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  1. #1

    p_rod's Avatar
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    Oct 04, 2010
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    Late '09 iMac; Late '11 MBAir
    Choppy 1080, smooth 720 playback?
    I recently received a new Go Pro Hero 3 (Black Edition) and my question is this.

    When playing back a video shot in 1080 rez, playback on my iMac is very choppy (but the audio is just fine). When shot in 720 rez, it plays back beautifully, using either Quicktime for preliminary viewing, or Adobe Premier for editing.

    My iMac is a late 2009 model, 3.06 GHz, Intel Core 2 Duo; 4GB 1067 MHz DDR3; Graphics:ATI Radeon HD 4670 256 MB; and Mt. Lion 10-8-2.

    I just got off the phone with a technical advisor at MacMall and he did not think it was a 'shortage' of memory (which IS upgradeable) or video card (not upgradeable). He said to check the version of QuickTime to see if it is updated (I have yet to do that), and I should also tell you that these 1080 vids run just fine on my one year old MacBook Air 11" (although it doesn't have the storage capacity or the screen size to be 'comfortable' doing much video editing. Also, a 12 minute 1080 video is about 6 GB in size...it would fill up my little MBA in no time. ;-)

    Any suggestions?

    I am resigned to the fact that I may be shooting in 720 from here on out, and really, that is not all that bad a deal to me. I really cannot tell much difference between the 720 and 1080 when I plug the Go Pro directly into my HD TV and watch the raw footages there. But as long as I have it (and the new Go Pro also shoots in 1440 rez), I'd like to be able to use it from time to time.

    As always, TIA!

    Cheers!

    Pat

  2. #2


    Member Since
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    Victoria, BC
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    Mid-2012 MBP (16GB, 1TB HD), Monoprice 24-inch second monitor, iPhone 5s 32GB, iPad Air 2 64GB
    It's almost certainly the video card. You may want to check and see if there are any updated drivers for it, but I doubt there will be.

  3. #3

    p_rod's Avatar
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    As always, chas, thank you for your reply!

    Cheers!

    Pat

  4. #4


    Member Since
    Dec 15, 2011
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    Mac Mini Server 2.0GHz Intel Core i7 Quad Core, MacBook Pro Retina 2.6 GHz
    Updated drivers should be released shortly ...

  5. #5

    IvanLasston's Avatar
    Member Since
    Feb 26, 2010
    Location
    Rocky Mountain High, Colorado
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    2,116
    Specs:
    1.8 GHz i7 MBA 11" OSX 10.8.2
    I just tried playing a 1080p shot with a Contour HD on my late 2009 C2D 2.8 GHz with 8GB of RAM and a 9600 M GT video card. The CPU gets hit but the RAM doesn't really take a hit. It plays fine - and you have a full desktop video card and a faster processor. So I would suspect something else is going on with your iMac. With a geekbench score of 4297 (avg) vs 3764 (avg) of my laptop - you should not be seeing choppy 1080 playback on that machine because of those hardware specs.

    Oh - one more thing - the Contour puts out .mov h.264 files. It looks like the Hero 3 does the same h.264 in mp4 (haven't dug into the technical differences there but mov is native for quicktime)

    The one thing is - what storage drive do you have? Is it the 500GB 5400RPM drive? That is one thing I do not have - I replaced my 5400 RPM drives with 7200 RPM drives so I don't know if that would cause the choppiness. One thing you could try is black magic
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blac...25264550?mt=12
    and see what it says about your drive.

    Lastly - I too have an MBA - and although I do not keep my Contour files on the main hard drive - I have found that keeping the files on a thunderbolt drive are sufficient for playback - so I have 2 daisy chained TB drives hooked to my MBA to store my 1080 files.

    I typed that all up - and now that I did some digging - there may be other issues. Since there are a pile of settings on the camera -
    HERO3 Black Edition | Wi-Fi enabled | Most Advanced HD GoPro Ever
    do you know what you have set for the 720 vs the 1080? Could it be the FPS is too high? I just checked my recordings at 1080 and my frame rate is 29.97 and data rate is 14.41Mbps - you can get the information from quicktime with cmd-I or Window -> Show Movie Inspector. At any rate if your drive cannot sustain the movie data rate - then that would explain the choppiness as well.

