You are here

To Build or not to Build....

composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Lately in the post threads I've been gettingquestions concerning thebenefits /drawbacks of buildinga custom system versus buying a pre-built system forNon-linearEditing. Tokeep from taking over other posts I've opened up this one to specifically address theseissues.Up front I am not a computer engineer by any stretch. However, since 1998I'veupgraded and built PC's and Mac'sout of 'self-defense' because either it was too expensive to send out for repair orif I didn't do it, it wouldn't have gotten done.My current depth of knowledge leansstrongly toward PC because it's still 'legal' to build them on your own. However, nowwith the resurgence of the 'Hackintosh' I am again taking an interest in 'mac clones'. So with all that in mindplease bring yourquestions / comments about building and upgradingpc's and mac's, butspare us the PC' vs Mac' debate.

Thanks.


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hey Composite,

Great idea on starting this new thread.

I probably fall into the 'combination' category. For me, dollars are limited, buttime is critical.I am basically a "one man show", and while I am trying to learn, I really don't know all that much yet,soI need to do whatever I reasonably can to maximize productivity, and then save money, and in that order. If I hit a snag or too-big of a learning curvethen I am basically down, which I cannot afford; and so tech support is really, reallyvaluable for me (time being money, you know).

I have never built a machine, and am a littlescared to. I mean, I think I could build it OK, but then I would be without tech support. Dell Gold Technical Support has been reallygood to me. (Dell Home and Home Officeis awful, but Dell Gold is really pretty good.) I know their components are not always top drawer, but whenever I get stopped I can almost always email chat with them, and get going again in short order. If I build my own box then I probably won't have tech support, so to pay an extra four hundred dollars for four years of 24/7 hard/soft tech support and next-day on-site replacement of broken hardware seems like a real deal. Am I wrong? The only thing is that I am learning I don't always liketheir choice of mobo and chipset (so next time I will research it first, or maybe I will go with another manufacturer for the box?).

I guess I like buying a box, and then trimming it out. My existing box isa Dell Precision T3400 Workstation, 575W PSU, CoreDuo 3.0GHz (2 cores). C:\ came as two 250GB WD Caviar HDD's in RAID 0. I added8GB Crucial Ballistix RAM, 4GB ReadyBoost RAM, Vista Ultimate 64, and then did the tweaks as recommended by Videoguys. I addedtwo 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM drives in RAID 0 for D:\. All backups are external via USB, eSata, and Firewire 400.(I am thinking about upgrading to a Drobo for backup of D:\). My video card is an olderPalit GeForce 8600GT Super +1GB (which is only a Gen 1.0 card, while I have two Gen 2.0 slots).

For video cards, I would love to run SLI, butI just learned that the Dellmotherboard has an Intel Bearlake X chipset (which does not support SLI). Also, I only have a 575W power supply.I can run with this video card for now, butI am consideringone of those new GTX 260 cardsfor about $180, or maybe a GTX 280if I really want to splurge, but I don't have any more power supply than that. I am not considering running Boris Blue in the foreseeable future, so I really do not see any advantage in spending the extra cash on a Quadro FX1700 or 3700.

Upgrades I am considering are as follows:
Q9650 CoreDuo Quad at 3.0 GHZ when the price comes down below $200.
Better video card once I am done learning HTML (perhaps a GTX 280? Hopefully the price will come down).
Matrox RT.X2 (supports real-time rendering of two layers of HD, and two layers of effects in PP, AE and PS)
Drobo for backup of D:\.

As you know from previous conversations, my present NLE is Sony Vegas Pro 8.1. I will probably buy Adobe CS4 once I am done learning HTML, and then expand into Lightwave 3D, and then Avid MC3, probably in that order. Maybe someday I will get Maya, but probably not for a long time yet.

I would really appreciate hearing all of your suggestions and comments. Mostly I am looking to speed up my system for the least amount of dollars. I know I can go extreme, butsome upgrades it makes more sense to put the money aside forthe next machine, with faster architecture.

Also, do you recommend hyperthreading?

Thank you very much,

Norman


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

"Hey Composite1,

I definitely caught some of that. AndI don't minddissertations.I have about a bazillion questions, and your responses are an answer to prayer.

From where I sit (i.e., knowing almost nothing),the main thing is to maximize my time. Dollars arelimited, but time is critical.I am basically a "one man show" here, soI need to do whatever I reasonably can that willsave time, and money, andmaximize productivity all at once. However,your letter really set me back.I got theVideoguys' new DIY article (http://www.webvideoguys.com/newwebsite03-09/DIY7.html) right before I got your post, andIrealized that for not much more than the cost of a Quadro CX card I could have a whole new box, withmuch faster architecture. Also, I guess they have a new class of video card out (GTX 260/280) that has multiple cores similar to the Quadro CX, so that would seem like the Quadro CX cardis not the best use of cash (although I am not 100% sure about the Matrox).

Would you mind commenting on my new box? The old one crashed, and Dell replaced it. Ijust want toease any potential bottlenecks, if it can be done for reasonable numbers.

Dell Precision T3400 Workstation, 575W PSU, CoreDuo 3.0GHz (2 cores), 8GM Crucial Ballistix RAM, 4GB ReadyBoost RAM, Vista Ultimate 64, Palit GeForce 8600GT Super +1GB (Only Gen 1.0 card, while I have two Gen 2.0 slots).C:\ is two 250GB WD Caviar 7200 RPM's in RAID 0, backing up to an external USB HDD via Symantec Backup Exec.D:\ is two 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM drives in RAID 0,backing upvia eSata to a 1.5TB Seagate HDD (which does not quite cover it, but I have not got started yet, so it is OK). I am thinking about upgrading to a Drobo for backup of D:\.

For video cards,I just chatted with Dell. They tell me I cannot run SLI, as this motherboard has an Intel Bearlake X chipset (which does not support SLI). So I can run with this video card for now, butI could probably geta GTX 260 for about $180 (or less if I wait until I am done learning HTML). I have no idea which manufacturers are best, but here is one from Tiger Direct: (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4369730&CatId=1839).It comes withextra GPU cores, and it is aGen 2.0 card, and it isa lot less expensive than a Quadro 1700 (and I am not planning on buying Boris Blue).

Would either of those things help speed up the system? And also, do you hyperthread?

Thank you very much for your help,

Norman"

I hear you on the 'One man show' thing. Fortunately now I have some good people working with me but I'm usually the guy who's the 'dot connector'. But I got that way from doing the 'one man show'.

Anyway, from what I've read in your last post you sound more than ready to start building your own systems. Your current Dell sounds pretty customized. I am concerned about you RAIDing your C: Drive. Despite what anyone says about a particular OS, there's always the potential of something stupid happening (operator error 90%, hard/software failure 9%, act of God 1%) and your OS drive goes down.In my experience it's far safer to just partition the OS drive for 2 reasons; first, to cut down on the time it takes to run maintenance programs like defrag, back-up, etc. Second, if the OS wigs out for whatever reason it's easier to just wipe it and fire up your back-up. If the drive's hardware goes down then it won't matter. Having it RAIDed will bring up 'unique' problems like your extended drive(s) getting corrupted if not ruined if the OS drive croaks. I've found it much safer to keep the OS drive available only for the OS and the programs to be used on the system.

But really the specs you spelled out suggestyou should stand pat on that system and start turning your eye towards your next. All the money you're looking to invest in upgrading will get you going on building a newSLI capable system. Now, the advantage of having a pre-built NLE is the company has worked out the initial bugs already. The drawback is, when you start 'customizing' their gear you are introducing a whole new set of bugs most of which tech support will only be vaguely familiar with (if you are lucky.)

Building your own is another animal however. Hard on the one hand, but a lot easier than you would think. You mentioned Tiger Direct and I dealt with them for many years with only a couple of glitches. They are an excellent source for building your own rigs. The thing I stress more than anything is be excited about your build's potential, but not so much you blow money on stuff that is incompatible because you didn't research it. You'll have much to consider, what type of case, power supply, mobo, CPU(s), RAM, Graphics Card(s), Harddrives, Expansion Cards, Cooling,UPS and all will have to be tailored for compatablity with your intended software pipeline and expected output. Throw in the time for building / test and evaluation and you'll find you have a potentially daunting task ahead. Just make sure your first build is simple with the potential for complex. That, and don't blow a ton of cash getting the 'latest and greatest' right off the bat. You will find your first 'simple' build when complete (when bugs are worked out) will run so much better than you expected. After you have a few builds under your belt you'll be doing like so many of us who look at the stuff the 'big boy's' make and say, 'I can do that a lot cheaper!'

