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Chris Jacek
New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 26, 2011 at 10:09:01 pm

http://www.macrumors.com/2011/07/26/apple-finishing-up-work-on-an-ultra-thi...

Here's a link to a MacRumors story, claiming that Apple may be making a MacBook Air-esque version of the next Macbook Pro models. If true, how does this affect our theories regarding the future of Final Cut Pro, and pro apps in general on the Mac platform (even from other companies like Adobe, etc) ?

My personal belief is that this is another clue to their future. Hardware products will continue to move away from the super powerful model of the past, to "more band for the buck" smaller hardware in the "one size fits all" concept that run Apple's software really well, with little regard for how it runs everything else.

To extrapolate further into the future, I think this means that anyone wanting a souped up video editing laptop (and maybe even desktop) with multiple TB hard drives, high-end dedicated graphics cards, etc.., will have to get a Windows (or Linux) machine.

Thoughts? Let the ranting begin!

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Liam Hall
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 26, 2011 at 10:16:04 pm

Is your glass always half empty?

Liam Hall
Director/DoP/Editor
http://www.liamhall.net


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Miłosz Koziol
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 26, 2011 at 10:43:59 pm

Well - the Big Question is : Are they going to drop express slot (pretty much the only reason to buy it in the first place) ? I guess It might not fit into new paradigm. Well If so : It`s off to PC for me...


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 26, 2011 at 11:12:37 pm

[Liam Hall] "Is your glass always half empty?"

I think if you asked anyone I know, they would not describe me as a pessimist. They would, however, describe my as realistic, and often fairly good at reading the industry trends. I've been one of the biggest Apple cheerleaders for over 20 years, but evidence is evidence.

Apple is probably the best gadget-making company in the world. That's where their bread is now buttered, and to blame them for following their success would be like blaming Henry Ford for continuing to use the assembly line.

But let's face it, when was the last time Apple released a product truly aimed at the power user? They are no longer making "the fastest computer in the world." They are making the coolest gadgets in the world. I think that most of us love our gadgets (I know I do), but gadgets will never be the first choice for graphics/video professionals.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Robert Brown
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:21:05 am

[Chris Jacek] "But let's face it, when was the last time Apple released a product truly aimed at the power user? They are no longer making "the fastest computer in the world." They are making the coolest gadgets in the world. I think that most of us love our gadgets (I know I do), but gadgets will never be the first choice for graphics/video professionals."

My sentiments exactly. Apple definitley appears to be heading full steam into the gadget market. I'm not exactly sure what you meant when you mentioned Adobe though. Did you see something to suggest they were moving into a different direction?



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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:46:43 am

[Robert Brown] "I'm not exactly sure what you meant when you mentioned Adobe though. Did you see something to suggest they were moving into a different direction?"

Yeah, sorry. I guess I was a little vague. I added the part about Adobe when asking how this affects the future of pro apps on Macs, because I wondered how an Apple transition to lighter, one-size-fits-all hardware would affect other companies who develop software that runs on Macs.

Adobe has done an amazing job of harnessing processing power with their Mercury Playback Engine, allowing some impressive hardware acceleration. To date, there is not a single Mac portable that is capable of utilizing this feature, because it requires a CUDA-enabled Nvidia card of at least 1 GB. No such card has been offered in any Mac portable.

If Apple continues making more "gadgety" hardware that only works well with Apple software, how long will it be before media/graphics power users stop buying MAcs, and start buying PCs? I am probably a good example of this. I reluctantly bought my first PC in over a decade last week, to run the Adobe CS5.5 on, and to start learning how to survive in a Windows world, in case the trend continues as I predict it may. Today, I am less reluctant about Windows, because Premiere is running many more layers in RT on my laptop PC, than it can on my QuadCore iMac.

I really don't want to see the industry shift away from the Mac, but have a feeling that it will.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Gary Pollard
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:56:40 am

[Chris Jacek] "Adobe has done an amazing job of harnessing processing power with their Mercury Playback Engine, allowing some impressive hardware acceleration."

I just edited two high-definition documentaries on my Macbook Pro without a skipped frame, and with completely smooth playback. More is always better, but I don't miss a dedicated video card.

____

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"



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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 1:04:51 am

[Gary Pollard] "I just edited two high-definition documentaries on my Macbook Pro without a skipped frame, and with completely smooth playback. More is always better, but I don't miss a dedicated video card.
"


Good point. It all depends on the kind of work you do. Docs aren't usually going to demand a bunch of layers of compositing. With corporate videos and commercials on the other hand, you might benefit from being able to play 5 simultaneous streams of 1080p native DSLR footage.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Bill Davis
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 5:48:06 am

From what I hear from industry insiders, the form factor - laptop OR desktop - is increasingly trivial today to how computing will function in the future.

When power computing required a HUGE power supply, slots for large cards, and more slots for basic I/O functions like monitor drivers and external drive busses a tower was an advantage over a laptop. But that's likely to change radically over the next few years.

I was talking to a Phil Hodgets a month ago and he was describing the effect that Thunderbolt will have in version 2 and 3 (on the existing Intel development roadmap) and how that has the potential to transform how computers will work in the future..

When info-pipe technology breaks down the need to have everything inches from everything else for pure speed of data transfer, the whole IDEA of what a computer is can change.

It likely becomes a modular concept where adding a couple of multi-core inexpensive MacMini's can double or triple your processing power cheaply. Where the big screen on your desktop (with that thunderbolt port) just takes over from the laptop screen when it's plugged in and becomes part of a system where bits SCREAM around wherever and whenever they're needed.

The computer itself becomes more the "sum of it's connected parts" rather than a physical BOX sitting somewhere.

Thinking has to change here folks. The future will NOT look like the present. Not in software - not in hardware - not in workflow.

That's just how it is.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Walter Soyka
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 1:34:16 pm

[Bill Davis] "I was talking to a Phil Hodgets a month ago and he was describing the effect that Thunderbolt will have in version 2 and 3 (on the existing Intel development roadmap) and how that has the potential to transform how computers will work in the future."

Intel is good at roadmaps. It'd be nice of Apple picked this up from their partnership.

The changes you're talking about are still pretty far out, and aren't practical on Thunderbolt 1.


[Bill Davis] "The computer itself becomes more the "sum of it's connected parts" rather than a physical BOX sitting somewhere. Thinking has to change here folks. The future will NOT look like the present. Not in software - not in hardware - not in workflow."

You're right. The future will not look like the present. It will look like the past. Sun Microsystems was a quarter century ahead of their time.

I think it's critically important that we always maintain the understanding that the future will be different, but that the present still matters today.

Let's assume that FCPX and Thunderbolt are all the foundations of Apple's plan for the future of professional editorial -- it won't change the fact that these future solutions you're describing don't exist yet. We still have to get our work done until the future gets here. Too much forward-thinking leaves too big a gap between where we are today and where we will be tomorrow, and Apple isn't helping us to build that bridge from where we are to where we all will be.

I am not suggesting that we fear or resist change. In my niche in the industry, display and playback technologies turn over roughly every 18 months, and they all require different workflows. I get that change is a constant, because change is at the heart of my business model.

I am suggesting that we be nimble. We need to look forward to see where we're going (which is easier said than done -- as Chris Jacek and Chris Kenny illustrate, two smart people can look at the same trends and predict different futures). We need to be ready for the change that will inevitably come, but we need to be practical about when and how we adopt 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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John Davidson
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 26, 2011 at 11:50:30 pm

I'm not sure how a laptop capable of interfacing via Thunderbolt with a promise array at a gig a second while also tethered to a 27in higher than HD resolution display could be considered usable only to amateurs. Kind of amazing to think I can do that now with a new macbook air 11. That's some gadget.

