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Bizarre Final Cut Pro Issues - any ideas?  

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DroneBot Workshop
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I'm posting this in the General Discussion forum, as it isn't related to the stuff we usually talk about. But as it IS very related to the lack of video content from me lately I thought it was appropriate - besides, I own the forum so I figured it was OK LOL.

😎

Those of you who read my last newsletter are aware that I'm having some issues with some of the new equipment I'm using to create videos. Specifically frame-dropping issues.  

Many of you have written to me offering suggestions, and I thank you for that. I have now narrowed the problem down to one specific set of things, but, as the title of this post says, it's bizarre.

The issue seems to occur only with screen recording videos. I'm using a "Cloner Alliance UHD Lite" 4K video recorder, replacing the older AGPTEK 1080 HD recorder I used to use.  For some pretty obvious reasons, I don't do screen recordings using software, so I need a hardware recorder.  The Cloner Alliance was pretty cheap (about 250 dollars) compared to other 4k recorders, most of which start at 1000 dollars a pop, so I was trying to save some money.  Maybe that was a mistake.

This device records 4K video at 30fps and digitizes audio at 48k. It produces an MP4 file, which I save on a USB drive.

The recordings that it makes play back properly on my computers, and when I import them into Final Cut Pro they also look fine. I have no problem syncing to my audio tracks, a stereo and mono one created on a ZOOM H6, and once they sync in Final Cut Pro they still look fine.

But when I go to render the video, I run into frame-dropping issues. Only with recordings made on the UHD Lite. And it isn't just a single frame dropping, it is lots of them, several seconds worth, so the recording is unusable.  Not every screen recording, but usually at least one or two in a video.

I have set my most recent project to render at 30 fps, and I have a camera that also produces 4K video at 30fps - plus my animations can be set to any frame rate I want to, so I set them for 30 fps as well.  One of my cameras has a fixed frame rate of 23.98 fps, but that doesn't seem to cause any problems.

But, now the BIZARRE issue!

I am working on my new Mac Mini, which has the new Apple Silicon M1 chip. When I rendered my last two videos (one of which is still unreleased but is on YouTube waiting for me to hit "Publish") they both failed, giving me an error message with the frame number of the problem point. In both cases, the frame was in one of those screen recordings.

But, I have found a way to render them - and that's what is so bizarre.

I have another Mac Mini, my older (2018) model with the Intel i7 chip. If I copy the project file, which is huge (my most recent one was 525 GB), to the older Mac it renders properly - but it takes a VERY long time.

On the new M1 Mini I get the error on my latest video at the 71% mark, it took about 35 minutes to get to that point and fail.

On the older Intel i7 Mini, I can render the video, but it took 7 1/2 hours!

Both machines have the latest macOS and the latest release of Final Cut Pro, and the settings are (as far as I can tell) identical.

So while I do have a workaround with the older Mac Mini it makes no sense, especially as Final Cut Pro is supposed to have been one of the first applications optimized for the new M1 chip. Plus, now that Apple has announced an even more powerful "M1X" Mini I'm thinking of upgrading again and using the current MI Mini to replace the Intel one. 

So I want to get this resolved, hopefully without resorting to buying another screen recorder.

Does ANYONE have any ideas as to why I get this error on the M1 Mini but not the i7 Mini? And, more importantly, how do I fix this?

Thanks for any assistance you can offer.  Once I resolve this I can produce many more videos.

😎

Bill

 

 

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


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LydaRA
(@lydara)
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Sounds like you've found an Apple "M1 1.0 Bug."  Apple is no better than any other firm, they all suffer issues with ".0" releases--especially true with "1.0" releases.  Not that you've chosen a bad platform, just that you've gotten too close to the bleeding edge.

Then too, besides the new chip architecture, datacenters are starting to see random data corruptions!  The chips are starting to be too small & fast to give reproducible results!  Apple, Microsoft, Google, & Amazon have all formed response teams to take the manufacturers to task...

Moore's Law about to pass?  ;-(


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MadMisha
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I believe that Final Cut Pro has some issues rendering because of SSD(as well as some HDD). You could try using a different external drive with at least 20% free space.

 

How are you conforming the clip? Have you tried the other methods? Is background render enabled? Do you have it set to warn you about dropped frames?


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DroneBot Workshop
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@madmisha

Thanks for a very enlightening response!

Posted by: @madmisha

I believe that Final Cut Pro has some issues rendering because of SSD(as well as some HDD). You could try using a different external drive with at least 20% free space.

