 GHz or 3.5 GHz for the same class of chip (i3 vs. i3, i5 vs i5, i7 vs. i7).
  • CPU speed is less important than support for multiple cores and hyper-threading.
  • More cores makes for a faster CPU.
  • As video bit depth increases, i7 and i9 CPUs become mandatory.
  • An i5 CPU will feel slower than an i7, but an i5 will be fine for smaller, shorter, or HD, projects.
  • Import, edit, trim, playback, and speed changes rely principally on the CPU.
  • Video compression and transcoding also benefit from faster CPUs

GPUs

  • Effects, color grading, rendering and export rely principally on the GPU.
  • Faster GPUs do not provide higher quality, only faster render times.
  • Apple Final Cut Pro X uses the GPU more than Adobe Premiere Pro CC. However, Adobe is actively working to use more GPU resources in future releases.