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Old November 4th, 2011, 01:52 PM   #1
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Migrating to FCP

I have been editing with Vegas since 2002, mostly ice skating and some interviews. Now that Vegas Pro 11 is driving me to upgrade my hardware, I am rethinking the computing environment. The Walter Murch interview at the FCPUG also stimulated my brains a bit.

Looking for something in an i7, at least 12GB, a tower. I am thinking of FCP X since I have no legacy projects, no shared network, no XML requirement. Then learn and grow as Apple adds the old capabilities back. If the same system could run Avid then that is a plus.

I do want to author Blu-ray discs as well as DVD. Most of my projects are less than 2 hours. Some fulfillment is done via the web.

I have a Samsung B2330H LCD monitor with a Huey Pro analyzer. It has marginal grey scale and doesn't set up very well. I use a Canon HF-G10 and HV40 (probably replacing this with an XA10 or another G10 in 2012) for the ice rink and the lighting varies greatly in temperature so camera matching is a crap shoot.

Is this a good time to invest in Mac hardware? In the metro DC area, is there a good place to get support for video editing? Is $2k-$3K a good ballpark price range (not including monitor)?

TIA,
Chip
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Old November 5th, 2011, 09:31 PM   #2
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Re: Migrating to FCP

It's always a good time to invest in Mac hardware but you should make an assessment of your editing needs before jumping out of Vegas and into FCPX. For most editing that begins and ends with you FCPX is a good program but your hardware needs are something else. Mac towers use Xeon processors not i7 which Apple uses in their iMac, MacMini and laptop lines. A lot of quality editing can be done on Apple's i7 computers but expansion options are limited outside of FireWire and USB devices. If you plan on using eSATA drives or other high end video options built for the Mac, a tower will be a better choice. Some AVID programs may require a tower.

And a Huey is not a very good monitor adjuster for video work, a Spyder 3 Elite works better but you really need a quality monitor for decent camera matching and a understanding of how to use the vectorscopes in your programs.
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Old November 6th, 2011, 08:11 AM   #3
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Re: Migrating to FCP

Actually all new Macs (except the MacPro) have Thunderbolt connectors and therefore are expandable. Thunderbolt is equal to PCIe 4x (4 lane). Blackmagic, AJA, Matrox all have Thunderbolt I/O. There are Thunderbolt RAIDs (Pegasus) as well as single drives (LaCie). Sonnet has all sorts of stuff coming out. Both Sonnet and Magma have PCIe expansion boxes. I assume the next MacPro or whatever replaces it will have Thunderbolt as well.

The top iMac has two Thunderbolt ports and quad core i7. Speed tests show it as comparable (depending on function) as base model 6 core MacPro.

FCPX now has XML so one can finish grading in Davnici Resolve, There'a a utility that can send to After Effects. Automatic Duck (now EOL) can export OMF.

Macs can run Windows, not only using virtual Parallels and Fusion but directly using Bootcamp. I run Windows 7 on my MacPro for example. I drag and drop files between the to OSs and use Windows only software as needed.

A Towers' advantage at the moment are Xeon CPU (multiple), internal hard drive expansion, GPU replaceable, 4 PCIe slots (GPU in one). Given that Thunderbolt is PCIe (limited to 4x), it will replace most (but not all) PCIe functions. Thunderbolt can be daisychained without speed loss (assuming all Thunderbolt devices).
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Old November 6th, 2011, 10:12 AM   #4
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Re: Migrating to FCP

Yes, Thunderbolt is indeed the solution to the bottlenecks created by the lack of expansion options on the i7 Macs but until we see the working Thunderbolt video equipment (the AJA IO XT, for example, is not shipping until next month, the Blackmagic Intensity is HDMI only) I am not ready to recommend it for high end video work. And the catch here is AVID, while you can run Media Composer on most Mac models, none of the iMacs are qualified to use their support hardware. They don't even mention the MacMini. Perhaps that will change soon.
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Old November 6th, 2011, 10:20 AM   #5
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Re: Migrating to FCP

Blackmagic Ultra is HD-SDI. I've only seen the Intensity under glass but I've seen the others working already. Prerelease versions are already with some developers. They work well.

