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Upgrading my Mac Pro

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Tom van de Vusse
Upgrading my Mac Pro
on Jun 24, 2013 at 2:46:39 am

Hi there :)

So, I want to make everything I do faster. I find what slows me down is waiting for things to render, import, export, compress, convert, etc. I was hoping for some advice from you guys on how I can upgrade my build in order to increase my speed!

Here are the specs of my current setup:

Mac Pro from mid 2010
Processor 2 x 2.4 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
Memory 24 GB 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC
Graphics ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024 MB.
Software Mac OS X Lion 10.7.5

I use FCP 7.0.3, and frequently use After Effects as well.

Sequences aren't normally too complex, usually with a few tracks of vision/audio, and have a some watermarks and supers over the top.

Normally use codecs such as Sony XDCAM EX 1080i50 (35 mb/s VBR), H.264, ProRes 422. Export usually for web purposes in H.264, and use compressor, using Qmaster to setup a cluster with 16 instances, for both render and compression.

Any feedback/suggestions/criticism would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance.
Tom


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David Eaks
Re: Upgrading my Mac Pro
on Jun 24, 2013 at 7:00:18 am

Honestly, I think one of the best speed increase upgrades you could do, would be software. From the sound of your workflow, FCPX should be great. I rarely render anything in the timeline. GPU accelerated exporting is way faster than legacy and you can continue to work on other projects during export. Huge gains right there. $400 including FCPX, Compressor 4 and Motion 5.

I'm on a 2008 Mac Pro, eight core 2.8, 16GB, 5770. I've been researching further upgrades a lot recently myself. Here's a thread discussing that-

http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/335/55636

One recommendation being an upgrade to a Sapphire Radeon 7950. I'm not quite sure if the cost to benefit ratio, when replacing a Radeon 5770, is there. Still needs further research.


For h.264 I recommend you throw a Matrox CompressHD card in any available pci slot. It basically just adds a new set of settings to Compressor. Using these settings off-load the task of encoding h.264 video from your CPU to its own hardware, giving slightly faster than real time compression (We shoot video at a lot of 2 hour events, 30+ so far in June, we could not function as we do without this card). You can start to work on the next project in FCPX while CompressHD is crunching away on the delivery file for a finished project.

I'm not an AE user, yet, but there is a good thread with AE and FCPX users going on right now that you might be interested in, here-

http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/335/55883


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Sareesh Sudhakaran
Re: Upgrading my Mac Pro
on Jun 24, 2013 at 9:01:19 am

Your specs look fine, it might your drives that are the bottleneck. How is that organized?

Get the Free Comprehensive Guide to Rigging ANY Camera - one guide to rig them all - DSLRs to Reds to the Arri Alexa.


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Tom van de Vusse
Re: Upgrading my Mac Pro
on Jun 25, 2013 at 2:29:30 am

Not quite sure what you mean, can you rephrase the question please? Cheers.


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David Eaks
Re: Upgrading my Mac Pro
on Jun 25, 2013 at 5:31:09 am

He's asking what your hard drive setup is. For example-

One single HDD in slot 1 with your OS, Apps and all your media stored on it as well.

Or

A solid state PCIe drive like the Accelsior for your OS and Apps, with internal drive slots 1-4 filled with SSDs in RAID-0 for storing your media.

Or

All HDDs, slot 1 for OS and Apps, slots 2 & 3 RAID-0 for original media and slot 4 for exported files.


Are you editing media that is stored on an external drive? If so, exactally what is the drive and what is its connection to the computer?


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Tom van de Vusse
Re: Upgrading my Mac Pro
on Jun 25, 2013 at 5:35:33 am

I have 2 internal HDs of 2GB, but at this stage I'm only operating off one. That is, everything is stored just on that and the 2nd drive is blank.

I have an External RAID device that i use for storing older footage/backing up etc too.


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David Eaks
Re: Upgrading my Mac Pro
on Jun 25, 2013 at 10:35:06 am

Ah, well its a general best practice to have a separate drive for your boot drive, with only your operating System and Applications installed on it. Then edit your media off of a separate drive, prefferably a fast RAID.

Since just the OS and Apps don't take up much storage space, I've been just fine with a 128GB SSD (I have a couple Crucial M4s and a Samsung 830 which are rotated per clean install). An SSD system drive is a great "useability" upgrade, not so much of a "productivity" upgrade though. I use three 2TB WD Blacks in RAID-0 for my Media drive. Original camera cards are backed up to a separate dedicated external drive. Then an 8TB RAID for TimeMachine backup. This gives me three copies of my media, decent storage space and performance.

First thing is to be sure to have at least a second copy of your original media files backed up on a different drive, immediately after copying them to your editing drive. There is no sense in risking the loss of irreplaceable files on the failure of one hard drive, I hear data recovery centers are expensive.


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Tom van de Vusse
Re: Upgrading my Mac Pro
on Jun 27, 2013 at 12:15:10 am

I made a mistake in my earlier posts. My 2 internal HDs are 2TB each, not GB.

I do back up all my content, in my own standard messy and disorganised way.

But my main concern is rendering time within FCP really. That is my #1 issue... I was hoping there would be something i could do, or buy, or whatever so that the time waiting for this process to happen could be drastically reduced.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrading my Mac Pro
on Jun 27, 2013 at 12:42:07 am

I'm not sure there's much you can do to speed up rendering in FCP7. It's a 32 bit app which uses a limited amount of RAM and it doesn't really take advantage of the GPU like Motion does. FCPX would take better advantage of both the RAM you have and you could consider upgrading your GPU as well with maybe the nVidia 680 or AMD 7950.



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David Eaks
Re: Upgrading my Mac Pro
on Jun 27, 2013 at 1:08:13 am

See my first reply. It doesn't have to be FCPX... if Adobes Creative Cloud suits you, go for Premiere.

You can upgrade some components in the Mac Pro, you can optimize your setup and workflow but I just don't think you will be able to get the increase you are looking for continuing with FCP7.

I promise, FCPX isn't "iMovie Pro". It's great. Download the free FCPX trial, drop some clips on the timeline, add some effects typical to your normal work, observe real time performance, observe render speed, try exporting with and without rendering the timeline and observe its speed. Don't even worry about learning the new ways of the magnetic timeline, event browser, secondary storylines etc, just try it and see for yourself if the speed is worth the hassle of learning it. Then, once you see the light, the community in the FCPX Techniques forum will greatly ease the transition.


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