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Old February 1st, 2008, 09:24 AM   #1
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Switching from PC to Mac. Help assessing my MacPro configuration!

Hey guys,

I'm an event/wedding videographer who is due for an NLE upgrade. After 10000 crashes and hang-ups of my PP2/ Matrox RTX.100 Pentium 4 system, I decided to give Mac a shot.

I'm still shooting SD but will be going to HDV soon. So I would like to have my new NLE HD ready. This is what I laid out so far. Please give me your expert opinion. Please keep in mind that I have no experience with Mac.

I'm planning to go with MacPro.

CPU: Two 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (8-core) - Mac's default CPU for MacPro

RAM: 4GB (4 x 1GB) - I will be mostly using FCP, After Effects and might use Color. I would like to have all-three applications opened at the same time. I think 8GB is ideal for this situation but it is very costly ($1500 extra). Is it possible to just buy the MacPro with default 2GB of RAM and upgrade it to 8GB with a cheaper 3rd party RAM? Will Introducing 3rd party hardware in Mac going to create any issue with its performance?

Hard Drive Bay 1 - 320GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s - Default size. This will be my system drive.

Scratch Disk - I want the total capacity to be 1TB. I can have this in two different configuration. 1. 1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s is Bay 2. Or 2 500GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s in Bay 1 & 2 configured as RAID. Any advantage/disadvantage in either set-up? Also do I need to get Mac's RAID card if I decided to go with option 2?

Graphic card - NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB (Two dual-link DVI)

Display - I want to have dual monitor set-up. Juggling between two options.

1. 2 Apple Cinema HD Display (23" flat panel)

2. 2 Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP-HC 24''

Dell is cheaper ($600) and as good as ACD. ACD is costly ($1050) but better looking. If I were to use my studio exclusively for editing then I would definitely for with Dell for it's price and quality. But I'm planning on using my space as edit bay / client meeting/viewing room. So that's why I'm considering the ACD for it impressive look. Because I know the grooms more interested in the gadgets I have than the work I do.

As for the 3rd party capture cards (AJA or Matrox MXO), I'm planning on omitting this all together. I had terrible experience with my Matrox RTX.100 with my current system. I know the advantage of having it as it spits out HD signal to a HD monitor and it helps out the CPU during rendering. But for the work I do (wedding videography), I'm not even sure if I need to have my video viewed on a HD monitor to do the color work. And also I don't know how much of a help 2 quad-core CPUs need from one of these cards as they are pretty super fast themselves.

Thanks for your help in advance guys. Sorry for the long post.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 11:03 AM   #2
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Ram your config looks alright.
I am currently using a 2.66 Quad Mac Pro myself with my main system drive being 500GB.

Then I have 3 additional storage edit drives. 750 GB storage drive and (2) 750 GB Raid 0 drives. just so you know, don't purchase Apple Mac Pro hard drives, as there are many second party hard drives that will be much cheaper and work just as well in the Mac Pro. Just check specs.

Ram is currently at 8GB. But another 4-8 Gb will be coming soon. Your Mac will work great with the more RAM that is installed. unlike Sony Vegas on the PC side, where it relies on processor speed and RAM is pretty much obsolete.

As for a capture card, I don't know if you really need one. As you currently edit DV footage, and if you move to HD (or rather HDV footage) then simple FW ingesting is perfectly fine. if you are looking for external preview cards, then look to either the Black Magic Intensity (or Intensity Pro which has component break out cable) which will let you ingest footage or review footage via HDMI interface. Another solution would be the Matrox MXO breakout box that works via FW.

An excellerator card will only be necessary if you plan on editing ProRes422/DVCPROHD footage via FCP. Otherwise working via HDV footage on your timeline will work just fine inmost instances where you aren't doing much compositing or effects. If you are planning on doing a lot of After effects, Motion or Apple Color work, then I would recommend going with PRORES422.

I'm an Event guy myself and mainly do color grading, 1-2 effects, and not much compositing, so staying HDV works well for me.

As far as monitors I am currently using the DELL2407 myself and it works great. I am looking into several HD sets for external preview purposes via Intensity Pro Black Magic HDMI card.

BTW, I also have Windows XP loaded on Leopard via Bootcamp. Which I use to run a few XP apps like Sony Vegas/Soundforge etc. as I ams till learning my way around FCS myself.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 11:08 AM   #3
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More RAM will be a definite help for the Mac. And yes, you can buy it from 3rd party vendors for a lesser price. Same advice goes for extra hard drives.

One thing I've learned about replacing the hard drive in my iMac is that the box may not say it supports Mac OSX. In reality, that means the 'included software' doesn't run on the Mac, but the drive will work just fine.

-gb-
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Old February 1st, 2008, 12:35 PM   #4
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Hey guys,

Thanks for the quick response.

As for the 3rd party RAM and Hard Drive, I've done some reading on the net. There seems to be quite lot of issues with people using 3rd party stuff. Is there a vendor that you would recommend who makes good RAM/HD for MacPro with reasonable price? Names I'm hearing often are Crucial for RAM and Western Digital for hard drive.