Avid Media Composer 6, already announced, will be supporting all major third party video i/o, mentioned as part of their announcement.

I suspect iMac would be OK.

MacMini and MacBookAir are a bit underpowered in the GPU department but both run FCPX fine if you're not pushing Motion too hard.
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Old November 6th, 2011, 03:48 PM   #6
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Re: Migrating to FCP

Thanks for the feedback. I'm thinking to get started learning with a Mini and the i7 upgrade, along with 8GB of memory. Generally I try to pay for gear with income from the video work and it isn't clear to me that my ice skating videos will support the pro line. Vegas can continue to work for multi-cam ice skating shoots until I know my way around FCP (and X gets fleshed out).

Chip
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Old November 7th, 2011, 01:34 PM   #7
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Re: Migrating to FCP

I have the newest model 27" 3.4Ghz i7 iMac, which I upgraded to 16gb of RAM. It does very well in FCPX. When it only had 4gb of RAM it did alright, but would occasionally lag, choke or even lock up. But every since I upgraded, it's been nearly seamless. X is a pretty RAM hungry program, and giving it more really unleashes the speed and power of the program and really made it a whole different editing experience for me. So fat and efficient. I have plans to add an SSD to the iMac and to hopefully soon start editing off of Thunderbolt drives, which will both speed things up even more. It's really remarkably snappy even as is, for "just an iMac". With rumors kicking around that the Mac Pro may get the axe, there is a part of me wonder if I even care. I already have all the power I need. If apple were to do that, I don't think it would be because they hate professionals, like many keep espousing, but because they thinkthat that can start cranking all the power you need out of iMacs, MBP's and Thunderbolt peripherals. As to whether or not they're right, I guess we'll have to wait and see...
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Old November 7th, 2011, 02:37 PM   #8
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Re: Migrating to FCP

Ben, you can even put 16GB in a Mini if you want to spend the cash. I'm thinking an ok learning system could start at 8GB in one of the i7's (not the server but taking the option to upgrade an i5) and add peripherals as needed.
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Old November 7th, 2011, 03:30 PM   #9
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Re: Migrating to FCP

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Originally Posted by Ben Fullerton View Post
I have the newest model 27" 3.4Ghz i7 iMac, which I upgraded to 16gb of RAM. It does very well in FCPX. When it only had 4gb of RAM it did alright, but would occasionally lag, choke or even lock up. But every since I upgraded, it's been nearly seamless. X is a pretty RAM hungry program, and giving it more really unleashes the speed and power of the program and really made it a whole different editing experience for me. So fat and efficient. I have plans to add an SSD to the iMac and to hopefully soon start editing off of Thunderbolt drives, which will both speed things up even more. It's really remarkably snappy even as is, for "just an iMac". With rumors kicking around that the Mac Pro may get the axe, there is a part of me wonder if I even care. I already have all the power I need. If apple were to do that, I don't think it would be because they hate professionals, like many keep espousing, but because they thinkthat that can start cranking all the power you need out of iMacs, MBP's and Thunderbolt peripherals. As to whether or not they're right, I guess we'll have to wait and see...
Ben I am looking to upgrade my MAC (1.1 MacPro) in the near future and was looking at the 3.4 i7 iMac myself. When you say FCPX is snappy, is that working with native AVCHD files or ProRes?

I do agree with rumors of Apple doing away with the MacPro line. And Thunderbolt is the reason why. Of course there isn't a ton of TB technology currently available. But figure in the next year or so much more affordable TB solutions should be on the market, form People like Sonnet and the like.

