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Old January 25th, 2008, 09:28 PM   #1
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iMac (vs. Mac Pro) for cutting HDV?

I'm going to be purchasing a new Mac largely for the purpose of cutting an hour long documentary. I plan on cutting native HDV in a ProRes timeline, some sections will require extensive color correction/effects, the project will also incorporate animation (using AE) and some compositing, finally rendering out to HDCAM or a Tiff sequence with the output to tape to be done at a post house. I will also be using this system for reel editing, and other misc. projects, but I don't anticipate this computer being used as a money maker.

I know a 2.8Ghz 8-core Mac Pro would perform far better, but I'm considering the purchase of a 24" 2.8Ghz Core2Extreme iMac, with 4Gb of 3rd party RAM, and a 1TB internal HDD (+1TB fw800 external HDD as back-up) as a less costly alternative.

I know people are having success cutting HDV on MacBook Pro's; the iMac has a slightly inferior graphics card, and a slightly superior CPU. Assuming that I'm willing to put up with the extended render times given fewer cores than the Mac Pro, am I going to be in for any other unpleasant surprises? Do you think that the iMac is a truly viable option?

On earlier versions of FCP I've witnessed and experienced many nastly and inexplicable errors and failures once projects become large and complicated even with SD and on fast (at the time) systems. Will I become crippled by freezing and crashing once my project becomes complex and sizable?
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Old January 25th, 2008, 10:07 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Travis Breitenbach View Post
I'm going to be purchasing a new Mac largely for the purpose of cutting an hour long documentary. I plan on cutting native HDV in a ProRes timeline, some sections will require extensive color correction/effects, the project will also incorporate animation (using AE) and some compositing, finally rendering out to HDCAM or a Tiff sequence with the output to tape to be done at a post house. I will also be using this system for reel editing, and other misc. projects, but I don't anticipate this computer being used as a money maker.
I assume you mean you'll cut in an HDV timeline that's set to render in ProRes (as opposed to working in a ProRes timeline where you'll have to render constantly). You need a way to view your project on an external monitor if you are going to be doing the color work yourself. Your most inexpensive solution would be to get a 23" ACD and a Matrox MXO (assuming the MXO works w/that particular Mac).

Quote:
I know a 2.8Ghz 8-core Mac Pro would perform far better, but I'm considering the purchase of a 24" 2.8Ghz Core2Extreme iMac, with 4Gb of 3rd party RAM, and a 1TB internal HDD (+1TB fw800 external HDD as back-up) as a less costly alternative.
Having your OS/apps on the same drive as your media typically isn't a good idea. On small projects it might not bite you in the butt, but on large projects I doubt you'd want to risk it.


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On earlier versions of FCP I've witnessed and experienced many nastly and inexplicable errors and failures once projects become large and complicated even with SD and on fast (at the time) systems. Will I become crippled by freezing and crashing once my project becomes complex and sizable?
Shane Ross made a very good DVD for keeping projects in FCP organized and running smoothly. You can pick it up via the COW.
http://training.creativecow.net/dvd_...nized_fcp.html

-A
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Old January 25th, 2008, 10:15 PM   #3
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Not sure if budget or horsepower is your highest priority, but I would let one or the other make that call for you. The 8-core mac handles HDV fine.

BTW, knowing that ProRes is much higher data rate than HDV, plus the fact that you'd have to render any HDV material you drop on a ProRes timeline, why not just edit in HDV? When you have video lock duplicate your sequence, change the compressor settings to ProRes, and do C.C./mastering from there, where it will matter.
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Old January 26th, 2008, 02:04 AM   #4
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If you have the budget, go for the Mac Pro...
The iMac is a good machine, and it will edit HDV, but the Mac Pro is just a more reliable machine, it's a built workhorse. If you are editing a large project, you need reliability. Of course it's also much speedier, but that's a bit less important (although you will appreciate it).
And then you can buy a non-glossy screen.

