OS X El Capitan and Metal

What, if anything, does Metal mean for the future of HitFilm on the Mac?


  • Read in an article not long ago that Apple was looking into using the A7 processor to power their next round of consumer level Macs (macbooks, minis, macbook airs). Guess there might have been something there.

  • The new OS X has released, but not sure how it performs. So I will wait for few months.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    I have suspected for a while that Apple no longer cares about the graphics, audio and video professionals that kept the platform alive for 20 years. I have been saying for about a year I would not be surprised if Apple killed Macs in the next few years. 

    In 2014 Apple sold more iPads than the total number of Macs sold from 1984-2014.

    Recently the Mac developers at the Blender foundation left, citing in an open letter to Apple the increasingly underpowered GPU's in use and five year old graphics drivers leaving the Mac platform insolvent for high-end use. 

    The raw horsepower of an A7 processor is about that of an Intel processor from 2008. Good enough for web browsing, nowhere near enough for Hitfilm. Additionally, the architecture of an A7 is different from an Intel. This announcement would downgrade the Mac to a tablet with a bigger screen and built-in keyboard. 

    Hope the source article is wrong. 

  • Triem, I didn't want to speculate too much on this board, but I think you may right. Apple of late has been too focused on the Mac becoming a consumer-friendly device. With each iteration of OS X , the user base is watching the Mac become an iPad. IPad sales are, IMHO, the single reason that Apple doesn't release a touchscreen Mac. Yet.

    Look at the facts. Soundtrack Pro was reduced to Garageband. Final Cut Pro...'nuff said; Aperture was reduced to Photos. In light of the introduction of Microsoft office for the iPad, iWork has all but gone away. The list goes on and on.

    My workflow for my personal projects  depends on Blender and HitFilm. Fortunately, unlike other software in my arsenal which is Mac-only, I can jump to my Toshiba laptop and continue working on both HitFilm and Blender. I've begun only buying/using software that is fully cross-platform of late because I've found that--with all the changes in Apple--it's hard to know if/when the changes in OS X may preclude the necessity of buying a new Mac (with money I DON'T have) just to keep working.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    And Apple's own announcement in 2014 about iPad vs Mac sales... Mac is never going to attain greater penetration of the shrinking laptop/desktop market, where Apple rules the roost in mobile. A few years ago I almost jumped to Mac. Glad I didn't. 

  • @Triem23 at the moment Apple needs to maintain Macs production because it is the only platform you can write apps for iPhones and iPads on.


    Things would change, as Microsoft's Visual Studio will be soon capable of that, so professional Macs could turn out obsolete.

  • Given that moving consumer-level Macs to the A7 would kill compatibility for all existing Mac software I don't think it's particularly likely. All Metal is about is low-overhead access to the GPU for getting better performance. It makes sense to have that in OS X as well.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Moving to an A7 would make Macs easier to use as an A7 development platform. Just sayin'.

  • Not really.

  • You need a lot more of computing power to make the app, than to run it.

  • I think Metal is a good thing for HitFilm as well. I cannot agree that Apple is turning away from graphics, just have a look at the latest updates to FCPX and Motion. I do not like the way, how Apple is behaving sometimes with new software and pushes customer to buy new hardware, but now FCPX is my first choice for editing and it is getting better and better. It works for beginners and professionals, you can see it is also be used more and more in big productions as for it's amazing workflow. 

    So I am looking forward to metal. Because everything that gives HitFilm a rendering  boost will highly be liked. 


  • edited June 2015

    I'm a Mac user for a long time now, Mainly I work with Production Softwares aka all Adobe CC, DaVinci, 3D Apps Maya Blender and Cinema 4D.

    I can honestly say that apple has let us down with GPU and Graphic Drivers support, I do agree with the guy who send that letter to Tim, every word of it is true, I've prepared my self and my team for a daily challenges with our Apple Machines and it led me to extend our time table delivery for my customer projects.

    But, I still can't go back to any type of windows except for when it's time to render, I use a Windows Based Render Farm.

