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Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro

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Gerry FraibergOliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 3:24:03 am

Oliver Peters offers good insight into what Apple is doing with the new Mac Pro.

http://digitalfilms.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/thinking-about-the-tube/



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Ronny CourtensRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 6:39:38 am

Thanks for the link, Gerry. Of all the articles and opinions I have read about the new MP this may well be the most balanced and mature one. My hat off to Oliver Peters for this.



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Bernard NewnhamRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 9:16:28 am

Oliver - "Right or wrong, the Mac Pro that Apple plans to ship represents design and engineering innovation that IBM, Lenovo, Sony, Dell, HP and others are clearly incapable of delivering."

Or don't want to, perhaps?

Bernie


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Michael SandersRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 10:01:56 am

In HP's case its not incapable, it just has (like Kodak) management that sucks.

HP was one of the innovators with a company ethos based around R&D. Now, it has a management that doesn't understand R&D and so goes into areas it does understand, like paper and document management.

In Kodaks case, the CEO understands low cost printers so that's where they concentrated development.

And that's why Kodak is now in Chapter 11 and how is it getting itself out of Ch 11? By selling off the work of those in R&D.

Michael Sanders
London Based DP/Editor


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Oliver PetersRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 1:16:15 pm

Thanks for the comments, folks. And yes, by "incapable", I did mean management will and vision, not technical/design prowess.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Bernard NewnhamRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 2:47:46 pm

[Oliver Peters] "And yes, by "incapable", I did mean management will and vision, not technical/design prowess."

I have no idea of the management abilities of all these huge companies, I just wonder if it might be common sense not to build a workaday computer in a shape that doesn't lend itself to any reasonable kind of flexibility

Bernie


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Craig SeemanRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 4:17:55 pm

Personally, given the decline in desktop computer sales, I'd think common sense would dictate "stay the course" would be a fail. Not that they have to be as radical as Apple but any company not doing a rethink is going to continue its decline in that market.



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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 4:22:57 pm

[Craig Seeman] "Personally, given the decline in desktop computer sales, I'd think common sense would dictate "stay the course" would be a fail. Not that they have to be as radical as Apple but any company not doing a rethink is going to continue its decline in that market."

I think it's an error to equate the personal computer market as a whole with the professional workstation market.

Of course, workstations are a niche, and in video, perhaps a niche within a niche.

I expect we've just recently passed the bottom of a V-shaped curve describing workstation pricing.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig SeemanRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:20:59 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I think it's an error to equate the personal computer market as a whole with the professional workstation market."

I've heard workstations aren't declining with the same severity as general purpose desktop PCs but, I'd have to guess things are slowing there as well since higher end laptops and all in ones can replace them in less demanding situations.

A computer manufacture faced with a shrinking or, at least, stagnant, niche, might want to investigate whether it's even possible to expand the market. HP made some attempt with a more power all in one with the Z1.

Apple may have made the determination (or gamble depending on how you see it) that:
The ability to move peripherals from laptop to all in one to workstation with external PCIe connectivity (Thunderbolt) would add more value that internal open PCIe slots.
That the ease of relocating a small sized workstation was more important that rack mounting.
That given the importance of GPUs that two would be a standard for any workstation vs those whose needs are satisfied by laptops or all in ones.

Apple is attempting to expand the niche by designing a system that eases the interchange of peripherals with non workstations and provides increased mobility. Of course we have no idea if it will sell any better than a box MacPro or any other workstation but it's probably a more aggressive attempt to expand the niche than any other workstation maker.



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Craig SeemanRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:25:50 pm

This might be typical of where the workstation market is at the moment.

Workstation market not feeling the same pain as the broader PC market
http://jonpeddie.com/press-releases/details/workstation-market-not-feeling-...

but

The leading workstation and professional graphics analyst firm reported that the industry shipped approximately 890.5 thousand workstations worldwide, a figure 4.7% lower than the fourth quarter of 2012 and 3.0% lower than the same quarter a year prior. The disappointment is obvious, as no business is happy with a market showing no growth.



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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:36:34 pm

Selective quotation? From the very next paragraph:

"The good news? Simply put, the market didn't go down, at least not materially so. "Both the sequential and year-over-year (YoY) numbers were negative, but they need to be viewed in a cyclical context," explains JPR Senior Analyst and JPR Workstation Report author Alex Herrera. "Considering that the Q4-to-Q1 decline is often larger than what this past quarter saw, the more modest drop is a little heartening. Furthermore, we're still suspicious that the quarter a year prior was unjustifiably hot, putting less weight on the YoY number as well. As such, with results both mixed and modest in magnitude, we're inclined to call the quarter simply flat."

