An overview of everything that’s new in Illustrator CS6, including 64bit support, a new user interface and underlying framework, pattern creation, image trace, gradient on stroke, and more!
You can now use all the RAM on your system–great if you’re working with big, complex files. Other highlights include:
Gaussian blur received special attention and has been specifically optimized in CS6. As a result, other effects with operations that depend on Gaussian blur have also been enhanced, so you’ll see performance improvements in both drop shadows and inner glows. […]
You’ll notice a nimble, lively touch when you work with multiple artboards and threaded text. Creative tools such as the Bristle Brush have been optimized for both speed and efficiency so you can work fluidly, even when you generate immensely complex designs composed of hundreds of overlapping transparent paths.
And it’s not just Adobe saying it. Here’s Jean-Claude Tremblay writing for CreativePro.com:
It feels as if Illustrator has been re-energized… Modifying these effects in Preview mode is almost in real time. This speed increase and better reliability might not be the sexiest features, but at the end of a day, I’ll be glad I can do more and faster.
The reworked UI also offers efficiency tweaks, including inline editing of layer names (yeah!) and keyboard navigation of font lists.
This strikes me as a bit like jamming a V8 into a Miata, but it’s impressive: Adobe’s Dave Helmly beefs up a wee MacBook Air via the power of its Thunderbolt connection, using it to edit full-res RED video footage in Premiere Pro:
Photoshop gets used in a huge variety of ways, from editing tiny icons laying out multi-hundred-layer Web designs* to wrangling gigapixel photos. The optimal settings depend on the work you do. Now the Photoshop performance team has posted a white paper on Photoshop CS5 performance, explaining various cache & GPU settings, discussing the impact of 64-bit and multicore, and more. Hopefully you’ll find it helpful.
* Web guys: Try the “Tall & Thin” option (yes, there is such a thing) under Preferences->Performance.
If you’re doing video editing and/or effects and want to set up the optimal workstation, check out this Friday’s live presentation/Q&A session (12-1pm Pacific time):
This session will show you how to configure After Effects, Premiere Pro, your computer, and your projects so that working and rendering take as little time as possible. Topics covered include memory and multiprocessing settings in After Effects, CUDA processing in Adobe Premiere Pro, OpenGL processing in After Effects, background rendering, and dozens of little tips to make things faster.
- Al Mooney – product manager for Adobe Premiere Pro
- Paul Young – software engineering manager for Adobe Premiere Pro
- Chris Prosser – software engineering manager for After Effects
- Todd Kopriva – technical support lead for Adobe professional video products
I haven’t tried it & haven’t seen user feedback, but the new VueScan 9 scanning app promises 64-bit compatibility and the ability to create very large scans. If you take it for a spin with Photoshop CS5, you’re welcome to post your impressions here. [Via Jeff Tranberry]
Nik Software has updated their complete collection for 64-bit/CS5 compatibility. Way to go, guys! [Via]
Mac folks, is there anything keeping you running CS5 in 32-bit mode? I ask because the more legacy code we can lop off, the more we can focus on building for the future.
Hey, remember which company makes multiple* 64-bit, GPU-accelerated video tools for the Mac? (Hint: it’s not Apple.)
If you’re a Final Cut Pro user, check out live sessions next week in which veteran FCP users talk about how and why they’ve moved to Premiere Pro–and how you can, too.
* “Any” would also work
Great news for all the people who’ve been requesting native 64-bit support in Flash: a preview version is available for download from Adobe Labs. Among other enhancements, according to engineering manager Paul Betlem,
Flash Player ‘Square’ leverages the new GPU support available with Internet Explorer 9 Beta to deliver a faster and more responsive user experience. In our internal testing, we’ve seen significant improvements in Flash Player graphics performance – exceeding 35% in Internet Explorer 9 Beta compared to Flash Player running in previous versions of IE.
Check out the 64-bit FAQ (PDF) for details on the benefits & challenges of 64-bit development. Expect to hear other interesting details soon.
People sometimes ask for a faster, easier-to-control version of Photoshop’s venerable Lens Blur filter. Alien Skin’s just-released Bokeh 2.0 is a great answer, providing fast on-image control, compatibility with both Photoshop and Lightroom, and interesting creative effects like spiral blurs. I’ve just taken it for a spin and am impressed.
Bokeh costs $199. See their press release for more details.
I’m pleased to see that onOne has released 64-bit-native, CS5-compatible versions of Plug-In Suite, Genuine Fractals, FocalPoint, PhotoTools, PhotoTune, PhotoFrame, and Mask Pro–all as free updates. Check out PM Mike Wong’s blog for more info & download links.
Owners of Genuine Fractals 6 can download the free update from onOne Software’s website... “My experience with Genuine Fractals running on Photoshop CS5 is that it is considerably faster due to the fact that it now includes 64-bit support,” says Douglas Dubler, a leading fashion, beauty and fine art photographer. “I make big prints, starting at 30×40 and 360 DPI, and so the time savings when I work with these large files is substantial using this newest release. It’s a big advantage.”
* Complete 64-bit CS5 compatibility on both Mac and Windows.
