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TOPIC: What to expect from editing on external SSD

What to expect from editing on external SSD 26 Sep 2019 01:38 #101648

  • brown7905
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Here are my specs:

2019 iMac 5k
3.7Ghz i5
16GB 2667 MHz DDR4
Radeon Pro Vega 48 8GB
2TB Fusion Drive

I've been largely editing on a 4TB external HDD, but there was some stuttering and I felt it could be faster so I've got a 500GB SanDisk SSD USB 3.1 plugged into my Thunderbolt 3.

I set the settings for the new Library on the SSD to be:

Media: In Library
Motion Content: In Library
Cache: In Library
Backups: On the SSD

I plan to edit my active projects on the SSD and once they're completed move them over to my HDD. Does it seem like I've got everything set up as optimally as possible? I know I could upgrade the RAM on my machine, and I probably will in the next couple of months (it can go up to 64GB). Just wondering on opinions and speed.

Things feel pretty good, but exports sometimes take a while. Not sure if I'm just expecting too much. Any thoughts and opinions on the whole process setup would be greatly appreciated.
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What to expect from editing on external SSD 26 Sep 2019 10:23 #101657

  • joema
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Re RAM, you only need an upgrade if Activity Monitor shows memory pressure: support.apple.com/en-us/HT201464#memory

Re optimal I/O layout in general you want the library and cache on a separate drive from the media. This is because media I/O is dominated by large sequential reads vs library/cache I/O is dominated by small random reads & writes. However an SSD is very fast so it can probably do both.

Your biggest problem is the SSD is quite small by today's standards. It will not hold much media. Also everything must be backed up, both system drive and external drive. You need a separate backup drive for that.

Re "exports sometimes take a while", this depends on the codec but is rarely I/O-limited. If you are exporting in H264, try using this:

File>Share>Master Fiile
Settings>Format: Computer
Video Codec: H.264 Faster Encode
Resolution: 1920 x 1080

On your machine exporting 4k H264 to 1080p H264 using that preset should be about 4x or 5x faster than real time, IOW 15 sec for every 60 sec of material. That is excluding effects - those can take considerable time.
I cannot see any visual difference for any material I've tested when doing "Faster Encode" vs "Better Quality".
Last Edit: 26 Sep 2019 10:24 by joema.
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What to expect from editing on external SSD 26 Sep 2019 13:41 #101660

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Awesome, thanks for this info! As I said with the SSD, it's mainly meant for editing my current projects and moving them over to my HDD after they're completed. I agree a larger one would be better, but at least it's a good start for now. But you think that having Final Cut running off my iMac's fusion drive, but editing on the SSD is good enough?

In terms of backup, I use Backblaze, which is consistently backing up to the cloud. My drives are pretty much always plugged in, so no issue there.

As for exports, the 4x to 5x faster point is very good to know! I've definitely been hitting at least that, if not even better. So as I said in my initial post, I was wondering if I just had crazy expectations, which it seems I did a bit, but this is great information that really helps. Thanks again!
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What to expect from editing on external SSD 26 Sep 2019 14:04 #101663

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Side note: you should not set your SSD as the place where you have your backups. If the drive goes down then the backups also go down with them. Also, I'm personally not a fan of keeping Media in the Library, but that's because I often need to pass things to others on my team and daily backups of our Libraries would be untenable.
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What to expect from editing on external SSD 26 Sep 2019 15:54 #101666

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brown7905 wrote:
...Things feel pretty good, but exports sometimes take a while. Not sure if I'm just expecting too much. Any thoughts and opinions on the whole process setup would be greatly appreciated.
So, has the stuttering gone away? I use an external 2TB HDD and get some stuttering of 4K footage, mostly when I review full screen. I have just come to accept it and I know it goes away on export. BUT, if moving to SDD gets ride of it (connecting via USB-C) then maybe I'll invest in one. Thanks...
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What to expect from editing on external SSD 27 Sep 2019 08:55 #101678

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I would also recommend the cache be on a different drive than the SSD. You can move the cache back when you're done editing and before you move the Library to its final forever home. I edit on a 2 TB Sandisk SSD and I still notice the same beachballs and stutters as when I edit using a laptop hard drive spinning at 5400 RPM connected via a USB 2 cable with a short in it. But moving the cache has helped. I don't get great results from my SSD. About 357 MBPS write and 352 MBPS read. Pretty slow! And this is USB 3 connected directly to the Mac (not going through any hubs). SSD is supposed to be faster than that, but I have a Mac Pro and I have heard the USB throughput on these are not as good as they should be. I haven't done any real research so I don't know how true that is. I wonder if there is a USB 3 to Thunderbolt 2 dongle that would give me better speeds. Still, like I said, I get the same stuttering and beach balls so it may just be the janky Xeon CPU. I really think the i CPUs in the non-pro machines are better for FCP.

Oh, and make sure Spotlight isn't constantly looking at your drive. Go into System Preferences and forbid Spotlight from touching it, even though it really really wants to.
Last Edit: 27 Sep 2019 08:57 by Redifer.
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What to expect from editing on external SSD 27 Sep 2019 15:08 #101682

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Thanks for all the advice, everyone! I turned off Spotlight for the drives.