JPR is a great source and if you read through previous reports, you'll see that the market as been largely flat or slightly up for some time.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig SeemanRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 6:45:05 pm

[Walter Soyka] "JPR is a great source and if you read through previous reports, you'll see that the market as been largely flat or slightly up for some time."

Which points to stagnation or, at best, slow growth. Yes, that's not horrible but if a computer company is looking to grow, it won't be with workstations. It's basically a "maintenance" mode market where much of the sales are replacement.



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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 2:03:13 am

[Craig Seeman] "Which points to stagnation or, at best, slow growth. Yes, that's not horrible but if a computer company is looking to grow, it won't be with workstations. It's basically a "maintenance" mode market where much of the sales are replacement."

Last quarter, the industry shipped 890,500 workstations. That works out to between 3 and 4 million workstations per year. If they average $4,000 per sale, that's a $12-16 billion industry. It's high margin and there are only three players with >10% market share. Any consolidation could be hugely profitable for the remaining players.

And workstations can get you into other businesses, too: displays, storage, networking, and the big one -- services. We have no problem thinking big about Apple here on this forum; why do we think small about HP, Dell, and Lenovo?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig SeemanRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 3:30:50 am

[Walter Soyka] "why do we think small about HP, Dell, and Lenovo?"

HP and Dell aren't growing at the rate Apple has been. They're having problems. While they're not in Avid's situation by any stretch, they haven't shown a successful formula for that end of the business as of yet. HP and Dell are searching for changes in their business model (I'm not sure about Lenovo yet).



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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:13:18 pm

[Craig Seeman] "HP and Dell aren't growing at the rate Apple has been. They're having problems. While they're not in Avid's situation by any stretch, they haven't shown a successful formula for that end of the business as of yet. HP and Dell are searching for changes in their business model (I'm not sure about Lenovo yet)."

How long can Apple grow at the rate Apple has been?

They are in different segments and there is plenty of room for growth.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig SeemanRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 2:36:02 pm

[Walter Soyka] "They are in different segments and there is plenty of room for growth."

I agree that they are different segments but the segments sizes are changing. With each new generation of CPU and GPU design, the "bottom end" of the "workstation" market moves to the more commoditized system. The number of shops that need higher end workstations either declines or grows so slowly that they become a smaller proportion of the market.

The business model of the companies making workstations for that market has to change in some fashion. How they change will determine whether the shrinking niche can still sustain or increase revenue. Of course that may mean an increase in workstation prices to sustain or increase revenue but as prices thresholds are crossed yet another tier will shift down to more commoditized systems.



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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:33:56 pm

[Craig Seeman] "I've heard workstations aren't declining with the same severity as general purpose desktop PCs but, I'd have to guess things are slowing there as well since higher end laptops and all in ones can replace them in less demanding situations."

Maybe you are thinking of workstations only in terms of video?

I think there will always be a market for demanding local computing. I'd agree the size of that market may decline. That's why I'm suggesting we've just passed the bottom point of the V. As workstations become more niche, they will necessarily increase in price.


[Craig Seeman] "Apple is attempting to expand the niche by designing a system that eases the interchange of peripherals with non workstations and provides increased mobility. Of course we have no idea if it will sell any better than a box MacPro or any other workstation but it's probably a more aggressive attempt to expand the niche than any other workstation maker."

I don't think it's an attempt to "expand the niche." I think they're getting out of the workstation niche and defining a new one.

Apple does not call the new Mac Pro a workstation. They call it a pro computer, and I think that's as good as taxonomy as any. It's more than you'll get with an iMac, but less than you'll get with big HP.

I think it'll be a great computer for editorial, full stop. I think it will not be the absolute best in performance (by design), and I think it will be somewhat lackluster for other traditional workstation markets Apple may not care to play in, like 3D.

The new Mac Pro can be a good play for Apple without existing workstations being bad plays for their respective manufacturers. It's all about selling customers things they need, and there is still a robust need for workstation-class machines.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig SeemanRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 6:14:58 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Maybe you are thinking of workstations only in terms of video?"

