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  • NLE Unreliability

  • david grantham

    January 26, 2009 at 4:40 am

    I am getting – I hope – to the finish of a project which has been my worst-ever professional experience.

    The manufacturer/specifier of the hardware/software combination on which I have been working has not been able to deliver remotely consistent basic functionality over the years I have had my system, but have assured me repeatedly that with the right systen tweaks, driver updates, and bios flashes, and if necessary the removal of all other software on the machine, my problems would be over; and there has be a steady stream of such recommendations from emails and phone calls stretching now into years.

    Thus reassured about protecting my considerable investment, I embarked on a major project and have followed all recommended system tunings. Despite – and because – of this, the project has been so seriously compromised by equipment malfunction through this period that I have experienced delays of weeks at a time while reinstalling software and adjusting the bios and editing the registry and porting data and applications from the machine in a vain effort to get a reliable setup. The delays have resulted in an aggravated relationship with the client, whom I am lucky to have maintained at all considering the performance I’ve been able to demonstrate. Not to mention sleep-deprivation stretching into months.

    Now with nothing on the the machine but the basic software and hardware and after several pristine reinstalls, I limp along with a major crash every few minutes, despite attempting what I understand are only moderate demands of the system and following to the letter drastic fixes which have caused enormous delays and offered little improvement in the performance of the system. In addition to severe crashes some crucial basic functionality remains completely out of reach.

    The project is locked into operating in a proprietary mode, so getting out of the situation in the midst of it has not been practical and posed many possible risks.

    2 questions arise:

    1) There’s a practical imperative not to be in this situation again, I did more than due diligence with weeks of research before purchasing this machinery so I’m not sure how to avoid being in this situation again with what will no doubt soon require a complete and costly replacement of this system. As for troubleshooting, I’m one person. I have no tech department and require reliability. I’ve got 2 degrees and some engineering training: I understand the basics, but ensuring reliability has clearly been beyond me.

    2) There’s an ethical (and financial) imperative to seek redress from the manufacturer for the initial problems, inability to resolve them, and – perhaps worst of all – holdingout the false hope that they could be solved, thus leading me into the guagmire I’ve been struggling in for months.

    I welcome comments.

  • David Roth Weiss

    January 26, 2009 at 7:01 am

    It[david grantham] “I have no tech department and require reliability. I’ve got 2 degrees and some engineering training: I understand the basics, but ensuring reliability has clearly been beyond me. “

    David,

    Just as there are lots of great athletes who can’t play golf worth a lick, there are lots of very smart people who simply can’t configure editing systems. That’s why VARs are in business.

    It seems pretty darned obvious that configuring (and procuring) editing systems is definitely not your strong suit, but just why you’ve put up with these problems for so long simply seems crazy. Whatever NLE app and hardware you’re using is being used by hundreds of thousands of others around the world, at a minimum, and I can assure you, these systems are not sold as devices of torture. In the hands of competent integrators they can all be configured to professional standards.

    So, what’s the deal? Who were you getting all your great advice from? And, why the heck are you being so cryptic about the gear you’ve got?

    Come on spill the beans, if you give us details it’s possible that people here can provide you with some solid direction on which way to turn — it’s precisely why most successful people here on the Cow list their gear in their profile. There are lots of smart people here to help you, but you’ve got to help us to help you.

    David Roth Weiss
    Director/Editor
    David Weiss Productions, Inc.
    Los Angeles

    POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

    A forum host of Creative COW’s Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.

  • Bill Davis

    January 26, 2009 at 7:56 am

    I’ll second the idea that with the complexity of today’s hardware software systems, it’s pretty easy to get into a failure trap.

    My best advice is never to buy into any software/hardware system without access to a robust and reasonably professional users group in your area.

    That’s the FIRST thing I looked for when I invested in NLE stuff decades ago. Because brochures and even company flacks aren’t gonna help when your system goes down at 8am on Sunday and you’re on a Monday deadline. Having the phone numbers of five other editors who use your same system WILL help. A lot.

    All the major software players in editing have users groups in all the major cities. And of course, there’s on-line reasources such as here at the Cow.

    I’ll second the idea that if any of us here can help – we’ll give it a try.

    Good luck.

  • david grantham

    January 26, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Thankyou David and Bill for your comments.

    I’m in discussions with the manufacturer seeking compensation for the situation. I am eager to relate much about the situation. Apoplectic in fact. I don’t want to say much ’till there’s a distinct outcome but I’d appreciate any advice that will help me obtain satisfaction. I’d like to have a happy ending to relate. (Don’t be too disappointed if the drama doesn’t involve one of the biggest players but one of the up-and-comers.)

    Yes, it seems crazy, but in the absence of a functioning NLE over the while I’ve had to occupy myself with other things and just play around at using the NLE in the meantime and attempt – sometimes intermittently – to obtain follow-through from the mf’r during long stretches while the ball was in their court. It’s gradually gotten more and more urgent – as I’ve developed projects – for it to get to the level of basic performance they constantly assured me was possible.