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

>>I hear you on the 'One man show' thing. Fortunately now I have some good people working with me but I'm usually the guy who's the 'dot connector'. But I got that way from doing the 'one man show'.

Yeah; "The buck stops here." (lol).

Thanks for the vote of confidence. If Ibuilt a machine, the first thing I would probably try would be theVideoguys' DIY kit. (http://www.webvideoguys.com/newwebsite03-09/DIY7.html). They seem like they know their stuff, and they recommend top components. I even have a friend who will doassembly and the initial burn-in. But what do you do if you have a problem, andyou have no tech support? I guess I could call my friend, and we could troubleshoot it together?

I appreciate your advice not to go crazy on components. I keep dreaming of a dual Xeon machine with 64GB of RAM and triple SLI (lol). But of course, that is ridiculous. I need to be realistic with my price points, because whatever I buy today is only worth half of that next year. You do this all day, and you don't even spend that kind of money on machines! Maybe I ought to think about that some more.

Some questions for you:

What isSLI RAM, and what is it used for?

I heard that most guys run Avid on a Mac. Others run it on PC's. Is there any difference to the platform? And can you please comment on FCP, versus the other NLE's?I guess I am just curious to learn what all is out there. (The only thing I know about buying a Mac is not to buyRAM from Apple, because you can get it five times cheaper through Crucial or Kingston).

And what do you do when you have a tech support problem?

Thanks.

Norman


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

>>I am concerned about you RAIDing your C: Drive.

I appreciate that. However, I run Symantec Backup Exec (like Norton Ghost), and try to take a new image anytime I make a major change to the system.

Since I have a clean install right now, I am also considering making a fresh image of my 'clean install', and then leaving it on the shelf, just in case anything gets corrupted.

I also make backups of D:\, but need to get a larger backup for D:\, so I can do incremental images and all that (which is why I am considering the Drobo). I would think the Drobo would be a good upgrade, since it would translate to any new system.

Thanks.


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Composite1.

Great letter. Lots of food for thought.

>>All the money you're looking to invest in upgrading will get you going on building a newSLI capable system.

Is SLI the ticket?

Norman


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Composite1.

Thank you for all of your help and guidance.

Is the GPU the ticket, rather than the processor?

Or else why do people not go for dual Quad-core Xeons?

Norman


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

"What do you do for tech support on a build?"

Excellent question. Truth is, you become your own tech support! Actually that's only partially true. In the past, when I ran into a problem during a build I would take the unit to a computer store that did repairs and workstation builds. Those guys were hardcore geeks and would salivate every time I brought something to them because it was way beyond the stuff they usually dealt with. I learned a lot from them and needed their assistance less as time went on. For our latest build I felt like I was learning from scratch since I hadn't personally built a new system for a couple of years. However, once I got started it wasn't that tough. When I ran into problems I found plenty of forums with people who either had similar problems or were eager to tackle something different. More often I ended up solving someone else's dilemma! One thing is for sure, if you have a software problem with microsoft's OS's good luck contacting them directly. They really are set up more for big IT types and are not much on dealing with system issues. On the otherhand, their knowledge base is pretty vast and they do put out patches and bug fixes pretty quickly. Their support forums are much more useful than their techs are in my experience.

Also, you need to be up on the support pipeline for the hardware you buy. One reason folks like mac's is because they only have to go to one place to find out what's wrong. Same goes for the other big outfits that pre-build computers. Personally, I don't mind the extra legwork because on the rare occasion when something goes awry I have a built-in database and most time's before I see it I have my little list ready like on the 'Terminator'.

Concerning 'the ticket', you have to go for the 'trifecta' of CPU, RAM and GPU.

Actually, Avid runs on more PC's than mac's particularly when they are in a network array for online editing as windows is better suited to a network environment. I'm sure the mac purists may complain, but every network guy I've ever spoken to has 'lovely' stories about how much of a headache mac's are in a network. Yet Avid except for it's DS line is crossplatform. I remember waaaay back when you couldn't get it on anything but a mac and when Symphony was PC only.

FCP is mac only. It and everything else gets smoked by Avid. I don't use FCP because it's not cross-platform. On the occasion when I collaborate with someone using it, I'll do an EDL in premiere and export it to them for finishing. FCP is an excellent NLE program however as it was created by the same person who created Premiere hence it's striking similarity. Again just like the other NLE's it has its strengths and weaknesses. In my opinion you get FCP, Vegas, Premiere and a host of others when you can't afford an Avid setup!

Lastly, SLI RAM is signed off by NVIDIA as tested compatible with other NVIDIA hardware. In some cases like with OCZ RAM kits they are certified for overclocking. Oh, and there's nothing wrong with dreaming about creating the ultimate 'puter. I always shout "IT'S ALIVE" when the Van Dergraf Generators short out and the new system and breaks free of the straps. I've seen some incredible builds that would smack aside anything mac, hp or dell calls high-end like 'leel beaches'. Dual Quad Core, Overclocked RAM, Triple GPU, Multi-TB, Anti-freeze cooled, Rack mounted, Server towered beasts that would make your head implode. Unfortunately, since I'm running a biz I have to consider putting such expenses to a more extended use. But they are fun to look at though.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


CraftersOfLight's picture
Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: 02/17/2009 - 5:42am
Plus Member

I can retract this if it doesn't fit here but..

another resource...

If you know what you want in a computer but are a little uneasy about doing it yourself there are many excelent "services" out there that can build custom computers for you. Your are limited to some degree onwhat items they carry but you can make it your own.

Mosthave websites that let you build based on pull downs. Example; select a basic type, "office, gamer, graphic, workstation, etc." This gives you optionsto select aprocessor which then limits your selection of mother board and so on. Most will do a 48 hour burn in for you and you have great tech support from them after receiving you computer. One of the nice things is as you "build" you computer you get a running totalcost so far as each item is added. I have had several friends use these to build a pc online just to see what is claimed to "play nice" with each other then go build their own off that recipe.

When I got my 64 bit Quad corei7built it was about 15% less then if I tried to buy the parts and build myself.

Life is not a guided tour nor a destination. It is a journey. Take the time to enjoy your family, friends and surroundings. Build memories. Share experiences. Travel at sight speed not light speed. (C)


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

>>Concerning 'the ticket', you have to go for the 'trifecta' of CPU, RAM and GPU.

Hey, Comp. Thanks! That helps a lot.

So even if I were tobuy the Core Duo Quad and a new GTX 280, since my CPU and motherboard architecture is 'antiquated', and since I am limited to four RAM slots,and since I can't run SLI,it is kind of pointless to pump a lot more money into this particular machine, is that correct? In the long run it would just be better for me to start saving up for a new machine?

But it would be cheaper still just to overclock this puppy, and then save up my pennies for a new "core i8"?

>>FCP is mac only. It and everything else gets smoked by Avid. I don't use FCP because it's not cross-platform. On the occasion when I collaborate with someone using it, I'll do an EDL in premiere and export it to them for finishing. FCP is an excellent NLE program however as it was created by the same person who created Premiere hence it's striking similarity. Again just like the other NLE's it has its strengths and weaknesses. In my opinion you get FCP, Vegas, Premiere and a host of others when you can't afford an Avid setup!

OK, thanks! That answerslots of my questions, but then it raises still others.I was going to ask you about running Boot Camp on a Mac to dual boot between Leopard and Windows, so I could run 'all four' (Sony, Adobe, Avid, and FCP). However, if FCP is 'strikingly similar'to Premiere, and"everything else gets smoked by Avid" and the thought of a Mac makes me wrinkle my noseto start with, then that is kind of pointless, right? In that case, wouldn't the most intelligent thing be just tolearn Vegas, Adobe and Avid, and stay all PC (like you do)?

But what is it about Avid that 'smokes' everything else? How canAvid can 'smoke' Premiere with a Matrox RT.X2 inside, when the RT.X2 will allow you to preview/render four layers of HD in real time? Are you referring to something other than the render times? Does it have special keystrokes, or does it 'get at the heart of the matter' more quickly, somehow, then Vegas and PPro?

Thank you for your help.

Norman


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

>>FCP is mac only. It and everything else gets smoked by Avid.

Hey Comp. Can you please say more about how Avid 'smokes' everything else? Do you mean that you can do the editing a lot quicker in Avid, because of the way ithandles files and editing?

Are you taking rendering times into account? Or do you send the finished data out to a 'render farm' (so the rendering times are not important)?

I do not mean to be a'stick-in-the-mud', but I am having a hard time understanding how anything could be faster thanAdobe on a Matrox. But I assume you know what you are talking about; sowhat am I not getting?

