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Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi

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Steve Connor
Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 3:07:10 pm

http://www.biscardicreative.com/blog/2012/04/using-imacs-to-replace-desktop...

Steve Connor
"FCPX Professional"
Adrenalin Television


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Gary Huff
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 3:25:45 pm

Very interesting. I'm also in the process of trying to decide whether to go iMac or Mac Mini. The Mini is almost fine for what I want to use it for, except for the AMD Radeon generation lagging a bit behind everyone else (and no 1GB VRAM option).


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Michael Garber
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 5:20:16 pm

It's funny because I had just laid out the costs for new gear a day before his blog came out. I was completely on the same page with him. (I feel like the entire post community is on the same page right now!) It seems like the best deal with Apple (right now) is the iMac. I just don't want to be forced to use their display when I have lots of beautiful cinema displays throughout my facility.

So, I'm starting to look into building a Hackintosh for at least one of my systems to see how it goes. Upside: Fast, Cheap, if I can't get Mac to be stable, I'll have a smoking Windows system that I can put CS6 and Avid on. Downside: probably lots, but I'm willing to try it out since I love to tinker. ;)

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company


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Thomas Frank
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 15, 2012 at 10:26:11 am

Not sure why it is so interesting? He really didn't mention anything.
I can say the same I have saw latest 3D Studio Max and WOW!
WOW what?

I think his WOW goes to this "Support for multiple frame rates conform from Apple® Final Cut Pro® XML"

hihihihihi


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 15, 2012 at 10:30:18 am

Wow future?


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Andrew Richards
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 5:40:54 pm

Walter is pragmatic as ever, but I think he's leaving out a wide swath of PCs that might change his analysis: light iron towers. He could get PC towers with comparable guts to an iMac that also have slots for his existing cards, all the flexibility of a tower (interns of GPUs and serviceability), but aren't a big iron dual CPU $10K workstation. He says if he is going to buy big iron, he is going to go really big, but what about small iron? Wouldn't that compare more evenly with the internal specs of the iMacs?

Now, if this is about finding any way practical to keep using OS X wherever he can, I can certainly sympathize. I think the only reason Apple is able to pass the top-end iMac off as an entry-level workstation is the lack of a headless Mac between the Mac mini and the Mac Pro. If there was such a thing, it would be very popular among the pro video folks.

But if you are not biased in favor of OS X, why not line the iMac up next to something like a Dell Optiplex 990 or an HP Z210?

I'm a big time OS X partisan, and I would be one of those guys that would accept the limitations of an iMac just to keep using OS X in lieu of Windows on a comparably equipped mid-range tower. But Walter is framing his decision around strictly cost/benefit, and he's leaving out a very significant class of options. Tough to kick the Apple habit.

Best,
Andy


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Frank Gothmann
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 5:50:02 pm

True, also his calculation is based on speching out the machines directly at at the source. I'd never buy ram, hard drives etc. at Apple, HP etc. They all charge a premium for these thing. It's much cheaper to get all you add-ons, ram etc. separate.

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Andrew Richards
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 5:53:37 pm

[Frank Gothmann] "It's much cheaper to get all you add-ons, ram etc. separate."

Yeah, I agree. Once you start looking at third party RAM, the iMac can suddenly hold 32 GB, and the GPUs that are available for BTO from the PC vendors might not be the GPU you want.

But I chalk that up to keeping his cost comparisons consistent for the sake of argument. Benefit of the doubt for the sake of a cleaner blog post.

Best,
Andy


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Michael Garber
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 6:01:03 pm

Frank, glad you pointed that out, I noticed that, too. So I went and did a price comparison. His system was about 300 more than going through OWC for RAM.

Andrew - totally agree with you about not turning your back from the PC market. There is an amazing amount of opportunity there and the prices are in line with what I think most people are willing to spend on a new system that will last a couple of years.

