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Old March 31st, 2006, 11:24 AM   #1
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With $12k to $15k, what would you buy for a Final Cut Pro Professional editing suite?

Hi Everyone,

I am finishing post on a documentary feature film that we believe will go theatrical.

We are now ready for an online edit, and we want to buy a Final Cut Pro setup that will give us everything we need to finish the film, as well as that will remain useful for other projects for at least the next 3 years.

I would appreciate your thoughts and recommendations of the best hardware to purchase for $12,000 to $15,000.

I am leaning towards a G5, either one of the Dual core powerpcs, or the Quad. Can all 3 do a very good job with film/video editing?

I am also going to get the 30 inch widescreen.

Can someone help me decide:

1) Which G5 to buy? Is the Quad THAT muich faster than the dual core Macs?

2) How much RAM I will need for video editing? 4 GB RAM? More? Should I purchase ECC or NECC RAM? Since the apple site sells expensive RAM, where is the best place to purchase RAM for the g5 dual-core or quad?

3) Which hard drive I should purchase (I'm looking for at least 1 TB of Storage). Someone recommended SEAGATE drives, but I saw a 1 TB drive (actually 4 250GB drives in an external case) made by "Buffalo" that says that it is Mac compatible, but I have not heard of that company before.

4) Which video card is good for video/film editing? Is there a video card that can support two monitors, as well as work with miniDV and uncompressed HD?

5) Sound card. Is there a sound card that is particularly suited for FCP editing?

6) Speakers. Which speakers would be good for production broadcast quality sound. Someone mentioned that DynAudios would be good speakers for Broadcast post editing.

7) A break out box so that I can connect RCA cables (to import video and audio through RCA connections), and so that I can also hook up a production monitor to check out the video quality and color balance, etc. For my PC, I have a Canopus ADVC-100. Do Canopus products work well with G5? Should I use something like a "KONA 2 HD Capture card" so that I can work with HD? Would the Kona card and breakout box also work with minidv editing?

8) What additional equipment would I need to import, edit and export in HD?

9) Since I am going to purchase the 30 inch cinema screen, as well as use a video production monitor, would it be beneficial to also buy a second monitor? (Perhaps a 20 or 23 inch cinema screen? Or just a regular second monitor?) Can most G5 video cards handle 2 monitors?

10) What is the best way to hookup an NTSC monitor so that I can check image quality during editing. Would I connect the monitor to a breakout box? Is there a way to connect an NTSC monitor via firewire, or is connecting it to BNC or RCA cables better for accurately checking image quality. Does anyone have recommendations for the best NTSC minitor for DV (and later, HD)? Can I hook up an NTSC monitor through a miniDV deck?

11) Which minidv decks work best with Macs and FCP? I assume that they can be hooked up through a firewire port. Is that correct?

12) Should I consider buying a used g5 rather than buying one new? I have seen some G5s listed on Craigslist. Are there other places to find good used G5s?

I really appreciate the feedback. I want to buy the best equipment now, do that I can comfortably edit project for at least the next 3 years or so.

Khashyar
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Old April 1st, 2006, 12:16 PM   #2
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Kashyar, you have so many questions, many of which are so basic, that you would do well to look through many past posts on this forum rather than expecting answers to everything you listed. Basically, any dual processor or dual core G5 will work fine for you. You'll need a capture card like a Kona 2 or Decklink if you want to work with uncompressed HD. That will take care of your monitoring needs for video and audio. You'll also need a seriously fast disk subsystem in some kind of striped RAID configuration to work with uncompressed. For MiniDV, about any deck works with Macs (some cameras like Canons have problems), and you want to connect your NTSC monitor through your deck to monitor picture. I think any of the stock G5 video cards support two monitors, but I also think the 30-inch cinema display uses both DVI ports. I definitely think it negates the need for 2 monitors. I have 24-inch Dell, and that's more than enough space for me. The 30-inch makes mine look tiny. You don't need a new sound card. If you want to do audio editing then you'll want an external interface like one of the Digidesign or M-audio boxes. Speakers are a pretty personal choice, and you should audition them before buying, but you'll find recommendations on the audio forum.

You should do some serious reading and testing before you buy. If you don't know whether you can hook up a miniDV deck over firewire (you can, incidentally) then you should do plenty of research before sinking $12k into an edit suite.

Oh, a last thought: many of the G5s listed on craigslist are from scammers. For some reason they like to list Apple stuff.
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Old April 1st, 2006, 12:55 PM   #3
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Thanks for your feedback, Zach.

Yes, I have been reading over many threads in this forum, and appreciate the information that I've found, and appreciate your thoughts.

I have edited broadcast films on an AVID and Media 100 systems in the past, but on those systems I had a breakout box and edited BetaSP source tapes, and did not work with a miniDV deck. I have not edited with Final Cut Pro before, and we did the offline edit on my current documentary on Adobe Premiere (because we wanted to purchase the latest FCP setup when we were ready for the online), but I know that I can adpat and learn quickly, and have friends who have edited with FCP.