* Greatly improved processing speed for Mac – 100% increase for many configurations.
* Better color handling – improved color edge recovery, new Clean Color slider.
* Interface and preset improvements.
Meanwhile the guys at PixelNovel are revising their version-control system (see previous), rewriting it using Adobe Flex and offering better integration with the Photoshop interface. A beta version should arrive in roughly two months. See their site for more details.
The 64-bit, GPU- and multicore-optimized Premiere Pro CS5 handles full-res HD footage with aplomb. The app features native support for video that comes straight off digital SLRs, as video evangelist Karl Soule demonstrates:
Update: If this is up your alley, see also these videos from Jason Levine:
The folks at Imagenomic have released a new 64-bit Mac version of Portraiture for Photoshop CS5:
This new version adds native 64-bit support for running Portraiture from CS5 on Mac OS X (10.5/10.6 – Snow Leopard), and complements Imagenomic Plug-in support for 64-bit Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems, which were released in 2009. This new Portraiture Plug-in update is being provided free of charge to registered users of the Portraiture Plug-in for Photoshop edition, and can be downloaded directly from Imagenomic’s website.
Exposure 3 will be out in late June!… There are some frequently requested technical features in this upgrade, including Lightroom and 64-bit Photoshop CS5 support. The user interface has been completely rewritten and one result is that the preview updates much faster now.
Imagenomic will be providing FREE compatibility updates of its Plug-in Products (Portraiture, Noiseware and RealGrain) for Adobe Photoshop CS5. Furthermore, we will be providing a FREE update for registered users of the Portraiture Plug-in for Lightroom to ensure compatibility with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3… For Mac OS X: We will be releasing compatibility updates to make sure our Plug-in products are fully compatible with Photoshop CS5 in both 64 and 32 bit mode.
[Via Bryan O’Neil Hughes]
The folks at Nik Software report that they’re planning to issue free CS5 compatibility updates to their plug-ins:
We are actively working to add 64-bit compatibility to the Macintosh version of our Viveza 2 product and expect to be finished mid-year. Once the update for Viveza 2 is released, we will deliver cross-platform 64-bit versions of our remaining products as they become available.
Please see the Nik site for additional details.
Bryan & I sat down with Deke and Colleen for another well lubed installment of Martini (half) Hour (listen in regular or high quality). Among the content we discussed:
64-bit: Not much more to say. Better, stronger, and in this case, faster. It’s Bionic Photoshop. OK, John has a little more to say. And it’s a cool look into what is really involved in creating a new version of something as mature and labyrinthian as Photoshop.
PS–Hughes actually is a witch; good fun at team parties.
The folks at Alien Skin have shed some light on their plans for Photoshop CS5 compatibility:
Exposure 3 and Bokeh 2 are almost done and will be 64-bit on both platforms. Exposure 3 will ship in June and Bokeh 2 will be about two months after that. Since these are major version upgrades with lots of useful new features, we will be charging for them, $99 each. Free upgrades will be sent to people who purchased Exposure 2 or Bokeh in April 2010 or later.
Our other products will get free 64-bit and panel updates as quickly as we can do them. As they are done we will make announcements and the installers will be free to download from our web site. Most should be available this summer. We will be more specific about all these time frames as the work progresses.
Running Photoshop in 64-bit mode produces some big improvements when using large data sets (scenarios where you’d otherwise run out of RAM and have to hit virtual memory). Here are benchmarks from a 2 x 2.66GHz quad-core Nehalem Mac Pro with 12GB of RAM (OS X 10.6.3):
Running the Retouch Artists Speed Test:
CS4: 36.09 secs
CS5 64bit: 14.78 secs
2.4 times faster*
Running the diglloyd benchmark Actions for Photoshop:
CS4: 38.05 secs
CS5: 23.1 secs
1.7 times faster
CS4: 56.01 secs
CS5: 26.48 secs
2.1 times faster
CS4: 120.15 secs
CS5: 83.85 secs
1.4 times faster
Opening a large (3.75GB) PSB file
CS4: 80.33 secs
CS5: 52.43 secs
1.5 times faster
Obviously these are big, big wins for any Photoshop users working with large images. I do however want to be careful not to oversell the benefits of 64-bit. As I’ve said from the start, 64-bit is a really big deal when you’re using large amounts of memory. Otherwise it’s not likely to make a very noticeable difference (e.g. your Web design tasks won’t run twice as fast).
What about other Creative Suite apps? As I’ve mentioned, After Effects & Premiere Pro are both 64-bit native on both Mac & Windows (64-bit only, in fact, unlike Photoshop). I haven’t seen benchmarks yet, but given the data-intensive nature of video, the wins should be huge. Meanwhile Illustrator has raised the limits on RAM usage, from 2GB in CS4 to 3-4GB (depending on system configuration) in CS5.
* I’m using the same “times faster” nomenclature that Apple uses when talking about 64-bit performance on Snow Leopard. If you prefer to think in percentages, the operations are (from top to bottom above) 59%, 39%, 53%, 30%, 35% faster than CS4, respectively.
