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Old August 11th, 2005, 06:20 PM   #1
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which mac for cutting in fcp??

hi all
just subscribed to dvi, cause im looking for some advice from people who use these machines. im wanting to buy a mac so that i can start cutting a documentary ive been shooting (im more a director than an editor, but these days, we've got to do it all, right??), was thinking of getting the new g4 powerbook (superdrive 1.67ghz) until i met a computer person who said i should rather get the new ibook (1.42ghz, think its also a superdrive) which has all the same functions/ capabilities, its just marginally slower. the price difference is considerable, as you probably already know.
what do you think? is this good advice?
of course im wanting the machine to last as long as possible. would the powerbook have a longer working life span?
why is the powerbook really that much more expensive than the ibook? (surely its not because of the metallic vs plastic casing?)
also, i would need to get a big external hard drive, any suggestions as to what to buy?
is there anything else i would need, in terms of cables or other gadgets that one never thinks of, until something doesnt work without one?
for the moment, i will be importing the footage via a sony pd150. so obviously a firewire cable. and ive got FCP3. What else would I need to get?
Hope you more experienced and informed mac/ fcp users might be able to guide me a bit. Id really appreciate it.
Thanks and look forward to hearing from you
Jeanette Jegger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 11th, 2005, 06:37 PM   #2
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Welcome Jeanette - I look forward to hearing more from you!

This topic was kicked around recently; see the following thread for starters, then maybe you'll have some specific questions we can help with:


But the truth is, unless you really need a laptop it's not a very good choice for FCP. The G4's are getting really long in the tooth. Basically you're dealing with 3 year old technology. This is the main reason Apple is making the switch to Intel - IBM just couldn't provide state of the art chips for laptops. An G5 is a much, much better choice. Best would be one of the towers (Power Mac dual processor) but an iMac is still almost twice the speed of a Powerbook.

Regarding FCP 3, that will also really limit you. I was one of the real holdouts with FCP 3, I didn't upgrade to FCP 4.5 until last winter. But the problem is, FCP 3 is really a MacOS 9 application which doesn't take full advantage of OS X. Sure, it runs under OSX 10.3 just fine. But FCP 4.5 literally runs circles around it, especially in its realtime capability (applying transitions and filters to clips without needing to render in order to view) and also rendering speed.

But the real bummer for you is that people say FCP won't run under Mac OS X 10.4 ("Tiger") and that will be installed on any new Mac you buy. If you go to Apple's own FCP forum this has been discussed a lot recently. There are some hacks to help with this, but you're going to be forcing a square peg into a round hole. I think you should budget another $400 to upgrade to FCP 5 which will give you full Tiger compatability and also a much more responsive system. If you want your system to "last as long as possible" then you should start out with the latest software.

Regarding the iBooks, they have a lot of bang for the buck and if money is really tight you could go that way. But the Powerbooks are much, much nicer. For starters, the screens are way better and give you more room to work (1280x854 vs 1024x768 on the 15" model). They also support dual monitors and have a PC card slot which is nice for a 2nd firewire card. But like I said, the desktop machines are considerably faster and also much more bang for the buck. You pay a big premium for a laptop unfortunately.
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Old August 11th, 2005, 06:44 PM   #3
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Oh also - unfortunately - before buying a 15" powerbook you should read the following:


Don't let this scare you away though, they are great machines. But you really need to buy Applecare. Hopefully Apple will soon acknowledge these problems and come up with a fix. A class action lawsuit is already in the making and that ought to provide a little incentive...
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Old August 12th, 2005, 05:17 AM   #4
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which mac??

hi boyd
thanks a lot for the feedback. ill check the links youve attached.
i need to make a decision about whether a portable system is that important. im travelling a lot at the moment, so it makes sense for now.
a question about buying a powerbook in the usa (a friend will be there in a few weeks and could buy one for me)- does it come with a worldwide gaurantee? im based mostly in south africa and someone there said that goods not purchased in sa would not be covered there. ive contacted mac about it but have heard nothing yet. maybe you know.
so, if i do decide to go portable (thank you for pointing out the imac, seems like a great machine. i know nothing about the operating systems, yet..), is the ibook an option in your opinion?
thanks a lot again
best wishes
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Old August 12th, 2005, 07:27 AM   #5
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Regarding warranty, I think you'll find the answers on Apple's website; use their search function. There's a lot of legalese to read through, but a quick look turned this up:


If the product is portable, meaning that it can operate independently without a power cord, you may obtain warranty service worldwide. However, service will be limited to the options available in the country where service is requested. If the product is not portable, warranty service may be restricted to the country where the product is purchased. Service options, parts availability and response times will vary according to country. You may be responsible for shipping and handling charges if the product cannot be serviced in the country it is in. In accordance with applicable law, Apple may require that you furnish proof of purchase details and/or comply with registration requirements before receiving warranty service.
The operating system is the same on every Macintosh. They work the same so that isn't and issue in choosing a model.

The G4 iBooks certainly give you the most power for the price, IF you want a portable. I bought one for my daughter last year and she loves it. But her boyfriend liked it so much she had to keep taking it away from him, so he ended up getting rid of his Windows laptop and getting an iBook also!

Off the top of my head these are the disadvantages compared to the Powerbook. These assume the 15" 1.67ghz Powerbook (list $2,300) vs the 14" 1.42ghz iBook (list $1,300):

--Plastic case feels kind of cheap

--Low resolution screen 1024x768. The 14" model has the same resolution as the 12"; the dots are just bigger

--Slower processor (1.42ghz vs 1.67ghz)

--Slower internal bus (142mhz vs 167mhz)

--Less RAM capacity (1.5gb vs 2gb)

--Slower, smaller hard drive (4200RPM vs 5400 RPM)

--Slower ethernet (100mb vs 1gb)

--Slower graphics card with less VRAM (32MB vs 64MB)

--Slower firewire (400 vs 800)

--Doesn't support a second independent screen, however there is a hack to do this although Apple does not support it.

--No PC card slot.
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Old August 12th, 2005, 11:40 AM   #6
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I pretty much agree with Boyd.

I've got an iBook 12" and my wife has a PowerBook 15"...there's no question that the PowerBook is more appropriate for editing. The extra screen space alone is enough to make it worth it, you can setup the viewer and the canvas sizes at or near 100% and still have plenty of room for the timeline and browser windows; you just can't do that with the iBook.

Now about the portability...like Boyd said, if you don't NEED portability, then get a desktop. You'll end up with MUCH more machine for the same (or less!) money.

I use a 20" iMac G5 as my main editing computer and it is WAY more powerful than the PowerBook G4...it's an entirely different class of computer. Plus with the widescreen 16:9 monitor (1680x1050) on the iMac G5, I have all the room I need for editing. And the whole shebang was only $1800 bucks...less than a 15" PowerBook. And of course, you could setp down to the 17" iMac; it'll still be more powerful than the PowerBook and the screen is still plenty big.

Now granted, a Dual G5 PowerMac would be best, but that's going to cost more than a PowerBook.
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Old August 12th, 2005, 08:16 PM   #7
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decisions decisions

thank you both for your valuable feedback. i will do some more homework and then decide. i really appreciate your input, thanks for a great website
ill be back soon
best wishes and good weekend
Jeanette Jegger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 16th, 2005, 08:15 AM   #8
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For comparison

For comparison, I use a iMac G5, with 250GB intrenal harddrive, and a La Cie 500GB firewire 400 hard drive. This is much faster than a G4 laptop, and about half the price of an equivalent Power Mac. I use the DV Studio Pro bundle (includes fcp) on the mac which works well together.

I strongly recomend partitioning the on board drive so as to have two separate installations of OS X Tiger. This will enable you to use the second partition to recover if you have a system crash (has happened to me twice seriously in 6 months).

Keep all your data on the external drive. Back up the external hard drive on another external hard drive. This way you won't risk loosing your work.

Buy a copy of Disk Warrior and reuild your directories every weeks or two. This will reduce the chance of time. When you step away from the machine, log out. All the crashes I've experienced happened when I left applications open. This will cost a bit of time when you re-open applications, but it will save massive time wasting caused by crashes.