One downside I see to going PC is that the resale value isn't as good as Apple products. It might be more difficult to sell a 2-3 year PC on Craigslist rather than an iMac. But, you could also repurpose a PC tower with a new Mobo and processor. So, I guess it's 6 of 1...

I think a mid-range PC is an excellent value right now. Before I invest in a new system, I'm going to wait for NAB and Ivy Bridge at the end of the month. Hopefully Thunderbolt can make it's way to PCs in the near future.

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company


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Andrew Richards
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 6:40:24 pm

[Michael Garber] "Hopefully Thunderbolt can make it's way to PCs in the near future."

MSI already has a Z77 mobo in the channel with Thunderbolt built in. They are coming.

Best,
Andy


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Walter Soyka
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 6:11:13 pm

[Andrew Richards] "Walter is pragmatic as ever, but I think he's leaving out a wide swath of PCs that might change his analysis: light iron towers. He could get PC towers with comparable guts to an iMac that also have slots for his existing cards, all the flexibility of a tower (interns of GPUs and serviceability), but aren't a big iron dual CPU $10K workstation. He says if he is going to buy big iron, he is going to go really big, but what about small iron? Wouldn't that compare more evenly with the internal specs of the iMacs?"

This is especially true when considering apps like Premiere Pro which can use GPU processing. You can get great performance/price on select editorial tasks with light iron systems and a rockin' GPU.

I do love a good sizzle core beast, but a couple hundred extra dollars on a GPU can make a much bigger difference for some work than a couple thousand on the CPU.

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: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 6:31:28 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I do love a good sizzle core beast, but a couple hundred extra dollars on a GPU can make a much bigger difference for some work than a couple thousand on the CPU."

The line that seems to give away his bias is this one:

[Walter Biscardi] "We honestly don’t miss the CUDA “extra realtime features” because we’ve never had them."

So since FCP7 never had any GPU accelerated goodness, they don't care if they don't get it in PPro? That smells like rationalization to me.

Best,
Andy


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Walter Soyka
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 6:54:17 pm

[Andrew Richards] "So since FCP7 never had any GPU accelerated goodness, they don't care if they don't get it in PPro? That smells like rationalization to me."

GPU acceleration may not be relevant in their workflows. With heavy iron hero machines for finishing, there may be no need for GPU-accelerated effects in the offline.

Software-only MPE is still pretty nice, and if you're doing largely cuts and dissolves instead of repos and effects, you won't see much benefit from hardware MPE anyway.

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: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 7:04:27 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Software-only MPE is still pretty nice, and if you're doing largely cuts and dissolves instead of repos and effects, you won't see much benefit from hardware MPE anyway."

He does make that point as well, mostly doc and reality stuff that doesn't rely on many VFX.

[Walter Biscardi] "For the most part we’re doing documentaries and very soon, reality programming. Projects that are storyteller driven, not fx or even transition heavy. So for my situation and with the amount of machines I need to upgrade, do I really need to have all powerful systems in every single edit suite? Based on the performance of my 2 year old iMac, that answer appears to be 'no.' "

Best,
Andy


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walter biscardi
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 7:12:54 pm

[Andrew Richards] "That smells like rationalization to me."

It smells like rationalization to pay for extra GPU CUDA acceleration that I don't need? Where does a documentary need CUDA acceleration during the one year it takes to Post?

Where does a reality show need CUDA acceleration during the 8 weeks it takes to cut the story?

My point in that article is that I'm spending the money where I really need to. I'm going to need up to 24 edit workstations before the year is out. Of that maybe 4 are going to need all the bells and whistles to go really really fast while the rest will be excellent for cutting stories.

The iMac is a tried and true machine we've used for years and it's really really fast for cutting. There is my rationalization.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

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Michael Gissing
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 7:22:24 pm

Walter, can I assume grading and finishing will be on PC grunt boxes? Are you swayed by Speedgrade say over da Vinci or is Smoke more likely as your primary grade/finish tool?