(Typed on a macbook air 11 inch.)

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


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 26, 2011 at 11:58:32 pm

[John Davidson] "I'm not sure how a laptop capable of interfacing via Thunderbolt with a promise array at a gig a second while also tethered to a 27in higher than HD resolution display could be considered usable only to amateurs. Kind of amazing to think I can do that now with a new macbook air 11. That's some gadget.
"


Is there a dedicated graphics card somewhere in that Thunderbolt cable?

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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John Davidson
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:06:09 am

Is there any evidence that there won't be one in the article you linked to?

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


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:33:18 am

[John Davidson] "Is there any evidence that there won't be one in the article you linked to?"

Of course there is. There is absolutely no way an additional dedicated graphics card can fit into that form factor.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Walter Soyka
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 1:02:06 am

[Chris Jacek] "Of course there is. There is absolutely no way an additional dedicated graphics card can fit into that form factor."

The current MacBook Airs are also limited to dual-core i7s and 4GB of RAM; the current MBP 17" can go to a quad-core i7 and 8GB of RAM.

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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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:20:44 am

[Chris Jacek] "Of course there is. There is absolutely no way an additional dedicated graphics card can fit into that form factor."

Err... huh? You realize laptops with dedicated graphics don't typically have separate "cards", right? It's just an extra chip on the motherboard. Take a look at the internal layout of a current 15" MBP.

Look at the silly amount of space occupied by the HDD and, especially, the optical drive. Eliminating the optical drive, and moving to an Air-style SSD module, would easily let you rearrange the battery layout to maintain the same battery life, without shrinking the motherboard at all.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:47:24 am

[Chris Kenny] "Err... huh? You realize laptops with dedicated graphics don't typically have separate "cards", right? It's just an extra chip on the motherboard. "

Err, um, huh, um.... Wow, could you be more smarmy or condescending?

Take a look at the higher end NVidea offerings, like the GeForce 540M and the laptops that contain them. Despite the (relatively) small form factor, I think the pragmatic implementation of the chip and necessary cooling does require a bit more space than what the thin form factor could manage.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:55:01 am

[Chris Jacek] "Err, um, huh, um.... Wow, could you be more smarmy or condescending? "

I'm getting a little tired of the certainty people seem to have in a position supported by hilariously flimsy arguments.

[Chris Jacek] "Take a look at the higher end NVidea offerings, like the GeForce 540M and the laptops that contain them. Despite the (relatively) small form factor, I think the pragmatic implementation of the chip and necessary cooling does require a bit more space than what the thin form factor could manage."

Your previous post said there was "absolutely no way" Apple could fit dedicated graphics into a slimmer case. This is simply not correct with respect to the sort of dedicated graphics Apple currently ships in MBPs.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Andrew Richards
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:26:04 am

[Chris Jacek] "There is absolutely no way an additional dedicated graphics card can fit into that form factor."

I disagree. A thinner MBP in no way precludes the possibility of a dedicated GPU. Remember, the GPU in MBPs is on the board, not a separate card. It only requires some additional cooling considerations and slightly more horizontal real estate, which is available in the 15" and 17" MBP.

The things making the MBP "thick" are the optical drive, the 2.5" form factor HDD/SSD, ports like the RJ45 and FW800, and last but not least the battery.

The optical drive is a goner. The storage could then be placed where the optical drive used to be and maintain the 2.5" form factor. The battery will be thiner and wider like the MBA and live under palm rest and bottom half of the keyboard. Thunderbolt obsoletes the ExpressCard slot.

A thinner MBP won't be as thin as the MBA, but there is room to trim if you redo the battery in the vein of the MBA, remove the optical drive, and reposition the 2.5" HDD/SSD toward the hinge where the optical drive used to live.

I got froggy and did a mockup:



Not a huge difference, but as a happy MBA 13" owner, I can tell you the slanted surface of the tapered chassis is much more comfortable to use.

Then again, they could go even thinner and taper at an angle closer to that of the MBA if they dropped the Gig-E and FW800 ports from the chassis and sold Thunderbolt adapters for them. I wouldn't put it past them. Those ports are duplicated after all on the new Thunderbolt Display.

Best,
Andy


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:34:44 am

[Andrew Richards] "Then again, they could go even thinner and taper at an angle closer to that of the MBA if they dropped the Gig-E and FW800 ports from the chassis and sold Thunderbolt adapters for them. I wouldn't put it past them. Those ports are duplicated after all on the new Thunderbolt Display."

And I think that's a decent hint Apple will do precisely that. Getting rid of those thick ports is probably half the reason Apple pursued Thunderbolt in the first place.

It's going to be entertaining to watch people claiming Apple doesn't care about pros because they've replaced a couple of ports with a new port 10x as fast.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Devin Crane
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:06:11 am

First off this is a rumor, secondly there's no evidence that it will replace the Macbook Pro. Personally anything under 15 inches is too small for pro or personal use, for all we know it's just a larger screened Macbook Air. So until and or if this is released all conjecture is futile.



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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:29:16 am

[Devin Crane] "First off this is a rumor, secondly there's no evidence that it will replace the Macbook Pro. Personally anything under 15 inches is too small for pro or personal use, for all we know it's just a larger screened Macbook Air. So until and or if this is released all conjecture is futile."

It is a rumor, which is why my question asked "IF." Say what you will about the rumor sites, but they have been far more accurate in the last couple years than in the past. Also, if you read the bottom of the article it states that a 17 inch "thin" model is also included in this rumor.

Regardless of whether this will entirely replace the older MBPs, it clearly shows that this kind of product is a priority. Significant R&D goes into such a product. And Apple's M.O. is almost always more in favor of re-allocating resources than expanding them.

Also, there is nothing "futile" about conjecture in this field. Conjecture is often what helps someone make a decision to stay ahead of the market trend.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Gary Pollard
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:53:52 am

[Chris Jacek] "Also, there is nothing "futile" about conjecture in this field. Conjecture is often what helps someone make a decision to stay ahead of the market trend."

Only accurate conjecture.

____

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"



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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:59:13 am

[Gary Pollard] "Only accurate conjecture."

Of course. But that's the tricky thing about conjecture, isn't it? We won't know which conjecture will be accurate until after the fact. If you're accurate, you get a jump on the industry. If you aren't accurate, it may or may not, come back to bite you. If you don't participate in conjecture at all, well, then you might end up like those post-house owners in the late 90s who were stuck with million-dollar CMX suites.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Bill Davis
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 5:54:37 am

What would be the PURPOSE of a dedicated graphics card in the CPU box in a world where you could link 24 (or 100 for that matter) - cheap CPUs together on a massive ThunderBolt data superhighway and control that stream from any connected laptop?

The only reason for a GPU was to OFFLOAD graphic raster processing from an overburdened CPU to improve performance. In a Thunderbolt wired world, you could likely buy a small box with a super GPU chip (if you wanted it) and put it in a closet 20 feet away - and every laptop in your facility could call it as necessary.

MASSIVE pipes change EVERYTHING. The location of nodes becomes unimportant when the data FLIES around an optical racetrack as fast as the one envisioned in the TB future roadmap.

