HitFilm is not usable as a NLE: Slow transitions,no matter what.

I've been watching HitFilm closely for years, because the idea of a all-in-one After Effects+Premiere+Element3D replacement really feels right.

The Compositing part of HitFilm 4 is really amazing. I'm really impressed. The last update, with Maya-like controls of the 3D viewport is really a slamdunk. I'm almost ready to leave Adobe...but I can't because the Editor in HitFilm is UNUSABLE. 

Since version 2, I always download the trial version and do  a simple test: a simple edit, with 5 clips and 4 cross fade transitions.

EVERYTIME the software is slow (slow and choppy playback during the cross fades), so I give up and wait for the next version. Yesterday I've tried the last version f HitFilm 4. And the software is still slow.

I've tried different codecs: H264 and AVCHD directly from the camera, DNxHD and Cineform. It was slow in ALL of them. 

My computer specs: i7 4790K (4Ghz), 16GB RAM and a GeForce 970 4GB.

There is no reason HitFilm 4 can't play a basic transition in realtime with this setup. I did the same test in Premiere CS6 and Resolve, and they work flawless. In Premiere even 4K footage play in realtime, and we are talking about the CS6 version, a 5 year-old software. 

Heck, even Final Cut Pro 7 (a 32 bit application) in my old Macbook  plays it ok if I transcode to ProRes

So, I really, really, really want to love HitFilm 4, but right now the Editor is basically not working.

I'd suggest to basically fix this before ANYTHING in the next update. 

As a short term solution, we should have the option to pre-render the timeline in the editor. Most NLEs let you do this (Premiere, the Old Final Cut, etc...). Right now you can only RAW preview in the Compositing mode. 



  • Well ... actually I guess this is still the historical heritage of FXHome originating in photo keying and video compositing software. Without knowing about the company's (wo)menpower I'm quite sure that its comparably limited when compared to Adobe or others.

    I can also imagine that its a lot more tempting to work on comp features and 3D effects rather than improving performance of existing parts of your software. That's quite natural.

    And finally there is not only the RAM preview but also the Pxoy functionality. The nice thing about the proxies is, that they are being done in a background thread so you can easily click on this option and continue working.

    But at the end of the day the proxies are just a workaround and no solution to the problem of a much improve caching mechanism. So I can perfectly understand that there is resistance to invest working power in this area but I also do not like to hear that the major codec used in the target segment is not well supported at all and we should do transcode everything first.

    I really like Hitfilm and the free Express approach of this professional software. And I'm willing to buy the full version. But I would only upgrade to Pro if I could get rid of my Adobe. Which is still 5.5 by the way. But as long as Premiere performs so much better in editing I hesitate to completely switch over.

  • Post a Mediainfo report.

  • one minus thing on Hitfilm editor, for me:

    Touching any keyboard or mouse button during playback, will stop the playback. If I remember correctly, this reminds me the old Premiere Pro CS 1.5 days, On Premiere Pro CS2, you can keep it playback even you do something else (usually for simple thing, like Saving). Another useful thing, is you can keep looping playback while adjusting the keyframes or setting. This will be useful for instant preview and instant adjustment.

  • Following Stefam comment, I'd like to add that the transitions are choppy for me even when I use the proxy functionality in all clips. Which really surprised me. 

    I think that Stefam is right: it's probably more fun for the developers to program some new effect or 3d functionality. But at the end of the day, HitFilm 4 needs to fix the basic things first to be taken seriously. 

    And I say this because I think the software is amazing and it has the potential to replace the Premiere-AE-Element3D combo for so many artists. 

    edited May 2016

    HitFilm has been used in big budget movies already, and VGHS (Video Game High School), Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, obviously for VFX, though a quick rough cut and comp I don't see as unrealistic either. None the less, it's been confirmed that HitFilm has been used on very big productions.

    I'm personally trying to perfect using the Steam Controller with HitFilm, I've come a really long way. Almost to the point of faster to use it than a mouse, not quite there yet though!