Perhaps for now, I will stay with a system that can edit minidv (since my current and next documentary projects were shot in minidv), and expand to HD when necessary.

Yes, I will stay away from Craigslist.

Regarding the minidv deck: I know that a minidv camera would work, but I want to hook up an NTSC monitor, and I know that I can do this through a minidv deck. I have heard that the Sony DSR-11 sometimes has had issues (eating up tapes, etc.), so I am considering either the SONY DSR-25 (it is expensive at about $3,000), and the GVD100 (which is about $1,200, but would that be durable enough to digitize many tapes over time?)

Much of our footage was shot with the Canon XL-1 and BetaSP, so I don't know if that affects some of our choices.

So, instead of buying the QUAD, you mentioned that other G5's would do fine for our needs, and is expandable to handle HD later? So, the dual core machines would do the job fine? I have read that it is preferable to purchase a Quad, since it will remain fast enough and current over the next few years.

Thanks for your information and thoughts,

Khashyar
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Old April 1st, 2006, 01:43 PM   #4
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Future-proofing with the quad might not be a bad idea. I'm sure the renders are faster. But plenty of people were editing HD before the quad came out. If you're worried about the future then it's probably not a good time to buy a Mac. I have never liked the G5s that much anyway (they run way too hot which causes horrible fan noise and occasionaly instability in some models), and it might not be that long until the Intel-based models come out. But if you have to get the best system now then obviously the quad with a ton of RAM is your answer. Hopefully someone else will tell you how much of a difference the quad makes with HD. I can count the number of minutes of HD footage I've edited on one hand, and I certainly don't have any broadcast credits like you. No matter what you get, the only computer upgrade you'll need to edit HD is a capture card. You can even edit DVCPRO-HD over firewire - that's what gave FCPHD its name.

I've worked quite a bit with the DSR-11 and DSR-25 and never had a problem with either. Several of the DSR-11s I used were old, heavily used units in a computer lab when I was a student. That seems like a worst-case scenario to me, and they never failed or ate a tape. I have had terrible luck combining footage from Canon cameras with any deck. I get annoying dropped frames and timecode issues every time I edit something from a GL or XL. This doesn't affect everyone - the people on the Canon forums on DV info will tell you it's a minority issue - but it happens to me every time. I've given up trying to capture footage from the GL1s I have at work from anything except the camera. So my recommendation is try capturing one of your tapes from a proposed deck if possible. Again, Canon lovers will tell you this is not an issue, but I have plenty of experience that says otherwise.

I bet someone else with broadcast experience will chime in before long to tell you everything else.
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Old April 1st, 2006, 02:19 PM   #5
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Dsr 25

I use a DSR25 everyday. Never ever had a problem with it. On the RAM issue, get as much as you can. I am using 4gigs in a 2.5G G5 and it works well; but I am thinking adding another 2 gigs. Almost all of my work is being done in HDV and the more RAM, the better.
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Old April 1st, 2006, 03:36 PM   #6
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Someone told me on another thread in this forum that FCP5 will only address 4GB of RAM. I'm sure that will grow in future versions.
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Old April 1st, 2006, 06:50 PM   #7
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Thanks very much for your feedback, Zach and Jack.

It seems that I could buy any of the dual-core G5s (and not necessarily the Quad), and have plenty of computing speed and power.

Do you think footage shot on an XL-1 would have problems being digitized from a minidv deck like a DSR-11 or DSR-25 (with dropout issues, etc.)?

Khashyar
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 01:05 AM   #8
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Also, if you want to save some money and your requirements are not too insane, then I would look at the Intel iMacs. You get a display with them, they can have up to 4G of memory I think, they can do dual monitors, and they are FAST.

Basically, unless you really want/have to I'd avoid buying a G5 machine and get Intel. For the Powermacs of course, that means you will have to wait, possible nearer the end of the year. The Intel machines seem to be a lot faster than the same priced G5's.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 11:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Koolen
Also, if you want to save some money and your requirements are not too insane, then I would look at the Intel iMacs. You get a display with them, they can have up to 4G of memory I think, they can do dual monitors, and they are FAST.

Basically, unless you really want/have to I'd avoid buying a G5 machine and get Intel. For the Powermacs of course, that means you will have to wait, possible nearer the end of the year. The Intel machines seem to be a lot faster than the same priced G5's.
Thanks for your thoughts, Aaron.

As I understand, that we would save the cost of a monitor by purchasing the dual-core 2.0 GHz imac, but that the computer itself is only about a couple hundred dollars less. I like the fact that with the G5, there is more room to expand, add video and other cards, etc.

