Where HitFilm NEEDS to go.

I have just completed a long journey through three video editors (Vegas, HitFilm, and Premiere) that I used to produce a number of documentaries (about 10), most of which are sold, but some of which are published for free on YouTube. I also teach videography at my university. I have all my students use HitFilm Express for their classwork (unless they already have another editor that they prefer). Finally, I consider myself among the group of HitFilm's greatest fans. But there is a problem, a big problem, and I want to put in my two cents, hoping that some will listen and see the importance of the issue, and it resides squarely with HitFilm's current problems handling 4K footage.

I work almost exclusively with 4K footage. I see a lot of enthusiasts still supporting  1080p, but the pros are dropping 1080p cameras fast. 4K cameras are dropping in prices to ridiculous levels. There are now a few very decent models for under $1,000 that have incredible output quality. None of the pros are going back to 1080p. Indie filmmakers will all be using 4K in a couple of years, probably exclusively. The ability to reframe shots in post, zooming and panning without losing resolution quality is the real game changer. Also YouTube is wanting to have more 4K footage, 4K TVs are coming out, DirecTV has now begun now streaming 4K (with more to come), and Google Fiber is going to change the Internet into a 4K world in just a couple of years (AT&T and Comcast are rushing as fast as possible to install fiber in order to remain competitive). 1080p is dead. Wait two years, and nobody will doubt this.

I used to work with Sony Vegas. But there were always problems, I never could get smooth pans to work well with Vegas, and 4K footage bogged it down. Finally, Sony introduced its new (and very poorly supported) Catalyst in open recognition that Vegas is inept at handing 4K in professional terms. They may come out with a version 14 of Vegas, but the fact that they let the rumor float for a year that they were not going to continue to develop Vegas was a clear message that new software was needed to handle future film making needs. A new version of Vegas will only buy them some time to fix their new line. So I dropped Vegas entirely, looking for a new editor.

Since I have long used the HitFilm Ignite plugins in Vegas, I chose to work with the HitFilm Pro editor, version 4. I got one documentary out of it, and I will never complain about the visual quality. Gorgeous. But it was sluggish to edit it, and I could not export it into a finished film without it crashing. I was only saved by someone on this forum who told me to export it as an image sequence first, and then render the final movie using the image sequence while muting all the 4K footage, It took 24 hours to complete the image sequence, but I am not complaining. The movie looks terrific, and that is all that counts to me. But my second project, a longer 2 hour 15 minute film, crashed HitFilm entirely. It simply could not handle the amount of 4K footage, even without effects. The more I loaded into the project, the more it became unstable. I had no choice but to abandon the editor for this project. So I moved the project to Adobe Premiere CS6 to edit the now completed movie.

Working with Adobe Premiere was not without issues. It could handle any amount of 4K footage strung out in one timeline without crashing, and I had realtime playback of the raw footage. But I use green screen a lot, and most of my stuff has to be composited. The internal chroma keys in Premiere (like Ultra Key) are not as polished at the HitFilm collection. The workflow for most is to use a dynamic link in Premiere to ship the desired "nested sequence" into After Effects, and to use the Keylight plugin for chroma keying. The plugin is great, and lots of Hollywood blockbusters have use it, but using it is not without problems. You lose the easy ability to edit the footage like you have in a normal editor. You can't easily cut a clip in half and insert a new clip. No transitions, All sorts of stuff goes away in After Effects, even if the special effects are good. You also need to purchase plugins.... But the worst part of it is that once you make a dynamic link to After Effects from within Adobe Premiere, you cannot undo this once you save it and close and re-open the project. That is, if you do a lot of stuff in After Effects, and then change your mind and want to go back to the way things were before linking to After Effects so that you do it all in Premiere, you are stuck. That happened to me, and I was saved only because I kept an earlier version in Premiere that did not have the After Effects dynamic link. See how easy things would have been with HitFilm, with the media compositer and nonlinear editor built into the same program? The concept of HitFilm is the future of film making, even if the current version has issues.

I finally decided to use BorisFX BCC to do my chroma keying compositing within Premiere. It cost me $1,000, and I am not complaining. There were no crashes, not even one, over weeks of editing. The final render of the 2+ hour movie took two days (that is not a typo). But the quality is great. I tried using the HitFilm Ignite plugins, and they worked, but they brought my computer system to a grinding halt eventually. No problem with 1080p footage. But the 4K footage was not good for the Ignite plugins. I even had a friend try the same project in FCP 10 using the Ignite plugins. Same result. Quality was perfect, but the system ran into molasses that turned into quicksand. The code is simply not optimized to handle 4K footage easily. Even with BCC, I soon lost real time playback without dropped frames, but that will always happen once you add lots of effects no matter what editor you use. It was still MUCH better and easier than working with After Effects (and I like After Effects). Honestly, real time playback is not something that most editors expect once the effects are loaded in. You get that only with raw or rendered footage. But editors must know that the system will not grind to a halt when the effects are piled on. They still have to be able to edit.

