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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old April 3rd, 2008, 12:12 AM   #1
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How far can i push a macbook pro?

I know it has already been established that the macbook pro will work fine with ex1 footage for basic editing but i notice thats usually as far as the conversation goes. Im interested to know if anyone out there is editing 1080p hq footage along with magic bullet looks and maybe even some chroma keying in after effects on a macbook pro as a main editing system, or is this where the line is drawn and calls for a mac pro.

I ask the question because i now have the money for a new system, either a macbook pro or a new quad core system and of course i like the idea of saving a little cash yet not willing to compromise on performance. So knowing the type of work i intend to do (cut, colour correct, after effects) do you think i am asking a little too much from macbook pro or would this do the job?
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 12:53 AM   #2
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I'm no expert on editing but I asked the same question of a bunch of people recently and they all told me that unless I was mainly an editor with a lot of serious compositing doing professional work as my main living, that for small scale activity the MacBook Pro's were extremely powerful; and more than enough power for me.

I've set it up on my desktop replacing my old G4 and it is driving a Dell 24". The biggest hassle is there are fewer inputs for drives and accessories so you might think about that.

I use an expresscard adapter with 2 eSATA plugs that can power as many as 10 eSATA drives each so that's pretty powerful.

Others could give more expert opinion though.

Lenny
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 01:32 AM   #3
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Thanks Leonard, i would be curious to hear how your new system is working out for you. What type of work have you done with it and are you managing to get real time playback from hq footage? Im an amateur when it comes to external hard drives and things, i was hoping that 1 external firewire drive would be fast enough but i'm hoping to learn more about the other options out there.

Also how does your macbook pro compare to your old g5? Sorry for all the questions but you know what it's like before parting with several thousand /$. :)
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 01:48 AM   #4
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I ask the question because i now have the money for a new system, either a macbook pro or a new quad core system and of course i like the idea of saving a little cash yet not willing to compromise on performance.
Well, there's your answer - if you're not willing to compromise on performance get the Mac Pro - it's much faster than the MacBook Pro. That said the current MacBooks are significantly faster than most of the systems I've used for pro work over the past decade so it's certainly within their capabilities.

I just picked up a new 17" and I've been doing a mix of FCP & AE stuff for the past week, working mostly with HDV - cutting & color correction with at most a couple of layers at a time. I got the HD screen option and full-screen previews look great, even when doing real-time color-corrected previews. It's handled everything well although when previewing full screen I'll occasionally see it drop resolution during real-time previews on transitions between two cc'd layers - overall though it's been working well.

All my footage is currently running off either fw400 or 800 drives - I see little difference between the two in real world performance and find that with mpeg2-based codecs like HDV/XDCam the bottleneck is the processor rather than drive speed, at least in terms of multi-stream playback.

It's slowed down in one situation for me so far - an SD sequence with two HDV layers, both scaled, cropped and CC'd, one placed PIP over the other with drop shadow and a small bug in the corner on a third layer - this shows orange on the render bar and drops about half the frames during playback.

The one place it still falls short is compression. Multi-pass 1080p h.264 compression still takes at least 5-10x real-time. I haven't done any tests with HD on an 8-core yet but a friend was getting 176fps ripping DVD's with Handbrake, so I wouldn't be surprised to see HD getting close to real-time. I'm planning to give it a shot with the macbook as my primary editing system but if I find myself needing to do a lot more compression I think I'll end up getting a Mac Pro as well.
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 01:56 AM   #5
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Evan, that was the kind of feedback i was hoping to hear, thank you. I know i have the money for a quad core but i was really hoping to use some left over change for hard drives, monitor etc but i really don't want to skimp on playback performance and what the machine is capable of.
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 02:13 AM   #6
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The Mac is one basic platform for editing programs. Most all of them, including a G5, will edit XDCam footage.

The emphasis here is on "edit". That means cutting shots together. If that's what you're going to do (in the industry we call that "cuts, fades and dissolves"), then you're fine with any of them.

However, you start to add graphics, effects, titles, filters, transitions, multiple video layers, and...

this thing called "rendering" starts to crop up. The clips you modify will need to be rendered before they will play back (with aforementioned graphics, filters, looks, effects added).

This is where processing power and memory comes in. The faster machines will render, well, faster. Less waiting around to see what your tweaks did. More achieved per hour.

All of the machines will do what you ask, in the end.

My colleague just finished compressing a 20 minute piece shot in HDV for the web. He had multiple video layers and multiple filters/looks/effects.
On his maxed out 17" MacBook Pro, the compression took just under 6 hours, and that's from a Quicktime reference file...

On an Octo Mac with 8GB of RAM, that same render took just under 40 minutes.
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 04:42 AM   #7
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Apple Macbook Pro 17"

Hello, i am considering to buy the new Macbook Pro 17" (WUXGA 1920x1200), 2.6GHz, 2GB RAM and 200GB 7200rpm hard drive.
My question is:
- Is the problem "only" the rendering speed or the working smoothness to.
I know rendering speed is one of the mos important feautures for buy a Mac or an other computer PC, but working smoothness, is for me veryimportant to

Alessandro Zumstein
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 07:38 AM   #8
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i really don't want to skimp on playback performance and what the machine is capable of.
May I tip the balance the other way for a moment?