Thank you,

Norman



composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Norman,

As for how 'Avid smokes everything else', that refers to the efficientcy of the interface and the proprietary hardware that can be purchased as a turnkey system or optional components to a custom built NLE. Remember Avid is one of the longest surviving companies and all they do is make NLE software and hardware. To date, most movies are made with Avid products and the first movies to transition to full Digital and High Def production pipelines all got edited on high-end Avid systems. Now there are high-end FCP systems but not close to the number of Avid. I've worked on stand alone units with DV Xpress Pro and Mac Media Composer. I've also worked on ginormous OnlineSymphony Unity networks and could collaborate with a mac weenie in another city almost in realtime while I was working on a networked PC. That's what I mean by 'smoked'. Adobe on a Matrox is probably very good, But Avid MC or Symphony onNitris (DX or DS), goodbye.... With that hardware and software architeture you can do film finshing. Here's a thread from Creative Cow that will give you a more comprehensive idea of what I'm talking about concerning 'finishing'; http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/132/856096

Far as running 'Bootcamp' on a mac, I'm mixed on that. On the one hand, I see it's value if you are already setup with mac's then it doesn't make much fiscal sense to buy an additional PC just to run a few PC only programs. However, Bootcamp is buggy and despite what mac purists may say, PC software runs best on PC's. As for getting a mac when you are set up for PC's is also questionable. Since most of the widely used graphics and video programs are crossplatform, then you don't need a mac. Now if you really want to be 'daring' you can build your own PC 'Hackintosh' (Mac OSX on a PC.) From what I hear, except for some minor bugs and no tech support from either mac or windows (hack's are illegal because mac wants to control the 'macie world') they run rather well (provided you use hardware that supports either platform.)

Far as I can see, your current system is fine for the moment. You've got some good resources for how to build a system, but you will find that building your own isn't that difficult. Oh you'll definitely run into technical snags if you build your own whether you have a 'how to' guide or a tech on hand. I built my first seriousNLE with one hand holding a copy of 'Idiot's Guide to Building Computers'. I was only scared the first time I upgraded a PC Desktop I bought ( was still using and building mac's way back then.) It was a snap and I've been doing since then. However, if you aren't comfortable with the idea getting a customized pre-built is a good if not more expensive option. If you're getting a simple workstation, it's either the same or cheaper to get a pre-built. But when you want something with way more juicewith proper research on hardware and pricing you usually will save money building your own. Where the price of the system really jumps is when you start putting software on it!

Best thing is to just save your cash for a new rig. By the time you put a few $k together most of the hardware you're drooling over now will be nice and cheap.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Comp.

>>I've also worked on ginormous OnlineSymphony Unity networks and could collaborate with a mac weenie in another city almost in realtime while I was working on a networked PC. That's what I mean by 'smoked'.

Yeah, I have heard that Avid is the only thing that really communicates in large networks 'online', although I also heard that Apple is supposed to be dumping a ton of money into FCP right now, to try to take things away from Avid (at least on Mac's). The only thing is that I doubt I am going to be working in tandem with other editors online any time soon, because at the moment I just don't have any kind of a budget to hire things out. It is 'all me' just at the moment.

So if I should save my $$ foran upgrade, then is there a 'best time' to jump in?Right now the core i7 is still a 45nm process. As much of an improvement as thecore i7 is over the CoreDuo (and CoreDuo Quad), soon they will come out with a 32nm process, which I assume will be yet another 'quantum improvement' on the Core i7. Then they expect the 'memristor' to hit in about 2015 (and change everything altogether).

So is there any 'best' time to jump in, in the chip development cycle? Do I understand correctly that 'upgrades' are generally a waste, and the main thing is always to use what you've got, and then save for a new setup (whether you build it yourself, or whether you buy a turnkey)? And are there exceptions to that rule, eitherin theory, or in practice?

I agree that the software is far more expensive than the machine. But since thecomputing requirements are so intense in this field, and time is such a critical factor, then why do more people not go Xeon? Is Xeon that much more expensive?

Thank you,

Norman


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

>>Best thing is to just save your cash for a new rig.

Hey Comp.

Is it always best to save up for a new rig, and to get everything all at once?

Do you never buy upgrades?

Norman


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

From: http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/forums/ShowMessage.asp?MessageID=526098&Replies=63

It appears that Sony Vegas scales the rendering proportionate to the number of cores.

"Interesting - Duo Core exactly twice the time of John's Quad Core!"

The E6700 is a dual-core 2.66Ghz processor, my QX6700 is a 2.66Ghz quad-core so, all other things being equal, one would expect the QX6700 to be twice as fast. What's interesting to me is that the Vegas code is apparently fully optimized for multiple processors and really does scale proportionately to the number of cores and speed of the processors. This is not something that can be said of all multi-processor software. Good job, Sony!

And it also appears that Sony is optimized for AMD. I am sure AMD is a fine line, but am wondering why they would do that, when the bulk of the industry goes Intel.

Norman


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Norman,

You're going to give yourself an embellism trying to 'overthink' the tech aspects. Though I do pretty thorough research before I buy, I also understand that anything I get will be outdated by the time I open the box! When you look at the benchmark stats the differences in performance aren't significant enough to warrant the prices for much of the higher-end CPU's and GPU's. Especially when 6 months from now the price will be 20-50% less to make way for the 'new' stuff. Seriously, base your equipment assumptions on a) what will play well with other hardware, b) work well with your chosen software, and c) give you the highest quality output for what fits your budget and output pricing. In essence, whether pre-built or self-built the unit has to perform to standards (at minimum) for a practical cost to produce profits enough to pay for itself and its continued use. If you're just doing this stuff as a hobby, then feel free to build one of those 'monsters' like the ones I described earlier and throw as much as you want at it. If you're doing this to pay rent and put food on the table that whole annoying 'business cost and affectivity' thing is the 800lb gorilla tapping you on the shoulder.

Concerning saving for a new rig, again that whole cost and affectivity comes into play. What do you need to do the work? What are your client's asking for? Can you do HD? Can you do SD to broadcast quality? Is your current setup capable of helping you meet your turnaround times? Those and many other questions specific to your situation will help you decide how far down the road whenyou're going to need new gear. The rule is: start saving now. Generally, when getting gear suitable for low to mid-level pro work the magic number is between $1500 - $2000 +. That's when you can seriously start putting together a good hardware configuration. Get enough to make the unit functional and upgrade as either needed or as funds become available. Remember, 6 months from now that extra GPU, harddrive, RAM, etc. will be cheaper.

Sony cut a deal with AMD and Microsoft back in 2006so that their VAIO systems and the Sony line of production sofware would be complimentary within the windows environment. Unlike mac, Sony allowed their software to work in a similarly efficient manner across the board independent of their VAIO line of computers. So whether it's a Dell, Gateway, HP, Compaq or whatever as long as it's on XP or Vista (soon Win7) it will take full advantage of the AMD chipset architecture. AMD I believehas more efficient muliti-core architecture so I'm not surprised that Vegas works well with multi-core Intels due to its optimization.

Lastly, I upgrade often. Typically, the life of a NLE is 2-3 years. When we build, we do it with 5-7 years in mind. We've got one I built back in

07 and is currently having it's harddrives replaced (for larger capacity ones) because it's primary job will shift more towards being an Audio Work Station. It will still be able to do SD work and some graphics / mographics as needed. With the harddrive replacements the unit will be good for another 2-3 years! If I could find a faster CPU (no longer in production) I would replace the old one without a thought. You asked why I like AMD? The system I just mentioned runs on one and the unit has paid for itself a number of times over.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

>>If you're doing this to pay rent and put food on the table that whole annoying 'business cost and affectivity' thing is the 800lb gorilla tapping you on the shoulder.

Funny. I will try to start saving now.

But if Xeon chips at Neweggdon't cost that much more than core i7 chips, thenwhydo Xeon systems cost so much more? What am I not getting?

Also, where does onelearn about motherboards, processors, cases and such? And do you hand-pick your components, or do you purchase 'bare-bones' kits from TigerDirect, or what?

Thank you,

Norman


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Comp.

>>If you're doing this to pay rent and put food on the table that whole annoying 'business cost and affectivity' thing is the 800lb gorilla tapping you on the shoulder.

OK, good point; but there is perhaps maybe one thing I still don't get.