Now back to Hitfilm's future. I purchase ALL FXHome products, including their amazing Photokey Pro. I will continue to purchase all versions of HitFilm. HitFilm can handle short 4K projects well. It is just long projects that have problems. In short, I LOVE HitFilm as a concept, and it is my editor of choice when compositing short stuff. But in my opinion, if we want HitFilm to be around in two years and to avoid the fate of Vegas, the single most important thing that the HitFilm staff needs to address is optimizing the code to work with 4K footage. My students use their iPhones with 1080p footage. But that is not serious film making. That is just playing in a learning environment. But in 2 years, even the kids will be using 4K cameras. HitFilm needs to focus on this issue more than any other single issue. What good are new features if the program itself collapses under the weight of 4K? In my view, it makes no sense to defend 1080p as a viable future. The only future is 4K, and that future will be here sooner rather than later. I have NO complaints about HitFilm's quality. The movie output looks GORGEOUS. Fixing the 4K issue is the single most important thing that needs to be addressed. Nothing else matters.

Since people will ask, my systems are good ones ... all SSD drives, i7 processors, gaming motherboards, 32 gigs of ram, NVIDIA GeForce GFX 970 video cards, Windows 10, etc.



  • @CortneyBrown Excellent  points. 

    Agreed - whether we like it or not, 4K is already here and will be the expected shooting format in the near future, if for no other reason than being able to manipulate  framing in post.  

    Even if your output is 1080P, once clients get wind that they can ask for framing and zooming changes in editorial then you'll be expected to shoot with it.  Which means your editing toolset will have to be able to deal with it.  

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator
    edited April 2016

    I'm not saying HitFilm couldn't improve in better handling of x264 and 4k because it obviously could but we also have to be realistic about expectations for now and I don't don't mean the size of FXHome's development staff or resources or anything like that. The reality right now is 3 simultaneous 4k streams will swamp most single CPU systems regardless of the NLE being used. The tests @NormaPCN has done indicate two simultaneous 4k streams is about the max your average i7 can handle. Granted he isn't a testing lab but he is very methodical and his findings are very believable and echoed by actual test labs. Data wise a single 4k stream is the equivalent of four 1080 streams and two would be eight 1080 streams. There is less decoding overheard with two streams sure but you're still manipulating massive amounts of data no matter how you look at it. 

    The moral of the story is yes HitFilm could use improvement but increasing your hardware horsepower or going to an offline workflow will gain you much more than any amount of code optimization ever would because you're already pushing an average i7 to it's theoretical limits. A base minimum for 4k work would be 8 full (virtual cores don't count) cores in a single Xeon or dual 4 core Xeons and when I say minimum I really mean minimum! A more realistic minimum is two 6 core Xeons and a recommended minimum is two 10 core Xeons. 

    Review of an HP z840 for 4k work

    Intel white paper on Adobe optimized systems

    This article is from two years ago but the info still holds true 


  • @Aladdin4D makes some good points about computer capability, but overstated. You really don't need the highest end systems outlined in the Intel report to work with 4K. The key is not to expect real time playback when working with 4K and compositing. You also have to be content with long render times for finished video. All that is OK. The problem with some editors, and HitFilm is one of them, you simply cannot edit in them with 4K material if the project is much over an hour. They freeze, crash, or grind to a halt. I have a good system for an Indie film maker, and I just made a nice 2+ hour film in Premiere. Everything was 4K compressed video from Panasonic Lumix GH4 cameras, and there were typically two video layers and multiple still layers throughout in each nested and composited sequence. The timeline itself was 1080p, and my final output was 1080p. I did not use the "Scale to Frame" option for clips in Premiere so as to retain the full 4K resolution everywhere while editing. Using HitFilm was not an option (I tried). I like HitFilm much better as an editor, with everything in one program. But the long projects will freeze upon loading, or grind the system to a halt. Premiere slows down some, but it keeps on going, and I can finish the project. This is true with the Mercury Playback engine running on the CPU only, or with the GPU. So it is possible. There is no getting around it. We live in a 4K world now. There is no reason to come up with reasons for why we cannot edit in 4K. There is no alternative in real terms. If people do not see this now, they will live it in two years no matter what they believe now. All the pro videographers I know have already switched to 4K cameras. To be honest, I don't know any pro film makers who still use 1080p.

  • edited April 2016

    First, any Hitfilm crashing that happens has to go. Period. Slow can be okay. You still get the job done.

    I am also on the record that Hitfilm needs to work on basic playback performance.

    It is worth noting that Sony recommends an 8-core (real cores) system for 4k editing. In my quick and dirty test(s) @Aladdin4d referenced I saw the or at least a reason why. Decoding those data streams is a huge CPU burden. I saw around 60% CPU with one stream (Prores file) . Logic dictates that two streams, like a crossfade transition, will be a problem. With a transcode I got the decode overhead to 46-50% the transition test then finally got smooth while still 4K Full. That is a close shave. A little bit of stubble and it will step function into stutter.

    For the record my system is a i7 4770k 4-core running at a constant 4Ghz (turbo disabled). In my simple test, adding some grading effects (curves, wheels) did not effect performance. This being because effects in Hitfilm start to kick in the GPU with anger.

    Hitfilm could really use a smart proxy system like Vegas added in V12. If memory serves me, I recently read a blurb that Premiere has just added such a feature. There are reasons in this modern world of pretty good hardware to be adding transparent proxy workflow to editors. 4K is harsh. A system where one click has you using a proxy file or the source file is handy. No tedious relinking or renaming folders for proxies. For the record the Vegas smart proxies are using mpeg-2 video. mpeg-2 have about the lowest decode overhead available. I have used the Vegas smart proxy feature.