Michael, can you emphasize little bit more on the following statement you made in your post

"If you are planning on doing a lot of After effects, Motion or Apple Color work, then I would recommend going with PRORES422."

Can you explain why do I have to edit the video in PRORES422 codec in order to modify the video in AE, Motion, or Apple Color? These applications won't handle HDV very well?

Also, I'm assuming that I can add a BlueRay or HD DVD bruner later on when they become widley avaialbe to my MacPro. Does it have an extra expansion slot for it?

Rendering to MPEG-2 time: Can anyone tell me how long will it take to render a 1-hr of video to MPEG-2 for DVD authoring in MacPro? With my Matrox RTx.100 card in my PC, it's a real time rendering (1hr video = 1 hr render time) in Premiere 2. That was one of the advantages having the 3rd party capture card.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 12:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ram Purad View Post
Hey guys,

Michael, can you emphasize little bit more on the following statement you made in your post

"If you are planning on doing a lot of After effects, Motion or Apple Color work, then I would recommend going with PRORES422."

Can you explain why do I have to edit the video in PRORES422 codec in order to modify the video in AE, Motion, or Apple Color? These applications won't handle HDV very well?
From my research here (there are many posts on this) AE/Motion/Color work better with uncompressed video. Color has known issues with accurate color space and the HDV format.

Personally speaking I do all of my color grading in FCP and haven't had a need for Color. Although if I had the time Color looks like it can do some neat grading techniques.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 01:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ram Purad View Post
As for the 3rd party RAM and Hard Drive, I've done some reading on the net. There seems to be quite lot of issues with people using 3rd party stuff. Is there a vendor that you would recommend who makes good RAM/HD for MacPro with reasonable price? Names I'm hearing often are Crucial for RAM and Western Digital for hard drive.
I'd recommend buying both RAM and hard drives from OWC:
http://eshop.macsales.com/
link with current deals:
http://eshop.macsales.com/Specials/XLR8YourMac.cfm
(this gets linked from www.xlr8yourmac.com)

I've bought many times from them (both RAM and drives) and they are very helpful - easy replacements for defective RAMs and the continuously keep getting good ratings from the upgrade/tinker pages like www.xlr8yourmac.com

Best,
Dino
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Old February 4th, 2008, 02:52 PM   #7
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basically looks good. Lots of new supposedly stable aftermarket memory chips for 1/3 the price of mac. may or may not be an issue. they are NOT an issue on my intel Imac. They WERE an issue on my old G4 DP 1.25. So maybe research a little. some aftermarket say they are for the macpro's.

Couple things I thought I would add. FCP allows video monitoring out of the 2nd VGA port and that can plug into many HDTV's. I'm running a decent Samsung 26" LCD HDTV and it's pretty decent. I wouldn't do final color grading this way, but it's good enough for what I do.

Biggest thing to think about, you might already have. I use a DTE drive on my camcorder. In my case I run a HD100 100 gig drive mounted permantly on my JVC HD110. So I can record 10 hours of 720p 24fps to HDD and run tape as a backup.. get back to studio (apartment...) plug in drive.. .mount.. and edit without capturing... or drag and drop the fils from my DTE drive to my G-Raid or cheap firewire/usb drives to be dealt with later. I don't think I'll ever capture again.

If you do go DTV.. go with Focus Enhancements.. and since you are going to be on a Mac.. get the pro version (if running HDV of any flavor) this will encode the HDV in a quicktime wrapper for imediate rendering.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 03:36 PM   #8
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basically looks good. Lots of new supposedly stable aftermarket memory chips for 1/3 the price of mac. may or may not be an issue. they are NOT an issue on my intel Imac. They WERE an issue on my old G4 DP 1.25. So maybe research a little. some aftermarket say they are for the macpro's.

Couple things I thought I would add. FCP allows video monitoring out of the 2nd VGA port and that can plug into many HDTV's. I'm running a decent Samsung 26" LCD HDTV and it's pretty decent. I wouldn't do final color grading this way, but it's good enough for what I do.

Biggest thing to think about, you might already have. I use a DTE drive on my camcorder. In my case I run a HD100 100 gig drive mounted permantly on my JVC HD110. So I can record 10 hours of 720p 24fps to HDD and run tape as a backup.. get back to studio (apartment...) plug in drive.. .mount.. and edit without capturing... or drag and drop the fils from my DTE drive to my G-Raid or cheap firewire/usb drives to be dealt with later. I don't think I'll ever capture again.

If you do go DTV.. go with Focus Enhancements.. and since you are going to be on a Mac.. get the pro version (if running HDV of any flavor) this will encode the HDV in a quicktime wrapper for imediate rendering.
That's probably been mentioned countless times before Alex but is there a specific DTE drive you're using? Quite like the sound of using that with tape as backup.

Ram - good luck with the move to mac...I'm sure you'll be hugely pleased - especially with that set up.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 04:19 PM   #9
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I have pretty much the same configuration, but I got a Dell monitor instead.

I have 1 250GB for my main drive, and three 500GB for my video drives, for a total of 1.75TB.

