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Old June 9th, 2010, 07:40 PM   #1
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Video files on main drive of iMac?

Everyone here is saying to use the main drive for the operating system, but the default 1TB drive seems like a rather excessive waste to only use it for the OS. Is it really that big of a deal to put your captured and rendered video files on it? Part of the appeal of the iMac is no wires everywhere, but if I have to hook up a bunch of externals to it I lose that benefit. I'm thinking of getting an iMac with a 2TB hard drive to store everything. Are macs really that unstable that this is a bad idea? Also, with only one firewire port, is it still possible and suggested to get some sort of firewire hub for multiple drives?
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Old June 9th, 2010, 08:57 PM   #2
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SIGH... Why do people INSIST on doing what many MANY people advise against.

Yes. It IS that bad. Can you get away with it? It depends on whether you NEED real time performance or can afford to drop frames now and again. It's NOT a stability issue, it's a throughput issue - every now and again the OS NEEDS to go to disc or make use of swap files and IF you are already hitting the drive for media, you stand an excellent chance of dropping frames, the more bandwidth intensive the codec the more likely you are to drop frames.

You can daisy chain FW devices as long as you keep the cabling short. I ROUTINELY chain 2 FW400 external drives out of my iMac, followed by either a deck or a camera, depending on what I'm doing. That's approximately 18' of cable and I've been good so far (3+ years)

Hope this helps.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 09:07 AM   #3
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If your just doing the occasional home video, then I'd say sure go ahead.

But we tend to look at a drive as a number, 1TB, instead of the capability for that drive to read & write the information, and even this differs from drive to drive.

In short what Shaun is saying is that with all that information, (and with video + audio + effects + etc, there is a lot of information) your drive can only read it so fast, it has to "look" for every file & every operation command. So with everything on a single drive, it drastically cuts down on performance. Having a second drive cuts down on the amount of work your main drive has to do, hence, improving performance.

We may think that, well I can deal with a little drop in performance, but it doesn't just work like that, If you over tax a system you can start having not only dropped frames, but you can start having frequent crashes & corruption of files also, because it doesn't just have to read it, it also has to write it, and if it's to busy trying to deal with all those functions, something has to suffer. As the drive gets closer to its capacity, the files get more scattered due to deleting and rewriting (fragmented), which also takes a hit on performance. (You should always have15-20% unused on a drive)

Many pros go through great lengths/expense to deal with this issue, From using Solid state drives or 10,000 RPM or even 15,000 RPM drives for just their OS and also having RAIDs of 2 or more drives for files, so that the work of reading & writing files is distributed over those drives.

The MP has many different options as far as being set up for performance, the imac doesn't, but regardless of which machine you use, if it is for editing, some thought needs to go into the issue of performance & stability.

I'm not really a "techie", this is just my understanding of this issue/
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Old June 10th, 2010, 03:16 PM   #4
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It's a question of what you intend to do with the iMac. Edit commercials, short films, news pieces, features? It's also a question of how you intend to deliver the finished project. Tape, YouTube, DVD, server upload? And finally a question of where the video is coming from, tape or file? If you are working in an entirely file based work flow then a single iMac will work with many SD or HD codecs.There will be a dropped frame occasionally during live playback but it won't affect your final output to DVD or file and the dropped frame will not reoccur in the same spot.

If you are working from and back to tape, an external drive will help especially if the project is longer than 10 minutes. As the others have said, it's a question of resources and it's not only a Mac problem, all computers have this issue with high bandwidth intensive single drive work.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 03:20 PM   #5
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I understand what you guys are saying. So is the iMac a bad way to go? MP's are so much more expensive. If I go with an iMac, what is a good hub to get for my firewire devices? Is that what you mean by daisy chain?
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Old June 10th, 2010, 03:27 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Patrick Janka View Post
So is the iMac a bad way to go?
Well let me put it to you this way: in three years, I have cut videos with total budgets totaling between $80-100 thousand dollars on a 3 year old iMac.

I also had access to a full MacPro set up but USUALLY used the iMac and only went to the MacPro when I needed output to BetacamSP.

Do you need more than that?
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Old June 10th, 2010, 04:31 PM   #7
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Oh and just less than half of that was destined for (standard definition) TV broadcast (delivered on DVCam).
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Old June 10th, 2010, 06:11 PM   #8
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If you can get everything done on an iMac what is the advantage of the Mac Pro and even more so, the RAID card upgrade?
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Old June 10th, 2010, 08:16 PM   #9
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An imac is a very capable machine. especially the new 4 cores.

As a comparison to a MP for editing, the 2.8 imac will beat a 2.66 MP base model in speed in most instances, but that is it (aside from it being a few $100 cheaper). These are SOME of the advantages of a MP.

