Archives for March, 2010 | Main

March 29, 2010

Debunking Mercury Myths

Now that the word is out – April 12th is the big day when ALL of CS5 will be announced, I’m seeing a lot of misinformation on Twitter over what’s necessary to take advantage of Premiere Pro CS5 and the Mercury Playback Engine:

1. It won’t run on laptops. FALSE
I’m running it today on my MacBook Pro, and taking full advantage of 64-bit goodness and multicore optimization. Even though there’s not a supported GPU in my MacBook, the performance gains over CS4 and CS3 are very significant. In my own, unofficial testing, I would say that Mercury is 25%-30% faster in all day-to-day activities. Your mileage may vary, of course, depending on the format you edit.

2. I can only get real-time effects with an expensive graphics card. FALSE Your performance will vary depending on the CPU and amount of RAM in your system, but Premiere Pro will always try to play effects in real time on the timeline. Now, it IS true that the correct Nvidia graphics card will accelerate a LOT of effects, but to say that you absolutely need a graphics card to use effects in the timeline is a myth. In CPU-only, or software mode, Premiere Pro CS5 is taking much better advantage of RAM and multicore CPU’s, and you’ll definitely be able to play back more effects than CS4 in real-time.

3. I need to change my Operating System to run Premiere Pro CS5 POSSIBLY TRUE
Premiere Pro CS5 is a native 64-bit application, and needs a 64-bit OS in order to run. On Windows, this means running Vista or Windows 7, 64-bit edition. Mac users will need to run Leopard for most functions, and to take advantage of GPU acceleration you’ll need Snow Leopard.

4. My Mac Pro Tower can’t use an Nvidia Quadro FX4800 card. POSSIBLY TRUE Most Mac Pro Towers can upgrade to an Nvidia GeForce GTX285 or Quadro FX 4800. Sadly, however, there are some very early Mac Pro towers that are not compatible with the Nvidia cards. Go to About this Mac, click on More Info, and check your Model Identifier number. If you have 3,1 or 4,1, or higher numbers, you’re fine. If you have 1,1, you can’t upgrade your video card.

If you have any specific questions on Mercury, the latest hardware information is found here: and I will be answering any questions in the comments as I get them.

March 13, 2010

RED resolution and DSLR performance using the Adobe Mercury Engine

I recently presented at the SF Cutters user group 10th anniversary, and shared a few new tidbits about the Adobe Mercury Engine.

First off, Mercury has higher resolution limits than the current release of Premiere Pro CS4. Right now, Premiere can create timelines up to 4096×4096 resolution. This is great for the current RED cameras, but with 4.5k Mysterium-X sensors now being retrofitted in the RED ONE, it’s not enough for the future. In the Adobe Mercury Engine, the maximum timeline resolution is 10240 pixels by 8192 pixels, more than enough for any mastering resolution we’ll see in the near future. The maximum resolution for clips dropped in any timeline will be limited to 256 megapixels in any direction. So, for example, footage from a 32000 by 8000 pixel sensor could be imported and dropped onto a timeline. This is higher than the resolution announced by RED in the 28k MONSTRO sensor, so RED users shouldn’t hit any resolution limits anytime soon.

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been busy with a second blog that focuses on DSLR workflows, particularly with the new Canon Rebel T2i. I just picked up one of these cameras, and I’m having a LOT of fun with it. It’s giving me the opportunity to gear up at a reasonable price. Check out more info at

Working with Mercury has already given me an advantage over other DSLR users, since Mercury has preset timelines for Canon DSLRS, and can work natively with the footage, with no transcoding or re-rendering prior to beginning the editing process. It’s still early to provide exact performance numbers, but I can very quickly pull clips right off the SD card, drop them on a timeline, and do a one-pass color grade with a 3-way color corrector (or my new favorite tool, the RGB Curves effect,) without rendering a single frame. This has worked wonderfully for quick camera tests. Output is also super-fast, since the GPU accelerated effects don’t impact the rendering process.

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