    Hitfilm also needs ram preview for the NLE. This is likely to be needed in the 4k world. That is one of the many baffling things that come up with the Hitfilm NLE. One side of Hitfilm seems smart and the other is WTF (IMO).

    Aladdin talks about offline work. It is worth noting we do not need 4k to cut our video and this is where we really need smooth playback for timing and pace. For grading I am looking at selected stills.

    For a big budget reference I once posted a Youtube link that talks about the post production workflow done for "The girl with the dragon tattoo". This was shot 5k for 4k. The editor never saw a RAW file. Never saw a 4/5k file. The film was cut on 1080 Prores LT. Not HQ or even standard Prores. Everything after the cut was done 4k.  e.g. grading. DPX images sequences to be exact and they had some very serious hardware to handle that crazy I/O throughput. As explained in the video, the fancy hardware is not absolutely needed to do 4k but is used to get workflow speed.

    Here is the link again for those interested.


  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    Being pedantic what's in that Intel white paper is actually lower end. The E5 outlined is currently an entry level E5. The high end E5 has 22 physical cores ;) 

    What you outlined is two 4k streams of x264 encoded video which is where I said Hitfilm could (needs to really) improve but even with improvement that's the most you can reasonably expect to handle on the average i7 regardless of what NLE is being used. Any more than that and you need more horsepower or go to an offline/proxy workflow. Sony's Catalyst which is heavily hyped as being optimized for 4k work comes with a recommendation of 8 physical cores for 4k work. GoPro recommends a quad core just for playback and editing a single 4k stream. Edius, which has a highly optimized playback engine at least as good as the Mercury engine if not even better,  recommends a 2GB RAM preview buffer, at least an i7 4770k for a single XAVC 23.98 fps stream and a 16 core Xeon for a single XAVC 59.94 stream for real time playback. I'm not overstating anything I'm pulling my numbers straight from the sources. No amount of code optimization is going to get around the hardware limits. 

    Other things that would help would be a better proxy system. Edius has pretty much always had automatic proxy creation, Vegas added something similar in v12 and I think the latest version of Premiere is touting something along the same lines while Avid has always been happiest with proxies and offline workflows to begin with. 

  • Guys, I know lots of pro videographers who work on i7 machines. They use FCP and Premiere. No one complains about stutter because no one expects real time playback. There will always be dropped frames when you composite with 4K if you hit the play button from the timeline window. But those videographers do great work. They have houses in the Hamptons. They have customers. They use REDs, GoPro's, Panasonic, and other 4K cameras. Your insistence on really powerful machines is simply not correct. Are you expecting your movie to play while you are editing it? That is not what the workflow is like. Maybe there are people who expect real time playback while editing, but they are not the ones I interact with. I just have to insist that your arguments for why we should not expect to be editing in 4K with i7 processors is just an argument for not making films. I care about HitFilm, and I know that software exists that can handle 4K while editing. It exists now. I simply want HitFilm to prioritize the code optimization so that HitFilm can work with 4K using a reasonable machine of the sort that Indie film makers use. If you want HitFilm to exist in two years, you will see that need as well.

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    Well it's not my insistence on really powerful machines. Every recommendation I've posted today has come from software developers, even the Intel white paper is Adobe's recommendation and they all say the same thing - you need a very powerful machine for online 4k work. If Grass Valley tells me a quad core i7 is realistically only good for working with one 4k stream, Sony states 8 cores for 4k  and Avid requires 12 cores for anything over 2k (dual 6 core for PC, hyperthreaded 6 core Mac Pro) should I just ignore them all and tell them their insistence on more powerful hardware is simply not correct? Ummm no I'm going to take them at their word and either deal with some frustration and an offline proxy workflow or get a more powerful machine. 

    RED footage is typically handled one of two ways, in an offline-online workflow with transcoding proxies (REDCINE-X) for editing or a really powerful machine with extra hardware in the form of a RED Rocket card ($4750.00 - $6750.00) for an online workflow so yes it could be and is done on an i7 alone but not in an online workflow. 

    GoPro recommends a quad core i7 or better GoPro Studio also transcodes to Cineform for easier editing on lesser systems. Specific to 4k they say a quad core i7 is good for editing and playback of a single 4k stream just like Grass Valley.

    Several other 4k cameras like the Sony F5/F55 and Panasonic's 4k VariCam actually record their native 4k and HD proxy footage at the same time for a fast easy 4k workflow. Edit in HD then switch to 4k for export. The file names are even the same for both the HD and 4k clips to make the process even easier across all NLE's. Many other cameras take a different route and record to edit friendly codecs like ProRes and DNx. This in turn makes proxy creation faster and easier if needed. 

    Again none of this is at my insistence, it's what all the major developers are telling us. Sorry but there's no way all of them are incorrect in their assessment of what's needed. Yes Hitfilm needs improvement in x264 playback performance and I've never said otherwise but even if it was every bit as good as Adobe or Edius in this area you're never going to be able handle more than two 4k streams on the average i7 which is what I have said repeatedly. 

