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Final Cut Suite
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Old August 11th, 2004, 07:54 PM   #1
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Mac questions from a PC guy...

First I'll start by saying that I'm sick of PC's. Been using them for years, and while I've managed reduce my use of Microsoft software down to just the OS, I've seriously been thinking about taking the leap into the Mac Os/platform world. But I have a couple of questions - my apologies for how basic they might sound.

NLE - I currently use Vegas, it's pretty good for me (doing small news/docc style stuff, and the odd short film). How does FCP compare?

Compositing tools - While I don't do much, Vegas has basic compositing which I like. Does FCP do equivalent or would I be looking at new Compositing software?

Audio - Similar question. Vegas is pretty good (For an NLE) - How about FCP?

Basic requirements - What sort of system would I need if I wanted something along the lines of similar power to my PC which is a P4 3GHZ, running SATA and IDE drives, 1GB RAM. Could I get buy without the top of the line G5 which is too expensive.

Dual proc - Macs all have this now right? So does it help us video guys - does FCP take advantage of it?

DVD authoring - Am I right in thinking that FCP doesn't include DVD Authoring?

Anything else I'd need to be aware or need to investigate?

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Old August 11th, 2004, 08:21 PM   #2
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Since I have no experience with any of the PC NLE's I can't help you there, but just a few quick comments:

* Compositing tools
FCP has basic capabilities, like creating masks, setting transfer modes, opacity, etc. I don't use this much but have done some basic things that worked fine for compositing a photoshop image with my video. In this example there were some boats in the distance that ruined my effect. I exported a still image and edited in Photoshop to make a static sky that blended into the water below. I imported back into FCP to create a composite that's pretty convincing; http://greenmist.com/trovatore/film/20030831/ It is a static shot however.

* Audio
No basis for comparison with Vegas. But I find the audio completely usable for my work. You have a fair set of filters for EQ, etc. You can separate the channels, move the individual tracks, edit down to the frame level, pan mono sources to create a stereo image. I'm on an older version of FCP and they included another audio editing app as part of the package, "Peak DV". Maybe someone else can say whether they continue this practice.

* Dual proc - Macs all have this now right?
Not really. Only the G5 towers feature this in the current lineup. Notebooks and all-in-one models are single processor G4's. I am still editing on a single processor G4/1.25 ghz and for my style I can't justify an upgrade right now. I also have a Powerbook G4/1ghz. I must say that this configuration is very stable however, and I run for days and weeks at a time with no crashes or glitches whatever. Bigger and faster would be better, but I'm pretty content right now actually. Really depends on your budget, what you're doing, your workload and schedule.

* DVD authoring
Not part of FCP, but all Macs come bundled with iDVD which does the basics.
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Old August 11th, 2004, 08:58 PM   #3
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See the other thread about Apple's "Production Suite" offer. I don't use FCP, but I think the latest verson also includes Soundtrack. DVDSP is also part of this offer. I'm already on a Mac and never under time pressure, since I'm not a professional, but if I were tempted to switch, I'd look at more than just cost of hardware and software. There's a learning curve, too, and it's different for different people. I just bought Final Cut Express and DVDSP; I'll be moving very slowly with them and glad to have good old iMovie and iDVD to fall back on. If I were changing platforms as well, I'd still want my fallbacks, especially if I had to meet deadlines to make a living...
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Old August 11th, 2004, 08:58 PM   #4
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FCP is dual processor aware and very fast on the "new" G5's. The next OS (due within the next month or so) will speed things up noticeably. Additional ram is also very beneficial. I recommend a minimum of 1Gb and prefer 2Gb ram, for a faster machine. SATA drives are now standard on G5's.

The audio is competent for the work and price. Apple would like to see you purchase Logic Pro. I suspect the next major upgrade of FCP will include more audio features.

Motion has just been released and it greatly adds to the compositing capabilities. FCP is a very good tool for this type of work and Motion adds greatly to its capabilities. Check the just released Production Bundle of pro apps.

iDVD is free and you can get by with it. If you need serious authoring capabilities get DVD Studio Pro. It is part of the Production Bundle.
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Old August 12th, 2004, 01:15 AM   #5
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Re: Mac questions from a PC guy...

NLE - I currently use Vegas, it's pretty good for me (doing small news/docc style stuff, and the odd short film). How does FCP compare?

FCP has things that Vegas doesn't, mainly better media management, hardware support, and Nested Timelines (Your gonna love these). In addition, is has Soundtrack, Cinema Tools, Livetype and Compressor. (Music Creation, Film Support, Advanced Type creation, Compressing tool). In addition, because of hardware support and Cinema tools, FCP is more scalable than Vegas, it can edit Film. (See Cold Mountain edited by Walter Murch)

Compositing tools - While I don't do much, Vegas has basic compositing which I like. Does FCP do equivalent or would I be looking at new Compositing software?

Do you use V5 or V4? Because FCP doesn't have the same level of composting as V5, but it's about on par with V4. (V5 has 3d & Nested Layers). Things it has over V5 though are After Effects Plugin Support which can add a lot to your toolset, and Photoshop layer support if you do that sort of thing. Also, you have Motion for very cheap.

Audio - Similar question. Vegas is pretty good (For an NLE) - How about FCP?

