Laggy timeline in Adobe Premiere Pro

I’ve been using Premiere Pro for the last six months and have been very happy with it but there’s one issue that I’ve always found slightly frustrating. When dragging clips around on the timeline there is a lot of lag, it’s almost as though the clips are attached to the mouse cursor by an elastic band and you have to wait for them to catch up when trying to reposition them.

I noticed in this thread over at the Adobe forums that this isn’t the case for everybody so I started Premiere up on my two year old Macbook Pro and noticed that the lag doesn’t happen on that machine at all. So why is my latest spec Mac Pro suffering?

Well the only way we’re going to figure that out is by getting some feedback from you guys and seeing if we can find anything in common when the issue occurs.

To see the effect for your self have a look at the following video…

If you’re seeing this effect or not please post a comment along with your system specs using the following linformation which is easily grabbed by going to the apple menu, then choosing ‘about this mac’ and ‘more info’. Please don’t post the bottom part which includes your system serial number though!

If you could also add the type of Graphics card your using and whether you have Mercury Playback Engine enabled it would be useful.

Model Name: Mac Pro
Model Identifier: MacPro5,1
Processor Name: 6-Core Intel Xeon
Processor Speed: 2.93 GHz
Number Of Processors: 2
Total Number Of Cores: 12
L2 Cache (per core): 256 KB
L3 Cache (per processor): 12 MB
Memory: 16 GB
OS: 10.6.8
GFX Card: Nvidia Quadro 4000 for mac
MPE enabled: Yes

[Update – 15-7-2011]

After much discussion over at the Adobe forums it seems that reducing the height of the sequence panel solves the problem. Thanks to everyone that got involved, I’m sure that will help Adobe figure out what’s happening and develop a fix in a future release.


Update 2 – showing the CPU usage

Update 3 – showing how the drives are not being accessed.

Update 3 – showing how the performance is better on my 2006 Quad-core Mac Pro

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  1. No problems here, Paul.

    Model Name: Mac Pro
    Model Identifier: MacPro4,1
    Processor Name: Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 2
    Total Number Of Cores: 8
    L2 Cache (per core): 256 KB
    L3 Cache (per processor): 8 MB
    Memory: 16 GB
    Gfx: ATI Radeon HD 5870
    MPE enabled: No

    • Mike Benjamin
    • July 4th, 2011 8:05pm

    Hi Paul,

    I’m not using PPCS5 but FCPX. I understand you are a professional and so I don’t really want to be condescending at all. It could be a number of options: a/ graphics card – although unlikely if the Apple standard card for the Mac Pro. b/ Preferences have gone corrupt, therefore trash them. c/ Is PP running in 64bit as with some Adobe packages, you need to go into ‘get info’ and physically change it.

    When you have some time, have another look at FCPX. It’s completely insane and a wholly new concept. I know all too well there are bits missing, but they are on there way.

    Good luck in solving this one!

    • Stuart
    • July 5th, 2011 9:07am

    On two Macs with latest OS and PP versions:

    Model Name: MacBook Pro
    Model Identifier: MacBookPro6,2
    Processor Name: Intel Core i7
    Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 1
    Total Number Of Cores: 2
    L2 Cache (per core): 256 KB
    L3 Cache: 4 MB
    Memory: 4 GB
    Chipset Model: NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M
    Type: GPU
    Bus: PCIe
    PCIe Lane Width: x16
    VRAM (Total): 512 MB
    Vendor: NVIDIA (0x10de)
    Device ID: 0x0a29
    Revision ID: 0x00a2
    ROM Revision: 3560
    gMux Version: 1.9.21

    MPE using GPU

    Mac Pro 3,1 2008
    2 x Quad-Core 2.8
    Currently using the original Radeon HD 2600 256MB so no GPU acceleration

    Neither shows the lag you’re seeing but there is a degree of movement between the cursor and a dragged clip i.e. if you drag to the right the cursor moves slightly within the clip as it’s dragging but at no time does the cursor move beyond the clip edges. I’m guessing this is normal behaviour perhaps to give the dragging a more ‘natural’ feeling – if so you’re seeing a greatly exaggerated version.