    Now I'm taking this personally - 

    "I just have to insist that your arguments for why we should not expect to be editing in 4K with i7 processors is just an argument for not making films."

    I've never said anything remotely resembling that! In fact I have tried my best to offer you effective solutions to your problems and so far you have flatly rejected not only my suggestions but everybody else's as well. You're working with GH4 recordings which are notoriously difficult to edit with so transcoding to a more edit friendly format was suggested. You rejected that approach so proxy offline editing was suggested because that's how it's done in the real world all day everyday by countless others. NormanPCN even provided you with a professional example but once again you rejected that option. Now we've moved on to more powerful hardware because (again) it's the developers telling us that's what's really required to handle more then two 4k streams and you're rejecting that as well. Every suggestion was made to help make a film knowing each was a true and proven method. Your insistence on not adopting any other proven method is what was simply incorrect.


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited April 2016

    Courtney does have good points in that Hitfilm, in particular, could use improvements in it's rendering engine, but Aladdin and Norman also bring up valid points about hardware.

    I did a full breakdown of this in a different thread, but, short form: in 2005, 640x480 was still the digital video standard. 640x360 was the 16x9 digital video standard (and all current digital video formats are direct multiples of this 640x360 number).

    A 3840x2160 video stream contains 36 times the pixel information of a 640x360 stream. In the last 11 years processors have gotten about 20 times faster (I only crunched these numbers using Intel's top-end i7s. Other manufacturers or processor lines may vary), and GPU's have only gotten about 10 times faster.

    36 times more data with 10 to 20 times improvement in the hardware does present a legitimate issue. While 4K is "the future," much of this is the industry trying to push consumers into purchasing (as a side note, I live in Orange County, CA--one of the more populous and wealthy, overall, areas of the United States. As of November, 2015, OC had several THOUSAND movie screens in all of the theaters, yet only 20 of them are 4K--all IMAX. My source--I personally called around and talked with all the theaters. 20 4k projectors, with everything else being 2.5K This long parenthetical is setup for my next paragraph) new gear, since current business models don't want consumers to own a TV for 10-15 years without a new purchase. First they pushed VR, now we're pushing 4K. We'll ignore that under most viewing conditions one can't see the difference (4k smartphone screens? Way to waste processor power!).

    So, yes, 4K is the future. It's inevitable. The industry finally got everyone to bite. That said, for the most part the only reason to shoot 4K is for the ability to reframe in post (Why is THAT such a new, hot technique? I started that 10 years ago when I got my first HD camera, but still needed to output everything in SD). 4K on Youtube? 4 times the pixel data of 1080p crammed into twice the bandwidth means it's pretty crappy 4k.

    Oddly enough, I'm a professional videographer who has yet to buy a 4K camera. Why? Hell, my clients aren't even asking for 1080! The two TV stations I work for still broadcast SD (we're local/govt), and the last year of recitals I did sold a couple thousand units on DVD and under 20 Blu-Rays. It's the under-30's who are gung-ho on the 4K for the most part. Most don't care yet.

    I think I've digressed.

    EDIT: Several minutes later I remembered where I was going with this.

    Yes, I'd agree that an optimized display/render engine for Hitfilm would be nice--acknowledging several mitigating factors. 1) current changing standards (we're back to throwing new standards against a wall and seeing what sticks) 2) limited Fxhome resources (I don't know if they've expanded, but during the HF2 days, Simon Jones posted somewhere that FxHome is an 18 person company. That's coders, testers, HR, Marketing, Web, Admin, etc. I don't know if that counts Axel.) 3) As discussed above the amount of data video throws out now has exceeded the increases in computing power. in 2016 a 4K workflow really needs to be done via 1080 proxies, much like 2006 1080 video needed SD proxies and 1999 SD workflow required 320x240 proxies.

    However, my personal wishlist for Hitfilm is import/export more file formats (including an audio-only format), improvement to render/display speed and scopes. On other forums, these are the three main things I see from people who won't try Hitfilm or have moved off Hitfilm. Of these three things, I've discussed display/render speed at length. For import/export codecs, I suspect that licensing issues may be at play here--I did a breakdown earlier in the year showing that the $399 Hitfilm 4 Pro had to be paying out over $150 to other vendors in license fees. Without giving a concrete number @JoshDaviesCEO stated that my estimate is LOW. So, if there ARE additional licenses involved, then the bottom line is this functionality has to result in a price increase. That leaves Scopes, which, in my humble opinion, is the "WHY HAVEN'T YOU DONE THIS?" feature in Hitfilm. Adding a Levels Histogram to the top of a stack for spot checks isn't good enough. (New Blue's Video Essentials package happens to have a scopes plug-in that runs in Hitfilm).

  • @CourtneyBrown You say Hitfilm needs to be optimized for 4k. What do you mean by that?

    • less/no bugs/crashes
    • playback performance
    • render performance
    • all of the above

    I think everyone can agree it is a given for less bugs/crashes. This is not a 4k specific thing. It might possibly be more frequent for 4k and/or very large projects. It would not surprise me that large projects can expose more Hitfilm bugs. Hitfilm is probably mostly used like After Effects and thus by definition one shot and very short. If also using the NLE I'll bet Hitfilm gets little usage on very long stuff.

