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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:35 AM   #1
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Potential 27" iMac purchase...

Hey, I'm currently on a Dell running Vista 32 Home and Sony Vegas. The pc is maybe a year and a half old. I bought it before I got into video. Some things I don't like right now is that Vegas won't play video in the preview screen at full quality (and sometimes even half quality) without being incredibly choppy. It also won't import AVI files where the audio isn't missing, so I have to first convert them in Any Video Converter to wmv. I may be doing something wrong, but I render my videos to mpeg-2 and ac-3 for video and audio to burn to DVD, but my DVD's always have terrible quality compared to the source files.

I've been reading through the threads here where people are trashing macs for no blu-ray, flash, price, etc. I'm not set in stone on this, but I'm considering picking up an iMac. My first question is RAM. Apparently FCP is 32 bit software, so does that mean anything more than 4GB of RAM would be wasted? I would also be doing audio production in Logic. The problem with that is certain features can only be used in 32 bit mode, so even if I add more RAM I won't be able to use it if I have to switch over to 32 bit from 64 bit. What would be the benefit of adding more than 4GB of RAM if their two big media software suites are essentially 32 bit?

If I get the iMac should I spring for the i7 2.8GHZ chip, or will the i5 2.66GHZ chip suffice? Will going with the i7 significantly decrease my rendering time? As of now my editing needs/skills are quite basic. I'm not sure how much more involved they will become as I really have no experience in graphics manipulation or special effects. I mainly do live event and commercial video with other things here and there. Even if I do some short films or documentaries I can't imagine doing much in the way of SFX.

My other option is to just get a 64 bit version of Win7, but then I'd need to upgrade everything on my PC. People here are saying FCP is outdated, clunky, and not intuitive, but then why is it industry standard? I peruse ads on various production sites and a lot of the jobs posted say "must know FCP", so it seems sort of necessary in order to work in the field.

I went to the Apple store yesterday and played around with the iMac. Two things I noticed right away, excessive glare on the glass screen (although it's bright in there and I generally work in the dark at home), and the magic mouse is a bit sluggish and not very accurate.

Lastly, I'd love to get a refurb'd mac from the site, but they always seem to only have 1TB drives. I'd prefer a 2TB. I do have a 1TB external, but it's USB/eSATA. From what I've read here using a USB external is a no-no, correct? Also, the mac has no eSATA port :( Not to mention the external drive is kind of noisy, and would be two more plugs (usb and power). This is sort of a related question, I guess, but do you guys delete your source video files after completing a project, or do you keep them on hand? They take up a lot of space, but I get a little wary of deleting them just in case I need to re-edit a project down the road. That's my reasoning for having a 2TB drive, but it seems some of you work on macbooks with 500GB. Are you all using external drives?

What say ye?

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Old June 2nd, 2010, 01:14 PM   #2
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well you've answered some of your own questions about the imac. The single FW port for your in/out is to me the main issue. But FW works fine for HD video.

You usually want to keep your OS drive fairly clean and keep your video files on another disc, so I don't see much of an issue with the 1TB drive.

4Gbs of ram is fine for starters, however I did notice more stability upgrading from 4>8Gbs on my MP, seemed like with the 4Gbs, the memory was often maxed out.

I'd go for 2.8Ghz. It seems that about a month after an upgrade you wish it was a little faster.

- "I can't imagine doing much in the way of SFX." -

You never know what you might need or want to do in the future, so I wouldn't totally count that out.

Apple may surprise us with an outstanding upgrade with FCS, but who knows. They pretty much have to get a 64 bit version out fairly soon, or you will see a fall from that "industry standard" you mention.

I make a self contained video of unimportant projects & delete all other files after about 2 months, anything that might need to get reedited or a doc, I just take the drive out (& backup) & store it. With a 1Gb internal being less than $100, storage is cheep.

USB from everything I've heard, can not handle video.

The most important difference between an imac & a MP IMO. - Lots of connectivity, having 4 internal drives (including if the main drive should fail, you can just pop in a clone), choice of monitors, etc...

For stored drives that I have to access, I have a newtech Voyager that looks like a toaster, that you can just pop an internal drive in it in a matter of seconds.

For the imac, I'd suggest some hard drive enclosures, so you can just swap out internal drives, you can see your options here.

