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If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...

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Matt McNally
If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 27, 2013 at 4:19:27 pm

...what would it be?

I'm part of a small production company that makes documentaries, electronic press kits and promos/commercials. Currently we are entirely mac based and edit with FCP7. Mostly we shoot on the Canon C300, Sony EX3 and Sony F3. At times, we inherit ongoing projects/edits from other firms and these also tend to be FCP7.

We have reached something of a crossroads... We are ready to invest in two new edits this year, but choosing our new hardware/software is quite a dilemma. It does not seem realistic to continue with FCP7 as our primary edit software and FCP X does not convince for broadcast spec. I have a lot of experience with AVID so that is tempting, but I am wary of discounting Adobe Premiere without giving it a fair crack of the whip. Obviously, the new Mac Pros will ship late this year, but are they - with their price tag, prescriptive ways of doing things and connectivity headaches - really what's best for us? Should we suck it up and go for the HP/Avid set-ups? At least we can trust they will not stop caring about editors and pro users overnight...

I would love to hear from anybody in a similar situation who has worked through their options. Any anecdotal advice would be really helpful. This is a decision that we will have to live with for a good few years and we'd like to make the most informed decision possible. Thanks very much, Matt


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Oliver Peters
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 27, 2013 at 4:57:53 pm

[Matt McNally] " and FCP X does not convince for broadcast spec."

Please define what you mean, as I deliver a fair amount of broadcast stuff cut on X.

[Matt McNally] "but I am wary of discounting Adobe Premiere without giving it a fair crack of the whip"

Adobe CC apps, especially Premiere Pro CC is pretty much where the bulk of the FCP "legacy" refugees are headed. You're going to need After Effects and Photoshop anyway.

[Matt McNally] "the new Mac Pros will ship late this year, but are they - with their price tag, prescriptive ways of doing things and connectivity headaches"

Aren't you making a price assumption, since no one knows what Apple will decide to sell these for? A decked out HP workstation is definitely not cheap either. I work in both Mac and PC environments. I find that if you are strictly in the PC world, there are more headaches than if you are mainly in a Mac configuration, simply because you'll get a lot of Mac-originated material.

You could also consider a fully-loaded iMac as a transition workstation. It may well outperform your current systems and still get close to what you would get out of the new Mac Pro - at least for basic editing. And at a more affordable price (TBD).

FWIW - Avid MC7 is out today. If you like Avid, you certainly can't go wrong with that choice and it's cross-platform. Plus you'll OWN it ;-)

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Pieter Viljoen
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 27, 2013 at 6:48:00 pm

I have the least amount of experience cutting Premiere but with my limited knowledge of the program I already see one big plus and another minus of using it for documentaries.

The plus is that it can deal well with mixed sources and the logging process can be quick. The downside is that it doesn't have the incredibly robust media management of Avid, and most documentaries I've seen come with countless hours of dailies and I think Avid, for now, is the most reliable and battle tested piece of software that you can have, as long as you don't mind being a little more disciplined with your prep. But like Oliver says, CS6 would give you easy integration with AE and Photoshop and all the other pieces of great software. The plus side to CS6 is that you don't have to commit to it.

The Mac Pros that are coming out will use AMD cards and I don't know how that will work with Premiere's mercury playback engine that relies exclusively on Nvidia CUDA technology. I'm sure apple consulted with all major developers and they're aware of this going forward.

I outfitted a 2013 iMac that has every available upgrade and I think it would do well, but I don't know if you guys plan on working in 4k. I'm not sure that the mobile GPU in the iMac, even with all its CUDA cores, will be able to handle it. A fully outfitted iMac is going to probably be above 3 grand, if you get an SSD which these days is becoming more standard, and I don't think you could get a second one for the cache like many people like to do with CS6.

If the budget is there, I'd probably wait for the Mac Pros because of the expandability, but I've heard of several people being quite successful just with the new iMacs.


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Oliver Peters
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 27, 2013 at 7:15:02 pm

[Pieter Viljoen] "The Mac Pros that are coming out will use AMD cards and I don't know how that will work with Premiere's mercury playback engine that relies exclusively on Nvidia CUDA technology."

That's not entirely true. The MPE is Adobe's branding term for a mix of technologies. Only part of that is CUDA acceleration. Specifically, CUDA-enabled NVIDIA cards accelerate some scaling and color correction functions - not the entire application, nor all effects. If you have a non-CUDA card (could be NVIDIA, ATI or Intel), then Premiere simply operates in a software emulation mode. That's quite fast on a good card.

In addition, the MPE in Premiere has now been optimized for the OpenCL in certain GPUs used in the MacBook Pros. This means performance on the new Mac Pro "tube" should be really good with Adobe CC apps.