Mike Wong from plug-in developer onOne has posted some details about their Photoshop compatibility roadmap. He writes:
Windows versions of our plug-ins have been 64-bit now for months… We are converting our plug-ins over to be 64-bit compatible on the Mac OS X side… Our goal is to have Photoshop CS5 compatible updates for the current versions of our plug-ins available within 30 days of Photoshop CS5 being made widely available…. That means we should have everything out there for you to download by June 12, 2010.
More generally, 32-bit Mac plug-ins should run just fine in Photoshop CS5, provided you choose the “Open in 32-bit mode” option in Get Info. That’s analogous to the situation on Windows, where you can run your older plug-ins in the 32-bit version of the app. (On Mac Photoshop is a single 32/64-bit binary, whereas on Windows it’s two discreet apps.)
I’ll post news about other developers’ 64-bit migration plans as I get it, and I look forward to sharing some great Mac 64-bit benchmarks soon.
If you extend or integrate with Creative Suite apps–or if you’d like to–the 2010 Creative Suite Developer Summit may be up your alley. It’s being held in Seattle May 3-6, and topics will range over everything from porting plug-ins to 64-bit, extending Suite apps using Flex and new dev tools (more on that very soon), to using technologies like ePub and Pixel Bender. I’ll on hand to show off a new version of Configurator, and I hope to see you there.
Speaking of the future, here’s a glimpse of future 64-bit Adobe video products taking much greater advantage of GPUs:
Presenter Dave Helmly writes:
In the video you’ll see incredible AVCHD playback and scrubbing, working with DSLR cameras like the Canon 5D & 7D, 9 Layers of P2, Native Red 4K Multicam editing and RED keying and lastly, you see accelerated rendering for exports.
Check out this post from last week for more info.
This morning Simon Hayhurst from Adobe’s video group announced that the next versions of Adobe After Effects & Premiere Pro will be 64-bit native & will require a 64-bit system to run (meaning a 64-bit processor and operating system). See Simon’s post, as well as this one from AE PM Michael Coleman, for more details.
If you’re running these apps today on a Mac, you’re probably already set (as CS4 is Intel-only). The only 32-bit Intel Macs were the first-gen MacBook Pros, iMacs, and Mac minis. On the Windows side, chances are again good that you’re running on a 64-bit processor, but you’ll want to make sure to move to a 64-bit version of Vista or Windows 7 if you haven’t done so already.
Does this news mean that the next version of Photoshop will carry the same requirements? No. Photoshop.next will still support 32-bit operating systems and processors (alongside 64-bit ones). It’ll be nice to go 64-bit-only someday (just so that we can focus all our development and testing time on this setup), but Photoshop’s user base is diverse, and the time isn’t quite right. In the meantime, supporting both flavors doesn’t compromise Photoshop.
John Gruber has posted a thorough, thoughtful piece on iTunes, Cocoa, and 64-bit software. He makes a number of useful, sensible points about how Cocoa is “not magic pixie dust” but does open the door to UI & performance improvements. (Lest anyone forget, the Photoshop team has been working for quite a while to move Photoshop to Cocoa and 64-bit.) It’s well worth a read.
A few thoughts:
- Getting functionality for free (e.g. when a standard Cocoa control is improved) sounds great, but it’s something a developer like Adobe has to consider carefully:
- Whether or not it’s important to you, cross-platform consistency matters a great deal to many customers (e.g. those in a large company that runs Macs & Windows machines). It’s hard to expose one’s apps to those sorts of changes. (As I’ve written, consistency within an OS & consistency across OSes both matter.)
- I know Adobe apps sometimes catch flak for using custom UI widgets, but you don’t want the apps limited (or made inconsistent) by what the different OSes provide. If customers benefit from something like scrubby sliders, and if you want the experience to be consistent, you need to provide them yourself.
- Gruber writes, “Maybe the Carbon APIs will never go away, but I wouldn’t bet on that.” I don’t know what Apple plans; I just ask (as I’ve asked them previously) that they communicate plans in advance. If they want to say, “Listen, four years from now, Carbon-based & 32-bit apps aren’t going to work anymore, period; you can transition everything now, you can wait ’til the last second, or you can spread it out,” that’s fine. (It’s enormously helpful in planning, actually.) Just provide plenty of lead time so that no one–Mac users, developers, or Apple–gets squeezed.
Prior to today’s Apple announcements, John Gruber wondered aloud on Daring Fireball:
What I’m interested in is more esoteric: is the Mac version [of iTunes] still a 32-bit Carbon app? Common sense says yes, but that’s because common sense says it’s never a good time for a low-level framework rewrite. But the writing is on the wall: the future is 64-bit, and the only path to 64-bit is Cocoa, so eventually, it has to happen.
Let me be really clear: I think Cocoa is great. I think 64-bit is great. (We’re embracing both with Photoshop.) But I’m really, genuinely curious: What specifically do people believe a transition to either is going to add to their software? In the case of iTunes, I have to ask:
- Do people really have performance problems* with iTunes as it is?
- I never have. It filters my 3,000-item library as fast as I can type, does a lovely job with HD video, and whips through album art in Cover Flow. I can’t recall others complaining, either.
