Perhaps I Was a Bit Ambitious

The movie I’m working on now involves two shows each running 5 simultaneous 1080p angles. The source material is AVC-Intra shot with 3700 Varicams. When I brought the footage into FCP, I converted to ProRes HQ because I thought our system could handle it. We bought a Caldigit HD Element just for this movie, and it’s a year-old 8-core Mac Pro. We played through both shows, watching all 5 angles at once and playing out 1080i through the Intensity Pro and never skipped a frame. However, once I started editing, trouble appeared almost immediately. Every once in a while a dark green frame would suddenly appear in the Viewer or Canvas windows, and FCP would usually crash immediately after. Sometimes it wouldn’t, but eventually as soon as I saw the green frame I would just save and shut down the program.

I went through driver updates on the Intensity and Element, tried rolling back QuickTime to version 7.5.5, and FCP to 6.0.4 (which is hard to do since Apple doesn’t let you download old update files. Save those things, kids.) Nothing helped. But the word on the street is that ProRes HQ is still pretty damn fancy. Cutting 5 simultaneous angles is a bit too much for some component of the computer to handle, and you’re unlikely to see any difference between HQ and SQ anyway. So I re-transferred everything to ProRes sans HQ. No dice. Still crashing every 15 minutes, although the green frame showed up less often.

On Friday I decided to use the Media Manager to transcode everything to 720p DVCPRO HD. It was estimating 26 hours of encode time when I left. This morning I arrived at work with a fully functional project with everything properly linked up, and it plays perfectly. I edited all day without a single crash or green flash. Even better, I’m able to play out the multiclips to the HD monitor at full quality. With ProRes I could only do medium or low. Hooray for DVCPRO HD! And hooray for a fully functional Media Manager!

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