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Old July 12th, 2002, 02:30 AM   #1
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A potential convert to Mac needs help

Dear all,

For several months now I have been considering to "convert" from PC to Mac, because of some serious video editing with which I plan to get involved. Of course, I have been waiting with my purchase, because I wanted to see if there would be any price reductions and new offers during and after the NY Mac Expo.

Hence, I have been observing and a little bit testing the Dual 1Ghz PowerMac. I have been impressed with the machine so far. I also plan to get a 23" cinema display as well as FCP and DVD Studio Pro in addition to Mac Office.

However, before doing any purchase I want to be sure that I am doing the right thing. That is why I have a few questions for Mac owners. Here we go:

1. Are you, as a present owner or connoisseur of a Dual 1-Ghz PowerMac, satisfied with its performance in general and especially using FCP and DVD Studio Pro?

2. Or would you rather recommend a totally different machine and/or even software?

Most important question:

3. Generally speaking, from your own experience, what are the advantages and what are the disadvantages of a Mac in comparison with a PC in regard to non-linear video editing.

In advance, thanks a lot for your time and answer.

With best regards,
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Old July 12th, 2002, 08:49 AM   #2
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I have used Macs for NLE since 1993. First with a series of Avid Media Composers, then in 2000 I switched to FCP and DVDSP. I currently use a G4 450MHz dual processor with 2 monitors, Mac OS X, FCP 3.02, DVDSP 1.5 and the assortment of AE, Photoshop, etc. For me, and the way I edit, Macs are the best tools for the job. I know business associates with the dual 1 gig and the machine is blazingly fast. More than enough speed for NLE editing.

The advantages of a Mac over a PC is that it works right out of the box. True plug and play. No tweaking, no fining tuning, no setting this BIOS etc. No conflicts, few if any problems. OS X is extremly stable. I can't stress that enough. Most PC users here talk about dedicating a PC just to editing. On the other hand while editing I'm hooked to the net, listening to MP3 on iTunes, and have After Effects and Photoshop open doing compositing etc. all at the same time. When I have long scenes to render in AE I turn it on and let it run all night. The same with multiplexing a DVD. Your rendering times would be considerably shorter with a Dual 1 gig.

Disadvantages to a Mac are higher initial costs. But if you end up owning two PC's (1 for games, net, business stuff, 1 for NLE) how cost effective is that? The lack of real time effects is a mute point for film makers or documentary work. Weddings videographers may need more glitzy effects than a simple dissolve or wipe. The Mac will have to render before output. Many effects can be previewed in Real Time. The next version of FCP will address this issue to keep pace with Avid DV express 3.5

Macworld starts Monday, but i don't expect any higher G4's till later this year.

I'm ending this now (I'm in the middle if a huge lightning storm) and I'll post back in a short while.

Jeff
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Old July 12th, 2002, 09:50 AM   #3
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The *only* additional drawback I can think of to editing DV on a Mac is that there's no real-time output to DV. You still have to render the entire project. On the PC side, you have the Canopus DV Storm and Matrox RTX100 which provide real-time output to DV, no rendering. However, having to render your final output to DV on a Mac is really not *that* big of a deal to many people. Just an FYI.
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Old July 12th, 2002, 10:11 AM   #4
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Whew, lightning passed and no direct hits. The only other addition about rendering is color correction. Color corrections need to be rendered also. There is software that will do direct output to NTSC monitor for previewing in realtime in AE. It doesn't run is OS X yet. So, try to shoot it right or expect to have to render. But, I think this will change in the next version, due probably end of this year or early next.

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Old July 12th, 2002, 11:00 AM   #5
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Denis,
As an owner of the h-w & s-w that you're contemplating here are my responses to your specific questions.

#1: Yes, absolutely joy-joy happy-happy.

#2: No. There are, as Chris noted, excellent PC-based nle configurations. But due largely to the Windows driver and interrupt architecture they tend to be susceptible to s-w breakdowns if new apps are added to the PC.

#3: As Jeff noted, the Mac-based solution just works out of the box. And keeps working. Overall the Mac platform became even more solid when OS X (a Unix core with an Apple u.i.) came along.