The thing is, iMac's are good machines, powerful, and certainly good for certain work. But a company in Belgium that's giving editing solutions support, based on Apple systems, said that from all the machines that they get in for repair, 70 procent or so are iMac's...
I think it's because a part of the iMac's are laptop parts, and maybe it can overheat faster then a big Mac Pro.

That being said, if you don't have the budget for a Mac Pro, or you think you could put that money into better things, by all means go for the iMac.
It's certainly not a bad machine, and you'll be able to edit HDV.
It's only just maybe not the best purchase on a LONG term...
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Old January 26th, 2008, 02:39 AM   #5
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If you have the budget, go for the Mac Pro...
The thing is, iMac's are good machines, powerful, and certainly good for certain work. But a company in Belgium that's giving editing solutions support, based on Apple systems, said that from all the machines that they get in for repair, 70 procent or so are iMac's...
I think it's because a part of the iMac's are laptop parts, and maybe it can overheat faster then a big Mac Pro.
I bought an iMac in November for general stuff and video with FCE, it's fine but I just wish there was something in the middle between the iMac and the Mac Pro. Even the equivalent bits in a normal box would get round my nagging nervousness about all-in-ones. I have a perfectly good souped up eMac which works fine until I really need it and then the CRT plays silly b*****s and goes dark (it's out of warranty of course). The rest is fine, but to get at the stuff on the HD I've got to get another monitor.

Its the style thing with Apple - hey it looks great, but I don't need it so thin or sexy, I just want it to keep working.
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Old January 26th, 2008, 01:07 PM   #6
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As someone who has both, let me try to help.

24" imac.

Great for cutting anything up to 5 hour HDV projects. Multiple layers in FCP, working with HDV in Motion, Working with Motion Templates/creating templates in the FCP Timeline. All around great machine for editing.

Not good if you are cutting a real film, something going to actual film.
Shoot, and edit HDV, just fine.
Does not like Color. Due to Video card.

Intel Mac Pro w/ Quad 2.66 or Higher.
Does everything the imac does but a little faster. Allows me to use Color. Lets me open 500 images in Photoshop at the same time, let me install tons of memory, let me put in a capture card.
It also allowed me to Run Pro Res (we will get to that soon)

What do I edit on?
The imac/Macbook. Save and render on the Pro.

The iMac will do fine.


Your Pro Res?
Well I have always had an angry POV about this 24P/Pro Res thing.
If you shoot in 1080P HDV, Key word is HDV, then there is no reason to worry about some goofy NON native codec. Just import your footage and work with it in the native format you shot it in.
When you shoot with a true HD format, or film, then you have many many options. Otherwise Keep it Simple.


The iMac is a great machine, think of it as a large laptop that wont fold up, you can take that bad boy anywhere, and depending on how large of a drive you put in it, you could have your single project on the iMac and only need the power cord, and transport anywhere.

The Mac Pro is an investment, for long term cutting, in the sense of you need it to help make you an income, full time.
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Old January 26th, 2008, 03:16 PM   #7
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So if you're on an iMac how do you color grade? Do you just move your project over to a Mac Pro, or is there a work around?
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Old January 26th, 2008, 07:03 PM   #8
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So if you're on an iMac how do you color grade? Do you just move your project over to a Mac Pro, or is there a work around?
You'd need an external monitor to grade on and a box (such as the Matrox MXO or AJA io HD) to get a signal out of the iMac and into the monitor.

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Old January 26th, 2008, 11:07 PM   #9
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So if you're on an iMac how do you color grade? Do you just move your project over to a Mac Pro, or is there a work around?
I send it over to the Pro.

However, I have only sent 2 projects to Color. One was a music video for Dramarama, and it proved to be a total pain in my ass. Color does not like HDV footage no matter what, plus I had to many clips, I was just flogged with issues. 2nd time was easier but still took to much time than what I really wanted to spend.

My wife cuts on either the Macbook, or the iMac and in alot of cases can finish up the job on one of those machines, I use the Pro more for internal drive space than some 2K ingest machine.

