[ This article was first published in the May, 2007, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]
There are three questions I get asked all the time:
The first two are already covered in articles in my library (Click the question to read related article.) However, this last one I haven’t really addressed. So, here is a quick checklist you can use to solve a dropped frame problem.
In general, dropped frame issues are caused by a hard disk that is too slow to keep up with the video format you are using.
Here’s an article that provides an overview of hard disk speeds compared to video data rates.
NOTE: By the way, if terms like RAID 0 or RAID 1 confuse you, read this short explanation of how RAIDS are defined.
System Setup Issues
Herb Issacs writes:
Why do you say not to use an internal disk to capture? Isn’t the internal bus faster than firewire input?
This was amplified by comments from Trent Anderson:
I frequently get dropped frames, and the error message at the bottom in red says, RT Extreme has determined that your hard drive is too slow, please increase the speed of the hard drive. Well, it is 7200 RPM, and I don’t see how I can get a faster one.
I notice that you said to not save to an INTERNAL hard drive. It would seem to me that having those things set to an External hard drive, via Firewire, would be even slower than going to an internal hd.???
And from Ben Balser:
Reading the newsletter, and in avoiding dropped frames you say, “2. Don’t use an internal drive to capture media.” Why not? It’s the most efficient and best method to capture without dropped frames. I don’t understand why you mention this. There must be something I’m not aware of.
Larry replies: Herb, Trent and Ben – thanks for pointing this out. I stated this poorly. What I meant is not to capture to your internal boot disk because it doesn’t have the ability to service the operating system, all running applications and still feed media reliably over time. It isn’t an issue of bus speed, it’s an issue of contention, rotation speed, and priorities. Complicating matters is that most laptops spin their hard disks slowly to save battery life.
An internal, second drive is perfectly acceptable.
UPDATE – Dec. 2007
I’ve recently learned that the Canon XL-1, and perhaps other Canon cameras, must not be directly connected to a FireWire drive. The chip set the camera uses does not communicate properly with the drive, causing dropped frame errors. This is a Canon problem, not a hard disk problem.
The only known solution is to add a PCI-based FireWire card to provide a second FireWire bus (if you have a tower) or to capture to the internal drive of the computer (if you have an iMac or laptop), then copy the files after capture to your media drive. It is never a good idea to edit video files stored on your boot drive.
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