The issue concerning real-time rendering is not really much of an issue. Many of the most common effects used in FCP do render in real-time on fast G4's. Color correction and other non-r.t. effects render fast enough to avoid much distration (generally sip-of-coffee fast ;-> ) on the dual 1Ghz G4.

As the Nike folks say, "Just do it"! You really will not regret it.
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Old July 12th, 2002, 11:51 AM   #6
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AUDIO IN

Guys, thank you so much for your great IN-puts and IN-sights. Well, at this note, I have another "IN" question.

What about AUDIO IN PLUG on the sound card for the Dual 1 GHz?

In one of the discussions here somebody complained that the "new Quicksilver Macs don't have an AUDIO IN plug on the sound card.... 400MHz has one... 933 MHz doesn't have it..."

What should I do to get an audio input on my new computer? How much will it cost me to get a decent card, which produces a decent (DVD) quality sound without any annoying "hiss"?

Thanks again,
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Old July 12th, 2002, 02:34 PM   #7
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If your doing DV the audio will follow video via firewire. If not, there is an analog connection in the rear. Digital inputs require third party adapters. Most of the more reasonably priced units are USB. There are 2 USB controllers so full bandwidth can be devoted to audio, suitable for 48KHz, 24 bit audio. Audio may get some changes in the next generation G4's, but don't expect them til later this year or early next.

Jeff
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Old July 12th, 2002, 03:08 PM   #8
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Correction:
Indeed, there is NO analog microphone jack on the dual 1Ghz Quicksilver. For some very strange reason Apple eliminated this facility, favoring USB-based microphones. I have a Create Labs Soundblaster Live Mac board but frankly, contrary to Apple's site claims, CL has not supported the board well on the Mac (no OS X). There are several MIDI-oriented boards available. But this represents perhaps the biggest shortcoming of the QS Mac in my opinion.
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Old July 12th, 2002, 03:22 PM   #9
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Very sorry, mistook headphone/lineout jack for line in. The last series with analog audio in was discontinued in January 2001.

Jeff
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Old July 13th, 2002, 12:17 PM   #10
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a possible alternative to the audio in plug ?

Thanks again Jeff and Ken,

Your advices are very important for me, because I will have to import some extra audio in my very first project. I highly appreciate your help.

(A few more questions:)

1. So, what should I do? Wait for the next generation of G4s or buy the present Dual 1-GHz and work around the problem using USB ports?

<<Jeff: There are 2 USB controllers so full bandwidth can be devoted to audio, suitable for 48KHz, 24 bit audio.>>

2. Excuse my ignorance, but Jeff, would these technical specifications guarantee a good sound like the one we get from good DVDs?

Another idea just came to my mind. Namely, I would have to superimpose some narratives over a short movie I plan to make. Hence,

3. Do you think that I would get a good quality sound if I would just separately record the narratives on my XL-1s, then export them to my computer as a video file via firewire, and then add them to the film after cropping the pictures?

This is based on the philosophy: "Use what you have!"

Thanks a lot for your help,
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Old July 13th, 2002, 01:03 PM   #11
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Well, I'll take a swing at your follow-ups.

1. No, I don't think you should wait. For $35 the Griffin iMic USB audio connector (mentioned elsewhere here) is certainly worth a look if you want to connect a good mic to your Mac for voice-overs. (see: http://www.griffintechnology.com/audio/imic_main.html).

2. I'll let Jeff respond to this, but "guarantee" is not a concept I would embrace. The quality of your sound will depend on many factors, only one of which is the signal transport.

3. Recording voice-overs using your camera is actually a very good idea and one which I most often use. It helps to ensure some audio consistency with other audio recorded with your footage. It also can be easier to get cleaner sound since you can position your mic away from your computer's noisy fan. I generally watch the playback of the sequence on a studio monitor (away from the computer) and record my voice-overs on a GL-1 with a separate mic. I turn the lens toward a slate page showing the scene and voice take reference so that I can organize the voice-over clips after importing it into FCP. Lastly, it lets me store the voice-overs on tape with the video footage for later reconstruction if needed.