Or maybe Apple is. Consider how they presented the Tube and in what context was it demoed.
They focused on creatives when they presented it and it was Foundary that did the "lunch break" (or whatever they called it) demo.

[Walter Soyka] "I don't think it's an attempt to "expand the niche." I think they're getting out of the workstation niche and defining a new one."

Maybe semantics but I'm thinking of whatever you want to call it that needs Xeon CPU and higher end dual GPU use. Yes it may be a new niche if you're defining a workstation based on internal vs external expansion. Also, given the Tube's size it might be decided not a "station" as it seems designed to be small enough to move it to a new location as needed (not stationary, work cubicle based).

[Walter Soyka] "there is still a robust need for workstation-class machines."

If by that you mean two CPUs and more than two GPUs, there's going to be an ongoing need. I suspect it's a slow growth area and the computers being sold have long life cycles, neither of which fits Apple's current business model.

Stating the obvious but Apple doesn't play (or need to play) in every market niche. They seem to look for growth.



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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:54:41 am

[Craig Seeman] "Maybe semantics but I'm thinking of whatever you want to call it that needs Xeon CPU and higher end dual GPU use. Yes it may be a new niche if you're defining a workstation based on internal vs external expansion. Also, given the Tube's size it might be decided not a "station" as it seems designed to be small enough to move it to a new location as needed (not stationary, work cubicle based)."

I'm not defining workstation based on expansion alone. The Tube will be a fantastic machine, but it will not be the best performer at anything. You have a CPU-bound application? A dual-processor workstation will be twice as fast. You have a GPU-bound application? A quad-GPU workstation will be twice as fast.


[Craig Seeman] "Stating the obvious but Apple doesn't play (or need to play) in every market niche. They seem to look for growth."

Apple looks for markets where they can win. I think the Mac Pro will do just fine.

I don't object at all to your reasoning here -- it's this statement that I disagree with:

[Craig Seeman] "Personally, given the decline in desktop computer sales, I'd think common sense would dictate "stay the course" would be a fail. Not that they have to be as radical as Apple but any company not doing a rethink is going to continue its decline in that market."

I think that the new Mac Pro is a really smart computer for Apple to build, but I also think that the Z820 is a really smart computer for HP to build.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Marcus MooreRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 2:38:11 am

[Walter Soyka] "I'm not defining workstation based on expansion alone. The Tube will be a fantastic machine, but it will not be the best performer at anything. You have a CPU-bound application? A dual-processor workstation will be twice as fast. You have a GPU-bound application? A quad-GPU workstation will be twice as fast."

I guess the question really is how many of the 850,000 workstations sold per quarter benefit/require the type of super-heavy CPU/GPU power you're talking about. Can Apple soak up a majority of of the customers who would be well served by this MacPro, and leave the sliver of a sliver of the top-top tier of super-needy users to someone else. They already did this when they abandoned the xServe- realizing they just weren't making any real dent in the server market.



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Craig SeemanRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 3:24:19 am

[Walter Soyka] "I'm not defining workstation based on expansion alone. The Tube will be a fantastic machine, but it will not be the best performer at anything. You have a CPU-bound application? A dual-processor workstation will be twice as fast. You have a GPU-bound application? A quad-GPU workstation will be twice as fast.
"

[Walter Soyka] "I also think that the Z820 is a really smart computer for HP to build."

That "top end" will continue to narrow as CPU and GPUs increase in power.
Just as editor and motion graphics artists needed high end workstations years ago and don't now, more of the "high end" will erode as technology advances. To put it another way, if 10% needed "workstation" computer resources 5 years ago, only 5% (just throwing out numbers for hypothetical comparison) need that today.



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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:16:39 pm

[Craig Seeman] "That "top end" will continue to narrow as CPU and GPUs increase in power. Just as editor and motion graphics artists needed high end workstations years ago and don't now, more of the "high end" will erode as technology advances. To put it another way, if 10% needed "workstation" computer resources 5 years ago, only 5% (just throwing out numbers for hypothetical comparison) need that today."

Motion graphics aside (still plenty of CPU-bound work there), I agree. That's exactly why I think workstation pricing will V.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Marcus MooreRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:40:23 pm

The professional market has been ceding ground to "consumer" machines for some time. As things like iMacs have become more and more powerful over the last 10 year, they just keep scooping up more pros in different disciplines who's need can now more than adequately be met by those devices.

I dare say; illustration, desktop publishing, programming, web design... are all being more than "adequately" served by laptops and desktops.

