The Mac Mini FCP Workstation: 10 months later... at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Apple / Mac Post Production Solutions > Final Cut Suite

Final Cut Suite
Discussing the editing of all formats with FCS, FCP, FCE


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 27th, 2005, 11:18 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 436
The Mac Mini FCP Workstation: 10 months later...

Hey all, well I'm bored waiting for the gf to get done watching Survivor (god I hate that show, I think it's the running commentary by the show host that annoys me the most, he never stops talking, now The Apprentice, that's a good trashy reality show!) but I decided why not write an update on my experience with my mac mini as a FCP workstation.

THROUGH THE RINGER:

Well I've used my mini for far larger projects than I ever planned to. Originally, it was an ice breaker for me to be comfortable owning a mac and I needed to be editing a couple of DV short films on my own in FCP and a 48 hour film festival submission. After several of these projects, I had a few months away from the mini and fcp while editing a couple of Discovery shows in Avid but I was lucky enough to be assistant editor on a super 16mm feature film being edited in FCP HD (thanks to all those who gave me advice from this board). So I was able to take some footage home when requested and start to edit scenes together for the film, at home on my mini and external FW drives. This all worked very well and the process of moving from edit bay to working scenes out at home was seamless. Well it came to a point a month or so later (long story) that I was asked to tweak and re-edit most of the film. I had been planning on purchasing one of the new dual core g5 machines but almost as a joke, decided to open up the feature (130 minutes long in one sequence) on the mini as it was all self contained on a couple of external FW drives. The project opened and was barely useable but strangely, I tried updating to FCP5 and the project became very responsive, very useable! So I ended up tweaking and changing scenes for a feature film on my little mac mini in FCP5! I must note, the media we were working with were only dv quality @ 23.98 frame rate to be later sent to the negative cutter and there were only two video tracks required. FCP only crashed a couple of times. Anyways, pretty impressive so I decided to wait on purchasing a new g5 until it is absolutely required (I had already ordered a new monitor for the project, a 24 inch Dell which the mini can power, I highly rec. this monitor by the way, especially at it's $760 price tag with coupon).

Also just recently, I cut a short little 3 minute promo video for an upcoming documentary with footage captured from a Sony FX1 shot in HDV and downconverted to SD inside a sony hdv deck sent via firewire through an external FW drive with only a mild hiccup (on one of the clips, the last 2 minutes of an hour long clip lost sync on capture but I was able to correct the audio later on). I was also able to record nice sounding VO's straight into the mini as well, with a mixer and the iMic usb cable. Obviously, audio recording isn't a hugely processor intensive task but I was just impressed with the amount of work I was able to get done with a measly mac mini. Video Monitoring has been handled with a Canopus ADVC 100 (~$200) sent out to a 14inch flat CRT Toshiba monitor via svideo, very nice quality.

BOTTOM LINE:

I said it before but now I can say it with mileage: If you're doing primarily straight cuts editing with some mild effects in FCP, even long form shows, and you aren't using anything much beyond DV (DV can look very nice when properly exposed with a nice camera like a DVX100a or the new HDV Sonys) then the mac mini can really fit the bill as a capable edit station until your workflow demands HDV, Apple's Motion or After Effects etc. (obviously, rendering anything substantial on the mac mini is like crawling uphill, in the snow, with one arm - if you're rendering in DVDSP or IDVD for a longer project, leave it overnight). Also, the extra hardware I'm using will work great with a system upgrade later on so it's not like I'm taking a big hit by using this setup (iMic, mixer, advc100, new monitor etc., will work well with a new quad g5 later down the line perhaps =) ). Anyways, thought some might be interested.

THE CURRENT SETUP:

Here's a picture of the full setup right now: (sorry for the crappy quality, we keep our place dimly lit)
http://www.definingfilms.com/newmini.jpg

1.42 Gigahertz mac mini :: 1 gig of ram
Swapped internal HD with a 7200 rpm 60 gig Hitachi
Mac OSX 10.3.9 , FCP 5

Estimated machine cost: ~$800 not including external storage

Last edited by Bryan Roberts; October 28th, 2005 at 12:16 AM.
Bryan Roberts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28th, 2005, 02:00 PM   #2
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Mays Landing, NJ
Posts: 11,543
Thanks for the great report Bryan! I'm linking this to our "which Mac should I buy" thread so others can benefit from your experience.
Boyd Ostroff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28th, 2005, 03:23 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Roanoke, VA
Posts: 796
Bryan,

Likewise, thanks for the update. I'm in a similar situation as you and use a Mini as well at home. Here's a link to my setup.

At work we use dual proc G5s for our Beta SP shoots but when I come home and edit my DV stuff, I don't really notice a big difference. Obviously I can't run Motion on the Mini, but LiveType works quite well with a gig of ram.

