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Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?

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Bill Thomas
Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?
on Feb 27, 2018 at 5:53:01 pm
Last Edited By Bill Thomas on Feb 27, 2018 at 6:01:48 pm

Hi all,

I have an older Mac and was curious if it can even be upgraded to work with 4k (or even 1920, since even THAT format lags in Premiere Pro!). Here's my specs: https://everymac.com/systems/apple/mac_pro/specs/mac-pro-twelve-core-2.4-mi...

Still running 10.8.5 and Premier Pro CS6.

Here are the formats our new cameras can shoot: http://eng-ca.faq.panasonic.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/26406/~/what-types-...

SInce I'm still testing, I have been using the MOV format at 100mbs, 59.94. Would the AVCHD format be better to edit with? (I read a previous post about some compressions, like H264, being awful to edit with).


And since I probably know what your answer will be, and if I have to go to a new system, what would be the least expensive Mac I could get that would easily edit 1920 (and occasionally 4k) using Premier Pro CC?

Lastly, I've been very pleased with external USB 3, 3.5" drives instead of my old SATA RAID setup. Never any hiccups, BUT it's been for 1280x720 P2 footage.

What recommendations (again, inexpensive if possible) for external editing drive for a new system?

Thanks all - I know I'm a dinosaur here!

EDIT: Since I prefer Premiere Pro, can you offer an argument why a PC system could be better/cheaper than a Mac? (I have had Macs forever, but I'm not married to it).

Bill



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Robert Withers
Re: Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?
on Feb 28, 2018 at 3:01:13 am

You can get the latest Macbook Pros and iMacs with specs that should cover your needs. I'm keeping my Macbook Pro running OS 10.8.5 so I can keep working with FCP7 and Premiere CC "2013" though I hate being stuck on the infinite rental system especially when I can't use the latest Pr CC versions.
It seemed too late in the game to switch platforms when I finally half-understand the Mac OS. I've discovered there are a lot of secret keys and procedures that you can only find out about by calling Mac service.
I've got a collection of Firewire 800 drives that I would replace with Thunderbolt drives if I were totally updating now.
I got a new Macbook Air for general computing and am keeping the old machine for editing. A new Macbook Pro optimized for editing costs $1000 more at B&H but I don't need it quite yet.
Cheers, R.

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Al Bergstein
Re: Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?
on Feb 28, 2018 at 5:53:38 am

Bill, Robert has some good points. You may still be using FW drives that new machines can't support without adapters. You are on the far side of modern, and close to being unable to upgrade your software, let alone your machine. That age of machine is at a much higher probability for failure of components, likely when you least want it to happen. Anything over 5 years is living on borrowed time. That's just stats talking.

At any rate, my recommendation is to move to an iMac if you want to continue editing modern footage. I have a newer iMac and it works great with 4k footage. I would look for a used machine on Ebay. I've bought two of my last four machines on either Ebay or Craigslist and they worked just fine. Look for 4GB of Video RAM and 32 GBs of RAM. An SSD is preferrable. then plug in your older USB drives.

Getting off 10.8 is important for many reasons, security, and also the ability to upgrade software with newer, more secure versions is important. I had a friend wait too long and all their word processing was unable to be migrated forward because they had a program that no longer was supported by anyone on any OS. It is unusual but it happens.

Good luck on your upgrade path. If you are not feeling competent on upgrading older OS's find someone you know locally who can help you. It's well worth a few bucks or a beer to find someone who can guide you on this. Upgrading software is the first thing to do, then the OS can follow. That way you'll find the software that won't run on your older machine.

Al


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Bill Thomas
Re: Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?
on Mar 2, 2018 at 9:19:24 pm

Thanks guys for the very informative replies!!



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John Rofrano
Re: Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?
on Mar 2, 2018 at 11:38:24 pm
Last Edited By John Rofrano on Mar 3, 2018 at 12:24:05 am

[Bill Thomas] "I have an older Mac and was curious if it can even be upgraded to work with 4k (or even 1920, since even THAT format lags in Premiere Pro!). "
I edit AVCHD 1080p like butter a day long on my 2010 Mac Pro 12 Core w/24GB Memory so you shouldn't be having any problems on your 2012 Mac Pro. Mine is a 2.9Ghz as compared to your 2.4Ghz but that shouldn't make that much of a difference. You didn't say what Graphics Card you have. I have a Radeon HD 7950. A Radeon HD 5870 would be fine as well. The HD 5770 is about half the power of the HD 5870. If you have the stock graphics card that might be your problem. It is very weak by today's standards. I also added an SSD boot drive to mine. That made a huge difference in performance over a boot drive that is still an HDD.

