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Old January 29th, 2010, 06:33 AM   #1
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27 inch iMac - a good choice for Final Cut Pro?

The 27" iMac comes in two basic configurations differing in Graphics card, number of cores and speed. Are both suitable for Final Cut Pro?
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Old January 29th, 2010, 10:40 AM   #2
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27 in. i-Mac and FCP

I recently bought the 27 in. i-Mac with a 2TB hard drive, upgraded to the i7 processor and the optimum graphics card and added an additional 4 GB of Ram. I had the latest FCP studio installed and so far it works great. I bought a 2TB external hard drive that I use as my scratch disk and most of my editing so far has been with video from a JVC GY-HM700 camera that records to SDHC cards. The work-flow is fantastic. The camera records the video with a QuickTime wrapper and once I copy the media files on the card to my scratch disk I just drag the CLIP folder into the FCP Browser and all my clips are there ready to use. No Log & Capture, no digitizing, and no transcoding needed. It's a great time saver. Most of my work is short web videos that are not too complicated or effects laden so I haven't had any experience doing a longer or more complicated edit. There are several articles on MACWORLD.com that compare the new i-Macs to comparable Mac Pro systems and they determined that the i-Macs performed just as well or better in most catagories and at almost half the price. The only downside I've found so far is that recently I had to edit a program using Mini-DV source tapes. The i-Mac has only 1 Firewire port (800) so I had to unplug my scratch disk in order to connect the Mini-DV deck, change my scratch disk to the i-Mac internal HD in order to digitize the footage. It's not recommended to use the internal HD as a scratch disk when you're editing so then I had to unplug the deck, plug my external HD back in and transfer the digitized clips to the external drive, before starting my edit. Long story short, so far I'm very pleased with my purchase and if you decide to go this route I would be very interested to hear from you and others that are also using the i-Mac.
Good Luck,
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Old January 29th, 2010, 10:50 AM   #3
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Yes, both are more then fine enough.

The quad core will give you a bit more horsepower for rendering with multiple cores in Compressor, though.

Final Cut Pro at this point only uses 2 cores, but this will probably change in the future.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 11:52 AM   #4
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Hi Dan,

Did you try connecting your Mini-DV deck to the scratch disk and then daisy chaining the scratch disk to your iMac? In theory (unless I'm mistaken) you should be able to see both external devices and transfer files straight from one to the other.

I'm guessing but it's worth a try.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 03:09 PM   #5
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Hi Alastair,

Many would recommend a Mac Pro for very good reasons however, you'll need to buy a big monitor for it. The best value, large Apple monitor (I know you don't need an Apple monitor) is in the iMac. It's cheaper and better than the 30" "Cinema Display" and you get a free computer with it.

Get either iMac and buy a 12-core, USB 3 Mac Pro in eighteen months when it's earned the money and use the iMac as the monitor.

Last edited by Paul Kousoulides; January 29th, 2010 at 05:23 PM.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 05:46 AM   #6
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Thanks Dan, Mathieu and Paul for the advice - it is much appreciated.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 12:17 PM   #7
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Using iMac's for video or any pro-level work has always been controversial simply because in essence what you've got is a laptop with big processing power, a huge screen but zero expandability. Depending on the type of work you do - or plan to get into in the future - this may or may not become a limiting factor.

One of the biggest potential problems for the iMac interface is that you can't add any *fast* external RAID arrays (yes, you can add a Firewire "array" but it can only be used as a large storage source, not for speed since the FW interface will limit you to single-drive read-write speeds), nor can you add any more internal drives for offloading critical data transfers such as scratch disks and render files *away* from the single OS and apps HDD.

If you're serious about video work but want either portability or smaller form factor than a Mac Pro then a 17" inch Macbook Pro would be far more capable, as it gives you the ability to add a second internal HDD (MCE tech modification kit, highly recommended), adds the ExpressCard slot for adding other devices like a fast external eSATA array and adding a real second monitor. All are huge pluses for video work.

