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Old April 19th, 2003, 08:51 PM   #1
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Questions for FCP users from a Windows kinda guy.(wanting to buy a Mac system)

My son is graduating from the FAU film/video studies program soon and he has been using MACs and FCP (he really likes it).

My question is...
I want to get him a nice graduation present. He's worked really hard and done well so even though I'm a Wintel geek, I want to purchase a Mac/FCP system for him. He will be mainly using DV, so no immediate interest in SDI (though that new AJA is tempting).

I'm thinking about a dual MAC, cinema display, loaded with ram..
Need help in choosing the best video card, best source for Ram, best Harddrives... mainly quality stuff that will last him awhile.
Also a great sound card so he can also do pro level audio mixing and recording (now that FCP has some nice Vegas type audio features). Not interested in the Powerbook at this time.

And try really hard not to say I told ya so. hehehe

One thing, I really would like to avoid getting this system at CompUSA. Those people would sell you sh*t on a stick if they could get away with it. In the past I've had horrible support from them. (Kept my sons Sony Viaio for almost 6 months with a bad DVD player).

Prefer a good MAC systems integrator or reputable online store.
Prefer one here in FL (Orlanda and points west,east or south down to Miami) Jeff Donald, feel free to jump in here and help out.



p.s. He doesn't know about this.

Thanks in advance for any help.
My budget for the Mac/software is around 7K. I don't know if that will be enough. Getting a VTR, Camera and othe production tools is another issue, so don't worry about that part.
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Old April 19th, 2003, 09:00 PM   #2
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Joe,

I'm on my Dad's 333 MHz iMac on dial-up and it's slow, to say the least. I'll give this some thought and post a reply this evening when I get home. How soon do you want to do this?
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Old April 19th, 2003, 09:06 PM   #3
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You can configure a Mac at Safe Harbor ~ that's what I did. http://www.sharbor.com

If you need you can call them they can help with configuration questions and can custom build with parts not even listed on the configurator. Not sure if they are teh least expensive, but I've been shopping from them for years and I trust their work and products (especially for an online company).
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Old April 19th, 2003, 10:48 PM   #4
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Joe,

The absolute best deal on a new Mac will be at the online Apple Store at the Education division. Students, educators etc. qualify for some very nice discounts on new Macs, software, accessories etc.

I would go with the top of the line dual processor G4 1.42 MHz. I would not spend any extra on the better video card unless your son is a serious gamer. If he is the ATI 9700 Pro is the card to go with. I would go with a dual display set up, two 20 inch Cinema Displays.

I would max out the ram (purchase an additional 1.5 gigs), and get it from any online source. Apple is very step on their ram prices. The stock drive is 120 gigs and fine for getting started. If you want to soup it up you can go with a ATA RAID 0 for media capture. Sonnet makes the card and you would need to add two matched ATA drives.

At this point you're at about $6,000 and add FCP 4 and you'll be at $7,000. If you don't want a dual display, that will save you about $1,400. If you don't do the RAID you'll save about $600. The Ram is about $140 a stick and it would take 3 to max it out.

If you don't want to do it online at the Apple Store. Apple has retail locations (but you don't get the Education Discount) in Orlando, Tampa, Miami and one in Boca Raton is opening soon.

Again, the real question is how soon. I would really urge waiting until after the WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) in June. I believe the new Power Macs will be announced with the IBM 970 processors and will herald in a new era for Apple. If the new Macs are announced, I would not expect them to start to ship until late August. I don't know if you and your son can wait that long.
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Old April 19th, 2003, 11:44 PM   #5
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Joe,
That's one heck of a nice graduation gift. I want to be reincarnated as your son.

Jeff's recommendations are solid.

FWIW, here is the base system I've been using as principally a Final Cut Pro station for the past 9 months or so (although I also use it for many other tasks with no problems).
  • Mac G4 Dual 1GHz
  • 80Gb system drive (standard)
  • 120Gb 7200 rpm (internal) media drive (ATA)
  • 1Gb of RAM (2Gb would be nice but I've never used the full 1Gb yet)
  • Standard video adapter, nVidia I think
  • 22" Apple Cinema display
My 1GHzDP has since been superceded but the basic configuration of current models remains the same. Off-hand, I'd say that this system ran somewhere around $6,000 USD (if I include the $1,000 for FCP), although I bought the monitor separately.

