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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Does This Kill The Mac Pro?
on Nov 11, 2011 at 1:12:50 am

[Aindreas Gallagher] " what happens if the mac pro tower goes?"

I have very strong feelings about the Mac in general, but first some background.

We aren't a hardcore facility, but we do have some comparatively hard core gear, I guess.

We have a SAN that runs metaSAN that is both fibre and Ethernet based.

We own cameras, lenses, we still farm out audio on most of our productions (acquisition and post), and of course we scale the freelance crew as needed, sometimes one person, sometimes 20 people. We do all kinds of projects, we don't do features, though.

Other than that, we are lean and mean and we get a surprising amount of work done with just a few of us. We like it, it works, we are fairly efficient and good (if I do stay so myself) at we do. Our clients are pleased.

We are also lucky in that we control almost the whole production pipeline. For the most part, we edit what we shoot. It's rare, but we do get hired to shoot and not post, or post and not shoot but those projects are rather sparse. So perhaps my view is myopic or limited.

The San is relatively new and its been great, absolutely great, for us. We are beta testers of this particular package, so we're living on the edge a bit.

Here's the weird thing about it, it's agnostic to file systems and formats. Yes, its a windows server with a huge blob of SAS connected storage where the data is then served out to fibre and Ethernet (storage is formatted NTFS). Macs, windows, and even Linux can connect to it, and metaSAN makes it all work. To our Macs, that storage looks and operates like HFS+. It's rather nuts.

All of our edit/post machines are Mac computers that connect via fibre and Ethernet. The nice thing about the Ethernet is that the licenses float, so if someone comes in with a laptop, we have an extra license that we can install on their machine, and away they go. Its very flexible, and any computer can be used as a server be it windows, Mac or Linux.

Now, as I mentioned, we are small, and most of the technical responsibility falls on my shoulders. It's fine, I can handle it, but I only know what I know, and troubleshooting macs is what I somewhat know. In our testing, I have had to do some things on the windows machine that are completely foreign. It's a completely new language that I am uncomfortable with. I can "support" our other macs over the phone, over iChat or logmein (over my iPhone, no sh*t), and I know how to tell the person on the other end of the line how to get them back up and running if need be. If something goes wrong on the windows side, I am a fish out of water, I need to call people.

So, basically, it's fear. Not only do I edit and creatively support our little company, but I am the tech dude as well. Windows would be a big problem for us, not only with training, but support and hardware building and purchasing. I know nothing about that, and I'm a bit scared of it, frankly. With macs, I can diagnose and fix the problem, then get back to the right brain work that I was initially hired and paid to do..

I firmly believe Macs have allowed me to do all of this wihtout completely pulling my hair out and allowing me to have a life outside of the office. Maybe I'm being naive.

Now, what if the MacPro goes away?

Well, if Apple offers a suitable processing alternative (let's just say that's an iMac for now) our SAN is still fine. We can connect via Ethernet, or get a thunder PCI connector and connect through fibre, on an iMac. Sure, it won't be as fast as pcie fibre, but we would still have plenty of overhead for the work that we do.

We never finished uncompressed anymore, it's most likely ProResHQ, and the occasional 444. All totally fine over Ethernet, and would be great over thunderbolt.

It would not be ideal as our choices would be more limited with GPU and the like, but I think, we'd be okay for a while during the formulation of a bigger plan to Windows if we had to. Our SAN will still work with Windows, so we are OK there.

So, yeah. It will be an adjustment, and our current infrastructure would support a non MacPro environment wihtout too much of a speed loss. A little, but not a ton.

I hope that Apple will refresh the MacPro one or two more times before they kill it. But they might not. Even if we had to switch to Windows tomorrow, we could do it. Most everything hardware wise is cross platform, and you can even by Episode to encode ProRes on Windows these days. Don't get me wrong, I will not look forward to that day.

Galileo Figaro, Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me.


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