Force system profile check?
July 31, 2010 05:35PM
An odd question prompted by cool new technology... I have a new MacBook Pro, which has two graphics cards, a powerful Nvidia, and a power-sipping Intel integrated card for use when on battery power. This is, as expected, awesome. However...

My system now takes a LOOONG time to enter Desktop Cinema Display mode, and I'm wondering if this is due to FCP thinking I'm using the less-powerful Intel chip. So here's the question...

Is there any way to FORCE FCP to profile the system upon opening?
Re: Force system profile check?
July 31, 2010 05:51PM
It doesn't work like that. Final Cut couldn't care less what graphics card you're using. The only time the graphics card is involved is when you render FXPlug effects.

Re: Force system profile check?
July 31, 2010 07:23PM

Have you checked your Energy Saver System Preferences to make sure that the "higher performance" graphics option is selected? [1, 2] (Note: Though it is mentioned in the references, don't forget to log out and back in, or restart, after changing this setting for it to take effect.)

If it is, then the delay you are seeing is "normal" (and may possibly be fixed by a graphics driver update, etc. down the road). If this setting is off, then OS determines when to automatically switch over to the high-performance (standalone) graphics chipset. This delay may be due to the switch-over occurring when you activate the Digital Cinema Desktop mode in Final Cut Pro.

Also, you should turn off display sleeping and turn off the setting to put hard drives to sleep whenever possible (normal settings for use with Final Cut Studio apps). [3,4]

You should be able to check the status of your graphics cards in System Profiler, in order to see which one is active.


Jeff Harrell
It doesn't work like that. Final Cut couldn't care less what graphics card you're using. The only time the graphics card is involved is when you render FXPlug effects.

As far as I can tell, these statements may not be entirely correct...

The Digital Cinema Desktop display mode in FCP, etc., does access the graphics card's GPU, and is likely dependent on its performance, especially if scaling the video for preview. It also seems that some transcoding on ingest uses the graphics card, as well. [5] Additionally, if the integrated graphics GPU is being used, it can use some of the main RAM, which possibly could impact rendering and real-time performance in some situations (though, that's stretching things a bit). And, FCP itself seems to use a significant amount of VRAM.

Otherwise, you are correct that the performance of the graphics card principally affects FXPlug effects.
smiling smiley


[1] MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) and MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010): How to set graphics performance

[2] Final Cut Studio: Switch to higher performance graphics on MacBook Pro computers with two graphics processors

[3] Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express HD: Tips for HDV Print to Video
(One of many places that mention Energy Saver settings.)

[4] Using Digital Cinema Desktop Preview

[5] Final Cut Pro 7.0.2: Release notes
(See item about transcoding AVCHD to ProRes.)
Re: Force system profile check?
July 31, 2010 11:28PM
An addendum to my previous post...

I discovered this cool utility that does what the bundled app Activity Monitor does, plus a lot more.

It's called atMonitor.

Namely, atMonitor can display VRAM usage, as well as GPU usage.

In a very cursory test, it appears that Final Cut Pro 7 doesn't use the GPU much for non-FXPlug rendering or playback, except when in Digital Cinema Desktop mode. While FCP was running, it used about 20% to 25% of the VRAM (around 100 MB) on my test Mac Pro (stock 2.8 GHz octocore, 2008 model).

On the other hand, Motion 4 does use the GPU quite a bit and uses most of the VRAM... that's just playing back (looping) one of the 3D text templates... all of which is expected for Motion.

So, we have another tool to help analyze what's happening with our applications (if only in a roundabout way)...

Re: Force system profile check?
August 01, 2010 02:53AM
Wow, TERRIFIC response, Dave. That little freeware app is fantastic - like MenuMeters on steroids. I will use it (and those excellent links) to try to further troubleshoot...

Thank you so much!
Re: Force system profile check?
August 01, 2010 10:27AM

Let us know how things work out...

Re: Force system profile check?
August 02, 2010 01:20PM
There are two ways to force FCP to recalculate your system profile. The first is to trash preferences and the second is to choose Auto Profile in the Internal Tools menu:


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