The Continuing Saga Of Pro Tools 11 & Avid Video Engine Performance Issues

03-29-2014 11:00 AM

Continuing the long running saga of the preformance, or should be the lack of performance of the Avid Video Engine in Pro Tools 11. But first lets have a recap, cue VO - “Previously on the Avid Video Engine saga….
Some anecdotal evidence for Avid Video Engine performance in Pro Tools 11

  • Playing video on the computer desktop is much more reliable.
  • Windows users are having less problems than Mac users.
  • Using the Avid DNxHD codec gives better performance.

  • The AJA hardware may be better than the Blackmagic cards.
    • We are arranging some tests with Mike Aiton to see if we can verify this.

Bypass QuickTime in Pro Tools 11

In recent discussions on the DUC there has been some consideration about ways to bypass QuickTime. There has been some extensive discussions on using MXF to wrap video and we looked at a free MXF4mac player that with the addition of an in app purchase could sync up to Pro Tools and bypass everything including the AVE. However there is no answer as to whether this player can route out through video hardware or not. If anyone can check this and report back, that would be very helpful.
Using MXF as a wrapper is not without its problems

Firstly you need to produce the video in MXF. You need a video app to do this, obviously Media Compser can do this, but for a content producer there is a second issue.
If you are working with a team, some of whom are running Pro Tools 10 and others Pro Tools 11, then you need to create a QuickTime for the PT10 users and and MXF for the PT11 users which creates more work.
Is Mavericks the answer for improved video perfromance with Pro Tools 11?

Some users are asking if the dreaded Mavericks might be the answer. It may seem strange but we have been doing some digging and the first revelation is that QuickTime is 32 bit. So we have a 64 bit Pro Tools app trying to talk to and use QuickTime components that are still 32 bit and we wonder why there are problems.
QuickTime is dead. Long live AV Foundation.

Apple have been quietly developing a replacement to QuickTime called AV Foundation, which has been introduced in stages as far back as 10.7. More components were added with 10.8 and in Mavericks, QuickTime is still there so legacy apps like Pro Tools can still use the code but AV Foundation is now the part of the OS that handles Video and Audio. But all the areas that we depend on QuickTime 7 for rather than QuickTime 10 are those being picked up in AV Foundation.
Mike has access to the Apple Developer site and it is interesting to see that AV Foundation can be hardware accelerated and be multithreaded, neither of which QuickTime can do and most importantly AV Foundation is 64 bit.
There are some casualties in the transition to AV Foundation. QuickTime VR, RTP Streaming, QT Effects & Filters, Sprite and Flash tracks, Music (MIDI ) tracks and SMIL will not be supported in AV Foundation.
There are also a whole raft of codecs that will no longer suported in AV Foundation, including Sorenson Video and Video 3, Motion JPEG A and B.
There are some ‘proof of concept’ apps available too but this is all a long winded explanation as to why things may be better on Mavericks with Pro tools 11 and video because again its using less of the legacy 32 bit QuickTime code.
Avid Are Working On the Problems with Video Performance in Pro Tools 11

We have reached out to our contacts inside Avid and they have reassured us they are working on addressing these video engine issues but no indication was forthcoming as to how soon.
Bypassing QuickTime is the answer?

In conclusion the answer seems to be to bypass as much of the QuickTime components as possible, whether that is using MXF or more of the AV Foundation components.