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Old November 11th, 2010, 10:29 AM   #1
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Thinking about moving to MAC/FCP

OK my PC with Matrox RTX (real time but not HD) and Adobe Premiere Pro is OK but I need to start working in HD (I have 2 Sony Z1 cameras) and I was thinking of moving to Final Cut Pro and buying a mac.

I'm basically asking you guys is there anything I need to consider and I have a couple of questions.

Will a well specced iMac do the job?
Can I preview in real time or is rendering a real slow down
If I get an iMac can I preview HDMI
Will FCP allow me to produce DVDs with chapters/menus etc or do I need another app?

By the way my budget is about 1500 (approx $2500)

Cheers guys

Pete
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Old November 11th, 2010, 11:21 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Rush View Post
Will a well specced iMac do the job?
I have an i7 iMac and it's a beast. Performance is very high in comparison with a Mac Pro from a couple of generations ago. I'm really pleased with the performance. Only thing I hate is only having Firewire800, but that's the thing I had to give up when I made the decision I didn't have the budget for a new Mac Pro.

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Can I preview in real time or is rendering a real slow down
A lot of things you can preview in real time (not always in best quality), other things can get performance down. A lot of this is not a hardware fault, but a software fault. FCP itself needs a rehaul of the software, that makes more use of the hardware in a modern Mac. Rumors say that Apple is doing that, rewriting the software. But nobody knows for sure, and nobody knows when that new version would be released.

EDIT: if this (Jobs Reportedly Says Final Cut Update 'Coming Early Next Year' - Mac Rumors) is true, it would be early next year.

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Originally Posted by Peter Rush View Post
If I get an iMac can I preview HDMI
On a Mac you only have Minidisplayport. But I think there are adapters going to HDMI, but I don't know about the preview possibilities. I guess it's possible, but I'll let others chime in. Maybe you'll need a BlackMagic card or something to have a more faithful preview, but then you have to budget again for that.

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Originally Posted by Peter Rush View Post
Will FCP allow me to produce DVDs with chapters/menus etc or do I need another app?
Final Cut Pro isn't being sold seperately anymore. You only have Final Cut Studio at $1000, which has about 6 applications. One of them is DVD Studio Pro and let's you author dvd's professionally. Only annoyance is that although you can render to Blu-Ray Files in Compressor (another program from the studio), DVD Studio Pro doesn't have support for authoring Blu-Ray's as of yet.
We don't know if this will change, but at this point, it seems that Apple doesn't seem very interested in supporting it. Of course, you could also use Adobe CS5 with Encore, which will let you do that. But know that CS5 costs more then Final Cut Studio, AND that you don't have support in Mac OSX to PLAYBACK a Blu-Ray disc. You can only burn them. For playback you should use a stand alone player or a boot into Windows. If you only are interested in DVD, then you can ignore all these comments.
DVD Studio Pro is enough for all your needs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Rush View Post
By the way my budget is about 1500 (approx $2500)
Not easy. Final Cut Studio already costs 1000 euros/dollars (I don't know in pounds). You can see if you can buy it second hand somewhere maybe? Or buy an older version second hand, and buy the upgrade.
Then the price for the computer.... You know, even a normal low-end dual core iMac will let you edit HD without a problem so that's not a real problem.
But having an i7 (the top-end configuration of the iMac) is a bless when working with virtual clusters in Compressor (easy explained: letting all your cores perform rendering to other formats, instead like in FCP where it just renders with 2 cores). So I would advice to go for that option. If in the future, Apple updats FCS to make more advantage of the hardware, I think having an i7 option will significantly perform better then a dual core. But even a dual core iMac will edit HD and HDV without a problem.

But I do have difficulty seeing you buy a new iMac and a Final Cut Studio license new if you only have 2500 dollars.

Best regards,

Last edited by Mathieu Ghekiere; November 11th, 2010 at 01:34 PM.
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Old November 11th, 2010, 03:56 PM   #3
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As much as I don't like Premier CS5 over FCP, I would recommend that you investigate staying in the PC world by upgrading to Premier CS5 and fixing up the computer you have. You'll save a decent amount.