If:
1.I already have a reasonable CoreDuo system with thirtymonths left on my warranty (long story), but
2. Vegas renders twice as fast with a quad core, and
3. I like Vegas because my poor little head can understand it, and if
4. I need to get Adobe after that, 'cause everyone says you need Photoshop and After-Effectsif you are doing to do compositing work, and
5. You can work with Adobe realtime ona Matrox,
6. Then why is it wasteful to upgrade?
7. Since I already have warranty coverage for another two and a half years, why not 'stave off' the upgrade for as long as reasonably possible with a simple quad-core upgrade, and then spend a couple of years learning everything about Sony and Adobe before I make the leap to a new system, andAvid? Wouldn't it be less expensive, in the short haul, just to bump this system up just a little bit, and run it till the hard drives fall apart?

>>In my opinion you get FCP, Vegas, Premiere and a host of others when you can't afford an Avid setup!

Or is the real point just to get to an Avid system with SLI as quickly as possible, and therefore spending moneyon upgrades justprolongsthe agony?


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Norman,

All this discussion has given me an idea for my next seminar!

In your last post you brought up 8 questions that combined are the crux of the 'new equipment purchase dillemma.' All your questions are indeed valid and as you expand your equipment requirements you'll have to hash over similar issues with cameras, lights, etc., etc. The answer will be found in your research and planning your editing pipeline to best suit your budget and skillset. So you say Vegas is your choice because 'your mind can understand it', then base your current workflow around it. You will need phoshop and afx (there are other programs but these work best in my pipeline) to supplement your graphics and mographics creation and fortunately Vegas supports them (though not as strong as Premiere obviously). It wouldn't hurt to have Cinescore for music creation or if you're a closet musician like myself make the leap to ACID and Sound Forge for music and sound design production. Eventually it will behoove you to learn Premiere and or Avid. Just be advised, those programs function much differently than Vegas and you'll spend time on their 'learning curve' getting used to them.

Again concerning your current system, since you still have years of warranty left try not to do anything that will void it. Make certain as to what you can upgrade on your own and what you can't through Dell's tech support (and get it in writing.) In the meantime, while you're researching your potential new system, increase your knowledge and ability with what you have. I have found that after pushing the limits of a system with 'noticeable limits' beyond them makes me 'fly' when I move up to one with less. Imagine working in a confined space and then moving into a bigger space and you'll get the idea.

Concerning parts (mobo's and such), research and trial 'n' error. Certain brands usually produce good results (ASUS, EVGA, MSI to name a few) but for every ringing endorsement, you'll find a 'whatapieceo$&&((#!) story. For years I bought my gear from Tiger Direct and a local parts distributor. Once my company got listed as a dealer, we now get our stuff directly from a wholesaler. I still recommend TD for those starting out. However, if you don't mind paying sales tax it may be better to build a relationship with a local computer parts store to cut down on turnaround time on returns if you get 'lemony fresh' parts. Oh and I order parts separately. It'smore cost effective to by a prebuilt workstation than a bare bones unit.

Concerning Matrox, do a comparison with other similar capture cards like Blackmagic (pc/mac) and AJA (mac or pc) to get an idea for what you're looking for in capture, editing and output. All three support premiere, but BM also supports Vegas. Also, BM has capture card solutions that won't set you back $795 - $4k like Matrox if you are budget concious. Not talking against Matrox, but it helps to know your options.

Lastly, work your way up to an Avid setup. Now that Avid has all but abandoned their XPress Pro line for Media Composer, you'll have to spend more money putting together a system that will run it properly and acquire software to compliment your use of it (again, phoshop-afx-etc.) That's a much bigger investment and it will be a much more feasable jump when you've honed your skills as an editor and have a profit margin to justify the costs.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

>>All this discussion has given me an idea for my next seminar!

Well, I am glad if I can be of some help. You are an excellent teacher, and I feel like all I've got is questions.

I think that is anexcellent plan, and I will try to follow your advice. Thank you.Thank you also for your encouragement to take a closer look at the various boxes and cards.

I went to the Avid site, and got completely blown away. I understand what Avid Media Composer is, but what are:
Nitrix DX
Mojo DX
DS
?

I will have to go back and take a fresh look at the spec page when I get time (I am on deadline right now), but can you please give me a short, one-line description of which one does what, and which one I need (or perhaps more accurately, the questions I need to ask myself in figuring out which hard/soft package I need)? Obviously the DS does the most: Do I need that? Or where do I shoot? And how do I know where I need to shoot? I think your suggestion to focus on how I can know what I need to do is an excellent one.

I was not able to discover what each package really is. Some seem like they are both a software package, and also a turn-key hard/soft package?

I guess I can call Avid and get their sales pitch, but any help you can give me as a real knowledgeable user would be very much appreciated.

Thank you,

Norman


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Norman,

You're welcome. Normally, I charge for such in-depth info but I was in your place 10 years ago and had to learn all this on my own. Not fun.

Mojo DX and Nitris DX are hardware/software breakout boxes (a simplistic term) which are souped up versions of the Matrox card you're so interested in. Actually, they are more similiar to Black Magic Design's Multi-Bridge Pro2 and Eclipse. These all give you external hardware acceleration for rendering, gas up your HD editing capabilities and give you connections for SDI, HD-SDI, HDMI and support for high-end video formats like XDCAM and 2k with the Black Magic boxes (I'm sure the Symphony version does 2k+.)

Now for the fun part. You may be able to choke down the cost of Media Composer software, but the lowest end of the DX line (Mojo) starts at $10k ($8k for the upgrade.) The MC DX version comes in around $25k and the DS (for news broadcasting) is in the same neighborhood. The Symphony version... fuggeddaboutit! Not to mention, that Avid strongly advises you get an approved turnkey system so they will guarantee that it will work with the system (for pc look at HP and Dell.) Those systems with the minimum of RAM, Dual Quads, good GPU and 1 harddrive start in the $8k price range. Like I said, you might consider building up to an avid system.

Now, you can put together a similar setup for a LOT LESS buy putting a system together like we've been discussing and getting a multi-bridge since it supports your current editing platform (Vegas 8.0b+) and Premiere CS3+. Again I stress, in your initial stages your mantra should be 'spend no more than needed'. When you're bringing in production profits to justify the move to Avid then by all means do so. Now on the other hand, with said built system you would be capable of putting out high-quality content more than suitable for distribution and broadcast. And you wouldn't have spend $50 *&^%%$#~!!! Grand to do it. The producer in me hates spending money, apologies.

So why get any of the above pieces of hardware? Increased capability, higher quality of content and expanded range of output. As I've said before, you just have to tailor your choice based upon your pipeline, skillset and budget.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

>>And you wouldn't have spend $50 *&^%%$#~!!! Grand to do it.

Wow. Fifty thousand dollars? I'm out.

>>You're welcome. Normally, I charge for such in-depth info but I was in your place 10 years ago and had to learn all this on my own. Not fun.

Well I really appreciate it. It is helping me a lot. I think the Fifty thousand dollar thing finally snapped things into perspective, what you are talking about on a budget. OK, so fifty thousand dollars is out...so now we have to figure out where my budget actually is.

>>Again I stress, in your initial stages your mantra should be 'spend no more than needed'.

I think that is the wisdom.

Norman


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

>>Mojo DX and Nitris DX are hardware/software breakout boxes (a simplistic term) which are souped up versions of the Matrox card you're so interested in. Actually, they are more similiar to Black Magic Design's Multi-Bridge Pro2 and Eclipse. These all give you external hardware acceleration for rendering, gas up your HD editing capabilities and give you connections for SDI, HD-SDI, HDMI and support for high-end video formats like XDCAM and 2k with the Black Magic boxes (I'm sure the Symphony version does 2k+.)

I'm thinking if I were into multi-million-dollar stuff, such as editing a weekly television show, or something, then fifty grand for a computer would not be a big deal. The need for speed of editing would outweigh the cost, because of the budgets involved. However, at my level, right now, when I am just trying to get started, and just trying to scrape by, I think you are definitely right, that I should 'spend no more than needed.'

The only reason I am hot on the Matrox is that Videoguys recommends it. They seem to be geared towards the average 'home user' rather than the pro level (i.e., they target basically where I am at), and they keep touting the Matrox for speeding up Premiere and Adobe in general. I tried looking at the BlackMagic cards, and basically it all flew right over my head.

>>Now, you can put together a similar setup for a LOT LESS buy putting a system together like we've been discussing and getting a multi-bridge since it supports your current editing platform (Vegas 8.0b+) and Premiere CS3+.

I'm not sure I understand. Maybe I misunderstand what Matrox and these other cards do? My understanding was that the Matrox RT.X2 makes Premiere and AFX render and preview in real time, in HD. So my thought was to speed up the workflow by adding a hardware card. Do the Eclipse and the Multi-Bridge Pro 2 also allow for rendering and preview in real time?