Even the lower to middle rungs of the A/V ladder can now be accomplished on these machines, and I think (on the video side, at least) the top tier keeps out of reach only because the top of the ladder keeping adding rungs, with higher resolutions and frame-rates coming into play.

But I think the top-top end is going to continue to get squeezed tighter and tighter. How powerful will and iMac be 10 years from now? CPU and GPU will be unquestionably faster, and if TB gets to it's 100GB/s goal, I/O will cease to be an issue.



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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:53:15 pm

[Marcus Moore] "But I think the top-top end is going to continue to get squeezed tighter and tighter. How powerful will and iMac be 10 years from now? CPU and GPU will be unquestionably faster, and if TB gets to it's 100GB/s goal, I/O will cease to be an issue."

640KB of RAM was not enough for everybody.

Jim Blinn, computer graphics pioneer and the genius behind environment mapping, bump mapping, and the now-ubiquitous teapot, put it best in what is now called Blinn's Law: "As technology advances, render time remains constant."

I think there is an economic truth underpinning Blinn's Law, so I've generalized it a bit. I'm now trying to pass off the line "Expectations rise at the same rate as capabilities" as Soyka's Law, but it hasn't really taken -- yet... :)

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Rick LangRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 11:18:04 pm

I hope I am not misquoting William Butler Yeats, as I think he said it all: "A man's reach should exceed his grasp." We are always looking beyond today to reach ever elusive goals. Tomorrow is one day closer to a target that never rests. And that is the way it should be.

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Marcus MooreRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:15:22 am

I agree with both you and Walter- however, it's somewhat indisputable that over the last decade more and more professional users have seen their needs enveloped by "consumer class" machines.

I think it would take quite a bit of hubris on our part as Video Editors to think that eventual the wave of computing power won't pass over us as well (especially what you consider what machines that do what we do cost 15 years ago).

While we like to think we sit atop the heap, above us is certainly 3D animation, which with ever more complex IK, ever higher textures, more computer intensive lighting and environmental simulations, and the same resolution and frame rate issues we deal with, will certainly be crying out for "specialized" machines long after we as video editors have seen our needs met.



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Rick LangRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:56:36 am

Marcus, that's true about the demands of 3D animation. Did you see (the video of) the presentation of MARI by The Foundry on the new Mac Pro at the WWDC? They were showing some quick painting of 3D objects for Monsters University. It's a start. A long way to go to rendering complete animations and likely beyond Apple's ambition to satisfy Pixar's reach.

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Oliver PetersRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 2:01:45 am

Pixar has a massive render farm. You ain't gonna see any MacPros do that type of heavy lifting. If anything, that sort of work is definitely cloud-bound. Not to mention that it's also highly unlikely that Apple is running any type of standard Apple computer in their own data centers, either.

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Rick LangRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 2:06:17 am

Yes, I believe that render farm was mentioned in the MARI presentation. And I recall reading that Apple no longer uses Apple servers in their data centres. I'm sure someone here knows what they are running.

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Oliver PetersRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 2:10:33 am

I doubt Apple ever ran their own severs in their data centers, seeing as the Xserve was EOL'ed before the NC center was built. Odds are they are running custom boxes running some flavor of Unix or Linux like Google does.

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Marcus MooreRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 2:16:06 am

Via a friend, I did. It was very impressive.

It's pretty amazing that the texturing can be done over animated sequences like that, though I would imagine that in actual production this would never happen, since animation would probably be tweaked well after character texturing had been completed. But it would definitely be helpful to texture a character in context, seeing where things break apart on the model.

And keep in mind that all happens without cloth IK, complex lighting or any of the other myriad of things that keep final render times on single frames of a movie like this up to about 10 hours.

If resolution was to level off, I think computing power could catch up to the needs of animators.

A lot of people seem to be skeptical about the benefits of 4K, but as someone who sits 1.5' from a 27" computer monitor in my office, and 6' from a 92" projection screen in my theatre, I see the limits of 1080p every day.

That said- we are definitely heading towards a law of diminishing returns. The number of people who will benefit from a 4K display is probably 10-20 % of the overall market. Going forward, the effective benefit of 8K is very likely to be exclusively contained to theatrical and other large screen venues.

This is all to say that I don't think the upper threshold for Video editors won't be a moving target forever. No one is producing in 4K now that doesn't have to, and no one will be producing in 8K or 16K that don't have to either. Human perception is the threshold, that that definitely has a definable edge, just like print does.

