Talking GPUs and Tech We Can’t/Can Live Without

January 8, 2017

The Team discusses GPUs for the colorist and how to select one. Plus, tech we've discovered we can live without, and tech we can't.


Day 8: 25 Insights in 25 Days New Year Marathon

Episode 34: From The Mailbag

We Talk New GPUs & Tech We Couldn’t Live Without & Tech We Can

Well, the Mixing Light New Year Marathon is in full swing.  We hope you’ve enjoyed the first week of Insights. 7 down 18 more to go!

Sunday’s are Mailbag days, which you should enjoy after you have a read thru the latest Tao Of Color Colorist Newsletter – the best newsletter in the industry!

In this installment of From The MailBag we first talk about a subject that is near and dear to most colorists – GPUs!

Up next, based on a conversation Team Mixing Light had over the holiday’s, we discuss tech we can’t live without and tech that wouldn’t bother us if it just went away.

You guys have been quiet recently!  We want your questions!

Remember, if you have questions that you’d like to get an opinion on please use the contact form.

Your questions can be aesthetic, technical or even client related. We’d love to hear from you, and your question might make future episodes of From The MailBag.

Talking GPUs

GPUs are an often discussed piece of hardware for the professional colorist.

No matter what application that you use, the importance of the GPU is undeniable for archiving real-time performance for your grading work.

In part 1, we sit down to discuss two pretty new GPUs – the Nvidia GTX 1080 & the Titan X – both based on Nvidia’s new Pascal platform.

We discuss exactly what ‘Pascal’ means and some its top features, as well as discuss common GPU terms like cores, VRAM, etc.

While we’re all Nvidia fanboys (Robbie especially!) we do make mention of AMD cards as well – if you’re using AMD cards please chime in and let us know more about the newest crop of cards from AMD!

Tech We Can’t/Can Live Without

Recently, Team Mixing Light has been on Skype a lot – talking 2017, development of our new website and some other new initiatives we have coming in the next few months.

After a detailed discussion on something Dan asked – ‘What tech can’t you guys live without?  What tech could you care less if it just died?  We talked about it for a few minutes but then decided that the questions were perfect for a Mailbag installment.

In part 2, Dan talks about his love of Team Viewer and his hatred of high-end lighting, Pat professes his love for gigabit Internet connections and how SDI inputs on a capture card are kind of useless for the modern colorist, and finally, Robbie discuss his love affair with Resilio Sync and how he wishes mechanical hard drives would die a painful death!

Even though we didn’t address member questions in this installment of ‘From The Mailbag’, remember you can use the comments below if you have more to add to the conversation or have other questions. 

-Team Mixing Light

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19 thoughts on “Talking GPUs and Tech We Can’t/Can Live Without”

      1. I have a midigrade and a ripple and its pretty nice. Honestly the midi grade is way more flexible than a surface. I can program any combination of steps on a click. The knobs turn indefinitely and we use the delta values to trigger the cursor position, scroll/drag actions. I use internal midi note triggers to execute common routines. The knobs act as a button, pan and a press pan and change colors programmatically . I use my f16-19 keys to jump between banks. You can program an indefinite amount of banks by turning on and off pages in controller mate via key strokes or midi notes. Every knob also is mapped to a button function as well as a adjustment and there is smart page1/2 toggle logic.

    1. Can fully vouch for this method. Bought both pieces last week and it has improved my workflow big time! For an investment that adds up to less than £800 it can do everything the >£1000 Tangent Wave can. I’d argue that you can do even more with this set up like Greg mentioned, as if you learn the controllermatte interface you can do your own mapping configurations. There’s no restrictions as to how to use it.

      1. Guess there are 2 options, I have one knob that just drags where ever the mouse currently is that way I can use it on anything like node sizing etc. You could also allocate a knob to position itself and drag the wipe. You may have to quickly turn the wipe on and off to reset the position so the cursor is centered again, maybe do this via a key stroke.

  1. Glad to hear you like the Orbweaver Pat. I’ve been using it over two years now and feel the same way, as if it’s wired directly into to my brain. I’ve got it set to work with every piece of post software that I use and never have to look down at the keys, so I can stay focused and engaged on my screen at all times. Do you use Razer Synapse for the mappings or do you have it set using Controllermate?