I have an older Mac Pro and normally use the AT5870. It works well for all applications, including CS6 and CC apps. I have at times installed and tested it with the Quadro 4000 card (a CUDA-enabled card). This gives me somewhat better performance with Premiere and Resolve, but often worse performance with other apps, like FCP X. Other Adobe apps don't benefit from a CUDA-enabled card at all.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Pieter Viljoen
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 27, 2013 at 7:44:36 pm

I definitely did not know that. I knew about the Open CL but wasn't sure how it would work.

If Premiere will allow me to switch between source and record in my timeline I'd like it even more. But thanks for educating me about the CUDA acceleration.


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Oliver Peters
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 27, 2013 at 8:21:49 pm

[Pieter Viljoen] "But thanks for educating me about the CUDA acceleration."

You are welcome. It's a common misconception, because NVIDIA has obviously played up the marketing on their side of the partnership ;-)

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Pieter Viljoen
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 27, 2013 at 8:23:23 pm

let's just say that one of our machine room guys who handles a lot of the buying nearly crucified me for wanting to try an iMac. He probably has his reasons but I definitely drank the Nvidia kool aid.


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Oliver Peters
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 27, 2013 at 8:28:28 pm

The decked out iMacs are decently performing machines, especially with local Thunderbolt storage, like the Promise arrays. Connectivity would be the concern, which means you'd need some Thunderbolt-to-other adapters or docks.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Pieter Viljoen
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 28, 2013 at 12:17:03 am

Yes, G-Raid only makes thunderbolt drives, but also a lot of pro users would be on ISIS or some other kind of shared storage anyway.


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Oliver Peters
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 28, 2013 at 12:19:59 am

I freelance at a shop that has 3 Mac Pros connected to a SAN via FiberChannel and 1 iMac connected to the same SAN via an ATTO Thunderbolt-to-FC adapter.

This seems to be the preferred local storage for standalone iMacs:

http://www.promise.com/storage/raid_series.aspx?m=192®ion=en-global&rsn1...

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Pieter Viljoen
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 28, 2013 at 12:48:45 am

Do you find you have problems there with the new iMac?


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Oliver Peters
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 28, 2013 at 12:51:03 am

I personally prefer Mac Pros. For editing, the current iMacs are fine, especially for FCP X. However, if you run Resolve, the Mac Pro, even an older one, will outperform the iMacs.

If you meant problems in the shared environment then I'm not sure. I am not the one usually running that room. To my knowledge there have been no issues.

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Justin Crowell
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 28, 2013 at 2:50:43 pm

[Pieter Viljoen] "If Premiere will allow me to switch between source and record in my timeline I'd like it even more."

I'm curious about what you mean here...do you mean you'd like the timeline to show the contents of the source monitor when that has received focus in the application? Does Avid offer this, and if so, could you tell me what that does for you (Serious question...I'm a new Premiere convert, and strongly considering MC7 as my secondary option)?

Editor, Producer, DP
JustinCrowell.com


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Pieter Viljoen
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 28, 2013 at 4:39:34 pm

Justin,

It's a way to work a bit more intimately with the source. If it's just a clip, I can look at the audio waveforms and it is also very useful when your source is a sequence . It's just a way I like to work. I'm betting it is something Adobe will include soon. At NAB a lot of editors approached them about this,


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Chris Harlan
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 28, 2013 at 4:43:22 pm

[Justin Crowell] "do you mean you'd like the timeline to show the contents of the source monitor when that has received focus in the application? Does Avid offer this"

Yes. It is a very useful part of MC. You can flip back and forth between your timeline and anything loaded in the source monitor, which has its own timeline. This is how you see source audio waveforms, for instance. This allows MC to excel at sequence to sequence editing. Say that you are slimming down a sellects reel--you load the sequence into the source monitor and then work from the source timeline, choosing your ins and out as you go along. Or, say you are selecting audio tracks from an eight channel source file, and you only want Dia and SFX, which you need to locate because you are not sure which channels they are on, and you probably want them patched to different tracks; that's very fast to do by simply flipping over to the source timeline, seeing what's what, and patching.


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Justin Crowell
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jun 28, 2013 at 7:45:50 pm

That's really interesting, and something I'd definitely find useful. Another reason for me to consider MC7...

Editor, Producer, DP
JustinCrowell.com


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Matt McNally
Re: If you were to build a new edit suite for 2013 and beyond...
on Jul 2, 2013 at 3:53:10 pm

Thanks very much everyone. I've spent a lot of time with Walter Biscardi's PP post/blog today and I'm coming around to the idea of going Adobe, but I'm going to have to lose the chip on my shoulder first. It's shifting. I have always been obsessive about getting my media nicely organised before starting a job, and I don't resent spending that time, but maybe I'm being old fashioned.


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