Are you sure that the imac (2.0 GHz dual-core) is much faster than the G5 Powermac dual-core (2.0 GHz)? On the Apple site, it says that the imac (Intel) is much fast than the imac PowerPC.

Khashyar
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 06:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
10) What is the best way to hookup an NTSC monitor so that I can check image quality during editing. Would I connect the monitor to a breakout box? Is there a way to connect an NTSC monitor via firewire, or is connecting it to BNC or RCA cables better for accurately checking image quality. Does anyone have recommendations for the best NTSC minitor for DV (and later, HD)? Can I hook up an NTSC monitor through a miniDV deck?
You can hook up a broadcast monitor to a DV deck or camera. Both can convert from firewire --> analog for you.

Do watch out for monitor calibration... most DV decks and cameras will improperly convert video levels.
http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage..._nattress.html
The DSR11 is one of those decks.

2- If you're just cutting a documentary, you not need that powerful of a computer. If you're not doing lots of effects work, you aren't going to need to render much.
Bigger projects may benefit from more RAM though. Run out of RAM and FCP will slow down dramatically. Having an overkill of RAM doesn't help you though. That was my experience with a DP500ghz G4... it was the RAM that really made a difference (moving from 256MB to 512MB; FCP3).

3- If you want to save money, look at two Dell LCDs. Wait for the hot deals on them... a 24" is $1,000 or less now.

4- The Sony PVM-L5 is a SD broadcast monitor that can be upgraded to HD (add the HD-SDI input card).

It may also make financial sense to go with a lower-end broadcast monitor with blue gun. For SD, I would strongly lean towards a CRT. They are about $700 for a studio monitor if I remember correctly.

5- Storage: If you want to stick another SATA drive in the G5, check newegg.com or other computer vendors for prices.

For bigger needs, browse Promax's site. All their solutions can be had for a few hundred cheaper if you are willing to roll your own. Promax is a reseller of other company's products, and they provide specialized support for video editing.
promax.com

6- If you do forsee your product ending up broadcasted, you might want to setup your system to handle betaSP.
You'd need a capture card from AJA or decklink, and a fast enough hard drive system.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 08:11 PM   #11
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Thanks for the very informed and helpful information, Glenn.

You mentioned that:

Quote:

Do watch out for monitor calibration... most DV decks and cameras will improperly convert video levels.
http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage..._nattress.html
The DSR11 is one of those decks.
Do you know whether the Sony DSR-25 or the GVD1000 suffer from the same video level calibration issues?

4) Yes, I was looking at the PVM-14L5 as a monitor. I'm glad that I could eventually use that for editing HD if needed.

Quote:
6- If you do forsee your product ending up broadcasted, you might want to setup your system to handle betaSP.
You'd need a capture card from AJA or decklink, and a fast enough hard drive system.
Actually, we do have some BetaSP that we need to digitize... Can we hook up a BetaSP deck to the Sony DSR-25 BNC cables to digitize footage? Or, perhaps it is best to find a BetaSP deck that has a firewire port.

Thanks again for your advice,

Khashyar
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 10:33 PM   #12
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Do you know whether the Sony DSR-25 or the GVD1000 suffer from the same video level calibration issues?
I believe so. The Sony DSR-1700 and 1800 don't have that issue.

It's not too much of an issue if you simply calibrate the monitor. You can calibrate the monitor to work with sources that put black level at 0 IRE. There are also monitors that have a setting to swtich between 7.5 and 0 IRE, although that just duplicates what the 'brightness' setting can do.

The Canopus device you already have may convert digital black level properly (to 7.5IRE).

If you need to make betaSP masters, then you do want proper 7.5IRE setup. The AJA and decklink hardware should give you that option. You can rent a waveform monitor and vectorscope to check that your video levels are correct once you set your system up.

2- FCP's waveform monitor and vectorscope don't tell you what the analog levels are... they can only monitor digital levels. They are also a little wacky in that they only look at the underscan area, and only scan every several lines.

They also clip off levels that are blacker than black... so you won't be able to see certain illegal values. I don't believe this will cause problems in general, although one user reported that their video levels were too low and they didn't catch that.

Quote:
Actually, we do have some BetaSP that we need to digitize... Can we hook up a BetaSP deck to the Sony DSR-25 BNC cables to digitize footage? Or, perhaps it is best to find a BetaSP deck that has a firewire port.
The DSR-25 will not give you the very best quality, since it will have to apply DV compression to the incoming footage.

I also believe that it doesn't have component input, which is slightly better than S-Video or Y/C. And the DSR-25 may give you problems with 7.5 IRE setup.

The capture hardware from AJA or Decklink is probably the way to go (Pinnacle and another company also makes such hardware if I remember correctly). They will allow you to capture in 4:2:2 uncompressed quality. It's twice the color resolution of DV (horizontally), has no compression.