    1. I’ve been using the Synapse. If find the Controllermate to be really cumbersome to program… and just when I’ve got the software figured out, it’s 6 months later and I have to re-learn it again (since it’s too complicated to just stick in my brain). But that means I give up some of the X,Y coordinate options in Controllermate.

      Maybe when I move to PC I’ll switch – Robbie says the PC Controllermate software is MUCH easier to use (since it’s made by a completely different company).

      1. I use Synapse as well, but plan to transfer everything over to Controllermate soon. For some
        reason Synapse will often get stuck when I use certain combinations of keys and thumb switch triggers. For example, the keys I have programmed for next node will get stuck and next thing I know I’ve got 100 new nodes. Embarrassing when it happens with a client in the room. Looking on the Razer forums it seems this is a common problem (for gamers, of course) with Synapse. Has it happened to you? If so, have you found a solution?

          1. The buttons themselves don’t get stuck. But the keyboard commands they trigger can get held on. Also, multikey keyboard shortcuts that include command or shift cause command or shift to stick (again the keys themselves aren’t stuck, but the signal they send is stuck in the on position). The only way to get it unstuck is to unplug the USB cable. Oddly, the behavior is random. Some days it’s fine, other days it happens repeatedly until I give up and start reading the Controllermate manual and decide that todays that day that I will finally reprogram the damn thing in Controllermate and give up on Synapse. Then a deadline looms, and I go back to work and cursing Synapse. I’ve checked the forums and apparently gamers have the same problem. I called Razer support about the issue and when they found out I was using it for post production software rather than games they simply stopped replying.

  2. Hey guys. I’m currently running 3x 980tis in a Mac Pro with cubix. Obviously the mac pro is only PCI 2.0 so regardless would I still get a fair bit of benefit from swapping those for 2 titan pascals? Thinking it may soon be time to switch to a PC…

  3. There’s more to a Quadro or a FirePro/Radeon Pro WX workstation card than just reliability and application enhanced drivers, they can also output 10-bit color… something a GTX gaming card cannot do in applications. GTX gaming cards, including all of the Titans, can only output 8-bit color to applications. Gaming cards can, however, output 10-bit color in Direct X for some color optimized games (i.e. Alien Isolation), but NOT applications. You have to use a workstation card for 10-bit color output. For the technical explanation, here’s the direct quote from NVIDIA:

    “NVIDIA Geforce graphics cards have offered 10-bit per color out to a full screen Direct X surface since the Geforce 200 series GPUs. Due to the way most applications use traditional Windows API functions to create the application UI and viewport display, this method is not used for professional applications such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Photoshop. These programs use OpenGL 10-bit per color buffers which require an NVIDIA Quadro GPU with DisplayPort connector.”

    1. Thanks for bringing this up Daniel.

      As you point out this is a bit of a complicated issues depending on the processing pipeline to deliver content to the on screen display but yes, generally speaking with GTX cards you can get 10/12bit with Direct X but your limited to 8-bit with OpenCL/GL

      But the issue is more of an ‘in progress’ situation as ‘gaming cards’ are allowed to do more. What I mean is the for example a Titan X I have attached to a 10-bit IPS computer display via Displayport does indeed show 10-bit support (see attached). As NVIDIA/AMD push more into HDR & WGC I think we’ll obviously see application support/frameworks change and indeed 10-bit + support the norm without all the BS. But again leveraging that 10-bit support for on screen needs is currently a PIA , as you said the only 100% for certain way is with a workstation card.

      Regardless, although this issue might be a concern to some, it’s not for me, as I’m never using my computer monitors for color critical evaluation – I’m doing that via SDI to 10 bit reference monitoring. Just using GPUs to chunk though grades! This issue doesn’t effect the ability to produce 10bit output via a VIDEO I/O device pathway.

      1. Agreed… it is complicated, but modern gaming cards are not allowed to do more. Yes, in the NVIDIA Control panel I can also change the output color depth for my EVGA GTX 1080 to 10 bpc, because I have a 10-bit capable EIZO, but again that works for “games only”, and specifically for full screen Direct X 11 and Direct X 12… not in applications. That setting does nothing for OpenCL/GL applications. Even the latest Titan Pascal is still outputting 8-bit color to applications. The bottom line is that only a workstation card can output 10-bit color to applications (if the application and monitor support 10-bit), while a gaming card cannot. Talk to any NVIDIA or AMD workstation rep and they will say the same.

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