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Old March 26th, 2008, 05:46 PM   #1
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Switching From PC To Mac

Hello all, I am a long time reader/first time poster who is on the verge of switching from being a PC/Premiere/Vegas user to a Mac/Final Cut user. Before I commit to making the transition, I have several questions I would like people's opinion on.

Before I ask the questions, let me first inform you all about my background and purposes for the computer and software. My current camera is a Sony EX1. I mainly shoot and edit music videos as well as documentary type content. I also use my computer for audio engineering such as recording and mixing vocals. Beyond that, just general use stuff... surfing the web, typing a document, a little bit of web design, etc.

Lastly, I have been shooting a documentary for over 6 years... I have tons of footage and am finally on the verge of begining to edit, so many of my questions will pertain to this upcoming edit in particular.

Also, it should be noted that the Mac I plan to buy is the new 8 core Mac Pro... just the standard model, then will add aftermarket ram myself.

Questions:

1. NOISE - I recently built a new PC from scratch that is very fast, yet also very loud, so much so that is one of the main reasons I am considering the switch. Are the new Mac Pros quiet? How quiet? What about hard drive noise? My current Raptor is very loud and annoying.

2. VIDEO CARDS - The Mac Pro comes with an ATI 2600, my current card is an 8800GT. I want to put my 8800 in the Mac, and throw the ATI card in my PC... can I do this? Or do they make the cards specifically for Mac or PC?

3. BOOT CAMP - Is there any downside to also installing Vista on the Mac? Obviously not as my primary OS, but just to use a few certain PC programs. In other words, would Vista have any effect on my performance when I am using the Mac OS, or any other type of drawback aside from using up some hard drive space?

4. FINAL CUT PERFORMANCE - I use Premiere and Vegas on a fast machine... Performance in Vegas is very good, Performance in Premiere is very bad. How is it in Final Cut in comparison to Premiere? I sure hope it's a lot better! This is a big selling point for me.

5. SOUNDTRACK - Is this thing any good? Or am I better off editing my sound in Pro Tools?

6. COLOR - I have Magic Bullet Looks for Premiere. Is it worth getting it for the Mac, or is Color just as good?

7. MOTION - Is this something similar to After Effects?

8. FILE TYPES - My doc was shot on 3 different cameras, and most my footage has been already dumped onto external hard drives. The SD stuff is in .avi format, the HDV stuff is in M2T format, and the HD stuff is in MXF format. Which of these file types work/don't work with Final Cut? For ones that don't work, what are my options? Recapture everything using Final Cut's capture? Or is there a better/easier option?

9. DOC PROJECT/RENDER SETTINGS - Figure that my best/ideal situation would be that the doc makes a major film festival and then gets picked up and distributed on a major network such as HBO or Showtime. What settings/format should I edit and then render my final cut in? About 50% of the footage used will have been shot at 720x480, 15% shot at 1440x1080 24P, and 35% shot at 1920x1080 24P.

10. UPCONVERT - Assuming I edit/output in HD, what is the best method for upconverting my 720x480 footage to the higher resolution?

11. BLURAY - I heard BluRay's don't work with Macs yet, or something to that effect? Is this true? If so, any word on when Macs will support them?

12. NEW VERSIONS - Lastly, I am very curious as to when both the current Mac Pros and the current version of Final Cut Studio were released, and based on past history, an educated guess of a ballpark figure as to when the next line of Mac Pros will be released as well as the next version of Final Cut Studio. Don't want to sink a bunch of money into something, only to have a newer/better version come out a month later.

Again, any input I can get on any of these questions will be greatly appreciated.

