… 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.


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… 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.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #073: When Do You Need a RAID?

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Storage is more important to video editing that your computer.

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RAIDs (Redundant Array of Independent Devices) are the high-speed, high-capacity workhorses of media editing. However, they are also much more expensive than buying a single spinning hard drive.

When should you consider a RAID?

  • When you need more capacity than a single drive can provide.
  • When you need more speed than a single drive can provide
  • When you want protection in case a drive fails. (Though a RAID won’t protect your data if you accidentally erase the wrong file. That’s what backups are for.)

RAIDs cost more than a single drive. They also are not as portable. But, as frame sizes, frame rates, and bit-depth all increase, editors are rapidly reaching the point where a single drive – even a single SSD – is not fast or big enough.

EXTRA CREDIT

How you configure a RAID affects its performance, read Tip #30 to learn more.


… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #033: What Is the Mercury Playback Engine?

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

A software framework to enhance performance.

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The “Mercury Playback Engine” is the name for a large number of performance improvements that first appeared in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5. These improvements continue to expand with each release.

If you have a supported GPU, this acceleration is handled by the card. If you don’t, acceleration is handled in software. Hardware (the card) is always faster.

The Mercury Playback Engine improves the speed of:

  • Real-time effects playback
  • Rendering for preview and final output
  • Visual effects
  • Image scaling
  • Deinterlacing
  • Blend modes
  • Color space conversion

However, most of the time, it does not affect the speed of encoding or decoding media.

Whe you are creating a new project, Mac users should select the Metal option. Windows users should select CUDA if they have nVidia graphics cards or OpenCL for AMD or other GPU options.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #023: Eight Tips to Help You Pick the Right Gear

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Let these help you plan for your next computer.

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I’ve spent a lot of time researching and writing about how to plan your next computer purchase for media editing. Here are eight guidelines to help you plan your next editing system:

  • The tighter the deadlines, the more you should spend for both computer and storage. Faster is worth the money.
  • 16 – 32 GB of RAM is sufficient for almost all video editing.
  • Premiere editors should spend a bit more for a faster CPU.
  • Final Cut editors should spend a bit more for a faster GPU.
  • If you can afford it, get an i7 or i9 CPU.
  • Budget to spend as much for storage as you do for the computer. I know, you don’t want to, but at some point you’ll need to.
  • As you move to 4K, HDR or Raw media editing, you’ll need to migrate to external SSD or RAID drives. I know, you don’t want to, but at some point you’ll need to – and sooner than you expect.
  • Larger computer screen sizes are better, because editing interfaces are complex. Large screens make the interface and media easier to see.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #030: What Do RAID “Levels” Mean?

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Enhance RAID performance by picking the right level.

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RAIDs (Redundant Array of Independent Disks/Drives/Devices) consist of a number of hard drives or SSDs grouped together into a single unit so that they appear to the computer as a single device. Because there is more than one hard drive in a RAID, they offer greater performance and storage.

There are different levels of RAIDs, identified by numbers:

  • RAID 0 – Fast, inexpensive, no data redundancy. Requires a minimum of two hard drives inside the RAID enclosure. The more drives you add, the faster the performance, as performance and storage capacity are the sum of all drives in the RAID. However, if you lose one drive, you’ve lost ALL your data. Most often used when speed combined with low cost are paramount.
  • RAID 1 – Complete data redundancy. Generally only uses two hard drives inside the RAID enclosure. Often called “mirroring,” each drive is a complete copy of the other. Most often used for backing up servers or when on-set for DIT media work. Has the speed and capacity of the slowest single drive in the system.
  • RAID 3 – Medium-fast, data redundancy. Requires a minimum of three drives, as one drive is reserved solely for parity data. Should one drive die, your data is safe. This technology is no longer in common use, replaced by the faster performance of RAID 4 or 5 systems.
  • RAID 4 – Very-fast, data redundancy. Similar to RAID 3, requires a minimum of three drives, as one drive is reserved solely for parity data. Should one drive die, your data is safe. This is the preferred RAID format for SSD drives because of how the data is stored on the drives. When compared to a RAID 5, RAID 4 with SSDs is about 25% faster on reads.
  • RAID 5 – Very fast, data redundancy. Requires a minimum of three drives and shares parity data across all drives. Most often found with four or more drives inside. If one drive goes down, your data is safe. This is the preferred choice for RAIDs containing spinning media (traditional hard disks). Used for both locally-attached storage and servers.
  • RAID 6 – Fast, extra data redundancy. Requires a minimum of four drives. This version protects your data in the event two hard drives die at the same time. More expensive than RAID 5, but, generally, the same physical size. Like the RAID 5 this is most often used connected to just one computer. Not as fast as a RAID 5.
  • RAID 10 (or 1+0) – VERY fast, totally redundant. Requires a minimum of four drives, but is more often created by combining two matched RAID 0’s into a RAID 1. This provides the speed equivalent of a RAID 0, with the data redundancy of RAID 1. As RAIDs continue to drop in price, this can be a less-expensive way to create systems that rival the performance of a RAID 50.
  • RAID 50 – VERY fast, data redundancy. Generally the domain of very large RAIDs, this format combines the speed of RAID 0 with the redundancy of RAID 5 by dividing the RAID into sections, where you can lose a drive in each section without losing data. These systems generally cost more than $10,000 and contain at least twelve drives. Generally used in network and server situations where multiple users need to access the same data.
  • RAID 60 – VERY fast, extra data redundancy. Generally the domain of very large RAIDs, this format combines the speed of RAID 0 with the redundancy of RAID 6 by dividing the RAID into sections, where you can lose two drives in each section without losing data. These systems generally cost more than $10,000 and contain at least twelve drives. Generally used in network and server situations where multiple users need to access the same data.