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New iMac for Mapping projects using After Effects CS6

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Diego Mellado
New iMac for Mapping projects using After Effects CS6
on Jan 19, 2013 at 9:15:48 pm

Dear all,
First of all thanks for your attention. Please excuse my English since I am not American or British native. Also sorry for the loooong post, but I wanted to give as much info as possible.

I work in an art studio that uses After Effects for video mapping projects, which may sound a bit odd but in fact works pretty nice when it comes to precission.
We are about to switch to CS6 because of its new GPU acceleration features, and we are thinking of buying a couple of new machines that get the best from that new options.

In a near future (less than one year) we will be buying a new workstation (maybe a Mac Pro or a Windows-based machine) but in the meanwhile we are thinking of buying a new iMac since the new iMacs' Nvidia graphic boards may get the best from AE CS6. Most of the software we use is OS based, so not thinking of a Windows machine right now.

The question is which specs are the best in a cost based sense. We are not afraid of expending the money, but we just don't want to go too far.

Let me tell you a bit about the projects we work with, just to give you as much info as possible:
Our compositions normally have a lot of 2D layers in a 3D composition to avoid undesired overlapping.
For example, the last project we have done has up to 1080 layers: it is a projection on 360 objets, so each object has one video layer, one mask layer and one solid layer to avoid the projection of one object hit the others.
In addition all the transform characteristics of the layers are expresion-based, so we can work with a master composition and then have its chars linked with expressions to fix everything in place.
I know that this configuration of the composition may seem a bit odd, but it works the best for us when we have to repeat projects in different locations.

About the machines: I guess that the more powerfull, the better.
I think that the base configuration should be the following:

i7, 4 core processor
16Gb of RAM
1Tb Fusion Drive (I guess it is worth to speed up things a little)

21" Models can have only GeForce GT 650M with 512Mb of Video RAM.
We don't really need a 27" screen (which increases the price quite something) but it is the only way to go up to 32Gb RAM and to graphic cards of 1Gb or 2Gb.
So, the questions, from my point of view, are the following:
1) Which will be more efficient? i7 w/ 16Gb of RAM or i5 w/ 32Gb of RAM?
2) Attending to the fact that we work with 3D compositions, going up to 1Gb or 2Gb Nvidia cards does worth (taking into account that we don't really need a 27" screen)?

Thanks a lot for your attention. I hope you made it to the end of the post without sleeping in boredom or wishing I could have learnt a little of English grammar.

Best,
Diego


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Walter Soyka
Re: New iMac for Mapping projects using After Effects CS6
on Jan 19, 2013 at 11:08:23 pm

With lots of expressions, CPU is important. With lots of layers, RAM is important. With lots of footage, disk speed is important. Personally, I like having a high resolution screen, as it lets me see more of my work in the viewer, more of the timeline, and more tools open.

If I were going to get an iMac, I'd get the 27" i7 with 32GB of RAM and the top graphics card. If I were going to get a top performance machine, I'd get a high end PC workstation (though this is a whole different price tier).

When you refer to 3D acceleration from the graphics card, please be aware that applies to the new ray-tracing renderer, not the classic 3D renderer.

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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Diego Mellado
Re: New iMac for Mapping projects using After Effects CS6
on Jan 19, 2013 at 11:50:57 pm

Dear Walker,
Thanks a lot for taking the time to read the entire thread :)
Then, your suggestion is going just for the best.
A question a bit off-topic: do you think that if once the expresion is calculated and taking into account that its value will not change during the rander, fixing the value and annulating the expresion will speed up the render?

Thanks for your help,
Diego


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Walter Soyka
Re: New iMac for Mapping projects using After Effects CS6
on Jan 20, 2013 at 5:42:50 pm

[Diego Mellado] "Then, your suggestion is going just for the best."

I think that the price difference between a passable iMac and a well-equipped iMac is small enough that you're better off going for the top off the line.



[Diego Mellado] "A question a bit off-topic: do you think that if once the expresion is calculated and taking into account that its value will not change during the rander, fixing the value and annulating the expresion will speed up the render?"

Expression evaluation performance really varies according to what you're doing with the expression. I'd suggest you try a test to see if you'll get a big enough performance boost to make the extra work off eliminating the expressions worthwhile.

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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Diego Mellado
Re: New iMac for Mapping projects using After Effects CS6
on Jan 20, 2013 at 10:26:11 pm

Once again Walter, thanks a lot for your words.
I guess we will go for the big thing :)
About the expresions, I am going to surf the expresions/script forum. I think I could find a script that fixed the expresion value an then de-activates it.
I will post it here if I can find it. Otherwise, I will try to program it.

Best,
Diego


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Matt Campbell
Re: New iMac for Mapping projects using After Effects CS6
on May 16, 2013 at 2:07:07 pm

Walter Soyka
I think that the price difference between a passable iMac and a well-equipped iMac is small enough that you're better off going for the top off the line.


I know lots of people are using iMacs as edit systems with Premiere Pro, and being a MAC guy, do you think the new iMacs or even the soon to be updated iMac line, according to rumors of WWDC in June, are speedy/beefy enough for AE work. Mainly work with the 3D tracker and 3D ray-tracing for extruding type?

Like many, I'm waiting to see where the MAC Pro goes, but also want to visit the an iMac solution. And with those having the AMD cards, and CS6 loves Nvidia, or at least for CUDA/Mercury playback, will these machines provide good performance?

OSX 10.7.5 with a 3.39 Ghz Intel Core i7 on a built up Hackintosh
16 GB of RAM with OSX on SSD, (2) internal HDDs RAID'd 1 for project files and External RAID 5 for all project assets (media, GFX, stills, etc.)


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