  • About the keyboard controls: Even in Premiere 5.5 the playback stops on most other actions, especially bringing another software into focus. One advantage of Hitfilm here is, that I can use the scrollback during the playback while in Premiere it always jumps back to have the playhead on screen while you sometimes really want to look up ahead of the playhead.

    Anyway, back to the topic. I just tried that and did not found a problem with a crossfade transition. Since I usually do not use transitions except for some fade to blacks this did not bother me before. With some quick testing I could also not see any problems crossfading between two h264 clips. After some 4 or 5 runs Hitfilms could play it back somewhat smoothly.

    This might be different if you want to playback a full project, though but it seems there might be something else wrong on your side? I just run on i7 870 at 2,93 GHz with 16 GB and quite a crappy GeForce 470.

    Overall h264 performance of Hitfilm is nothing to advertise with but it should not behave as choppy as you describe it here.


  • PS: While trying this I somehow had the feeling that "create proxy" on a trimmed clip of the NLE timeline means that HF will make a proxy of the whole video file.

    So if I just use 20 seconds of that clip, which is about 8 minutes long, I think that HF will make a proxy (and waste memory) of the full 8 minutes duration. Is that right?

  • I agree 100% with this tread, points made:

    • HitFilm is awesome and we all want it to be the best it can be
    • Editing playback is rubish
    • HitFilm needs to fix the basics before they attempt new/big/flashy updates
    • HitFilm has a very limited selection of "functioning" codecs
    • Their company is smaller than Adobe and deserves a bit of break when being compared
    • HitFilm charges a decent price for Pro (which I own) and they need to listen to those that are actually paying them before they listen to those that bumming the free version (no offense, it's just buisness... I love everyone!)


  • I commonly see cross dissolve transitions stutter in Hitfilm. There is no ram preview or cache in Hitfilm to help. FWIW i7 4770k 4Ghz, Nvidia GTX 980

    Happens on all source types. 1080p30. DNxHD, Cineform, fast decode AVC, GoPro original.

    No issues in a Vegas standard crossfade with any source, except the GoPro original might be a touch iffy. The Vegas cache cleans that up, second pass, when it does happen. Vegas is known to not perform well with Nvidia GPUs and with my old AMD 7950 GPU I never saw 1080p30 file transitions stutter.

  • FXhome's goal with HitFilm has always been to create an inexpensive COMPOSITOR for those who can't afford the high priced programs. I can't be 100% certain but I believe the joining with Vegas was to satisfy the editing needs; unfortunately Sony sold Vegas so we don't know what's in the works for the future.....if anything. FXhome is a small company so it's growth may not be as fast as some would like but I would still choose HF over AE even if Adobe was giving it away.

  • edited May 2016

    Considering my specs I don't thing it's a problem with my computer. Especially because I work professionally with editing and 3D animation. My rig work flawless with Premiere, After Effects, Element 3D, Cinema 4D and Maya LT. 

    NormanPC has a similar computer to mine, so it's nice to know that I'm not crazy and someone else is seeing the transitions stutter. 

    But maybe HitFilm is not using my GPU correctly. Is there a way to check this? I have the lastest NVidia drivers installed. 

    I agree with TriFlixFilms that HitFilm is a small company and we should give them a break. But in this case we are just asking a very basic thing: smooth playback in the editor, something that any 6 year old NLE can do. I'm not expecting HitFilm to have all the features of Premiere. 

    StormyKnight: I disagree with you on this. HitFilm is clearly marketed as both a NLE and a Compositing software. I mean, it is in their descriptions:

    - "All-in-one editing & VFX Sofware" (this is written beneath the store link)

    - "A unique mix of video editing, visual effects and 3D compositing for filmmakers and professional motion artists. Everything you need in one product." (this is the description in the HitFilm 4 Pro link).

    Nevertheless, even if they didn't market the software like this (which they do), one of the strengths of Hitfilm is the fact that it's a all-in-one software. It's one of the reasons myself and other AE artists are really considering switching over. 