Oh, and make sure you have a competent tech suport guy available, so you can concentrate on shooting & editing.
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Old August 16th, 2005, 08:53 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Nick Hockings
I strongly recomend partitioning the on board drive so as to have two separate installations of OS X Tiger.
I used to do this with MacOS 9, but haven't under OS X. I really haven't followed the debate on this issue, but the last time I checked it seemed the consensus opinion was against partitioning your startup drive, or at least that was the case for laptops.

I wonder if it's the iMac, your mix of applications, or Tiger? I don't think I've ever experienced a crash that serious under OS X in the 2 years that I've used it (currently using Panther). Of course I can't disagree with the idea of having a backup disk, but not sure that partitioning the system drive is the way to go...
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Old August 16th, 2005, 08:58 AM   #10
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Jeanette, I use a 12" iBook G4 (1.25 Ghz) with 512MB of RAM and an external firewire disk (80GB western digital in a cheap firewire case). I run Final Cut Express HD and I have to say I'm pretty happy with the setup so far.

I've used it to edit numerous short films as well as a feature-length documentary and I can't really complain about the performance. The rendering times seem long on occasion but I don't really have anything to compare them to other than my old Windows editing box (a 1.xGhz Athalon running Vegas Video) and it seems to be just slightly faster.

I wanted something portable because I use the iBook for recording audio (at least I used to, I may use the audio inputs on my new camera) as well as for scopes, etc. The iBook is tough, the plastic case takes more abuse than you would expect, especially compared to the powerbooks.

I'd like to throw more RAM at it as well as a faster internal hard disk (the one they come with is notoriously slow) but honestly at this point I'm not feeling a "need" to, and I have other priorities...

Another system I would recommend is the eMac. My co-hort just picked one of these up and for about $1000.00 you get the whole kit, monitor and all. It's a little bit faster than the iBook's processor, it has a much faster disk, slightly more pixels on the screen and better connectivity (two firewire ports instead of one, etc.). It also comes with a dual-layer DVD burner which is nice...

There are several firmware-induced limitations on these machines, like limited ability to drive dual-monitors, but these can be worked around as well...

If you don't need to be portable, I recommend the eMac, you can jam more RAM in it, it's got a faster CPU and you can even build a RAID in it if you really want to get your hands dirty. It has a faster disk subsystem then even the iMac G5 and I find that disk I/O is more important than CPU speed. You can even get one for $799 if you can go without the dvd burner...

Every dollar you save behind the lens is another dollar you can put in front of it, you know?

(Feel free to contact me off-list if you have more specific questions about my setup, etc.)
Jason J. Gullickson
the second society
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Old August 17th, 2005, 12:39 AM   #11
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hi there. i have both a dual 1.8 g5 powermac and a 1.67 g4 15" powerbook. i've done projects on both, but of course i prefer the g5.

the powerbook is good, but i use it more for photoshop and editing photomontages (ken burns type stuff) and animatics (animated storyboards). the rendering time irks me, specially when i know that i have a faster machine at home. then again, i can't take the g5 with me.

that said, if you don't need to be portable, i highly recommend the g5. i put a second video card in mine so i can pump out to 3 monitors. i'm so used to it that it makes editing on my 15" powerbook a bit of a cramp.

also, my powerbook came with 80 gigs, and i'm down to 20 (less than 6 months of use, but then again there are a lot of old projects on it).

with the g5, i slap a new 250gig sata drive for each project and i don't ever feel that i'm running out of disk space.
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Old August 17th, 2005, 05:00 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
But the real bummer for you is that people say FCP won't run under Mac OS X 10.4 ("Tiger") and that will be installed on any new Mac you buy.
Just reading some more about this on Apple's website. It seems the issue is that you cannot install FCP3 under Tiger. However, if you upgrade an existing machine which already has FCP3 on it, then you can get it to work (possibly requires some tinkering though).