Simple as that.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:31:02 am

[Bill Davis] "MASSIVE pipes change EVERYTHING. The location of nodes becomes unimportant when the data FLIES around an optical racetrack as fast as the one envisioned in the TB future roadmap.

Simple as that."


That's not as true on laptops as it is on desktops. At the end of the day, any peripheral that you have to connect, makes it less mobile. You can't daisy chain a bunch of peripherals on a plane. So yes, there absolutely is value to a dedicated graphics card, unless you are looking at a laptop as nothing but a terminal used to control other equipment. At that point, you've lost all the advantages of going small.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Gerald Baria
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:36:24 am

As demoed by Vaio Zs + power dock configuration, an EXTERNAL DESKTOP CLASS GPU can be plugged into an ultrathin laptop, and it will be able to take its full power when needed. Such is only possible because of the extreme in-out bandwith of intel's Lightpeak technology a.k.a. Thunderbolt. So there, as thin as the macbook can get, with thunderbolt all you need is a great cpu and ram config, you can easily plug in raid bays and gpu and 10 monitors and they will function as if its embedded in one desktop configuration. Thats the future.

Quobetah
New=Better


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 1:52:56 am

Honestly, I know some people are now absolutely determined to view everything Apple does through the lens of "Apple doesn't care about pro users", but I'm not sure how standardizing on SSDs 3-4x as fast as typical notebook HDDs, and (probably) dropping ExpressCard now that we've got Thunderbolt (which is 4x as fast) is supposed to represent Apple somehow shifting things toward "consumers".

If Apple drops serious dedicated graphics options or quad core processor options from MBPs maybe I'll buy this interpretation, but there is not the slightest indication this will occur.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but trying to force a long-running technology trend like increasing miniaturization to become evidence for the theory that Apple is abandoning pro users is a flawless example of just how weak the actual evidence that supports such an interpretation really is.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:33:21 am

[Chris Kenny] "Not to put too fine a point on it, but trying to force a long-running technology trend like increasing miniaturization to become evidence for the theory that Apple is abandoning pro users is a flawless example of just how weak the actual evidence that supports such an interpretation really is.
"


What exactly would you have said if you WERE putting too fine a point on it?

To continually attack predictions of future trends as "flawless examples of just how weak the actual evidence is" is insulting and vitriolic. If you cannot look at evidence and trends, and at least entertain the possibility of the potential effects of such trends, then you are either being naive or willfully ignorant.

You keep using the "this doesn't prove anything" argument, as if I we are offering any of this evidence or conjecture as proof. We are not. We are, however, building a hypothesis from the evidence given. Just because something is not 100% proven, does not mean that it isn't plausible, or even likely.

I invite you to apply Occum's Razor (given what we can observe the most logical explanation is usually correct) to the question of whether Apple has shifted their focus away from the professional market.
I believe there is compelling evidence to support this notion.

Over recent years, Apple has EOLed several professional applications. In that same time, their hardware offerings (not even counting iPads and iPhones) steadily trended toward smaller, with fewer expansion options. They have had slower cycles on their most powerful machines. In addition, Apple's major profit centers have shifted from computers to mobile devices, which speaks to motivation.

Given these, and several other factors, which is the more logical explanation:

1. Apple is shifting its focus toward its most profitable products and philosophies

or

2. Apple plans to reverse its recent trend of slimming down its professional offerings, and is dedicated to committing extensive resources to a much smaller, and frankly more "high maintenance" segment of its customer base.

I think is time for all the people who believe that Apple ISN'T shifting its focus away from the professional market to offer compelling evidence to support their side of the argument. Calling us a bunch of whiners does not count.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Andrew Richards
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:53:00 am

[Chris Jacek] "I invite you to apply Occum's Razor (given what we can observe the most logical explanation is usually correct) to the question of whether Apple has shifted their focus away from the professional market. I believe there is compelling evidence to support this notion. "

So what specific features do you fear will be dropped from a possible future thinner MBP that would make it a non-starter for pro video work and thus evidence to support the idea Apple is retreating from the pro hardware space? Do you also feel the current MBP offerings are lacking pro features?

Best,
Andy


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:35:57 am

[Andrew Richards] "So what specific features do you fear will be dropped from a possible future thinner MBP that would make it a non-starter for pro video work and thus evidence to support the idea Apple is retreating from the pro hardware space? Do you also feel the current MBP offerings are lacking pro features?"

Aside from the dedicated graphics card that we discussed earlier, there are concerns like hard drive space. The SSD are awesome for speed, but not yet reaching practical video storage sizes. If you get to the point of having 1TB of total SSD storage, then it's probably time to consider completely replacing spinning drives.

I do believe that the current MBP line is lacking compared to its PC counterparts (note the mobile workstations already mentioned elsewhere in this thread). Also, there is not an upgrade option for graphics cards. The 17" offers the stock card only, so you top-out at 1 GB, despite there being much beefier cards out there. In the past, you could BTO higher-end cards for a price. Usually a high price, but at least available.

And there are absolutely no options for CUDA capable NVidea cards, so there is no chance of hardware acceleration for Premiere Pro. Of course, this could be argued as a competitive choice.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Andrew Richards
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:04:10 am

[Chris Jacek] "Aside from the dedicated graphics card that we discussed earlier, there are concerns like hard drive space. The SSD are awesome for speed, but not yet reaching practical video storage sizes. If you get to the point of having 1TB of total SSD storage, then it's probably time to consider completely replacing spinning drives."

I could see thinner MBPs adopting the stick SSDs the MBAs use and still having room for an HDD where the optical drive used to be. OWC sells a kit that let's you do that now, in fact.

[Chris Jacek] "Also, there is not an upgrade option for graphics cards. The 17" offers the stock card only, so you top-out at 1 GB, despite there being much beefier cards out there. In the past, you could BTO higher-end cards for a price. Usually a high price, but at least available."

That just means they used to sell a 17" with less GPU then the maximum they could stuff in there and still meet their targets for thermal output and power consumption. Note the 15" options up to the stock GPU of the 17". There are indeed higher end MGPUs, but they will run too hot and heavy for Apple to consider them for MBPs. Apple will not sacrifice thinness and battery life for a slightly more powerful GPU.

[Chris Jacek] "And there are absolutely no options for CUDA capable NVIDIA cards, so there is no chance of hardware acceleration for Premiere Pro. Of course, this could be argued as a competitive choice."

You can thank Intel and NVIDIA for that. Until very recently, Intel would not license NVIDIA to support the Core iX chips on NVIDIA's chipsets with their embedded GPUs like the 340M that Apple used on the later Core2 MacBook models. This might not technically preclude Apple from using dedicated GeForce MGPUs with Sandy Bridge CPUs. I don't know if they'd be Thunderbolt compatible or not or if there is any other technical gotcha. I do know there was considerable political strife between Intel and NVIDIA last winter when the Thunderbolt MBPs were being finalized.

Best,
Andy


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:08:48 am

[Andrew Richards] "There are indeed higher end MGPUs, but they will run too hot and heavy for Apple to consider them for MBPs. Apple will not sacrifice thinness and battery life for a slightly more powerful GPU."

I agree, but I think that supports the theory that Apple is trending away from power-users, pros, whatever you want to call them. There is clearly a conscious choice toward small and light, over powerful.

