Is It Time to Upgrade to High Sierra?

Posted on by Larry

I’ve gotten this question a lot over the last couple of weeks.

When High Sierra was first released, there were enough bugs in it for professional editors to hold off upgrading. Now, we are on version 10.13.2 and the question of whether to upgrade is increasingly relevant.

The short answer is: Yes, probably.

The longer answer is more complicated.

BACKGROUND

Years ago, before the advent of macOS X, Apple released new operating systems every two years or so; principally because distribution was on DVD. It took time to write the new OS, but also a long time to get it burned to a DVD, shipped to distribution centers and delivered to end users. Fixing bugs was cumbersome, so Apple tended to wait until they could be aggregated into a larger release/bug fix.

Those days are gone.

Now, with near instant online distribution, Apple has moved to yearly updates of its operating system. This provides a variety of competitive benefits, as well as allowing us to take advantage of new technology sooner; not to mention the ability to plug security issues much faster than ever before.

But, this constant updating plays hob with the complex programs and plug-ins that we rely on to run our day-to-day business of video production, editing and distribution. It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up. There are days where we spend more time wearing an IT hat – “Should I upgrade or should I wait?” – than doing productive work that generates revenue.

This problem will neither go away nor get easier, because Apple updates everything at least once a year.

A QUESTION OF PRIORITIES

No software is perfect. All software has problems. But, that doesn’t mean that those problems will affect you. Since there is no one answer that will fit everyone, here are my suggestions, based on how you define your priorities:

  1. You want to know what’s coming. Devote a system that is not needed for regular production work and participate in the public beta program. It is much better to find and fix bugs before an OS is released than after.
  2. You enjoy being first. Upgrade as soon as a new version is announced, write up your results, and help discover any problems with it. College kids are especially good at this.
  3. You have a machine to spare for testing. Upgrade about a month after a new OS release, to give most developers a chance to update their software, load a full complement of editing software and plug-ins and test.
  4. You have limited computers and you need to pay the rent. Hold off upgrading until there’s at least a .2 upgrade for the OS and a .1 upgrade for your editing software.

Remember you don’t lose anything in your current software or OS by waiting to upgrade.

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

As I write this, High Sierra is at version 10.13.2. For video editing in Premiere or Final Cut Pro X, I no longer see any significant problems caused by the OS; though there are still issues with some of the apps.

From a video editing point of view, there are three advantages to upgrading to High Sierra:

It is this improved security that has made life difficult for so many third-party developers. The improved sand-boxing in High Sierra has made many updates difficult.

So, should you upgrade?

I have four computers here in my office: three iMacs and one MacBook Pro. I’ve upgraded two to High Sierra and have two running Sierra. My main production system is running High Sierra.

SUMMARY

Remember, Apple releases new versions of the OS because they have a wide range of users to excite and keep happy. Our goals are different: we need to keep our systems running and productive so we can pay the rent.

Deciding when to upgrade to a new OS is always a hard choice. I always prefer to wait – because, tempting as all the new features are, having my main production system go down due to software problems is not an acceptable option.

Still, by the time three months or so have elapsed after the initial release and at least one and preferably two dot upgrades have occurred, I generally find that it is safe to upgrade.

For most of us, that time is probably now.

EXTRA CREDIT

Is it time to upgrade to FCP X 10.4? The current version is reasonably stable and I’m using it on one system. But, I’ve found significant bugs in Compressor and minor bugs in FCP X. If you want to be cautious, I would suggest waiting until Apple releases a .1 update.


31 Responses to Is It Time to Upgrade to High Sierra?

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  1. Frank Maxwell says:

    Just thinking, Apple have done away with all the old FCP,DVDSTUDIO PRO etc. Why cant we have a software system too include these old wonderful tools. We spent good money to buy these application and learn them. What right has Apple to delete them from the system. Specially not telling us that if you keep upgrading these application will be deleted at some stage. Wanted to use DVDStudio to spruce my video up and its gone.
    Who is Apple catering for in the editing field…Pro’s or amateur or both????

    • Frank:

      While I appreciate your frustration, Apple has been warning us for years that both FCP 7 and DVD Studio Pro were at and past end of life. Both are 32-bit applications, which won’t run at all on High Sierra.