Advanced graphics will be like 3D animation, continuing to suck as much computer power as the complexity requires, but editing does have a horizon that I can envision- even if it's 10-15 years away.



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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 2:18:46 am

[Rick Lang] "Marcus, that's true about the demands of 3D animation. Did you see (the video of) the presentation of MARI by The Foundry on the new Mac Pro at the WWDC? They were showing some quick painting of 3D objects for Monsters University. It's a start. A long way to go to rendering complete animations and likely beyond Apple's ambition to satisfy Pixar's reach."

The new Mac Pro is well-configured for MARI with fast PCIe flash storage and nice graphics cards.

But these are also easily done on Windows or Linux, where you can also build in more CPU and/or GPU performance.

I know a lot of artists prefer the Mac platform (for various reasons), but Apple has basically disqualified Macs for serious 3D use going forward.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Marcus MooreRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 2:41:46 am

To be fair, Mac have always been an "also ran" in 3D animation. They're not abandoning anything here that they had a serious investment in.

Even Jobs being the CEO of both Pixar and Apple must have realized the futility of trying to satisfy such a specialized market. There has never been a concerted push that I can think of that Pixar ever worked on Mac, or with Final Cut.



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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:21:22 pm

A 'Waver? It's too bad CORE didn't work out, but Rob Powers seems to have at least righted the ship.


[Marcus Moore] "To be fair, Mac have always been an "also ran" in 3D animation. They're not abandoning anything here that they had a serious investment in."

Macs have been prevalent in broadcast graphics and 3D motion graphics via C4D. The Mac Pro has been pretty competitive here since its first release in 2006 until recently. The next Mac Pro will be outclassed by machines that have two of the same processor it has: slower by half. The performance gap had never been this big.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Marcus MooreRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 6:02:40 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Macs have been prevalent in broadcast graphics and 3D motion graphics via C4D."

Sorry, I was making a distinction between 3D character animation and more traditional motion graphics (which can absolutely involve 3D elements). I was meerly suggesting I've never seen the animation side of an animation studio built on Macs. The design department, yes, but not the animators themselves. At least that's been my impression.

T[Walter Soyka] "he Mac Pro has been pretty competitive here since its first release in 2006 until recently. The next Mac Pro will be outclassed by machines that have two of the same processor it has: slower by half. The performance gap had never been this big"

I'm not sure how you're getting to that conclusion, can you explain? Why would this MacPro run the same hardware at half the speed. Are you talking GPUs? Isn't that a conclusion we can't come to until we see some benchmarks on specific application tasks?



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Jeremy GarchowRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 14, 2013 at 2:52:17 am

[Marcus Moore] "Why would this MacPro run the same hardware at half the speed. "

The new MacPro is single CPU x12 cores.

A new PC will have a similar processor x2 which is 24 cores (dual 12 core CPU).

Walter Soyka, is still coming to terms with the historical speed and connectivity (or lack there of) of Macintosh computers, and Apple's stake in the speed race.

This is also a subtle dig that goes way back to the early X or Not: The Debate days. Way way back, like two years ago.

Ancient history.


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Marcus MooreRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 14, 2013 at 7:25:44 pm

Not to lawyer-y about it, but a dual processor machine isn't the same or similar to a single processor one. That second CPU isn't free - you're going to pay for it, and not an insignificant amount from what I've read.

Can you get a more powerful configuration than this MacPro with a PC, you probably will, but let's compare Apple's to Apple's here (no pun intended).



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Jeremy GarchowRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 14, 2013 at 9:17:55 pm

[Marcus Moore] "Can you get a more powerful configuration than this MacPro with a PC, you probably will, but let's compare Apple's to Apple's here (no pun intended)."

That's what Walter is saying in that you can't. The gap between flagship PC and Mac machines is widening even further.

Sure, you could compare a similarly specs PC to a new MacPro, but that's artificially dismissing PC performance just for the sake of comparison.


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Marcus MooreRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 14, 2013 at 10:39:30 pm

Sorry- the way I read it Walter seemed to be inferring a performance deficit from Machines running the same hardware config.

Do I wish that Apple would allow for dual 12core CPUs- sure, why not. For those that could benefit from that CPU power and want to use a Mac? It must really suck.

As an editor, am I likely to feel the pinch performance-wise with this machine? Probably not, I'm apparently under the ceiling for what niches Apple is wiling to cater to.