I think I bought mine at MacConnection.com; a very reliable online retailer with a long history. I've been buying from them for many years and it avoids the state sales tax, a significant item on a large sale like this.

Waiting for the WWDC might be a good idea if new models are introduced. Current model's prices might be depressed as a result, as there's quite a glut of Apple desktop inventory in the pipeline right now. But I'd be very leery of being first to jump into Apple's first IBM-based models.

Joe, as a formerly long-standing PC user myself (since the creation of the personal computer) I think you'll be surprised that the longevity of Macs is much longer than that of typical PC's. That said, getting the best model you can afford (as Jeff suggested) would be a wise move.

I hope this is helpful. Ring back for more info!
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Old April 19th, 2003, 11:52 PM   #6
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Jeff, thanks for the quick response....
He doesn't graduate till late summer, so I can wait if needed. I'm concerned about the Education discounts. Can you create professinal, paid for stuff with software and equpment purchased via Student discounts. Some software, like Vegas, allow you to create pro (paid for) work (no educcation version, just educational pricing). so... will there be any limitations placed on equipment and software purchased via education/student discounts? I only ask, because software like Maya and 3D Max don't allow output for professional use with their educational versions.
If this is not the case with Apple, then taking advantage of the educational discount seems the way to go.

Mark, others, thanks for the input. I'll keep your advice in mind.

As far as Video card, the new ATI 9800 looks cherry, but the Matrox Parhelia offers 10bit on the desktop (the only video in the PC market that does BTW). While it's 3D features fall behind ATI and Nvidia, it is still the king of 2D color quality. And it supports up to 3 monitors. It's also very expensive relative to it's competitors.

Hard Drives... I figure at least 300 gig possibly more if he wants to move up to higher than dv25 content. I'm trying to future proof this box for at least a couple of years. Raid is possible, but a second drive seperate from the primary drive would be a good start.

I would like an Audio card that supports 24/96 and multi channel mixing and recoriding/output. They are affordable and plentiful on the Windows side. I'm not talking about Pro tools either. Just a good quality PCI based pro audio card for the MAC. Midi is not needed.

Jeff, I think he can learn to live with a single Cinema display for starters. Now that FCP 4 will support video priview via the firewire interface, I may look into the Canopus ADVC100 convertor or something similar. It doesn't care if the PC is a MAC or a Wintel machine.

Thanks for the help folks.

Joe C.
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Old April 20th, 2003, 12:14 AM   #7
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Joe, the stock video card supports dual monitors and I would go dual, especially if he is using duals at school. If he's using only a single monitor, it's not as big a deal. The better video cards don't help 2D video. But if he's after maximum frame rate for games, he'll want the 9700, so add a couple hundred for the better card.

The educational discount on the equipment has no effect on usage. But the Academic License for software is restrictive and I didn't price the software with it. FCP 4 (Full Retail Version) will cost $1,000. The OS comes with a load of software with no commercial restrictions.

The stock drive is 120gb and is fine for applications and OS (the drive should be partitioned for maximum performance). I would really recommend the RAID 0 for maximum performance and future proofing. Total cost for two 150gb drives and the RAID card should be around $600.

I'll take a look at the newer audio cards and give you my recommendation later.
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Old April 20th, 2003, 02:34 AM   #8
 
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Hi Joe. This is your son. Please send me the computer. I will let you keep the bill.

Thanks,

Your son Curtis.
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Old April 20th, 2003, 07:22 PM   #9
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Uh Curtis? I was in Colorado in the early 70s as a teenager hitchhiking across the country. Your mom isn't a short, cute, 40 something blonde is she? oh no..... I just knew those nights would come back to haunt me.

Seriously. In 2001 I sent JoJo to Italy for 10 weeks to intern with a famous expat amercan independent director(Jon Jost). I'm making arrangments to hook him up with another young filmmaker in England. If that doesn't work out, he has made some excellent contacts in Italy.
I believe exposure to different cultures combined with real world experience are essential to becoming a better artist. I wish more amercian film makers would go over and get other peoples points of view.


JoJo is hoping to find a job closer to home after that. I've known about his artistic gifts since he was 5 when I found him making nearly exact free hand copies of comic strips from the newpaper.