- Do they want iTunes to use more than 4GB of RAM?
- I think we can safely say “No.”
- Do they complain about the UI (e.g. non-standard scrollbars) and think that Cocoa will make iTunes more “Mac-like”?
- Again, I haven’t heard complaints (or rather, only ridiculous ones).
So what, then? Let me put it another way: If you were directing the iTunes team’s efforts, why would you–as a customer–tell them to spend their time on Cocoa and/or 64-bit, at the expense of doing other things customers want?
I don’t know why I feel compelled to scratch this itch. See, a smarter, lazier, and/or more cynical product manager than I would simply kick back, shut up, and say, “Photoshop CS-X is 64-bit and based on Cocoa, so you should buy it!” If anyone dared ask how these facts might benefit her, I’d just loudly repeat, “But it’s COCOA! and 64-BIT! So that’s, like, AUTOMATICALLY AWESOME!”
For better or worse, that’s not how I roll. I want people to buy my (and our) work based on real value, not due to lack of information. I suppose I can take some weird solace in the fact that no matter what I say, many people will go on happily believing whatever they want.
So, out of honest curiosity I ask: If you’re pining for iTunes 64, why (specifically)?
*Not, of course, that 64-bit is any kind of panacea.
When reading about the advantages of 64-bit computing, you’ll sometimes hear that 64-bit chips offer more processor registers, and that using these registers will make apps faster. As I wrote last year when revealing Adobe’s 64-plans for Photoshop, PS does see a slight performance gain in 64-bit mode:
In our testing, when the app isn’t using a large data set (one that would otherwise require memory swapping), the speedup due to running in 64-bit mode is around 8-12%.
I asked some of the senior Photoshop engineers for background on why the impact of extra registers is pretty low.
“Most of the code we’ve identified as performance bottlenecks was long ago optimized, and in some cases hand-optimized,” replied Jon Clauson. “Such code really doesn’t get any faster because the processor/compiler has more registers to play with. We were happy we saw a general 8-12%.” He also noted that in many cases, Photoshop is not processor-bound, but rather memory bandwidth-bound.
Photoshop architect Russell Williams offered a bit longer answer:
Much of the performance-critical code is tuned not just for few general-purpose registers, but to use SSE, and those registers don’t change size with the move to 64 bits: SSE registers are still 128 bits.
The speedup on compiled C code when going from 32 to 64 bits on Intel varies widely depending on how much the compiler needs those extra registers and how much of the cache is taken up by pointers and bigger ints. Even when it looks like you ought to be getting a bigger win because of the extra registers, the win is less than you’d think because of the heavy hardware and compiler emphasis put on optimizing the loads and stores generated by temporary register spillage. (They’ve been trying to minimize the impact of that limited register set for a long time.)
Russell also pointed out some ExtremeTech benchmarks showing a mixed bag for running real-world apps in 32- vs. 64-bit mode.
Again, to be clear, none of this means that 64-bit isn’t great. It is. It’s just not some magic can of go-fast juice.
To the less technically-knowledgeable folks out there: Please stop asking for a 64-bit version of iTunes or DVD Player or Fireworks or whatever, blindly assuming that “number of bits” equals “goodness.” This is, of course, all coming up as Apple’s Mac OS X Snow Leopard release is due shortly. Let’s refer to Apple’s developer documentation on the subject:
From Apple’s MacOS X Technology Overview:
For many developers, however, compiling their code into 64-bit programs may not offer any inherent advantages. Unless your program needs more than 4 GB of addressable memory, supporting 64-bit pointers may only reduce the performance of your application.
Not convinced? Let’s try Apple’s 64-bit Transition Guide, “Common Misconceptions”:
Myth: My application will run much faster if it is a “native” 64-bit application.
Fact: Some 64-bit executables may run more slowly on 64-bit Intel architectures because of increased cache pressure.
On Intel-based Macintosh computers, you may see some performance improvement. The number of registers and the width of registers increases in 64-bit mode. Because of the increased number of registers, function call parameters can be passed in registers instead of on the stack. The increased register width makes certain performance optimizations possible in 64-bit mode that are not possible in 32-bit mode. These improvements will often (but not always) offset the performance impact caused by increased cache pressure.
It bums me out that I’ll be seen as “The 64-Bit Wet Blanket Guy,” especially when Adobe has been way out ahead of the pack on the Mac*, shipping the 64-bit-native Lightroom 2 for more than a year. I think 64-bit is great, and it can yield huge performance gains in Photoshop–sometimes 10x or more—when you’re using huge files that demand very large amounts of RAM (4+ GB). But I’m not willing to blow a bunch of smoke on the subject, nor do I like seeing developers–Apple, Adobe, or otherwise–get browbeaten due to ignorance.
By the way, someone will pop up momentarily to talk about how having access to more processor registers makes apps faster. That’s true in some cases (e.g. Apple touts that you can open PDFs 20% faster in 64-bit mode), but it’s not a big win for a highly tuned application like Photoshop. I’ve supplied more details about that in a separate post.
* Up until now (the release of Snow Leopard), who else is even shipping 64-bit Mac apps? My searches have turned up almost nothing.
