(UPDATE JULY/11/2012 … plz scroll down)
A lot of numbers flying around in the interwebs regarding the power of CUDA in Premiere Pro. Mostly they are about how much layers of blur or how many “tracks” of HD video can be played in realtime without dropped frames without rendering and stuff like that. All that is very nice and indeed the combination CUDA & Premiere Pro is very powerful. In Fact its the most impressive native codec / footage performance I have seen and experienced so far – if you have a powerful machine.
On a 2006 MacPro you will not have the same experience at all.
Anyway – i wanted to see how that “translates” to a real life / real work project. Especially with things like MagicBulletLooks.
So for this test i used a rather typical 4min 20sec project. Mostly h264 files from a DSLR, some ProRes files, some HDV files, a few AfterEffects titles (via Dynamic Link) … just a Stereomix-Track from ProTools (wave file). A usual edit - we do all the time – for a Corporate film clip. Color Grading was done via MagicBulletLooks on every clip (like we do all the time) The MagicBullet effects i created look like that:
So in the end a “Everyday-Project / Edit” for us.
I used the DSLR 1080p25 project preset in Premiere Pro. No other effects were used. Nothing fancy
All that on a 2009 MacPro 4,1, 8 Core 2.26 GHz, 32 GB Ram, 7200 rpm Hard drives, on MacOS X 10.7.3. CUDA Driver 4.2.7, GPU Driver 184.108.40.206 (270.00.00f01)
I used different combinations of Nvidia Graphics Cards. GT120 (standard card of the MacPro 4,1 ) + GTX285 (Mac Card) GT120+GTX480 (Window card that works with MacOS Lion with the Nvidia driver …. with out boot screen though) and GTX285 and GTX480 the GT120. The GT120 was used to connect the screens and GTX card for CUDA processing only ( at least that is what was recommended by many sites and ppl)
I also tested the single GTX cards – so I connected the screens to those for these tests. (I always used DELL 17” + DELL 22”)
Here is the edit I used for that test … just so you have a better idea what i’m talking about.
Since I did not get any realtime playback even with 1/4 resolution with all that MagicBulletLooks on the clips I had to render to see any “moving pictures” with the final grade … with all the cards and combinations)
here are the numbers:
So even though the combination of GT120 + GTX card might work good for CUDA processing only it actually it’s very bad for stuff like MagicBulletLooks or Colorista 2 that uses OpenGL for GPU processing and so the GT120 slows everything down quit a bit. Also the GTX285 that actually is a Mac Card is quite unstable in terms of crashes and freezing the app during render or export ( = PPro crashes ) … so in the end the GTX480 is the better salutation (here is how I did get the card to work.
One side-note though: Sadly Premiere Pro doesn’t seem to use the rendered preview data for exports. So even if you activated the option “use preview” that really doesn’t change that much export times. So for long projects with a lot of 3rd party effects on clips export times are getting quite long. That is a big issue.
- The Combination of GT120+GTX card did not work that good especially if things like MagicBullet Looks are used.
- GTX 480 works best
- Encoding via Adobe MediaEncoder is slower especially if you count the time it takes to “send” the project to the MediaEncoder
- The option “use previews” for export doesn’t really work
I will test an edit with transcoded ProRes footage soon just so i can see if that changes anything. I still have not found the best Workflow for Premiere Pro – so hang in there and stay tuned.
so i did the whole ProRes Sequence Preset settings for better “use previews” and therefore faster export times thing:
… but did not really change a thing:
Render time was 20:36 (so around 2 min longer than native) … export time was 17:04 so not really faster than the 16:46 export time i got with native or the 17:09 export time native to ProResLT)
So I still testing stuff to find the “best” workflow and settings for Premiere Pro. I’m still on a “voyage” to figure out the “use Preview” issue … I tried all kind of stuff – deactivation of CUDA – transcoding footage to ProResLT and working with that in a ProResLT sequence – using Blackmagic uncompressed Sequence settings ….
… everything I could come up with … still no real change basically export time = render time even if I rendered everything before. My guess: Its a OpenGL/MagicBullerLooks thing, because some people actually seem to benefit from the “use preview” … just not with MBL stuff . See: Biscardi Creative Blog - Continuing Tales of an FCP Switcher – CS6 workflow, for now
So anyway I also did compare Premiere Pro vs. FCPX vs. AVID MC6 vs. FCP7 with the same project (new – a bit different form the initial test). still around 4:16, same footage (Transcoded to ProResLT), same edit, same MagicBulletLooks settings/preset.
Here are the results of that Test:
So apparently even FCP7 smokes FCPX in terms of render time of MagicBulletLooks stuff. Also FCPX crashed like every 5-10 minutes while rendering. AVID MC6 did a good job but since it was linked AMA ProRes Footage “overall performance” did not feel as solid as PPro or even FCP7. The old school FCP7 worked actually quite OK – not surprisingly so due to ProRes transcoded footage. So at the end of the day PremierePro is “solid average” – quite usable though I guess … for now … I still will have an eye on all that and let you know as soon as I find out new stuff or solutions.