On the GPU side I really do hope that Apple leaves room for external GPU expansion- again, from my 2011 iMac to the new MacPro is probably going to feel like lightspeed.

But again, the word has been so good from the few people that have actually used this thing (Resolve, Foundry) that performance discussions seem a bit pedantic.

But is a MacPro going to be the fastest machine you can buy- no.



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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 15, 2013 at 12:59:53 am

[Jeremy Garchow] "Walter Soyka, is still coming to terms with the historical speed and connectivity (or lack there of) of Macintosh computers, and Apple's stake in the speed race. This is also a subtle dig that goes way back to the early X or Not: The Debate days. Way way back, like two years ago. Ancient history."

Jeremy's correct. For years, I labored under the delusion that Apple Mac Pros were performance-oriented. I was bamboozled by the fact that Apple kept offering the absolute top-of-the-line Intel Xeons in dual-processor configurations (just like the big PC workstation manufacturers) at the launch of each new Mac Pro through 2010.

I got suspicious in 2012 when Apple skipped a major generation of Xeons for the first time, but the scales really fell from my eyes on June 11 of this year when I formally conceded [link] to Jeremy that high-end Macs just aren't built for speed.

All kidding aside, Jeremy has explained my POV really well here. From my perspective, the high-end on the Mac platform just got lower.

I'll only add that CPU aside, I do think the next Mac Pro is a great machine. It's a lot of power in a little bit of space. I'm excited to see powerful GPUs available. I was grumpy about Thunderbolt, but I think TB2 will probably be fast enough. I bet that it will even be price-competitive (as all other previous Mac Pros have been).

It's just not the machine that I had been hoping for, and I'm not sure yet if it will make sense for me. Given the work I do, it would have been a lot more useful to me with a second CPU, but I do understand why everyone else here is so excited about it.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Jeremy GarchowRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 15, 2013 at 7:33:19 pm

This performance chart here is why I think Apple standardizing on dual GPUs will help programmers figure this mess out.

Barefeats says two is better than one, but three isn't necessarily better than two. And sometimes, one good one is better than (or really close to) three.

http://www.barefeats.com/gpu680v6.html

Plus, those complaining of Thunderbolt adding more power, read closely for what you have to do to add multiple GPUs. In my mind, Thunderbolt seems like it would be easier.


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Walter SoykaRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 2:13:15 am

[Marcus Moore] "While we like to think we sit atop the heap, above us is certainly 3D animation, which with ever more complex IK, ever higher textures, more computer intensive lighting and environmental simulations, and the same resolution and frame rate issues we deal with, will certainly be crying out for "specialized" machines long after we as video editors have seen our needs met."

Well-said.

I'm one of the few people involved in 3D on this forum, and I think that explains my difference in perspective on sizzle-core beasts in general and on this machine specifically. Editorial has vastly different computational demands than 3D and compositing do, so it may be hard to understand why I keep blathering about performance when an iMac runs FCPX so smoothly.

I generally try to keep my render times down to 15-20 minutes per frame to stay on-schedule and on-budget. That always involves compromise to achieve. With a computer that's twice as fast, I can either render the same thing quicker, or decrease the number of compromises I have to make to get the project out the door.

I think the Mac Pro will be a fantastic machine for what most users here do, but it's more or less the computer I feared Apple would offer. It will not be a performance machine for the sort of work I do -- not by a long shot. For me, this computer defines the markets that Apple is and is not interested in.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Marcus MooreRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 2:29:52 am

I walked into my first full time job in 1996 as a Lightwave3D computer animator, and eventually migrated over to editorial as it more piqued my interest, and the garish and obvious use of 3D animation started to wain in corporate/commercial video.

So I understand the edict that there's never enough horsepower for some applications.

But there's definitely a schism that usually doesn't get enough discussion. While editors at my level producing corporate/commercial/documentary are often called upon to be editor/graphics designer/animator. Ironically, the more "pro" an editor is, the more streamlined his function becomes. Someone cutting at the highest end of theatrical or broadcast television is likely never called upon to delve into anything beyond the most basic graphics or color correction- there are other people for that. Purely cutting HD or even 4K material at this point is not the computer intensive task. It's the realm of FX and finishing that seems the most crucially impacted by computer performance- and will be for some time to come.



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tony westRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 6:00:00 pm

[Craig Seeman] "That the ease of relocating a small sized workstation was more important that rack mounting."