FireWire 400, FireWire 800, USB 2.0, eSATA External Hard Drive Storage for Apple Mac and PCs - Desktop, Rack, and Portable Models
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 03:10 PM   #3
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About the firewire port...it's 800. Will there be an issue with devices that are designed for 400 throughput?
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 05:03 PM   #4
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No. You'd just need a FW 400 to FW 800 cable or adapter. Of course you would not get the speed of FW 800 though.
I've never captured to an external drive from a single FW port, but apparently it works fine, though I assume you'd want to be using FW 800 for that.

If your capturing through FW now, you'll also need a 4 pin to 9 pin cable to capture through FW 800 (Camera to FW 800).

If you already have monitors, the 2.66 MP is only $200 or so more than the 2.8 imac in the refurb store, you'd loose a little bit of speed, but would probably make most of it back with HD speed & access. Might be something to think about. If you ask, they might knock a bit off the $, they did with mine.
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 05:44 PM   #5
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No, the FW800 is downward compatible.

LOL, the only question about a Mac that I could ever answer.
Paul Cascio
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 07:45 AM   #6
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I would go for an i7 because for Compressor it seems as 8 cores instead of 4, because it supports hyperthreading. For the small price difference, I think it's definately worth it.

I bought an i7, after only having an older 2008 MBP (before the unibodies).
Yes, it has a glare screen, although I don't mind for the iMac (I do if it's about laptops though, then I want matte.) I would prefer a matte iMac too, but it doesn't seem like it's gonna be there anywhere soon.

My biggest hurdle was the single Firewire800 port. I haven't had trouble with it yet, but I'm sure one day I will. My old Macbook Pro has an Expresscard34 slot and 2 firewireports, and if they would have this on the iMac, it would be fantastic. It's awful that Apple limits these machines just to push people to the Mac Pro's, because although the Mac Pro's are fantastic machines, the iMac's have plenty of horsepower (often faster then

About the 'sluggish' Magic Mouse: I adore it, but you do have to install a free tool like BTTool to get the most out of it. You can speed up the mouse enormously and you can program all kinds of extra commands. Once you do, it's a joy to work with.

But the reason I bought it, is because it's a great and fast machine for the price, with an incredible display to work on. I didn't have the budget to buy the same thing in a Mac Pro configuration, and I also didn't *really* need all the expension of the Mac Pro at this time.

I picked up 8 GB RAM, because it wasn't expensive and should be a great starting point.

Yes, FCP isn't 32-bit, but this probably is gonna change soon AND don't forget if you are working with other programs too at the same time... BTW Logic Pro got 64-bit support in 9.1 update.

FCP is an industry standard because in comparison with Vegas and Premiere Pro it is much more stable and has a more industry-standard UI (in comparison with Vegas). Avid is the other real industry-standard.
Yep, FCP is a bit behind at this time, but it's still a great package at a great price, and although Apple's secrecy is frustrating, and I have many complaints about some hardware-moves Apple did for the professionals, I do think that they are busy with a new great version of FCS.

People saying that FCP is outdated and clunky are a bit pist about the last upgrade of FCP, which wasn't much. Yes, they have a point, but some are overreacting too. It isn't all bad, although everyone pretty much agrees an update has to come soon.
But most NLE's have had a moment in their history where they were a bit behind on some instances.

About the blu-ray: personally I'm a bit neutral about that. To be really honest, I *really* don't like Blu-Ray because it's obvious Sony abuses their power with the format, both to the consumer as to the producer of content. To be able for Apple to get Blu-Ray support in their OS, they have to make many underlying changes which also have effect (I have heard) on to which monitors you can connect your mac (I'm thinking this is referring to the HDCP-label).
So, for me, I actually hope Blu-Ray dies and the 'winner' is some format that doesn't belong to *only* Sony which can do with it what they want. And if Apple's refusal to adopt the format could help in any way, I support that. Of course I also realise that Blu-Ray is getting a following in the industry - although I still keep thinking it's more pushed then the consumers themselves choosing the format - and I also realize that as video content makers we have to be able to deliver Blu-Ray in an easy way to customers.
So... I'm neutral about that. Pro and contra, I agree with both points.

Don't forget that OSX is a whole new OS too. Personally I have fallen in love with it, and I really hate to use Windows at this point. You will have to re-learn that too, and of course it's a personal preference, but once you do, most people seem to love OSX more.

Last edited by Mathieu Ghekiere; June 3rd, 2010 at 11:00 AM.
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