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Old February 12th, 2010, 10:03 AM   #1
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HD Video Editing System Requirements?

I'm looking into getting a new MacBook Pro to replace my PowerBook G4 (whose processor is too old and slow to process HD video) and am curious about what specifications I should be looking at, considering I will want to use it to get involved with more graphics editing, in addition to editing HD video. FYI, I will be running off of Final Cut Studio and Adobe After Effects.

http://store.apple.com/us_edu_84739/...co=MTAyNTQzMzk

Specifically, I'm looking at the 15-inch: 2.66GHz and the 15-inch: 2.8GHz models.

In my research, I've read that you should have at least 4GB of RAM for uncompressed HD video, and Color suggests at least 512MB of VRAM to process 4K HD video. Only the 2.8GHz model offers the 512MB of VRAM, but I'm not sure, if that's worth the extra money or not, since I will primarily be editing 1080p/i (to start, at least). Of course, I'm not sure what the future holds and whether or not 4K video will be made more standard, like 1080 is now.

Does anyone have any advice to offer as to which models and specifications I should be looking for?

Thanks.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 12:07 PM   #2
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I have done pretty much everything on my Macbook Pro (early 2008 before unibody model). It's a 15.4" Intel Core 2 Duo 2.6 with 4GB ram. You want the higher end graphics card (512mb vs 256mb).

You also definitely need to choose a 7200rmp hard drive when you configure it. Ram can be added later, but definitely don't get a slow drive.

If I were to buy a MBP now, I would get the 17" (since it's the only model with an express slot anymore—for esata external drives and SxS cards) and...

1. upgrade the hard drive to 500GB @ 7200rpm

2. buy an 8GB ram kit from OWC to save $140 from Apple's prices.
Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro DDR3 Memory Upgrades and Hard Drive Upgrades - Up to 8.0GB of DDR3 and 500GB SATA Hard Drives for new Unibody models

All that being said, if you really want the 15.4", get the 2.8 for the faster graphics card.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 12:44 PM   #3
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The lack of the ExpressCard slot on the 15" is a big limiting factor for video production, IMO, so like David I would recommend the 15" for that reason alone.

-Andrew

EDIT: yes, I meant to say 17"... Ugh I really should save giving advice until I'm full awake in the morning.

Last edited by Andrew Kimery; February 12th, 2010 at 01:50 PM.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 01:27 PM   #4
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Andrew means he recommends the 17". Haha.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 01:56 PM   #5
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MacBook is not powerful enough to handle uncompressed HD nor Red 4K. No notebook is. A MacPro may be OK with a good disk setup.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 02:18 PM   #6
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You'll also need to consider how you're going to monitor this lovely HD you'll be making. Any computer desktop screen (including FCP's Canvas window will not do.)

Investigate the Matrox MXO family of products as one of the few affordable HD monitoring solutions available for the Mac. You'll need a dedicated screen, but that can be a "normal" panel, if driven by the MXO hardware units, as it can then display interlacing effects, fully-pixel-mapped, with the correct colour gamut. No computer graphics card will give you that for HD video.

BTW: the MacBook Pro may not handle uncompressed HD, but it will handle HDV OK - not exactly sure how many streams, but I'm sure there are users with MBPros here who can advise...

Also, any reason you're sticking to 15" only? Bit small, I would have thought. And do you REALLY want a portable? You're going to have to use external drives with it anyway, so a MacPro might be a better choice IMHO - even a used 2008 model, compared to a new MacbookPro, if you're budget constrained. Then you can also get a large desktop screen (24"?) which you'll need as well! :)
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Last edited by Martin Mayer; February 12th, 2010 at 02:53 PM.
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Old February 13th, 2010, 12:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harm Millaard View Post
MacBook is not powerful enough to handle uncompressed HD .
The issue is not that a MacBook Pro is not powerful enough for Uncompressed HD but more that it lacks the necessary connectivity to allow simultaneous connection of both an I/O device capable of allowing Uncompressed HD capture and playback, and also a storage solution capable of Uncompressed HD read/write speeds.
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Old February 13th, 2010, 12:21 AM   #8
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I have a G-Raid 1TB external HD (7200RPM) with over 200MB/sec performance. Does that help my case at all for editing 1080, whether compressed or uncompressed?
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Old February 13th, 2010, 08:42 PM   #9
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The G-Raid will be great. I don't know who edits uncompressed HD a majority of the time. ProRes has suited me for years. If you have the G-Raid, you might look into the ExpressCard adapter to e-sata which will be a lot faster than FW800.

