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Old December 3rd, 2002, 10:34 AM   #1
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Platform switching question

I know this posting is going over many sections of well-worn ground, but I'd appreciate any thoughts any of you might have on a decision I have to make soon. I have been working on a large documentary project and have accumulated quite a few hours of DV tape. My intended output is to DVD and some streaming video. I will be archiving all of my tape on DVD (and any edits back to mini-DV), but then also producing some edited products. I have become reasonably familiar with Final Cut Pro 3.0 and DVD Studio Pro, both running on a top end Mac G4, but have as yet only produced sample products. I am changing institutional locations, and having to assemble my editing base out of a new budget, so I am considering the possibility of changing platforms. My new location can support both Mac and PC hardware, but my assessment is that the relevant PC hardware is about half the price of the equivalent Mac stuff. I don't mind learning new software, and am at a project stage where I can shift without losing work. A possible complication is that I may eventually be supervising students who will work in Mac labs, but I don't mind some level of keeping up with software in two environments.

1. Am I right in thinking that a P4 running over, say 1.8 Ghz with 512 RAM, an 80 GB /7200 primary HD (or larger), and my existing 1394 120 /7200 (will need reformatting) for files, will do the job, with capture and external HD support through, say, a Pyro 1394 card, and a Sony or HP DVD burner? Does anyone have experience, for instance, with the Sony boxes that come with a 2.54 P4, a 120 /7200 HD and both the 1394 and the DVD burner on board?

2. Since many of my tapes are straight through 1 hr interviews that, for archiving purposes, do not need video content editing (but may need some minor audio adjustment), are large capture files really a problem under Windows, or will, say Win 2K / NTFS allow 13 GB files?

3. There seems to be a lot of consensus on this forum that Vegas Video is a top level platform for functionality and professional results, and that it has good sound editing capabilities. Is its functionality equivalent to FCP? Does its codec offer quality advantages (as I think some postings have suggested)? Is its internal sound editing really adequate for normalizing levels, etc., or would I also need Sound Forge (which would add significantly to software costs)? Is Adobe an alternative worth considering, since I can get the educational pricing? And is there a good PC equivalent to DVD Studio Pro?

4. How much actual trouble can I anticipate with compatibility issues, etc. I'm ok with some amount of fiddling, and am very familiar with PC hardware (interrupts, etc.), but time is money, and I won't be in an exactly low-demand environment at my new posting.

5. Or should I just cough up and stay with Mac? The equipment is expensive, but the FCP educational pricing is quite competitive (though DVD Studio Pro is still expensive).

Thanks for your patience in reading this, and any advice you might have.

Linc Kesler
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Old December 3rd, 2002, 12:42 PM   #2
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As far as editing goes, I think for video, a Mac is the superior platform.

For the PC environment, if you want the fewest problems possible, buy a configured system. These are (hopefully) fully tested systems and not very likely to crash; which is why you bought it from them in the first place. Systems with Canopus hardware are probably the highest value. Further, if you are planning to burn DVDs, a configured system may look even better.

Vegas Video (VV) is regarded as one of the best deals, especially if you can get the student discount. You at least want to have a NTFS file structure which means you need W2K or XP. VV does not want anything less than a P3.

As far as disks go, most of the over the counter HDs will work just fine. Generally, anything that runs 7200 RPMs will work.

One thing you did not mention is if you are going to use either a Canon GL or XL. These cams have a 4-track option. If you use 4-track, VV, and almost everything else, does not know how to handle 4-track. Many users have employed Scenalyzer which among many other nice things captures 4-track audio.

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Old December 3rd, 2002, 01:31 PM   #3
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1. Am I right in thinking that a P4 running over, say 1.8 Ghz with 512 RAM, an 80 GB /7200 primary HD (or larger), and my existing 1394 120 /7200 (will need reformatting) for files, will do the job, with capture and external HD support through, say, a Pyro 1394 card, and a Sony or HP DVD burner? Does anyone have experience, for instance, with the Sony boxes that come with a 2.54 P4, a 120 /7200 HD and both the 1394 and the DVD burner on board?


Any current PC with a 1394 card and plenty of hard drive space will edit video just fine. PC's also support external firewire drives just fine. You *may* have to run the external drive and camera off separate 1394 ports OR cards.



2. Since many of my tapes are straight through 1 hr interviews that, for archiving purposes, do not need video content editing (but may need some minor audio adjustment), are large capture files really a problem under Windows, or will, say Win 2K / NTFS allow 13 GB files?


NTFS (requires Win2K or WinXP) will allow a single file for as large as your disk space. There IS a limit in size but it is around 12 Terabytes.




3. There seems to be a lot of consensus on this forum that Vegas Video is a top level platform for functionality and professional results, and that it has good sound editing capabilities. Is its functionality equivalent to FCP? Does its codec offer quality advantages (as I think some postings have suggested)? Is its internal sound editing really adequate for normalizing levels, etc., or would I also need Sound Forge (which would add significantly to software costs)? Is Adobe an alternative worth considering, since I can get the educational pricing? And is there a good PC equivalent to DVD Studio Pro?


If you want an NLE with the best sound options around, Vegas is definitely your answer. Vegas (IMO) is definitely comparable to FCP (better in some areas, worse in others) with a new version just over the horizon. Vegas' codec is top notch and the program is very stable.

As for DVD authoring, there are a huge number of programs available. A starting place for you to look may be Sonic ReelDVD.




4. How much actual trouble can I anticipate with compatibility issues, etc. I'm ok with some amount of fiddling, and am very familiar with PC hardware (interrupts, etc.), but time is money, and I won't be in an exactly low-demand environment at my new posting.


I purchased a PC, installed a 1394 card, installed the program, and started editing - no fiddling required. However, you can also buy turn-key systems that are pre-built just for video.



5. Or should I just cough up and stay with Mac? The equipment is expensive, but the FCP educational pricing is quite competitive (though DVD Studio Pro is still expensive).


While I don't think you will see a break on hardware, there ARE breaks on software for students. For example, the student price for Vegas Video is about $150.
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Old December 3rd, 2002, 06:17 PM   #4
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You might want to look into Avid XpressDV. Better color correction tools than FCP. Great media management for long forms.

PC's run After Effects at speeds up to TWICE as fast as Mac's .

It's an expensive program, but its software only. Student pricing is available. The bonus is that if you are teaching students, they are learning the basic Avid interface. And most movies and tv programs are edited on avid systems.
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Old December 3rd, 2002, 07:30 PM   #5
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In the interest of preempting the precipitation of a religious flame war, let's agree on a few axioms that will help to keep us within the boundaries of civil discussion:
  • Neither Mac nor PC shall be summarily declared a "superior" platform for any purpose, video production or otherwise.
  • If a benchmark test result is cited, a source should be provided in the form of a print publication reference or a URL.
Thanks, and keep up the debate!
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Old December 4th, 2002, 09:55 AM   #6
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Robert,

Good point. Regarding "After Effects showdow. PC vs Mac" see

www.mediaworkstation.com/2002/05_may/features/cw_aeshowdown.htm


Or go to mediaworkstation.com and do a search.

The result of the benchmark tests, running identical process on the fastest mac, and a pretty fast pc, (Not even the fastest) pointed out macs poor speed in crunching video effects. Mac excels in other areas (Like photoshop).

Regards

Bill
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Old December 4th, 2002, 10:34 AM   #7
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FWIW, most of the Vegas packages include Sound Forge Studio XP, the "lite" version of Sound Forge. Between the audio capabilities already built in to Vegas and Sound Forge XP, you should be pretty well equipped to handle most of the sound issues that come up on a project.
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