Exporting my film is taking longer than expected

I'm exporting my feature length film on Hitfilm 4 Express and it seems that it’s either taking longer than expected or the export is frozen and I don’t know if this is natural or not. I did use multiple bitrates so that could be part of it or that it’s a long project (2 hours and 16 minutes). I also used a lot of sound design so that could also be a factor but I don’t know. 


  • edited December 2017

    A 2 hour project could take quite a long time to export.  Much depends on the project specifics, the speed of your machine and what your export format is. Over 4 hours could be expected.

    Does the export seem to be making progress albeit very slowly? Ways that you can tell is if Hitfilm, and specifically HitfilmRenderClient, is still using CPU and reading and writing to disk. The Windows task manager and resource monitor can show these items.

  • The progress starts out kinda fast and then it slows down. I just shut down my computer and then I’ll try to do it tomorrow so my computer takes a break. With my first film it took 8 hours and was 81 minutes long but I used a GoPro with that one which used the MP4 format and exported it in the MP4 format. With this film, I used my iPhone for filming. I’m guessing that it kinda has something to do with the higher bitrate and the compression. Thanks for the help.

  • To expand on what Norman says, there are many dozens or hundreds of variables happening here. So, your export starts fast then slows down? Ok, maybe the first two minutes is video with some light grading, then you go to an awesome title sequence with 3D animation and generated media--and THAT'S the slowdown. 

    In general an NLE gives a render time estimate based on the CURRENT FRAME. So in this theoretical example we had a bunch of "easy" frames (video) followed by the "complex" frames (titles).

    The longest render I've had in Hitfilm was the 26 hours for 30 seconds. In 20 years of using different NLEs, it's rare to have real time renders. 

    Incidentally, in Disney's "Frozen," during "Let it Go," one frame took 178 hours of computer time to render! Obviously we aren't doing things that complex, but digital video really isn't a real time kind of thing, usually. 

  • "With this film, I used my iPhone for filming. I’m guessing that it kinda has something to do with the higher bitrate and the compression."

    The difference in those two media types is unlikely an issue. Hitfilm probably was able to play either media in real time without any complicated effects and such. Encoding is not going to make real time.

    It really comes down to what exactly is any given portion of the video being rendered doing at any given point in time. This is effects and complex compositing. Maybe some audio if mixing a lot of stuff at once. Then there is encoding to an output file (export). Such as to AVC/MP4. This is a somewhat constant and slow operation. Compressing the video to a LongGOP format like AVC is has a lot of overhead/work. 

  • Okay, thanks Norman and Triem23! That explains a lot. I did use a lot of color grading  /correction as well as a complex sound design. 

  • "I did use a lot of color grading  /correction as well as a complex sound design."

    Most of the color grading/correction type effects are super fast. Not complicated. Things like Curves, Color Wheels, HSL, Color balance and such. You should normally feel this as those types of effects will not typically affect playback performance. Contrast this with the VFX type of effects which can really hammer playback performance. 



  • Thanks Norman. I’m guessing that it’s because of the sound design, length of my film, and the fact that I’m exporting it at 1080p which I probably should’ve mentioned earlier but I forgot about. 

  • Hardware specs make a difference as well. If, for example, you have something like an i3 and no dedicated GPU and are outputting to a hard drive, not an SSD. Well, that's slower than an i7 with a current-gen Nvidia or AMD GPU rendering to a fast SSD. 

    Like I said, dozens if not hundreds of variables. @NormanPCN most grading fx are pretty light, but a couple--notably Levels Histogram--do. Wasn't it you in the last day or two who did an analysis on how a lot of the audio fx in Hitfilm seemed to be inefficient compared to a DAW? Or was that Aladdin? 

  • @Triem23 Yes, Levels histogram is slow and it is, IMO, very likely one of those silly things Hitfilm often does that shots itself in the foot. Good thing you can't buy a gun in the UK. It should perform like Curves, as log as the Histo is not visible, and curves is better anyway and does the same things and more.

    There was a user who stumbled across a regression in HF6 with audio performance. Express should still be okay. HF performance, any version, still seems not so good with audio effects. Basic mixing, no idea. We can still take our cues on this from the playback performance. Does it playback without stutter. If yes, then there should be no issues with export.

  • For what it's worth, Levels Histogram is old and shouldn't really be used anymore. It dates back to HF1 (or was it HF2? Can't remember) and has to do a lot of work to get that data across from the image to the plugin. We do not want to remove it to keep old projects from breaking but there should be multiple options to do the same thing now with the scopes, the curves etc. Maybe we should rebuild the plugin with the new APIs but that would likely affect Ignite and what hosts are supported...

