Timescapes - Digital Timelapse Discussion

MacPro Users - Can you Playback CR2 Sequences in Real Time?
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Author:  grantkaye [ Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:57 pm ]
Post subject:  MacPro Users - Can you Playback CR2 Sequences in Real Time?

Having a Mac/PC Debate with a buddy who assures me that a modern MacPro with dual 6GB video cards and 64 GB of RAM can load a sequence of ~200 Canon 5D3 CR2 files into After Effects and then simply hit the spacebar and the sequence will play in the comp in real time?

Anyone out there with a MacPro that can confirm if this is true?

Author:  pixelbot [ Thu Apr 14, 2016 3:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MacPro Users - Can you Playback CR2 Sequences in Real Ti

I'm a pretty died in the wool mac user and even I don't think that is possible - you may be able to ram preview it, however the big time suck on Raw sequences is the disk access time - you'd need to address that and I don't think technology is there for anyone right now.

good luck

Author:  cinewrangler [ Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MacPro Users - Can you Playback CR2 Sequences in Real Ti

I don't have AE and also no Mac Pro. But I wrote the CinemaDNG plugin for a commercial editing system that now plays two streams of 2.6k DNGs on a fairly average machine in realtime. The CR2 plugin for the same system that also I made is way slower.
One reason is the larger filesize and the other is the compression. CR2 files compress the whole image data in one block. Decompressing that is a sequential process that can not be run on multiple CPUs in parallel (or on the GPU, which would also only work with parallel processing). So all you can do is decompress several frames on multipe CPUs in parallel. With clever pre-caching and a 12-core machine it might be possible to play short sequences up to a few seconds from a RAM buffer. But not "long" sequences. If we're talking about 2k or HD video at 8bits, that's 8MB per frame... so 64GB RAM can hold many frames. But the question would be how long it takes to preload that.


Author:  grantkaye [ Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MacPro Users - Can you Playback CR2 Sequences in Real Ti

Thanks you guys very insightful info. CineWrgangler, I'd love to know more about the CNG plugin you wrote.

I asked a leading custom PC builder's knowledgeable tech support this question in the context of "could you build a PC that would do this", and have been having a very interesting dialogue with them via email. Here is what they had to say:

You could get another 10-15% more performance for generating 1:1
previews in LR by going up to something like dual Xeon E5-2643 or E5-2667 CPUs
(those are about the same performance and would actually be the 100% best
performance possible for that task), but that would be another couple grand at
least. They would also be a bit slower for every other LR task. Nothing else
would really give a noticeable increase in performance. In fact, for just this
task a Core i7-6700K should be about the same performance.
> As for AE, a lot of it depends on what version (you are)is using. If (you're) using
AE 2015 or later, performance is just bad because they are in the middle or
re-doing all their code. If (you're) using AE 2015, the efficiency for scrubbing
the timeline (viewing without pre-rendering) is anywhere from 0% (single
threaded) to ~90% depending on the project. On average, I would say it is about
80% effiicient but it also drops off to nothing after 4-6 cores. If (you) can use AE 2014 (and has the
"render multiple frames simultaneously" option turned on), he could
get much higher performance .For that, the efficiency is higher at ~88% on
average and doesn't have a drop-off until a much, much higher core count
(~16 cores or so). Even then, (you) would have to go up to fairly high-end dual
Xeon to get better performance. 2x E5-2640 would be ~4% faster, 2x E5-2660 would
be ~13% faster, 2x E5-2667 would be ~20% faster. Those are all pretty pricey,
however so it would be a significant investment.
Really the only upgrade I could suggest that would actually
give better performance for both of the tasks listed would be 2x E5-2667 but
that would be another $3000-4000.
> One thing though: I saw (you were) as talking about using a faster SSD to spend up
the his playback without pre-rendering. Drive speed isn't really going to
do much for playback without pre-rendering in AE - that task is almost an
entirely CPU-bound. Bascially, SSDs are nice for launching programs and such
faster, but I've never seen using an even faster drive impact things like
preview playback, exporting, or importing in any video or photo editing

To me, a system and software is just a tool, I'm not a huge proponent of "MAC RULES! PC SUCKS" or "PC RULES MAC SUCKS!' I just want to make the best timelapses I can and not have them take forever to process.

Author:  cinewrangler [ Sat Apr 16, 2016 8:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MacPro Users - Can you Playback CR2 Sequences in Real Ti

grantkaye wrote:
CineWrgangler, I'd love to know more about the CNG plugin you wrote.

That is the plugin which ships with Interactive FX's Piranha editing system. I'm not totally sure whether the web downloads from their site include the latest version of the plugin. There was a substantial playback speed increase with a later version of the plugin. I only used it on OS X briefly (on a dated Mac Mini, in order to compile the plugin for the Mac version), so I have no idea whether playback performance matches that of the Linux version.
Unfortunately the CR2 plugin is not included with Piranha. There was probably just not enough people asking for CR2 support. - But since I've worked for years on increasing the speed of CR2 file processing I can say the fastest I ever got was slightly more than 2 frames per second for a conversion of 18 megapixel CR2 files to 2k EXRs. File source and destination both on SSD drives and processing fully on the GPU (apart from decompressing). Just displaying them instead of doing readback from the GPU might be slightly faster. But that's a very long way from 24fps realtime playback without any pre-buffering required. Whenever I thought we'd get closer to the goal, the next generation of cameras had more megapixels; so larger files, longer file access times and longer time to decompress.


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