Perhaps most importantly, it will allow you to control the deck so that you can setup the timecode to do broadcast masters / do insert edits.
The downside to working that way is that uncompressed costs more money. You will need a hard drive array to get the bandwidth necessary to capture uncompressed. I believe you can get away with 2 drives in RAID 0 on a seritek (or feritek) SATA controller card (but not the G5's SATA controllers). That is the minimum.

If storage space is an issue, you can always offline/online... capture at low quality, then recapture at full uncompressed quality.

Quote:
2) How much RAM I will need for video editing? 4 GB RAM? More? Should I purchase ECC or NECC RAM? Since the apple site sells expensive RAM, where is the best place to purchase RAM for the g5 dual-core or quad?
Crucial.com should be the easiest, and their RAM is designed to be a little more reliable. They cherry pick the better RAM. They also use more conservative memory timings, which makes the RAM more reliable (and also slows things down by a very small amount for non-video applications).

It's not too big a deal what RAM you get... they all do the same thing in this case. As long as you get the right kind, and get pairs of the same thing (pairs of the same stuff is the fastest). newegg.com, pricewatch.com, pricegrabber.com are places to get RAM a bit cheaper.

Some people just get all their computer stuff from newegg.com because they are convenient, less likely to delay shipping.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 11:02 PM   #13
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Thanks again for your expertise, Glenn.

Quote:
It's not too much of an issue if you simply calibrate the monitor. You can calibrate the monitor to work with sources that put black level at 0 IRE. There are also monitors that have a setting to swtich between 7.5 and 0 IRE, although that just duplicates what the 'brightness' setting can do.
So, to clarify, you're saying that as long as you calibrate the monitor, that you can receive proper analog output video levels.

Quote:
The DSR-25 will not give you the very best quality, since it will have to apply DV compression to the incoming footage.
From reading the specs, I see that the Sony DSR-25 has BNC, y/c and RCA inputs and outputs. Do you think that the BetaSP footage, digitzed through a Sony DVR-25, would be at least the same quality as the digitized minidv tapes? If the qualities of digitized DV and BetaSP (through a minidv deck) are the same, then I can accept that for any project where most of the footage has been shot on minidv.

So the AJA or Decklink allow you to digitzed uncompressed video from a BNC, RCA or y/c connection?

Is there a specific AJA or Decklink card that you would recommend (that is less than $2,000)?

Thanks again for your help,

Khashyar
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Old April 3rd, 2006, 12:22 AM   #14
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So, to clarify, you're saying that as long as you calibrate the monitor, that you can receive proper analog output video levels.
If you calibrate the monitor, it will show proper levels.

It still won't:
A- Show proper levels if you plug in a source that puts black level at 7.5IRE (i.e. DVD players, betaSP deck).
B- Ensure you have black level at 7.5 IRE going into your betaSP deck.

*Now if your betaSP deck has a proc amp on it, you can set it to look for black level at 0 IRE. But this can get confusing.

Quote:
From reading the specs, I see that the Sony DSR-25 has BNC, y/c and RCA inputs and outputs. Do you think that the BetaSP footage, digitzed through a Sony DVR-25, would be at least the same quality as the digitized minidv tapes? If the qualities of digitized DV and BetaSP (through a minidv deck) are the same, then I can accept that for any project where most of the footage has been shot on minidv.

So the AJA or Decklink allow you to digitzed uncompressed video from a BNC, RCA or y/c connection?
The DSR25 won't give the same quality as miniDV tapes, since there's generation loss.

one generation when the video signal hits betaSP tape.
Another generation when that analog signal gets converted to DV.

As opposed to DV, where there's just one generation: When the video signal hits DV tape.
Or as opposed to uncompressed, where you don't get the added generation from DV compression.

So to recap, the advantages are:
A- Better quality, slightly. see
http://www.adamwilt.com/pix-sampling.html
The "chunkiness" in the chroma will be much less evident with uncompressed. Typically you don't see that chunkiness though (because people sit far away from their TVs, and you need high chroma on a dark background to really see it).
http://www.adamwilt.com/pix-artifacts.html
*Mosquito noise may happen anyways, as many broadcasters compress video onto video servers.

B- Black level at 7.5IRE.
C- The hardware can be capable of deck control and insert editing for making proper broadcast masters. I can't remember if this was possible via DV.. the keyspan adapter (something like that??) may have been the solution to get deck control with firewire. Not sure about that.

2- The capture hardware typically accepts component (analog) or SDI (digital). Component would be appropriate here.

3- I only have experience with the AJA stuff, so I can't say much about how it stacks up to its competitors.

The products to look for are likely:
Aurora Pipestudio
Aja IO LA
Decklink ? (forget which one it is)
component in+out, RS422 deck control
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Old April 3rd, 2006, 12:31 AM   #15
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Thanks very much, Glenn. A lot of great information.

Khashyar
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