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Andrew Richards
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 7:28:20 pm

[walter biscardi] "My point in that article is that I'm spending the money where I really need to. I'm going to need up to 24 edit workstations before the year is out. Of that maybe 4 are going to need all the bells and whistles to go really really fast while the rest will be excellent for cutting stories."

Perfectly reasonable, but am I right surmising that OS X might also be factoring into your calculus? Maybe it's easier for your staff to transition to, maybe it is more familiar to support, maybe there are just fewer variables in a big facility expansion like you are planning? Were those factors?

If it is just about cost, there are equally capable mid-range PC towers that would allow you to use your existing displays, your existing I/O cards, and your existing shop cabling. Why not consider a lesser PC tower if OS X is not driving the decision (because your NLEs are cross platform)?

By the way- congrats on needing to add so many seats! That's a big expansion!

Best,
Andy


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Frank Gothmann
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 7:53:00 pm

[Andrew Richards] "If it is just about cost, there are equally capable mid-range PC towers that would allow you to use your existing displays, your existing I/O cards, and your existing shop cabling. Why not consider a lesser PC tower if OS X is not driving the decision (because your NLEs are cross platform)?"

If the OS is a consideration and since he intends to use MC or other non-Cuda soft then the iMac is a viable option. If the OS is not relevant other options may make more sense from a cost/performance point of view plus potential upgradability to Cuda if necessary in the future:

iMac: 1.999,-
10 Gig Ethernet Nic for Mac: 1.000,- (assuming he is using 10GIG to connect to his San, I think he does).
Magma Thunderbolt Chasis: 1.000,-
Aja ioXT: 1.495,-
= 5.495,-

HP z210 (Avid Certified): 1.600,-
Intel 10 Gig Ethernet Nic: 600,-
Decklink SDI 280,-
= 2.380,-

------
"You also agree that you will not use these products for... the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons."
iTunes End User Licence Agreement


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Andrew Richards
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 8:08:27 pm

[Frank Gothmann] "10 Gig Ethernet Nic for Mac: 1.000,- (assuming he is using 10GIG to connect to his San, I think he does)."

He uses good ol' Gig-E, and noted in his post that the 2011 iMacs once again have jumbo frame support for best results with his Small Tree system.

But as an aside, ATTO has a pair of 10Gb-E Thunderbolt boxes coming soon.

[Frank Gothmann] "Decklink SDI 280,-"

He's doing HD work, and has a collection of Kona 3 cards already.

[Frank Gothmann] "If the OS is not relevant other options may make more sense from a cost/performance point of view plus potential upgradability to Cuda is necessary in the future:"

As OpenCL matures and developers fold it into their products more, the gulf between NVIDIA and AMD cards may diminish significantly in that same future. Adobe already has limited support for OpenCL in CS6 and said they will be adding more as they go (I'd link to the post if I could find it).

I'm not saying the iMac is a bad choice or wouldn't be great for the work he has planned for it, just that not comparing the iMac to its market peers is an incomplete analysis of his options for outfitting his shop. Heck, I'd buy the iMacs too, but I'm an admitted OS X partisan and I'll go out of my way to avoid Windows if I can manage it.

Best,
Andy


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Frank Gothmann
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 8:16:57 pm

[Andrew Richards] "He uses good ol' Gig-E, and noted in his post that the 2011 iMacs once again have jumbo frame support for best results with his Small Tree system.

But as an aside, ATTO has a pair of 10Gb-E Thunderbolt boxes coming soon."


He must connect via 10GIG too, see his blog post and mentioning of a 10Gig Ethernet switch.
Quote: "And it’s not just that we have some faster products now with the new 48TB RAID and the 10GigE switch from Small Tree."

[Andrew Richards] "But as an aside, ATTO has a pair of 10Gb-E Thunderbolt boxes coming soon."

Yes, but no pricing for that one is available

[Andrew Richards] "[Frank Gothmann] "Decklink SDI 280,-"

He's doing HD work, and has a collection of Kona 3 cards already."


