Pixel Bender now showing in Flash Player

Earlier today I found myself over at NVIDIA, demoing some of the new OpenGL-accelerated Photoshop technology we’ve got cooking in the labs.  The latest GPUs are just crazy-fast, and it’s a great pleasure to see a 2-gigabyte, 442-Megapixel Photoshop file gliding around like buttah*.


Adobe’s efforts to take advantage of the GPU certainly aren’t confined to Photoshop.  In a short video on Adobe Labs, Flash Player PM Justin Everett-Church demonstrates Pixel Bender filters running in Flash Player 10.  If you’ve installed the FP10 beta, you can play with Pixel Bender yourself in this interactive demo.  It comes pre-loaded with some cool (and very fast) filters, and you can grab more from the Pixel Bender exchange.  If you want to experiment further, check out documentation from Adobe’s Lee Brimelow.


On a slightly tangential note (using the shipping Flash Player 9, not FP10/Pixel Bender), Robert Lewis & co. of Fashion Buddha have created "dynamic
that arrange the byte arrays of the images and then re-compress them as JPEGs – all within Flash.  By displaying a sequence of
these byte-tweaked images quickly we can create an effect similar to
an old TV tuner that badly needs to be adjusted. The glitch effect is
subtle by default, but can be increased using the slider in the menu."  I can’t wait to see what these guys can accomplish with FP10 & Pixel Bender.


* Incidentally, to the folks recently carping that nothing meaningful ever improves in Photoshop, I’d submit that expending a heck of a lot of energy to make the display of every single pixel faster and smoother is, well, *rather meaningful*.  Effort really doesn’t get more fundamental, or more broadly useful, than that.

[Update: Flash Player engineer Tinic Uro gives a detailed overview of Adobe Pixel Bender in Flash Player 10 Beta. Pixel Bender code runs well on a GPU or CPU, and FP10 introduces more GPU support, but it doesn’t run Pixel Bender code on the GPU.]

0 thoughts on “Pixel Bender now showing in Flash Player

  1. >I’d submit that expending a heck of a lot of energy to make the display of every single pixel faster and smoother is, well, *rather meaningful*
    Please tell the Bridge team about that concept. Maybe adding “more accurate” to faster and smoother. Please.

  2. the pixelblender in flash10 has nothing to do with gpu acceleration. the filters will render cpu natively!
    only the stand-a-alone pixelblender application has gpu-support.
    try to use the examples and take a look at your cpu-proifler 🙂
    [I need to learn more about what’s going on now vs. what’s planned. The Pixel Bender stuff is designed to work efficiently across GPUs and CPUs, and FP10 introduces GPU-based acceleration in a meaningful way. I don’t know whether that’s turned on in the current build, and you may well be right that the examples shown here are all CPU-based. In any case, whether the core technology is running in Photoshop, Flash, After Effects, or other apps, the idea is to wring maximum performance out of all of one’s processors. –J.]

  3. John,
    What sort of graphics card does one need to take advantage of the new features in Photoshop? Minimum and ideal requirements?
    Bob F
    [I’m working on a blog post that should provide some guidance on that front. (Too much to write, too little time…) Suffice it to say that whereas the GPU has traditionally been pretty marginal when building a good Photoshop machine, it’ll now be a more important consideration. –J.]

  4. Great! I have seen this years ago with Apple Core Animation!
    Pixel graphics tweaked by the graphic card in real-time.
    I would call it Core Flash…
    [And before Apple showed it, you saw it in games. The difference here is that it’s going into what’s quite possibly the world’s single most widely distributed runtime, the Flash Player, and it integrates smoothly with all the other things Flash can do (interactivity, connectivity, etc.). Therefore whether you’re building apps for a browser, a desktop or both, whether for Mac, Windows, Linux, etc., you’ll be able to offer a whole new level of graphical richness.
    We also expect cross pollination with Photoshop and AE, letting developers leverage their skills and code to bring fast visual effects to Adobe’s flagship imaging tools. More places for your code to run = more business opportunities = more development. –J.]

  5. @gary you sure that there’s no GPU even on Windows? I swear I saw something where they said it would be supported on certain platforms. I’ll try to dig it up unless you can correct me first.

