1600 Tracks & a 558 Day Timeline?! Maxing Out FCPX on the New Mac Pro
Late last November, Apple upped the ante with their video editing solutions when they released the long-rumored redesign of the Mac Pro alongside a major update to FCPX, one which was specifically engineered to provide maximum performance in tandem with the new machines. We've already seen some preliminary tests of the performance of this hardware/software combo, and the results were pretty convincing. However, the folks over at fcp.co went above and beyond the previous tests and pushed the new Mac Pro and FCPX to their absolute breaking point. Their results, which are pretty damn crazy, shed quite a bit of light on just how powerful this combo is.
Before we get into the stress-test videos, let's see what kind of hardware and media was used for this test.
To say that this is one powerful machine is an understatement. However, in order to put this computer and FCPX through their paces, they used the publicly-released 4K ProRes footage from the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K.
So what exactly did the guys at fcp.co do to stress out this beast of a computer? The first test that they performed was one in which they put as many connected clips (the successor to video tracks) into one timeline. In FCP7, 99 tracks was the hard limit, and that would undoubtedly stress the program's 32 bit architecture. However, FCPX has no limit whatsoever on how many connected clips can be in one timeline, and the fcp.co team managed to get 1600 connected clips into one timeline. Yes, you read that correctly, 1600 "tracks" of 4K ProRes.
They scaled this test back to 1000 connected clips, and then made a little screencast of how well the hardware/software combo dealt with the behemoth timeline. Check it out:
Next up, they built a massive project with dimensions of 500,000 pixels by a standard height of 1080, and tried playing, keyframing, and exporting this massive piece of media.
Last but not least, fcp.co attempted to build the longest timeline that they possibly could. Naturally, one would assume that the hard limit would be 24 hours, maybe 36, but once they started building up the timeline with some copious copying and pasting, things started to get crazy. How long of a timeline did they create, you ask? 558 DAYS. THIS TIMELINE WAS A YEAR AND A HALF LONG (sorry about the capslock, I just got a little excited):
Here are the final conclusions from fcp.co about these tests:
It seems that the real limitation is a hardware one, yes FCPX will do 16K, but you have to have the storage bandwidth to supply the huge number of pixels per second. When creating that huge timeline, we used the same clip over and over. Making the same timeline from different shorter clips wouldn't be as easy as we think very large numbers of clips within FCPX will slow the machine down.
Stressing Final Cut on the new Mac Pro tells us that Apple's programmers haven't set most of the application's limits based on the needs of editors. Instead of writing code that assumes editors would never need to (or want to) work with 16k footage, connect hundreds of layers or create year-long timelines, developers have in effect said "Hey, as long as you can find hardware fast enough -- Go for it!"
Ultimately, all of these absurd tests prove one thing, Final Cut Pro X is a beastly piece of software under the hood, one that is only limited by the capacity of the hardware and storage that it runs from. In that sense, it is legitimately a future-proofed piece of software, which is no small feat in a technological landscape that is constantly progressing at incredible speeds. As much as I've hated on FCPX in the past (quite a bit), it's difficult not to be impressed with these results.
Make sure you head over to fcp.co to read up on everything that they did to stress out the new Mac Pro and FCPX. It's nothing short of epic.
What do you guys think of these tests and the results? Is it safe to say that FCPX is truly a future-proofed program? Let's hear your thoughts down in the comments!