On both machines, the source file (i.e. the huge project file) is on an external SSD. The target in both cases is an external hard disk, both have well over 20% of space left. 

The newer M1 Mini is rendering to a Western Digital Gold 7200 rpm 16 TB drive, which is part of a set of four identical drives that are in an enclosure with a USB-C connections. The four drives are independent, no array or joining of any sort.  There is over 15.5 TB free on that drive. It is formatted with APFS.

The older i7 (the one that succeeds) is rendering to an 8 TB Western Digital 5600 rpm "My Book" external hard drive, which has over 3.5 TB free. It is formatted with exFAT.

I was wondering about the different drive formats, although it really shouldn't affect anything, but I'm at the stage where I will consider anything!  Odd though that the problem would be with the APFS formatted drive, as that is Apples recommended format.

Posted by: @madmisha

How are you conforming the clip?

Final Cut Pro only provides options to conform clips if they have a different frame size or frame rate than the project has been set to. So in this case I have no option to conform the clips, as they are the same size (3840 x 2160) and rate (30 frames per second) as the project.

Posted by: @madmisha

Is background render enabled?

Yes, it is on both machines, as Final Cut Pro has it enabled by default.  Is there a reason to turn it off? I like it as I need to do some pretty extensive editing to synchronize my audio with the crude "animations" I make, so that causes it to render those clips in the background.

However, the screen recordings don't require that, as it's just a basic synchronization of three sources (the screen recording plus the two audio tracks).

Posted by: @madmisha

Do you have it set to warn you about dropped frames?

Sorry, I'm a bit confused, as video production is (quite obviously) not my field of expertise.   Can you please elaborate about setting a warning for dropped frames? Is this done during the import process or the editing process?  It certainly sounds interesting.

The only "warning" I get about dropped frames is the message I get during the export process, when it fails on the M1 Mini. The message for the most recent video is as follows:

Error: RenderFrameAt returned: 4 for absolute frame 71706

When I go back and set my time display to display frames, I find that frame 71706 is part of a screen recording.  And when I view it, the screen goes black on those areas, while the audio is still intact.

But when I view it BEFORE I try and export it is fine, no "black" screens. And when I copy the project file to the older i7 Mini it also looks fine, plus the older Mini can successfully export it without raising any errors. And the final video it creates doesn't have those "blackouts".

BTW, when I export video, I usually choose the "Facebook & YouTube 4K Video" option on both machines. On the M1 I have tried a number of other 4K options, they all fail with the same error message. In all cases, I have it set for "Better Quality" instead of "Faster Render".

I've considered purchasing Apple Compressor to see if I have better success, I was thinking of getting it and Motion anyway.   Perhaps Compressor will have better luck on the M1 Mini, but I really shouldn't have to do that as FCP should be able to render a video!

It sounds like you know quite a bit about FCP, so any more thought s you have would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks

😎

Bill

This post was modified 1 month ago by DroneBot Workshop

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


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MadMisha
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Posted by: @dronebot-workshop

It is formatted with APFS.

I can't find the article but I don't remember the format being mentioned. It was stating that it was the SSD causing the issue. Maybe the buffer or how it writes in blocks. That's just a guess. I have also seen a recommendation that you don't use your system drive so that it stays free to run your OS.

Posted by: @dronebot-workshop

 Can you please elaborate about setting a warning for dropped frames?

It is in your playback preferences. It sounded like you uploaded it and YouTube told you about the dropped frames. At least that would warn you before uploading.

Posted by: @dronebot-workshop

The message for the most recent video is as follows:

Error: RenderFrameAt returned: 4 for absolute frame 71706

It's possible that it's a corrupted file. One machine could be smoothing it out and the other acting in an absolute manner. Or, because it works on your other machine, maybe the different system format is an issue after all. I'm not sure on that and it sounds unlikely but not impossible. FCPX does not have the easier fix the previous versions had. Maybe run Disk Utility to be safe.

Posted by: @dronebot-workshop

I've considered purchasing Apple Compressor to see if I have better success, I was thinking of getting it and Motion anyway.

Compression is usually the issue for dropped frames.

 

I am not an expert on FCP. I actually avoid the video department whenever I can. If you were planning on getting the compressor anyways, I would probably go ahead and do that.


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LydaRA
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I'd reduce the number of variables....disks, formats, processors, GPUs, etc...  Probably the quickest & easiest to test would be simply moving the "working " WD into the "failing" Mac and vice versa.


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DroneBot Workshop
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Posted by: @lydara

Probably the quickest & easiest to test would be simply moving the "working " WD into the "failing" Mac and vice versa.