    Most everything else is performance related unless you have something to list. Everyone wants real time editing basic edits. I define basic edit as, straight media plus a handful of grading effects and the ability to handle a basic dissolve transition.

    As previously stated, the lack of a RAM preview for the NLE severely limits 4k editing. Right now the Hitfilm NLE is real time or we are SOL. In 4k mode the current Hitfilm ram buffer limit may be of concern at FULL res.

    And finally speaking for myself, I never said you could not do 4k on a simple 4-core CPU. The first paragraph is clear. I believe my initial post is clearly mostly about editor performance. The missing NLE ram preview comment is clearly directed towards non real time editing ability.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    One more observation on long project workflow. Talking with my friends who have better careers than I (i.e. those working on studio and FX house projects), most TV and Feature Film work is actually edited with a different project for each scene/sequence. Partially for organization. Partially so that a change in scene X doesn't risk screwing up the timeline on scenes Y and Z. Partially because a large project is shipping out shots to different vendors and house X only needs scene Y and not the entire film. Partially because a full feature in a single project with all composites and effects together will kill any system.

    So, in general most shows are built in small chunks with the entire thing being assembled off renders of individual scenes. Not the entire project being done in a single file.

  • Isn't it faster to shoot in 1080? If you do it right the first time, then you don't need to fix anything in post. That seems to what the pros are trying to teach us amateurs anyways.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @KevinTheFilmmaker there is, as in so many things dealing with video, a lot of "it depends" going on here.

    Shooting at a higher resolution for a downsampled output has many advantages--even on a Movi, Steadicam, Slider, Crane or Jib one can have shot wobbles that a bout of stabilization can fix. Stabilization requires scaling up the image, so extra pixels is good. Shooting things like hyperlapses absolutely requires stabilization, so the additional pixel are going to be used.

    Reframing a shot isn't considered a "fix in in post" situation--it's now just a common technique. For small scale event work it's a lifesaver (I shot a concert a couple of years ago where I knew final output was going to DVD. This let me stick a static wide in the back shooting 1080 and put myself and second camera op up close on handheld. The 1080p/480 crop let me reframe my wide in post and even add extra wiggle so my static wide had the same handheld feel as the CU cams). For mid-level work like Corridor Digital it lets one set up a shot on, say, a linear slider dolly but add in a zoom in post. This was easier to shoot for them (Sam and Niko discuss this on the BTS for their "Portal Trick Shots") since the final shot had a zoom and some quick pans from person to person and tilts up and down from faces to papers in hands, etc. Shooting a dolly with a zoom and quick pans/tilts to follow moving people and objects is a complex camera move, and, on set would have required a lot more time for camera rehearsal and even blown takes. By planning the shot around the post-reframe they were able to set up a straight dolly/pan shot which was easier to set up and shoot, and let them get back outside to spend their shoot day working on the VFX sequence.

    If you're an indy filmmaker, or even low/mid budget studio work this can get you set up quicker on set which saves time for the 5-50 people on set... Although the editor spends more time in post. Also, shooting 4K for 1080 output basically can double a lenses zoom. Useful on long shots.

    Point being that reframing in post is so common now it's planned for and shots are taken with the intention to reframe. That's a plan, not a fix. It's also why you're starting to see 6k and 8k Cinema cameras---even IMAX screens don't display 6/8k. That entire 6k/8k camera design is there for the sole purpose of reframing shots for 4k output in post.

    But, yes, you're better off to shoot correctly, and shooting, know one has has the option to reframe in post and planning to do that is part of "doing it right."

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    Trying to be clear again I never said you couldn't do 4k on your average i7 either just that it wouldn't handle more than two streams in real time. Any more than that and you're into some form of non real time or offline editing or you need more horsepower. The point being that no amount of optimization is going to change the hardware limitations of working directly with 4k. 

    I made the point because the situation is not going to get better anytime soon it's only going to get worse. Sure 4k is popular right now and will probably even end up being a defacto delivery standard but in two years time a lot of us are going to be dealing with 6k or 8k with the rate cameras are progressing and prices dropping. Kinefinity is releasing  a 6k camera for about 6k in cash in couple of months and the 6k GH5 is going to be released this year priced for consumers. Do you really think it's going to be two more years before all the other camera manufacturers release matching cameras? Not on your life the only thing that's going to derail 6k is 8k and beyond because that's what's needed to get all the same benefits for delivering 4k content that shooting in 4k provides for 1080 content. 

    Reality check time - 6k is 2,25 times the data of 4k and 10 times more than 1080 HD. 8k is 4 times the data of 4k and 16 times more than 1080 HD. Your average current i7 probably won't be able to playback a 6k stream much less edit it and there's not even a remote chance for an 8k stream.

    HitFilm isn't capable of handling anything over 4k even if you had the hardware to handle 6k video. Trying to perfect the current HitFilm engine for 4k right now is a waste of time and resources because by the time it was done 6k cameras will be in the hands of a lot of people wanting to edit their footage. What's really needed is a new engine that can handle at least 8k and an intelligent proxy system and workflow for the average user to be able to create something. 

  • @Triem23 "...there is, as in so many things dealing with video, a lot of "it depends" going on here."

    You sound like a Film Riot mailbag episode... 

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @NormanPCN Except I'm an only child, so I don't have a younger brother typing comments over my shoulder.

