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Discussing the editing of all formats with FCS, FCP, FCE

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Old November 25th, 2009, 01:00 AM   #1
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I'll just get straight to it. I'm going to make the move from a PC to a MAC for one reason and one reason only: to find a job! The industry seems to love FCS so much that all the job postings I see require FCS exeprience or your own FCS set-up.

My goal for this move is to be able to start landing editing gigs and build my portfolio as I go and have it pay for itself, eventually allowing me to upgrade to a Mac Pro if ever necessary.

I've been doing a lot of research on the 27" iMac and I just came back from using one at a local Apple store. I actually tested out the 3GHz Dual Core version of the 27" and it was quite a pleasing experience.

I was editing beyond Hi-Def footage (2048 or something like that) and the speed of the iMac for the filters I added and the just the overall editing workflow is awesome.

Very much at home in that aspect. My biggest concern is the expandibility issue. Now, I know that Mac Pros are THE machine to get for serious HD editing. Herein lies my question...what expanibility options am I waivering if I were to purchase an iMac?

Hard drive space for editing? Well, a quick search on bhphotovideo.com leads me to a 2TB CalDigit external harddrive with FireWire 800/400 support and USB. It also has a RAID0, or RAID 1 configuration options.

So...In the hard drive front, I'm not really limiting myself to what's in the box. Clearly, options are out there.

Ok, so that leaves us with extra front chasis bays and PCI slots.

What PCI based hardware will I be cheating myself out of and are they TRULY necessary? And do those PCI based hardware not available as a FireWire "breakout box" version?

Also, all of the hardware based solutions are for other editors such as Premiere and not for FCS...I'm new to Mac and what it has to offer so forgive my ignorance to FCS based hardware...

Currently, I only own a Canon XL2 camcorder which records strictly in SD (for those who don't already know).

I do plan on upgrading to a hi-def camcorder sometime in the future, but I don't know when that will be. As for what cams are in the line-up? Canon XHA1 or a Panasonic HPX170 / 200 (I'm leaning towards the Panasonic)

Even when I do upgrade my cam, the iMac seems to be more than capable to edit the hi-def footage.

I keep reading "expandibiltiy is no-existent", but I'd like to know what exactly it is that I will be giving up if I were to purchase the iMac?

So far...the iMac is right up my ally...Another problem with the Mac Pro is I have to shell out another 1000 buxs for an awesome display. With the iMac it comes with it!

Anyway, I hope I made some sense and any input/advice would be greatly appreciated.
-Roger Rosales
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Old November 25th, 2009, 04:51 AM   #2
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OK, I don't understand, are you looking for work with a company and feel you need FCP training in order to land the job, or are you a freelance editor and feel you need FCP to get edit jobs?
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Old November 25th, 2009, 09:11 AM   #3
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Ultimately, my goal is to freelance and be able to obtain enough freelance work to keep my family and myself well taken care of and from the research I've done using Mandy.com and Craigslist, FCP seems to be the preferred editor for all the real, paying gigs.

However, I wont turn down a full time job offer if the offer is right.

So...make a long answer short (a bit late for that), I want to be a freelance editor and I feel I need FCP to get edit jobs.
-Roger Rosales
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Old November 25th, 2009, 10:55 AM   #4
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Good luck with your endeavor.

I too am interested in the Imac, but the big drawback/question is whether or not you can capture your video to an external hd, seeing as the current Imacs have only one fw socket, and that is a fw 800. This would mean daisy chaining, and I don't think video likes that.

Cameras, and I think especially Canon are poodle-ish when it comes to having more than one device connect at a time. I think a hub may not be the answer, since that still goes into the same "bus". That's my big question. I'd check this out before committing.

I've also asked about this here:

Apple - Support - Discussions - Advice needed!!! Imac 27"/Canon HV30 ...

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Old November 25th, 2009, 11:20 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Roger Rosales View Post
Ultimately, my goal is to freelance and be able to obtain enough freelance work to keep my family and myself well taken care of and from the research I've done using Mandy.com and Craigslist, FCP seems to be the preferred editor for all the real, paying gigs.

However, I wont turn down a full time job offer if the offer is right.