    I’ve just checked in FCP7 and Avid MC4 in segment mode on the Mac Pro and they’ve got a little of this effect but it has now got a pretty low-end graphics card back in it.

    • Thanks Stuart, hopefully I’ll get a few more responses from people with the same problem.

        • Stuart
        • July 5th, 2011 8:31pm

        Good luck – that looks really annoying.

    • Keith Moreau
    • July 5th, 2011 11:03pm

    Mac Pro 3,1 2008
    2 x Quad-Core 2.8
    SSD Startup Drive
    NVidia Quadro 4000
    Premiere Pro 5 and 5.5

    I am seeing exactly the same lag you are seeing all the time, Paul, and I often get into a very sluggish state where this effect is even more pronounced, which will usually fix itself after some time. I’ve accepted it as a general Adobe PPro on Mac problem. Sometimes dropping clips on a timeline from the project pane is move and pray, and I have to really move the cursor to the spot I want and wait a few seconds or it could be anywhere. This definitely needs to be addressed and was never this bad in FCP, but too bad FCP is dead at this time.

    • Thanks for helping keith, it’s interesting that you too have the Quadro 4000. I wonder if there’s anyone with the same card not having the issue?

    • Danny
    • July 7th, 2011 12:50am

    I am having this problem!

    Model Name: Mac Pro
    Model Identifier: MacPro4,1
    Processor Name: Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    Processor Speed: 2.93 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 2
    Total Number Of Cores: 8
    L2 Cache (per core): 256 KB
    L3 Cache (per processor): 8 MB
    Memory: 32 GB
    Chipset Model: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285

    Here is a video showing my experience:

    Happens with just a plain black clip in a basic timeline, as well. Enough people having this issue that is is a bug, but strange that some others are not. Could be something simple, like an extension or peripheral conflict, and I’m continuing to track it down. Anyone talked with Tech support yet on this? I may soon.

    Thanks for hosting this discussion- nothing happening with it over on the PPro forums…

    • Thanks Danny, I’m planning on sending a link to Adobe once we get enough feedback.

    • Alex Hawkins
    • July 7th, 2011 6:23am

    Hi Paul, I am seeing the exact same problem on my 4,1 Mac Pro.

    I have addressed it in the above Adobe forum thread you mentioned above.

    Interesting your MacBook Pro has no issues??

    • Hi Alex. It’s fine on the macbook. Unless I’ve missed something it does seem that everyone who has responded so far with the problem is using an nvidia card. Can you confirm your specs?

        • Alex Hawkins
        • July 7th, 2011 11:32am

        Paul I have an NVidia GTX 285, but if you have a look through that Adobe forum thread you will see that a couple of the guys there who are having problems are using an ATI card.

        The mystery deepens.

        BTW You shoot some very lovely stuff.

        • Danny
        • July 7th, 2011 5:30pm

        My machine has the GTX 285, but I was experiencing it with the stock ATI HD4850 (Can’t remember the exact model number at the moment) I made the upgrade mostly for the Mercury Engine, but with the small hope that this new card would help with the lag. So, I can confirm it happens with both cards.

  2. Just out of interest do any of you with the problem use additional PCI cards other than the GPU?

      • Keith Moreau
      • July 9th, 2011 7:47am

      I have the blackmagic intensity pro card, which I could pull, I thought I’d use it a lot but it’s pretty limited and flakey, especially with PPro. I can pull it and report back.

      The lag seems to get worse as the project gets bigger, along with other strangeness such as starting playback taking 1/2 a second or so, sound not playing, but if I stop and start, there is sound, this is pretty usual for me.

      I’m going to try the same project on my modern 2011 macbook pro and see what happens.

      Certainly it’s not optimal, but for all the other advantages I’ve put up with it. I was hoping FCP X would be the savior but I can’t use it for now.

