Archives for November, 2009 | Main

November 27, 2009

Movie Gift Ideas?

I normally try to keep this blog focused on Adobe tools and techniques, but seeing it’s a holiday weekend, I’m deviating to talk about something cool that may give you a gift idea for the movie fanatic in your household.

If you haven’t guessed, I’m one of those fanatics. I love owning movies. I have about 500 movies on DVD, and about 65 on Blu-Ray, and that number grows monthly. I love the feeling of physically owning a copy of a movie, and even though Netflix and on-demand has made me more picky about my purchases, I still love buying movies.

There are hundreds of movie titles out there that never see a home video release. In many cases, these films were not successful at the box office, are too old, or just not recognized as ‘significant’ films, and thus will not be profitable enough to garner a widespread release on DVD.

In the past year, I’ve noticed a couple of sites that make it easier to see these types of movies. The first is the Warner Brothers’ Archive, which features a burn-on-demand way of owning some of these lost gems of movies. I’ve purchased a couple of discs from the archives, and the quality is better than my VHS copies. I wouldn’t call them “reference” quality – in many cases, the prints have some dirt and/or scratches. And, there’s very little in the way of extras. The menus are also generic “Warner Archive” menus. But this is still a wonderful way of getting a movie that’s unavailable for any reasonable price otherwise.

Universal is also jumping on the Archive bandwagon by teaming up with Turner Classic Movies. Lately, they’ve been focused on their “horror collection,” including some of the really obscure titles like “The Mad Ghoul.” It’s cool seeing some of the lesser-known Universal monsters see the light of day.

For an online experience, check out the Criterion Online Cinematheque. For US$5, you can watch a movie on their web site, and if you want to own it, the $5 goes towards owning the disc! Since Criterion has such a wide array of movies from many different eras and genres, there’s bound to be something worth checking out.

I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving weekend, and stay safe on Black Friday!

November 25, 2009

More on the Mercury Engine…

Dennis Radeke has a wonderful new entry on his blog talking about his experiences with the Adobe Mercury Engine.

In my last post, I made one statement that isn’t completely true – I said that EVERYONE will benefit from the Mercury Engine, and for the most part, that IS a true statement. However, you need the hardware to run the Engine, and although Adobe hasn’t mentioned when the Mercury Engine will be widely available, you should start planning for the future now. If you are running on an older, single-core CPU, with a 32-bit OS, an older video card and 2 GB of RAM, you probably will not see much improvement from the Mercury Engine. However, if you are planning a new purchase (possibly around Windows 7,) here are some things to keep in mind:

1. The Mercury Engine is 64-bit only, and that’s not likely to change. Any new system you get should be 64-bit ready, running a 64-bit OS (Windows 7 64-bit or Mac OS X.5 or X.6 are great.)

2. Multiple cores are good. Really good. I don’t have firm numbers on this, but I would probably go for cores over CPU speed when things are close. The Mercury Engine is fully multi-threaded and optimized for multi-core systems. A quad-core 2.4 GHz will probably win out over a dual-core 2.8 GHz processor in a competition.

3. CUDA is the icing on the cake. The GPU acceleration is powered by the Nvidia architecture, and requires an Nvidia card to run. Currently, there’s a limited list of supported cards that Mercury is supporting. I would expect more cards to be added to the list at some point in the future, but you can’t go wrong today with one of the supported cards.

November 24, 2009

Three words you’ll be hearing a lot of: Adobe Mercury Engine.

Back in September, I had the privilege of trying out some experimental technology from Adobe called the Mercury Engine. This is a playback engine in Premiere Pro that’s being developed using the latest computer technology today.

What kind of technology? Well, for starters, it’s fully 64-bit. In fact, it won’t run on 32-bit systems, so it really pushes what it can do. RAM limitations are gone – the engine will use as much as you throw at it, which is important as we move into worlds like 2k and 4k editing.