I agree.


A crazy true story that happened to me.

A friend's mother passed and he asked me to make a tribute video to her memory the afternoon of the service. I have always been close to the family and was honored to make the video.

I went home and went to town on it. Time got away from me and before I knew it I only had a short time to burn it to a dvd. I realized if I burned it I would be late to the service.
So………I picked up my whole mac pro and 27in tossed it in my car and drove there.

The look on the face of the funnel home employees was priceless as I carried in this large machine.

The family loved the video and it lightened the mood as they watch me set it all up.

I would have loved to have looked a little less crazy than I did that day by caring in that tube : )

Don't take the post it too seriously folks, just a crazy true story I wanted to share.


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Craig SeemanRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 6:38:36 pm

and along the same vein...

Last year I engineered a live streamed fashion show.
We brought in two MacPros each with a Decklink Quad card. The second MacPro and Decklink was simply for redundancy. The client cursed at the having to transport two MacPros. The second Decklink was because it wouldn't be practical to pull the card to move from one computer to another in a live situation... even though all the cables would still have to be moved from one to the other.

When the MacPro Tube comes out, the same job would be a Quad card in an expansion chassis with two, much smaller, MacPros. Much easier to transport my guess. Moving from one computer to another would mean simply disengaging a single Thunderbolt cable and moving it to the other computer in an emergency. External storage would be just as easy to move.

I don't think they'll be a more portable 12 core Xeon system with video I/O and storage as easy to move from one to another system, as the MacPro Tube.

So Apple could have built a box that would have been a variant on what's already available (HP Z800 series, etc) but they saw a need in an area where there's little competition and got their first (or only). So they took the "station" out of workstation by making an externally modular computer that's portable enough to meet the needs where a laptop would be entirely inadequate.



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Brett ShermanRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:26:09 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I expect we've just recently passed the bottom of a V-shaped curve describing workstation pricing."

I think not only have we passed the bottom of the V for pricing, but also the apex of the V for choice. I'd expect fewer and fewer options going forward.



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John DavidsonRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 7:59:57 pm

I'm really excited about it. It is, IMHO, a harbinger of things to come. A vastly improved FCPX, a 4k/Retina cinema display, and built in 4k HDMI monitoring all suggest what Oliver does - that Apple is building a true 4K editing machine. Couple this with some other developments like the upcoming 4K options to our Sony FS700, Resolve 10 awesomeness, and it's no wonder I'm probably getting an ulcer from raw, unfettered impatience.

2 years ago started a painful transition period for all of us, not just with Apple but with all software in general. I'm really hoping that we're about round the corner and enter a truly beautiful period of production. Software that is robust and does what we want with no workarounds, hardware that is so speedy 3D becomes less of a niche and more of a standard offering, and everything working together to give us more time to make with the pretty pictures.

We're almost past that point we didn't want to accept 2 years ago where the previous 32bit world was put to pasture. Everything is finally on the verge of dramatically getting better. The framework for an awesome generation of production is being set on all fronts. It's an exciting, frustrating time!

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Gary HuffRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 11:48:53 pm

[John Davidson] "[I]t's no wonder I'm probably getting an ulcer from raw, unfettered impatience."

Yes, I too am impatient to start being able to render down 4k footage to 1080p.


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John DavidsonRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 11:54:26 pm

Hah! I think it's more of the RAW capabilities I'm going to get out of my camera and the ability to zoom after the fact - in your 1080p timeline.
The FS700 is pretty great as is, but the 4.2.0 and 8 bit limitations leave lots to be desired.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Marcus MooreRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:22:33 am

Exactly. I'm less interested in 4K for the work I do for it's raw resolution (though yes, the ability for instant CU shots is wonderful) as i am for the latitude benefits RAW provides.



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Gary HuffRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:20:49 pm

I suspect the people who most want the ability to reframe will simply be zooming in on 4k on a 4k timeline.

And then render down to 1080 for the master.

Like what we did with the jump from 480 to 1080.


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Marcus MooreRe: Oliver Peter's Thoughts On The New Mac Pro
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 5:55:29 pm

Yikes! Not me-

With a majority of the corporate and commercial work I do, the ability to zoom and reframe is not only useful simply from a compositional point of view, but practically when I have to integrate titles, lower3rds, bugs, etc... being able to play around with negative space is a godsend.

This was the case when we started shooting 1080 but were still posting 480, and it the case with 4K/1080 now.



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