MacPro or Macbook Pro for video editing and comping

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    • #47017

      Hi all,

      I have had a look through some of the other posts and I am struggling to
      make an informed decision about which way to go in terms of Mac Pro or Mac Book
      Pro 17″. I currently use PCs and regularly get frustrated by the
      slow performance levels associated with Windows etc. So I am looking to
      switch to Mac as I am hoping that the overall integration in terms of software
      etc. is better executed.

      Where I am struggling is which is going to be the better choice in terms of
      hardware investment between a Mac Pro (and what level of spec to go for if this
      is the best choice) and a 17″ Macbook Pro.

      I shoot and edit video for work to create various training and internal news
      magazine type outputs.

      I tend to shoot on Sony XDCAM EX in both 1080p and 720p as well as receive
      mixed content from a number of sources e.g. MPEG2, MPEG MTS files in 1080 50i
      as well as flash video.

      Often they need to be managed on the same time line either as fully mixed
      content or as nested sequences.

      I have to create various animated comps to accompany voice over sequences
      often made up of text, layered Photoshop images, vector graphics etc. both in
      3D and 2D space with various visual effects applied. These are mainly
      created in After Effects CS4.

      So I was wondering which way to go in terms of Mac and which spec? I
      want to move to Final Cut and make use of icolor as well as use the machine for
      producing After Effects comps for use in my final edited sequences.

      Also is there any specific issues that I would need to be aware of in terms
      using XDCAM EX material in FCP?

      do you need to retender everything as ProRes first?

      and what is the time overhead like if that is a necessary part of the

      I was looking at coupling which ever is the more practical choice with a
      Matrox MXO2 with Max to offload H.264 rendering as ell as providing a good
      means of calibrating an external programme monitor for color grading etc.

      Thanks in advance for any help or guidance provided.

    • #193601

      8 core macpro better investment

    • #193602

      Desktop Mac Pro = power. Get the 8 core, at least 14-16 Gigs RAM, max out your other three HD bays with a minimum of 1T HDs for 3Ts of editing space, plenty for the average independent producer.

      Powerbook Pro = portability. 17″ is overkill and overpriced, go with the 15″ and if you WANT portability and have the budget to do so, max out on memory, get an external portable HD and have at it.

      I went with the late 2008-2009 model 8-core pre-nehaylen (sp?) chip and got a good price as they were closing them out, but at any price a semi-maxed-out Mac Pro is a powerful, dependable system.

    • #193603

      8-core with two 2.26GHz Quad-Cores. I don’t feel the $1400 and $2600 are worth the increase in speed. Instead, use that money for a AJA Kona3 or Kona LHi to output video to your monitor.(more on the Kona below)

      I agree with Earl on the RAM. I’d get it with 16GB since you are doing stuff in AE. 32GB isn’t worth the extra $3200 when 16GB is only a $500 add-on.

      I also agree about the hard drives:

      A 1TB hard drive for your system drive. Only the OS and software should be loaded onto this drive.

      A 1TB hard drive that is organized with folders specific to each individual project. Within each folder should live the FCP editing project and associated media such as, stills, GFX exported from AE, exports of rough cuts, etc.

      A 640GB hard drive for CAPTURE PROJECTS. Capture projects are just what they sound like – FCP Projects specifically for capturing. No need to create a sequence for editing in this project file. Just name the file by client and date, capture, and save. Then start a new FCP project for editing (which should save to your other drive) and copy/paste the clips into that project. The “clips” in FCP are only meta data, so capture projects and editing projects will both be looking for the same media. This is a good way to stay organized. The Capture Projects let you quickly see what was shot on what day and for who, while the editing projects allow you to organize your footage anyway you want while your editing. Make sense?

      A 1TB hard drive for a sound effects and music. iTunes is capable of having multiple libraries, and it’s a great tool for quickly searching for what you want. I suggest you create 2 iTunes libraries that live on this drive – one for SFX and the other for music. If you want another iTunes library for your personal entertainment, I suggest putting that on an external FW800 drive.

      If you are wondering why I suggested your hard drive for capture projects only be 640GB, it’s because I recommend your capture scratch live on a RAID. I suggest the G-Speed es, and connect it to your Mac via eSata.

      Like I said above, I suggest the AJA Kona 3 or Kona LHi. The Kona cards relieve processing power from your CPU, enabling it to do more things. And it’s also the only piece of hardware supported by Color. So if you get the MXO2, you will have no way to output to an external monitor while grading.

      If you want fast H.264 compression, get the Matrox CompressHD. It’s cheap and does faster-than-real-time encoding.

      XDCam does not need to be converted to ProRes before you are EDITING, but you should set your timeline’s compressor setting to ProRes (standard quality) since you are cutting up Long GOP video.