Second, it’s fully multi-threaded, and optimized for multi-core systems. I just saw a demo today showing 9 streams of P2 footage, all with 3-way color correction, picture-in-picture, and blurred edge effects all playing back simultaneously, using all cores roughly equally (about 95%) in a 16-core system. Wow.

The icing on the cake is the new GPU acceleration. With the appropriate video card, the same timeline shown in the multi-threaded example drops down to about 25-30% CPU load!

If the power of the Mercury engine stopped there, it would be more than enough, but it also greatly accelerates any rendering, including output rendering to formats like H.264. I need to play with this more myself, but early tests are showing a 2x-8x speed-up compared to past versions of Premiere Pro / AME render speed.

What does this mean from a creative standpoint? Almost never rendering previews, being willing to stack on another color effect just to see what it looks like, multitasking by rendering out files in the background while editing the next project – these are just a couple of examples I can think of, and there will be a TON more. With this kind of performance, it really opens up both creativity in the timeline, and productivity finishing projects. It’s a real game changer.

Just about everyone will benefit from the Mercury Engine, including laptop owners. However, there is one particular part that will be specific to desktop systems – the GPU acceleration really requires a desktop-level chipset, and currently, the engine only supports certain cards, such as: GeForce GTX285, Quadro FX 4800, Quadro FX 5800, and Quadro CX. Adobe engineers are battle-testing a small handful of cards and chipsets, rather than trying to support hundreds of cards out the door. More chipsets, especially the ones based on Nvidia’s “Fermi” architecture, will be evaluated when Adobe gets closer to moving the Mercury Engine out of the “experimental” phase.

And, you may be asking, when will all that be? Unfortunately, the answer right now has to be “when it’s ready.” We don’t have a time frame when the Mercury Engine will be included in shipping versions of Premiere Pro. However, we do have external people testing it out now, including some people posting over in the RED forum here: As soon as we have any information about availability, I will be the first one to post it here.

November 23, 2009

After Effects Scripts!

After Effects is one of the most versatile apps for pushing pixels on the planet. But, what makes it a truly world-class application is how easy it is to expand its capability beyond what ships in the box.

Most people are familiar with AE plug-ins, but not as many people are aware what you can accomplish using Scripts. Scripts are written using Javascript, and can be highly useful for organizing projects, automating output, or even modifying and adjusting values within a comp. And, many many scripts for AE are available for low or even NO COST online.

Here are a couple of different links for some free or low-cost scripts:

Chris Green’s Scripts:
Chris has written some nice free scripts for rendering multiple areas of a single comp, and creating lights and cameras that automatically point to a selected layer. They’re free, but feel free to donate to Chris’s efforts.

Jeff Almasol’s Scripts: Jeff wrote a number of scripts that are available as a free download from the Adobe site, but not many people find them. 🙂

AE Scripts AE Scripts has some really nice scripts available at low cost (many around US$10,) including some marked “Name your own price.” Some examples include scripts that provide new ways of interpolating keyframes for specific effects, get better integration between Mocha AE and After Effects, and more. Again, super useful stuff.

November 20, 2009


I’m pretty excited about my new role here at Adobe! Last week, I moved into a new role as Technical Evangelist, Dynamic Media.

I’m already hard at work talking with people in the broadcasting world, helping people as they add or transition to the Adobe video production workflows. Adobe has seen some amazing gains in the broadcasting space, including relationships with the BBC, CNN, Hearst-Argyle, and more. I’m hoping to help grow that area in the future.

I’ll still be creating more episodes of AdobeTV shows, and I’m still active on Twitter (KarlSoule) for anyone needing to get a hold of me quickly.

November 19, 2009

New episodes of Short & Suite

November 18, 2009

Premiere Pro 4.2 released!

If you haven’t checked for updates in the past week or so, Adobe has released Premiere Pro 4.2 for both Mac and Windows. This adds support for the AVC-Intra format from Panasonic, adding to our existing award-winning P2 tapeless workflow.

David Helmly has a great video demonstrating the use of the new Premiere 4.2 features here:

November 2, 2009


Thanks to everyone I met last week in Brazil! Answers to some of your questions are forthcoming!

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