I guess what really piqued my attention was when you mentioned Sony. A BlackMagic multi-bridge can speed up Sony Vegas 8.1?

Thank you very much for your help.

Norman


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Comp.

OK, considering that I'm on a budget, and my watch-phrase needs to be 'spend no more than needed', you are recommending some boxes that cost $1.5-10K.

>>Actually, they are more similiar to Black Magic Design's Multi-Bridge Pro2 and Eclipse. These all give you external hardware acceleration for rendering, gas up your HD editing capabilities and give you connections for SDI, HD-SDI, HDMI and support for high-end video formats like XDCAM and 2k with the Black Magic boxes (I'm sure the Symphony version does 2k+.)

I apologize, but I amignorant.I went to the BlackMagic site and got all confused. Could you please explain what these multi-bridges will do for me that the Matrox box will not? This is from the Videoguys' website:

>>Key features of Matrox RTX2LE
Matrox RTX2 LE extends the capabilities of the Adobe software with many important benefits.

  • Realtime, mixed-format, multi-layer workflows that combine HD and SD material from analog and digital sources
  • Realtime Matrox Flex CPU effects - color correction, speed changes, chroma/luma keying and many more
  • Realtime and accelerated Matrox Flex GPU effects - 2D/3D DVE, blur/glow/soft focus, shine and many more
  • Extensive camera support including many new models from Canon, JVC, Panasonic, and Sony
  • Native HDV 1080i, HDV 1080p, HDV 720p (JVC ProHD), Panasonic P2 MXF 720p, and MPEG-2 4:2:2 I-frame HD editing
  • Native DV, DVCAM, DVCPRO, Panasonic P2 MXF SD, and MPEG-2 4:2:2 I-frame SD editing
  • Realtime playback of 32-bit MPEG-2 I-frame AVI files with alpha in HD and SD
  • Realtime mixed-format multi-cam
  • Realtime high-quality downscaling for analog SD output from an HD timeline
  • Accelerated export to Blu-ray, DVD, multimedia formats including Flash Video, and Adobe Clip Notes
  • WYSIWYG for Adobe After Effects, Bridge, and Photoshop, Autodesk Combustion and 3ds Max, eyeon Fusion, NewTek LightWave 3D, and Windows Media Player with dynamic Alt+Tab switching
  • Composite, Y/C, HD/SD analog component input and output


<hr />

Matrox Mx.tools 4.0 provides the following new features:

  • Earlier versions of Adobe Premiere Pro are not supported so if you're still using CS2 or CS3 click here for our complete line of Adobe CS4 upgrades.
  • Support for the 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows Vista Business or Ultimate allows users to break the memory limitations of 32-bit operating systems and install more than 4 GB of RAM on their system for improved stability and performance. Vista 64-bit also breaks the 2 terabyte disk-size limitation which exists in 32-bit operating systems. Microsoft Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Business, and Windows Vista Ultimate (32-bit versions) are also supported.
  • WYSIWYG support for Adobe Encore CS4 lets you preview video played back from the timeline on your video monitor by setting the player for your project to Matrox Player (available on the Advanced page of the Project Settings dialog box).
  • Anew DVI monitor calibration utility turns your DVI monitor into a true-color video display for use with SD and HD video. Controls for hue, chroma, contrast, brightness, and blue-only let you adjust and control your DVI monitor exactly as you would a broadcast HD/SD video monitor.

From my know-nothing standpoint, that seems not too bad for about a grand.

So what do these othercards do, that the Matrox card does not do?

Thank you,

Norman


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Norman,

I'm not sure which BMD product you looked at for $10k. The most expensive item I suggested you check out is the multi-bridge pro2 $1.5k which is in the neighborhood of the Matrox product you've described. As for Videoguys, they are a reputable co' and I have checked out their build specs from time to time. However, never forget that they are trying to sell you something. Their reccomendations may be solid, I just wanted you to know there are alternatives and before you 'oversell' yourself on a particular piece of gear, take a look at some others.

You've struck a good point about 'defining what your budget is.' You have to base your equipment / software choices on the current scope of work you're looking to do. You're right, when you're pulling down multi-hundreds of $k or multi-million dollar budgets then factoring in a high-end editing system is just part of the plan and no big deal.

Here's a good review of the mulitbridge pro2 by Studio Monthly, the specs from BMD and an articleabout upgrading gear at the higher-endthat will address your questions far better than I:

http://studiodaily.com/studiomonthly/currentissue/ROI-Reviews-Blackmagic-Design-Multibridge-Pro_10687.html

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/multibridge/techspecs/

http://www.studiodaily.com/main/work/Upgrading-Your-Pipeline-but-when_10603.html

Lastly, before you decide on any piece of gear or software do an 'issues with' search and read through the various tech forums to find out what benefits / problems others have with said items. Many times critical points others have already dealt with will arise and can help you make a much more informed choice. And don't blow your circuts trying to ingest the tech info all at once. I've got a tech gene stronger than most and I have to step back from it all on occasion and just say, 'okay, that one'. Check your options, weigh your choices against your real-world parameters and make your decisions. No matter what you get, there will still be things to contend with and you'll have to work them out. It is highly unlikely that anything you buy will work at 100% for 100% of the time (despite what any macie will tell you) so just try to make the most informed choice you can.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Comp.

>>I just wanted you to know there are alternatives and before you 'oversell' yourself on a particular piece of gear, take a look at some others.

OK. Good point. I do need to check out the alternatives and not get 'over-sold.'

>>http://studiodaily.com/studiomonthly/currentissue/ROI-Reviews-Blackmagic-Design-Multibridge-Pro_10687.html

I liked this article, buta lot of it went over my head. Does this box do everything that the Matrox RT.X2 does, plus it also translates to FCP (in case I ever get a Mac)?

>>Now, you can put together a similar setup for a LOT LESS buy putting a system together like we've been discussing and getting a multi-bridge since it supports your current editing platform (Vegas 8.0b+) and Premiere CS3+.

Are you saying that this box will accelerate rendering and previews in Sony Vegas 8.1??????? I thought Vegas was processor-only???????

>>http://www.studiodaily.com/main/work/Upgrading-Your-Pipeline-but-when_10603.html

Great article. And it underscores your point that what I really need to be saving up for is an Avid system, in order to maximize productivity.

Thank you for all of your help.

Norman


GlobalShows's picture
Last seen: 5 years 6 months ago
Joined: 04/08/2009 - 5:00pm

Hi Composite 1,

I am a newb here. Looks like you have lots of experience and great advice with NLE systems and I have read this thread with interest. I have a quick question regarding the BMD and Matrox cards you two have been discussing: Will these cards do anything for SD performance? I capture AVI via firewire from my old VX2000 and don't do any HD. My system is bogging down after years of programs and improper maintenance, and as I am preparing to reload everything from the system on up to Adobe CS (1) I am just looking into ways to get better performance. I thought I might also send you my system specs when I get to the office and ask if you think my system is worth upgrading., Thanks


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi GlobalShows.

>>My system is bogging down after years of programs and improper maintenance, and as I am preparing to reload everything from the system on up to Adobe CS (1) I am just looking into ways to get better performance.

I am sure Comp can help you a lot more than I can, but if your speed problem has to do with years of programs and improper maintenance, then sure, a new machine would help...but what about a simple reformat, and then just load the programs you need on a fresh install?

If you want to buy a new machine, I am sure that would be faster; but if your old machine was fine, why spend the money?

I hope this helps.

Norman


Rambler's picture
Last seen: 5 years 8 months ago
Joined: 02/17/2009 - 12:42am

k, all of this is way over my head but I thought that I'd show you guys something that poped up in my mail box from Tiger Direct.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-Details.asp?EdpNo=4601609&sku=B69-1054

It looks pretty sick and someone could probably build a sweet editing setup with it.
All you'd need was the know-how to put it together, an OS, and maybe some fans and other stuff.... and only for $1000


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Crafters,

I just noticed your input and did not mean to blow you off (sorry about that.)Getting a custom build from a 'builder shop' is quite a viable option. All of our standard workstations are pre-builts and save us a ton of money. I'm at the stage now where I'm listed as a dealer and can get parts at dealer prices (much cheaper than retail) so I can still save more money building a high-endrig than getting someone to do it for me. The advantages of a reputablebuilder shop area) they'll do all the heavy lifting for you (including testing), and b) if they are reputable, they'll save you more money than if you'd got something similarfrom the big names.Eventually, you'll want to take the plunge yourself and build your own. One thing I did was learn from the builders putting together my personal rigs way back when. The first few 'puters I built were all solid (except for one in which the mobo croaked) and there were some 'hair pulling sessions in the early days (WHY ISN'T THIS WORKING!?!?) 10 times out of 10 it turned out to just be my lack of knowledge and the eleventh it was actually the gear or software. I'd always get it cleared up and move on. As I'll continue to state, 'building isn't for everyone'. What I now find not difficult would make many jump off a bridge in frustration (producing's like that too but that's another post.)