4 FW 800 ports + numerous other options for I/O connections - if the one on the imac goes, your either out of a comp while it gets fixed, or have lost the $ you saved if it's passed warranty. Same thing if the monitor goes.

Choice of monitors.

4 internal HD with the ability to swap at will, add an SSD (solid state drive) or even put a SSD in the open optical bay (CD/DVD drive)

If the main drive fails, you can just pop in a backup clone and be without a comp for maybe 10 minute

Likewise if your having a problem with the main drive, you can try to fix it and know that you have a backup if you should have a problem.

The ability to upgrade the graphic card.

etc.

That being said, the imacs are great machines, and as Shaun says it's quite capable, but these are some of the reasons that the imac is not an editors choice.

If you look at the new MBP thread, you'll see how many people are upset with Apple for taking out the express card slot and leaving only one FW port.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 08:18 PM   #10
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Render speed, more active layers without rendering, better real time performance, faster exports (especially H.264!), I/O options (such as the Matrox MXO2 family), better options for multiple monitors, REAL hardware supported RAID... the list is long but I've been working on HDV converted to ProRes (as well as SD material and the occasional XDCamEX project) on the iMac solely because everytime I was ready to upgrade to a Macpro, something came up: either I had a project on the go, cash was tight for capital purchases or a new MacPro release was "imminent".

Be VERY realistic about how you are going to use your edit bay and the decision should become clear: for PRO work (meaning you are charging for it), if you have the budget, buy the MacPro. An edit bay pays for itself FAST (at least compared to camera and grip gear, in my experience). If cash is tight, the iMac may well do what you need - just get external drives for media. I recommend Firewire, NOT USB (since the iMac doesn't have eSATA).

BUT, if you happen to have decent computer monitors "just kicking around", the move up to a MacPro from iMac isn't all that much.

EDIT: Apparently I was typing while Chris was. Some great advice in there.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 10:05 PM   #11
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I do get paid to shoot and edit video, but it's fairly basic stuff. I'm not doing any real graphical work, special effects, compositing, etc. It's not a full time job, but I'm trying to transition into video being my full time job. I've done live events, a wedding, and a handful of other things where the editing was pretty straightforward. That said, I would like to eventually shoot music videos and other more intense things. I'm self-taught, so I'm still heavily in the learning phase of all this. As of now my requirements aren't much, but I'd like to be a bit future-proofed for when my needs start requiring more processing power.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 10:36 PM   #12
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Note - Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't heard anything good about the Apple RAID card.

I think we all start out with pretty basic stuff. but it seems like that can change pretty quickly.

As Shaun said, if you do have some decent monitors, the $ difference on the refurb store is only $300, but the ram is a bit more expensive. If that's a big difference for you, the imac should serve you well for several years.

And yes the new MP release is """""""""imminent""""""""!???
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Old June 10th, 2010, 10:57 PM   #13
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I have a 22" Dell HD monitor, and an older Samsung 15" flat panel monitor. That said, the 27" imac monitor is pretty darn slick. It's an eyesore amidst lights due to the reflective surface, but I generally work in the dark anyway.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 01:18 AM   #14
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Ironically that internal drive is faster and uses a faster connection (SATA) then most external drives that can be used with an Imac excluding some external raid-0 units such as G-raid. I have heard some people actually using an external drive as their OS drive for their Imac and using the fast SATA internal drive for their media. I have also heard some people hack their Imacs and hook up a second internal SATA drive to the connector used for the DVD drive. It is a hack and not very easy at all and you loose your DVD drive but it can work.

Realistically however a decent unit like G-raid hooked up via FW800 to an Imac can make a pretty darn decent media drive for almost any video format excluding uncompressed HD.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 02:05 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Patrick Janka View Post
I'm self-taught, so I'm still heavily in the learning phase of all this.
I HONESTLY think this will be more of a hinderance to performance than any roadblocks your choice of Mac will be. Getting a faster Mac isn't going to help your day to day speed (except that rerendering when you screw something up and have to redo it will be faster).

It's up to you how you spend your hard earned money but my FIRST advice is get some books or DVDs or take a course on FCP editing. It's AMAZING how understanding how FCP works within existing editing protocols and workflows rather than trying to figure out the logic and rationale on your own can make a difference to productivity..

I mean that with ALL sincerity. I migrated from AVID Media Composer to FCP 1.0.2 back in 1999 and remember how frustrated I was. I still don't run with the biggest boys but I hold my own now, coming from a solid background in editing THEORY and then learning how the tool (FCP) works WITHIN that theory.

Please accept this in the spirit in which it is offered. You may already be a good editor - investing in yourself with some training may make you a GREAT editor.
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