  6. Hi john, I have the latest macbook Pro with Nvidia 8600 and the interactive demo doesn’t work. The main screen flickers and the effects diappear from time to time.
    [Hmm–not sure what’s going on there. If you have a minute, please submit a bug report with your specs. –J.]
    I can’t scroll in the left column with my Mighty Mouses scroll wheel. Is this a preview on the new Flash-UI for CS4?
    [I asked the Flash Player team about this, and they say they don’t get mouse wheel support via the browser plug-in API (only on Mac? I’m not sure). Are you aware of other Mac plug-ins that support mouse wheel input? If so it would be great to be able to point the team to them. –J.]

  7. “Suffice it to say that whereas the GPU has traditionally been pretty marginal when building a good Photoshop machine, it’ll now be a more important consideration. –J.]”
    Maybe this will cause Apple to ship with higher end video cards. They ship most towers with 8 cpu cores, then offer a sub $200 video card as an optional upgrade.

  8. I found another Flash app which doesn’t work with the Scrollwheel: Photoshop Express.
    Scrollwheel and trackpad scrolling don’t work on my Macs with the web app.
    I have to use the sliders.
    [This is nothing specific to Photoshop Express. My understanding is that the Mac browser plug-in interface doesn’t communicate scroll wheel events to Flash. Therefore I don’t think this is something the FP team is in a position to fix. I’ll inquire further, though. –J.]

  9. John, it’s not only Flash. Illustrator CS3 has also problems with the scrollwheel. The screen redraw halts until I stop scrolling with the scrollwheel. This doesn’t happen when I use the scrollbar.
    So I guess you don’t use scrollwheels at Adobe to test your software 😉
    [I don’t know what the deal is with Illustrator panels. Photoshop has supported the mouse wheel/trackpad for years for numerous functions, including panning and zooming. (A preference governs which one is the default, and holding Opt/Alt toggles the behavior to the other temporarily.) –J.]

  10. dear john,
    this is slightly off-topic but i noticed the new cs tools have a slightly new UI (it’s a bit of a shame because the CS3 ps & ai UI’s is so good). mainly what bothers me is the large thick window border on top which now contains the app icon in it.
    [Please–as I’ve said before–don’t make judgements based on some cretin breaking the confidentiality agreement s/he signed with us, then posting screenshots which may or may not have *anything* to do with reality. I just don’t have the time or energy to debunk rumors, esp. the same ones repeatedly. As I’ve noted in the last day or two, I’ll share more info about our UI plans, but not this minute. –J.]
    does it really have to be that large? it’s eating up unnecessary screen-estate.
    do you think it will be possible to slim it down to standard size (i’m talking from the OS-X point of view)?
    let me know,

  11. My final decision on crash-laden Bridge CS3:
    Wait for Photoshop CS4 and hope and pray that Adobe gets it right. In the meantime, I will use Lightroom and/or Nikon’s View NX in conjunction with Photoshop CS3 to do my work.
    My conclusion is that Adobe tried to build Bridge to meet
    eveyone’s needs and failed. It makes no sense wasting time trying to deal with a bad program. As an extremely famous Photoshop Guru said in a public forum: “Bridge is junk.” He was right.
    Suggestion to Adobe programmers: Take the Lightroom quasi Bridge-like programming and add it to CS4.
    You got it right in Lightroom-take advantage of a success.

  12. Hi John,
    I have done mouse wheel action in flash. It is working in some browser and not working in some. But all the system has FP 9

  13. Adobe’s scroll wheel support for Mac has always been pathetic. I have never been able to use a mouse wheel to trigger scrolling in Flash Player
    [That’s because, AFAIK, the Mac plug-in API hasn’t supported sending scroll wheel events to the Player. (Of course that’s “Adobe’s fault”–as always.) –J.]
    (Dear God Almighty Flash Player for Mac has always sucked, right up there with the best crapware of all time!) and other Adobe BS quirks like the Illustrator layers palette. It’s beyond pathetic. Would somebody please develop some professional alternatives! It sucks that lack of options is what keeps the remaining few Adobe apps here at work in the pipeline. Argh!

  14. What will be the hardware requirements for each hardware vendor in order to utilize the GPU? I have heard for nVidia and CUDA you need a Quadro. Do you need a FireGL or FirePro workstation card in order to accelerate Adobe apps? Thanks!

  15. Almost any new NVIDIA card supports CUDA. Not just the Quadro line. I run CUDA with significant render time decreases on a $80 GeForce 9600GT. Transcode times on some stuff is down from 8 hours to 30 minutes just with some CUDA stuff. It’s pretty impressive.

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