Everyone will say "get a tower" mainly for connectivity and monitoring solutions. But who owns a tower and actually has a Black Magic/AJA card connected to a $20k broadcast monitor? I have seen many many programs air that were never seen through a broadcast monitor in post—just the canvas. I'm moving to an iMac (oh noes!) since I've been working with HD for years now and it ultimately ends up on the web. Broadcast spots will be viewed through a $200 firewire adapter to a hdtv monitor I have for viewing motion graphics as interlaced.
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Old February 14th, 2010, 08:11 AM   #10
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>But who owns a tower and actually has a Black Magic/AJA card connected to a $20k broadcast monitor?

Actually, a hell of a lot of professionals have exactly such a set up David, perhaps not a $20k monitor but usually the best they can afford.


>I have seen many many programs air that were never seen through a broadcast monitor in post—just the canvas.

Thats no more than a very sad refection of todays lower standards mate, and I mean that sincerely.
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Old February 14th, 2010, 08:49 AM   #11
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Andy, you are right about lower standards. But, I will say I have seen great stuff air that wasn't previewed in an actual "pro HD environment" when graded, and I have also seen some horrible video from a fully setup studio. I think it has more to do with what the person does with what they have than the price of the equipment.

All of this still depends on the intended delivery.

You don't have to view a broadcast monitor for: web videos, corporate training videos, weddings, etc.

You should be viewing a broadcast monitor for: motion graphics, major broadcast spots and shows, anything that doesn't air on local cable between 2am–5am.
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Old February 14th, 2010, 08:18 PM   #12
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Thanks, everyone, for the pointers. I appreciate it.

As of now, I'm not looking for the ultimate HD editing setup. I'm a recent film school grad with budget constraints and just want something portable to allow me access to the world of HD as I travel around.

My main goal is to get a notebook that I can use to edit video up to the 1080 level without complications. To start, most of what I shoot and edit would go on the internet. I don't have any current plans to use it for any projects of a serious scope that would require an external monitor.

David, you recommended I upgrade the RAM from 4GB to 8GB. On Apple's website, it recommends 4GB of RAM to handle uncompressed HD in Final Cut Pro. I understand that 4GB is probably just the basic recommendation, but would I be severely limiting myself, if I were to not upgrade to 8GB right away?

Also, I feel my knowledge is limited, regarding the advantage of the ExpressCard/34 slot on the 17" model over the SD card slot on the 15" models. Is this slot used in respects to different media storage cards, like the Panasonic HVX's P2 card? What are the differences, advantages, etc?

Again, thanks a lot, guys.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 12:51 AM   #13
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Devin, you are fine with a MacBook Pro as long as you get the 512mb graphics card, the 7200rpm internal drive, and at least the 4GB ram upgrade.

You can upgrade the ram later as you tackle more projects. Buy it from OWC.

As far as the slots, the fastest external drive you can connect is through Firewire800 on the 15" which has an 800Mb/s data rate. The Express slot will allow for double that rate with a compatible e-sata drive. G-Tech has G-Raid drives in many capacities that have e-sata, firewire800 and USB2 all in one drive. You will notice a huge difference from fw800 to e-sata. I believe it's 1.5Gb/s, but it could be up to 3Gb/s.

They kept this express slot on the 17" because Apple assumed the pros would get this model. The older 15" models had this (mine does) and the express slot does come in handy.

Express to e-sata adapter:
Sonnet Tempo SATA ExpressCard/34 control... (TSATAII-E342P) at OWC

G-Tech drive with e-sata port:
G-Technology | 1TB G-Drive External Hard Drive | GD4 1000 | B&H

Also, keep in mind that the 17" models support a full 1920x1080 image (1920x1200), where the 15.4" models only support 1440x900 total. The 17" allows for more screen real estate for your applications like Final Cut where you will want to see the timeline, viewer, canvas, bin, all at once.

The 17" MBP with 7200rpm drive on Apple's site comes to $2549.
Macmall has the same configuration priced at $2544 and no tax.

The best deal would be to buy within a church/non-profit to get 10% off and no sales tax. That's ruffly $2291.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 01:00 AM   #14
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One more thought here...

There have been benchmarks of a new model macbook pro. I would hold off a few weeks or at least into March before picking one up.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 10:58 AM   #15
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Thanks a lot. For the reasons you stated, I'll pick up a 17" model once it becomes clear whether a new version of the MacBook Pro is immediately forthcoming or not.
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