Vegas is VERY good for a NLE, one of the best multi-track audio editors. FCP is Good for a NLE too, but Vegas has much more Audio Power. FCP does include Peak DV thou, which is good enough for most things. Logic Express would be a good buy if you want more Power.

Basic requirements - What sort of system would I need if I wanted something along the lines of similar power to my PC which is a P4 3GHZ, running SATA and IDE drives, 1GB RAM. Could I get buy without the top of the line G5 which is too expensive.

The Low End PowerMac (Dual 1.8) or Mid-Range (Dual 2.0) will do you fine. Load it with 1 or 2 GBs of ram and it's make FCP fly. A TIP: If you want to save money, buy the minimum amont of RAM from Apple, then buy 3rd Party RAm (From, say, Cruciall ) for cheap. You'll save a lot of money doing this.

Just Make sure this:
1) You get a PowerMac, iMac's won't cut it
2) At least 1 GB RAM
3) There is no step three. That is unless you buy Motion, where step three would be to get a Good Graphics card.

Dual proc - Macs all have this now right? So does it help us video guys - does FCP take advantage of it?

It takes advantage of it a lot, much more so than PC Software counterparts. You'll see a big difference going from a single to a dual processor.

DVD authoring - Am I right in thinking that FCP doesn't include DVD Authoring?

iDVD, included on all Mac's for free, can handle your simple needs, if you want to go a bit more advanced, you can go get DVD Studio Pro, which is an awesome program.

Anything else I'd need to be aware or need to investigate?

If you have the cash, getting the Production Bundle will get you all the programs you need to get you started:

Final Cut Pro - Editing
Motion - Motion Graphcs
DVD Studio Pro - Pro DVD Authoring

It's very cheap, and even cheaper if you are a student.

Also, One more thing: If you want to get the Production Bundle, be sure you get a faster Graphics card (Motion Requires it). The base card on the 2.0 won't cut it.
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Old August 12th, 2004, 01:23 AM   #6
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Thanks all for the replies so far.

Van, what graphic card would you suggest as a minimum for Motion?

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Old August 12th, 2004, 03:51 AM   #7
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Re: Re: Mac questions from a PC guy...

<<<-- Originally posted by Van Lam : A TIP: If you want to save money, buy the minimum amont of RAM from Apple, then buy 3rd Party RAm (From, say, Cruciall ) for cheap. You'll save a lot of money doing this. -->>>

I don't have personal experience with this yet, but I've been following apple/support/discussions on the issue of RAM. It's a peculiar creature. Crucial seems to be a good source, but it seems you still have to make sure whatever you purchase matches your system. I've seen a number of posts where solutions to problems have boiled down to pulling non-compatible RAM - but what is non-compatible is not absolutely obvious. Crucial and macguru.com seem to be good places to begin.

BTW - people say Apple RAM is expensive. I guess that's true relatively speaking - but from what I can see, not that much more expensive. From my point of view I want whatever I buy to work right away. If the RAM Apple supplies will do that...
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Old August 12th, 2004, 10:13 AM   #8
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Re: Re: Mac questions from a PC guy...

<<<-- Originally posted by Van Lam : Logic Express would be a good buy if you want more Power. -->>>

Lots of good information there Van! I haven't used Logic Pro or Express, but read a review of them in the September edition of DV Magazine. They loved Logic Pro but were not entirely happy with Express.
Quote:
...may be a good deal for budget-strapped musicians or audio-only projects that don't need sophisticated processing, but it's not worth the money for video pros doing sound work.
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Old August 12th, 2004, 12:56 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Aaron Koolen : Thanks all for the replies so far.

Van, what graphic card would you suggest as a minimum for Motion?

Aheers
Aaron -->>>

One of the following graphics cards:

* ATI Radeon 9800 XT
* ATI Radeon 9800 Pro
* ATI Radeon 9700 Pro
* ATI Radeon 9600 XT
* ATI Radeon 9600 Pro
* ATI Mobility Radeon 9700
* ATI Mobility Radeon 9600
* NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra
* NVIDIA GeForceFX Go 5200
* NVIDIA GeForceFX 5200 Ultra

Faster is better though.
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Old August 12th, 2004, 04:30 PM   #10
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Thanks guys. A little OT, I was looking through some of the demo ovies on Apple's site an came across "Shake" Wow that program looks cool!

What out there is an equivalent PC product?

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Old August 12th, 2004, 05:41 PM   #11
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Digital Fusion, Nuke 3D are the main competitors. (5000 dollar price range)

In the low/highend catagory, there is After Effects & Combustion. (1000 price range), though they can't do as much as Shake, etc.

I personally have only used After Effects and Combustion, but Shake is very good. (Used for compositing in Lord of the Rings).

Combustion is my personal favorite. (Runs on OS X and Windows) The App is very powerful and the interface is great and similar to the best-of-the-best high end composting tools: Flint/Flame/Inferno. (100,000 price range)
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Old August 12th, 2004, 05:47 PM   #12
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Aaron Koolen:

Here is a really good discusion/Break down on the Composting Applications out there today:

http://www.vfxtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2592&goto=nextoldest
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Old August 12th, 2004, 06:44 PM   #13
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Thanks Van. Much appreciated.

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