For $2500 you can get a decent iMac and Final Cut Studio but that's about it. No RAM upgrade, no external drive. You can get the bottom of the line iMac around $1000 and use the $500 for RAM and an external drive. You'll be able to edit with it but be prepared for rendering times if you do a lot of adjustments to the video.
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Old November 11th, 2010, 04:51 PM   #4
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Well I use both Mac an PC for editing and in view of the budget you mention I really think you'd be better off sticking with PC for now. Things get pretty expensive in Mac land. Sure I love FCP (on my 2009 8-core Mac Pro) but I also love editing in Vegas (currently 9E) on a 64-Bit Win 7 box. Neither is "the best", the each do different things really well.

Also, one other thing. You could buy a reasonably decent (pretty fast!) Windows 7 box with i7, good amount of RAM, RAID 0 etc. for 1100 - well I did a few months ago (and Vegas 9E was about 4-500 area, from memory). Maybe something to consider on the PC side regarding the NLE choice/direction forward?
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Old November 11th, 2010, 09:13 PM   #5
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Do it. Get a second job if you have to in order to get the money. Heh heh,

Okay I am one of those ex-PC users that is now a Mac cheerleader. I had a suped up Dell with Avid for several years. Now I have tower quad-core Macs with FCP. In the 3+ years of editing full time on 3 Mac stations (me with two employees) I can count the crashes on one hand. Seriously. My Dell with Avid crashed more in two weeks than that. No more days of trying to de-bug and find out why I can't render. No more blue screens of death. Just productivity. And FCP is just fantastic.

Yes the tower Macs are pricey. Mine three years ago were about $7k each with the extra ram and FCP. Not sure what they are now but certainly out of your budget. But a used system like mine is probably half that or less. You might try that route.

As they say- "Once you go Mac. . . "

Best to you.
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Old November 11th, 2010, 11:32 PM   #6
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My 2 cents - There are a lot of hidden costs to switching platforms, so make sure you really want, need & prefer using Final Cut Studio for video editing. I love Macs, but they come with their own issues and their own headaches. I really wish I could say Macs were better, but they are not, Macs are just different.

Don't underestimate the time & money spent in: mastering a new workflow, re-creating functionality that doesn't transfer directly from PCs to Macs, restoring functionality that you took for granted on the PC & working with cross-platform issues that are unique to the Mac.

Some examples:

Do you use Photoshop, After Effects or Dreamweaver? Well guess what? You'll have to buy them all over again to use them on the Mac, and you'll be asking yourself, why didn't I just get CS5 instead. What about Microsoft Office? Same thing, you'll have to buy a separate license for the Mac.

What about capturing Z1/HDV in FCP? HDV captured by FCP is ONLY compatible with other Macs that also have FCP loaded. Need to work with someone on a PC? You'll have to transcode to another format. Want to give your PC buddy a copy of the original .m2t files? Well you're out of luck, there's no reliable way to capture the universally recognized .m2t files on the Mac, you'll have to re-capture on the PC.

What if you want to render out to AVC/h.264 for the internet? Do a google search on the Quicktime gamma bug and get ready for a whole new set of headaches. Oh and wait, the client wants a properly formatted Blu-Ray disc, oh wait, can't do that from FCS ...

None of these are show stoppers, they all have workflow solutions, but for platform switchers they can take up a lot of valuable time, money & perseverance as you struggle to get your workflow and response time back in check! Just something to think about.
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Old November 12th, 2010, 02:23 AM   #7
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Budget

Thanks for all the info guys - My budget is actually more like $3500 which should nicely get me a nicely specced imac 27" and Final Cut Studio here in the UK.

Upgrading my PC system is not an option as it will mean buying a new matrox X2 card (about 700) and a new PC to host it (probably at least as much again) and one of the things I'm hoping to move away from is buggy/crashing/debugging hell that has dogged PC editing in my career so far (back as far as FAST Video Machine - remember that!!!)

Looks like the way forward for me

Pete
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Old November 12th, 2010, 07:24 AM   #8
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That's the best reason to switch and you now have a good budget to work with. Good luck.
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Old November 12th, 2010, 07:49 AM   #9
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So you have an old, buggy PC with old buggy hardware attached to it, and somehow want to project that all PCs are buggy?

A well built Mac and a well built MODERN PC are both reliable, fast, and can cut video equally well. If you want a Mac, great. Lots of people love them. I don't even know what a Matrox X2 card is, but you sure as heck don't NEED one to cut in any modern PC I am aware of. Most people I know use Blackmagic cards, AJA cards, or the Matrox line of breakout boxes or cards.