A pair of new podcasts with Photoshop team members are now online.
First, Photoshop Architect Russell Williams sat down with Photoshop Creative:
Host Simon Skellon and Russell discuss the development of Photoshop as it pertains to Adobe’s work culture and technological advancements, including the transition from Carbon to Cocoa and 64-bit support for Mac. Williams describes his role at Adobe and notes that designing a program as massive as Photoshop requires finding a balance between fixing bugs and creating new technology.
Williams and Skellon also discuss some of the most important additions to PS over the history of the program including Layers, the History panel and the Healing Brush tool, as well as upcoming additions from JDI. Williams concludes by noting that the program’s wide range of use is so massive it takes an incredibly diverse team to successfully design the program, and explains, “There is always something to learn in Photoshop.”
Elsewhere, “Adobe’s own patient and talented Jeff Tranberry, Senior Quality Product Specialist,” joined Deke & Colleen for Martini Hour:
Some of you may recall that Jeff was the one who (despite trying to have an evening out with friends) helped Deke write his free Channels & Masks Configurator panel, which houses all the tools you need to do the tasks delineated in his Photoshop CS4 Channels & Masks One-on-One book.
Jeff says simply, “I was happy I was able to slip the term “meth lab” into the conversation…”
I’m happy to see that Imagenomic has released 64-bit versions of Noiseware Pro and RealGrain plugins for Photoshop CS4. The upgrades are free for registered users of these products, and are available for download now. As Imagenomic’s David McDonell points out, “This latest release completes the upgrade of Imagenomic’s Pro Plugin Suite to full CS4/64-bit compatibility following the earlier release of the Portraiture 2 Plugin for Photoshop.” [Via Bryan O’Neil Hughes]
For links to other 64-bit-native Photoshop plug-ins, see previous entry.
The roadmap for Adobe apps becoming 64-bit-native is a bit complicated, with some (Lightroom on Mac & Windows, Photoshop on Windows) being there now, some (Premiere Pro, After Effects) largely there now, and some yet to come. To provide an overview & to outline some performance benefits, the company has created a white paper (PDF) on the subject. [Via Anita Engelman]
Update: In response to a question in the comments, After Effects PM Michael Coleman has added some more details:
Jerry raises a good question: Can a 32-bit app be architected to take advantage of 64-bit OS?
Prior to multi-core rendering, all rendering took place within the bounds of a 32-bit memory space. Today, parallel processing is the key. If After Effects weren’t architected to take advantage of 64-bit, all your processor cores would be using the same small chunk of RAM. Instead, multi-core rendering on a 64-bit OS can use up to 4GB per core. After Effects has been rendering faster because of this architecture since CS3 shipped back in 2007. And it’s been improved in CS4.
What about optimizations? Let’s say you only have 2GB of RAM. You might assume that you’re not a candidate for some of the improvements offered by using CS4 with a 64-bit OS. But this isn’t the case. After Effects uses RAM intensively, and it can do so more efficiently and reliably on a 64-bit OS.
In some respects, After Effects is a hybrid – a little bit like a Toyota Prius. Is it practical to be completely electric? Not yet. Does that mean that we should give up spectacular gas mileage and clean-burning technology now? No way. These are great advances and you don’t have to wait around for the Chevy Volt. Like CS4, the Prius is improving the world now. You’ll have to wait until 2010 for that Volt.
All things considered, CS4 and a 64-bit OS are probably one of the best investments you can make in 2009.
…get lots of RAM, and if you use Windows, move to Vista 64 or Windows 7 64*.
You’ll be glad you did, as both After Effects and Premiere can address 4GB of RAM *per processor core*. That means that on an 8-core Mac Pro or Vista 64 rig, you could devote up to 32 gigs of RAM just to AE or Premiere.
Will all that memory benefit your projects? Depends on how big they are. Writer Jan Ozer produced some pretty amazing results with big jobs, in one case cutting rendering time from 68 minutes to ~10. Adobe DV evangelist Dennis Radeke has more info on the subject.
* Re: XP64, to quote the spinners in Blade Runner, “Move on, move on…”
To help plug-in developers make better decisions about when to create 64-bit versions of their products, I’d like to gather a little info about what operating system(s) you use to run Photoshop. If you’re using Photoshop CS4, please take a second to answer this simple three-question survey. (I’m asking specifically about CS4 customers as the 32-vs.-64-bit OS question doesn’t matter for CS3 or earlier.) Once I get a sufficient number of responses, I’ll share the findings here.
I’ve recently fielded a few questions about if/when various popular plug-ins will be updated to run inside Photoshop CS4 when running in 64-bit mode. (On 64-bit Windows OSes, you can install both 32- and 64-bit flavors of CS4 in parallel. Existing plug-ins will run just fine in the 32-bit version, but to run in the 64-bit one they need to be updated.)
Good news: the following developers have already updated their plug-ins:
- Imagenomic’s Portraiture “eliminates the tedious manual labor of selective masking and pixel-by- pixel treatments to help you achieve excellence in portrait retouching.”