So...make a long answer short (a bit late for that), I want to be a freelance editor and I feel I need FCP to get edit jobs.
Well I use FCP as my current editing app, but I don't think I have ever gotten a job because of the application I use to edit with. And I have never gotten a job from mandy.com or craigslist, and do not even consider them as viable sources to judge the market.
My recommendation is to always stick with the platform that is most user friendly to you, PC or Mac. Any modern professional editing application for mac or pc is perfectly capable of handling the chores of freelance edit work, as long as the editor is up to the task.
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Old November 25th, 2009, 12:56 PM   #6
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An iMac is NOT an ideal platform for any serious editing work, period. Anything from Apple with an "i" in the product name is for the general consumer market, not professional.

As mentioned in a few other threads, an iMac is literally a pimped-out laptop with a really big screen and external keyboard. There is no expandability at all and you can't use a single-drive system for any serious HD work.

If you can't afford to get a Mac Pro - even a used one - then don't bother with the migration over to Mac. You'll just be creating more headaches and bottlenecks in your work than you realize.

Lastly: There's no compelling reason to make a PC to Mac migration at this time for video work. Since you're already familiar with the PC interface you'd be better served by beefing up your current architecture rather than re-inventing the wheel by making a switch to any Mac.
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Old November 26th, 2009, 01:53 PM   #7
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Jonathan, thanks for the link. That issue never occured to me. That could potentially be a big issue. I've captured a few times onto my OS drive and it did drop frames, especially on a full tape capture. I think i had as many as 50 dropped frames. Of course, this was on PC and Windows isn't exactly the cream of the crop so I don't know how well the Mac OS will fare with capturing onto the main drive.

David, have you always had FCP? If that's the case I don't think you would really know what it's like for PC users where the industry is hopped up on FCP like crack addicts. Although there are just as powerful editors out there for the PC, FCP has become a standard. How would you recommend I judge the market if Mandy and Craigslist are not viable sources to judge by?

Robert, I'd have to disagree just a little on your logic of an iMac being a pimped out laptop. I understand where you're coming from and for the most part, it's a true statement, but a MacBook Pro can't get up to 16gb of memory and 2TB of hard drive space! And heck, it's still pretty portable! Ya just can't bust it out at the coffe shop but hey, a friends house? Sure. But I do understand where you're coming from.

upon further looking at the pros and cons, an iMac is indeed ideal for non-pro work. If this was just for my own personal use and to edit my personal projects, an iMac is the way to go, but with the want and need to go pro, the iMac just isn't for me.

However, why do you say there is no compelling reason to make the switch? Everywhere I look, in-house post production facilities require FCP experience, very little actually use PC's. Am I looking in the wrong places?

I'm just a 24 year old dad trying to make some smart business moves and i just need a little guidance. My 9-5 doesn't cut it and I'm tired of being a slave to the clock.

As for the learning curve...that's hardly a problem. I'm just as comfortable on a Mac as a PC. Sure i'm going to need to re-learn certain tasks and ways of doing things with the different interface, but I'm a fast learner and that's hardly an issue, if at all. Computers in general are pretty much self-explanatory, just read what's on screen and you'll get it in no time.

If anything, the little time I did spend on the mac I felt very much at home and very comfortable using FCP. I was able to figure out most of everything that I know and do on a PC with ease on the Mac. Of course there's going to be bigger hurtles to overcome, but that's on ANY operating system.

But I realize now,iMac is a no go for pro work. However, I am considering it just for my personal filmmaking if I can start landing gigs with my Windows based workflow...maybe I'm just not trying hard enough?

Anywho, sorry for the long reply, but I'm just trying to make the best investment I can. I'm considering a refurbished MacPro from either Apple directly, B&H or the dvwarehouse.com

