Improving Real-Time Performance

If the processing demands of all applied effects exceed the capabilities of your system, you have several options to improve real-time performance:

Reporting Dropped Frames During Playback

Dropped frames during playback may indicate that your hard disk is too slow or your video footage uses a codec too processor-intensive for your computer processor to handle. If you plan to output your sequence to tape, you will need to resolve this issue at some point. However, for editing purposes, you can turn off the display of the message that appears when dropped frames occur.

To turn off the dropped frames message
  1. Choose Final Cut Pro > User Preferences.

  2. In the General tab, deselect the “Report dropped frames during playback” checkbox.

Note: A separate option, “Abort ETT/PTV on dropped frames,” controls whether Final Cut Pro cancels playback if frames are dropped during Print to Video and Edit to Tape operations. In most cases, you should keep this checkbox selected.

Factors That Affect Real-Time Performance

Many components of your computer affect its real-time performance:

  • Computer processor speed and type: The faster your computer processor is, the more real-time effects Final Cut Pro can perform. The type of processor can also make a difference. For example, a G5 processor is more powerful than a G4 processor, and a Core 2 Duo processor is more powerful than a Core Duo processor.
  • Multiple processors: Computers with more than one processor have significant real-time performance advantages over single-processor computers.
  • Graphics card speed and memory: Many video filters in Final Cut Pro use your computer’s graphics card to process effects, leaving the computer processor free to perform other tasks. A faster graphics card with more RAM allows more real-time playback.
  • Level 2 and Level 3 processor cache: The sizes of a computer processor’s level 2 and 3 caches affect its real-time playback capabilities. The larger these caches are, the more real-time performance is available.
  • RAM: The more RAM you have available in your computer, the more potential real-time performance your computer has.
  • Memory bus speed: Computers with a faster memory bus allow better real-time performance because data can be sent more quickly between RAM and the computer processor.
  • Hard disk speed: The faster your hard disk can read data, the more video data Final Cut Pro can access in real time. With some video formats, such as uncompressed video, hard disks may not be able to keep up with the video data rate, making real-time playback impossible. Multiclips and multiple video layers require many video streams to play back simultaneously. A faster hard disk allows more streams to play back simultaneously in real time.
  • Codec: Not all codecs are supported by RT Extreme, but the most commonly used ones are. Some codecs require more processing power and RAM to play back than others. For example, the long-GOP MPEG-2 compression used by HDV requires more RAM and processing power to decompress than I-frame-only codecs such as DV. For more information, see Supported Real-Time Playback Codecs.
  • External video monitoring: Enabling output via FireWire or other video interfaces requires additional processing power and may limit the number of effects you can play back in real time. For more information, see External Video Monitoring.