    Film Riot is one of those things that makes me wish I had siblings. The whole Conolley clan comes off well.

    It's also true--there's tons of "it depends" in video. :-)

  • Having had the good fortune to work with the Connolly's on a couple of things, I can testify to them all being lovely people.

    Back to the topic at hand - this is all great stuff, guys. This kind of detailed feedback is really valuable to us and very useful. I think it's fair to say that, going back to the start, HitFilm's initial focus was very much on the VFX side - and the userbase reflected that, with users of HF1 and 2 being primarily VFX artists. The editor has improved drastically from HF1 to HF4, which I suspect is why we now have an increasing number of users who are wanting to edit longer form projects.

    Having editors who are working on long form projects is super useful, as that's exactly the feedback we need to make everything better. I've pointed the devs at this topic and you can be sure we'll be digesting everything carefully.

    Keep it coming.

  • In my opinion... the playback issue would be resolved if you'd just allow more than 4gb of ram to be allocated to 'Playback Cache'... This will always be my suggestion. I could easily throw 40gb of ram towards cache and have more the 16gb left just for Normal HitFilm application.

  • What a terrific thread! Thanks everyone for commenting. Also, thanks to @Aladdin4d for getting mad. It helps make the topic a focus. About the specific points, @NormanPCN asks about 

    • less/no bugs/crashes
    • playback performance
    • render performance
    • all of the above

    Let me be clear. Item 1 and 3 are the main issue. I have no concern for playback performance. You can't get real time playback with composited 4K on any nonlinear editor. My editor colleague group long abandoned the idea of real time playback. We edit by clicking around the timelines, placing video and stills and composites where we want them, and then render the video to see what it looks like. None of the people who I interact with can afford the machines that can do real time playback with composited 4K. We don't even talk about the subject.

    @SimonKJones raises a good point. Why is there interest in the HitFilm editor? I started out with HitFilm using their plugins for special effects. They really helped me improve my chroma keying (a lot). I stayed away from Adobe Premiere CC because I do scientific experiments that require controls that have no public leaks of content, (farsight.org), and I simply did not trust that no assets would stay out of the "creative cloud." If there was a leak of any sort, the experiment and reputations could be ruined, and I could not take the chance. So I was faced with using Vegas or Adobe CS6. I love the intuitive interface of Vegas, but the output is never as good as that which comes out from Premiere. I don't know what Adobe does behind the scenes, but the images look gorgeous with their software. Then HitFilm came into being, and I saw the same quality images in their video as I did with Adobe Premiere. The stuff is crazy good with HitFilm. So when Vegas looked like it was going to be left in the dark alley of no further development (the same thing Sony did with Acid as a DAW), I took the moment to make the switch to HitFilm as my nonlinear editor of choice. I built a movie that is now selling on Vimeo and as a DVD on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


    That is when the trouble began. I was able to edit it fine. It was a one hour and 15 minute film, and it looked fine while clicking around the timeline (again, no demand for real time playback), but then I needed to render it into the final movie, and HitFilm could not do it. It crashed each time. I spent a week trying, each day, over and over. It crashed at different points. Finally, @Triem23 suggested that I render it out as an image sequence, and then put that as the top video layer while muting all the 4K video layers below, and that worked like a charm. The final render with the image sequence had NO loss in quality, and it took only 3 hours. The movie was finally out, and it looks unbelievably gorgeous. I dropped the idea of returning to Vegas permanently, update or no update.

    Then I began my second film using HitFilm as the editor. This was a re-do of Farsight's Atlantis project. It is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Well, I somehow managed to get about an hour and 30 minutes of 4K footage into the project (two layers for multicamera work shot from different angles), and the HitFilm project froze on loading. I could actually watch the way it froze. It froze during the creation of the audio wave forms. I had until the freezing moment to work in the editor, so I broke the project up in half and saving by deleting one half while the audio wave forms were still forming, and each half loaded fine in HitFilm. It was just that HitFilm could not take that much 4K footage. Yes, it was sluggish to edit in, but I don't mind sluggish. But the editor still has to function. By this time, I was used to the idea that HitFilm would not render the final movie without me making an image sequence, but heck, I did not care about that. I just needed to edit it and save it.

    I had a deadline I had to meet, so I switched the project over to Premiere using CS6. I got the same quality of video output as HitFilm, but I needed to use After Effects for chroma keying. OK. So be it. But as it turned out, I actually liked the HitFilm chroma keying better than Keylight. But the Ignite plugins were slowing down Premiere (and my friends FCP) to the point of stopping  them entirely. We actually did experiments where we added one HitFilm Ignite plugin after another just to watch the degrading performance of the editor to the point where the editor would stop altogether. So I went out and purchased BorisFX BCC ($1,000!) so I could use their plugins in Premiere. That is when I found out that the project that I have exported with dynamic links from Premiere to After Effects could not be undone. That is, once there is a dynamic link to After Effects, you are stuck with it. You can't go back to when you were just in Premiere. You had to throw the entire thing away! AT THAT MOMENT I REALIZED HOW VALUABLE THE HITFILM APPROACH TO MOVIE MAKING REALLY IS BY COMBINING ALL OF THE SPECIAL EFFECTS STUFF WITH THE EDITOR. I could undo anything in HitFilm without a problem. Fortunately, I had a previous version of the movie that I saved right before dynamically linking it to After Effects. I updated the edits on that one and applied the chroma key suite from BorisFX. To be honest, l liked the HitFilm chroma key stuff better. But the BorisFX actually did a better job than Keylight, so I was happy. The movie looks terrific, and it is released next week. The final render of the 2 hour 15 minute movie from within Premiere takes 2 full days on my i7. I am monitoring the CPU and GPU usage, and Premiere is using both. Vegas would always crash when rendering with the GPU, and ... well, you know the HitFilm story. But I edited MULTIPLE 4K STREAMS with no problem with Premiere. Again, real time playback while editing is not even attempted. The big issue is that I did not have even one crash with Premiere, even during 2 day renders.