Any other suggestions are welcome and please feel free to throw out reliable specs for a refurb mac pro that will last for years to come with the current crop of expansion options for HD video editing.
-Roger Rosales
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Old November 26th, 2009, 02:10 PM   #8
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Well, I understand where you are coming from, I was there myself. But just having
the gear, no matter if it is FCP or Avid will NOT really help you much with 'freeing' you
from the clock and 'getting the freelance gigs'. That is more about networking, networking,
and oh yeah....more networking. If you are not getting jobs now, just buying a Mac with
FCP is not going to get you enough new freelance job offers to let you leave your job.
You really have to figure out your market and if you can create a 'niche'....why would
people hire you? Just cause you can do the job is not enough reason.....now there
are 13 year old kids in middle school that are absolutely great with FCP.....I know, I helped
consult for a local middle school that has an entire 4 camera setup with mobile control
room for shooting middle school sports and a 'news' show.....and some of those kids
are really good with FCP. Point is, there are more and more people who are at
least decent with the tools, you need to figure out a business plan, or at least, a
way that you can corner your share of work.....cause just having the tools is NOT going
to land you a bunch of gigs suddenly.

Ok, now that I said that, I will give you what you are looking for. If you decide to
do this and figure out how to make a go of it, the absolute best place that I can
think of for getting a Mac Pro is off Apple's refurbished store. They come with the
same warranty as a new computer and the savings are better than you will get from
anyone else you can find. I got a Quad Core Nehalam Mac Pro for 2 grand from the refurb store,
and they sell them new at $2500. I did a ton of internet research, and they have the best prices.
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Old November 26th, 2009, 02:35 PM   #9
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I don't wanna start a bunch of crap here, but let me defend the imac a little. I got one in early '08, and have used it for editing SD material.

I have a firewire hub from belkin that I go into the computer with, and plug my various drives into that to capture onto.

I haven't done a lot on it, but I have captured enough tape with no problems (i.e. no dropped frames) to know that it's possible. FCP runs just fine.

Now, HD, I don't know, seems like it's a bit much for this machine. Maybe HDV is okay, but I've only ever messed with QT movies rendered out from my animation software, and some EX1 footage I just shot. Both of those make this thing grind to a halt, causing the beach ball to appear after any simple operation in FCP.

But maybe the newer more powerful Imacs can handle that stuff.

Point is, NOT totally worthless for editing, just depends WHAT you're editing.

I would also say, by the way, that from my limited viewpoint, if you plan on working on OTHER PEOPLE's systems as an editor, freelance or otherwise, Avid and FCP are the top guys right now. I know a few folks that use premiere, and even media 100. Vegas seems to be limited to individuals, as opposed to production companies/houses. Those companies are where your "working on other folks' systems" kinda work is going to come from, generally.
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Old November 26th, 2009, 03:00 PM   #10
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Well, I switched to FCP for work reasons. As a producer, I was free to use whatever I wanted -- and over the years, I've used just about everything. But now that I'm working as director for hire, not producing, I have to work with what the production company wants ... and that is almost always FCP. So I bought a MacBook Pro and taught myself FCP. Not a hard process if you already know an editor or two -- FCP is almost exactly the same as Premiere, so migrating from there is pretty simple.

Most of the time I do the first edit -- original footage on an external drive, I perform the edit and insert place holders for things I don't do like titles & fancy transitions, hand the drive over to the producer for finishing. Occasionally I go the distance and deliver a drive with the final edit on it. Source material is typically a proxy file in DV format with timecode to match the original (if I'm not finishing) or one of the 'lesser' HD formats from a Panasonic HVX200 or Sony EX3 -- I've never had any issue working with an externally mounted drive via Firewire 800, and for the DV stuff I've worked with some pretty minimal drives ...

So the answer to your query is you will probably be just fine pursuing your iMac route -- it is likely twice the machine my Macbook Pro is -- with external drives. If you land big gigs that demand Mac Pro and fancy hardware ... buy what you need then, or borrow it, or get a loaner -- by the time that day happens gear will have moved on, you will have made money, and knowing Final Cut & Mac will still be a useful addition to your skill set.

Just my opinion -- your mileage may vary!

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Old November 26th, 2009, 03:47 PM   #11
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Any Intel iMac is more than content for HD editing, I am routinely editing 1080p with ProRes on 2006 iMac in FCP 7 with no hassle. Only thing that slows down the workflow is the maximum of 3 GB RAM you can put into these older iMacs. With new models, that is not the case anymore.

That being said, you NEED Mac Pro if you want to get into higher-end jobs, if you need to work with SDI, proper broadcast monitoring, i.e. anything that requires any add-on card. You simply cannot cram those into iMac :) Sure, there is Matrox MXO, but that is not the end-all, be-all of broadcast applications.

