Harder? Better? Faster! Stronger?

If Daft Punk only knew…. That one simple song so nicely sums up 90% of all user requests, which software developers are trying to cater for. Weird as it is, though, very few people can actually quantify what they mean when asked and especially the faster part is more than over-used as naturally, it makes for good marketing buzz and everybody uses it with every new version of a product. After Effects product manager Michael Coleman shares his thoughts on the matter for the soon to be released CS5 version, entering this very grey area. Generally this sounds all and good, but of course a lot of that will not necessarily pay off in your daily work. Faster program launch – mmh, yeah, but then again, 64bit apps generally launch slower since they need to organize more memory. Might be a 0:0 case (for comparison, check the already 64bit-ified version of Photoshop CS4 vs. its 32bit pendant). Faster rendering – very much subject to what you do and contrary to Michael, I do not believe there is ever such a thing as a "simple case". The rendering itself could be hellishly fast, and then your output still crawls when being encoded to H.264 or something like that. And for me, it’s the typical case of using expressions everywhere and then having to let the engine evaluate those first, which often consumes much more time than the effects processing. As written before, this will hugely vary for each user and each project. That also extends to the use of MP rendering. Personally, I never use it much as – guess what – my expression stuff often gets in the way or there’s some effect in there that disables MP, anyway. While certainly one way to solve a performance problem, it is far from ideal and Adobe really need to find a better way to deal with this maybe for CS6?! So I guess for me the highlight of CS5 will still be that it is stronger, i.e. more resilient to crashes, race conditions and the much dreaded image buffer errors, but I won’t necessarily see anything on the performance end.

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