  • I’m using an AMD graphics card on a Windows 10 system which may be a factor. Thanks for the help everyone. After this film I’ll probably purchase Hitfilm 4 Pro depending on how much I make.

  • @jackfarley57gmailcom ; With the release of the new Hitfilm Pro (for) 2018 (or version 6) if you're counting like me,  you won't be able to purchase 4 Pro or even 5 Pro.  I am pretty sure the licensing as been frozen on those but I am not Hitfilm staff so I could be mistaken.  It's my understanding though when a new release comes out FXHOME stops selling previous versions to concentrate on the new release.

  • @tddavis is correct. 

    Anyone attempting to sell you Hitfilm 4 Pro is an unlicensed vendor (read as "shady criminal site").

  • I was planning on purchasing Hitfilm Pro from the Hitfilm website. I already know all about the shady people on the internet. I was going to use it for filming and editing at a higher resolution than 1080p, mainly 2k Cinema. Thanks for letting me know about the shady people on the internet. I do find it important that people know how to be smart on the internet. 

  • @CedricBonnier "For what it's worth, Levels Histogram is old and shouldn't really be used anymore."

    If it is depreciated then that word is not being propagated. Official Hitfilm channel tutorial(s?) have used the effect recently. 

    IMO: Don't update the Histo when we the users cannot see the Histo. Then levels should/can perform fast, like curves, bypassing all that readback crapola to update the Histo in the UI. And/or even have a check option where the Histo is not updated during playback. Still/paused only.

    I know when scopes came out they ate performance when not visible but that was quickly squashed from existence once reported.

    Since I am blowing hot air. With all the recent focus in HF6 on playback/paused performance capabilities. Scopes should have a check option to disable updates during playback. In the scopes panel settings.


  • @Triem23 I am not sure about this, third party resellers may still be selling HitFilm 5. I'm a bit fuzzy on the details and someone else would have to confirm this but I don't think all unsold licenses become obsolete overnight when a new version comes out. Buying from the hitfilm.com website guarantees you to always have the latest and greatest version though :)

    @NormanPCN I would have to look at the code again but I think it is slow because of the way that plugin handles data. It needs to churn on a lot of data to apply the actual effect. The plugin doesn't even know if it's visible or not.

    As I said, it's using old APIs and what we've got in place now is much better performance wise, however that plugin would have to be entirely rewritten to use the new APIs.

    Yes, I know about the scopes update button, this feature request has been sitting in my backlog since HF5 came out... We plan to do some more work for performance related stuff in the near future so hopefully I'll be able to sneak that in :)

  • @CedricBonnier what about Hitfilm 4? I do assume a year leeway for third-party sellers. :) 

    @NormanPCN I'm a month behind on Hitfilm tutorial watching, but I don't remember seeing Levels used. I HAVE made a note for my future tutorial on color grading tools to teach Levels (users need to know what it does), then tell people NOT to use it as a segue into curves. 

    I love curves. Curves was my favorite new feature in Hitfilm 3 Pro. 

  • @Triem23 " but I don't remember seeing Levels used. "

    I found it. A Javert guest tutorial on a "How to create a Black Hole". July 13 2017.

    Okay it is a guest tutorial, but it is still what I would consider official as it was a weekly Hitfilm channel tutorial.

    If Levels Histo is old and should not be used then it should not be promoted through official channels. IMO.

    Maybe it should be hidden so people won't try to use it. Keep it in the app so old projects load and work. Maybe a depreciated folder in Effects or a preference to show depreciated effects. I get that something is old and you don't want to waste time getting it up to your current standards when you have better tools/features currently available.

    I also get that Levels is a function many find easier to grasp. Even though it is more limited. Giving users multiple options to work however it works best for them, as individuals, is the ultimate an app can offer. More than one way to do something is often not a waste.

    The Hitfilm levels Histo effect has baggage. Does not matter what it is, it just IS. Maybe add a standard/basic Levels effect. No Histo. Something so simple should be busy work for the FxHome Pros.

  • @NormanPCN I actually DON'T want to hide Levels Histogram. Stick it on a grade layer and it gives a Histogram for all lower layers. Since Express doesn't have scopes this is a good thing to have during grading to check for clipping. That's a valid use. Obviously the effect should be disabled or deleted before render, but it should be accessible.

    Also, if it's hidden, users viewing old tutorials will look for it then ask us why they can't find it. That's a pain in my butt. ;-) 

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