It's exactly how R Geoff Baker said: don't plan too ahead. Buy a machine you know you will use now. There is no such thing as five year investment in editing gear now.
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Old November 26th, 2009, 04:01 PM   #12
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Very strong points Gabe and very true. Indeed I do need to network more, but having 2 kids and a 9-5 is very time consuming. The biggest reasons I wanted to get a mac were so I can land a better 9-5 that would get me closer to my freelancing goals. If I worked for a post-production facicilty I would be doing two things- building my portfolio and networking. My original intention was not to get a mac and quite my day job the next day! Quite the opposite. I was/am going to subject myself to the torture of the clock but at least this way, I'd be working towards my goals. Atleast those are my hopes. Buy a mac, land a job at an actual Post-Production facility. I make it sound simple, but I realize it wont be, but I know having a MAC with FCP will do A LOT to get me closer to that happening. Not having a mac isn't helping.

Josh, I in no way was slamming on the iMac. I love it. I think it's a powerful and compact machine. I'm sure DV editing on the iMac is as smooth as butter, but that's the problem, it's SD. HD is the future. Yes, right now I have an SD camcorder, but again...HD upgrade is in the works. If I was just going to use it to do some AVCHD or SD editing I would jump on it, but I have much bigger plans.

Baker, you hit it right on the nail. Most of the time, FCP is the preffered editor, period. It's very unfortunate for us PC folk, but even AVID is being demoted as time goes by. You're last paragraph puts me back in a big thought cluster! to iMac or not?! haha, very difficult choice. I had and apparently still do have the same logic behind an iMac purchase. I'm sure the iMac will do me fine, even it if is just for my own purposes, the addition of that skill is priceless.

The great thing about the Panasonic is that it's P2 technology- no capturing required! Even the other lesser hi-def formats that record in AVCHD are all SD based. Tape seems to be going out of style- quickly.

Jiri, that's pretty impressive! Now with up to 16gb of memory...shoot, this could easily last me a while.

Seems like I'm back to the beginning, but Josh, Geoff and Jiri- you guys really put things into perspective for me.

I don't see myself getting into broadcast monitoring anytime soon- that's a another ball park. One that I don't know much about. Broadcast standards are also much more requiring (XX of years in the field, etc).

Thank you all so much for your valuable input!
-Roger Rosales
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Old November 26th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Roger Rosales View Post
Most of the time, FCP is the preffered editor, period. [...] even AVID is being demoted as time goes by.
What evidence is there of that? I read lots of people making claims that Final Cut is "the industry standard" but there is no evidence to support those claims. All the programs I've worked on (as VFX editor) have been edited (by the creative editor) on Avid. FCP is the sweetheart of the indy and boutique market, but only has a foothold on a modest share in the upper echelons of broadcast and film.

I'm with Robert. Hone your skills with what you have and work on building experience and a decent reel. No one (worth working for) is going to hire you because you have a Mac; they're going to hire you because of your skill. I got my first fulltime gig in an Avid broadcast facility despite having ZERO EXPERIENCE on an Avid. They liked my editorial senses and knew that I knew my way around FCP and would easily get up to speed on how Avid works differently (a bit of a learning curve going either way, but not terrible). Also -- and this is very important -- I had the right attitude (now I'm just a grumpy bastard... working in VFX will do that to ya).

Mac Pros are not ideal for pro-level jobs for the reasons already stated. But if you're looking for getting your feet wet with a Mac and Final Cut with some smaller scale, non-pro work, an iMac can get you by. Understand the limitations and learn how to work within them.

And a piece of advice for someone looking to learn, get a copy of Norm Hollyn's "The Lean Forward Moment." Editing is really about storytelling, not technical mumbo-jumbo.
Mike Barber
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Old November 27th, 2009, 12:51 AM   #14
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Hi Mike,

well, I don't have concrete evidence of my previous statement, but what I do know is that the times that i've looked, FCP is the standard. Even big time hollywood directors and editors use FCP. According to Wikipedia, 300, The Simpsons Movie, Benjamin Button and the ring are among the biggest films to be edited on FCP...but indeed, not many.