Many people set up ad-hoc portable sound booths for this work by using part of a cardboard box lined with acoustical foam for isolation. Easy, inexpensive and very effective. Plus, if designed thoughtfully, it can be folded and easily stored when not in use.
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Old July 13th, 2002, 04:21 PM   #12
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DVD audio must be encoded into Dolby Digital AC-3 before recording, and that is a far cry from uncompressed 48khz 16 bit audio (even though Dolby Digital IS 48k 16-bit). So yes, 48Khz 16-bit audio would be plenty fine. I think you can encode a DVD with linear stereo tracks and not Dolby Digital, but I have always favored the 6-channel ability of Dolby Digital.
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Old July 13th, 2002, 04:59 PM   #13
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Real Time Editing

Thank you very much guys for your advices. I really appreciate your time spent in preparing your comments.

From AUDIO IN PLUG I would divert now our discussion toward the "REAL TIME". In my other thread Chris Hurd told me that:

<<With a PC and a good editing card like the Canopus DVStorm, you have something the Mac can't do, which is full real-time performance... color correction, multiple filters, multiple title overlays, output to DV... all without rendering.>>

1. What do you think of this statement? Is there any solution to the 'REAL TIME PROBLEM' with Mac?

I did some research as to this topic and found the following:

"Matrox RTMAC-INT Video Card $599.00 A Matrox RTMac in your Apple Power Mac G4 lets you work with three layers of video and graphics in real time, and instantly create more broadcast-quality effects than you could with just software alone. On RTMac, push, swap, split and other slide transitions happen in real time."

Source:
http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/91/wo/7zUCD1ag57mjSeZjb83/0.3.0.3.30.77.1.1

2. What do you think of the RTMac card? How does it work with FCP3?

Again thanks a lot for you answers,
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Old July 13th, 2002, 07:21 PM   #14
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There is no point to wait for the next generation of G4's. Apple by design has gone away from audio input via analog connections. They no longer have floppy drives, either. Apple provides two means of audio input, USB and FireWire. Both are well supported by leaders in the audio field, Digidesigns and MOTU. Not to mention that within the past two weeks Apple purchased eMagic, another leading audio company. This will insure the Mac's leadership in audio production.

DVD Studio Pro contains A-Pack, software encoding to create Dolby Digital Audio tracks. Hardware/software is also available from the above companys to also do Dolby Digital audio. A-Pack software is Dolby certified and produces goood quality audio for DVD use.

The XL1 works fine for recording voice over work. If your concerned about using the XL1 a good alternative is the USB Pre from Sound Devices http://www.sounddevices.com/index.html It may be just what your looking for, combining analog to digital both in and out of the computer. It gives you headphone monitoring, phantom power and two inputs accept mic, line or tape level. I use one of there products, MM-1, and will say that I am extremly pleased with its performence.

I do not feel that the lack of Real Time effects to be a problem. I have edited on many different systems over the years. My style of editing has adapted to the lack of real time effects. The "necessity" of real time effects will depend more on your style of editing and the content your editing. Wedding videographers and industrial video producers need more of the glitz of real time effects. I know how a disolve or simple wipe will look. FCP3 will even preview some effects in real time. But before it can go to tape the effects will need to be rendered. On a recent 30 minute project which took about 50 hours to edit, the rendering time for the complete project was less than an hour.

Could I have edited the project in less time on another platform or using different software? My answer is reservidly, no, except for an Avid Composer or Symphony. When I edit on PC's for clients I allow extra time for the inevitable freeze and loss of time to reboot the system and see what we will have to rebuild that wasn't saved. The hour to render effects is more than made up by the overall stability of the Mac. This comment I'm sure will attract a few responces from the PC side. Even disreguarding this, the way that FCP and Avid allows you to organize your media is probably time saving enough. The media handling is superior and I save hours in the organizaton of the project.

So, the question is, Do you really need Real Time effects? You might, you might not. But you might ask your self, Is Real Time effects the most important factor in picking an editing solution. For me and the type of projects I edit, it is not high on my list. Why not the RTMac then? Some one will correct me, but I don't think it works with FCP3 in OS X.

Jeff
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Old July 13th, 2002, 11:19 PM   #15
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Indeed, the RTMac does not work in OS-X. It's been a $1000 waste to me so far. Martox continues to promise OS-X support...for the past 6 months. They've dropped to a "1" on my 1-5 scale of quality vendors. Don't waste your money. The most valuable part of the board under OS 9 was the break-out box.

Real-time effects during editing are highly overrated.
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