  6. #6

    p_rod's Avatar
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    Oct 04, 2010
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    Specs:
    Late '09 iMac; Late '11 MBAir
    pw... thank you for the reply! One simple ? for U..... where do I look to find if, and when, drivers are updated?

    TIA!


    and Ivan!

    I just received these two replies on my iPhone.....as soon as I get home I'll do some checking! I was working on some time lapse videos last night....all shot in 720.....and I also have my 'resources' {activity monitor} reduced down in the right hand corner of the screen... and while viewing these videos, they start out just fine...but as they play on, the RAM starts topping out.....and then the videos get "choppy".

    I'll do a little research into the Go Pro settings too..... but I really thought my iMac would handle everything this little camera throws at it.....I hate the thought of possibly having to update the whole machine...I thought it had the "stones" to handle stuff like this. ;-(

    But man, this little camera is the bomb...it really takes some beautiful vids and pics....weighs about 2 ounces, is the size of a standard matchbox....a truly incredible little cam for what it can do. It gets a solid 10 out of 10 on the 'pr' scale of usefulnesss and best bang for the buck. Even little mundane things we take for granted, such as clouds passing overhead to attaching it, via a suction cup mount to a Zamboni, yields some videos that are pretty amazing. Just get ready for some major large files! ;-) {A 12 minute vid at 720 will take up about 6 GIGS of your HD!

    I also do not have anything else running at the time I am using Adobe Premier.... no e-mail proggies, no browsers, nothing else is running.... I have even gone to Terminal and typed in 'purge' to clear the memory....yet the choppiness returns in short order.

    Thanks to both of you....... I tip my hat to each of you. :-)

    Ivan...let me get home and do some checking......

    Cheers!!!!

    Pat

  7. #7

    p_rod's Avatar
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    Oct 04, 2010
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    161
    Specs:
    Late '09 iMac; Late '11 MBAir
    Ivan!

    I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I am sure you realize that life just gets in the way sometimes ;-)

    OK, here is where we are with this problem. I came home last night from the hockey game with some footage shot on the Go Pro at 1080, frame rate 60/sec. I transferred it to a thumb drive, booted up the iMac, made sure that nothing was running in the background (mail, Safari, etc), right clicked on the file and chose Quick Time to view the video. It started out smooth, but after about 10 seconds, became very choppy. The audio never breaks up, but the video sure does.

    I then took it to my little MacBook AIr, and the video ran just fine, even at 4x speed.

    I downloaded Black Magic as you suggested, and here's a screen shot of what it showed. [I did re-boot before using Black Magic and again had nothing extraneous running in the background].

    Maybe I need to learn how to boot with NOTHING running in background? Just a thought.

    Still flummoxed with the iMac and it's failure to run videos smoothly, let alone allowing me to edit them.

    TIA!!!

    Pat

    Cheers!

    Here's a screenshot from Black Magic...the numbers would vary with every 'reading' it took, some a little higher than those shown, but not significantly higher.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8

    IvanLasston's Avatar
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    Feb 26, 2010
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    1.8 GHz i7 MBA 11" OSX 10.8.2
    I don't have anything that shoots 60fps - so I cannot completely help there. Your W/R speeds that you are showing are the speeds of my external seagate disks connected to thunderbolt. As opposed to my Macbook Air (and your's too probably) The MBA is a flash based - super fast drive. Run Blackmagic there and see what you get. Attached is mine - pretty much more than double the speeds your iMac is showing. You can see - a lot more video options are showing green - as compared to your screenshot.

    I think it is coming down to the R/W speed of the hard drive on your iMac. Here is another experiment you can try - if you have a thunderbolt cable handy.
    OS X Mountain Lion: Transfer files between two computers using target disk mode
    Connect your MBA to your iMac with the thunderbolt cable - and boot the MBA in target disk mode. If you can play the video off of the MBA with the iMac - then it is more than likely your disk is too slow in your iMac. (You can also run Blackmagic on any of your disks to verify that you are getting enough speed)
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #9

    p_rod's Avatar
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    Oct 04, 2010
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    Late '09 iMac; Late '11 MBAir
    Ivan...do you think if I just obtained a faster HD for the iMac this problem may go away? I'd be willing to do that....although there is an Apple Store literally within walking distance from my home, I'd prolly do better at Mac Mall or OWC?