Norman,

"I liked this article, buta lot of it went over my head. Does this box do everything that the Matrox RT.X2 does, plus it also translates to FCP (in case I ever get a Mac)?"

Side by side the Matrox andthe Multi-Bridge Prodosimilar things. Bothhave PCIex interface cards and both are breakout boxescombined withthe cards will givesupported NLE programs hardware supported render acceleration. Where they really start to differis in price and scope of input/output. TheMatrox RTX2 has a 'step down' version in theRTX2LE which btw is cheaper and does similar stuff. The Multibridge Pro2 is the 'step down' version of the Multibridge Eclipse which is a muuuuuuuuuuch more affordablealternative to the Avid Nitris line ofbreakout boxes and does nearly the same thing. The Eclipse Pro2 does everything the Eclipse does (except) ithas half the array of pro connections and no cool flashingLED's on the front. That's the huge difference between the Pro2 and the Matrox.The RTX2 breakout boxdoesn't have professional connections for audio and video. No HDMI (for straight to NLE capture),no XLR's, BNC's for HD or SD analog connections, no RS-422 port for remote control of pro decks and no SDI connectors for affordableprocameras like Canon's XH-G1, XL-H1 or JVC's GYHD250. And if the 'Production God's' willing you get hold of a RED ONE it would be a shame not to be able to just hook it up because you don't have an SDI connection. And yes, if you have collaborators who have been rendered hopelesslysubsurvient to the mac empire (that one's for my fellow producer who's been lamenting his wallet lightening purchase of a new G5 setup) then you can easily hook it up to their system and off they go (just wipe up after you're done.) As for whether it will accelerate Vegas, I currently have no answer. Currently, it has drivers to support it but I haven't seen anything more about its performance with Vegas. Lastly, I'd take it in stages; gas your current system far as it can go / you can afford. Then the next system build / get built something with a particular software in mind. The good thing about Avid is they have 'stages' too. Now that Media Composer is their lower - mid-line workhorse they've adapted their breakout boxes to meet the need. Mojo DS is where you'll start (but you'll pay $10k for the software and the breakout box) and those same Production Gods willing, you'll move up to Nitris (cha-CHIIIIINGGGGG!) Either way you may have to buy a pre-built since Avid is certified to work only on HP's, Mac's and maybe specific Dell's. If you research your parts well, you'll probably be able to build something that will run it without grief.

Global,

Welcome aboard. And yes they will enhance SD performance. Ohy! You're draggin' the old workhorse along aint'cha? I'm not too sure either of these setups are going to work for you. If your system's mobo doesn't have a PCIex slot fuggeddaboutit! Also, much as I resist getting on the software upgrade 'merry-go-round' Adobe runs us on (I upgrade every other version at max. Those of you who just bought CS4, 5 is due out next year), CS 3, 4 or 5 should be in your immediate future. Yeah, just post your spec's and I'll 'survey the devastation'. Hopefully, I won't have to grab the paddles and yell, "CLEAR!!!"

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


CraftersOfLight's picture
Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: 02/17/2009 - 5:42am
Plus Member

Comp

No worries. I threw that out there as an option to the build your own to be done with as any saw fit. Running it as a bare bones build type, let them do the dirty work, then you add to it when youget it home sometimes makes the task easier.

Life is not a guided tour nor a destination. It is a journey. Take the time to enjoy your family, friends and surroundings. Build memories. Share experiences. Travel at sight speed not light speed. (C)


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Comp.

>>The Multibridge Pro2 is the 'step down' version of the Multibridge Eclipse which is a muuuuuuuuuuch more affordablealternative to the Avid Nitris line ofbreakout boxes and does nearly the same thing.

You're not kidding. I priced the Avid Nitris, and they were anywhere from $14-28K. In contrast, the Multibridge Eclipse is only about $1500, while the Matrox is about $1200 (or less for the diminutive version). But it sounds like the Multibridge does a whole lot more.

So the Multibridge Eclipse is not only compatible with CS4, but also with Avid, andaccelerates Avid?

If it accelerates Avid, then that would be a huge advantage over the Matrox, and for not very muchmore money.


GlobalShows's picture
Last seen: 5 years 6 months ago
Joined: 04/08/2009 - 5:00pm

<<I am sure Comp can help you a lot more than I can, but if your speed
problem has to do with years of programs and improper maintenance, then
sure, a new machine would help...but what about a simple reformat, and
then just load the programs you need on a fresh install?

If you want to buy a new machine, I am sure that would be faster; but if your old machine was fine, why spend the money?>>

Norman,

Yeah, that's what I am doing at the moment. However, I can't say I ever thought the old setup was "fine". I always wished it was faster and less buggy, and now I think it probably behooves me to upgrade to CS4. I am working with an HTT P4, DDR (1), and an X600 gpu. it seems like doing justice to CS4 requires a 64 bit OS and some seriously upgraded hardware. I actually produce live entertainment, and so shooting and editing my own promo is an important step, but not a full time pursuit. My desktop system used to be used for everything related to my business, which occasionally includes video production, and DVD authoring. However, I was on the road creating and touring my last show for about three years and most everything had to get done on my laptop. Now that I am working out of the office pretty much full time again (and since the hideous death of the laptop) I need to get back to using the full CS package to develop new projects including video, audio, brochures, web, etc..



NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Global.

>>Yeah, that's what I am doing at the moment. However, I can't say I ever thought the old setup was "fine". I always wished it was faster and less buggy, and now I think it probably behooves me to upgrade to PS4. I am working with an HTT P4, DDR (1), and an X600 gpu. it seems like doing justice to PS4 requires a 64 bit OS and some seriously upgraded hardware. I actually produce live entertainment, and so shooting and editing my own promo is an important step, but not a full time pursuit. My desktop system used to be used for everything related to my business, which occasionally includes video production, and DVD authoring. However, I was on the road creating and touring my last show for about three years and most everything had to get done on my laptop. Now that I am working out of the office pretty much full time again (and since the hideous death of the laptop) I need to get back to using the full CS package to develop new projects including video, audio, brochures, web, etc..

Well, it sounds to me like you could use a new machine, but Comp is the one who knows, so I'll let him comment.


GlobalShows's picture
Last seen: 5 years 6 months ago
Joined: 04/08/2009 - 5:00pm

<<If your system's mobo doesn't have a PCIex slot fuggeddaboutit! Also,
much as I resist getting on the software upgrade 'merry-go-round' Adobe
runs us on>>

Hi Comp,

Yeah. I ended up on this thread because I want to upgrade my software suite and feel my system is way outdated for the potential power of CS4. I was looking into the cost of a new 64bit system and considering building it to stretch the budget. I kind of want to upgrade the old system, but I think I could only salvage the case and the drives. It just seems such a waste to toss out a perfectly good puter (processor, mobo, ram & gpu) just because it maybe isn't up to CS4 standards. So, I'll probably end up with a new system to dedicate to CS4 and keep this one for other tasks. Either way I really don't NEED a new camera so I was wondering if an accelerator should be on my wish list in a non HD NLE environment. So, you have answered Ymy question. Much appreciated. I'll shoot you a post tomorrow with my system specs and I will very much appreciate your input on just how far behind the times my hardware is for PS4. I would love to not have to spend the money for a new workstation, but I just can't abide painfully slow render times, crashing while scrubbing, etc. Thanks.


GlobalShows's picture
Last seen: 5 years 6 months ago
Joined: 04/08/2009 - 5:00pm

<<Well, it sounds to me like you could use a new machine, but Comp is the one who knows, so I'll let him comment.>>

Thanks for your input Norman. I checked out the VideoGuys after reading your earlier posts (before I ever posted here), and their latest DIY system sounds awesome for the money. I do worry about running into trouble and having nobody to call for support though...


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Global.

>>I do worry about running into trouble and having nobody to call for support though...

I hear that loud and clear.

I think perhaps someone like Comp, who has a lot of machines, and whodoes enough business to get classified as a wholesalerprobably needs to build his own systems:
a: because he loves it, and
b: because it is cheaper (and in that order).

However, speaking only for myself, while I love learning about this stuff, I cannot afford to get hammered by downtime. If Avid is worth the cost of the softwarebecause it saves time in editing, then it makes sense that there is also a 'worth it' factor for taking away technical support headaches.