Since indy filmmaking is so big right now, FCP is all I hear, but indy filmmakers are just peeking in through the outside (so it seems). This is most likely why I feel the way I do, amongst many others.

Also, I never expected to land gigs simply by having a mac. I understand it takes talent, skill and attitude- I'm just saying FCP does indeed increase your chances, just like any other job where "biliangual is a plus, but not required" type of thing. I never expected it just fall on my lap. Maybe I came off that way, but it's not what I meant. However, the fact that you were able to land high profile (assuming since it was a broadcast gig using Avid) with no Avid experience does raise my spirits. Heck, in the end, attitude (like you said) and being able to learn quickly is probably the make or break of a gig. Shoot, I might just end up being grumpy myself...lol

Editing is really about storytelling, not technical mumbo-jumbo.
I couldn't agree more. Editing is my bread and butter. I love to cut a story together and give it the feel, the flow, the ambience, the angst, the horror, the happyness, sadness, eagerness, tension...........ya get the idea.

This is indeed a neverending discussion. Half the people are for and half the people are against and the general consensus says "stick with what ya got, have the right attitude and just network and build your portfolio and you'll get to where you want to be".

The more I think about and research it, the more concrete it becomes. THe lines have been blurred and at this point, it's a question of whether I should do it for myself on a small scale to please my desire to have FCP and have the skills under my belt or just not bother and hope my luck is as good as yours. By that I mean, I'm offered a job and I get paid to learn a new system, be it FCP or Avid.

I obviously want the latter. But now I also want a Mac because well...they are awesome. My original post stated only for the job, but now it's evolved into a desire to want to switch, but is it worth it?

That's just something I need to figure out myself at this point. Well...time to start scribbling pros and cons and all that stuff. At this point, I have no idea what's best, but I think I might save myself the money and stick with what I have and just hit the market harder and push myself harder to get my work out there and network more. That seems to be working pretty well for most.

Thanks for chiming in Mike! I appreciate it.

oh, and one last thing before I forget. I've been looking at imdb and I was scoping out their pro services and I noticed it has something similiar to mandy.com for job postings and the like. I was wondering, has anyone used this service and is it reliable and effective? Is it worth the money?
-Roger Rosales
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Old November 27th, 2009, 10:26 AM   #15
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Two cents worth here.

My experience is that FCP is a plus in the freelance business right now especially if the jobs being offered require you to provide your own system for the work. Frequently the job providers already have a library of FCP projects or want a common editing platform to send the work around. I am working on two jobs right now that came from out of my facility that are FCP based. It is easy integration compared to my friend who had a project on an AVID which was great until the freelance editor had a serious health crisis and sold the system to pay for treatment (could only afford the lowest insurance). My friend had the files but found it very difficult to get an editor with an AVID system to pick up the job. Eventually my friend rebuilt the project on an FCP system. Recently a client ran out of money and "hired" a video student to finish a project I started for free (yes, that's been happening lately). I made sure to get paid for the work I did and sent the project off on their hard drive.

On the question of the iMac. It really depends on the work you are seeking or are finding in the classifieds. As everyone has inputed here already, the iMac is limited in the capture of media and the output of media. That said, I worked on a HD film shot with the HVX200 that was edited by the director on a three year old Intel Mac laptop and technically it worked perfectly. The finished cut was screened without dropped frames from the laptop. The final output was made into a QuickTime file to be sent to a post facility. I have a year old iMac with three FireWire 800 drives daisy chained that had never had a problem with either SD DV footage or HDV/ProRes footage. The same goes for my 1st generation laptop. I made a couple of film grade movie trailers on my old G5 Mac without a hitch although the rough edit was done in DV format to reduce the rendering time on changes. I have a big HDCam edit coming up where although I have an 8-core Mac Pro I'll capture the footage at another facility to a hard drive so I don't have to rent a deck and SDI capture card for over a thousand a day. Your options are open. If you are delivering to a big network with high quality requirements then the advice to get a MacPro is right on. If the work is leaning towards web video and DVD distribution, the iMac might be just the right thing for now. If you ever have to upgrade from the iMac, you still have a great computer to use somewhere else and has very good resale value.
William Hohauser - New York City
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