- Alien Skin’s Bokeh “provides many techniques for realistic blurring and altering the mood of a scene, from changing the depth of field to placing a radial sweet spot and adding a vignette.” and Meanwhile up-sizing tool BlowUp 2 “uses an innovative algorithm that temporarily converts pixels to a vector representation which results in perfectly smooth, crisp edges”.
- Digital Anarchy’s Toon It is “a reliable, easy way to give photographs, still images and video frames that sought-after cartoon look. Turn your image into cartoon shading and outlines while preserving the details in human faces and figures.” The company has also updated Knoll Light Factory 3.0, the lens flare-making toolkit “originally designed by Photoshop co-creator John Knoll to generate Photon Torpedoes in the Star Trek movies.”
- ABSoft’s noise-reducing Neat Image is”indispensable in low-light (indoors, night, no-flash, astro) and high-speed (sport, action, children) photography.”
- PixelGenius’s PhotoKit is “a photographer’s Plug-in toolkit comprising effects that offer accurate digital replications of analog photographic effects.” Their PhotoKit Sharpener is a “Photoshop Plug-in that provides a complete Sharpening Workflow – capture to creative to output sharpening.” The 64-bit versions are in beta.
- Topaz Adjust “makes it easy to creatively adjust photo exposure, detail, and color for photo correction and effects.”
- HDRSoft’s tone-mapping Photomatix lets you “reveal highlight and shadow details in an HDR image created from multiple exposures.”
- Artlandia has updated their product line for CS4. SymmetryShop 2 lets you “easily make more sophisticated patterns, from a greater variety of objects, faster than ever before.”
- PictureCode’s Noise Ninja is “a must-have tool for anyone shooting in low-light or fast-action situations — including news, sports, wedding, and event coverage.” The 64-bit version is in beta and can be downloaded from their site, and you can contact the developers if you’d like to know when the update has been officially released.
Developer onOne is working on 64-bit versions, and Nik Software says they’re investigating support. The list above is just what I’ve happened across so far, so please pass along other examples. [Via Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Carol Steele, Robert Frost, Philip Brown, and Ellie Kennard]
So, how is the world’s most popular 64-bit Mac software built? At the recent Mac-dev C4 conference, Lightroom project lead Troy Gaul presented an inside look at the structure of the application. Hopefully a recording of his talk will be posted soon to flesh out the details, though I don’t have an ETA for that.
As you’ve probably seen, among the great features in the Lightroom 2.0 beta is its ability to run 64-bit-native on Mac (Intel, 10.5.x) and Windows (Vista 64). If you think it feels great to beat Aperture to the punch here, you’re right. 🙂
What does 64-bit computing mean, practically speaking? In a nutshell, it lets an application address very large amounts of memory–specifically, more than 4 gigabytes. This is great for pro photographers with large collections of high-res images: Lightroom being able to address more RAM means less time swapping images into and out of memory
during image processing-intensive operations.
It’s also important to say what 64-bit doesn’t mean. It doesn’t make applications somehow run twice as fast. As Photoshop architect Scott Byer writes, “64-bit applications don’t magically get faster access to memory, or any of the other key things that would help most applications perform better.” In our testing, when an app isn’t using a large data set (one that would otherwise require memory swapping), the speedup due to running in 64-bit mode is around 8-12%.
Therefore 64-bit is a good thing for Lightroom now, and as the amount of data photographers handle inexorably grows, it’ll become a bigger win.
The Lightroom news naturally raises the question: What’s Adobe doing with Photoshop? In the interest of giving customers guidance as early as possible, we have some news to share on this point: in addition to offering 32-bit-native versions for Mac OS X and 32-bit Windows, just as we do today, we plan to ship the next version of Photoshop as 64-bit-native for Windows 64-bit OSes only.
The development is frankly bittersweet for us: On the one hand we’re delighted to be breaking new ground with Photoshop, and when processing very large files on a suitably equipped machine, Photoshop x64 realizes some big performance gains. (For example, opening a 3.75 gigapixel image on a 4-core machine with 32GB RAM is about 10x faster.) On the other hand, we work very hard at maintaining parity across platforms, and it’s a drag that the Mac x64 revision will take longer to deliver. We will get there, but not in CS4. (Our goal is to ship a 64-bit Mac version with Photoshop CS5, but we’ll be better able to assess that goal as we get farther along in the development process.)
I imagine some Mac users are starting to flip out (breathe, guys, stick with me!), so let me explain how we got here & nip a few concerns in the bud.
As we wrapped up Photoshop CS3, our plan was to ship 64-bit versions of the next version of Photoshop for both Mac and Windows. On the Mac Photoshop (like the rest of the Creative Suite, not to mention applications like Apple’s Final Cut Pro and iTunes) relies on Apple’s Carbon technology. Apple’s OS team was busy enabling a 64-bit version of Carbon, a prerequisite for letting Carbon-based apps run 64-bit-native.
At the WWDC show last June, however, Adobe & other developers learned that Apple had decided to stop their Carbon 64 efforts. This means that 64-bit Mac apps need to be written to use Cocoa (as Lightroom is) instead of Carbon. This means that we’ll need to rewrite large
parts of Photoshop and its plug-ins (potentially affecting over a million
lines of code) to move it from Carbon to Cocoa.