Regarding monitors, I've been considering getting the 20" Dell 2005FPW. Then I recently saw the new Gateway 21" widescreen flat panel and am quite impressed.
__________________
Dave Perry Cinematographer LLC
Director of Photography Editor Digital Film Production 540.915.2752 daveperry.net
Dave Perry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28th, 2005, 04:18 PM   #4
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Mays Landing, NJ
Posts: 11,543
Heh - that's one of the old Apple Studio monitors in your setup, isn't it? I had the 21" CRT studio monitor myself for about 6 years until it died a couple months ago. A rear workhorse! :-)
Boyd Ostroff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28th, 2005, 04:23 PM   #5
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Posts: 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Perry
Regarding monitors, I've been considering getting the 20" Dell 2005FPW. Then I recently saw the new Gateway 21" widescreen flat panel and am quite impressed.


Just got one off ups truck today. Well worth it! Colors look great, and the larger real estate is a great thing.
__________________
James out------
Check out the Southern Winds Film Festival. Call for entries is now open!



http://www.southernwindsfilmfestival.com

http://www.phigmentphilms.com
James Bridges is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28th, 2005, 04:58 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Roanoke, VA
Posts: 796
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
Heh - that's one of the old Apple Studio monitors in your setup, isn't it? I had the 21" CRT studio monitor myself for about 6 years until it died a couple months ago. A rear workhorse! :-)
Boyd, you are correct. It's a great monitor. I've had 3 of them over the years. A little known fact is that they had and inherent design flaw that was refered to by users as the "pop-dim-zoom" syndrome. What would happen is that at anywhere from 3-6 months of use the monitor would start to occasionally make a pop sound followed by the picture dimming and shrinking then zooming back into focus. The neat part is that Apple acknowledged this and provided free fixes for the monitor up until a month ago! They would ship you a box and FEDEX air bill for both ways. No out of pocket expense. This went for monitors purchased used as well. The Apple knowledge based even had instructions on how to get it fixed. I had 2 of them fixed, neither of which I was the original owner. I recently bought a third one on eBay for $2.50. This is how I found out Apple no longer offered this program. I tried calling customer service anf they said teh program had recently been discontinued. I missed it by about 2 weeks.
__________________
Dave Perry Cinematographer LLC
Director of Photography Editor Digital Film Production 540.915.2752 daveperry.net
Dave Perry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28th, 2005, 08:44 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 436
Glad to contribute! Dave I couldn't get your link to show up... it seemed like there was no response from the site. Great to hear livetype works well with the mini, I haven't spent too much time in livetype, well ever. I've either been inside FCP or AE, wish I knew more about livetype.

That Gateway does look like a nice monitor, I'm curious how it ends up being reviewed by some of the usual suspects (barefeats, cnet etc. etc.). I must say once again though, I strongly reccomend this dell monitor, I honestly haven't owned something electronic so flawless (the dvx100a was really nice but no hd/hdv and needed less DOP =) ) not to mention the miriad of connections, all the usb ports, 9in1 media card reader which works perfectly with both my mac and pc, and then the range of video connection possibilites (5 way input selector on the front of the unit) with analog, svideo, component, dvi and vga ofcourse, it's one sick piece of electronics. Yes, Dell is somewhat of the anti christ in some cases and their customer support is horrible but it was worth it and actually my monitor arrived 2 days early without a single incident or dead pixel. Staring at hires 1920X1200 wallpapers is really an experience (a friend showed me an Angelina Jolie CU where you could see the coverup makeup on her face concealing pores and every little crack and crevice of her lips which all sounds a bit perverted but I must say, I haven't seen an image so clear in my life, it was honestly strange at first). With the coupon for the monitor to be ~$760 and 3 year warranty, it's one helluva deal. Anyways, enough ranting and raving and such.
Bryan Roberts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 30th, 2005, 09:45 PM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Toronto
Posts: 532
Bryan that's a sick cheap setup! What mixer is that?

Also, the mac mini is compatible with that gateway 21"? And can you watch tv on it while using your mac with picture in picture or is that a pc only option?

I'd really like to get that and a mac mini but I don't know anything about screens.

My ideal setup would be the new 1.5ghz mac mini with 1gig ram and that gateway monitor.

Last edited by Evan C. King; October 31st, 2005 at 01:40 AM.
Evan C. King is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 31st, 2005, 12:27 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 436
Evan, thanks! The mixer is a Behringer UB1204FX ($150 new) and also has power for xlr mics. Yes, the Gateway, I'd assume is compatible with the mac mini and the Dell also does tv side by side with the desktop, the dell also has 3 more inches.....
Bryan Roberts is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Apple / Mac Post Production Solutions > Final Cut Suite

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:18 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network