      The technology simply won’t support them. This was one of the key reasons they created the all-new FCP X. While I wish there was a replacement for DVD Studio Pro, we can’t say that Apple hasn’t been warning us.

      Larry

      • Terry S. says:

        When Apple initially created Final Cut Pro X they were looking to the future of the medium. So much of our content today is digital and those files are primarily delivered and consumed digitally via streaming services, web, or download. DVDs were on their way out and Apple didn’t seem to have any interest in supporting Blu-ray Disc. We had to turn to third-party solutions for that. So they kept the most practical of the exporting apps to complete their latest editing solution along with Motion. This would be Conpressor X. Just export the desired formats from your master file and publish, post, or distribute. This is the best solution for today’s needs. I loved DVD Studio Pro when I used to publish professional and complex-designed DVDs. But today my clients don’t need DVDs for their consumers, just the digital video files and many of them to suit their various digital distribution methods.

        Sad to say it but DVDs and Blu-rays are just about to be shelved for a while (no pun intended) until they become a rediscovered niche like LP Records and Audio Cassettes are now. 🙂

        Take care all! Happy creating!

  2. Terry Losardo says:

    Re the High Sierra update…I’ve learned the hard way that accessing Sierra on your Mac once you’ve upgraded to High Sierra is a big problem.

    I had no backup of my Sierra drive when I inadvertently clicked the update button. I know – my bad. But because the update to HS changes the hard drive format to APFS, there appears to be no way to run a Sierra partition or boot drive on a Mac running APFS/HS.

    I’ve been on the phone with a senior Apple tech working through “options” to get back to Sierra (and FCP 7) but all have gone bust. Even he did not fully grasp how limiting HS is till we tried different scenarios and failed:

    1. Create a boot drive with Sierra and the 32 bit programs you want to keep. Nope – Apple has removed Sierra from the App Store. Even after downloading a version cached on an Apple web page, it will not load to an external boot drive from a HS machine.

    2. Create a boot drive with Sierra and the 32-bit programs you want to keep from another machine still on Sierra. Nope. Sierra will not load onto an external boot drive from this machine either. (It’s worth noting that even though this machine never updated to HS, “Install Mac OS Sierra” in the App folder has been mysteriously replaced with “Install Mac OS High Sierra”.)

    3. Consider adding a 2nd hard drive to run Sierra and 32 bit apps…but the retina MBP allows no HD expansion.

    4. Try creating a Sierra boot drive from a machine running Mavericks (10.9.5). Nope. Get error message saying Sierra cannot be loaded from this machine.

    So, a full wipe and Internet recovery/reload is in my future. If I understand correctly, had I backed up my old OS, I still would only have the option to restore it….not to toggle between the Sierra/HS worlds using bootable partitions or drives.

    My web research on this reveals that many people believe a Sierra partition/boot drive solution will work, but that has not been my experience with my 2016 retina MBP.

    • Larry says:

      Terry:

      I’m very sorry for your problems. However, I need to correct one thing. APFS is ONLY applied to a Mac with an all-SSD internal drive. Fusion drives and spinning media disks are NOT converted to APFS.

      So, those with Fusion drives should not see the problems you are encountering. In fact, with my recent FCP X training, I partitioned my Fusion drive system into a Sierra partition and High Sierra partition. Both worked perfectly and I was able to easily switch between them.

      Thanks for your note – this is an excellent caution for all of us.

      Larry

      • Terry S. says:

        I guess Apple found problems running the new file system on spinning and hybrid drives during the Beta testing phase because from what I’ve read online, Beta testers had reconfigure their drives moving forward for the final release. Seems to be the reason they only support SSD. They probably need a faster medium or solid state memory to better handle the data transfer rates. Also explains why OWC is now focusing on extremely fast SSD storage arrays now. They were probably waiting for this OS release to truly harness the potential of the technology.

        Hey Larry, has Philip Hodgetts weighed in on this or about Apple’s new file system? I know he’s the expert on Data management and it’s interpretation in our industry, especially Metadata.