His single biggest problem was not being challenged when he was taking art courses at University of Arkansas at Little Rock (his home state) total waste of time and money. He won a prize for a large piece made of wood and twigs, then the art teacher kept the money and left town for another job. He was totally bummed out after that.

I got him to move back down here to FL where he enrolled at PBCC and proceeded to create some large art pieces that won several awards (and he got the money this time), then he enrolled at FAU in their film and video program. He really found his calling. He loves making movies and has an artists eye for composition and color. He is currently using the schools XL1s for a short project.

The MAC system and another trip to England or Europe will be it, then he will have to get a job on his own.

since my son has grown to like the MAC, I'm taking Jeff Donalds advice, since it appears JoJo will have a better chance at getting a job with MAC experience than with PC. I'm not gonna mortage my house for an AVID. Sorry I draw the line there.
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Old April 20th, 2003, 07:49 PM   #10
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If he needs to pick up some certifications in FCP he can do that near Orlando. I haven't had a chance to look at the audio boards much yet, with the Holiday and all. I'll check it out tomorrow for you Joe.
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Old April 21st, 2003, 03:52 AM   #11
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About the PPC970:

Several people here advised you to wait until the WWDC in June, just my 2 cents on this: I have no special insights or sources on this but I just want to warn you from too much optimism. It seems very likely that Apple will introduce the PPC970 at WWDC but I actually doubt that we will see regular PowerMacs based on this chip before autumn (if not winter). Although there are all kind of rumours that Apple is already manufacturing motherboards for this chip I'm pretty sure that we will, at the beginning, only see Xserves using it.

The PPC970 is brand new and, normally, a new CPU are expensive and only available in small quantities. There's a big need for faster PowerMacs now and I doubt that Apple/IBM could deliever enough of these chips right from the start. IMO Apple will start selling these in their servers, maybe they will also introduce a new high end PowerMac with the PPC970, but anyway, expect this to be *really expensive* at the beginning. Apple knows that no one will buy a G4 anymore as soon as they introduce the PPC970 at a reasonable price, therefore they have to set the two chips apart at the beginning (the only alternative would be to switch all PowerMacs to the PPC970 and I seriously doubt that they can do that).
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Old April 21st, 2003, 07:58 AM   #12
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Joe,
When you buy his Mac G4, get him one of the designer models( OS9 Boot ) that can start up in OS 9, my friend recently got a dual 1.42 G4 but it was the regular model.

He got a great deal on it so he couldn't get the designer one, it won't start up in OS 9 so he is bummed because some of his audio software (I think) can't be used since they don't have an OS X version and it won't run in Classic mode.

Maybe it won't be an issue with your son's G4 not being able to boot up in OS 9, here's one post I found on this:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...&threadid=7627

I suggest you wait until the last moment and then see if new models come out this summer, then the dual 1.42 will cost less and you could use the savings to get another monitor, or to go towards a video camera (XL-1s maybe?)

Also, instead of getting the top 1.42 model, why not get a 1.25 with a 20 inch monitor + FCP 4 and use the rest to get him a camera. When the new models come out, the dual 1.25 will be a lot less and there will be more left over for a camera.

Let us know what you system you end up getting.

I like your view of seeing other cultures and expanding yourself through travel. I also believe that. I brought my little brother over to Japan to spend the summer with me and will bring over my nephew when he graduates from high school.
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Old April 21st, 2003, 01:34 PM   #13
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Rick, I've always wanted to spend time in Japan. Haven't been able to get there.
Italy too. Especially after what JoJo told me when he got back. I have to get over there.
I've been to the Middle East and Germany and all over the US.
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Old April 22nd, 2003, 04:49 PM   #14
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try promax

if you want a pre-configured, guaranteed to work, trick setup, contact the people at ProMax (www.promax.com). I can't speak from direct experience but I'm familiar with others that have bought from them and they have been very active in the community and have a great reputation. Assuming you are getting a tower, be sure to add a second internal, big hard drive.
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Old April 22nd, 2003, 09:03 PM   #15
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Joe,
Japan is pretty nice, I've been here for 12 years and I don't think I'll ever go back to live in the states. My wife and I went to Barcelona last year, that's a great city, I want to spend more time there. The cheery blossoms just ended their blooming period, that's probably the best time to see Japan, everywhere you go you see all these beautiful pink trees.
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