For the guy who had a "souped up Dell" whatever that means, who said it was buggy. Yea, I bet. My purpose built Dells have been dead reliable. I use(d) Avid MC4 and MC5 I could count the crashes since June on 1 hand, and I cut in Avid almost daily.

PCs will certainly give you enough rope to hang yourself with bad hardware or software. Macs insulate against that more. But heed the words of Mr. Wisniewski. That was a really great post.
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Last edited by Perrone Ford; November 12th, 2010 at 10:10 AM.
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Old November 12th, 2010, 07:56 AM   #10
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I agree, since I got my Win 7 Dell box earlier this year running Vegas 9E it's never crashed. My Mac Pro running FCS2 has crashed maybe twice in 18 months. Both get heavy daily editing use. One set-up cost 5x more than the other setup...(you know which one) ...but I love them both! Windows 7 64-bit is a completely different ball game to some of the previous things Microsoft pushed our way. I think it's premature to think you need to go Mac now just for reliability and stability (that may have been true in the past, but I'm increasingly doubtful now).

Either way, it's great to have both tools in my studio!
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Old November 12th, 2010, 08:56 AM   #11
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It's sounds like your system is too old to try out the 30 day free trial of CS5 which is too bad. Perhaps you are just looking for an overall change from the Microsoft PC world. Go for it but if you are work focused, the best tool is the best tool and no NLE is 100% that. Got a lot of money? Go Avid, no question. Got less than $5000? Then comparative shopping is in order.

As I've said before I personally find FCP to be a more pleasant work environment to CS5. That said I found the old Media100 desktop to be better work environment than FCP. That was back when I was switching between FCP, Premier, Media100 and sometimes the VideoCube/Sphere for different jobs. FCP for working with DV, Premier for off-line 24f edits, Media100 for general broadcast work and the VideoCube for quick commercials and instant DVE work. Now I stick with FCP (as it matured and now does everything the other programs did plus the Media100 became irrelevant years ago and the Cube is long gone) but that said I generally don't work with high volume turnover / multi file formats where CS5 and it's true 64bit programming comes in really useful. And if I ever get a series to master again, an AVID system is at the top of the list. And as a note, I find Adobe AfterEffects to be a superior effects designer to Apple's Motion (which I personally don't like using at all) although it can get very, very dense.

Windows7 is a true improvement to the Windows system, unfortunately for people like me, there are way too many professional video applications that remain in the Windows XP world. Not NLEs, those get updated quickly, but high end master control room programs for switchers, server equipment and video processors. Ugh, what a headache.

The rumored "early 2011" release date for FCP8 and who knows what else in the FCS package might make it a wise decision to wait unless you have pressing needs right now.
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Old November 12th, 2010, 09:43 AM   #12
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Got a lot of money? Go Avid, no question. Got less than $5000? Then comparative shopping is in order.

I hear this pretty often. And coming from an app like Vegas (or even Edius) I just don't get it.

With Vegas I got an NLE and a DVD authoring program for $600

With Avid I got:

NLE
DVD Authoring program
Boris Red ($999)
Boris Continuum Complete ($899)
Sorenson Squeeze ($599)
Scriptsync ($999)

And got it for $2300. CS5 is $1699 retail. The gap is $600. Or essentially, the difference of a single editing job. FCS is about $1100, but I'd have to add a fairly stout Mac to get there so that raises the costs quite a bit.

If I tried to add all the missing components to Edius or Vegas, I'd actually come out CHEAPER buying Avid outright.

I think if you're a working pro, look at what each platform and package have to offer versus your TRUE buy-in. But honestly, it's entirely plausible to get into Avid for under $5k.
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Old November 12th, 2010, 10:00 AM   #13
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It's an old argument of course...

The bottom line is that Apple computer products do benefit a bit in stability from having a narrowed set of options for configurations and in the case of FCS, workflows...whether the gap between Windows and Mac is as wide as Apple users seem to think is an open question.

