Autosave Blues

First, let me apologize to those of you who’ve gotten used to regular posts here. I’ve been working hard finishing a pilot and time has been short. But I’ve been thinking a lot about the Media Composer and will have plenty to say once the dust settles a bit.

In the meantime, I want to talk about one of my least favorite Avid features — autosave. I keep all the reels (or acts) of a show in a single bin. That makes it very easy to move from scene to scene and also, incidentally, makes it trivial to measure the show. But my bins tend to get pretty big, growing to 20 megabytes or more. Twenty megabytes ain’t much these days — you can copy a twenty megabyte file in a second or two. But saving or opening a twenty megabyte bin seems to take forever.

Since saving big bins is so slow, and bin performance, especially in frame view, slows to a crawl (try selecting all sequences and watch them high…light…ever…so…slow…ly), I’ll start over with a new bin after a bin gets bigger than about 20 megs. That means I’ve got a bunch of 25 MB bins that become archives of past versions. I need to be able to open them quickly, check something, close them and move on.

No can do.

Why? Because the MC wants to save every bin that you close, for almost no reason. Nothing in the bin need change for the MC to insist on saving it. Nor can I force a bin to close without saving. And every time you open a bin every clip frame in every open bin is refreshed — which also takes forever. (See the post “Legacy Bugs” for more.)

It used to be that you’d know a bin needed saving when a little diamond appeared in the bin’s title bar. That’s still true, but bins can now perversely save even when the diamond is missing.

Yesterday I noticed a new way this can happen. Open a few bins. Don’t change anything. Then, move one clip in one bin so that the diamond appears. Now click in the timeline or project and hit command-s. All open bins will be saved, including the ones that you did absolutely nothing to and which do not show the diamond.

The result is way too many saves and way too much time spent opening and saving.

Of course, what I really want are background saves that don’t interrupt work. But baring that, it really would be great if Avid could address some of these issues. They don’t represent fundamental work, but they sure would save time in my cutting room.

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3 Comments on “Autosave Blues”

  1. Martin Baker Says:

    Its a sobering thought that over 10 years ago, Fast 601 had constant background autosave after every action you did AND the actions were saved with the project so you could close it, reopen it and undo some previous actions.

    At least Avid own them now I guess.

  2. Steve Says:

    Heck, the old Montage had constant background saves. I remember doing a test where we just yanked the plug out of the wall, powering everything down — and found that we’d lost about 5 seconds of work. Not too shabby.

  3. It can get veeeeery slow when you have a full cut with multiple layers and fx. To open the bin, it’s you and everyone else behind your back waiting for it to come to life, and then, don’t forget to close it because on every autosave takes about a minute.

    By the way, thanks for the Blog. This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been reading it for a while.

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