      • Be worth trying. I pulled an eSata PCI card yesterday just to see if it made any difference and after restarting the mac I felt things seemed slightly better, although still nowhere near as snappy as my much older dual core mac Pro so there is still something strange happening. There is of course every chance that it was the reboot that helped a little and not the removal of the card.

        I too suffer the same problems you mention, delay in playback starting and occasional lack of sound during playback which is corrected by pressing the spacebar twice etc.

        Do you by any chance also see dropped frames when playing through titles sometimes? I find that when this happens I can stop rewind and play it again and it will often play fine a second time.

    • Keith Moreau
    • July 11th, 2011 3:29am

    In general, my PPro 5 and 5.5 (seemingly more in 5.5) seems when PPro hits a tough patch, it starts playing at a slower FPS. Stopping and starting restores the playback to norma FPS. It’s not just with Titles, it’s can be anything that is more difficult to play back. I’m going to try some projects in 5.0 to see if this clears up the slowness, because I don’t remember it being this bad.

    Also, on my 2011 Macbook Pro, the rubber band drag clip things is still present. It even happens with an empty project with just a black slug. Can you post your video of your older Mac Pro being snappy? None of mine are.

    Thanks for this blog post, apparently it has the attention of Adobe.

    • Hi Keith.

      I just tried to to a screencast of the MacBook but the fluidity of the PP timelines is lost when Screenflow is recording. Maybe that does highlight that this is likely an CPU issues after all, although that doesn’t explain why it runs better on the MacBook than the Mac Pro.

    • Keith Moreau
    • July 11th, 2011 8:48pm

    Hi Again Paul

    Look at Walter Biscardi’s video here (he’s a FCP pro editor with a lot of seats that was enraged at the FCPX debacle and is now trying out PPro):

    I see ‘laggy’ dragging all over the place, so I think this an endemic problem, which gets worse as the project gets bigger. Yesterday I was editing a project that wasn’t really that big, but had maybe 10 sequences in it with multicam, and it got really laggy moving clips around. Would be wonderful if we could figure out if this is fixable with a Mac, or if the problem doesn’t happen with Windows / PCs.


    • Well spotted, it does indeed seem to be the same for Walter Biscardi.

    • Wil
    • July 13th, 2011 7:19pm

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for posting these. Very helpful.

    I wasn’t seeing this kind of lag on my mac – then I tried the wacom tablet, and it’s worse (ie slightly juddery) with the pen mode, but nowhere near the degree of what your video shows.

    Two questions: a) is the behaviour on the timeline any different if you disable thumbnails in the timeline? And b), the drive activity is interesting, but I’d also like to see what your memory activity is like when you’re doing this (and I’m wondering whether lowering the amount of shared memory in the prefs has any bearing on this behaviour).


    • Glad to help, I’ll get back on both of those points when I get to the office tomorrow.

    • Hi Wil

      a) Is the behaviour on the timeline any different if you disable thumbnails in the timeline?

      The performance remains the same regardless of the clip display mode.

      b) I’d also like to see what your memory activity is like when you’re doing this?

      Memory activity seems unaffected whilst dragging clips around. In the single black video test Premiere settles at 328MB Ram and 53 threads, this is not effected by dragging the clip.

      Changing the memory available to other apps from 3GB – 12GB made no noticeable difference, I guess because Premiere is using less than 4 in this instance anyway.

  3. I have had many issues since the purchase of my 12 Core in late Dec.

    The lack of multiprocessor support in Final Cut lead me to the Adobe Suite.

    The CUDA engine seemed important .. and the ATI crashed Premiere 5.0 so I got a NVidia GeForce 285 GTX ( the Quaddro 4000 cost too much after spending $6,000 on the 12 Core )

    I was appalled by the lag / drag / stutter and everything that you have mentioned here .. and in my Adobe Forum posts you can read my history of these same problems since January.

    I have received good advice / tips / etc from Forum users that I will pass on .. but I need to make sure I can demonstrate the difference in a video like you have posted.