Get the Dell, it's a better price and a better monitor, IMHO.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 02:57 PM   #10
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Specifics on the Kona vs Apple-Offered Cards & PRES422?

As someone in the same position as Ram described above (looking to purchase a new mac and considering the jump to the need for a Kona card or the PRORES422 capabilities), could someone advise as to the value a new Kona capture card or PRORES422 might bring? I am working to understand it is worth the investment on the aftermarket front or if the graphics cards offered by Apple suffice (e.g. NVIDEO GeForce 8800 512 MB 2 dual-link DVI).

Most of my workflow is in HDV and I utilize a DTE recorder (Firestore FS-C). I also am looking to optimize the capability of having dual displays and perhaps an HDMI output for another monitor. I would like to do a fair amount of compositing in FCP and work in both Color and Motion. The constraints of my current 1st gen dual G5 MacPro and maxed out 4 GB RAM seem to be limiting (and taking ALL my time).

Thoughts?

Thanks,

--Brandon
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Old April 16th, 2008, 04:05 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Brandon Paschal View Post
As someone in the same position as Ram described above (looking to purchase a new mac and considering the jump to the need for a Kona card or the PRORES422 capabilities), could someone advise as to the value a new Kona capture card or PRORES422 might bring? I am working to understand it is worth the investment on the aftermarket front or if the graphics cards offered by Apple suffice (e.g. NVIDEO GeForce 8800 512 MB 2 dual-link DVI).

Most of my workflow is in HDV and I utilize a DTE recorder (Firestore FS-C). I also am looking to optimize the capability of having dual displays and perhaps an HDMI output for another monitor. I would like to do a fair amount of compositing in FCP and work in both Color and Motion. The constraints of my current 1st gen dual G5 MacPro and maxed out 4 GB RAM seem to be limiting (and taking ALL my time).

Thoughts?

Thanks,

--Brandon
Brandon the main advantage of using ProRes will be for what you are doing, compositing and such. The reason is that it's a much easier color space to work in than HDV. Especially if you are dealing with Motion.

As for the KONA card, they work great if you need to output to tape in real time.
I find that using a Black Magic Intensity Pro card is more than sufficient for me for ingesting footage via HDMI in either DVCPROHD or PreRes into FCP, as well as using the HDMI output for previewing purposes.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 08:21 AM   #12
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Brandon the main advantage of using ProRes will be for what you are doing, compositing and such. The reason is that it's a much easier color space to work in than HDV. Especially if you are dealing with Motion.

As for the KONA card, they work great if you need to output to tape in real time.
I find that using a Black Magic Intensity Pro card is more than sufficient for me for ingesting footage via HDMI in either DVCPROHD or PreRes into FCP, as well as using the HDMI output for previewing purposes.
Michael,

Thanks for the quick and thorough reply. Will working in the DVCPROHD or PRes formats require real-time playback or any type of conversion for importing into FCP. The "ingesting footage via HDMI" makes me nervous in that I am hopeful that the quicktime .MOVs I capture on the DTE (Firestore FS-C) can still be retrieved via firewire. Just trying to ensure the workflow is optimized. I would hate to have to "capture the footage twice."

Again, your thoughts and insights are appreciated.

Best regards,

--Brandon
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Old April 17th, 2008, 08:44 AM   #13
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"Thanks for the quick and thorough reply. Will working in the DVCPROHD or PRes formats require real-time playback or any type of conversion for importing into FCP. The "ingesting footage via HDMI" makes me nervous in that I am hopeful that the quicktime .MOVs I capture on the DTE (Firestore FS-C) can still be retrieved via firewire. Just trying to ensure the workflow is optimized. I would hate to have to "capture the footage twice."

Brandon, FCP will let you capture footage from the Firestore and convert it to ProRes via Log and Capture, or you can simply leave them as .MOV HDV files.

No capture card is needed for this.

Capturing via HDMI (I still shoot tape only) for me is only needed if I want to go to the DVCPROHD codec (it's smaller in size than ProRes and is intraframe based and not GOP based like HDV footage is, so it's easier to work with).

If you are going to work with ProRes, than you can simply have FCP convert during capture from the Firestore, or even capture via FW and have FCP convert on the fly to ProRes. Either way will work well.

I still edit a lot in HDV only as I am not doing any heavy compositing work (nor working in Color), and only really doing some color grading in FCP itself.

Hard drive setup and speed is most important when working with DVCPROHD or PreRes.

Playback on a quad core or higher system, shouldn't be a major problem for you. When working with DVCPROHD footage a standard hard drive config will work, Raid even better. When working with ProRes a Raid config is best.

Again for realtime previewing on an external monitor, the Intensity card via HDMI work well for me. If you need SDI capability for previewing than the Declink HD series is a better option or KONA card.

Of course you can avoid a capture card all together and use your FW port on your computer to work with external boxes from AJA of MOTU.
The AJA I0HD external box deck and capture and preview in ProRes or a MOTU V3HD deck and capture to DVCPROHD. Both boxes will do external capture and export to their dedicated codecs and capture FW (so everything is hardware driven in the boxes, thus no work needed from your processor). Also you have every king of hookup imaginable for capture and preview purposes.
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