At no point have I suggested Apple is completely abandoning the pro market, but they are certainly trending away from them in favor of a larger market-share.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:39:34 am

[Chris Jacek] "I agree, but I think that supports the theory that Apple is trending away from power-users, pros, whatever you want to call them. There is clearly a conscious choice toward small and light, over powerful. "

This implies that the Apple of five or ten years ago would have made a different decision. I don't think that's true.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Andrew Richards
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 5:15:13 am

[Chris Jacek] "There is clearly a conscious choice toward small and light, over powerful. "

Nah, just status quo. Apple has never put the most powerful contemporary mobile GPUs into MacBook Pros. They have always used upper-middle range MGPUs that met their power consumption and thermal output requirements. They have also always pushed for thinner, lighter, and more battery life. From the Titanium PowerBook to today.

Best,
Andy


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Chris Upchurch
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:03:50 am

[Chris Jacek] " In that same time, their hardware offerings (not even counting iPads and iPhones) steadily trended toward smaller, with fewer expansion options."

Of course, this criticism could have been leveled at Apple many times in it's history. Going from the highly expandable Apple IIe and Lisa to the original Macintosh, for example. Or going from the old Power Mac to the iMac and G4 Cube. None of them has heralded the demise of Apple's high end offerings.


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:24:46 am

[Chris Upchurch] "Of course, this criticism could have been leveled at Apple many times in it's history. Going from the highly expandable Apple IIe and Lisa to the original Macintosh, for example. Or going from the old Power Mac to the iMac and G4 Cube. None of them has heralded the demise of Apple's high end offerings.
"


A fair point, though they did not really go from the Power PC to the iMac, but to the G3 Tower. If there had only be iMacs to replace Power Macs, it might have been a demise.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:48:19 am

[Chris Jacek] "Over recent years, Apple has EOLed several professional applications. In that same time, their hardware offerings (not even counting iPads and iPhones) steadily trended toward smaller, with fewer expansion options. They have had slower cycles on their most powerful machines. In addition, Apple's major profit centers have shifted from computers to mobile devices, which speaks to motivation."

See, this is exactly what I mean.

Apple has EOL'd several professional applications -- Apple prefers radically sparse product lines. Their most successful product, the iPhone, consists of all of two models (one of which is just a previous year's model that Apple has continued to produce), where some have a dozen or more models despite selling fewer phones.

Hardware offerings steadily trending smaller, with fewer expansion options -- Welcome to the last 30 years of computer evolution. '70s mainframes were entirely modular. Early personal computers had lots of expansion slots -- most Apple II models had seven. Apple stopped making six slot towers in 1998 or 1999. Buying patterns over the last decade have consistantly moved toward laptops, and we may, over the coming decade, see a significant shift toward tablets. As hardware becomes more capable, the fraction of the market requiring expandability shrinks. We're now at the point where internal expandability is irrelevant even to most video pros -- it's not required at all for offline editing, or even most online editing. We're probably within two years of Resolve doing real-time 2K on laptops (with video I/O via Thunderbolt).

Slower update cycles on the Mac Pro -- Apple updates the Mac Pro whenever Intel has a new round of suitable Xeons. Sometimes they even go out of their way to get new processors before they'r generally available, and it's rumored they're doing that with the coming Sandy Bridge updates as well. I have no idea what people could possibly expect from Apple here. Meanwhile, people appear to have forgotten that while the PowerMac G5 did get updated pretty often, it never managed to hit the 3 GHz target Apple/IBM originally promised.

Major profit centers shifting to mobile -- So what? As I noted previously, people don't apply this standard to other companies. NLE software isn't a major profit center for Adobe, but somehow nobody seems to mention that, even in the context of advocating a move away from Apple for this very reason.

You try to invoke Occam's Razor, but believing there must be a single overarching explanation for a bunch of separate facts that have fairly simple individual explanations isn't applying Occam's Razor -- it's conspiracy theory thinking.

You want an affirmative argument against Apple abandoning pros? I've already done that, but I'll do it again:

- They're still in the NLE market, despite having to rewrite their NLE from scratch to remain competitive.

- The latest round of MacBook Pros are extreme overkill for the non-pro market. They're as fast as 8-core Mac Pros from 2008.

- Thunderbolt. Again, though Apple clearly hopes it will become a mainstream technology, it's significant overkill for the consumer market.

- The gap between Apple's towers and mainstream desktops is far larger now than at any point in the past (at least when they aren't split over processor generations while Apple is waiting on Intel). In other words, Apple's pro machines are substantially more pro than they used to be.

- Xsan is now integrated into Lion. Lion also, with Core Storage, lays the groundwork for a major overhaul of OS X's file system architecture, with potential large benefits for video pros.

- OpenCL -- originally created by Apple. If OpenCL were just a matter of allowing Apple itself to write GPU-accellerated software without tying itself to a single vendor, they wouldn't have turned it into a cross-platform standard. It's clearly intended to allow third-parties to write cross-platform GPU-accellerated apps more easily, and the main candidates for this capability are pro apps.

- FCP X has "pro" in the name, was introduced at an event for pros, and is portrayed by Apple by Apple has a pro product. There are many pro features already present in the app (such as 4K support, 4:4:4 support, 32-bit float processing, and the best built-in scopes of any mainstream NLE). Moreover, it's clear that even before its real ease and the subsequent outcry, Apple always intended to add pro features like XML exporting.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:02:32 am

[Chris Kenny] "- FCP X has "pro" in the name, was introduced at an event for pros, and is portrayed by Apple by Apple has a pro product. "

Of all your arguments, Chris, this has got to be the most frustratingly naive. To offer this as evidence is basically saying "it's pro because Apple said it's pro." Of course, Apple would NEVER mis-represent a product to gain exposure and credibility (this sentence is sarcasm). Who are you going to believe, Apple or you lying eyes?

Please, stop making excuses for every single concern people have. It makes it hard to take you seriously.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:13:46 am

[Chris Jacek] "Of all your arguments, Chris, this has got to be the most frustratingly naive. To offer this as evidence is basically saying "it's pro because Apple said it's pro." Of course, Apple would NEVER mis-represent a product to gain exposure and credibility (this sentence is sarcasm). Who are you going to believe, Apple or you lying eyes? "

In any event, I believe the idea that Apple is effectively lying about FCP X to sell a few more copies to -- Who again? Consumers don't actually buy $300 software -- is seriously implausible, and there simply is no requirement to believe this unless one has already bought into the "Apple doesn't care about pros" meme.

[Chris Jacek] "Please, stop making excuses for every single concern people have. It makes it hard to take you seriously."

You asked me to provide alternative explanations for Apple actions that you believe represent Apple abandoning the pro market, and to provide a positive argument for the idea that Apple was not doing this. I did so, in significant detail... and your response is to ignore everything except a single point and tell me you can't take me seriously because I responded to all of your concerns?

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:22:26 am

[Chris Kenny] "You asked me to provide alternative explanations for Apple actions that you believe represent Apple abandoning the pro market, and to provide a positive argument for the idea that Apple was not doing this. I did so, in significant detail... and your response is to ignore everything except a single point and tell me you can't take me seriously because I responded to all of your concerns?"

Frankly, I just decided to pick the one that bothered me most. I don't have the energy to keep up with you. You incessantly try to defend Apple against EVERY SINGLE CRITICISM any person on this board has had. I chose to refute this one, because I think it best illustrates your fervent state of defensiveness against any comment made against the infallible Apple.

