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Old November 12th, 2009, 10:12 PM   #1
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Thinking of Switching... PC to Mac

Just like the commercial...

I'm looking move from dual core 32-bit XP pro to a 64-bit windows 7 system anyways, so I thought it may be a good time to think about switching systems entirely. I've happily used a PC-based Sony Vegas NLE for the last 4 years. I find Vegas very easy to use, and use Magic Bullet Looks - though the renders with a core duo are getting pretty slow. So I am seriously considering switching out to iMac or Mac based system with FCP.

I shoot Weddings and Web-based commercials as well as real estate video tours on Canon HDV, and 5D2 primarily, and would appreciate any advice/tips/warnings.

Thanks in advance.
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Old November 12th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #2
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Hi Ken,

This may sound a little odd coming from someone (me) who's only ever known Final Cut, but if you're pretty happy with your current tools and workflow and am very familiar with that... then your better option may be to consider replacing the hardware with a suitably beefier one.

E.g. quad core processors, for instance. It's my general impression that changing systems after spending the time/money/effort to learn it well is not an undertaking lightly taken, especially if you still have alternatives to work through. (Granted, I'm personally not familiar with how well Vegas handles parallelized tasks on multiple processors.)

Or put it differently, is it cheaper to take the learning curve hit or is it cheaper to beef up your editing hardware? In this business, time is money -- and that, along with deep familiarity can be a competitive advantage if well-leveraged.

If you're still determined to see it through for a transition to Final Cut Studio, then my hardware advice would generally be: 'Get the beefiest Mac Pro you can afford' as a starting point and go from there. And if it's an editing station that you use for on-the-road editing, then the beefiest MacBook Pro instead.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 08:35 AM   #3
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Hey Ken
I'd agree with Dan.
I'm also Mac (from os 7.5 now 10.5) and final cut (from fcp 2 now FCS 2) only.
But mac cost and final cut learning curve could be a big hurt.

Lots of pro and con in not only the OS but also the software and what you need from it.
I don't follow it close but Windows 7 could be over the problems of the past.
Sony cam users have the best cam support w/vegas and I understand the interface is great.

On Mac side, final cut user support is everywhere but (from what the software pros say) has needed a "from the ground up" total redo not just upgrades.
Don't get me wrong, I like final cut and the new studio 3 does background web exporting.
I'm just not as overboard happy with mac/fcp as I used to be.

Today if I made a change, I would do Adobe on a Mac, as that has been rebuilt from the ground up + you have the best interface with everything Adobe and that is huge!
Mac has it's problems but is the creative industries computer and Adobe is their standard, so lots of Mac focus and support from adobe.

This is a tough thing, lots to consider.

Wish you the best!
Rob
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Old November 13th, 2009, 08:47 AM   #4
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There is absolutely no way I'd make the jump to a Mac now. Everything I've seen from Apple in the past two years looks like lessening support for video folks, not increasing it. Everything from dropping expresscards, to the firewire fiasco, to the Blu-Ray garbage, etc.

Macs cost more the the same hardware performance, and at least for me, Win7 has been absolutely bulletproof. Though I haven't had any Windows problems in many, many years.

Adobe's products run on Macs as well as PCs, so that's no impetus to switch. And Mac's new ad campaign is cute, but grossly misrepresentative, and frankly insulting to the intelligence.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 08:57 AM   #5
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Ken,

There's absolutely no compelling reason to re-invent the wheel when you have an established and proven workflow that's making you money and in fact, attempting a migration over to a totally new platform would most likely cause undue delays just in learning the new apps and environment not to mention output, and in this economy you don't want to screw up your receivables in any way by making your customers wait longer than their used to.

Vegas is a very powerful app especially in it's latest iteration and for what you do FCP wouldn't be any faster or better at getting the job done. And although I can't prove it with my current setups (haven't created a Win-7 test bed yet) I'm willing to bet that Vegas would actually be much faster with renders and output on a new, high-end Win-Tel machine than a similarly configured Mac Pro is on FCP.

Although Vegas isn't technically a "pro" application I know many an editor - and even a few small post houses - that use it exclusively with no issues. In fact, one of my fellow Panny consultants who is also a forum member, Barry Green, is a major proponent of Vegas. At NAB 2007 he was doing things in Vegas with ease that us FCP users were struggling with.