BTW I agree about FCPX being RAM hungry. It seems a lot of current problems seems to be related to FCPX eating up RAm as well. Maybe Apple has to find a way for the program to dump memory as it's running.
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Old November 8th, 2011, 09:18 AM   #10
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Re: Migrating to FCP

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Originally Posted by Chip Gallo View Post
Ben, you can even put 16GB in a Mini if you want to spend the cash. I'm thinking an ok learning system could start at 8GB in one of the i7's (not the server but taking the option to upgrade an i5) and add peripherals as needed.
Yeah, I think 8gb would work pretty well. 4gb was pretty maxed out, 16gb is breezing through, so I suppose 8gb would land somewhere in the middle. I have no issues running X on 16gb with multiple other applications open. I'm sure if you just closed everything you don't need on an 8gb system when you edit, it would be just fine.
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Old November 8th, 2011, 09:38 AM   #11
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Re: Migrating to FCP

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Originally Posted by Michael Liebergot View Post
Ben I am looking to upgrade my MAC (1.1 MacPro) in the near future and was looking at the 3.4 i7 iMac myself. When you say FCPX is snappy, is that working with native AVCHD files or ProRes?

I do agree with rumors of Apple doing away with the MacPro line. And Thunderbolt is the reason why. Of course there isn't a ton of TB technology currently available. But figure in the next year or so much more affordable TB solutions should be on the market, form People like Sonnet and the like.

BTW I agree about FCPX being RAM hungry. It seems a lot of current problems seems to be related to FCPX eating up RAm as well. Maybe Apple has to find a way for the program to dump memory as it's running.
I'm working with either ProRes, H.264, or AVI files. Prores is obviously the quickest. H.264 and AVI are just a little bit slower to work with.

X definitely does seem to have a bit of a memory leak. Takes more and more as the hours go by. My easy fix is just that every time I get to break point in my workflow, I'll just quickly close X and open it back up, and that baselines the RAM usage again.

I think part of the real issue is that Lion is a total Ram slut. Kernel task is regularly using from 800MB-2000MB. And in general, I find that X is much happier on a freshly restarted computer. I tend to leae my computer on a lot, and I can definitely tell the difference trying to edit when it's been on for a while, and had numerous applications opened and closed. I've gotten in the habit, of just restarting my computer quickly before I sit down for any serious editing. Make a difference...
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Old November 8th, 2011, 09:43 AM   #12
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Re: Migrating to FCP

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I think part of the real issue is that Lion is a total Ram slut. Kernel task is regularly using from 800MB-2000MB.
Ben I ams starting to see this more and more across the net.
I am still working on Snow Leopard, as I didn;t want to risk any issues with my current system.

My main concern about a new system (iMac), is that it will come pre-installed with Lion, which I still don't have any desire to go to. Especially since it seems from reading that a lot of people who have had issues with FCPX seem to be running Lion and not SL.

Not surprising since both are new developments by Apple.
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Old December 1st, 2011, 08:29 AM   #13
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Re: Migrating to FCP

OK, a review of the newer hardware from Apple got me interested in an entry level iMac instead of a mini. I can get a carry bag when I need to to run Wirecast on location. There will need to be some magic hardware to get the cameras hooked up.

I bought the intro to FCPX course that Larry Jordan has. He is pretty efficient with your time, which I appreciate.

Finally, I need to print out a user manual but all I can find is ones for older versions, or the online Help for FCPX. Any ideas on where to get a PDF of a manual? (I just noticed the sticky on this. I'll try printing from the help site to a PDF.)

Thanks,
Chip
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Last edited by Chip Gallo; December 1st, 2011 at 09:21 AM. Reason: noticed sticky on user manuals
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Old December 1st, 2011, 09:38 AM   #14
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Re: Migrating to FCP

The Print icon on the upper right is a current method to print a PDF version
http://help.apple.com/finalcutpro/mac/10.0.1/

Unlike Motion and Compressor, Apple still hasn't compiled a PDF. I suspect that will come after the next big update, and it will be a very big update from what I understand. Multicam and Broadcast Monitoring seem to be only part of what it will bring.
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Old December 2nd, 2011, 04:00 AM   #15
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Re: Migrating to FCP

Interesting to read about iMacs doing well for professional editing. I am thinking of selling my Mac Pro 8-core (2x4) and replacing it by an iMac. But my son has one, and it runs terribly hot on top, even when just surfing the net. I wonder if heavy video work, such as decoding and coding for Blu-Ray, will not overheat the CPU's? All 8 cores on my Mac Pro reach a temperature of 45 when performing that task.
Any experience here on temperature of iMacs?
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