Thank You
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Old March 26th, 2008, 06:28 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Rice View Post
2. VIDEO CARDS - The Mac Pro comes with an ATI 2600, my current card is an 8800GT. I want to put my 8800 in the Mac, and throw the ATI card in my PC... can I do this? Or do they make the cards specifically for Mac or PC?
You can get your Mac Pro with the 8800 GT (look through the configuration options). Are video cards cross platform? I don't know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Rice View Post
3. BOOT CAMP - Is there any downside to also installing Vista on the Mac?
Is there an upside to installing Vista anywhere? Sorry, had to do it... There is an alternative to Boot Camp that you can get for about the same price that is known to be more stable, however I am blanking on its name... (I don't use either, I'm on a PowerPC Mac... but have heard from others using it they like it).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Rice View Post
5. SOUNDTRACK - Is this thing any good? Or am I better off editing my sound in Pro Tools?
It's ok... but it isn't comparable to Pro Tools (a bit of an apples/oranges situation). They both have entirely different intentions. Apple's Logic vs. ProTools is a true comparison.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Rice View Post
7. MOTION - Is this something similar to After Effects?
Yes and no... I have yet to have a really good experience with Motion (though have not used the most current version with FCS2). But IMHO, AfterEffects is a bit more grown-up than Motion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Rice View Post
9. DOC PROJECT/RENDER SETTINGS - Figure that my best/ideal situation would be that the doc makes a major film festival and then gets picked up and distributed on a major network such as HBO or Showtime. What settings/format should I edit and then render my final cut in? About 50% of the footage used will have been shot at 720x480, 15% shot at 1440x1080 24P, and 35% shot at 1920x1080 24P.
Well, it partly depends on what technical requirements HBO, Showtime, etc have for deliverables. But that aside, this is a bit complex and deserves its own discussion, me thinks. Your answers to #10 will relate to this as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Rice View Post
11. BLURAY - I heard BluRay's don't work with Macs yet, or something to that effect? Is this true? If so, any word on when Macs will support them?
AFAIK, there is nothing official about when... however it is only a when (if was never really the question anyway, don't know why they are behind on this).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Rice View Post
12. NEW VERSIONS - Lastly, I am very curious as to when both the current Mac Pros and the current version of Final Cut Studio were released, and based on past history, an educated guess of a ballpark figure as to when the next line of Mac Pros will be released as well as the next version of Final Cut Studio.
FCS2 was released about a year ago. It will likely be a year or two before FCS3 is out. The latest Mac Pros were released in February. You won't see anything new there for a while either.

Short answer = now is the right time to buy.
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Old March 26th, 2008, 07:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Rice View Post
12. NEW VERSIONS - Lastly, I am very curious as to when both the current Mac Pros and the current version of Final Cut Studio were released, and based on past history, an educated guess of a ballpark figure as to when the next line of Mac Pros will be released as well as the next version of Final Cut Studio. Don't want to sink a bunch of money into something, only to have a newer/better version come out a month later.
There always will be something "better" around the corner. If having the newest gear possible gear all the time is your highest priority then consider leasing.

Otherwise, let your priorities as a filmmaker, including your budget, inform your buying decisions. One of my machines at work is a dual 1.0 GHz G4 that's at least several years old, but it runs FCS2 and doesn't hamper my productivity one bit.

Hope this helps,
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Old March 26th, 2008, 08:33 PM   #4
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One of my machines at work is a dual 1.0 GHz G4 that's at least several years old, but it runs FCS2 and doesn't hamper my productivity one bit.
Really? I'm on a dual-867 GHz G4. I didn't think G4s could run FCS2, due to minimum spec requirements. Granted, the minimums aren't always absolutes, but I take it you are only using the G4 for DV.
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Old March 26th, 2008, 09:15 PM   #5
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Nope, editing both HDV and DV with it. It's mainly for my part-time assistant doing cuts-only, so I don't recommend going out and buying one for HDV, and I use a MacPro for most of my work. But the point is that Macs are good machines and they don't become obsolete overnight.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 12:23 AM   #6
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Bluray

I've been waiting for the Bluray/HD DVD "war" to conclude before I jumped in to hi-def DVD production. I've been shooting XDCAMHD, and editing in HD, archiving to XDCAM HD, but releasing on regular old NTSC DVD's.

Yesterday one of my distributors asked for a Bluray program for Costco in time for the holidays.

I'm doing most of my editing on FCP on my MacBook. I also have NewTek's VT5 on a PC.

For the FCP users, just how do you get your programs to Bluray? I suppose I could edit a program in FCP, master to XDCAM HD, then import the master to the PC and burn Bluray there, but I would rather a more elegant solution.

Thoughts?

Thanks!

Les Jarrett
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Old March 31st, 2008, 02:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Rice View Post
5. SOUNDTRACK - Is this thing any good? Or am I better off editing my sound in Pro Tools?
You're editing video in Vegas, but editing audio in Pro Tools? Why? Vegas is great for audio and far faster than Pro Tools, IMO. Of course in commercial terms it comes down to your clients needs, but if you're doing smaller scale production then really it's up to you what you work with.
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Old March 31st, 2008, 03:01 PM   #8
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Yes and no... I have yet to have a really good experience with Motion (though have not used the most current version with FCS2). But IMHO, AfterEffects is a bit more grown-up than Motion.
Motion 3 is far superior to older versions in terms of what you can do with it, however it still lacks the level of control that AE gives users. I expect the next version of Motion will address this and offer just as much as the latest AE already has.
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 02:38 AM   #9
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1. NOISE - I recently built a new PC from scratch that is very fast, yet also very loud, so much so that is one of the main reasons I am considering the switch. Are the new Mac Pros quiet? How quiet? What about hard drive noise? My current Raptor is very loud and annoying.

Answer: I build PC's too and I must say the Mac using large fans that spin slower work out to an almost silent computer. You will notice a HUGE difference if the cases you buy for your build are under 200 bucks.