    While I am at it, should I bump up my memory to the max too? These files are huge, anything over about 4 minutes long at high res goes into the gigabyte range and it does take some time to even download them from the camera (several minutes).

    I do not have a Thunderbolt cable yet..there was so little 'use' for them early in my Mac career and anything (like a backup drive) was prohibitively expensive.

    And I have been told I cannot replace the video card in this machine so I am kind of stuck there.

    Although I am a little disappointed that this 3 year old machine cannot run high res videos I'd be willing to try to update the HD and the ram...a new machine is out of the question for me right now.

    Thanks!

    Cheers!

    Pat

  10. #10

    IvanLasston's Avatar
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    Feb 26, 2010
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    1.8 GHz i7 MBA 11" OSX 10.8.2
    Your machine can run high res videos - but you are talking about high resolution plus double frame rate videos - and editing them. Although these aren't 3D renderings - you are still talking about changing 1920x1080 pixels 60 times per second - everything in the machine has to be working well for that to happen.

    Before going and spending a ton of money on upgrades - the first thing I would do is find a thunderbolt cable - and verify that I am right. I am only guessing here - that it is your drive. It is $50 for a Thunderbolt cable. Thunderbolt has plenty of bandwidth - so if you hook your MBA in target disk mode - do the blackmagic test - and then try running the videos off of the MBA drive. If it works - then my theory is correct - then it would be worth looking at maybe an SSD or a raid setup for that iMac. Bonus - by having a Thunderbolt cable and target disk mode - if anything goes wrong with the disk - you can boot in target disk mode and debug the disk. (You'll see mention of bootup and folders with ? on them - this is where target disk mode can help) Also transferring files between your two computers becomes super fast this way as well.

    I just don't want you spending extra money without testing out the theory first.

    RAM upgrades - will help with this for sure. Especially editing HD video files. Get as much as you can afford and the machine can handle. You don't have to go to Apple to get RAM. I've had good luck with OWC
    Performance Upgrades; FireWire USB SATA Storage; Memory, more at OWC
    And they are a lot cheaper.

  11. #11

    p_rod's Avatar
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    OK, that is what I'll do. I'll check out OWC for a Thunderbolt cable this afternoon and do as you instructed. It may be a few days before I get back with you.....I'd like not to chunk a whole lot of money into that machine if I can help it. I have thought of maxing out the RAM just to handle file transfers if nothing else. While I am online there I will check out the prices for a replacement drive (2TB I think) but hopefuilly I can find one that spins a little faster :-)

    I hope I didn't muddy the waters with the frame rate I posted to you earlier. I was just testing the 60FPS the other night yet I wasn't all that impressed. The 720/30 looks better to my eyes....but that still gets choppy on the iMac yet sails on the MBA off a thumb drive.

    Again, many thanks to you!

    Cheers!

    Pat

  12. #12

    p_rod's Avatar
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    Late '09 iMac; Late '11 MBAir
    OK, Ivan, here's the story so far. :-)

    I visited my local Apple store this morning looking for a Thunderbolt cable and when I checked the rear of their iMacs to make sure it would fit, I noticed the port is differently shaped than mine.

    My late 2009 iMac(11/2009) has no Thunderbolt port. There is one unoccupied square port on the back with a small square box over it..I believe that must be a Firewire port. My MBA has no Firewire port but it does have Thunderbolt. Go figure ;-)

    I did speak to someone there fairly knowledgeable and he suggested a trip to the Genius bar with all the specs of my aging machine (at 3 yrs, 2 months old, a toddler in human years, now it appears to be geriatric!). I told him I had already consulted a Genius and I'd run by what I have found so far by you.

    He (the Apple guy) thinks that my RAM on the video card is getting overwhelmed by the high rez stuff I am shooting, therefore causing the lagging. He wasn't sure if the memory on the card itself could be upgraded..and he didn't know whether it was an individual card or hard wired into the rest of the machine. I've never opened this machine up, so I have no clue of its internal configurations. (When I was a PC junkie, I was inside them all the time).