Decklink SDI does HD. I assume the Konas he has are in use, which is why he mentioned buying ioXTs if new iMacs come in.


[Andrew Richards] "I'm not saying the iMac is a bad choice or wouldn't be great for the work he has planned for it, just that not comparing the iMac to its market peers is an incomplete analysis of his options for outfitting his shop. Heck, I'd buy the iMacs too, but I'm an admitted OS X partisan and I'll go out of my way to avoid Windows if I can manage it."

Yes, as I have said: if the OS is relevant the iMac is probably the best and only choice. Certainly not a Mac Mini.

------
"You also agree that you will not use these products for... the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons."
iTunes End User Licence Agreement


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Michael Garber
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 6:15:19 pm

This a rough estimate for comparison to Walter's numbers. You can build a mid-range PC with a core i7 4-core with an Nvidia 5xx card for between 1300-2000 depending on drives, RAM, etc... I think that system would probably out-perform a fully-loaded iMac that you can buy today. Who knows what's around the corner, other than Ivy Bridge, though.

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company


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Michael Gissing
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 6:37:36 pm

[Michael Garber] "This a rough estimate for comparison to Walter's numbers. You can build a mid-range PC with a core i7 4-core with an Nvidia 5xx card for between 1300-2000 depending on drives, RAM, etc... I think that system would probably out-perform a fully-loaded iMac that you can buy today."


I have just done exactly that Michael for much less as I still reuse my old rack mount cases and power supplies. I find the concept of trying to resell any computer after four years amusing. My old machines see duty as Linux boxes for my ftp & web server.

By the time my hardware cycle is over the guts are binned and the cases reused.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 7:56:46 pm

This blog post comes at a useful time for me. I've been waiting until after NAB to pull the trigger on a maxed-out big imac for general home use and small side projects. My current imac is 13 years old, the "Luxo Jr." model :-) The new one will run a used copy of FCS 3 and FCP-X, Premiere perhaps a year later. Gotta save up.

I'm tormented by persistent rumors of an imac refresh coming from "the phone company" about this month, but there's no firm info. I have pre-purchase buyer's remorse, in that I *could* afford to wait another month to see if the upgraded imac has something new(er) I need, or to see it made somehow worse, or to see it drive down the price of the current model I've spec'd for purchase. When I buy stuff it's for a decade, I know I'll love what I've spec'd now, but that grass is always greener....

How long should I wait?

Second part of the question: The performance stats between the two high end processor and graphcis card choices don't seem all that different to me, so how important is it to buy the more expensive of the two, assuming I have maximum RAM and HD space?


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Andrew Richards
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 8:11:25 pm

[Mark Suszko] "How long should I wait?"

Wait till June. Ivy Bridge is coming by then if not earlier. If this is for a decade, get this year's tech instead of last year's.

[Mark Suszko] "The performance stats between the two high end processor and graphcis card choices don't seem all that different to me, so how important is it to buy the more expensive of the two, assuming I have maximum RAM and HD space?"

My rule for iMacs is order the biggest of everything you can since most of that is not something you can swap out later. More GPU RAM and a hyper threaded CPU is worth it. Buy your RAM separately to make up the difference.

Best,
Andy


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John Davidson
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 13, 2012 at 7:46:58 pm

We did an experiment with an iMac 3 months ago. After you get the big Promise Pegasus you're looking at about 5k. We got all the big upgrades except for the SSD, which just seems overpriced for me. It's a great machine and has been very robust with everything I've thrown at it. Very curious how the 6750M card is going to play with the new CS6 suite.

I would say that if you're considering this, try to wait. There's a new iMac update soon, potentially without the glossy screen. That would be a nice update.

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


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Daniel Frome
Re: Interesting Blog post From Walter Biscardi
on Apr 14, 2012 at 1:17:55 am

Last year I cut an entire 1 hour TV show on my macbook pro with Media Composer 6. An iMac is quite similar hardware, so as far as Avid is concerned this is a no brainer. Good for him - smart move.


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