Adobe demo highlights Thunderbolt in editing RED footage on MacBook Air

It’s time to get excited about Thunderbolt, people. Dave Helmly from Adobe posted a video demo last week showing how he was able to edit full resolution RED video footage (i.e. footage that would bring most laptops to their knees, begging for mercy) using a MacBook Air. How did he accomplish this amazing feat?

Using a MacBook Air with a Thunderbolt port, Helmly hooked up a Sonnet Echo Express Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis, inside of which was a RED ROCKET card. That was in turn connected to a Promise RAID, where the video files were stored. And then he used Adobe Premiere, naturally, running on (cough) Windows 7 using Boot Camp. (Did a small part of you just die inside? I know, I felt it too.)

Regardless of the OS choice, the demo is awesome. Using just the MacBook Air by itself, Helmly was barely able to get the thumbnails of the video to render, never mind playing back the footage. Once he enabled the RED ROCKET card however, he was able to scrub and play the RED footage flawlessly.

Now, that shouldn’t be that surprising, given that the RED ROCKET card costs about twice as much as the MacBook Air, just for the card. It packs some serious horsepower. But what’s really great is that, finally, we see the realization of the promise of Thunderbolt. Now you can hook up whatever cards you want, whatever RAID you want, whatever high-end peripheral a professional might need to a lightweight laptop and achieve the same power as you would have done previously with a desktop. If this isn’t the writing on the wall for the demise of the Mac Pro, I’m not sure what is.

There’s one more thing. I won’t spoil the surprise. Just watch the video demo. Right at the end, around the 5 minute mark, prepare to have your mind blown.

Source: John Nack on Adobe

Eugene Huo is a Juno Award winning recording engineer, video editor, photographer, and all around Mac geek. His first Mac experience was with the Macintosh Plus. You never forget your first. You can follow him on twitter @gamerparent, and check out his video game blog at