I think I could knock down at least half of your "significantly detailed" responses, but you've worn me down, so I guess I'll just say "you win." You're right about everything, and we're all part of the vast conspiracy.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:31:14 am

[Chris Jacek] "Frankly, I just decided to pick the one that bothered me most. I don't have the energy to keep up with you. You incessantly try to defend Apple against EVERY SINGLE CRITICISM any person on this board has had. I chose to refute this one, because I think it best illustrates your fervent state of defensiveness against any comment made against the infallible Apple."

In other words, you're saying I'm not to be trusted because my position is too comprehensive. OK, then.

I'm still not sure what's so obviously reasonable about accusing a company of outright lying about what market a product is intended for, and so "fervent" about disagreeing with such an accusation. Particularly given existing features and announced future features that make no sense if Apple is lying.

[Chris Jacek] "I think I could knock down at least half of your "significantly detailed" responses, but you've worn me down, so I guess I'll just say "you win." You're right about everything, and we're all part of the vast conspiracy."

No, you're all a bunch of people who have bought into a theory and are now fitting the facts to it. It happens all the time. No conspiracy is required here; all of the coordination between the "Apple is abandoning pros" folks has taken place in full public view.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:43:02 am

[Chris Kenny] "In other words, you're saying I'm not to be trusted because my position is too comprehensive. OK, then."

Yes, that's EXACTLY what I'm saying. You are so brilliant than you thoroughly knock down EVERY argument that EVERY person makes, no matter how much logic or evidence is behind those arguments. And you do it with SUCH class Chris. I'm in awe.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:02:39 pm

[Chris Jacek] "Yes, that's EXACTLY what I'm saying. You are so brilliant than you thoroughly knock down EVERY argument that EVERY person makes, no matter how much logic or evidence is behind those arguments. And you do it with SUCH class Chris. I'm in awe."

I've advanced a substantive argument in this thread, in response to your direct request, and you've chosen to ignore my points and respond by attacking me personally. I can't quite figure out how you think this benefits your case.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:19:12 pm

[Chris Kenny] "I've advanced a substantive argument in this thread, in response to your direct request, and you've chosen to ignore my points and respond by attacking me personally. I can't quite figure out how you think this benefits your case."

I disagree. You are more often prone to knee-jerk defensiveness than thoughtful discourse, and I don't want to play that game any more. Anything that threatens your desire to see Apple as infallible is met with resistance.

Unfortunately, your responses that are thoughtful and substantive are marginalized by some of your other responses. If you are going to argue against every single negative word, even if it means resorting to illogical positions like "Apple wouldn't call it pro if it wasn't", you are going to diminish your credibility.

We are trying to make sense out of the everchanging industry that we work in, and need to open-mindedly consider whichever path that leads us down. Doggedly defending the Apple like a mother cub (sorry for the animal mixed metaphors) only serves to cloud rational debate.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Walter Soyka
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:36:46 pm

I'd argue that both Mr. Jacek and Mr. Kenny have made some valid points about Apple's actions in the professional editorial space. Taken together, it seems that Apple has been very inconsistent.

I think that shows a strategy that is inscrutable at best, and incoherent at worst.

This may not speak to Apple's dedication to pros, but I think it does speak about their focus.

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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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:41:08 pm

[Walter Soyka] "This may not speak to Apple's dedication to pros, but I think it does speak about their focus."

Or lack thereof? Maybe Apple can take some Ritalin.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:42:17 pm

[Chris Jacek] "Unfortunately, your responses that are thoughtful and substantive are marginalized by some of your other responses. If you are going to argue against every single negative word, even if it means resorting to illogical positions like "Apple wouldn't call it pro if it wasn't", you are going to diminish your credibility."

That's a hilarious misrepresentation of my position. I pointed out that Apple was calling it a pro app and had introduced it at an event for pros as a single point in a long, substantive post, and made a specific argument for why Apple probably isn't lying about this.

You are now attempting to use this single point, out of context, to justify not responding to any of my augments.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:23:09 pm

[Chris Kenny] "You are now attempting to use this single point, out of context, to justify not responding to any of my augments."

You really just want to fight, and nothing else, don't you? Sorry, not interested. I'd say let's just agree to disagree, but I doubt you'd even agree to that.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Mitch Ives
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:15:30 pm

[Chris Kenny] "Consumers don't actually buy $300 software "

I wish people would stop saying this. Consumers but $500 iPhones... $900 iPads. Lots of consumers buy Photoshop, which costs more. We really need to stop saying this, as it's a really lame statement that has no basis in fact...

Mitch Ives
Insight Productions Corp.
mitch@insightproductions.com
http://www.insightproductions.com


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Herb Sevush
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 1:39:46 pm

As always Chris, most of your reply is insightful and interesting, but then you just can't help yourself I guess ...

"They're still in the NLE market, despite having to rewrite their NLE from scratch to remain competitive."

They were more than competitive at the time, they didn't have to rewrite their code from scratch. They chose to, and that choice is open to various interpretations. Yours is one, but not the only one, and not the only thoughtful one.

"FCP X has "pro" in the name, was introduced at an event for pros, and is portrayed by Apple by Apple has a pro product."

Oh, come on now, do I really have to go research and list the number of misleading names by major corporations, the only point of which is to increase sales. The rest of that paragraph was fine, but this is foolish.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:01:27 pm

[Herb Sevush] "They were more than competitive at the time, they didn't have to rewrite their code from scratch. They chose to, and that choice is open to various interpretations."

This is the simply not the case. Pre-X FCP was written directly on top of Carbon and QuickTime, two deprecated 32-bit APIs that would have made it effectively impossible to for Apple to modernize the app. There was no reasonable alternative to rewriting.

It's true that Apple could have chosen to write a new app that worked more like the old one (and therefore allowed for more backwards compatibility), but it was fairly predictable that Apple would take the opportunity provided by a rewrite to try to do something new and interesting -- that tends to be how Apple operates.

[Herb Sevush] "Oh, come on now, do I really have to go research and list the number of misleading names by major corporations, the only point of which is to increase sales. The rest of that paragraph was fine, but this is foolish."

It makes no sense, given Apple's larger pattern of behavior around FCP X, to believe Apple is lying about what market it targets.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Herb Sevush
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:21:46 pm

What do you think would have been the result of calling it Final Cut X, leaving out the pro? If they came out with a product that didn't call itself "Pro" no high school kid in America would have touched it, let alone an experienced editor, it would have announced that they were no longer "cool." They had to keep the word Pro in the title, even if they dropped the Final Cut. Calling it Final Cut Pro X was strictly a marketing move, nothing else can be inferred other than cash flow.

I guess this comes down, as so many arguments do, to semantics. What do we mean by the word "pro."

FCPX is obviously not aimed at the Imovie market. I maintain that just as obviously, it's not aimed at the "high end" or, if you will, the "complex workflow" market.

It was rolled out when it was because it had the feature set that was aimed at their target market: emerging video makers, pro's creating work to be distributed on the web, shops who's workflow doesn't require collaboration. Many of these people are by definition professional, many of those that aren't will one day be. So yes, FCPX is absolutely "Pro" if that's the definition of the word you want to use.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:32:45 pm

[Herb Sevush] "It was rolled out when it was because it had the feature set that was aimed at their target market: emerging video makers, pro's creating work to be distributed on the web, shops who's workflow doesn't require collaboration. Many of these people are by definition professional, many of those that aren't will one day be. So yes, FCPX is absolutely "Pro" if that's the definition of the word you want to use."

I agree completely. The word "pro" is becoming as ambiguous as the word "producer." That's why, whenever I remember to do so, I try to use other terms like "traditional professionals" or "power users."