What we are really discussing here is the old"Make or Buy" question (hence the name of the thread, "To build, or not to build...that is the question." Or in other words, it is the old "Time is Money" equation; and the variables are different for each of us.

I don't know anything about Comp's business, but my guess is thatsomeone likeComphas enough machines, and enough guys working for him thatit is cheaper for him to educate himself on the tech aspects, and handle the tech issues in house. He loves it, plus he savesmoney, and gainsexpertise he would not otherwise get, which also helps him in a myriad of ways. Therefore, it is 'worth it' to him to handle the tech issues in house, rather than hiring the job out, simply because of the old 'economy of scale' factor. It would also be worth it if he was trying to build a larger business.

However, speaking only for myself,I amon a weekly posting deadline,and if I get knocked down for x number ofdays (or longer)having todeal with a tech support problem, then I'm toast for that week (which is not pretty).I have so many other irons in the fire thatI cannot afford to take time out to learn how to conquer all of the tech aspects.Just like I need my car to stay up, Ineed my machine to stay up; and if it does not, I need help.

Actually, as anaside,I drive used cars, but I have four of them, and I pay a mechanic to maintain them. But that is only because I used to work on cars, and so I know a lot about them, which today equates to, "I know what to buy, and what not to buy." But if I did not know about cars, then I would probably buy new, just to take the headache away. The thing I am still pondering for myself is that for me, computers have kind of replaced cars, in a sense. Computers are not what I do, but they are an integral part of what I do, and by working on them I get to know more about them, which also has ancilliary benefits. However, with so many other irons in the fire, there is a point of diminishing returns. Basically, I just need my machine to work; and learning about computers is just another way of getting the 'best bang for the buck' (read: Time is Money).

Here is what little I have learned about purchasing a machine from Dell:

While Dell Home and Home Office technical support is really not the best (i know more than some of those guys), Dell Gold TechnicalSupport (Business) has been nothing short of astonishing. For about $500.00 I got five years coverage byschool-trained North American technicians,24x7 phone or email chat(your choice), and next-day repair service (even if I drop it). Maybe that's not worth it to everyone, but to me it is worth $500.00 (and you can even get 4-hour service for a couple of hundred more).

Why is it worth it to me? Formy video editing workstationwas a Pentium D 930 at 3.0 GHz (long story). It was almost three years old, and it went down for the count about four months ago, and after troubleshooting for a while Dell gave me a spanky new Dell Precision T3400 Workstation with a CoreDuo and a larger power supply (525W) to replace it.The only real thing is that the chipset won't run SLI (even if the power supply was big enough); but I justlearned that Avid will support it if I get a Quadro FX3700 (and a slower processor???????).

>http://www.avid.com/resources/qualified/MediaComposer-NewsCutter-Qualified-PC-Workstations.pdf

I'm guessing that Avid will run on a CoreDuo Quad Q9650 at 3.0 GHz, but the point is thatDell Gold Technical Support has been very good to me. (And no, Dell is not paying me to say that.)

So while I am going to try to stretch this machine out for as long as I can while I learn Sony and CS4 (and maybe get thatMultiBridge Pro 2 Comp is talking about),once I get my dollars saved up for a new machine that runs Avid, I am definitely going to take a long hard look at Dell's offerings before I do anything else, because as a small time operator with lots of other irons in the fire, the Dell Gold serviceis worth something to me.

The only thing I would add is that have noticedthe manufacturers charge an ultra-premium for some components that you can add later yourself. For example, Apple charges an ultra-premium for RAM, and Dell charges an ultra-premium for hard drives ($506.00 for each 1TB HDD????). So I would probably purchase 1 GB ofRAM and one boot HDD (or maybe two HDD's in RAID), and then go pickup (faster) Corsair or Crucial low-latency RAM, and Seagate HDD's warrantied for five years. But even when I buy the components, I would take alook at their service, and not just their price.

At least as asmall-time operator,the lowest price is not always where it is at. Get up and running and taking away all the headaches is worth some amount of money. For Comp, assembling his own machines probably makes the most sense, because he has a lot of them, and because he gets wholesale prices. But for me, because I only have a few systems, it just seems worth it to have someone there to walk me throughtroubleshooting, and replace hardware components as needed.

I suppose one could accuse me of makingan argument for Apple/Mac, but I don't think I will go that route. I think I will probably stay PC, just because so much more software is available. But I will probably also stick to Avid certified machines, atleast as a base, which probably means Dell or HP. (In all due fairness to HP, I probably need to take a lookwhat they have to offer also, because as good as Dell Gold has been to me, a lot of professionals use HP's).



composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

"To build or not to build, that is the question...."

Hey all,

I'm glad to see this post is catching on. I know that there are numerous folks out there who are 'starering down the barrel' of having to accquire a new system and this issue comes up. Looks like more folks are tossing in their input and already I'm seeing some great points and really good solutions.

As for why I build, it came purely out of 'self-defense'. To cut down on downtime and costs I had to learn how to do it myself. After I left a large and well-funded production house, I wanted to stay in the biz but could not (more like no way in H377!) afford to do so in the same manner of my old gig. Fortunately, the 'Digital Revolution' was in the toddler stageso I realized with a lot more ingenuity and some cash I could continue working just on a smaller scale. Eventually, as the revolution progressed gear got more powerful/ affordableI could 'scale up' my capabilities. Crafters and Norman both bring up excellent points concerning purchasing pre-built systems as either bare bones or complete systems. In my experience I've used both types and in-house builds. Now I only build systems intended for graphic, NLE, or animation work. When I'm fortunate to have techs on hand (high turnover rate 'cause these guys learn what they need to know then roll) I can be more 'loving' toward the building process like a grandparent (just when it starts being a pain, 'here it's your kid you deal with it.) When it's just me, then I have to be exceptionally efficient putting a new system together. One of the few rules I will admit to other than 'stay flexible', is 'always have a backup system up and running'. I never do a build without another system capable of handing the workload on hand.

Concerning 'what to do with an older system?' that's not too tough a question. Realocate it to tasks it's best suited for. Our current 'old workhorse' was built back in '07 are built for much longer upgrade cycles than ever before.

This post was longer, but for some reason it cut off the last quarter of it.

Anyway, here are some of the links I included:

For newbie builders checkout these: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=building+pc+rig&aq=4&oq=building+pc

To see some of the work my builds have contributed to go to my company site at: www.dreadedenterprises.com

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Rambler,

Welcome to the thread. Yeah,sometimesInotice I'm in 'deep water' with this stuff too! You're on the right track though. Tiger Direct is a great resource for inexpensivepre-built and barebones kits.I've gotten gear from them for years with only two glitches spaced years apart. Now that my outfit is listed as a Dealer (we build our own higher-end rigs and sell them on occasion) we get out gear from a wholesale firm. However, I still recommend TD especially for those breaking into 'the family biz' as a hobby or as a vocation. I do envy a young kid like yourself getting into this at this stage of your life. If you stick with it, by the time you're 30 you'll be building stuff like 'IRON MAN' in your back yard!

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Norman,

That GTX 260 is one nice looking card. Yeah, Media Composer should support it (minimum of NVidia Quadro FX 560 or higher or any card in the NVIDA Geoforce class of GPU's). Also, it's a Dual Link capable card. My Geoforce 8800GT's are dual linked (1024GB total memory) and I am sold on multi-cards. Those 260's are 896 RAM instead of 1GB or more like the Quadro's, but a single or dual should get you running quite well. Funny how gamer cards though not constructed specifically for NLE work will get you not only in the ballpark, but in the rotation if you pick the right ones.

"At least as asmall-time operator,the lowest price is not always where it is at. Get up and running and taking away all the headaches is worth some amount of money. For Comp, assembling his own machines probably makes the most sense, because he has a lot of them, and because he gets wholesale prices. But for me, because I only have a few systems, it just seems worth it to have someone there to walk me throughtroubleshooting, and replace hardware components as needed."

Actually, we only keep around 5-6 rigs (including admin workstations andlaptops) on active duty at any given time we're working on large projects. The rest of the time it's no more than 3. I started doing this when it was just me and 1 system I was using for everything. The reason it's not that big a stretch for me now is because I've been doing this a while. As long as you keep your 'bread and butter' machine up and running, you can work on your builds separately (nights and weekends are my SOP.) Doing it that way keeps the pressure off but will motivate you to get finished (because no matter what system or platform you have, something will cause it to go down when you least want it to so you'll want to have that new rig ready to go when it does.)