    There are still problems ADOBE NEEDS TO ADDRESS! I have found some ways to make it better .. but some of the graphic related issues are still not acceptable for a top-of-the-line Mac Pro.

    My only other choice to tech-out my 12 Core is to add a new Quaddro 4000 and test it in comparison to the Geforce 285 GTX.

    I have done everything imaginable and possible for the last 5 months … ground up reinstalls .. hardware in and out … etc …

    NOTE: I have had some communication with Adobe. I showed TEch my issue like you have done with the video LIVE. Their reply a week later was that they can’t reproduce the problem. I found a workaround ( posted in my Adobe Forum history ) but they still have not returned my emails in 4 weeks + .. and I am very disappointed in their support. I have had three different issues that they claim they do not experience .. yet I have found others with these issue in the Forums. I have also a serious issue with Encore which I have received NO replies from Adobe for several months.

    Current system:

    12 Core 2.9 GHZ
    32 GB RAM
    NVidia GeForce 285 GTX
    Areca 1212 RAID PCI Card
    External 4 TB RAID 0
    SSD Boot Drive
    3 TB Internal HDs ( two 1 TB – two 500 MB )

    USB Mouse vs. Wacom Graphire Bluetooth
    USB Keyboard vs. Apple Bluetooth Keyboard

    • I’ve found Adobe to be extremely helpful in the past and I’m sure they’ll be doing everything they can to help. The main thing is to get them as much feedback as possible from different users. I use the Quadro 4000 in my mac so I don’t think it will be the answer I’m afraid.

    • Danny
    • July 14th, 2011 1:30am

    I recorded another quick Youtube example – the beginning shows the well-documented laggy dragging, but there is another issue which I am curious if it is related – and can possibly help with any insight. When editing H.264 clips (from a Canon 5D) the program monitor updates 2-3 seconds after clicking clips in the timeline. I don’t intend to hijack this thread for another issue, but I am just curious if any other MacPro users are experiencing this, and maybe it is another data point to help with the timeline sluggishness.
    Here is a look:
    I am also going to post this on the larger CS5.5 forum.

    • Hi Danny.

      Can you provide the specs of your mac as my guess would be that the delay in the content appearing in the program monitor is a side effect of the way the H.264 has to be interrogated in order to grab the frame information. It’s a lot faster on my Mac Pro than yours so it would be interesting to know if that’s down do a faster system or not.

    • Ray Tragesser
    • July 14th, 2011 3:19am

    I have the same problem here on my Mac Tower

    Mac Pro 12 core
    32 GB Ram
    Quadro 4000
    Decklink Extreme HD
    SSD system drive
    8GB Fibre Storage

    Do you think there is any connection with either the 12 cores or possibly the 32 GB of ram? I really hope Adobe comes through on this.


    • I have 16GB of RAM so it’s not that. I do have 12 cores but others have mentioned having fewer and still seeing the same results. Most seem to be using recent multicore macs though so it could well be to do with the latest ‘Westmere‘ Processors / memory architecture.

      Is anyone seeing the issue on older processors?

  4. After much discussion over at the Adobe forums it seems that reducing the height of the sequence panel solves the problem. Thanks to everyone that got involved, I’m sure that will help Adobe figure out what’s happening and develop a fix in a future release.

    • Danny
    • September 10th, 2011 1:49pm

    Upgrading to Lion fixed this issue for me and a few other people on the boards.

    • Chris Hicken
    • October 12th, 2011 4:29am

    I am thinking about upgrading to a Mac pro 12 core/ Quadro 4000 32G of Ram. I have recently switched to Premiere 5.5. Interested to hear if the jump will enable me to be able to edit H264 natively without stutter. I am jumping from a 2009 2.66 Quad Core. Is this computer worth it?

    • I use a similar system and yes it will allow you to edit the h.264 files without stuttering most of the time. I say most of the time because occasionally my mac will drop a few frames but it’s nothing terrible. I’m not entirely sure if having a 12 core really benefits you during the edit, the CPU’s are barely above idle. It certainly makes a big difference when encoding though!

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