One thing I can say from experience however: Vegas is just as fast as Adobe PP CS4 on the same Win-Tel machine, and PP is much faster at everything than FCP7 so that tells me that the newest version of Vegas running on a properly equipped Win-7 box would be a super-duper tool.

Stick with what you've got and get the newer hardware/software. Ultimately you'll be better off.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 09:04 AM   #6
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PC Mac debate

FWIW....
Hey Ken.... just thought I would toss in another opinion. At 'the day job' we use PC's. Web development team who produces computer based safety training. However almost everyone on the team is a huge Mac fan. At home I have an old G4 laptop, Macbook 13" (storage, email, family stuff) and most recently bought an iMac 24". Even the base model iMac comes with a pretty beefy set up. I also just purchased a Lenovo netbook based on a thread here, to use as an DTE and bypass Focus (too expensive) for my XH 1A. Will be taking that for a 'test drive' this weekend. Still recording tape for archival and back up but WOW digi to digi...yaahoooo!

One consideration...and please ask others opinions on this... On the Mac I have both Final Cut Express and Adobe CS4 Production Premium which includes Premiere (personal fav). I have edited and taught non-linear editing on Avid, Media 100, Premiere and FCE for years. Not sure that the extra expense for FCP is worth it since FCE has everything except options for film based shooting, transfer, etc. I shoot only video these days and have not had a need for FCP.

Both platforms (PC/Mac) are excellent for different reasons and honestly very easy to go from one to the other. MUCH easier than even 5 years ago. Mac is known to be more 'user friendly' for creative endeavors, PC is for 'high end geeks and coders' (ha,ha)...but again... not as big a difference as there use to be.

If you are itching to go Mac I can personally highly recommend that route as for me the look, feel, support is outstanding. One word of caution... when I purchased the iMac 24 I did not realize that the newer models have only Firewire 800 ports. Older iMac 24's have 400 & 800. Check those 'little details' with a phone call. If you do go Mac I HIGHLY recommend the "refurbished Mac" link on apple's site. You can still purchase the extended warranty and the money saved is usually enough to cover at least that plus a few extras bells.

Mac Refurb link:
Refurbished Mac - Apple Store (U.S.)


I agree that the learning curve is something to consider but it's not as big a transition from PC to Mac or from one NLE software to another as it use to be. They all work pretty much the same with buttons in different places and interfaces that have different looks.

OK... from the "Swamp Peanut Gallery" down south. Let us know what you decide and why. I teach and always like to know the 'why' behind decisions. Everyone thinks differently... it's cool to find out why. Good luck, God Bless! Roze
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Old November 13th, 2009, 09:30 AM   #7
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To back up what Perrone said...

Don't buy into Apple's over-glossy, uber-hyped ad campaigns. In truth, Apple has created the perfect consumer computer because let's face it, the general consumer is too ignorant and lazy to actually use a computer properly to stop from getting spyware, viruses etc. I think every home and business user *should* be Mac-based, period, because for them it "just works".

However in the pro-video world Mac users are constantly fighting Apple-imposed limitations. They are moronically inconsistent when it comes to what they will or won't support from year to year (firewire, express-cards etc) whereas PC users get the full benefit of every connectivity on all machines and format type in use. I mean really: Who would have thought that of all the computer manufacturers on the planet that Apple would become the odd-man-out with Blu-Ray?

As I say, there's no compelling reason for you to jump ship and change platforms, and considering that we're nowhere close to a sustainable economic recovery there's also no reason to pay Apple-premium prices for hardware when you can get more for your money with a similarly configured PC.

No matter what you decide to do make sure you are thorough with your due-dlligence and research before you drop one dime on any new setups.

Cheers!
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Old November 13th, 2009, 09:49 AM   #8
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I switched earlier this year from PC to Mac. I still have plenty of PCs around -- my household is networked with assorted desktop and laptop Windows boxes -- but my primary editing & 'work' computer is now a Mac. The switch was as easy as adding any new piece of hardware is, and probably took a few days of distraction to learn the new keyboard short cuts and such like -- I think now I'm now every bit as Mac capable as I am PC able ... not expert, but still the guy most of my acquaintances would ask for help. I am my own IT department.