    Today we are going to test the new OS X El Capitan and see if there is any changes, So far there isn't any?!

    Sorry for my english and my best regards to all of you :)

  • As a long time Mac fan, I'm disappointed at the direction that Apple has been taking over the last few years but I understand it from a financial perspective.

    Macs will remain the only way to (legally) develop iOS applications so they're not going anywhere. 

    I want to point out that while Microsoft has recently announced that Visual Studio will target iOS (!), you still need a Mac!


    "You can use Visual C++ for Cross-Platform Mobile Development to edit, debug and deploy iOS code to the iOS Simulator or to an iOS device, but because of licensing restrictions, the code must be built remotely on a Mac."

    As for Metal, it's propriety to  iOS/OSX so it's not going to replace OpenGL any time soon.

  • edited June 2015

    The announcement of Metal for OS X is absolutely awesome! I am so glad that Apple is FINALLY doing something about graphics performance.

    What exactly does this mean for HitFilm's performance? It seems that applications (that implement the Metal API) will now bypass OpenGL and  run natively on Metal, gaining near-direct access to the GPU. Apparently with After Effects, Adobe's seen an 8x performance boost for rendering. Could HitFilm also have similar benefits, and maybe even allow for the possibility of 32x MSAA in OS X?

  • But, as Metal is not going to be available on PCs, implementing it would mean increase of development costs, as you would have to write and maintain two different implementations for both platforms. I don't know how much effort it would be, so we will see.

  • @Marcin. That's what I was getting at; with the possibility of having to stretch the codebase that far to continue HitFilm on Macs, does it make more sense for FXHOME to continue creating HitFilm for the Mac platform or discontinue it? From a business standpoint, I would probably either discontinue OR implement another kickstarter campaign to rewrite the codebase for Metal.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    One of FxHome's stated goals with Hitfilm has been to run on as wide a range of hardware as possible. This is the primary reason Hitfilm uses Open GL--Open GL is platform-neutral across CPU, GPU and OS. A concern with Metal would be the expense and time of porting over to a proprietary code-base; and, if FxHome were to go that route, I would argue CUDA would be a better choice since Macs use Nvidia cards, and this would benefit PC users with Nvidia cards as well. 

     One nice thing about El Capitan is that Apple claims it will run on hardware dating back as far as 2007, so at least it's not limiting Metal to a subset of Macs, yet, in 2014 Apple gained it's highest share of the desktop/laptop market ever: a mighty 7%. Macs remain a fringe market (Apple says it sold more iPads in 2014 than Macs, in total, simce 1984), so I would question the worth of a Metal port, unless Hitfilm Mac users make up a substantially higher number than 7% of all Hitfilm users. After all, this turns Hitfilm Mac from standard Intel/Nvidia/Open GL code patched for OS differences into a totally new product! Especially if future Macs really move to A7 chips! (Why A7? A8 will be out soon... Why move your laptops not just to a mobile processor, but last year's mobile processor? I feel Apple is potentially making bad calls here, but I hope I am wrong.)

  • edited June 2015

    @Pencilandinc: apart from that, "Low level" means also more coding and more testing on the Mac platform.

    @Triem23: Apple uses Intel,  Nvidia and AMD GPUs at he moment and, AFAIR, the shift is towards AMD.

    I also think that the change from OpenGL is not worth it, unless the new technology is also cross-platform.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited June 2015

    @Marcin. I stand corrected. Thanks! :-) 

  • In fact I think FXHome does have the optimal solution: Vulkan, the Chronos group low level cross platform successor of OpenGL, to be released this year.

    Will have the same characteristics of the proprietary Metal or DX12, it's heavily based on AMD Mantle original specifications. 

  • Given how OpenGL support in OS X has fallen behind lately, I wouldn't put any bets on Vulkan just yet.

  • For sure there are some options, now I think is more up to FXHome to do the math if the development effort for a specific Metal version is sustainable with only internal resources (both specific knowledge and financial).

    Maybe waiting can be a good option, to look at Vulkan adoption curve.

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