At PW, we just came across the Red-Frame-of-Death bug for the first time. It cost a lot of time and loss of hair. And in the process of sorting out a solution, we discovered that the problem has been around for a very long time.

Eleven years is a long time

Even 3 1/2 years is a long time for a bug. And 3 1/2 years is how long a single Adobe support forum thread spans for this issue.  There are references to this problem occurring in 2006 - eleven years ago. 

In researching the problem, PW found that the red frames is a result of Adobe identifying that there is an issue in decoding the frame and the program replaces it with a bright red frame that is easy to see. So while the visual problem is the red frame, the real problem is Premiere Pro (or the Adobe Media Encoder, too) to decode the frame or frames. 

And that is important for any reader facing this problem. I found many "solutions" and no single one worked for me. For example, in this Adobe Support Forum thread, one recommendation is to uncheck "Enable Accelerated Intel h.264 decoding" in Preferences. I am using Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017 on both Mac and Windows and this option in Preferences is only available on Windows. Yet at PW, ze see the problem on both platforms. 

So focus on the underlying problem when looking for a solution. It is frustrating because the issue appears "randomly" in a project. Based on the issues seen at PW, we can say that:

  • The issue seems to occur on a sequence with mixed format or mixed resolution clips - unfortunately that situation arises often in the real world
  • The issue occurs on Mac and PC - both with the latest OS.
  • The issue happens if using accelerated GPU support or using only software support. 
  • The affected clips are fine - there are no problems with the clips. 
The Red-Frame-of-Death can kill your deadlines

In the PW case, we had 4K clips in a FHD sequence which were severely affected. If we left the frame at the original scale and then adjusted the scaling in the effects panel, we often had the red frames. By selecting "scale to frame" and then adapting the scaling to the desired point, most of the red frame issues disappeared. 

Some FHD clips also had the problem. For those, we tried many things, including deleting and reimporting the clips, checking the scale, pre-rendering, and more. In the end, we increased all of the rendering quality settings including "render at max color depth", turned off GPU acceleration, use previews, and VBR 2 pass rendering. 

After much experimenting, we got a clean render fo the video. Important for PW, it was a very short clip - under a minute. We can imagine that longer projects would still need to use other solutions. 

The PW Perspective

Adobe has had 11 years to fix "the" problem. We need to recognize that the Red-Frame-of-Death is a symptom and that the problem is fundamentally a problem to read the data. Starting with that perspective lets us try the more interesting work-around solutions we find as well as it lest us try alternative changes in order to find a working solution. However, over the last 11 years, the red-frame-of-death has certainly not been a single issue, but many - which explains the longevity of the "bug". Finally, the code and the solutions to the problems are up to Adobe. And PW would add that having a solid solution from Adobe is critical.

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