Can the iMac handle FCP tasks? Yes, just be aware of it's limitations for your future expansion.
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Old July 3rd, 2010, 07:46 PM   #8
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i hook my 2009 17" MBPro to an old LCD 32" samsung but want to replace the samsung. I think the value for money argument of getting the 27" iMac instead of the 30" ACD is overwhelming. i could use the iMac for rendering allowing me to carry on using the MBPro for editing. but am not sure how to share huge massive files between the 2 computers?

i'm sure i could set up a Gb ethernet router between the 2 and hook up a network storage drive?? But would the network speed be fast enough (compared to fw800 or usb2?) between the networked drive and the macs?

i'm sure this has been done many times before!!
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Old July 12th, 2010, 04:34 PM   #9
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I, too, just purchased the new 27" iMac with the i7 processor and 8gb of ram. So far it's worked wonderfully. I've edited projects shot on both a Canon 5d and a 7d as well as my Panasonic HMC40. I've done some Motion graphics work on it, but not too much real heavy lifting. In my opinion, it's the best option for the money. If you can spring a few extra thousand bucks and get a beefed up Mac Pro, it would probably be preferable on the power side of things, but you're not going to find as nice of a screen to go with it.
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Old July 13th, 2010, 12:35 PM   #10
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I have a long 10+ year history as a PC editor with Avid and recently switched to a 21.5" core 2 duo Imac with the Nvidia 9400 gpu. I wanted to start small to check out FCP and see if I was going to like it.

I can tell you without a doubt that FCS rocks on this machine. I'm sure it runs a bit better on a Mac Pro but in terms of timeline performance I have sliced through HDV native, AVCHD via Prores(proxy,light,standard) SONY EX1 1080p footage, DV and even a bit of Red footage via Prores.

Look at it this way. any Imac even the base model for $1,200.00 will beat any MBP hands down except for maybe gpu acceleration. Even then I have found Most gpu based stuff to work fine for me. A i7 Imac with the much better gpu will eat a MBP for breakfast. I say this because a lot of people edit a lot of great stuff with MBP's. The only aspect I see suffering a bit for me right now is rendering speed.

The only downside to the 27" Imac is the lack of higher bandwidth storage options. Honestly however I have heard that FW800 works well enough for most formats people actually use including prores. The only time you may notice any problems is if you want to run multiple streams of high quality prores at the same time. For example a 8 camera multi camera edit all in prores may be a bit of a challenge at full quality.

I really like FCS and am already considering my next Mac and am really thinking of getting a 27" Imac and selling my 21.5". In fact the only reason I am still kind of considering a Mac Pro is to use my Blackmagic Intensity card
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Old July 13th, 2010, 05:03 PM   #11
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yes, you can add a Firewire "array" but it can only be used as a large storage source, not for speed since the FW interface will limit you to single-drive read-write speeds


Hmmm.... probably worth clarifying that this may not be entirely correct. Whilst an empty FW800 based RAID may offer similar sustained read/write speeds as with an empty FW800 based single disk, you would undoubtedly see dramatic differences in those sustained read/write speeds as the drive capacity is filled up, with the very clear advantage visible with the RAID array as opposed to the single drive.

Hope thats useful
Andy
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Old July 14th, 2010, 12:41 AM   #12
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A Firewire RAID-0 or RAID-5 array does also have the added advantage of reliability as you can have a drive fail without losing any data.
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Old July 14th, 2010, 01:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
A Firewire RAID-0 or RAID-5 array
RAID 1 provides mirroring, RAID 0 is interleaved and therefore offers no redundancy protection at all. In fact, in a RAID 0 enclosure, if one drive goes down, the entire contents of the RAID are compromised.
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Old July 14th, 2010, 03:38 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
RAID 1 provides mirroring, RAID 0 is interleaved and therefore offers no redundancy protection at all. In fact, in a RAID 0 enclosure, if one drive goes down, the entire contents of the RAID are compromised.
Whoops! Thanks for correcting my typo.
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