I do a lot of editing on-site, so I've used FCP in a PowerBook and now MacBook Pro for, egad, seven years? More? That's corporates, infomercials, candids, mini-docs, motion graphics. I haven't edited a music video yet, but I have graded them... on my MacBook Pro.

Now I'm shooting on an EX1, a MacBook Pro is even more essential, so I can offload cards to a working FW800 drive and a USB archive drive. As an After Effects jockey, rendering has always been a fact of life, so I don't stress the orange bars. In fact, the 'render wander' can be a good thing. We all need time to put the kettle on, read the paper or even take a meal or sleep on it. There are ways of experimenting in real time.

Of course, my work is mainly editing on location, so a big desktop Mac will never be part of my kit. I did have one for a while, but found the compromise of raw processing power and lots of ancillary equipment over being tied to one location too limiting, and ended up using it as an ingest station and render farm. With a MBP, I can edit anywhere and only need to 'Finish' (grading, audio sweetening) in the office. And that's just attaching monitors and audio to the MacBook Pro.

PS: I'll come clean - I'm paranoid about switching to a desktop Mac, just in case I become spoiled and addicted to the power like many of my colleagues. I'm like a biker who won't drive a car because being warm and dry may win over exhilaration.
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 10:50 AM   #9
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Matt, thanks very much for you input, i really like how ypu put that and makes me want to investigate more. Because I'm still in PC land and currently using vegas my big concern is reltime playback from the timeline from fcp as im too used to this to work any other way. I understand that the final render to your finishing codec will take a while, im ok with sleeping while my machine does that but i really couldnt handle doing that to 'check my timeline'. In other words, lets say i just graded a music video with magic bullet on a 720p hq timeline, how would the macbook react when i want to view the entire piece back before a final render. Would i have to sit through hours of rendering just to see what it looks like? im a little unsure of how final cuts preview renders differe compared to the final render to a finishing codec, do they both take the same amount of time?
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 11:13 AM   #10
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Daniel

Yes, as soon as you modify any clip, the timeline has a red stripe above the clip position and the picture says Unrendered. You can spot check stills frames from the clip but you can't play that clip until you render it. And this happens even with color grading, as you are proposing to do.

I don't know too much about Vegas and effects, but I do know that on Edius you don't have to do that. I haven't used Vegas with effects (cuts, fades and dissolves only)

Apart from that, personally I have both Mac and PC computers, around 8 in all, with another 18 at work, and as far as SxS goes I believe that it's more or less the same workflow no matter which platform you use.

I know that in the past the Mac platform has been preferred for doing AV but I think that's changing now. And I mixed one of the first Hollywood feature films on Pro Tools III, and cut on Hitchcock, Radius Edit, LightWorks and other NLEs before, so I do know what I'm talking about.

I understand that the Mac platform gives you FCP, which means Color, Soundtracks Pro, Compressor, DVD SP and the rest.

However, in scripted productions and in multi-seat TV shows, Avid is still on top and the prices are coming way down to compete with FCP.

Personally, I prefer to acquire/ingest SxS on a PC, back clips up on a NAS drive system, then I use Avid and Unity to do the bulk of my edits, and then take it all out to FCP for finishing.

FCP doesn't make any distinction between offline and online. It's all direct Quicktime file manipulation. Which is why I keep copies in PC and Avid formats.

HTH
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 11:20 AM   #11
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Matt
Good on yer, mate!

On location I use an IBM T61 and Avid Media Composer. My producer partner runs a 17" MBP with FCP. If you're fluent in both, they work around the same. And agreed, if you're just cutting, both systems are mostly waiting for the monkey to push the buttons...

I love my bike too! But I do have a car. And one of those huge Dell 20" "laptops". I'm in Lala land, after all. They wouldn't take me seriously otherwise :-)

Cheers
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 11:43 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Daniel Alexander View Post
Matt, thanks very much for you input, i really like how ypu put that and makes me want to investigate more. Because I'm still in PC land and currently using vegas my big concern is reltime playback from the timeline from fcp as im too used to this to work any other way. I understand that the final render to your finishing codec will take a while, im ok with sleeping while my machine does that but i really couldnt handle doing that to 'check my timeline'. In other words, lets say i just graded a music video with magic bullet on a 720p hq timeline, how would the macbook react when i want to view the entire piece back before a final render. Would i have to sit through hours of rendering just to see what it looks like? im a little unsure of how final cuts preview renders differe compared to the final render to a finishing codec, do they both take the same amount of time?
If you take it off safe RT and put it on unlimited RT you can play back magic bullet looks treated footage but at a very low res and v jerky
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 11:46 AM   #13
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Agree with Phil but at that setting IMO the picture and the action's not worth watching. YMMV, of course.
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 11:50 AM   #14
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unless i am mistake there isn't a play without effects option anywhere in fcp. I wish there was.
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 11:55 AM   #15
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Yeah, you can go into each individual clip and uncheck its effects, in which case the red line goes away and you can then play the clip normally.

But there's no batch command (like "uncheck all effects" or "uncheck from in to out") yet, so you have to go into every clip individually and turn them all off, then on again afterwards.

Which I've done before... (sigh).

Maybe there's a scripting option I'm unaware of?
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