Yes, I'm going about that approach now, except from the opposite direction. Because the source SSD's on both machines also have the same formatting difference as the target ones.

It's also really easy to move the "original" source SSD on the "non-working M1" to the "working i7", as both machines use portable SSD's, although the newer one is USB-C and the older one is MicroUSB.  

Each machine can also access the others work directory on the LAN, so they can run their counterparts project file over the network.

And if that fails, I will try the targets.  Physically, the drives would be difficult to move, but I can use some longer cables to interconnect them.

And I'm also buying another external SSD that I can temporarily use as a source or target and reformat at will, to troubleshoot with.

However, it would seem strange to me that a storage device error would only affect one device's clip, I would think I'd have errors all over the place. 

Also, it takes 7 1/2 hours to render completely on the working machine. The error occurs at he 71% point of the render, so it will take me over 5 hours to test for errors on the currently working machine (but only about 35 minutes on the newer one), so it uses up two of my computers for a good spell.

I only want to do that a few times!

😎

Bill

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


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DroneBot Workshop
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Posted by: @madmisha

It sounded like you uploaded it and YouTube told you about the dropped frames. At least that would warn you before uploading.

No, that is incorrect, I must have described it poorly, sorry.  I think I confused this by mentioning the "Facebook & YouTube" setting.

That setting does not automatically upload to YouTube, as previous versions of FCP did (although I never used it back then either). It now just creates an MOV file that you upload in the traditional way, on Chrome via the Creator dashboard. 

YouTube does not give me any errors. The error I quoted comes from Final Cut Pro when I am trying to render the MOV file, in the "Share" process. 

The "Facebook & YouTube" setting just formats that MOV file with some presets for a 4K video optimized for those platforms. And I have tried other ones as well. 

I also generally export an additional 720p file, so I can extract images for the accompanying article. It also fails at the same frame.

Posted by: @madmisha

Maybe run Disk Utility to be safe.

That's a good idea 🤔 

Posted by: @madmisha

If you were planning on getting the compressor anyways, I would probably go ahead and do that.

Yes, I think I'll get it, and it's licensed to be installed on both machines. So if nothing else, I could do some other tests.

Posted by: @madmisha

I am not an expert on FCP. I actually avoid the video department whenever I can.

Well for a non-expert you've been of great help, food of thought anyway.

I actually like the video making process, at least when everything works.  Right now, though, it's a bit frustrating, more so as I have a major financial investment in all of this new computer and video stuff. So it bothers me that it isn't all working together.

Personally, I think there may be an issue with the source file. I'm going to try to import those "offending" files into a new project on the i7, and then using that project file in the M1. 

Maybe I can just import the project files into the M1 via the i7, doing the import on the i7 but connecting to the M1 project file over the network.  I'd close FCP on the M1 while this was happening, as I'm not sure how two copies controlling the same project file would work!

If all I had to do is import the screen capture video via the i7 I could live with that, at least for a while.

😎

Bill

 

 

 

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


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MadMisha
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Posted by: @dronebot-workshop

The newer M1 Mini is rendering to a Western Digital Gold 7200 rpm 16 TB drive, which is part of a set of four identical drives that are in an enclosure with a USB-C connections. The four drives are independent, no array or joining of any sort.  There is over 15.5 TB free on that drive. It is formatted with APFS.

This did trigger something in my mind but I forgot to mention it. APFS is recommended for SSDs. For mechanical hard drives, it is recommended to use Mac OS Extended(HSF+) since the benefits from APFS don't really apply to them. I don't think this would cause your problem but I also can't rule it out.

 

Since you are editing 4K your read/write speed might be an issue. It has been reported that some people have had a frame dropping issue because their HDD cannot keep up(7200 RPM is minimum recommendation in HSF+, APFS double writes and it might not be fast enough). If you have an extra SSD (It is highly unfortunate that they don't use M.2) try rendering to that(as a test), even if it's your system drive. You can also test the speed of your drive using Blackmagic Disk Speed Test. I don't always trust the rated RPM. The recent scandal does not help either but I can't remember if that was NAS specific.

 

Edit: Link to drive formats


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DroneBot Workshop
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Posted by: @madmisha

APFS is recommended for SSDs. For mechanical hard drives, it is recommended to use Mac OS Extended(HSF+) since the benefits from APFS don't really apply to them.

That is very interesting, I was a bit unclear about which drive format to use and read up on it a bit before I set them up.  But I finally just went for APFS, as that's what the drive utility picked by default.  And thanks for the link!

