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Gird Your Grid

Gridiron's X-Factor uses grid computing technology to speed After Effects rendering By Frank Moldstad

Gord Watts
Gridirons new X-Factor software extension ($1,995) for Adobe After Effects is designed to produce dramatic speed increases in the two production bottlenecks where accelerated performance is most needed: rendering of previews and the final render out of composited video. The technology is called grid computing, and it allows the After Effects render engine to take advantage of multiple computers on a network. According to Gridirons Vice President of Marketing Gord Watts, the speed increase is linear, meaning previews are roughly twice as fast using two computers, three times faster with three, and so on.

We spoke with him on the eve of the release of X-Factor 1.5 about the new version and what distributed computing can do for After Effects users.

Weren't you previewing X-Factor at NAB?

Yes, in fact, at the last NAB, we showed the very first prototype of the X-Factor technology. And we subsequently launched the release version of the product in May, version 1.0, and were just now releasing version 1.5.

Does version 1.5 bring a significant increase in power?

Pretty signficant. In fact, there was great internal debate as to whether we should make this a 2.0 release or 1.5. Version 1.5 prevailed more from a pricing perspective than a funcionality perspective because weve retained the same pricing and were providing a free upgrade for the people who purchased 1.0. But it is a pretty significant enhancement in terms of the functionality of the product.

Can you quantify the speed increase X-Factor provides for After Effects rendering? I guess its dependent on the number of computers you have on the network.

Yeah, it depends on a number of factors. The exact nature of the project youre working on, how many computers you have, the speed of your network, and so forth. However, as a rule of thumb on a preview, weve seen linear performance improvement, meaning you can preview twice as fast using two computers on your grid than one, three times faster with three, and so forth.

Grid Status window

Is it being used by a lot of people in the field now?

Yes, weve had a substantial response to the product. As I said, we began shipping version 1.0 in May, and weve had tens of thousands of downloads of the product.  

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Related Keywords:X-Factor, Gridiron, Adobe After Effects, rendering, grid computing, distributed computing


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