But if you're buying a new Mac with Tiger pre-installed then that could be problematic.
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Old August 20th, 2005, 04:53 PM   #13
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going portable

hi all
thanks once again for all the feedback. im understanding most of what youre talking about, im really pre-novice in the field. as ive said before, im not an editor but am about to embark on a new learning curve in both editing as well as mac sytems.
Jason, thanks for your reply.Your set up sounds interesting to me, mainly because of its simplicity (and at the moment budget is a real consideration for me as well). Because Iím a beginner, Iím really not sure that I need the high-end stuff. And Iím still not convinced that it is worth spending that much more money on a powerbook. I also wouldnít have anything to compare the speed of the ibook with, unlike most of you ďguysĒ who work on more than one machine. At this point, I want to get a portable system so that I can start cutting a feature documentary on it, and still be able to shoot more up here in Europe before I return to South Africa. SO portable is the way to go for me now. I guess a question would be would the powerbook last longer than the ibook Ė of course all of these machines or systems need to be replaced after a few years? So, Iím thinking maybe to get a cheaper machine initially for my learning, and maybe get a desktop down the line, when I know what Iím doing.
If I get the new ibook 14Ē 1.42ghz, would this come with a tiger system and so mean that I couldnít use FC version 3?
Boyd, could you explain more about the port options (which as you say the ibook doesnít have).. what does this mean? What is a pc card slot and why is it a disadvantage not to have one? Why would I need a 2nd firewire card?
Pardon my ignorance.. but we all have to start at the beginning..
Thanks again
And look forward to hearing from you
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Old August 20th, 2005, 06:22 PM   #14
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As you describe your situation, I think the iBook will suit you fine. I don't think there's any reason to think a Powerbook will last longer than an iBook. However, to protect your investment you really should consider purchasing the AppleCare warranty. This will extend your initial 12 month warranty to 3 years. Check with Apple, but I think you can actually get the warranty anytime within the first 12 months, however if you don't buy it at purchase time then I believe Apple needs to look at your computer and certify it. Unless money is really tight, I'd get Applecare when you make your computer purchase.

PC card slot: not a necissity, just nice to have. You're going to need an external firewire drive to store and edit your projects - you really can't use the internal drive for that. You will also need to plug your camera into a firewire port to capture video to the external drive. Many people can do this without problems, but depending on your exact hardware, you *may* have difficulties using both devices at the same time. It seems most of the time when people have these problems they're using a Canon camcorder. The firewire PC card gives you a second completely independent firewire port which avoids overtaxing the builtin port. That's just a bit of a concern on the iBooks, since they only have one firewire 400 port.

Yes, all Macs now have MacOS X 10.4 "Tiger" preinstalled on them. I suppose you could downgrade it to 10.3 "Panther" if you can still find a copy somewhere. I have no way to know personally, but I'm reading that the FCP 3 installer disks won't work properly under Tiger. But if you downgrade your system to Panther, then you could install FCP3, then upgrade to Tiger. The only concern there is that you might have to buy a copy of both Panther and Tiger. I'm not 100% sure, but I suspect the version that will come with a new iBook may not work as an upgrade, but only as a clean install. You would need to try all this out.

But honestly - I think it's a big mistake to use FCP 3. It's much less responsive than the newer versions and you will spend hours and hours more rendering everything just to see a preview. I'd really suggest you budget $400 and upgrade your copy of FCP 3 to FCP 5. You will need your original FCP 3 disks for the FCP 5 upgrade to work, and an academic copy of FCP 3 won't be upgradeable. But since this is your first experience on the Mac and you're new to editing, you would be handicapping yourself to start out with 4 year old software. Get the current version and you'll have a much better experience.

Good luck... let us know how everything works out!
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Old August 22nd, 2005, 06:31 AM   #15
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I just purchased a new ibook with superdrive, and I installed FCE 1.0.1 on it....and it has purred like a kitten. I've had no problems editing....

The only downside I've noticed is the one firewire port....

Plus if your a college student you get a free ipod mini.... :) I took advantage of that!

BTW....the ibook came with idvd 5 and it has been really ease to use. I made a pretty cool menu for my dvd by dragging and dropping some stills from a short I made...It took all of 5 minutes to put it together and it looks good.

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