    Now, Premiere is not my editor of choice, but I will use whatever works. I shoot only 4K, and I edit with multiple streams. Since I don't demand real time playback, all I really need is for the program not to crash when loading the project, editing the project, or rendering the project. I don't mind going through the hoops of using an image sequence if needed to make the final render work. All I care about is getting the project out with the highest visual and audio quality. Quality is everything with me. I don't care about how long it takes to render, or real time playback. I just want my movies to look like they were done in Hollywood. I can get that with HitFilm for short stuff, and I can get that with Premiere for long stuff. I would like to do everything with HitFilm because I really do not like the After Effects work flow, even if lots of other people use it. Using After Effects with Premiere introduces a huge level of rigidity into the editing process. You can't edit clips and timelines easily in After Effects. It is not build like a nonlinear editor. It is a compositor useful for making special effects. Premiere also has some clunkyness that dates back to the old film days. For example, you can't move a layer vertically in the timeline. You have to create a new layer and copy and paste the content from one layer to the other. Then you have to check to make sure the new layer is OK. The Adobe people, when asked, say things like, "I am not sure why you would want that functionality. Seems like it would be a very rare thing to do. Write a ticket to suggest...." I think you get the idea. Premiere is good, but it also has issues. 

    HitFilm solves the clunkyness issues of Premiere, plus it solves the problem of sending compositing tasks to another program. It is a beautiful concept. It is so beautiful, I will continue purchasing it until it fixes the other issues.

    So my wish list is simple, and I think it is tied to the survival of HitFilm past two more years. Fix the program so that it can load and edit long projects with 4K footage. This probably has something to do with memory usage. I would suggest that HitFilm require 4K users to have 32 gigs of RAM, and that HitFilm use it. For my movie, Premiere often used 20 gigs of RAM when rendering. If you can make HitFilm a bit less sluggish while editing in the process, that would be nice. RAM is cheap. Require 4K users to buy lots of it. No one will complain. Don't try to keep the RAM usage minimal. Use it. Consider it an unlimited resource. It may make everything work more smoothly. Just my guess. You know your program better than I.

    I want HitFilm to succeed. This means the editor as well as the plugins.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    I don't actually think Aladdin got mad. With Aladdin, Norman and I you have three of the most pedantic posters. ;-) 

    I actually agree with your points,  but I see what they've done from v.2 to v.4 and am certain it's in the pipeline. 

  • edited April 2016


    +1! on that. The seamless fluid workflow between NLE and comp just seems so right. Definitely a case where 1+1 is (>2).

  • edited April 2016

    CourtneyBrown Thanks for starting this thread and thanks to all other commenters for participating in the discussion to keep this topic "hot" and in focus.

    From my personal experience, I can add the following:

    I bought HitFilm4 Pro a while ago and I'm just starting to create projects with it. I also loved the idea of combining the concepts of an editor (Premiere Pro) and VFX compositor (AfterEffects) and 3D object rendering (Andrew Kramer's 3D Elements plugin for AE) into one intuitive and affordable software program = HitFilm 4 Pro! :)

    Nevertheless, I can fully support the request of improving the HF editor's performance. 2 days ago, I shot some talking head video footage in 4k on my Panasonic G7 for a promo video of my online course on Udemy. I imported the video in HitFilm 4 Pro and it took me 2 hours to cut (no effects, etc. only cutting out unwanted takes) the first 30 seconds of the ca. 5 minute 4k footage from my G7.

    My system isn't the newest, I know...

    • iMac 27", Mid 2011
    • 2,7 GHz Intel Core i5
    • 16 GB 1333 MHz DDR3
    • Samsung 850 Pro 512 GB SSD as Startup disk
    • AMD Radeon HD 6770M 512 MB

    After 2 days of searching on YouTube and the HF forums for a solution, I decided to give the trial of FCPX a try. So I imported the 5 minute long 4k footage and was able to normally playback and even scrub through the footage in FCPX fluently.

    Why is it working in FCPX and not in HitFilm 4 Pro,
    although it's the same system and the same footage?

    I really love the idea of HitFilm, but I'm seriously considering switching to FCPX just for the fact that it lets me edit my footage more fluently without hickups or crashes... Luckily I can test FCPX 30 days for free, so I got one month to make up my mind... :-/

  • edited April 2016

    "Why is it working in FCPX and not in HitFilm 4 Pro,
    although it's the same system and the same footage?"

    Not unique to the Mac platform. A common similar story on Windows (Premiere, Vegas comparo).