I don't use Adobe software so this is with Final Cut Pro X so maybe you need to upgrade your software instead of your hardware but I have no problems at all editing 1080p on my 2010 Mac.
[Bill Thomas] "SInce I'm still testing, I have been using the MOV format at 100mbs, 59.94. Would the AVCHD format be better to edit with? (I read a previous post about some compressions, like H264, being awful to edit with)."
Why are you shooting 59.94 @ 100 Mbps? I would try 29.97 @ 50 Mbps and see of that edits easier. I edit 29.97 so at 59.97 you are asking your Mac to do twice the work. What are you getting for that? (besides slow editing) and is it worth it? If you're shooting Formula 1 racing I agree that 59.97 is much better but for every day shooting 29.97 has served us well for decades.
[Bill Thomas] "And since I probably know what your answer will be, and if I have to go to a new system, what would be the least expensive Mac I could get that would easily edit 1920 (and occasionally 4k) using Premier Pro CC?"
Least expensive would be to get a Used iMac from someplace reputable like OWC. Something like this: Apple 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display for $1,579.00 USD. Any Core i5 iMac will do but a Core i7 will be even better for video editing.
[Bill Thomas] "Lastly, I've been very pleased with external USB 3, 3.5" drives instead of my old SATA RAID setup. Never any hiccups, BUT it's been for 1280x720 P2 footage. "
I edit 1080 on external USB 3.0 drive without any problems in FCP X. If you got a newer iMac you could get a Thunderbolt RAID enclosure to get better disk performance if needed.
[Bill Thomas] "EDIT: Since I prefer Premiere Pro, can you offer an argument why a PC system could be better/cheaper than a Mac? (I have had Macs forever, but I'm not married to it)."
I wouldn't wish a PC on my worst enemy. I used PC's for over 30 years and a Mac for about 5 years now and I would never go back to using a PC. Cheap PC's are more trouble than they are worth and good PC's cost as much as a Mac but are still an inferior user experience so why bother. Unless you want to learn to become a system administrator, get a Mac. Think about it... I'm still editing on an 8 year old Mac. I would never attempt to edit on an 8 year old PC if it still even worked.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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Bill Thomas
Re: Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?
on Mar 4, 2018 at 5:51:51 pm

Thanks John!!

I will try 29.97 like you suggested!

You are correct, I AM able to edit 1080p on my system from our GH4 camera just fine. But before we got that camera, I was trying to edit 1080p footage from our DJI Phantom 3, and it was REAL jerky! It would play for about 4 seconds, then stutter like heck. Not sure if it was the codec or what.

I then assumed ALL 1080p would edit like that. But once I tried footage from the GH4 it was OK. Weird!

But we still need to move into the future so I appreciate the suggestions on newer Macs.

And even though I have a PC at home and love being able to dig into the backend, I agree that Macs "just work" for video applications! In fact, we still have an even older Mac that we still use for occasional Final Cut 7 projects!


Thanks again to everyone who commented on my post. I am now in a better position to move forward!



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Bill Thomas
Re: Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?
on Mar 4, 2018 at 5:59:14 pm

EDIT:

I forgot to mention that I know Final Cut X works better on a Mac than Premiere Pro, but I came from editing on Final Cut 7 and I COULD NOT get into Final Cut X! It was almost like they took a step backwards to appeal to consumers instead of us using FCP7.
I realize that it is more user friendly and quite powerful, but I decided to go to Premiere since that was more similar to FCP 7.



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John Rofrano
Re: Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:48:29 pm

I had the completely opposite experience. I came from editing with Vegas Pro where you manipulate everything directly on the timeline and editors who are use to doing 3-point editing would be lost because their old techniques did not work. FCP X with it's magnetic storyline and secondary storylines made perfect sense to me because Tracks are for audio editors. They never made sense to me for editing video. I am telling a story. I could care less about tracks. 😉

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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John Rofrano
Re: Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:44:52 pm

[Bill Thomas] "I then assumed ALL 1080p would edit like that. But once I tried footage from the GH4 it was OK. Weird!"
The reason for the disparity is that MPEG4 is an extremely broad specification that no software in the world can support in it's entirety. Not so with earlier formats like DV or MPEG2. So it is quite possible for two cameras to shoot MPEG4 but one is extremely difficult to edit while the other is easy. The AVCHD format (which is a subset of MPEG4) tried to fix this problem by tightening the standard. Usually any camera that shoots AVCHD (like your GH4) can be edited easily. But as manufacturers try to optimize their cameras, they use more features of the MPEG4 spec that software isn't ready to handle yet or that requires more compute power than before and so the footage stutters until software or hardware catches up.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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Robert Withers
Re: Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?
on Mar 5, 2018 at 4:45:24 pm

Thanks John Rofrano.
This is a very helpful real-world commentary on MPEG4 and and AVCHD.
Best,
Robert

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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greg janza
Re: Can I upgrade my Mac to edit 4k or even 1920, or is it a lost cause?
on Mar 12, 2018 at 2:56:44 pm

[Bill Thomas] " I was trying to edit 1080p footage from our DJI Phantom 3, and it was REAL jerky! It would play for about 4 seconds, then stutter like heck. Not sure if it was the codec or what."

The DJI Phantom 3 records in H264. H264 is very CPU intensive and therefore most likely you'll run into playback issues. Convert that footage to an edit friendly codec like pro-res and your playback problems will go away.

Windows 10 Pro
i7-5820k CPU
Nvidia GeForce GTX 970
Adobe CC 2018
Renders/cache: Samsung SSD 950 Pro x2 in Raid 0
Media: Samsung SSD 960 PRO PCIe NVMe M.2 2280
Media: OWC Thunderbay 4 x 2 Raid 0 mirrored with FreeFileSync


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