I had a fleet (8-10) of Macs through the 90s, and we did a LOT of production on those machines, when OSX came along, the adaptation period happened to coincide with some Apple hardware QC and design issues on G4s that bit us and we tried a Windows machine (Windows 200 Pro was actually a serviceable OS for video editing where I thought everything previous was a mess), and we discovered that it smoked the Macs for things like AE rendering. I didn't really care for the OS interface as I was used to Macs, but it was a business decision at the time. Few remember that it took Apple some time to get FCP to run on OSX...Adobe Premiere 6.5 ran on OSX almost immediately. It was a weird time.

Now, the processing cores of these machines are basically the same...the available speed is basically the same (whether or not the power-cost ratio is equivalent depends on who you talk to...), so it comes down to whether or not what you have is working for you on the application side.

Windows machines are not as unstable as many Mac users seem to think...with no limitations on configuration options, there are simply users who are either running a system that simply doesn't have enough resources, or they've decided to use some inexpensive components and build a machine themselves. These are also the users who seem to be on forums talking the loudest about how their systems don't work, or...more often, how some application is buggy and broken because it won't run on their system.

I have my workstations built by a very reputable system builder and I pay the premium (which gets me in the same neighborhood as a Mac of similar power) because I simply don't have problems with these machines. Computer companies building machines for discount stores and consumer use simply have to purchase the least expensive components to make the price point. Unfortunately, these are the machines that many use in their PC/Mac comparisons when they proclaim that Windows machines are unfit for professional video post work.

The bottom line is you should use what works best in your situation. If you prefer FCP, then you should use FCP and obviously that puts you on a Mac.

However, I'd echo what's been said about computers in general...workflow limitations, software bugs, application and hardware conflicts...they all exist on any platform. If you're switching platforms, you just need to learn what the new pitfalls are, and make sure you're ready for that transition period.
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Old November 12th, 2010, 12:05 PM   #14
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Disclaimer.....I use a Mac Pro with FCP......Disclaimer over.

I find FCP to be very stable and do like the interface better than other programs, but that is probably
because I have been using it for so long and just KNOW where to find things and how to do things.
This is relevent, because.....when I use another NLE I get very annoyed when it takes me 3 minutes
to figure out how to do one simple thing. So if you have not used FCP before, you may have a learning
curve, and learning curves SUCK when you are trying to edit a spot on a deadline. On the positive
side, one of the reasons I like FCP so much, is that there are third party plug ins for pretty much
ANYTHING you can think of and forums EVERYWHERE that answer all sorts of questions about
FCP....both of these are due to it's immense popularity and I find them both very helpful.
So I'd say, if you are used to using another NLE, stay with it and upgrade your computer....unless
you just hate your NLE. It might be best to try and find a friend and 'play' with FCP to see
if you like it better in that case.

As for PC's and their 'bugginess' I think a lot of that is the increased choice you have in PCs and
the number of 'Do It Yourselfers' who try and build a video editing PC. Many of these people
that I have run into, brag about how cheap yet powerful their PC is......because they used cheap
components. I just finished a consulting job for a company that had me look through their
current edit bay, research and spec out new options, and recommend a computer to them to run
CS5 on. Guess what? It wasn't cheap! $2988 for the computer, pretty comparable
to a similarly specced Mac Pro. But it was built RIGHT as a video editing computer too, and
is working great for them. So you CAN go the cheap way, but be prepared to have a lot more
'hands on' time fixing things and troubleshooting. Or you can pay a little more and have the
thing made right the first time, and waste less time monkeying around.
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Old November 12th, 2010, 09:26 PM   #15
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I hear this pretty often. And coming from an app like Vegas (or even Edius) I just don't get it.
Avid still shines in the one place where they got started so many years ago; long form complex editing tasks. Avid took a feature film editor's needs in mind and built their system from there. Avid has the tools for editing very complex projects and they have developed the tools for integrated multiple-station editing projects that many high end series need to stay on time and in budget. But we are talking tens of thousands of dollars here. There are plenty of industry stories of producers switching to FCP from Avid and a year or so later going back to Avid because of workflow logistics that neither Apple or Adobe have successfully addressed if they have even bothered. These are workflows that the average editor would rarely come in contact with. Avid also offers some very souped up systems that require little rendering for most effects. Avid's low end offerings have their benefits but they certainly don't offer the integrated production packages of Adobe or Apple.

Avid goes for the high end with a glance at the middle.
Apple, Adobe and Sony go for the middle and let third party suppliers try to cover the jump to the high end.
Apple and Sony also go for the low requirement editor / amateur.
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