Apple wants to create a new class of professionals, which they hope will be larger and less demanding than the "traditional professionals" that had been their FCP user base. This is certainly achievable.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Walter Soyka
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:06:02 am

[Chris Kenny] "Honestly, I know some people are now absolutely determined to view everything Apple does through the lens of "Apple doesn't care about pro users", but I'm not sure how standardizing on SSDs 3-4x as fast as typical notebook HDDs, and (probably) dropping ExpressCard now that we've got Thunderbolt (which is 4x as fast) is supposed to represent Apple somehow shifting things toward "consumers"."

Miniaturization comes at the cost of processing power, storage, or battery life.

Instead of a smaller, lighter computer, Apple could offer one at the same size, the same weight, and a lot more power. Personally, I'd prefer the former for my personal use and the latter for my professional use.

I invite you to explore some of the "mobile workstation" offerings from PC manufacturers. They're big, heavy laptops with serious onboard graphics, more memory slots, two hard drives instead of one, etc. Apple hasn't had a product in this category in a long time, and they'll get even further away from it if they Air the entire line.

But all this is still speculative. I think the next round of hardware revisions will tell us a lot about the markets Apple intends to pursue.

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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Andrew Richards
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:32:15 am

[Walter Soyka] "I invite you to explore some of the "mobile workstation" offerings from PC manufacturers. They're big, heavy laptops with serious onboard graphics, more memory slots, two hard drives instead of one, etc. Apple hasn't had a product in this category in a long time, and they'll get even further away from it if they Air the entire line."

Like this? Apple will never ever make such a thing. I would argue they never have. Heck, if you don't mind lugging another 8 lbs, you could carry around a 21" iMac.

Best,
Andy


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:45:41 am

[Andrew Richards] "Like this? Apple will never ever make such a thing. I would argue they never have. Heck, if you don't mind lugging another 8 lbs, you could carry around a 21" iMac.
"


But isn't this evidence that Apple is shifting away from the pro market? This is the type of computer that many pros want, and Apple chooses not to compete in this space. It could be argued that the industry is trending toward these mobile workstations. And you don't even need to pay 3K for one, or even get one that big.

For under 2K, you can get an impressive 17" laptop with 2-750Gig HDs, Blu-Ray burner, screaming graphic cards, etc.., under 10 pounds. That's not much different than the original 17" MPBs. And when it comes to editing/compositing performance, they outshine the current top MPBs, because Apple will not offer a similar product, not even as a BTO. This was not the case in the past.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Andrew Richards
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:45:45 am

[Chris Jacek] "Apple will not offer a similar product, not even as a BTO."

Can't really argue with that. Apple won't sell a bulky but powerful folding screen desktop with only enough battery to keep it asleep in transit before needing to be plugged in again on the other side. Such a machine would certainly be great for a mobile pro workstation, but they'd sell so few of them it wouldn't pass market muster for Apple (see Xserve for minimum required sales potential).

[Chris Jacek] "This was not the case in the past."

I don't ever recall Apple selling anything but the thinnest, lightest, most power efficient notebooks they could build at the time. If there weren't mobile workstations from the likes of Dell and HP back then, that just means the market segment didn't exist yet.

[Chris Jacek] "But isn't this evidence that Apple is shifting away from the pro market? This is the type of computer that many pros want, and Apple chooses not to compete in this space."

Is Apple moving away from the market, or is a slice of the market moving away from Apple? Seems to me this mobile workstation niche is a relatively recent market development and probably too narrow for Apple to pursue. I don't read what is happening as Apple abandoning pros, I read it as Apple not chasing dragons in the form of hardware niches that won't sell sufficient volumes to justify development (again, see Xserve).

They'd need to create a whole new segment of their product line to meet the specs you'd like to see, and that ain't gonna happen for the sake of a few thousand potential sales.

Best,
Andy


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:57:39 am

[Andrew Richards] "Is Apple moving away from the market, or is a slice of the market moving away from Apple? Seems to me this mobile workstation niche is a relatively recent market development and probably too narrow for Apple to pursue. I don't read what is happening as Apple abandoning pros, I read it as Apple not chasing dragons in the form of hardware niches that won't sell sufficient volumes to justify development (again, see Xserve).

They'd need to create a whole new segment of their product line to meet the specs you'd like to see, and that ain't gonna happen for the sake of a few thousand potential sales."


I think we're mostly in agreement here, and it is a good chicken/egg question. It might be more accurate to say that the traditional pro market and Apple are moving in different directions. I do think that truly powerful mobile workstations are only a recent phenomenon, due to new technologies. What is possible in a big laptop now is truly mind boggling, but you do have to commit to a bulkier laptop.

I think there is still a decent segment of the market that likes to have that kind of power in an 8-10 pound laptop. Count me as one of them. The fact that I can still put this computer into my backback, and take all my projects with me without offlining, is pretty attractive.

Apple seems uninterested in that market. The question is whether that market will become uninterested in Apple. If so, that is Apple and the traditional pro market shifting away from each other. If so, both sides will probably be fine with the change.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Walter Soyka
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 1:01:11 pm

[Andrew Richards] "Like this? Apple will never ever make such a thing. I would argue they never have. Heck, if you don't mind lugging another 8 lbs, you could carry around a 21" iMac."

I was thinking fondly of my old G3 PowerBooks, with SCSI or Firewire and a flexible expansion bay that could hold an optical drive, spare battery, or hard drive, long before the notion of mobile versions of desktop processors even existed -- but you're probably right. Apple has never really competed in this space.

I think the comparison to the iMac is more than a little disingenuous. The iMac is luggable, but still requires power and a table. The GoBOXX is large and heavy, but still fundamentally portable by design, and can run off mains and on your lap.

I'm not saying that the GoBOXX is the ideal laptop. It is way too big and way too heavy for most uses. However, there are corner cases here, found almost exclusively in professional markets, that would gladly trade bulk and weight for more power.

There are a couple interesting trends in video on laptops throughout this thread that I think are worth calling more attention to.

First, Gary pointed out that he's been comfortably editing on his MacBook Pro for some time. ProRes has even made online-quality editorial possible on a laptop's internal drive.

Chris correctly points out that the introduction of Thunderbolt is a major improvement for video I/O and storage. This will be a huge benefit for new laptops.

Gerald has pointed out that laptops with docking stations can be dual purpose. You can have one machine that's a reasonable laptop on the road and powerful desktop in the office (though I'd dispute that Thunderbolt is currently fast enough to be the bus for a workstation-style docking station with an external GPU).

That said, connectivity is not the feature that makes a mobile workstation. Raw processing power is, and it's only recently that video editors have had a reason to look to this category which 3D artists and CAD designers have been using for years.

Previous-generation NLEs were 32-bit, lacked pervasive multithreading, and couldn't use GPU acceleration. They incurred only a relatively small performance penalty on a portable when compared with a high-spec desktop. Current-generation NLEs (FCPX and Premiere Pro), however, can efficiently use all the hardware in the machine.

The performance gap between standard laptops and iMacs on one side and big-iron Mac Pros on the other will widen as modern applications make better use of the hardware. Focusing on miniaturization or reduced power consumption across the entire portable product line at the cost of processing power will exaggerate that gap.

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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Andrew Richards
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:49:44 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I think the comparison to the iMac is more than a little disingenuous. The iMac is luggable, but still requires power and a table. The GoBOXX is large and heavy, but still fundamentally portable by design, and can run off mains and on your lap."

