Final Cut Pro and GPU: Mix well?
As far as current Final Cut Studio is concerned, Apple looks like still mostly deaf, dumb and blind with harvesting today's GPU power and performance enhancements were poor. With Final Cut Pro, Motion and Color, the only performance difference worth mentioning was in Color and we doubt it had more to do with 2GB of ultra-fast GDDR5 memory, rather than the GPU optimizations themselves. Apple recently released the new version of Final Cut Pro, the X version - but the performance and capabilities leave a lot to be desired. You can see a video from producers of Conan O'Brian commenting the FCPX
. We belive FCPX is far from being ready and the users are now paying for what is essentially a beta.Adobe Creative Suite 5.5: 3rd Gen GPU Support
Adobe invested heavily in GPU development with the CS4.0 and 5.0, the initial versions offered limited amount of GPU-assistance. The arrival of CS5.5 marks a more polished, better performing piece of software than their competition. Adobe used all the right ingredients and We focused on video pipeline using Adobe Premiere CS5.5.
The difference between the original system and the Quadro 4000 for Mac was more than obvious. First we used the 1080p footage scaled down from original 4K footage shot on our RED One camera, converting it to Prores 4444. It was a pleasure to see 12 filters stacked on one high definition video and all in real time. Very nice indeed. Two layers of 1080p Prores 4444 with 10-11 filters on each clip thrown just for testing purposes and it all rolls in real-time, not too shabby.
Just for kicks we added the second layer and used "Basic 3D" to re-arrange them in space and the new Quadro card really showed its potential, allowing for real-time work and less fuss. There is no way this could have been achieved with 8800GT or any non-CUDA based GPU (we also use 3870 and 5770), it would choke. This doesn't mean "any" type of filters, which people often forget. Some types of filters draw more, some less juice. We focused on color corrections, blur/sharpen and also used basic 3D - it works like a charm.
It was a really pleasant experience seeing real-time Gaussian blur adjustments even with 10 filters stacked underneath it. The amount of filters added in Premiere CS5.5 was even an overkill for what one does in an edit suite, because for more stuff you'll go to different software anyway.
With h.264 situation is almost the same - excellent performance all-round. The performance is reduced compared to Prores workflow, but only by roughly 10-20 % - stacking filters of the same kind, which is still a great achievement, considering the processing power required to chew through H.264. 4K Workflow: Still Needs Redrocket
It is important to mention that for fully unlocking the potential of Quadro in raw .r3d 4K workflow you will need a RED Rocket card. You won't get real-time 4K RAW with just Quadro. We did our test without this card and the improvements are still visible, though. With raw .r3d you get a slight boost, not major but noticeable. How usable, depend on one's own style of cutting. After that we converted RAW RED One footage to ProRes LT 4K 16:9 (4096x2304). The reason for choosing LT and not 4444 ProRes to be less dependent on RAID disk performance.
First we chose to be smartasses and leave the "playback resolution" to "full", although our preview monitor is 1080p. 3-4 filters work really fine, but when turning off the "smartass" mode and reducing playback resolution to half, (which is still more than the 1080p monitor can show with 4096x2304/2 being 2096x1152)... this card shines even working with 4K... 10 basic filters without a sweat. Wow.
For conclusion of this first part in series, if you have set finances aside for a new Mac Pro and still run 2-3 year old Mac Pro, the ideal choice to spend the $$$ will not be a new Mac Pro, rather opt to spend only $749 for NVIDIA's Quadro 4000 for Mac and a RED Rocket card
(if 1080p resolution is your primary thing, you don't need a Rocket card.
To get back to that question at the beginning of the article - Can the Quadro 4000 for Mac make a three year old Mac workstation a much stronger beast for video workflow?
The answer is a most definite yes.BSN* Editors' Choice 2011: NVIDIA Quadro 4000 for Mac
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