Nirvana & Hell: Time-Lapse Editing with Adobe and Apple

I bought a 27″ iMac last September specifically to help facilitate the processing of a 100,000 RAW images into multiple time-lapse videos. You can read about the beginnings of this project here and here. And to view a few of the completed videos, go here.

In this previous post I called out all of the programs I’ve been working with to create these mini-movies. I have become very comfortable using Adobe Premiere, the striking similarities between the various Adobe products minimizes the learning curve and I appreciate Adobe’s dedication to this end. But……Apple and Adobe do not play well together, at least not when the files are HUGE. All previous videos I’ve completed have been a complete joy to do: 16 gigs of RAM, 700 gigs of free hard drive space and an Intel Core i7 processor. Sweet by most standards. When the assets: JPEGS, intro and outro quicktime movies, music and wild sound tracks are under 5 gigs, the program breezes and I’m in the nirvana portion of the editing process. But when the total amount of the assets grows to +7 gigs, the system falls apart….almost completely.

Launching Premiere with assets over 7 gigs means I wait 30 seconds for the assets to load. The 16 gigs of RAM notwithstanding. The first edit in the timeline and subsequent preview rendering and playback go OK. The second edit and preview rendering takes a hell of a long time. I empty the media cache database. No help. I save and close and reboot the iMAC because sometimes there is application memory leak and I need to free up RAM. No help there either. My brand new iMAC is constantly churning away even when no applications are open. A call to Apple didn’t help. This morning shortly after I sent this behemoth of a file to output, it caused an out of memory error to pop up. I got this error message with both Adobe Media Encoder and exporting directly from Premiere. I was going to take the iMAC in as it’s still under warranty but I can’t help but think with all I’ve set up to work at a professional level, perhaps I’m asking too much of both parties.

As a last resort I called my MAC guru and as always he was very obliging. He is in charge of several MAC labs at a very prestigious private college here in town. He was in the same position at a high-end audio lab so he knows his stuff. The key for him is that I’ve did my homework: repair permissions, software updated, reset SMC, restart in safe and verbose modes, etc. Apparently my SWAP files were corrupt. SWAP files are the virtual RAM that all machines need to use. Even when working with big mutha files (:()), SWAP files (virtual memory) come into play regardless of the amount of RAM installed.

He had me do two things…reload LION and reset the SMC in a way that Apple no longer mentions but that works! What’s up with that? Apple…you’re supposed to help your customers not piss them off. What’s that? You don’t care cause you’re Apple? Well guess what?  Apples rot, get eaten, get cooked or thrown away. Which do you prefer? Just help us when we call with legit issues and don’t make it sound like we’re dopes and your machines are infallible. Oh yeah one more thing…Lion is the first OS that is installed from the net. No disc or file saved on the drive. It would have been nice if you had told your customers that reloading Lion has to be done online. Apple is ridiclueless when it comes to informing people about simple procedures like this.

I want my visions to come to fruition for my clients and me and I don’t like it when my expensive technology fails me. Or their “support” network.

Thanks for letting me rant.

Be well.


Michael Stern

My work depicts, appreciates and honors the people who build. Their specialized equipment and stunning challenges are marvels I behold and get paid to interpret. Hope you enjoy this site.

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