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Which Mac to buy for 4K Editing?

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Stefan Ilea
Which Mac to buy for 4K Editing?
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:03:31 pm

Can someone please tell me what Mac machine and external storage I need to buy to get smooth full screen editing of 4K footage using the Media Composer 8 which I own? My budget is $15,000.

Please help!!! Thanks :)

I've tested simply playing back at full screen a 4K video clip via AMA (choppy playback) and imported the 4K clip at the 1:1 default setting (extremely choppy). Testing on both machines below yielded the same results for me.

- My media is stored on a Western Digital My Passport (USB 3.0)

Tested on 2015 Mac Pro
3.5GHz 6-core with 12MB of L3 cache
16GB (4x4GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
256GB PCIe-based flash storage
Dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 3GB of GDDR5 VRAM each


Tested on 2015 MacBook Pro

2.8GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz
16GB 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM
1TB PCIe-based Flash Storage
Intel Iris Pro Graphics and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory


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Bill Ravens
Re: Which Mac to buy for 4K Editing?
on Apr 11, 2015 at 1:23:04 am

The answer to your question can really be a lot of different things. The systems you tested are probably OK, but, the bottleneck you experienced was the hard drive storage system. 4K requires about 450-550 Mbps, which means you need either SSD's or a very fast RAID storage array.

Having said this, MC 8.3.1 provides for proxy editing on the timeline. If you experience choppy playback, you can go to 1/2 or 1/4 the bitrate on a proxy to playback smoothly. It really works pretty well, provided you have a fast drive array.



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Shane Ross
Re: Which Mac to buy for 4K Editing?
on Apr 11, 2015 at 1:38:22 am

YEAH...Sorry, there is no way you are going to get 4K playback on a USB 3 drive. You need a fast raid for this. And you also need to transcode the footage to Avid media...DNxHR. Avid does not play back smoothly footage accessed only via AMA...camera native. For smooth playback it needs to be converted to Avid media.

And you need that four drive+ RAID. Thunderbolt connected would be good...if you have a thunderbolt mac. Firewire and USB 3 won't cut it.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Stefan Ilea
Re: Which Mac to buy for 4K Editing?
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:03:27 am

Thanks for that info Bill and Shane. Now I'm wondering, would putting the 4K DnxHD converted footage on the Hard drive of the two Mac machines I'm test-driving give me the speed I'd need to get smooth playback in MC or are the external thunderbolt SSDs and RAIDs even faster than the internal drive? Also, would you have any recommendations for SSD , RAID units to look at ?
Thanks again!


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Bill Ravens
Re: Which Mac to buy for 4K Editing?
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:25:41 am

Here's what I would suggest:
Get yourself a disk speed tester. Blackmagic bundles one with their hardware products. It works well by telling you where the test results fit relative to SD, HD, and 4K. Start testing your ideas.

You'll find that nothing fits the 4K bitrate unless you're on an SSD(like the Samsung EVO line) or a RAID(look around over at Highpoint). I've found that even internal RAID 0 sets with 6G connection speeds don't really cut it.

And not to be repetitive, but, this is why proxy editing has been so popular. The only inexpensive way around your problem is to seriously consider proxy editing.



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