2. VIDEO CARDS - The Mac Pro comes with an ATI 2600, my current card is an 8800GT. I want to put my 8800 in the Mac, and throw the ATI card in my PC... can I do this? Or do they make the cards specifically for Mac or PC?

Answer: I have the previous generation of Mac Pro's that came with the ATI 1900XT and like the ram I thought that video cards were interchangeable but alas they are not. Something to do with how heat information is transported on their pci-e slots.

3. BOOT CAMP - Is there any downside to also installing Vista on the Mac? Obviously not as my primary OS, but just to use a few certain PC programs. In other words, would Vista have any effect on my performance when I am using the Mac OS, or any other type of drawback aside from using up some hard drive space?

Answer: I tried installing windows and I kept getting an error when installing xp, I laughed to myself, and decided to never put windows on this machine.

4. FINAL CUT PERFORMANCE - I use Premiere and Vegas on a fast machine... Performance in Vegas is very good, Performance in Premiere is very bad. How is it in Final Cut in comparison to Premiere? I sure hope it's a lot better! This is a big selling point for me.

Answer: Performance has to do with so many things it is hard to say. I believe the operating system makes better use of the hardware but I have never built a pc that has specs like the mac pro. Although XP would have no idea what to do with all that horsepower if you built a PC similar to the Mac Pro.

5. SOUNDTRACK - Is this thing any good? Or am I better off editing my sound in Pro Tools?

Answer: I would recommend Pro tools epically since you sound like a real audio guy. It's better to use whatever you feel comfortable with.

6. COLOR - I have Magic Bullet Looks for Premiere. Is it worth getting it for the Mac, or is Color just as good?

Answer: I have Magic Bullet for my FCP and had it for my PC and Premiere. Use Color to set your blacks and whites, then add the magic bullet filter of your choice and mess with the filter from there. I recommend picking up a color correction book and learning to do it yourself though to get better results. Contact me for good books because I have read a bunch of them.

7. MOTION - Is this something similar to After Effects?

Answer: I am an After Effects guy since I had a PC obviously but Motion is cool since it doesn't use keyframes I guess. Again use what you are comfortable with.

8. FILE TYPES - My doc was shot on 3 different cameras, and most my footage has been already dumped onto external hard drives. The SD stuff is in .avi format, the HDV stuff is in M2T format, and the HD stuff is in MXF format. Which of these file types work/don't work with Final Cut? For ones that don't work, what are my options? Recapture everything using Final Cut's capture? Or is there a better/easier option?

Answer: From Premiere try and make Quicktimes that are encoded natively to the tape format from the .avi's and M2T since I am guessing you used Cineform for that. Same with the .MXF from Avid. This shouldn't take long since you are staying native to the format it already is.

9. DOC PROJECT/RENDER SETTINGS - Figure that my best/ideal situation would be that the doc makes a major film festival and then gets picked up and distributed on a major network such as HBO or Showtime. What settings/format should I edit and then render my final cut in? About 50% of the footage used will have been shot at 720x480, 15% shot at 1440x1080 24P, and 35% shot at 1920x1080 24P.

Answer: If you want to go to broadcast your going to need to give them a 60i master so a pull down will be needed for all of the 24P stuff. This will call for re capturing but will be fine since you are mixing SD which is 60i.

10. UPCONVERT - Assuming I edit/output in HD, what is the best method for upconverting my 720x480 footage to the higher resolution?

Answer: I recommend finding a post facility that has a Teranex. A Teranex can up-rez video via SDI. It is an amazing piece of machinery and since it is hardware it does it real time and beautifully so you can go from a SD deck like digibeta to a HDcam deck and never have to worry. I would recommend the facility I work at (www.homeplanetproductions.com) but we are in California.

11. BLURAY - I heard BluRay's don't work with Macs yet, or something to that effect? Is this true? If so, any word on when Macs will support them?

Answer: Give it time, since BluRay won it is just a matter of time.

12. NEW VERSIONS - Lastly, I am very curious as to when both the current Mac Pros and the current version of Final Cut Studio were released, and based on past history, an educated guess of a ballpark figure as to when the next line of Mac Pros will be released as well as the next version of Final Cut Studio. Don't want to sink a bunch of money into something, only to have a newer/better version come out a month later.

Answer: The new mac pro's were released a month or 2 ago and are monster machines now and will be next year too. G5's are still more than fine for editing since discussed earlier it is more that just processor speed when you start to get higher end. For Final Cut itself, I think the new version will play better with leopard but as for any big changes I wouldn't hold my breathe. Maybe a re vision to the Pro res codec but that is about it I see. When Apple makes updates for their software they usually aren't that far from their previous version. I bet that as a first time mac owner you wouldn't notice the difference between Leopard and Tiger aside from the stock background and annoying time machine pop ups.

