Adobe has added the “Mercury” engine to CS5 for increased performance in Premiere Pro by using Nvidia’s CUDA graphics processing features. This is great work and can be useful in many ways. In fact CineForm may consider using CUDA in the future for some of our non-compression Active Metadata processing. A common question we get is – should I use CUDA or NeoScene for AVCHD content? The real answer is that one or both could be the right answer as the real answer is workflow dependent. I’ll also mention that CineForm works closely with both Adobe and Nvidia, and we intend to continue doing so! So this thread is about providing some insight to our (potential) customers so they can have more information to use through the decision process.
I’ll be a little bit redundant – that is, there isn’t one right answer, so please consider the following:
The Codec: Remember, the CineForm format is used for professional broadcast and feature film work in addition to its popularity for independent projects and prosumers. If your workflow has a need to render or to create high-quality mezzanine files, then you’ll want a mastering-quality codec, and within CS5 the most likely choice is CineForm. In this situation you are best starting out with CineForm media through NeoScene or one of our other applications (NeoHD, etc).
Pre-Processing: All CineForm products include various pre- and post-processing algorithms. Within NeoScene we offer telecine removal (60i –> 24p) and deinterlacing (60i –> 30p or 50i –> 25p), proper chroma interpolation from 4:2:0 to 4:2:2, and fixing of improper luma levels in Canon cameras. NeoHD/4K/3D offer many additional processing features.
The Workflow: CineForm products provide a set of increasingly-sophisticated workflow tools well beyond compression – a CineForm workflow is not just about “the codec”. Within NeoHD/Neo4K/Neo3D products we also offer First Light for non-destructive real-time image development, color correction, title/graphics overlays, and 3D adjustments.
Price: NeoScene is priced at $129, and at the time this is written, we think we are accurate in saying that the lowest end CUDA card that will support the Mercury engine is priced at $400.
Compatibility: CineForm media is compatible across all video applications on Windows or Mac – Premiere Pro, AE, Vegas, Windows Media Player, VirtualDub, Final Cut Pro, QT Player, Media100, Avid (Media Composer v5+), etc. If compatibility is important then CineForm can be very useful to your workflow.
CUDA is additive: It is not always an either/or decision. CUDA acceleration applies equally well to effects and transitions applied on top of CineForm media. The CineForm codec is not accelerated by CUDA as it is blazingly fast already (200+ frames per second on a single-quad i7), but Adobe effects are all accelerated using CUDA even for CineForm media.
So in summary, different workflows will have different needs, and the above items are a few things to think about. Please let us know if you have any questions that we can help sort out.