( Blog )

High performance editing on practical hardware

Michal Hrnčiřík
by Michal Hrnčiřík
VIEWS
April 10th, 2017

Adobe Premiere Pro CC is the application of choice for growing numbers of professional editors. Their requirements from their platform are straightforward: most important, they need to see what they are cutting, in real time, to make great artistic judgements on pace without being distracted by jumpy playback.

At the same time, the technical challenges are growing. Ultra HD and 4k resolution is common, with raw footage from everything from GoPro to Red. Japan will start broadcasting 8k Super Hi-Vision soon. Popular interest in 360˚ VR is rising.

The common factor for all these formats is that they involve a huge amount of data, and that is challenging the realtime playback capabilities of even powerful workstations used for editing, let alone the laptops that many use. GPUs and CPUs struggle; local disk drives cannot keep up.

Workarounds using proxies are just that: workarounds. Adobe Premiere Pro CC makes the proxy workflow simple, but you have to create the proxies in the first place, and manage and store the additional files. What is needed is a proxy-free workflow that provides realtime, full frame rate playout of even 8k video files.

The solution lies in a new plug-in, Comprimato UltraPix. It is a compact download, with versions available for OS X and Windows. Installation takes seconds, and once installed you can virtually ignore it.

What does it do? It plays JPEG2000 video streams, such as in MXF files. The key thing here is JPEG2000, which is not like other codecs. An integral part of its wavelet compression is that it creates a perfect but half resolution file. And it is iterative, so it creates a half-sized version of that, and a half-sized version of that, and so on.

If you are starting with 8k footage, then you have a version in 4k, one in HD, one in SD and maybe even smaller. By reading the resolution you want, you have the advantages of working with proxies without the necessity to generate and manage them. Nor are you trapped in the proxy resolution you determine at the beginning of the project.

Towards the right, at the top of the timeline window is the familiar video resolution drop down. Using Comprimato UltraPix, this controls the resolution level within the JPEG2000 file. If you try to play 8k footage on even a powerful workstation it will struggle. But with the drop down you can go to, say 1/4, which is the HD/2k version, which will play perfectly.

But you are still working with the master file. You can change resolution at any time if you want to check the detail of an image, and of course the final rendered output will be in full 8k.

Input files not in JPEG2000? Comprimato UltraPix also integrates seamlessly with Adobe Media Encoder, adding a new export profile. You can convert raw footage with a couple of clicks, and incidentally also output the highest quality DCP digital cinema files which use embedded JPEG2000.

Comprimato UltraPix is quickly installed and transparent to the user, apart from the one useful control. It allows you to work more efficiently, concentrating on the edit not on managing proxies. Together with Adobe Premiere Pro CC, it transforms productivity.