Hope this helps and making the switch to mac's it is a strange but good choice for a PC builder. They finally are worth the price when it comes to hardware and they know how to use it.
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 04:26 AM   #10
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Motion does use keyframes but After Effects has much more options and the two don't really compare. AE is more akin to Shake, than it is to Motion.
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 02:01 PM   #11
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hi Dana,

Let me also chime in here... I did the switch from Vegas/PC to FCP/Mac about 3 weeks ago. And like you shooting with the Sony EX camera.

1. Like others stated: you will be very surprised by the lack of noise. It is so quiet!

2. Order a Mac Pro with the 8800. Great card.

4. I used Vegas on a fast dual-core machine but the performance was terrible with HD footage. And now with an 8-core MacPro everything runs smoothly. I have a full size HD preview on a secondary monitor. Realtime preview.

5. Yes it is good, just briefly looked at it. I also have Logic Pro which is like a candy store for more music minded people.

8. Beware: MXF files from the EX do NOT work on the Mac. I tried for days getting it to work without success. Best thing you can do is convert MXF on another PC to something FCP can handle. Do some testing here.

11. As far as I know you can't order a Mac with a blu ray writer, but you could use an exernal one. DVD Studio knows how to handle BD and Roxio Toaster also has support for burning BD.


But the overal good news is: FCP gives you so much more functionality, sometimes the approach is different from Vegas and you have to get used to another way of working.
Second is integration: Final Cut Studio is a suite of around 12 applications that nicely work together and have a good amount of clever integration.
Third: the hardware and OS are powerful and stable.

So far I am a happy switcher...

regards,
Erwin
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 04:11 AM   #12
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Thanks for all your input and help guys, it is much appreciated. Finally ordered my Mac Pro yesterday and am hoping I have it here by Friday.

James, in regards to question #9 were you suggesting that I edit and render at 720x480 60i?

Erwin, I take it you're liking Logic? I think I'm actually going to end up going with Logic over Pro Tools because I'm hearing Pro Tools doesn't work with Leopard.
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 10:07 AM   #13
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As a 25 year Mac guy (going back to the first Macs), with much less Windows experience, here are a few impressions...

Mac Pros are incredibly quiet.

Mac Pros are also cheaper than comparable PCs (they are equivalent to multiprocessor Dell Precision Workstations and the like, not ordinary PCs)

Video card drivers can be a problem (there are sometimes slight differences between Mac and PC versions of the same card, so swapping cards to avoid buying Apple's overpriced video upgrade may well not work)

Almost all instability I've ever seen in Intel Macs has to do with trying to run Windows on them! I've never tried Boot Camp (the free software that requires rebooting to switch each time). Parallels (the purchased program that allows Mac and Windows simultaneously) has caused a lot of problems on machines I work with... Boot Camp should be more stable, because it isn't modifying the MacOS.

Windows is also severely overpriced on a Mac (Dell pays about $30 for each copy of Windows they install, as do all other PC vendors). The boxed copy of Windows Boot Camp and Parallels require is closer to $300 (it can be bought somewhat cheaper if you buy it at the same time as your Mac, but still expect to pay $150+). You cannot transfer the Windows from an existing computer, even if you retire (or install Linux on) the previous computer - both Microsoft's license and their draconian activation scheme forbid that. The only way I've ever heard of anyone getting a $30 copy of Windows on a Mac is if you work for an organization large enough to have an enterprise license for Windows, and you can get the software through a "work at home" clause in the license. It's uncommon, but perfectly legal (I have my Mac copy of Microsoft Office this way - the university where I work charges $15 for an install disc to all faculty and staff, and we're covered under their site license). I could probably get Vista for a similar price if I wanted it, but I'm not willing to risk either of my Macs' stability. I don't know if this is only possible at very large non-profit employers (hundreds or thousands of employees), or if very large companies have the same license terms?

-Dan
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 11:21 AM   #14
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8. Beware: MXF files from the EX do NOT work on the Mac. I tried for days getting it to work without success. Best thing you can do is convert MXF on another PC to something FCP can handle. Do some testing here.
The EX does not create MXF files. You need to use the software for the EX that re-wraps to MXF. Then you use the MXF files in XDCAM Transfer (get the latest 2.5.1 version) to create QT files for FCP. You can invoke XDCAM Transfer from within FCP by using File-Import-XDCAM. Then, when you choose the material in XDCAM Transfer, it will give you the option of importing to whichever project or projects you have open in FCP.

DVD Studio Pro can create HD-DVD, not Blu-Ray. I suspect that will change very quickly now that the format war has ended.

-gb-
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 10:07 PM   #15
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So what if I am out shooting with my EX1 and after I fill up my SxS cards, I need to dump the footage into my PC laptop via the clip browser software, will those files then be unusable on my Mac?
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