One other question....when exporting should I export to the SSD or just to the Mac itself? Will it improve performance to export to a certain location?
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What to expect from editing on external SSD 30 Sep 2019 22:29 #101716

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Redifer wrote:
...make sure Spotlight isn't constantly looking at your drive. Go into System Preferences and forbid Spotlight from touching it, even though it really really wants to.

Just curious what's the basis for disabling Spotlight on a media drive. When doing disk benchmarks it's a good idea to disable it - simply to get more consistent numbers. But in all the disk benchmarks I've done it's never dramatically hurt performance.

I've previously speculated that FCPX may use Spotlight to expedite certain types of access, and that was based on some tests I did several years ago. I am not certain that's the case. I just did an FCPX relink test and didn't see an advantage from having Spotlight enabled.

That said, on a large deeply-nested media volume I frequently need to manually search for files using Finder. With Spotlight disabled I can only do that with a slow brute-force search.

Spotlight allows various metadata searches on image and video data. E.g, for still photos you can do CMD+F in Finder and search like this:

fstop:2.8
iso:12800
lens:70-200
make: Sony, Canon, Panasonic, etc
model: 7RM3, 5D Mark III, etc

Or you can combine these with capitalized Boolean terms. E.g:

fstop:2.8 AND lens:24-70 AND make: Sony

It is usually easier to add the above search items to Finder by doing CMD+F, picking the left drop-down menu and picking "Other". That gives a long scrollable list of items you can add to the Finder search. For video files you can search for bit rate, pixel width, pixel height, and codec.

There is a separate search capability available in Finder called a "raw query". This can be enabled by selecting "other" as above. The available raw query terms can be determined by starting a terminal window and type "mdls " (without the quotes but with a trailing space), then drag/drop a sample image or video file from Finder to the terminal window. It will show you what searchable metadata items exist. E.g:

kMDItemCodecs == "*ProRes 422*" && kMDItemAudioChannelCount == 4 && kMDItemPixelWidth == 1920

www.macissues.com/2014/05/12/how-to-look...le-metadata-in-os-x/
Last Edit: 01 Oct 2019 11:00 by joema.
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What to expect from editing on external SSD 01 Oct 2019 20:25 #101725

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joema wrote:
Redifer wrote:
...
Spotlight allows various metadata searches on image and video data. E.g, for still photos you can do CMD+F in Finder and search like this:

fstop:2.8
iso:12800
lens:70-200
make: Sony, Canon, Panasonic, etc
model: 7RM3, 5D Mark III, etc

Or you can combine these with capitalized Boolean terms. E.g:

fstop:2.8 AND lens:24-70 AND make: Sony

It is usually easier to add the above search items to Finder by doing CMD+F, picking the left drop-down menu and picking "Other". That gives a long scrollable list of items you can add to the Finder search. For video files you can search for bit rate, pixel width, pixel height, and codec.

There is a separate search capability available in Finder called a "raw query". This can be enabled by selecting "other" as above. The available raw query terms can be determined by starting a terminal window and type "mdls " (without the quotes but with a trailing space), then drag/drop a sample image or video file from Finder to the terminal window. It will show you what searchable metadata items exist...

Wow. Thank you!
I never knew any of this search capability existed.

So, you are staying that if I'm looking for the source video of something I may only have a snippet of, I can past it into the raw query box and it'll find matching files! WOW.
Last Edit: 01 Oct 2019 20:26 by KiterTodd1.
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What to expect from editing on external SSD 01 Oct 2019 20:47 #101726

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KiterTodd1 wrote:
...So, you are staying that if I'm looking for the source video of something I may only have a snippet of, I can past it into the raw query box and it'll find matching files! WOW.

No, but if you have a short clip you can examine the metadata then search for all files with matching metadata. For stills this could include lens, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc. For video it includes codec, pixel height, pixel width, clip duration, video bit rate, audio bit rate and # of audio channels.

Since Spotlight indexes those metadata items, the search is almost instant, even across many terabytes.

The 3rd-party command-line tool ExifTool can extract much more metadata from both audio and video files, but it is not an indexed search. It can recursively search down a folder tree for certain metadata but this is a brute-force sequential search not an indexed search: www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/
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What to expect from editing on external SSD 05 Oct 2019 04:55 #101784

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I turn off Spotlight on my SSD edit drive simply because the only thing I store on there are in-progress FCP Libraries and I don't need the OS cataloging the drive every time a change is made. I never need to search for a file that may be on the drive. So having Spotlight enabled on the external SSD would be a waste of system resources and it might interfere with the IO which is already not that great. The cache lives on a different drive which is Spotlighted since other non-related stuff lives on that drive as well. Other Libraries such as Vdieo and Sound Elements which I use in many projects also lives on a different drive, so if FCP uses Spotlight to search for stuff like sound effects, those aren't affected. I'll take all of the IO help I can get. Keep in mind that my computer is extremely weak. It's a Late 2013 Mac Pro.
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