OfflineRT Woes

I have a problem that I can replicate reliably. If I capture in OfflineRT mode in Final Cut Pro I can generally only capture about 30 seconds of video before I drop a frame.

This has led to me spending hours debugging my camera, film, and every element in my chain other than my computer before reaching the sad conclusion: there’s nothing wrong with my equipment per se. The 867 Mhz Powerbook G4 with 640 Mb of memory is just too slow to capture more than about 30 seconds of OfflineRT video (30 seconds, incidentally, sounding suspiciously like “the amount of time it takes some internal buffer to fill up before it has to page to disk.") My working theory is it’s not a problem during the ‘true’ capture – after all, I’m able to capture full rate DV just fine – but the extra CPU time spent compressing the frames into photo JPEG is just a tiny bit slower than needed, resulting in hosage.

So, not particularly wanting to buy a new laptop, I arrived at a workaround: turn off “abort capture on dropped frame”. I leave the warnings on, just on principle. I turn the abort back on when I capture at full res.

I know, I know, I’m playing with fire. But what else can I do? I’m addicted to OfflineRT editing. It’s a sickness.

I’ve found precious little information on the net about OfflineRT, and of course nothing useful from Apple about system requirements. So let me turn the question around: is anyone else out there using OfflineRT on a laptop? What model laptop are you using? Do you experience dropped frames?