Now let me be very clear about something: It’s entirely Apple’s call about what’s best for the Mac OS and how to spend their engineering cycles. Like any development team, they have finite resources & need to spend them judiciously. They’ve decided that Carbon 64 doesn’t belong on their roadmap, and we respect their decision. It’s up to Adobe to adapt to the new plan.
As soon as we got the news in June, we began adjusting our product development plans. No one has ever ported an application the size of Photoshop from Carbon to Cocoa (as I mentioned earlier, after 9 years as an Apple product Final Cut Pro remains Carbon-based), so we’re dealing with unknown territory. We began training our engineers to rewrite code in Objective C (instead of C++), and they began prototyping select areas to get a better view of the overall effort.
In short, Adobe has been taking prompt, pragmatic steps to enable 64-bit Photoshop as quickly as possible on both Mac and Windows. It’s a great feature, not a magic bullet, and we’re delivering the functionality as quickly as each platform permits.
Now, as I mentioned, I want to nip some concerns in the bud. You might think I’m a little paranoid, but I’ve been a passionate Mac user for more than 20 years, and I’ve seen more than a few controversies come and go. If any of the following come to pass, it’ll really be annoying:
1) Writers gin up controversy about Apple vs. Adobe, portraying this as a case of some tit-for-tat (“This one time, Steve wouldn’t play golf with Shantanu, so Adobe is sulking!”). Oh, come on. This is why Lightroom x64 is a such a nice counterpoint: Adobe’s decisions are pragmatic, not ideological. Look, Apple and Adobe share the goal of maximizing Photoshop performance on Mac hardware, and we’re working together on all aspects of that story–64-bit included.
“If it bleeds, it leads,” however, and writers looking to drive ad impressions will try to fabricate a grudge match. Please don’t let them.
2) Adobe gets castigated for “dragging its feet” on Cocoa/x64. This charge will be inevitable, I suppose, but I want you to know that we started work on the problem immediately after WWDC ’07. We started peeling senior engineers off the CS4 effort, and we’ll keep pouring on the muscle in the next cycle. This work comes at the expense of other priorities, but so be it.
3) We start hearing all about “Cocoa Über Alles”–about how Adobe should have known that Cocoa is the One True Way™ and should have started the move years ago. Most Mac users don’t know Cocoa from Ovaltine, and nor should they: it’s just an implementation detail, not a measure of quality. I think Brent Simmons, creator of wonderful Cocoa apps like NetNewsWire, put it most elegantly: “Finder + Cocoa = Finder.” That is, rewriting one’s app in Cocoa doesn’t somehow automatically improve its speed, usability, or feature set.
I’ll also note that Apple’s Carbon Web site says, “Carbon is a set of APIs for developing full-featured, high-performance, and reliable applications for Mac OS X… The Carbon APIs are also well-suited to cross-platform development.” I don’t mention it to detract from Cocoa; I mention it to point out that each approach has its pros and cons, and in hopes that we don’t hear all about how Cocoa is clearly the only way to write “real” Mac software.
So, the summary is this: 64-bit computing is an important part of the Photoshop and Lightroom story going forward, but it’s not a magic bullet and we’re not going to oversell it as one. We’re delighted to be offering a 64-bit-native Lightroom on both Mac and Windows now, and to deliver a 64-bit-native Photoshop on Windows as part of the next release. As for Mac x64, we’ll continue working closely with Apple (just as we’ve been doing) to make the transition as quickly and efficiently as possible.
PS: I know
that users of other Adobe applications will want info on those apps’ plans for 64-bit transition, and we’ll work on sharing more info. Broadly speaking, we’ll be applying similar criteria to what we followed in our digital imaging products to determine our 64-bit roadmap for the rest of Adobe’s applications. We’ll be prioritizing our 64-bit work based on the potential user benefits and the complexity of the code transition.
If you’re a plug-in developer, you’ll want to start reworking your code to run 64-bit native. Note that there’s an upcoming Creative Suite Developer Summit, and contact Bryan O’Neil Hughes if you need documentation on making the transition with Photoshop plug-ins.
[Update: The official FAQ on this subject is live on Adobe.com.]
I’m delighted to announce that the beta of the 64-bit-native Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.0 has been posted to Adobe Labs. Everyone is free to download the beta build and try it for 30 days, while customers of Lightroom 1.x are free to use it for the duration of the beta program. (This build expires Aug. 31.)
My favorite feature(s)?
Unbeatable Photoshop CS3 Integration:
- Open files in Photoshop as Smart Objects. (This way you can tweak your Lightroom adjustments within Photoshop just by double-clicking the Smart Object layer that contains your raw file.)
