I've no idea why Premiere Elements would suddenly start working less efficiently. It's certainly not been an "update" in the program. I suppose it is possible that an Windows 7 update down-stepped the the way your works. They did issue a massive patch last week.
But how fast the program renders depends on a) whether you're working in hi-def or standard definition video (hi-def takes about four times as long), b) what you're using as source footage (the less the footage matches your project settings, the longer a render will take) and c) the effects added to the clips (some effects take longer to render than others).
As I already said, I'm working with HD material all the time (280x720p50 AVCHD). Reviewing some older projects, I found that I did not use the lens correction filters previously. I have to correct myself: The old projects render as fast as before. So it is not an issue of Windows updates.
Instead it seems some effects are not able to utilize more than one CPU and PRE9 does not seem to be able to recognize that an feed some of the idle CPUs with other clips that do not contain that effect. Moreover I found out that rendering a timeline that contains clips with stabilization and other clips with lens corrections gives an alternating CPU load, sometimes about 16% (only one CPU, I assume PRE9 renders the lens effect) sometimes 80% to 100% (all CPUs, I assume PRE9 renders the others clips).
To me this looks like a very annoying parallelization bug in some of the effects (cause IMHO as a software developer there is no reason, why lens correction could not be processed in parallel whereas stabilization can!).
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Welcome to the forum.
Thank you for the follow-up post, and especially the info, that older Projects still Render at speed. That does point strongly at some Effects being more efficient, than others.
Some Effects are just processor hogs, and not all are as efficient, as others are. Some do most of their processing in the CPU, some hand off some of the processing to the GPU (we do not see much of that in PrE, but do in PrPro CS5 and above, where MPE and CUDA really come into play), and some are I/O (HDD's and their sub-system) intensive. It depends on the Effect. Also, some are just more efficient, by their code, than others.
As an example, if I add Neat Video (a "grain/noise" removal Effect, which is 3rd party), I can expect Render times to go up by at least 2x, and depending on the amount of "cleaning," up to 4x. This is because of the processing load, required for those Effects. The same can be said for Red Giant's Magic Bullet Looks - they are great and useful Effects, but they are very slow to process. Not being a developer, I cannot comment on how efficiently those should work, vs how efficiently they do work. Could the slow ones be streamlined in their coding, to do better? Probably.
It is also quite common for 3rd party Effects to be less efficient, than the Adobe Effects, but even the Adobe Effects could probably be refined to use a higher % of the available resources.
One potential problem for Adobe, and other Effects developers, is that there is a very wide range of equipment out there, and their goal, after creating an Effect that does certain things, is to find a niche for the performance. That means that people with slower equipment will have real slowdowns, and those, like you, with fast equipment, will not be utilizing the full potential of their systems.
Some years ago, Adobe rewrote PrE (and also PrPro), to take advantage of the then recently introduced SSE 2 Instruction Set, but this meant that older AMD processors, specifically, would no longer run Premiere - 1/4 of the install-base screamed bloody murder, and even many years after that change, still do. We just had a post from a user, who had been using PrE 2, IIRC, on an older AMD, and was devastated, that PrE 9 would not install on the computer, because of the lack of SSE 2 support. If Adobe, and the 3rd party providers optimized their Effects to the latest i7's with a 64-bit OS, the majority of users would be screaming, "what about us?!?!"
I think that we will see some major improvements, when the world has gone to 64-bit OS's. We have seen improvements in PrPro, which requires 64-bit for both the OS and all plug-ins. Add MPE & CUDA support, and things get much more efficient, though all Effects cannot take full advantage - though one day they might.
Unfortunately, we are at a "cross-roads," with regards to development - there are many good things ahead, but we have not been able to see them implemented 100% yet. I am afraid, that we just have to wait a bit, 'cause we are in a "that's just the way it is" situation. Will things change? Yes - they always do. About all that one can do, is to keep their super-system tuned to the max, and it appears that you are already there.
Good luck to us all,
Thanks for your answer, Bill.
That "inefficient" effect is the "Linsenverzerrung" (as it's called in the german version - I do not know the exact original name, perhaps lens distortion?) and it is not a 3rd party effect. Optimization to multi-core processing should be an urgent task to developers working on performance-intensive projects - and video processing is one of those . I think in the next few years vidoe editing with only one CPU will be a real pain...
For me this means that the lens correction is one of the effects that I only add immediately before the final export, if possible. I'm a hobby cutter and therefore love to preview the effects of my editing, but in this case I'll have to work "blindly" and wait for the final video to be ready next morning .
Yes, Lens Distortion is the Effect, and it appears to be part of the included Adobe Effects, and not a New BlueFX Effect.
I would file a Bug Report/Feature Request with Adobe, explaining the lack of efficency in that Effect, plus any others, giveing you problems, so long as they are also Adobe Effects.