  • There seems to be a lot of... let's be honest, misinformation going on here.

    First, no professional editor (or colorist) would tolerate not being able to play back footage in realtime for their work. If you're editing, you need to be able to see the pacing and timing of a shot as well as hear the dialog and how the timings match as a scene progresses. If you don't have realtime playback, you're stuck faking it, which is of course unacceptable in craft as well as in news editing.

    I would never expect HitFilm to do well with an H.264 based codec in 4K, let along with more than one stream  of it, because H.264 isn't made for that. It's a high overhead codec that we can get smooth playback of on low end machines because even a low end Core processor has H.264 decoding assistance built into its GPU hardware. No one in their right mind edits H.264 footage -- it gives you very little latitude for color grading, and clean chroma keys with it are pretty much a non-starter.

    Shooting 4K to reframe down to HD in post is hardly a game changer. It's just a way to facilitate a lower standard for what passes for cinematography in independent film these days, which is as Vitorio Storaro described it, turn on the camera and hit record. THAT is what reframing in post is for. It's a "we didn't know what to shoot, so we'll figure it out in the editing room" method, not a way to make better films.

    Filming events and other uncontrollable situations is another beast entirely, and should never be considered cinematography, because it isn't.

    HitFilm's effects are quite stunning. I've worked with (and continue to work with) some truly stunning chroma keyers including the one that's built into Mistika, and I am pretty sure that if you saw footage that I'd keyed in MambaFX next to footage that I'd keyed in HitFilm, that you would not be able to tell which was which.

    Most of the drive to 4K and higher is coming from camera manufacturers like Red who are still trying to upstage Arri as the dominant high-end camera platform, and with the exception of the rental-only Alexa 65, Arri doesn't have a 4K camera yet. They added upscaling to the Amira and Alexa families to satisfy the "we need 4K!" crowd, but that's about it. And most cinematographers and visual effects artists like those at PIXAR and the ASC feel that higher dynamic range is a better value than higher resolution.

    One of the big frustrations for filmmakers these days is that we have cameras that can capture far more dynamic range and wider color gamut than we can reproduce with the current VERY antiquated rec709 standard. This is one reason that instead of introducing new CineAlta cameras, Sony is working on pushing HDR and wider color gamut into the home on the display side. Sony and Panasonic both have been showing footage shot on current cameras remastered for HDR, and the difference is stunning. The difference between HD and 4K by comparison is far less striking.

    IMO HitFilm is going to cause some conniptions for the likes of Adobe, especially in the independent arena, as well as for the likes of GenArts, because HitFilm is becoming an alternative for both Premiere and AfterFX, and Ignite is starting to become an alternate to Sapphire.

    The proxy workflow in HitFilm is IMO the secret to working with 4K with both editing and compositing. Compositing with 4K will always be slow on what most indies regard as high end, since most indies won't be able to afford multi-GPU systems or even understand what a striped RAID is, let alone have the budget for one.

    I constantly run into film producers who are baffled by the fact that professional quality footage is big, and don't plan on having any drives around for backup, because they're so used to the tiny files that they're getting from consumer cameras. They're really in over their heads without realizing it, but rather than admit it, they usually just say "use 4K" or "We're shooting on a Red, so it's high end" and resort to turning on the camera and hitting the record button, then hoping to figure out a decent frame in post, which of course removes most of the image quality benefits in shooting in 4K in the first place while at the same time adding more work for the editor.


  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    @WhiteCranePhoto This is one of those times when I understand why the old timers really want the Like button back.

  • Thanks :)

    A lot of people are obsessed with image quality (those types usually are mostly gearheads), yet also like to re-frame in post... which is a contradiction -- if you're doing a lot of re-framing in post, you're sacrificing resolution and therefore image quality.

    If your cinematography is good, each frame should be also:


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @Aladdin4d @WhiteCranePhoto damn right we want a like button. 

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Minor note. In my own work, well reframing in post is a vital technique for event work. For anything cinematic, I prefer to frame my shots on set, but, again, some extra resolution is nice for stabilization, and, yes, the occasional reframe (one of my shorts had this great high-angle shot, but we caught the toe of the DP's shoe in frame. A small scale took care of that without screwing up the composition.).

    I would argue it's a legitimate technique, much like chroma keys, matte paintings, mo-cap and VFX. The danger is that people will become lazy and rely on up-rez too much rather than properly plan shots. 

    But post-reframing is nothing compared to light field cameras. 

  • edited April 2016

    True. Events are not, however, cinematography; in cinematography, the Director of Photography has complete control over the frame at all times, unless he/she/it is incompetent.

    In a narrative film, reframing in post should be an exception rather than a rule. If it's a standard practice, then you need a better cinematographer. :)

  • BTW, here's a short showing some green-screen composites that I did with HitFilm.


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    I 95% agree with that. With allowances made for micro-budget and guerrilla. I'll use Corridor Digital's "Portal Trick Shots" as my example again. That was a one-day shoot, and for a couple of sequences they shot with a slider dolly with slides and pans in-camera with some zooms in post. However, this decision was made to bang out the shots of dudes writing on a whiteboard in order to have more shoot time in location to plan and rehearse for the complex and VFX takes. A legitimate decision to cheap out on some fairly unimportant shots to free up time for the meat of the short. 




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