    Adobe's Dynamic link is nice, but to replace AE, Premiere and Element 3D with just one software would save me tons of time. 

  • @MarcioBR - I stand corrected......wait, let me get up for a second......okay now I can sit back down. ;^) Perhaps I should have said HF started out as a compositor based program but indeed they have added to the editing side due to user feedback over the past few years.

    And congratulations, even my boss can't get me to stand up for a second at work, which is where I'm at right now. lol 

  • Hi @MarcioBR

    Could you mention your Storage configuration, I.e. OS on SSD<What Make of SSD>

    What drive the footage is stored on and <What make the HDD/SSD is>

    Also a Mediainfo report as mentioned by @KevinTheFilmmaker


  • Here's mine, frustrating because a $1700-2200 machine shouldn't have these issues.

    • CPU - Intel 5820K (6 cores - 3.3hz)
    • GPU - NVIDIA 970
    • Motherboard - X99A SLI Krait
    • 64GB RAM
    • 1TB Samsung EVO SSD for HFP
    • 250 GB WD HDD for OS and storage
    • CPU Cooler - Swiftech H320 X2 Prestige
  • edited May 2016

    I have a fairly low spec HP Laptop that I bought for £340 ($500):

    i5-4288 2.60Ghz, Intel Graphics 5100, 8MB RAM, 5200 rpm Hard Disk.

    Editing 1080p mp4 footage from my Canon DSLR in HitFilm is pretty much impossible due to bad stuttering in the viewer.


    If I transcode the same footage to the Cineform codec, I get great results - silky smooth playback, never any stuttering during dissolves. If I stack three 1080p clips on the editor timeline and set the top two video layers to each have 50% opacity, the timeline plays flawlessly. Obviously, if I were to add a lot of effects, things would soon get quite glitchy on such a low spec computer.

    The HitFilm editor is quite basic but I find it OK for short projects. If you're on a small budget and want a much fuller-featured editor with excellent performance even with 4K footage and also has superb integration with HitFilm, I would definitely recommend Sony Movie Studio 13 Platinum - it can be picked up very cheaply.

  • Where can I post a Mediainfo report?

  • "But maybe HitFilm is not using my GPU correctly."

    For basic playback, aka little or no effects, performance is really controlled by the CPU for video decode and the basic dataflow structure of Hitfilm. Vegas uses the same Mainconcept decoders as Vegas and Vegas performs acceptably so this generally points elsewhere within Hitfilm for the source of higher overhead.

    My basic test here is a single track no effects setup to isolate variables.

    An exception is that Vegas bypasses Quicktime (Qt) for DSLR type files (MOV+AVC+PCM). Hitfilm goes through Qt for those and the Qt AVC decoder sucks! For Hitfilm a rename to .mp4 cures that. I first discovered that when testing a GH4 4k MOV file in Hitfilm. Garbage playback via Qt and smooth via Hitfilm native decode (.mp4 rename).

    If you get past the decode and basic overhead then Hitfilm generally performs admirably with effects and such after that. Transitions seem to have some overhead issue. With a good GPU you can just pile on the native effects and it keeps chugging along fine. Third party OFX plug-ins is another matter.


  • edited May 2016

    I just noticed something in my test project. Hitfilm does transitions much better when the left/right clip are from different files. I was testing this with my fast decode AVC files which are still using an I/P/B structure. This test was not rigorous and this is a quickie report so...

    This is speculation but...

    I wonder if Hitfilm is using a single decoder context per file on the NLE timeline. Maybe not per physical file but per unique item in the media panel. This is important with files that are not Intra (I frame only). A decoder will keep a buffer/cache of frames within a GOP to perform sequential frame access efficiently (aka playback). If Hitfilm is re-using the same decoder context for the two sides of a transition, then this cached data gets constantly flushed and performance will not be as good.

    Whether you notice a performance problem or not will of course depend on the speed of the machine and the specific overhead of the video encode. Original Gopro file...Yikes! Fast decode AVC not so much. mpeg-2 really not so much.

  • Any updates on the state of the program regarding this issue?

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