😎

Fortunately it's not too late to change it, as the M1 setup was only finished in April, so there isn't much data to backup and restore. I have lots of options, between my NAS and just moving the data between drives as I format them.

Posted by: @madmisha

It has been reported that some people have had a frame dropping issue because their HDD cannot keep up(7200 RPM is minimum recommendation in HSF+, APFS double writes and it might not be fast enough). If you have an extra SSD (It is highly unfortunate that they don't use M.2) try rendering to that(as a test), even if it's your system drive. You can also test the speed of your drive using Blackmagic Disk Speed Test. I don't always trust the rated RPM. The recent scandal does not help either but I can't remember if that was NAS specific.

Well actually, if that was the case you would think that the older Mini would be having issues, as it renders to a 5600 rpm drive. The newer M1 renders to a 7200 rpm drive.  But, of course, the M1 is a lot faster than the i7, by a huge magnitude, so maybe 7600 rpm isn't even enough.  9600 rpm drives would cost a fortune!

The SSD is a good idea, I'm getting another one anyway because of this issue - the older i7 Mac only had a 1 TB external SSD, which was fine for 1080 work but is pretty small for 4K. So I'm ordering a very fast 2 TB external SSD.  And I can use it for all kinds of testing first.  And, if it resolves it, I'll just get another SSD for the new M1 to use permanently for renders.

I want to be careful in my testing and reconfiguring that I still retain the option to create the project file on the new M1  and render it on the i7, as currently it's the only way I can create videos.

😎

Bill

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


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Spyder
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@dronebot-workshop

There's a lot to fathom here

You're saying that screen grabbing seems to be the issue ?

I saw this video by NovaSpirit on KVM. I bought the parts for it, but haven't had the chance to try them out yet... Too many other projects going on, but it seemed worthy enough to have the parts ready for when I did have time

And there's this one that I did try, and it works, but the file sizes were so large that they weren't something that I could easily share, so I'm still looking for a file shrinker thingy. The pineapple thing (Handbrake) is working to shrink them, but it's a bit of a long processing time (for me anyway, on my old win7 machine)

I'm probably misunderstanding your issue, but this seemed relevant for my meager understanding


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DroneBot Workshop
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Posted by: @spyder

And there's this one that I did try, and it works, but the file sizes were so large that they weren't something that I could easily share, so I'm still looking for a file shrinker thingy. The pineapple thing (Handbrake) is working to shrink them, but it's a bit of a long processing time (for me anyway, on my old win7 machine)

No, file size is not the issue, unless perhaps they are too small and don't contain enough useable info.

These files are rarely over 200 Mb. An "intro" clip that I do on the camera and that is less than 30 seconds is usually about 2.5 GB.  

4K video means dealing with very large file sizes!

😎

Bill

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


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DaveMorris
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Just a curiosity question...Why are you moving to doing your videos in 4k?  Nobody viewing them online will be seeing them in 4k and it seems like a lot of expense and effort to go through.  I work in the staging/production events industry and we rarely use 4k even for live events.  Streaming capabilities and internet bandwidth issues make it difficult for the average viewer to see 4k content. While YouTube and other online streaming entities may accept 4k content, they are rarely ever streaming it in 4k.

Just some food for thought.


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MadMisha
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@davemorris

We do sometimes. LED video walls don't really need it(It would have to be scaled down in the video server). But when we do projection, especially video mapping, we may run 4K (The Weeknd Starboy tour was running a 4K rig I believe). I have had it requested on smaller events too. Over half of Barco production projectors are 4K now(I wouldn't compare it to cinema because that'd be unfair).

 

But for YouTube, it's practically expected by the viewers now. I don't personally think the difference is even noticeable in most use cases though.


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DaveMorris
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Posted by: @madmisha

We do sometimes. LED video walls don't really need it(It would have to be scaled down in the video server). But when we do projection, especially video mapping, we may run 4K (The Weeknd Starboy tour was running a 4K rig I believe). I have had it requested on smaller events too. Over half of Barco production projectors are 4K now(I wouldn't compare it to cinema because that'd be unfair).

I take it you work in the staging industry?  I am a Technical Director doing mostly corporate events and to be honest, almost every time we do an LED wall the resolution is way higher than 4k but in a custom layout. 

That said, I do not believe that most people are looking at a 4k streaming video from YouTube.  They usually wouldn't know that they have to enable it in the YT settings.

Overall in Bill's case, it certainly wouldn't hurt anything to do 4k.  I just don't think 98% of the viewers out there will see it in 4k, at least for a long while yet.


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