6 Replies Latest reply on Apr 14, 2011 9:42 AM by Gregory Seattle

    Mercury Engine in After Effects CS5.5? Or, why is After Effects so much slower the Premiere Pro?

    Gregory Seattle Level 1

      Take this quote :

       

      "by Todd Kopriva on Apr 25, 2010 at 8:08:14 am

      'Mercury' is a marketing name for these performance improvements in Premiere Pro:

       

      - multiprocessing
      - multithreading
      - 64-bit application
      - use of CUDA to to some processing on supported hardware

       

      The first three of these are in After Effects CS5. (The first two have been in After Effects for much longer.)"
      However, if I drop my Canon 5D Mark II footage (h264) into Premiere Pro it plays back SO MUCH better then the exact same footage in After Effects. Why is that? I DO NOT have an NVideo card and I have NOT applied any effects or scaling to the clip, just raw footage dropped into each program.
      I do notice that After Effects has to render to play back (green bar being generated above footage). But it does slow very slowly, like 9fps. Premier Pro seems to cruise right along at near realtime. This is 24fps 1080p footage. One other point of interest, I have encoded the clip into Cineform codec as well. On Premier Pro I can tell a difference, the cineform scrubs a lot smoother then the original H264 clip. But, again, in After effects both the h264 and Cineform clips are very slow to render and scrub.
      Any improvements along these lines for CS5.5?
      Am I just missing something obvious?
      Thanks for any info,
      --greg.
        • 1. Re: Mercury Engine in After Effects CS5.5? Or, why is After Effects so much slower the Premiere Pro?
          yenaphe Level 4

          Short answer: Premiere Pro is an editing program whereas After Effects is a compositing program.

           

          Long answer: After Effects playback engine is not optimised to playback footage in real time, it's designed to playback a perfect version of your footage. In your Canon footage exemple, it's encoded in h264, which is a gop based codec, only 1 or 2 frames are fully encoded in 1 sec of video, the rest is mathematical data representing the shifts in the pixels. Premiere Pro can easily read a gop and play it back, it has enhancements to apply on the fly the mathematical schemas (and those gets accelerated via cuda) instead of rebuilding all the frames. The result is a bit less precise, but it's much faster. After Effects, instead, will rebuild every full frame from that mathematical data to give you the pixel perfect result, because it's how it's designed for post production work. Because in editing, your focus is on the pace of the movie, whereas in postprod it's on the look of the movie.

           

          Hope that helps,

           

          Seb

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Mercury Engine in After Effects CS5.5? Or, why is After Effects so much slower the Premiere Pro?
            Gregory Seattle Level 1

            I wonder how come the cineform codec doesn't play back in realtime then. I understand that h264 can have keyframes only once a second or so but, as I understand it, the cineform codec is all keyframes(?).

             

            I did some more tests last night. Both h264 and Cineform RAM preview at about 10fps (for 24fps content). However, if I grab the CTI (current time indicator) and scrub through the clips h264 struggles badly while cineform keeps up just about as fast as I can drag around the CTI bug.

             

            Anyway, thanks for the information, and, I do get what you are saying about the difference between Premier Pro and After Effects; make sense.

             

            --greg.

            • 3. Re: Mercury Engine in After Effects CS5.5? Or, why is After Effects so much slower the Premiere Pro?
              Dave LaRonde Level 6

              Gregory Seattle wrote:

              I wonder how come the cineform codec doesn't play back in realtime then.

               

              Again, it's part of the difference between AE & Premiere.  You don't really play ANYTHING in AE.  AE has to render EVERYTHING.  It's just not built for realtime playback.  In AE, you PREVIEW things.  So keep them fingers off the space bar!  Here's the straight skinny on previewing:

               

              http://help.adobe.com/en_US/aftereffects/cs/using/WS3878526689cb91655866c1103906c6dea-7ec9 a.html

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Mercury Engine in After Effects CS5.5? Or, why is After Effects so much slower the Premiere Pro?
                Gregory Seattle Level 1

                  So keep them fingers off the space bar! 

                 

                Oh man, I always hit the space bar! I do it in my sleep. :-)

                Here's the straight skinny on previewing:

                 

                http://help.adobe.com/en_US/aftereffects/cs/using/WS3878526689cb916558 66c1103906c6dea-7ec9a.html

                 

                Thanks for the link, I read it front to back.

                 

                I can see the difference now but it is still kind of strange to me; I will just have to get use to it. I think the problem is that hitting the space bar and hitting '0' (ram preview) both draw that green bar, and both seem to use it if it is already there. I guess the real difference is how that green bar gets generated. It does seem to get generated faster when I ram preview as opposed to hitting the space bar. Using both cores I have I guess (early 2009 24" iMac).

                 

                From what I hear new iMacs are due out soon with the new Thunderbolt (!) and Sandy Bridge processors/chipsets. Should be a LOT faster then what I have now.

                 

                Thanks to both of you for your feedback, it has helped.

                --greg.

                • 5. Re: Mercury Engine in After Effects CS5.5? Or, why is After Effects so much slower the Premiere Pro?
                  Dave LaRonde Level 6

                  Gregory Seattle wrote:

                  I think the problem is that hitting the space bar and hitting '0' (ram preview) both draw that green bar, and both seem to use it if it is already there. I guess the real difference is how that green bar gets generated. It does seem to get generated faster when I ram preview as opposed to hitting the space bar. Using both cores I have I guess (early 2009 24" iMac).

                   

                   

                  When you hit the space bar, AE TRIES to play back as it renders each frame.  Imagine what happens if it's a comp with 120 3D layers that all accept lights and cast shadows.  That's why you don't use the space bar.

                   

                  In a RAM Preview, AE fills up the memory available to it with rendered frames, then plays them back from RAM.  Depending on processor speed, dimensions of comp & frame rate, this may or may not be real time, but there are ways to get real time.  With the space bar, you don't stand a chance at real time.

                  Gregory Seattle wrote:

                  From what I hear new iMacs are due out soon with the new Thunderbolt (!) and Sandy Bridge processors/chipsets. Should be a LOT faster then what I have now.

                   

                   

                  For AE work I'd say maybe yes, maybe no.  To make AE REALLY speedy, you need a lot of processor cores and a boatload of RAM.  iMacs aren't known for either of those things.

                  • 6. Re: Mercury Engine in After Effects CS5.5? Or, why is After Effects so much slower the Premiere Pro?
                    Gregory Seattle Level 1

                    Dave LaRonde wrote:

                    Gregory Seattle wrote:

                    From what I hear new iMacs are due out soon with the new Thunderbolt (!) and Sandy Bridge processors/chipsets. Should be a LOT faster then what I have now.

                     

                     

                    For AE work I'd say maybe yes, maybe no.  To make AE REALLY speedy, you need a lot of processor cores and a boatload of RAM.  iMacs aren't known for either of those things.

                     

                    True, but I am no pro; don't get paid for any of this. My current 2 year old iMac (2 cores and 8GB ram) does just OK for me, for what I do for now. I may not get paid, but that also means I don't have dead lines to worry about. :-)  I can see myself being limited here pretty quickly, by my current hardware. Moving to a new iMac, once they are announced, where I can get rid of the firewire bandwidth limitations with thunderbolt (multiple  HD streams), at least 16GB of memory and an i7 (four cores with 2 threads per core) should hold me for a while. I basically am working through an AE book and follow online tutorials. I shoot video with my Canon 5D Mark II and play around with that.

                     

                    Your point is taken though, 16 cores, 24-32 GB of ram and a fast RAID would be really nice! Probably essential if you were doing this commercially. Time==money!

                     

                    thanks again for the feedback!