Oh, I dont edit 2K. lol
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Old January 27th, 2008, 11:04 AM   #10
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Thank you all for your replies

I mispoke regarding my pipeline (I'm new to multi-format projects). I actually plan to edit native HDV (60i) in a timeline set to render out to ProRes.

So, the iMac is not powerful enough to function very well in Color? Even then I suppose I have possible workarounds - bringing the project over to a friends 8-core Mac Pro - or doing the color work in After Effects.

I'll respond further later today when I have a moment. Thanks Again!
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Old January 27th, 2008, 09:55 PM   #11
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So, I'm gathering that the CPU and RAM will be fine for cutting, and doing most effects.

The GPU however, although supported, is not fast enough to function well in COLOR...right? Those of you with experience trying to work in Color on a newest gen. iMac, can you tell me what I could expect? Would I be able to work in Color albeit slowly? Or would I suffer an intolerable amount of crashing?



On another topic, wouldn't working off of one large internal drive (os/apps. as well as scratch disk) be preferable/faster to working off of a 1394b external?
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Old January 27th, 2008, 11:13 PM   #12
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So, I'm gathering that the CPU and RAM will be fine for cutting, and doing most effects.
At work we have mostly G5's cutting HDV and DVCPro HD and pretty much any intel machine is faster than a G5

Quote:
The GPU however, although supported, is not fast enough to function well in COLOR...right? Those of you with experience trying to work in Color on a newest gen. iMac, can you tell me what I could expect? Would I be able to work in Color albeit slowly? Or would I suffer an intolerable amount of crashing?
The big hurdle you are facing is that the iMac's screen, and the image you see while working inside FCP, aren't suitable for doing accurate color correcting/grading work.


Quote:
On another topic, wouldn't working off of one large internal drive (os/apps. as well as scratch disk) be preferable/faster to working off of a 1394b external?
It's best to keep the OS/apps separate from the media because that reduces the stress on your internal drive and lessens the chances of getting dropped frames and such. HDV's data rate is similar to DV so working off of external FW400 or 800 drives is not a problem at all.

-A
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Old January 28th, 2008, 03:12 AM   #13
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eSata on iMac?

I've been mulling over getting a Mac (which I've resisted for nearly 20+ years). Mainly for running Final Cut Pro as an option to Sony Vegas in the editing studio.

But for myself, it looks like I'm going to have to skip the iMac and go with a Mac Pro because apparently the iMac doesn't readily support eSata drives (please correct me if I'm wrong, would love to hear otherwise, as I've got a ton of eSata drives). Oddly enough, it's easy to buy an eSata card for the Mac Book.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 12:07 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Andrew Kimery View Post
It's best to keep the OS/apps separate from the media because that reduces the stress on your internal drive and lessens the chances of getting dropped frames and such. HDV's data rate is similar to DV so working off of external FW400 or 800 drives is not a problem at all.
-A
Hm, How's this workaround: I could still get a 1TB drive from which I would run my OS/apps and also use as back-up for my external 1 TB 1394b, which I would work off of... Only problem is that I can see myself generating some uncompressed HD through stop-motion animation and AE and I would not feel comfortable working with that footage of off 1394b.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 11:49 PM   #15
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What kind of documentary are you making? If you're going to be out in the field a lot, maybe you could consider a Macbook Pro. Either a 17" or a 15" with a Dell 24" monitor (the exact same price, lol).

And I'm editing on the previous generation 20" iMac, and Final Cut and Color work fine. Sure it's kind of slow in Color because of the graphics card and I only have 2GB of RAM, but it still works fine.

I didn't work with Color on it, but I edited a project on the Quad Core Mac Pros at the Apple Store once (because I didn't have Final Cut at the time) and it was insanely fast. I loved it.

So if you have the money, I'd go with the Mac Pro. It'd help in the long run. If you want to edit while you shoot, go with the Macbook Pro. If you wanna edit at home and want something a little cheaper, go with the iMac. I think no matter what you'll be happy with what you get.
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