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


GlobalShows's picture
Last seen: 5 years 6 months ago
Joined: 04/08/2009 - 5:00pm

?<<<Yeah, just post your spec's and I'll 'survey the devastation'. Hopefully, I won't have to grab the paddles and yell, "CLEAR!!!"Yeah, just post your spec's and I'll 'survey the devastation'. Hopefully, I won't have to grab the paddles and yell, "CLEAR!!!">>>

Hey Comp,

Thanks in advance for looking this over. It is an off the shelf Sony Viao R VGC-RA826G. I only added a SCSI controller and storage.

3.4GHz Pentium 4 550 with HTT (shows up as two proc's at 3.4 & 3.39), 800 MGz FSB, 1MB L2 Cache, 1GB PC-3200 400MGz DDR, ATI Radeon X600 XT 256 MB, system on WD 250GB 7200 rpm SATA, storage on Promise 2+0 Stripe SCSI RAID0 (2 400GBWD drives), Realtek audio card, Windows XP Media Center edition SP2 (had trouble upgrading to SP3 but I'm getting to it).

Can't explain why I never added a gig of RAM (the packaging says 2GB max - does that still hold true, or was that due to the limitations on chips back then? Can I addbigger and/or better chips?).

It never seemed particularly "fast" or "solid" running CS1, but it was light years ahead of what I had before. Anyway I guess I could max out the RAM and maybe get a new video card, or maybe more? But the question is whether I will have a decent CS4 platform. I kind of doubt it, and in the end I will still be answering the "buy or build" question. But for now, whaddya tink? Is this worth tweaking on?


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Comp.

>>As long as you keep your 'bread and butter' machine up and running, you can work on your builds separately (nights and weekends are my SOP.) Doing it that way keeps the pressure off but will motivate you to get finished (because no matter what system or platform you have, something will cause it to go down when you least want it to so you'll want to have that new rig ready to go when it does.)

Well that is a good point. Even when the Dell tech comes out the next day, sometimes he still has to order parts, and that takes a while. And Dell often uses 'recycled' parts, and the reason they replaced two of my machines was because they were down for months. So either way I do need to have a second system on hand, don't I?

Good point.

Norman


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Comp.

>>The reason it's not that big a stretch for me now is because I've been doing this a while. As long as you keep your 'bread and butter' machine up and running, you can work on your builds separately (nights and weekends are my SOP.) Doing it that way keeps the pressure off but will motivate you to get finished (because no matter what system or platform you have, something will cause it to go down when you least want it to so you'll want to have that new rig ready to go when it does.)

Does anyone make a simple switch so that you can switch between two workstations, and still use the same two monitors? Or do I need a second set of monitors as well?

Thank you,

Norman


CraftersOfLight's picture
Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: 02/17/2009 - 5:42am
Plus Member

There are many styles of KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) switchers out there that allow you to do that. VGA stylemonitor ones are the cheapest at around $45, Then DVI and HDMI. They get expensive (for me at $150+) when you want toswitch sound as well.

Life is not a guided tour nor a destination. It is a journey. Take the time to enjoy your family, friends and surroundings. Build memories. Share experiences. Travel at sight speed not light speed. (C)


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

>>There are many styles of KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) switchers out there that allow you to do that. VGA stylemonitor ones are the cheapest at around $45, Then DVI and HDMI. They get expensive (for me at $150+) when you want toswitch sound as well.

Thanks, Crafters.

Norman


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Global,

You've got a fair rig for doing 'less than broadcast quality DV'. However, if you want to work in HD (and you will) your current system won't push it. Though your CPU's fast enough, you're going to need at minimum 2GB of RAM (4GB or more is better) to help with rendering and other computer processes. Those 'limitations' you mentioned were because of the mobo. The motherboard absolutely dictates how much RAM capability your system will have. Is that a 'Promise' Card you're running the RAID array off of? In our old 'workhorse' (built back in '02 and still going) we couldn't get the fancy onboard raid setup to work. I stuck a $40 Promise card in there and it's still running. Those things were awesome. Also, an 800GB RAID for DV's not bad at all. Now if you're doing uncompressed long-form projects with effects, transitions and animations that space will evaporate quick. On your next choice consider building your RAID with larger drives. On our latest build we raided 3 750GB WD Caviars for a total of 2.25TB for less than $500 last year. Their much cheaper now (crap!)

In my honest opinion it's time to move to another system. Your Vaio will make a good backup system for DV and or an audio workstation. I don't know how serious you are with your workload, but it's really convenient when you can switch to another system for different tasking while another system is rendering or exporting. Concerning 'buying or building', throughout this post many of the points good and P.I.A. have been mentioned and will apply to your situation. You don'tneed the 'tech gene' to put together your own rig as the hardest part is getting past what you don't know. Of course that's similar to editing, shooting, producing, writing and just about everything involved with this biz. Fortunately, there are plenty of knowledgeable people around online and in the real-world to help point the way. The comfort I get from our builds is knowing exactly what went into it, how it's configured and how much it cost. There is a certain amount of comfort from thetech support that comes with a purchased product. Often, it gets annoying for me because most tech's are used to dealing with people who know 'jack sprat' about the gear they're using and talk to you like Doctor's do (tell me, what part of your tummy hurts?) I can't count how many times I've spoken to support personnel and I knew more than they did (Adobe, can you hear me?) I've mentioned it before on this thread that no matter which way you go, make sure the system fits the minimum specs of the software your planning to use. Far as OS goes, WinVista Business is a worthy successor to XP Pro. I'd avoid Ultimate for a professional tool like an NLE. Save the space for the graphic, editing and authoring programs you're going to be working with. Besides, do you really need to be able to watch tv on your workstation? I may be old fashioned, but that stuff is more useful on a system dedicated to presentations.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 22 hours ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

"Well that is a good point. Even when the Dell tech comes out the next day, sometimes he still has to order parts, and that takes a while. And Dell often uses 'recycled' parts, and the reason they replaced two of my machines was because they were down for months. So either way I do need to have a second system on hand, don't I?"

Norman,

Yes. When you reach a certain point with your workload you'll need a second system. If nothing more than during the scenario I mentioned with Global concerning going to another machine while another is rendering. In my case, it was high time we had a system capable of doing mid-level finishing work (for finishing like you see in the movies you're going to spend a lot of money!) Now we don't have the same scheduling conflicts for editing time (HOORAH!) and working on multiple projects simultaneously is much less of a hassle.

The most important reason we build our own NLE's is we don't fool with any of that 'recycled parts' crap. Components are far too inexpensive these days to roll like that especially for what those companies charge you for doing it. Most component companies are good about warranties and returns. More often it's just cheaper to give you a new one. Now I'm not completely down on refurbed parts as you can save money purchasing them in the short term. However (man there's always one of those in the mix), you don't get the same warranty protections as new parts despite them working as well.I'd much rather get a new replacement component under warranty than pay for another cheaper than new refurbed part (I swear the producer in me hates spending money!)

Contrary to the producer in me, the KVM switch is an alternative but if you're going through the trouble of buying / building a second system, get the monitors. 'Monitors' hesaid? Yes, more than one. Why two monitors? Two monitors will bring an efficientcy boost to yourworkflow. Working with Avid taught me the value of two screens. One monitor contains your source / timeline monitors, timeline and primary controls. The second holds the bins, audio level meters, effects editors, effects catalogs and whatever else right where you can see them without constantly having to switch in and out of 'docked menus' despite whatAdobe thinks. When it comes to monitors, go big as you can afford. The more space you have to work on thesmoother your workflow gets. Cool thing about monitors these days is just like other computercomponents, you can get good ones for not a whole lot of money.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Comp.

>>When you reach a certain point with your workload you'll need a second system. If nothing more than during the scenario I mentioned with Global concerning going to another machine while another is rendering.

Good point.But do you need"Adobe RGB" monitors, or whatever they are called? Or will a couple of good Samsungs and Color Correction software do in a pinch, for a guy who is just starting out?

>>The most important reason we build our own NLE's is we don't fool with any of that 'recycled parts' crap. Components are far too inexpensive these days to roll like that especially for what those companies charge you for doing it.

Hmm. Another good point. (Is there an echo?) Is it your experience that custom components have a better mean time between failures than Dell or HP?

>> In my case, it was high time we had a system capable of doing mid-level finishing work (for finishing like you see in the movies you're going to spend a lot of money!)

And what is 'finishing'? (You mentioned it in a few other posts, but I never did find out what it is.) Is it just high-detailed rendering?

Also, is this a good thread to ask questions about upgrading cameras?

Thanks.

Norman


Pages