Editing for the Future: Moving to 64-bit Video Production

Videomaker by Doug Dixon

Are you ready for 64 bits? Like the American westward expansion, it's about opening up new vistas and wide open spaces - but for video editing tools - which have become cramped and slowed by the demands of working with more applications, using higher resolutions, and applying a ton more layers and streams.

Current 32-bit systems can only address a maximum of 4 gigabytes of memory - paltry now even for a memory card. 64-bit addressing expands beyond terabytes to 16 exabytes (17.2 billion GB). Besides room to handle more and bigger frames, 64-bit also allows you to run more programs simultaneously and switch quickly between tasks.

Video production tools from companies including Adobe, Avid, and Sony have been making this transition for several generations. Then, October 2009, Adobe pre-announced that its next major release of After Effects and Premiere Pro will complete this process, to be optimized only as 64-bit applications, which will no longer run on 32-bit systems.

One result of this optimization is what Adobe has dubbed the new Mercury Playback Engine for rendering video in Premiere Pro. This combines four key elements: 64-bit native code, greater memory addressing, additional CPU (Central Processing Unit) optimization, plus off-loading visual effects to the graphics processor (GPU). Adobe reports that you can open projects faster and scrub and play in real time, applying multiple color corrections and effects across many video layers, even on complex HD timelines with thousands of clips. In addition, as more processing is off-loaded to the GPU, the CPU can be significantly freed up for additional background processing such as exporting clips in the Adobe Media Encoder. read more...

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