    The machine had been assembled by my computer vendor to precise manufacturer’s specifications initially; and refurbished recently in an effort to troubleshoot, and multiple software and hardware reinstallations conducted and/or vetted remotely by the manufacturer.

    I’ve had nothing to do with the latest install technically- clearly I haven’t administered the entire process correctly or I’d have something that works. I suppose I haven’t known how to properly research reliability and succesfully insist on results, and trusted aparrently spurious advice. (Albeit from the Mf’r.)

    I believe Mf’r specifications and testing were faulty for this particular configuration. I know for certain that their initial installation instructions were faulty because they revised them after the fact (would have been great to hear from them about that at that time but I had to provoke it with problem reports)

    I don’t know that the VAR acronym stands for, but if it’s for someone who makes sure my NLE works, I could use one of those.

    Clearly I fell down on getting connected with a local user group. Next time. What I also seek is advice on holding a manufacturer and perhaps vendor to account.

    Thankyou for your offers to point me toward immediate technical assistance. THis isn’t the forum for it. I continue to post all over the place- have for months – to try to get advice to get it to work. Of course the set-up has become less-than-current so its not a hot topic. (If it had ever worked properly I’d have upgraded it.) I have come to the conclusion that it never will work. It’s the ultimate lemon. As it is the deadline is Friday, and the newly re-built machine crashes every ten minutes without discernable pattern, I can’t – nor should I have to – afford another machine. It’s a mess; I’m hoping for redress and to learn for the future.

  • david grantham

    January 26, 2009 at 10:00 am

    (Incidentally, I must have missed where to indicate gear in a user profile. No stealth intended, but considering the situation it may be just as well.)

  • David Roth Weiss

    January 26, 2009 at 11:58 am

    VAR is an acronym for value added reseller. Companies who specialize in configuring non-linear editing systems, and who only sell stuff that works, as they would otherwise be out of business. Frankly, from the sound of things, the company who configured your system sound like they don\’t configure NLEs very often.

    David Roth Weiss
    Director/Editor
    David Weiss Productions, Inc.
    Los Angeles

    POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

    A forum host of Creative COW’s Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.

  • walter biscardi

    January 26, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    [david grantham] ” I’ve got 2 degrees and some engineering training: I understand the basics, but ensuring reliability has clearly been beyond me. “

    Having college degrees and engineering training doesn’t mean a hill of beans when it comes to configuring an non-linear editing system. I’m assuming you didn’t have a VAR completely configure the system for you? (As in Value Added Reseller.) They configure the entire system including computer, video capture card (if necessary), media storage, external broadcast monitor (if necessary) and audio monitoring (if necessary). In short, you get a ready to edit NLE. If something doesn’t work, they have to repair it or replace it. Plain and simple.

    [david grantham] “The manufacturer/specifier of the hardware/software combination on which I have been working has not been able to deliver remotely consistent basic functionality over the years I have had my system, but have assured me repeatedly that with the right systen tweaks, driver updates, and bios flashes, and if necessary the removal of all other software on the machine, my problems would be over; and there has be a steady stream of such recommendations from emails and phone calls stretching now into year”

    Over the years? It should have been over the weeks. If your system does not work consistently after two weeks, then something is wrong. You could have software conflicts, hardware conflicts, cards installed in the wrong place, incorrect / insufficient media storage, incorrect drivers, and so on. Again, this is where a VAR comes in. And there’s no excuse for you allowing a system to not operated for a year.

    Something is completely configured incorrectly and since you’re the one who set it all up, then the blame falls on you.

    [david grantham] “2) There’s an ethical (and financial) imperative to seek redress from the manufacturer for the initial problems, inability to resolve them, and – perhaps worst of all – holdingout the false hope that they could be solved, thus leading me into the guagmire I’ve been struggling in for months. “

    I don’t see that happening. You already said in your initial comments you set up the system. Doesn’t matter if you set up exactly to the manufacturers specs, there is something very very wrong with your setup. You obviously don’t understand enough about your NLE and the setup to properly diagnose what is causing the instability. Most likely a driver / card placement / software conflict somewhere along the way.

    NLEs are incredibly reliable when they are set up correctly. Here on the Cow there is a forum for pretty much every NLE out there with a lot of folks who can assist getting a system back up and running. But in Final Cut Pro forum, we’re forever getting folks in there who just set up a system themselves and can’t figure out why it won’t work properly. Or they allow Apple’s Software Update to run blind in the background without first checking to see if there are any OS or Quicktime issues before they update.

    Honestly if you set up the system on your own, I don’t see how any manufacturer is going to be held responsible for you taking a year to try to work out tweaks. If something doesn’t work right out of the box, I talk to the manufacturer right away and if I’m not satisfied, I send the product back. This very issue just happened here with me about two weeks ago with some new products that were not operating correctly.

    Your argument is going to especially tough if that same NLE system is shown to operate correctly in many other instances. In the case of Final Cut Pro, for example, there are 1,000,000 registered users. Sure there are going to be some unstable systems in there for one reason or another, but an overwhelming majority of the users, like myself, are using the software every day in heavy deadline situations and in our case, delivering finished products to broadcast networks.

