Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video What is the Mercury Playback Engine?, part of Premiere Pro CS6 New Features.
One of the best things about Premiere Pro CS6 is the Mercury Engine. Now Mercury is not new to Premiere Pro, it's been around for the last two versions, however it's dramatically improved with some key areas that are going to make things better for overall editing. Now let's step back for a moment and take Mercury from the top. If you're new to Premiere Pro or you've really not dug in too deep, you might not be familiar with what it does. Essentially, the Mercury Engine is a combination of three technologies. First off is the operating system.
It requires that you use a 64-bit version of the OS. So if you are on a Mac that's going to be things like Snow Leopard, Lion or the forthcoming Mountain Lion. On a PC, you're going to need to use Windows 7 with 64-bit, and of course, as new operating systems come out that will work as well, but it is the 64-bit version. Remember, a 64-bit operating system removes some of the barriers to addressing RAM. Under a 32-bit operating system, an individual application could typically only see two to three gigs of RAM.
However, with the 64-bit OS, this isn't the case. For example, inside of Premiere Pro here, we can go ahead and take a look at our Preferences, and if we look at Memory, you'll notice that we have total control. In this case, I have 12 gigs of RAM available and those are being currently served up to two Adobe applications, I've got Premiere Pro running and Prelude. However, the RAM is in a shared management configuration across After Effects, Encore, Media Encoder, and Photoshop and this is great.
We could dynamically manage our memory and address as much RAM as we want. Currently I've set aside five gigs for other applications, but that's actually pretty high. I can leave three gigs to use for other things like background applications, file transfer, et cetera, and I can make sure that this is set for performance. If you are dealing with very little installed memory, then switch to Memory to make the most of what you have, but Performance is going to be pretty robust and give you really good power. Now with this is the RAM itself, because the 64-bit operating system removes the RAM barrier, you're going to want to beef up on RAM.
You can get by with very little and if you look at the minimum system requirements, it's not uncommon to see things like four gigs of RAM. However, this is a total bottleneck, especially if you are going to be working with complex layered sequences, real-time effects, and multi-format. In this particular system, I have 6 gigs of RAM. On my laptop, I have eight. My new laptop, that I'm waiting to buy for the new product announcement, is going to likely be 16, and we can easily take this up to 32 or 64 gigs.
Remember, more RAM is better performance. RAM is essentially the jet fuel for your jet engine and without it you just don't get the advantages of that operating system. Now another thing that's important, the third component of the Mercury Engine is the GPU, the Graphics Processing Unit. When you have the GPU installed, under the Project Settings, you'll notice the ability to choose between using the GPU or the Software Only, and this is important to realize. In this particular machine, I'm using CUDA technology because I have an NVIDIA graphics card.
We can though rely on Software Only. Remember, even without a supported graphics card, you still have the Mercury Engine, tied to 64-bit performance of the OS and RAM. Upgrading your RAM was always a good option. The good news however though, is that we now have limited support for non-NVIDIA graphics cards, through the use of OpenCL technology. Adobe has officially tested and certified, as well as rewritten code, to take advantage of two graphics cards. This is the 6750 and 6770, which is currently shipping in the MacBook Pro models of 15 and 17 inch.
What exactly does Mercury Engine do? Well these three components working together will boost your overall performance. First off, it's going to give you real-time multi-format support. This means you can mix footage together. In my own particular shop, we shoot a lot of things on DVCPRO HD with P2-based cameras. However, we get material from other folks and our graphics department may render in a codec like ProRes or CineForm. Plus, we have DSLR footage that gets mixed in.
All of these things can be put into a single Premiere Pro sequence without additional rendering. This is because the Mercury Engine allows you to mix different formats, sizes, and even frame rates with an emphasis on real-time performance. So I'll leave that set to GPU Acceleration. Other things that are nice is that your projects can open up up to 10 times faster. This means quicker load times because of the ability for RAM to quickly connect all the files and load everything in. We also can take advantage of real-time color correction.
We'll explore this more later, but let me just show you a quick peek. If we go down here to our Color Correction category, you'll see that we have certain effects with the accelerated engine. Let's go ahead and just use the Fast Color Corrector for now. I'll drop that on a clip, and we'll just go ahead and select that in the Effect Controls and start to play back. Notice, while it's playing back, I can make adjustments to the shot, adjusting the hue angle, I can come down here and I can actually adjust the overall saturation of the shot, and as that plays back in real-time, we can make real-time adjustments to the clip.
This is really cool, the ability to color correct as the clip is playing so you can watch it back over the course of time. And the same holds true with tons of other effects. As you see in here, we have effects that are accelerated. So if I need to, I could go ahead and apply a Sharpen filter, and I could use this to slightly sharpen the amount of the footage. Let's just twirl that down, and as I increase that, we get better edge detail on the particular clips.
And again, having this in real-time makes it a lot easier to see what's happening. And notice the Dropped Frame Indicator, we learned about earlier in our lesson, is still showing real-time playback with zero frames dropped. In earlier versions of Premiere Pro, there was a little bit of a downside with the Mercury Engine. You see, there was this great performance in the computer when you use the graphics processing unit. However, many professionals relied upon third-party hardware to professionally monitor their video signals. Maybe they needed to go out to tape or they had an expensive monitoring workflow that involves scopes and professional high-resolution monitors with connections like HD-SDI.
However, thanks to new technology called Mercury Transmit, you now have the ability to take your graphics card plus the RAM and the operating system and pass all of that performance through to your third-party hardware. This means that if you have a supported graphics card, it can work in tandem with your video output device. You can now take advantage of all of the benefits with the Mercury Engine and then pass that through your higher- end video capture card or output card in real-time.
- Customizing the Timeline
- Using hover scrub
- Working with the dropped frames indicator
- Ingesting and logging media with Adobe Prelude
- Transforming a selection with multi-cam editing
- Understanding how trimming has changed
- Applying effects with video adjustment layers
- Stabilizing footage with the Warp Stabilizer effect
- Using the audio track and audio channel features