I've never used Vegas, but the switch to FCP (probably my most compelling reason for moving) from Premiere was dead easy. I assume the same team wrote both softwares -- FCP is no harder to move to from Premiere than any Premiere upgrade ever was. But, and this is a but tempered with the fact that I'm working now with a much faster computer in the Mac I chose than the PC I moved from, but work is now rock steady. No more odd freezes when asking Squeeze to do something. No more lost links in the media windows. I'm very happy with the ability to simply get on with the work ...

Posters here refer to the 'Firewire fiasco' or some such -- not sure what they mean. Some low-end Mac laptops I guess don't have Firewire -- don't get one of those. The Pro models do, though you may have to buy yourself a $5 adapter if all your cables are FW400 instead of the newer faster FW800 ... And if you want Expresscard you'll have to restrict yourself to the larger laptop, or the desktop box -- in my opinion just sensible shopping decisions, hardly disasters.

Over the years I've had PCs, Amigas, Macs, PCs again & now back to Mac -- the focus is on getting the job done, not nameplates, and right now that means FCP on a Mac for me. It's not a religion, and I haven't joined any cults -- I just bought a Mac and it works like I wanted.

Cheers,
GB
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Old November 13th, 2009, 09:59 AM   #9
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How do you deliver HD on it? I've got my Mac friends sending me HD projects to burn on my 1.5 year old Blu-Ray burner. They still can't do it. Mine came free with Vegas.

Since you've not used Vegas, the jump from Vegas' paradigm to FCP (or Avid, or Premiere) is pretty different. The whole A/B roll thing doesn't exist in Vegas. I jumped from Premiere to Vegas and it took a WHILE to get comfy. Now I wouldn't go back unless I had to.

I may add Avid next year so I can be compatible with some of the local TV stations, but other than that, forget it.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 10:04 AM   #10
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I use the same external Blu-Ray burner for both my Mac & my PC.

Can't speak to the Vegas thing, as I say I've never used it.

What A/B thing?

Cheers,
GB
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Old November 13th, 2009, 10:05 AM   #11
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I have considered this jump from time to time-- not because I think I can do any better work in FCP, but because the industry seems to be in love with it, and if I want to work in that community, I ought to know it and be able to work with it. I have had film makers look at stuff I have done, and ask, what I edited with, and when I say Vegas, their eyes kind of glaze over. I think it is from lack of familiarity, rather than from concern about quality of product.

So every time I consider it, I keep one thing in mind. My wife works for tech division of a governmental office. They pretty much get access to whatever equipment they need. And the MAC and PC debate rages there. She informs me that virtually all the MAC users also have to have a PC on their desk too (or dual bootable setups), in order to get to everything they need to do their jobs. The strictly PC users don't need MACs. There is a lesson there somewhere, I think.

So far, I haven't seen anything others do in FCP, that can't be done in Vegas, with various plugins and add ons. And from the machinations I have seen FCP users go through in their projects becaurse of procedure requirements, it appears to me FCP is actually stiffling to creativity at times. In Vegas you can drag and drop, and can do something you are trying to do, 5 different ways. I am amazed to read FCP users going through a litany of specific technical steps just to get some projects to work. I am not saying that Vegas doesn't have technical requirement too, but it seems to me that I can just paste together a project much faster in Vegas.

So ultimately, I think it is a matter of who you are going to be doing projects with. If you are going to be working inside the industry, perhaps FCP is the way to go. If you are doing everything inhouse, and aren't concerned about developing skills in the MAC platform for employment reasons, then I wouldn't touch it.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 10:23 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R Geoff Baker View Post
I use the same external Blu-Ray burner for both my Mac & my PC.
Awesome. What software do you use on the Mac for making BluRays? I had heard this was very difficult from MANY Mac folks.

Anyway A/B roll is a hold-over from old tape based systems. And when NLEs came into being, it was the paradigm that was emulated to make things seem familiar. If your editor has 2 small monitors to show what's on the timeline, you have an A/B roll NLE. FCP, Premiere, Avid, all work this way. Vegas does not. Though it can be set up to. And jumping into or out of one of these systems and Vegas is really a tough shift.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 10:45 AM   #13
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I have never had any problems with the bundle I have for Blu-Ray -- FCS & a Pioneer BDR-205.