- Select multiple images to merge as a panorama
- Merge multiple exposures into a single Photoshop HDR image
- Load multiple files (or virtual copies of a single file) into Photoshop as separate layers in a single document
Selective image editing that rocks:
- Lightroom 2 adds a Retouch tool right within the Develop module (see screenshot). That means you can paint regions of the image to dodge, burn, saturate/desaturate, adjust contrast, and more. Edits are stored as metadata, just as all other LR adjustments are stored, and are applied directly to your raw images. (Because people will quickly ask, I’ll point out that unlike Apple’s newly released Aperture 2.1, Lightroom integrates its selective editing tools right in with the other adjustment tools. In Lightroom you don’t have to generate a TIFF file for editing, and unlike in Aperture, you can always tweak the results later. In addition, Lightroom features Auto Mask technology for tweaking the clicked region without bleeding into neighboring areas.)
- Library Module:
- Streamlined Library layout
- Smart Collections (based on search criteria)
- Powerful Filter Bar to search and refine images
- Suggested Keywords for simplified keywording
- 10,000 pixel size limit raised to 30,000 pixels
- Output-based collections
- Multiple monitor support:
- Four flexible modes for an alternate window: Grid, Loupe, Compare, Survey
- Live Loupe mode
- Export functionality:
- Auto-add exported images to the Lightroom catalog
- Auto Output Sharpening for images on export
- Develop Module:
- Non-Destructive Localized Correction for dodging and burning specific areas of an image
- Post-Crop Vignette
- Basic Panel Keyboard Shortcuts
- Improved Auto Adjustment
- Improved memory handling through 64-bit support on OS X 10.5 and Vista 64-bit.(Not limited to develop module)
- Print Module:
- Picture Package for multi-page layouts
- Print Module output directly to JPEG
- Enhanced Print Sharpening based on PhotoKit Sharpener algorithms
- 16-bit Printing for Mac OS X 10.5
A ton of blogs and publications are starting to push great info live as I type this, so I’ll
update the following list of resources as I see things pop up:
- A wealth of video & more from Scott Kelby’s gang in the Lightroom 2 Learning Center
- Video training from Adobe’s Julieanne Kost: Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3. See also Julieanne’s full list of LR topics
- A one-hour training video from Colin Smith
- Photoshop Lightroom 2 Beta New Features in the lynda.com Online Training Library
- A video podcast from Adobe’s Terry White
- The Lightroom Tasmania Adventure (kicking off now)
- A few words from Tom Hogarty, Lightroom Product Manager
As you probably know, betas have their pros and cons. On the upside, revealing Lightroom 2 as a beta now allows Adobe to continue the very successful dialog we’ve been having with photographers, incorporating their feedback before releasing the finished product. The trade-off is that the beta is unfinished, so you may want to check out the list of known issues before diving in.
With that, I’ll shut up and let you get cranking. Enjoy!
PS–Lightroom running 64-bit-native allows it to address large amounts of memory, something that can pay off when using large images in the Develop module. Tomorrow I’ll post more details about what 64-bit means & how it factors into our Photoshop roadmap.
Er, aren’t they? What’s the real story?
ZDNet’s George Ou suggests that the Photoshop team is deficient in not making Photoshop CS3 a 64-bit app:
x64 allows high performance computing tasks to run extremely fast and efficiently. The free Paint.NET image editing application, for example, is fully optimized for multi-core and x64, yet Adobe can’t get its act together and won’t even release an x64 edition of the upcoming Photoshop CS3… It’s just a crying shame for Adobe to lag behind, because Paint.NET has shown tremendous speed increases using x64 for filtering and layering effects on the order of 50 to 100 percent speed boosts. Adobe should have been supporting x64 two years ago and it won’t even do it next year.
Meanwhile, Paint.NET developer Rick Brewster commented on Photoshop architect Scott Byer’s post "Photoshop: 64 bits… when?", saying that they got speedups in certain routines, but still aren’t matching Photoshop’s
Yup the reason Gaussian Blur shows such a big win in Paint.NET is due
to its use of 64-bit math. Photoshop seems to have some secret sauce
that enables its implementation to be much faster regardless, so props
I’m not saying that 64-bit computing doesn’t offer some advantages; it does. I am saying (and have been saying) that the story is a tad more complicated than "Adobe can’t get its act together." I don’t like the idea that we’ll have to pursue a certain path and accept the consequences (breaking plug-ins, eating more RAM, etc.) just because it would look good on a spec sheet. We’ll do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because it’s buzzword-compliant. [Via]
First, ask yourself:
- What is a "64-bit application"?
- What advantages does such an application offer?
- What are the disadvantages?
In talking to lots of customers, I find that most are unable to answer these questions. (There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. As I’ve said, I myself am just a simple unfrozen caveman Web designer, and like most non-engineers I don’t presume to grok the intricacies of complex software design.) Yet despite the lack of widespread understanding, "64 bit" is one of those buzzwords (a la "Cocoa" and many others) that sounds cool, eliciting a lot of "arewethereyet, arewethereyet??" that may or may not be warranted.
Photoshop co-architect Scott Byer has posted a lucid, readable overview of 64-bit computing & where Photoshop stands relative to this transition. Given a great number of factors, we elected not to make the change in this cycle. That said, Photoshop does take advantage of some aspects of 64-bit chips, and as Scott notes, "It’s a when, not an if" we’ll make the move. His info should help cut through some of the hype & set reasonable expectations about the future.