    I know this is incredibly frustrating for you, especially since you set it all up yourself, but honestly, a VAR is the way to go. I used ProMax to set up my very first system back in 2001 and I continually purchase all my equipment and systems from WH Platts here in Atlanta for this very reason. Anytime anything doesn’t work as it is supposed to, they have to make it right. I don’t have to worry about anything.

    Walter Biscardi, Jr.
    Biscardi Creative Media
    HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

    Read my Blog!

    STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!

  • walter biscardi

    January 26, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    [David Roth Weiss] “Frankly, from the sound of things, the company who configured your system sound like they don’t configure NLEs very often. “

    I don’t think he used a VAR. He said the computer was configured according to some specs, sounds like a computer that was simply built with the correct RAM and graphics card according to some software specs. I could be wrong, but it doesn’t sound like he purchased a fully configured editing system.

    Walter Biscardi, Jr.
    Biscardi Creative Media
    HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

    Read my Blog!

    STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!

  • David Roth Weiss

    January 26, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    [walter biscardi] “I don’t think he used a VAR. He said the computer was configured according to some specs, sounds like a computer that was simply built with the correct RAM and graphics card according to some software specs. I could be wrong, but it doesn’t sound like he purchased a fully configured editing system.

    I’m still kinda confused about who did what, due to some seemingly conflicting info in David’s posts, but I think you’re right Walter. My guess is that some big concern (bet it was Dell) built the computer, then David installed the software himself and he’s been having issues ever since.

    David Roth Weiss
    Director/Editor
    David Weiss Productions, Inc.
    Los Angeles

    POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

    A forum host of Creative COW’s Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.

  • david grantham

    January 26, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Thanks for your input. Clearly an error was in not dealing with a VAR, but indications from the manufacturer were not that configuration was so onerous. Advice was not to run other programmes at the same time as the NLE. Simple.

    I am a tier down (at least) from you men in terms of professional production output – and I believe I was the target market for this product. I hope this doesn’t make this post a waste of your time.

    The computer was assembled by a vendor who is not an expert in NLEs to specs they received from the manufacturer, and yes, from what I can tell it was a matter of choosing which card and which mortherboard were advertised as tested for the gear. I installed the editing card and the software. THe installation was not complicated nor special skills recommended – and advice from manufcaturere was use this motherboard with this video card and plug it in here and all will be fine.

    It worked for about a year when it was first installed, but it crashed about every 45 minutes. I thought it was just to be expected (I’d heard NLEs crash a lot), but this was in fact due to overheating because the only slot authorized for the dedicated hardware was directly under the video card.

    When I began having the cooling system upgraded, and installing software upgrades – for which it was advertised to be upgradable – proved problematic on the system, it became necessary to interact with technical support, and I learned that the recommended slot was now one at the other end of the board. (One wonders about the throughness of the initial testing and recommendation.) It was also then that I learned now many other other programmes should not be installed (let alone concurrently run) on the NLE system. I needed comopositing/animation (2d) ware on it, (and relied on the machine for autocad – there’s another life..) (I know this rings alarm bells, but it’s important to note that removing all of that ware has made little difference to the gear’s basic performance problems – the major problems remain.)

    I began noticing subtly anomalous performance in the upgrade and was troubleshooting that. I had not put the upgrade through all paces – capture, effects-heavy rendering and so on. But I was assured by the m’fr that many had success with this gear.

    As I embarked on more substantial projects to test the gear and vet it for incresaingly serious projects, troubleshooting got complicated involving deep editing to the system. This is what stretched out over long periods and could not be juggled with other commitments without long delays (including lack of follow-up from the mf’r) , but it continued with repeated encouragement from tech support not to give up on the system as I got into more ambitious projects. Once the current major project was underway within the past 6 months was when tech folks eventually began remotely interacting with my machine over phone lines and it got stripped of everything else and even now still will not properly work. The latest mf’r suggestions once again revolve around cooling, as if this has just come up as a possiblity after we’ve been stripping the computer of other applications with little success.

    It’s been like being the frog invited into a pot of slowly heating water and it’s now become boiling.

    Clearly a more authroritative vendor was required – easy to see that now. I think there’s an onus on a manufacturer to recommend authorized seller-technicians if they are necessary, and to stand by a direct-to-user support network if they are not – and demonstrate acountability when their recommendations are followed but success is not established. This manufacturer marketted directly to the user with no such recommendation, so it seems to me this is where the requirement for support perfromance lies.

    THere are mixed reviews on the performance of this mf’rs ware on some posts in some forums on some sites. I was assured by mf’r that this is the way things are, “people complain” and have remained with the system on the basis of that assruance and cordail realtions with the mf’s, but I am no longer so sure.

    This seems to me to be a delicate situation because of course mf’rs support sites like this with advertising, so encouraging accountability in such a forum is s difficult dance. But it’s an important role for the good of all – and to establish and maintain good reputations. I appreciate the opportunity. It seems it must be discussed.

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