Avid Still Have Serious Problems With Video In Pro Tools 11

02-05-2014 09:00 AM

More recently I have only being doing the occasional project with video and so I haven’t been personally aware how much trouble my audio post colleagues have been having with video playback and Pro Tools 11. However last week it came and but me at an awkward moment.
My client’s client had come up to Manchester from London specifically to sign off on a final mix for a cartoon project. The night before my client send me the revised video file and seeing it was a .mov video, thought had would be OK in Pro Tools and imported it onto the timeline, reconformed the session to the new video ready for the session in the morning.
However within the first 2 minutes of the session playing the video to the client’s client, I was getting freezing. It would play for a bit and then freeze - very embarrassing. So whilst continuing to discuss the changes and revised style brief with the client and their client I dropped out of Pro Tools, opening up MPEG Streamclip, saw that the .mov was actually an H264 video, so transcoded it to Avid DNxHD and imported that into the session. It was a long 6 minutes or so, but that fixed it for me and the session and the video were rock solid, scrubbing was excellent all be it I am displaying the video in a window on my desktop even though the video file size had jumped up from 105MB to 15GB.
Reading some of the threads on the DUC it seems I have had it easy. Some people, especially those with Blackmagic cards are having a much tougher time even with the latest versions. 11.1.1 fixed some stuff including issues with some codecs. However some users are reporting they have dropped using cards and going back to playing video on the desktop, which is the way I work. Eitehr way users are not happy, for example Michael Goorevich….
Unfortunately Avid support is not very helpful in my case either. I had pretty long email correspondence and even supplied to Avid problematic files and sessions….but the problem still persists. From my point of view it’s far away from the solution even though they fixed black screen issues in 11.1.

  • There still a huge delay when pressing playback.
  • There is still an issue when randomly PT doesn’t start playing after hitting play.
  • I still have no success for BM SDI to feed our Christie cinema projector.

With PT 10.3.8 it works perfect. So I start thinking that my investment was not so smart when 4 months ago I upgraded to PT HD11. My conclusion is that if 11.2 will suffer from the same issues as it has till now, my PT HD11 will go on eBay…Hah! not so easy! Avid doesn’t allow transfer for HD 11 asset. So I just better shut up. Right Avid?
Here is a video that Michael has made showing the delay from hitting play to Pro Tools actually playing. It is a definite delay perhaps around 1/2 second but that is with a very small session. That said, others are not experiencing the same delay problem, but the performance of video playback is getting many pro users very upset, Pascal Zander is a good example..
I tried to work yesterday on PT HD 11 and also had to go back to PT HD 10 to be able to work (huge session : 1 video track and 4 stereo tracks. To be honest with you and the rest of the community, I’m tired of the video engine in PT 11, for me, PT 11 is just a mess, a waste of time and money. Sorry to be so rude but I’ve been using PT professionally in post and music since version 5 and never experienced such things. Leaving you here, I have to go back working …. on PT10.
11.1.2 does seem to have made some improvements says Frank Kruse…
I tried 11.1.2 today but only briefly. Scrubbing is fine now. Feels like under 10. Nudging however feels slow. When you press and hold +- picture is way behind the PT playhead and when you let go picture will keep going and stop because it was behind. Makes spotting really slow and you have to back and forth multiple times till you find the right frame.The slight delay after hitting play is there yes but I can live with that. Still far better than on a MC. There it’s even longer. Having said that the constant video engine disconnects I had with 11.1.1 seems to have improved and I didn’t encounter the play-pause-bug that I got constantly under 11.1.1.
However I have to agree with Paulo M…

PT11 video is less stable than 10, we also experience the occasional flashing Play button with stucked transport, no video out, video track turning to offline by itself etc. All using the same PRORES files that we normally use. When this sort of things happen we close 11, open 10 and everything is fine. Re opening 11 again and is fine too for a while. It´s not a problem of using third party cards like Bmagic either, as other are experiencing the same with AVID interfaces.
If you are stugggling with video playback issues here are some tips for getting the best video performance with Pro Tools 11….

  • Make sure you are on 11.1.2 or better as a number of the video problems have been fixed especially in the later updates.
  • Use the desktop video for the smoothest scrubbing when editing.
  • Transcode to Avid DNxHD
  • Make sure that Video Playback Latency is set to Shortest in the Operations tab of Pro Tools Preferences.
  • If you are using a TV to display video, set it to ‘games’ mode if possible which will disable most of the added extras like cinema mode and motionflow and you will also find you will need less offset in Pro Tools and lip sync is much easier to see as well.
  • If you get a frozen video playback with blinking play button, you can manually force-quit the video engine in the OS activity monitor and then re-connect the video engine from the PT playback engine menu. Not great but you don’t have to restart the entire system that way. This works most all the time but is still quite an interruption since the re-connect takes a while to happen and clients and talent can get frustrated.

Avid really need to get this sorted. Pro Tools 11 is a huge step forward in all areas of audio but in the video section it seems at best to be no better and probably worse than Pro Tools 10.
We were sold the idea that the new video engine in Pro Tools 11 would enable us to play any video, Media Composer could play without transcoding. This is still not the case for good playback, it seems the best solution is to transcode to Avid DNxHD.
We were sold the idea of many more video interfaces and hardware being supported in Pro Tools 11, but it seems as though this also isn’t the case with many users having to switch to desktop video to get the best performance.
Come on Avid please deliver what you promised when you announced Pro Tools 11. You have done it for the audio so what about the video?