I was being slightly facetious there, but a portable workstation is not going to be used very often like a mainstream laptop. The battery life will be nearly useless for much more than moving from one power outlet to another. If a machine made of desktop components is used in anger and powered by a battery, it will last minutes, not hours. Realistically a mobile workstation is just a portable all-in-one form factor, and will usually be used at a work surface while plugged into power, simply out of necessity.

I don't think lugging an iMac around is really a solution, but I also can't really imagine serious mobile workstations being used for processor-intensive tasks without being placed in a location that would just as easily support an all-in-one desktop like an iMac.

Regardless, the closest thing you'll ever get to a mobile workstation from Apple will be the 17" MBP. Anything bulkier just isn't their style and the potential market for such a machine is just too small to tempt Apple to sell into it. If 100,000 Xserve sales each year wasn't worth keeping that product alive, tens of thousands of bulky, heavy, power-hungry, suitcase Macs would never meet Apple's market volume standards.

Best,
Andy


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:16:15 pm

[Andrew Richards] "I was being slightly facetious there, but a portable workstation is not going to be used very often like a mainstream laptop. The battery life will be nearly useless for much more than moving from one power outlet to another. If a machine made of desktop components is used in anger and powered by a battery, it will last minutes, not hours. Realistically a mobile workstation is just a portable all-in-one form factor, and will usually be used at a work surface while plugged into power, simply out of necessity. "

I think it is a little better than you think. I have been putting my new laptop through its paces, and can easily get 2+ hours of intensive editing and compositing on battery alone, full brightness, etc.., Of course, I opted for the larger battery. But at that point, going from 8 to 8.5 pounds isn't much of a difference.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Andrew Richards
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:19:28 pm

Nice, what do you have?

Best,
Andy


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:44:33 pm

[Andrew Richards] "Nice, what do you have?"

I got a Dell XPS 17. I went a little crazy tricking it out with a quad-core Sandy Bridge i7, 2-750TB drives (7200 RPM), Blu-Ray burner, GeForce 555M (3 GB). It's pretty impressive what it can do with Premiere's MPB. Too bad I'm still spending alot of time and energy dealing with learning the Windows 7 interface.

It seems pretty gigantic next to my 13" MPB, but at about 9 pounds, I still consider it to be mobile. At least for my purposes.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Walter Soyka
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:41:27 pm

[Andrew Richards] "Regardless, the closest thing you'll ever get to a mobile workstation from Apple will be the 17" MBP. Anything bulkier just isn't their style and the potential market for such a machine is just too small to tempt Apple to sell into it. If 100,000 Xserve sales each year wasn't worth keeping that product alive, tens of thousands of bulky, heavy, power-hungry, suitcase Macs would never meet Apple's market volume standards."

Of course, I agree! Isn't that the point of this thread? That Apple is more interested in offering a thinner, lighter laptop with mass market appeal than a high-spec laptop suitable only for professionals who need the power?

Not to say that the traditional pro market (TPM?) / power users won't buy these -- they'll have to, if they want to take FCPX on the road -- but rather that the offering isn't really designed specifically for them?

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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Andrew Richards
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:27:20 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Of course, I agree! Isn't that the point of this thread? That Apple is more interested in offering a thinner, lighter laptop with mass market appeal than a high-spec laptop suitable only for professionals who need the power?"

I took the point of the thread to be whether we could read into a thinner MBP as disinterest in the "pro" market. I maintain Apple has always pushed the thinnest, lightest MacBook Pro/PowerBook it could produce while keeping them competitively powerful, so they aren't changing direction by doing more of that. Maybe there is a niche market they are not entering (remember netbooks?), but I wouldn't see that as a market abandonment (your modular G3 PowerBook notwithstanding).

But we essentially agree, so why am I still posting?? :-P

Best,
Andy


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:04:37 am

[Walter Soyka] "Miniaturization comes at the cost of processing power, storage, or battery life.

Instead of a smaller, lighter computer, Apple could offer one at the same size, the same weight, and a lot more power. Personally, I'd prefer the former for my personal use and the latter for my professional use."


Given that current quad-core MacBook Pros are as fast as 2008 8-core Mac Pros, I don't really see the problem. Apple's pro laptops have maintained largely the same form factor for a decade now -- it seems like we're actually overdue for another round of miniaturization.

Especially since Apple is probably going to continue to use the same processors and GPUs that would have been used anyway, and accomplish the space savings by moving to lower capacity but faster SSDs (arguable either way in terms of 'pro' use) and elimination of the internal optical drive (which takes up way too much space given how infrequently many users use it these days).

[Walter Soyka] "I invite you to explore some of the "mobile workstation" offerings from PC manufacturers. They're big, heavy laptops with serious onboard graphics, more memory slots, two hard drives instead of one, etc. Apple hasn't had a product in this category in a long time, and they'll get even further away from it if they Air the entire line."

Apple has never had a product in that category. Certainly not in the last decade, since the introduction of the Titanium PowerBook. This is another instance where people are making the argument that Apple is shifting directions by, essentially, misrepresenting Apple's past direction.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Chris Jacek
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:13:03 am

[Chris Kenny] "Apple has never had a product in that category. Certainly not in the last decade, since the introduction of the Titanium PowerBook. This is another instance where people are making the argument that Apple is shifting directions by, essentially, misrepresenting Apple's past direction.
"


It's not an argument of the past. These mobile workstations are quite possibly the trend of the future for video professional, and Apple does not want to be a part of that. They want to redefine what video professionals are. If that redefinition is to sacrifice power for size and cool factor, then it is not a large leap of logic to assume that they are trying to appeal to a different group. It would be smart business.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:24:12 am

[Chris Jacek] "It's not an argument of the past. These mobile workstations are quite possibly the trend of the future for video professional, and Apple does not want to be a part of that. They want to redefine what video professionals are. If that redefinition is to sacrifice power for size and cool factor, then it is not a large leap of logic to assume that they are trying to appeal to a different group. It would be smart business."

I don't understand the case for these mobile workstations being the future trend for video professionals. This class of system has been around for quite a while, and seems to mostly appeal to the LAN party crowd. I'm not saying nobody uses them, but I've yet to see one on-set, and I'm on a fairly large number of sets.

Why would there be a trend toward bulkier laptops among video pros now, when MacBook Pros have really started to come into their own just in the last year, with Thunderbolt and quad core processors? What specific use cases are these bulkier machines better for? Not offline editorial, certainly. An 11" Air can breeze through that these days. Not online editorial either; a Thunderbolt-enabled MacBook Pro can online uncompressed 1080p/2K with little difficulty. VFX work? There's typically not much possibility to perform that in the field, since it's usually rather meticulous work. Color grading? We're probably within two years of real-time 1080p grading in Resolve on MacBook Pros.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Shawn Miller
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:32:05 pm

"This class of system has been around for quite a while, and seems to mostly appeal to the LAN party crowd."

Is it possible that you hold this veiw because you don't have much exposure the type of professionals who need and use mobile workstations? I know several working animators and VFX artist who use this type of machine to take their work on the road.

"VFX work? There's typically not much possibility to perform that in the field"

It depends on which tasks you're talking about (VFX isn't just one thing). Things like keying, comping and look development can all have components or phases which are done on set. I also know a few pro audio folks who use mobile workstations to record and mix live music.