      If you are doing any kind of compositing with XDCam footage, then you definitely must convert to ProRes before hand, which doesn’t take that long and is worth your while. Keep in mind, if you are ever in a situation where you are shooting in a studio, green screen for instance, you can connect a Sony EX3 to a Kona 3 via HD-SDI and capture ProRes directly into FCP…MUCH better than XDCam > ProRes conversion since XDCam is 35mbps. Uncompressed video out of HD-SDI to ProRes is visually lossless.

    • #193604

      Also, don’t blow your money on Apple monitors. You’re already getting an external monitor to judge the quality of your image, why blow money on Apple monitors. Acer makes a really nice 23 inch monitor:

    • #193605

      Unless your instincts point you in the opposite direction from a PC, and you’re tyring to cut costs, I’d geta Core Duo or AMD Athlon PC system (around3 GHz). If a Mac is essential for you, I’d definitely go with the Macbook Pro over the Macbook Air. As for getting the best deal, I’d choose any cheap monitor over any one with the name brand ‘Apple’ marked on them. Like Rob and Earl said, I’d go with a large (but not too large) Pro-quality RAM setup around 8 – 12 GB.High levels ofprocessing and hard disk speed/capacity isalso essential for your situation. 1 – 2 TB with at least 7200 rpm will probably work well. Rob found a great monitor suggestion.

    • #193606

      A pair of Acer 23s is what I use, good suggestion Rob.

    • #193607

      I can’t imagine that the MBP (and I own one) would be able to handle the professional level work that you describe. maybe for some kind of rough field work, but I think you would rapidly find the lack of expansion options, as described above, as the ‘ceiling’ to your work. I have thrown away too much money myself over the years, not buying the “right” setup to begin with. Your experience with Windows is probably similar to mine, in that it seemed that i was going to save some money by starting that way, and rapidly found that the problems in equipment setup and incompatibilities more than cost me what the Mac did. (I still own both high end Windows setups for other work, so I’m not a Mac bigot). Pay me now, pay me later, but given what you have said, I’d spend the money and get the right setup this time around. (Maybe find a used one Ebay?) The consensus here seems Mac. Lastly, wondering about how the rest of you feel about the new iMac if a person was trying to find a lower price point to the MPro. From a processing standpoint, it may be a nice high end amateur workstation? Only concern is graphics and expansion. No slot for video processing… but?

    • #193608

      There would absolutely be benefits dollar-wise AND editing-wise with the new iMac model maxed out. It could most certainly handle a huge amount of the FCP software environment, and someone doing entry level could get by for a while using the included iLife series with iMovie and iDVD. With the quality and affordability of external HD systems available, and the power now given the iMac it would do for a good long time, AND be a GREAT backup/second bay system when a person wanted or needed to go with the Mac Pro.

    • #193609

      I agree. The new iMacs are crazy good. You can max them out to better specs than what I have in my MacPro, which I got Sept 07. Even a new iMac that isn’t maxed out will be fine for editing. The only thing that I see that it cannot handle is the final step of full-resolution finishing, but thats only because you can output to an external monitor unless you output via Firewire, which isn’t the BEST option for that step.

    • #193610

      That’s nice to hear your feedback on the iDVD and iMovie software. I’ve been using them for my more simple needs (currently) and feel they are fine, though I have thought of splurging for Final Cut Pro, as I have some projects on the horizon that are going to be more complex than I’ve tackled before.Recently spent my money buying Final Draft AV to help with my more mundane scripting chores. I lean more towards preproduction with my work than post in my simple stuff. My MBPro works fine for my needs, but it’s SLOW in any kind of processing when sending a final to disk, I simply wander off and do something else for many hours (usually overnight). I assumed that i might get a MacPro soon, but I’d just wait around a bit, didn’t want to spend the money for the full kit just yet. Now with the new iMacs I’m more likely to do that, but I’m environmentally not wild about getting a processor built into a monitor…the processor usually goes first!

    • #193611

      You know, I was about to suggest one of the new iMacs with the i8 processor. They’re pretty good and come with a georgous screen. I think it would pass for what you want. I agree with the 17″ MBP being overkill, and if you want the screen, buy an external one. Acer seems to be popular, I would throw in a vote for them. That’s what I use.

    • #193612

      I edit all my videos using a Macbook Pro 17″ with 4 gig of Ram. The downside is the expense of upgrading Ram and hard drive space is left to externals, but I use it every day to edit using Adobe Premier CS4 HD footage from my HMC40.


    • #193613

      If you wait a bit, say Feb, the MacBook Pro may come with an i5 or i7 processor. My son edited a feature length HD movie with PP CS4 on my 15′ MacBook Pro 2.4 ghz, 4GB Ram, 500GB 7,200 rpm system drive. HD is tough on any computer. If you use FCP you get the ProRes codec which helps a great deal. The MacBook Pros have an express slot where you can at a Matrox mini to speed things up. If you are dealing with HD, you have a big job, you can solve the problem with codecs (don’t try Cineform), hardware acceleration or just frigging horsepower. Gerry in Calgary.

    • #193614

      I think that your desktop would be best, but you can use your Pro. I think that everything Apple is quality and you cannot go wrong.

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