Posts tagged "Mercury Playback Engine"

Enabling CUDA for Premiere Pro and After Effects in the MacBook Pro Retina


Premiere Pro Project Settings

Just the other day, I became the lucky recipient of a brand new MacBook Pro Retina as my new work laptop. Nice! I’m sure many of you know what I was thinking–Mercury Playback Engine support! The GPU is also supported for hardware acceleration when creating ray-traced 3D compositions in After Effects, as well. More on that a bit later.

Premiere Pro
Upon launching Premiere Pro CC (lightning fast, by the way!), I noticed that only OpenCL processing was available in Project Settings > Video Rendering and Playback > Renderer. With the NVIDIA 650M GPU, I expected to see CUDA processing available, as well, as this video card supports both OpenCL and CUDA processing. I did not.

Note: Having access to both CUDA and OpenCL processing in Premiere Pro is only available in Mac OS X. The NVIDIA 650M will only support CUDA in Windows.

This is not a Premiere Pro issue, it is because CUDA drivers are not natively installed in your shiny new MacBook Pro. You need to do that in order for CUDA processing to work with the Mercury Playback Engine. For these drivers, go to the NVIDIA site:

I found the most current driver, along with an archive of earlier drivers, here:


CUDA System Preferences – Mac OS X


Premiere Pro Project Settings

Download the driver and install it. After installation, check Apple > System Preferences for the CUDA control panel. Click on the control panel to access the controls. You can update the CUDA driver  here, if there is one available. All CUDA updates can be accessed from the control panel, so it’s a good habit to check it periodically.

To enable CUDA processing for the Mercury Playback Engine, first restart Premiere Pro. Then, head to File > Project Settings (note: for CS6 users, Project Settings are in the Project menu) to see if you have installed it.

You should now have access to CUDA processing for the Mercury Playback Engine, as shown (left).

If you are still having trouble enabling CUDA, the MacBook Pro is not seeing your NVIDIA card. You have two video cards in a MacBook Pro Retina, the NVIDIA 650M and the Intel HD Graphics 4000 built in card. I feel it is important to force the MacBook Pro Retina to use the NVIDIA 650M at all times so that it does not switch to the Intel card unnecessarily.

To do this, choose the Apple menu > System Preferences > Energy Saver and disable the Automatic Graphics Switching checkbox. That will ensure you are using the NVIDIA card at all times.

After Effects

The NVIDIA 650M in the MacBook Pro Retina is supported to accelerate ray-traced 3D compositions in After Effects, however, this is not recommended. Unfortunately, the NVIDIA 650M has barely enough VRAM to support acceleration for ray-traced 3D compositions. See this forum post by Todd Kopriva for details:

That said, users will probably try to enable acceleration in their MacBook Pro Retina anyway.

If you still want to enable CUDA processing despite potential problems you may run into, launch After Effects to make sure that the application is seeing your NVIDIA 650M. If you launch After Effects and get a Warning dialog box, the application is not seeing your GPU. The reason is that the video card may have too many other resources trying to use the VRAM (like other applications, web browsers, or connected hardware), therefore, After Effects will not enable the card because there is not enough VRAM available.


After Effects Warning dialog box

If this happens, click OK in the dialog box, and close After Effects. Close other applications, web browsers, and disconnect any hardware device reliant upon the GPU. Then, restart After Effects. Note if you get the Warning dialog box when inspecting Preferences.

If CUDA is still disabled, reboot the MacBook Pro Retina, and then relaunch the application. CUDA should now be enabled.

You can ensure that CUDA is enabled by checking the GPU Information dialog box.

To view the GPU information dialog box, choose Preferences > Preview, and then press the GPU Information button to launch the dialog box.


After Effects GPU Information

If CUDA information is available, then you will now have access to the benefits of CUDA.

For best performance, choose System Preferences > Energy Saver from the Apple menu. Click the Power Adapter button and disable Automatic Graphics Switching, and then close System Preferences.

If you continually are running out of VRAM when using hardware acceleration for ray-traced 3D rendering, it may be a better idea to do this on a computer with a NVIDIA card that has more VRAM.

Adobe Media Encoder
Adobe Media Encoder also utilizes GPU acceleration for encoding certain items. After launching the application, look in the Queue panel and inspect the menu at the bottom of the panel. There you should see some familiar choices for GPU acceleration. If CUDA processing is not available, try closing other applications and any web browsers which take up GPU resources. If that does not work, restart the MacBook Pro and CUDA processing should again be available.

I hope this article helps you troubleshoot problems you may be having enabling the NVIDIA 650M for CUDA processing in Adobe video applications.

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The Quadro FX 4800 for Mac + Premiere Pro CS5 = Fast

These days more and more hardcore editors are being won over by Premiere Pro CS5. Why? Performance! They are particularly blown away when evaluating a system that contains a powerful video card such as Nvidia’s Quadro FX 4800. A video card like this allows the Mercury Playback Engine to perform at its peak.

In this recent article over at Pro Video Coalition, editor Scott Simmons of the Editblog on PVC puts Premiere Pro CS5 through its paces. Simmons is impressed by the real-time performance of Premiere Pro CS5 coupled with the Quadro FX 4800. This is especially noticeable when he adds layers of video, each containing intensive filters and effects. In the article, Simmons drops Premiere Pro’s resolution to 1/2 and sees no visual degradation of the image. With that, he adds more and more effects “far beyond anything I would ever attempt in everyday editing”. Personally, I’ve never heard an editor say that, have you?

For a more PC-centric view of the topic of Premiere Pro CS5 and hot video cards on Pro Video Coalition, you’ll want to check out Bruce Johnson’s article here.

If you are curious as to what other editors are saying about Premiere Pro CS5, this article is a good one to check out.Share on Facebook