Why is video playback so choppy?

faizanullah1999 Posts: 2 Just Starting Out

I am a novice video editor. I have been using Blender's VSE for some small projects. I recently downloaded HitFilm Express as I had heard many good things about it. What I realized while using it is that the video playback is extremely choppy. A 1080p video with either 30 or 60 fps plays like a 10/20 fps video.

To check whether my system was responsible for this, I used some other video editors, including Davinci Resolve, Olive and Adobe Premier Pro. I had far better video playback on Davinci Resolve and the smoothest video playback ever on Olive and Premiere Pro for the same video files. Even after adding text and some animation, Premier Pro was working flawlessly without any sorts of frame drop.

Now I want to ask what could be the reason for programs like Premiere Pro or Olive to play the video with such smoothness. Even Davinci Resolve was playing it smoothly, until I added some transitions which resulted in some few frame drops but good performance overall.

What I have tried:

To get a smooth playback in HitFilm, I first lowered playback quality and resolution to 1/2 and then 1/4 but it still didn't play it smooth enough.

Without even adding any transitions, I could still easily see the drop in frames

Next I tried creating proxy/pre-renders. It helped a little. I could play my videos at a reasonable fps but when I added simple text animations over it, Videos still wouldn't play smoothly.

Why can't Hitfilm play these smoothly when Davinci and Premiere Pro provide good playback without even going into proxies ? Don't get me wrong. I have come to love Hitfilm. I prefer it over Davinci because its far easier to use and provides a similar interface to Premiere Pro. But I would seriously like its performance to be improved a bit.

My system is not super beefy but it is fairly specced as I ws able to work on Premiere Pro and Resolve smoothly. My specs are as follows:



256 GB SSD + 500GB HDD

GTX 950 - 2GB

Is it too under-powered to run Hitfilm ? or Does Hitfilm not properly support GPU? Whatever it is, some help would be appreciated.

I have a good playback experience with Premier Pro so HitFilm's performance shouldn't be much different either. I really want to use HitFilm. Adobe is too pricey and I don't plan to learn Resolve and its giant node editor. (I am lazy lol). Olive is good but really underhanded when it comes to features. I sometimes use masking so Olive is not going to cut it. I have been using Blender but it also doesn't have some video editing features I am looking for. Hitfilm is the only one that features everything I want for free but this choppy playback is really making me not want to use it.



  • CleverTagline
    CleverTagline Posts: 3,337 Ambassador
    edited August 2020

    Every editor is different. No two editors have exactly the same code base for decoding video, so expecting them to all behave exactly the same isn't logical.

    One thing to keep in mind is pure development time. Premiere has been around a lot longer than HitFilm (multiple decades, compared to HitFilm's 9 years), and has a much larger dev team (FXhome's entire staff, dev team included, would probably fit comfortably in your living room; not likely for Adobe's Premiere dev team). HitFilm is better at decoding video now than it used to be a few years ago, but obviously it's still got room to improve. The devs know this, and they're continuing to improve it over time.

    That aside, there are things you can do to give HitFilm a file that's easier to decode, which will make playback smoother. If you’re not familiar with transcoding, I strongly suggest watching this video by @Triem23. It talks about why transcoding is important, and shows several ways to do it using various tools.

    Speaking from personal experience, my editing experience in HitFilm became a lot smoother (and less crash-prone) once I began transcoding my source clips. How much smoother? That all depends on your system specs. 8GB of RAM is a good start, but more will definitely help if you can afford to add it. My older machines had 8GB, and performance was okay, but not totally stutter-less, and that's after transcoding. My new system has 32GB, and there isn't a single hiccup unless I'm playing back more than a few tracks/layers. You probably don't need that much to see an improvement, though. Even upgrading to 16GB should help.

  • faizanullah1999
    faizanullah1999 Posts: 2 Just Starting Out
    edited August 2020

    @CleverTagline Ahhh I see now. It seems that upgrading my RAM would improve the experience. It is good to hear that developers are still working on improving this. Also I definitely need to learn about this transcoding stuff as I thought that just having an mp4 file would guarantee good playback. I really love Hitfilm because of the interface and effect library it provides and if I am going to use a free editor then it is going to be this. (Else Premier Pro or Hitfilm Pro)