I know what A/B is -- it is actually the way _film_ was cut in the days of optical effect printing. The early versions of Premiere used it as the model -- you checkerboarded your edits, placing transitions and the like on a track space between the A and the B roll, same as with film. But the recent versions of Premiere have eliminated A/B as an option, and though I haven't used the oldest versions of FCP far as I know it never used the A/B format ... you work with a single timeline, and you drop your transitions and effects on the single line ... It is not about having two monitor windows -- that isn't A/B -- the two monitor window paradigm is source/output typically, and can be applied to A/B or single track equally.

So maybe Vegas is tough to learn ... but maybe not for the reason you suggest!

Cheers,
GB
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Old November 13th, 2009, 11:32 AM   #14
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Media100 (at least when I was TRYING to use it) and early Premiere were certainly A/B roll workflows. I can't honestly say FCP is even close.

FCP allows you to edit pretty much however YOU want to: drag and drop, 3 point edit... but I've noticed an increasingly difficult time with each passing upgrade to actually get it to work properly the way it did in the previous version. To be an FCP editor in THIS day and age, you really are "locked" to 1, 2 MAYBE three versions of the software. Apple keeps changing fundamentals of the workflow and I find it maddening.

Does FCP do a lot? Yes. Does it do a lot for the cost? HECK yes.

I've been editing in FCP since version 1.0.2. I currently have Version 6.0.6 installed and there are times when I literally SCREAM in my edit suite because something that hasn't changed for 8 years HAS in 6. Apple is trying WAY too hard to be all things to all people with FCP. I honestly believe Apple should rip out all the consumer support crap from FCP, place it in both FCE and iMovie and restore the pro level reliability and functionality of the flagship program. This isn't being elitist; this is properly segmenting functions to levels of program.

There is a massive install base of illegal versions of FCP floating around and I honestly think Apple is listening to the wrong people when it comes to upgrades. I think they are listening to students just learning the software (and the BUSINESS of video editing) and NOT mission critical editors on a tight deadline.

To answer the original question - FCP more than any other pro level app I'm aware of is SO contingent on a SPECIFIC combinations of:
-OS
-QuickTime
-FCP version
to remain stable and give you the functionality YOU need given the hardware you are using. A version that fixes something for Sony XDCamEX users may break something for us JVC ProHD users.

Are you ready to buy into this?

Don't get me wrong - I drink the Kool-Aid but Apple doesn't produce a Magic Box that all good things flow from. Apple produces a quality product with very limited build options that are tightly integrated to the operating system, thereby offering an out of the box stability and reliability that is appealing to me. Do I pay a premium for this? Yes, but not as much as you may think. To compare a $4000 MacPro tower to a home built $800 PC is ridiculous. But you DO pay a premium - I would suggest realistically 40 - 100%. In MY book however, the computer hardware is pretty much the cheapest part of the workflow AND the highest return on investment.

In your shoes, would I switch? Probably not but I would entertain getting a cheap iMac, and FCE and start crunching video in my spare time to get a feel for the workflow.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 12:04 PM   #15
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Wow. Thanks for all the responses. Frankly I expected to be fed the Mac kool-aid, and thought I would have to filter the responses somewhat.

Let me say I am completely comfortable and happy with Vegas (8.0c). It does most everything I need when used with a couple of plug-ins. I am very happy with the workflow for both HDV and 5d2 footage. Like Chris B. noted, Vegas has an amateurish stigma that FCP doesn't have. I've used PPro and hate it for the work I do. I'm more of a shooter than an editor, so the intuitive, yet powerful nature of Vegas works. When I got into HDV nearly 4 years ago. FCP seemed to be struggling somewhat with it, whereas Vegas was working well with the Cineform intermediate codec and there was a lot of support on the Vegas forum. So that's why I decided to stay PC and use Vegas.

However, given that I need to upgrade sometime soon to the 64-bit from 32-bit, which means all of the requisite hardware & software upgrades, along with concerns about compatibility (not to mention having limited experience to the disaster that was Vista), I am/was considering the switch to Mac.

I really appreciate all the honest feedback. That's part of what makes DVinfo so great.
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