    He did refer me to an independent shop down the street that has been keeping his older Macs kicking for years, so I do have that option. He also told me it was more than likely cheaper to go there too.

    I took a thumb drive with some of the videos giving me trouble with choppiness along and the new iMacs there ran all of them just fine; I just got a little lightheaded when I saw the sticker prices on them.

    So that's all I can tell you right now. It seems that your suggestion of hooking up my machines together isn't possible because I don't have the right ports present; so I'll wait to hear from you before pursuing this further. In the meantime, I'll shoot at lower resolutions, no higher than 720/30, so it won't choke my present iMac. :-)

    Thank you for all the help so far!

    Cheers!

    Pat

  13. #13

    IvanLasston's Avatar
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    I may have jumped the gun - and got too excited - I forgot we are dealing with an older model iMac. So yeah - my target disk mode idea isn't going to work. I have also lost some facts along the way - so here is my new summary.

    I do not have 1080p 60fps video - unfortunately most video sharing sites will not handle that framerate/size combo - if you could upload an example or if someone can point to an example then I could run a test.

    The Late 2009 iMac model does not have thunderbolt - that didn't come until mid 2011 - my bad. It also has 256 MB of video RAM - which is half of my test machine - a 17" MBP.

    I do have a slower spec - Macbook Pro - late 2009 - core 2 duo 2.8 Ghz - that will run 1080p - 30fps. The hard drive is a 7400 RPM Segate Momentus Hybrid drive. - it does have 8GB of RAM though - as well as the discrete 9600M GT video card. My video card does have 512MB of RAM (vs your 256) so it may be the case that you are running out of Video RAM for that high a frame rate.

    I went back through and tried Blackmagic on my MBP - and the R/W are slower than your iMac.

    So - as I said - for this high a frame rate - at that high a resolution - you will need all your computer parts working well. With all the information now - I am guessing it isn't the drive either - more than likely it may be the Video Card.

    Sorry for the mis-direction there.

  14. #14

    p_rod's Avatar
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    Ivan!

    No need for apologies! You have been an immense help to me so far. Look how many views this topic has been receiving

    The original videos (the first ones) I shot with the Go Pro were 1080/30 fps. When I realized that my machine was choking on them, I shot my next ones at 720/30. It handles them OK, not great, not nearly as well as the MBA does, but the '09 iMac will handle them. My last vids were attempted at 720/60 (after reading an article written by a Go Pro employee/specialist, I was eager to see how great this mode was. I like the 720/30 myself). If I stay at 720 or lower, with frame rates of 30 or slower, this iMac may work. I am going to go outside right now and shoot something for a minute or so at 720/30, put it on the iMac, (booted clean) and see what happens.

    So I'll continue to shoot at this rez and speed, and lower, as I learn this little camera. I have also done some time lapse videos and those came out pretty cool. Nothing fancy, just a passage of a cold front though my area with some pretty cool clouds. These camera do have some limitations... but not many from where I sit. If you have any photographic experience (and it sounds to me you do), then I'd put one of these little gems on your wish list!

    OK, now that I have you buttered up, here's my next question(s). ;-)

    Is there anything I can do to upgrade the video card itself? Can its RAM be upgraded? Can the card itself be replaced? I know my machine has two empty RAM slots so I can definitely bump that up a bit.

    The Apple Store guy couldn't answer that question for me (that isn't a bad mark against him IMHO). He works on the sales floor, I didn't expect him to know about my "ancient" machine! I can make an appt with the Genius Bar guys, but I value your opinion just as much, if not more, and I can do that from the comfort of my home.

    If the card in this machine isn't upgradeable, then I guess it is time to put a newer machine on MY wish list.

    Just for clarity, here are the numbers on my iMac.


    As always, TIA!

    Cheers!

    Pat
    Attached Files Attached Files

  15. #15

    IvanLasston's Avatar
    Member Since
    Feb 26, 2010
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    Rocky Mountain High, Colorado
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    1.8 GHz i7 MBA 11" OSX 10.8.2
    MyOWC at OtherWorldComputing.com
    Here is a great resource for seeing upgrades.

    Also I use mactracker available at the App Store.

    From what I know, ram is upgrade able and so are hard drives - but everything else including the video card is soldered in - so not replaceable.

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