  3. Larry am in serious trouble. My forthcoming feature film is ready for release and all audio post is done. We upgraded to high sierra and updated to FCPX 10.4.2 version. The entire timeline has gone buggy and slow and there is excessive memory pressure which makes it impossible to work once the timeline has opened.
    Spoke to Apple and they said the machine (had edited, graded on iMac 27, late 2013 / 24gb RAM, 2gb graphics card – was running perfect on Sierra with fcpx 10.3) needs an upgrade. So we bought the top model iMac 27 / 3.8ghz with 36gb ram and 8gb graphics card and STILL THE MEMORY PRESSURE STAYS THE SAME.

    I am due release in 20 days and am at a complete loss of ideas as to how to deal with this situation. I think you are the best person to ask and your blogs and ideas have seen me through as it did one million others at times such as these.

    Bests,

    Riingo

    • Larry says:

      Arnab:

      First, and this won’t help you at all, but I really need to state this clearly: NEVER UPGRADE IN THE MIDDLE OF A PROJECT. Far too many times, it results in emails like yours. Never. Period. Finish the project first.

      OK, I’m done now. Let’s see if we can fix your problem.

      Let’s try several things – before you do, though, make a backup copy of your Library and remember where it is. These routines will empty the “File > Open Recent” list. They will NOT delete data, just clean the list.

      First, let’s make sure FCP X is working properly. Create a new Library, add one or two clips – see if the memory pressure is still there. If it is, reinstall FCP X from the Mac App Store.

      Next, try the suggestions listed here: https://larryjordan.com/articles/trouble-shoot-your-apple-final-cut-pro-x-system/

      Next, if those don’t work, FCP X has a hidden internal limit of about 3500 media clips. Get rid of any media files that you don’t need for your project. Take your time here, don’t panic and trash the wrong files in your haste.

      Next, you may have a corrupted project – not likely, but possible. Fix #1: Select the timeline of your feature film and choose File > Export XML. Then, create a new, empty Library and choose File > Import XML. See if that works. This will only import the clips in the project, but it should preserve all your settings.

      If that fails, create a new Library, then copy/paste chunks – say 25% – of the existing timeline into the new project. One of these two options should fix a corrupted project file.

      One of those steps should fix the problem. As soon as it is fixed, stop. You don’t need to run all these options “just in case.”

      Larry

      • Arnab Riingo Banerjee says:

        Larry
        Thanks for your reply. Spent the whole day trying to sort the issue following your advice. Here’s where we are:
        – the XML will not open. As soon as it reaches 50% the memory pressure hits the roof and we get the Low application Memory window
        – Managed to copy the entire film in chunks to another library. Them
        N did a dupe of the timeline as a snapshot to eliminate the extra shots. Yes the timeline opens fast but as soon as we start grading, the memory pressure hits the roof
        – did all the rest of things you asked me to do. Everything leads to the memory pressure issue.
        – I completely deleted all audio tracks (in case there was any error in audio)

        Larry need help here.

        Am using Epic Colour and motionvfx as primary grading platforms. Also I use Neat Video to kill noise and hycolr pro for few shots to cut off the green cast. I use Proedge from pixel film studio to sharpen the clips.

        They all claim to be High Sierra compatible. Larry really need help here.

        • Larry says:

          Arnab:

          This thread will get too long, contact me directly at larry at larryjordan dot com.

          There’s something bigger going on here – Neat Video is my first suspect, it has been known to be both slow and memory intensive, at least in an earlier version.

          I’m wondering if something else – in the OS – is causing the memory pressure issue. This is NOT a complaint I’ve heard before, which is not to say you are not having problems, but I’m not hearing about this from other editors.

          I think we have an incompatible plug-in. Create a duplicate of your timeline, remove ALL effects and see if the memory pressure goes away. Then, start adding plug-ins back one by one and watch where the memory starts to explode. I would also directly contact the plugin developers and tell them about your memory problems and see if any of them have an upgrade.

          Larry

          • Arnab Riingo Banerjee says:

            Bulls eye Larry. It was the Neat Video that was creating the Memory Pressure. Thank you. You are and will remain the Final Knight in Cutpro Armour.

            God bless LJ

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