October 02, 2007

Adobe unveils Hydra imaging technology

Greetings from the show floor at Adobe MAX*.  During the keynote yesterday, the Flash team revealed some really interesting news–what I think may be the sleeper announcement of the show: the Flash Player is being equipped to run Hydra, a new graphics programming language from Adobe. [Update: You can see the technology demoed in this video, starting around 5:30.]

Instead of running just the built-in drop shadows, blurs, etc. that were added in version 8, Flash (and by extension Adobe AIR) will now be able to run an essentially unlimited number of imaging effects.  Hydra is tuned to run ridiculously fast on modern graphics cards (GPUs), and it’ll be tuned for multi-core CPUs as well.  You can download a free beta of the Adobe Image Foundation (AIF) Toolkit from Labs and get started creating your own Hydra-based filters.

Here’s a key point, though: the same Hydra technology is being used to power the fast filters in After Effects CS3.  Therefore an AE plug-in developer could effectively also develop runtime effects for Flash, while a Flash developer could leverage her work inside AE.  And wouldn’t it be something if that same work could run in other Adobe apps that crunch pixels (I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…).

Here are some quick screenshots of Hydra running inside the AIF Toolkit, which allows you to write & preview code in one environment.  Developers have already started to share their code, and AIF/Hydra engineering manager Kevin Goldsmith has posted a bit more info on his blog.  Kevin will talk through the engineering details in a 3pm session tomorrow at MAX (see below).

[Update: Mario Klingemann has uploaded some screenshots of his experiments plus info on his blog. [Via]  Elsewhere, Flash Player engineer Tinic Uro shares details & code on his blog.]

[Update 2: Kevin has just uploaded his slide deck from MAX, featuring example filters, code walkthroughs, and more.]

*The WiFi here is free, but you get what you pay for, and I haven’t gotten it to work all day.  Therefore I’ve surreptitiously snagged an Ethernet cable out of the back of one of these “PDF Kiosks.”  Guerilla blogging at its finest…

Posted by John Nack at 8:33 PM on October 02, 2007

Comments

  • Frank G. — 5:38 PM on October 02, 2007

    Is Hydra the same thing as Thermo? It sounds really cool.
    [No, they're totally separate. "Thermo" (see news) is a new application, built on Flex, that's meant to let designers create rich Internet apps easily. Hydra is a language that can be used to power various imaging effects (filters, etc.). So, Thermo & other apps could leverage Hydra running inside the Flash Player (or Adobe AIR) to create cool visuals or process images. Make sense? --J.]

  • Éric — 3:41 PM on October 03, 2007

    is it a Core Image-like?
    http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/coreimage/
    [Bingo. --J.]
    hope it will be more useful…
    [Like, being faster & able to run across platforms? ;-) --J.]

  • rich — 4:39 PM on October 03, 2007

    >>Therefore an AE plug-in developer could effectively also develop runtime effects for Flash, while a Flash developer could leverage her work inside AE. >>
    I hope Adobe lets Adobe’s AE filters run as runtime effects in Flash.
    [Hydra certainly opens that door. I think there may be some differences between what's possible in AE (where disk footprint is not an issue & where realtime performance can be traded for richness) and what's possible in the Flash Player (which has to remain small and run on as many systems as possible, including those with lower-end graphics cards). That said, the goal is to let you write once, run many places. --J.]

  • rich — 4:42 PM on October 03, 2007

    >>Therefore an AE plug-in developer could effectively also develop runtime effects for Flash, while a Flash developer could leverage her work inside AE. >>
    I hope Adobe lets Adobe’s AE filters export as runtime effects in Flash.

  • Éric — 1:30 AM on October 05, 2007

    Damn… good for web apps like PS Express.
    A XML file could store the filters parameters to share Hydra effects between several images, Flash animations or even different (CS4) apps (portability).

  • Peter — 8:14 AM on October 08, 2007

    This is awesome, it means no more need to envy GIMP users for their GLUAS plugin (http://pippin.gimp.org/plug-ins/gluas/)…
    And we’re going to get tons of free and incredibly fast Photoshop filters, plus the ability to create our own in a matter of minutes (not hours/days as with the C/C++ SDK). CS4 is going to rock :)
    [Heh--we'll sure try to make it so. :-) --J.]

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