I’ve been saving a lot of time by using the QuickCluster in Compressor so I thought I’d write a little post about it and let others know about this little-known secret. When you’re working with compressed footage that comes from DSLRs (or pretty much any video source that’s around these days) then you’ll typically need to transcode the footage to an editable format. Otherwise you will be dealing with really choppy footage in your timeline that will constantly require rendering. FCPX allows you to optimize your media during import and transcode in the background, but there’s actually a faster way to transcode your footage by using Compressor, and an even faster way to do it by using a QuickCluster in Compressor. In this article I’ll show you how it’s accomplished in a few easy steps.
I have a clip that was shot on a DSLR so I need to transcode it to Apple ProRes 422 for editing. The clip is 5:43 long. When I drag the clip into Compressor 4 and apply the Apple ProRes 422 setting and submit the job without making any changes to the default settings then the clip takes 9:56 to transcode on a 8 core Mac Pro with 24GB RAM. Here’s a screenshot of Activity Monitor.
If I try to transcode the same clip, but this time I apply shared processing using a QuickCluster then the clip only takes 6:16 to transcode. Think about that when you’re transcoding several clips in a batch. This could shave hours of transcoding time off your workflow. Let me show you how.
First you drag the clip into Compressor and apply the Apple ProRes 422 setting like you would normally do. Your Compressor window will look like the screenshot below with the Apple ProRes 422 setting applied.
Now go to the Apple Qmaster menu and select Share This Computer
From the Share This Computer window check the boxes like the screenshot below. Make sure that you note what you’re naming the cluster for reference in a step later on. The cluster is named Mac Pro Cluster in this exercise.
Click on the Compressor options button and select a number of instances from the drop down. The Compressor User Manual states that a general rule is to allow two GB of memory for each instance. I have 24GB of RAM on the Mac Pro so I’ll choose 12 instances from the drop-down option.
Then I click OK and Compressor will ask for your administrator password to make the changes.
After that you can submit the job. Select the Mac Pro Cluster that we named in an earlier step for the cluster in the drop down menu of the submit window and then click the submit button to submit the transcoding job. You’ll be asked to enter your password again to make changes to the system. Now if you open the Finder window you see a new Shared network connected. This puppy is cranking out some processing power now! Check out Activity Monitor’s specs now… Whoa daddy!