Shawn



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Robert Brown
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 5:19:24 am

I think FCP X is the best indication of where they are headed due to the inflexible single screen display. It would make a lot of sense that they would be developing a version for iPad and a rigid UI would make sense for using the software on different single screen devices. Apple's theme these days seems to be having multiple levels of devices that all can work together. Like my iPhone is somewhat in sync with my laptop and macpro.

What that does for them is to potentially make each device that much more powerful in the eyes of consumers/prosumers. Like if you could edit on your iPad it would be a nice selling point but not of much interest to many "pros" here or people who do this for a living.

I could easily see this happening if you look at everything they've done over the last few years, but who knows what they will do. It's a secret.



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Chris Kenny
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 5:42:41 am

[Robert Brown] "What that does for them is to potentially make each device that much more powerful in the eyes of consumers/prosumers. Like if you could edit on your iPad it would be a nice selling point but not of much interest to many "pros" here or people who do this for a living."

I entirely disagree with the sentiment that iPad-based editing is inherently a consumer feature rather than a pro feature. Why do artists carry sketchpads, even if their "real" work is oil paint on canvas? I think if there were an iPad version of FCP X, and a smooth workflow for moving edit decisions between that and the desktop version, a lot of pro editors would be interested in an ultraportable device with great battery life that they could just pull out anywhere to play with the edits they were working on. Especially for something like feature editing, where the editor gets really absorbed in a project, lives with the footage for quite a while, and might have an idea for how to cut a scene while on the subway, or falling asleep at night or whatever. Being able to just grab the iPad at those moments seems quite compelling.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Bill Davis
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:13:31 am

You need a screen for an interface. You might LIKE 2, 3, or 4 screens for the way you work, but you NEED a screen.

You need a keyboard. You need a mouse. You might need a tablet or a trackball. All of these can work prefectly well via Bluetooth and so don't need to be physically attached to anything.

You want to drive stuff with your iPad? More bluetooth.

Packaging this stuff into a tall box (tower) or a flat box (laptop)? It's a matter of "convenience only" when you don't need to house and cool a mass of adjacent components to achieve physical closeness to optimize data transfer.

You need storage. With Thunderbolt spec'd up to 100 TIMES the speed of Firewire 800 in it's planned purely optical iteration - storage can be located anywhere on the net without penalty. Same with video processing (video "card"? - maybe, maybe not). Same with PROCESSERS for heaven's sake. Want more? Buy cheap boxes with more and stick it in a closet.

Giant super fast pipes mean that the old concept of a CPU needing to be physically adjacent to the I/O busses for data throughput becomes functionally obsolete.

At that point, a laptop is just a node. The "computer" is the system you're attaching to. More computers, with more cores, add to the AGGREGATE processing capability of the system.

The computer as "BOX?" Old thinking. Pick your sub-systems and plug them together - drive the result with your desktop keyboard or your laptop keyboard - doesn't matter - because anything can talk to anything - lickity split.

Software in the cloud - hardware as "nodes" to enable it.

That's the BIG change coming down the road, I'd bet.

Fun to imagine.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Ray Wang
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 7:58:33 am

[Bill Davis] "The computer as "BOX?" Old thinking. Pick your sub-systems and plug them together - drive the result with your desktop keyboard or your laptop keyboard - doesn't matter - because anything can talk to anything - lickity split. "

It is pretty much happening now. I use Matrox MOX2 Mac connected to the PCI Express port to speed up encoding, I use Elgato connected to usb port too, Blu-ray on USB, card reader etc.

(I am using MBP 17")

It is a terrible wiring mess. I am hoping to switch to the next version of Mac Pro so that all components are inside one box.

Daisy chain components sounds interesting but no difference to doing it inside the box. I.e. in the PC world where SLI / Crossfire is supported, users slap in GPU to beef up the power.

I don't see Apple moving towards the mix and match world because the last thing Apple want is some user calls up and say certain combinations don't work (i.e. what PC world has to endure).

---
Ray


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Rafael Amador
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:31:33 pm

At the moment, the last MBP can't charge batteries if the processors are working hard:
http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/200/893579#893579
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Paul Escamilla
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:39:35 pm

I was about to buy a new Mac Mini on Moday. Went to the Apple site and was about to purchase when i discovered that the new mac Minis do not have an optical drive. Deal-breaker.

So i went on ebay and found a used Mini for $237 that HAS an optical drive. Just received it in the mail.

What is Apple thinking?


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Andrew Richards
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:49:15 pm

The same thing they thought about floppy drives when they introduced the iMac.

Best,
Andy


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Paul Escamilla
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:28:36 pm

but when they got rid of the floppy drive, they added an optical drive. in this case, they took the optical drive away but didn't add a new way of getting data into my computer from removeable media.


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Paul Escamilla
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:32:31 pm

I'm just a little confused by all of this. For example, today I have to produce a DVD for a board of directors meeting of a gigantic corporation. Should I just tell them that Apple decided DVD's are dead?


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Michael Sacci
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 28, 2011 at 5:30:51 pm

No you use a system that has a DVD burner, or buy a DVD burner for the new mini. Does because it doesn't have one when you bought it doesn't mean one won't work on it.


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Bill Davis
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 29, 2011 at 5:01:52 am

Sheesh,
Just hand them a thumb drive with a QuickTime file.
In all likelihood, it will plug directly into the boardroom projector..
If not it will CERTAINLY plug into any laptop - which in turn can drive any boardroom projector on the planet via VGA.
That DVDs are not entirely dead yet just speeks to how technologically illiterate many companies are.

With it's horrible MPEG2 encoding, DVD is about the last way I'd choose to show critical content if I had any other options. Who misses having to rely on arbitrary pre-set chapter marker jumps and using the "fast forward" and "rewind" controls instead of jumping to anywhere in the video stream with a mouse click?

DVD is the INERTIA format. The industry has moved WAY past that. Heck, load the clip on a freekin iPad for heavens sake. You can drive VGA from that. At least you'll look like your in the current century in your clients eyes.

FWIW

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Rafael Amador
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 29, 2011 at 5:58:10 am

Heiiiiiiiii, just because some people have money to afford a better technology doesn't means DVD is dead.
DVD was never intended for any professional use, but anyway, do you have a better format for my grandma buy her movies?
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Herb Sevush
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 29, 2011 at 2:22:57 pm

Oh it must be wonderful to be so powerful that you get to tell all your clients what the deliverables will be, no matter what the requirements are. Poor peon that I am, when my client asks for something, I actually give it to them - if they say tape, I give them tape, if they say DVD, I give them DVD (if they same jump, I give them the rope). I even have one regular broadcast client who insists on DVDs so he can review copies on his home TV because he doesn't feel he gets a true representation of the way the shows "look" on a computer screen. It is terrible to have to work for such dolts, but then again I am not so powerful as I would like to be.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions


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Paul Escamilla
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 29, 2011 at 6:15:30 pm

yeah, if i said "sorry, dvd's are dead, you can't have one", i'd probably be fired.


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Mark Bein
Re: New Macbook Pros to be "thin" ?
on Jul 28, 2011 at 10:48:27 am

I cut with fcp on a macbook 5 years ago.
The new macbook air is faster.
The new quadcore macbook pros are faster than a mac pro from 2008.
All can connect to 27 inch displays, 1 Gigabyte/sec raid array, external gpu.
Unlike fcp7, fcpx does use the cores in a mac pro.

Since this all doesn't bode well for Pro use -
Soccer Mum is going to be the next Scorsese...


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