Video I/O Solutions for Macbook Pro
Any help on the following dilemma would be much appreciated.
I work for a small, young post production house mainly working on corporate work. I am the first in house editor and therefore am in the early stages of building a suite. We work with Sony Z7's capturing HDV media to Prores via a flash card. Our final output is 99% of the time on DVD.
So far I am using a 15" Macbook Pro 3.06Ghz Intel Core Duo, 4Gb Ram with an dual screen. My boss has asked me to find some affordable solutions for external video and audio monitoring (as at the moment I'm grading on a monitor and audio mixing on headphones... rubbish I know!) The end result of this purchase needs to give us the capability to view edits on an LCD or Plasma screen via HDMI, and connect some external speakers.
So, firstly I want to ask you guys about firewire solutions I have looked at the AJA io Hd and the MOTU V4 HD but they are a little expensive for us at the moment... Does anyone have any suggestions for a cheaper firewire I/O soultion that would give us what we need?
Also as I am using the ONE firewire 800 port to connect the external HD's for storing the media, I would have to purchase a firewire hub to connect such a device. If this was the case, and I split the signal via a hub, would the external video via firewire option within Final Cut still work? or does it need to be a direct connection between Mac and Video I/O hardware?
Secondly, as it is a new 15" Macbook Pro it does not have the Expresscard slot, otherwise I would suggest a Matrox MX02 Mini or the MXO2. So should I suggest that we trade in our current computer and upgrade to the 17" for this purpose?
And finally, do I suggest what I really need, which is trade it all in, get a refurbished Mac Pro for a decent price and do it properly with a Blackmagic or something similar?
Any help would be much appreciated, and affordable solutions even more so! I don't think my boss really understands how much these things cost, and the difference in quality that we could achieve from actually building an edit suite, rather than just having FCP on a computer...
Thanks in advance people
Have a good day
If you don't really have to be portable, trade the laptop for a tower, and you'll not only have a lot more expandability, you'll have a TON faster machine... just read this:
Note just how much faster the tower I have was than the laptop... you're times will be faster on that 15 but not by much... maybe 20%? but the same would be true on a newer tower than I tested on...
If all you need is external video and you don't care about the render times and you can't trade the MBP for the 17", then you're pretty much outta luck.
The decision to buy the 15 right now was a bad one... It works to edit with, it's just totally unexpandable... The only thing I can think of is an MXO. Not sure about compatibility with that external video connector. And of course the second computer display also has to be compatible.
On that 15" MBP I think your sole option for I/O is the MOTU V4HD, if you can upgrade to the 17" MBP with the ExpressCard/34 slot then your choices open up a bit to include the Matrox MXO2 line and the AJA IoHD / Io Express ... and if you can swap for a tower then you've the full gamut of choices from all the usual vendors.
Ever used the MOTO? Know anything about it? Never seems to be talked about much anyway. I wasn't even aware of it.
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Author: "Jerry Hofmann on Final Cut Pro 4" Click here
8-Core 3.0 Intel Mac Pro, Dual 2 gig G5, AJA Kona SD, AJA Kona 2, Huge Systems Array UL3D, AJA Io HD, 17" MBP, Matrox MXO, CD's
Thank you for your responses guys, really appreciated. Your article Jerry is very helpful, sent me on a tangent of research!
Thank you Andy for your recommendation of the MOTU V4HD, yet the the cost of that unit and a little bit more (bearing in mind the extra money made from the sale of the equipment we presently own) we could buy a Tower and have so many more options for expandability, not to mention speed!
I see that the Macbook Pro has one more stop in it, and then we can take it no further, it's a stop gap at best. Yet the MXO is a brilliant little bit of kit for what it is, I edit with a 24" Apple cinema display connected to the Macbook Pro, so the MXO would fit in perfectly.
I think that I will present my boss with two options; one to keep the Macbook Pro for now and get an MXO, or secondly to upgrade to a tower and reap the benefits that go with it. I will fight for the latter of course!
Thanks so much
Does that MacBook Pro have the Express34 slot? Or is it the newer one with the SD card? If you have Express34, then the MXO2 line is what you should look at. MXO2 LE is a great bargain. If you have the SD card one, the only options are MOTU and IOHD...as they connect via firewire. But then again, that won't work as you only have one firewire bus and once you attach the MOTU or IOHD to the computer, it's used up. You cannot connect a firewire drive to the computer, the IO devices have that bus. And USB is NOT good for editing video.
So... That would be a pickle, wouldn't it.
If they are serious about getting into Post and editing, then you need a tower and a good IO device. Matrox MXO2, or MXO2 LE, or AJA Kona LHi. Then you need a good HDTV or broadcast monitor.
The original MXO...that is output only...just FYI.
GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
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[Shane Ross] "Does that MacBook Pro have the Express34 slot?"
Nope - he says it's the SD card one.
The simple fact is that by removing the expresscard slot from the 15" MBP, Apple have rendered it useless as a video machine - as Shane says, you cannot use the FW bus for an IOHD or V4-thingy AND for a disk array.
However, the 17" MBP is much better value than it used to be - I purchased one for little more than a 15", and it's not the 'riot shield' of old either, I think the extra size is not that noticable, and little extra weight either.
However, if I'm honest (and I use a laptop system with an MXO2 for some outside broadcast work) I use a tower whenever I can. They're so much quicker, and a video card for one far cheaper than the laptop equivalent, which wipes out some of the price difference.
If you tell your boss you will be twice as productive on a tower as on a laptop (which is not MUCH of an exaggeration), you should be able to swing it. Shop around for an ex-demo unit for even better value, or a last gen Xeon machine - they're just as quick in most instances, and much cheaper than Nehelem machines if you can still find any - I wish I'd bought a couple more when I had a chance...
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The only options are MOTU and IOHD...as they connect via firewire. But then again, that won't work as you only have one firewire bus and once you attach the MOTU or IOHD to the computer, it's used up.
Nope. Unlike the IoHD, the MOTU V4HD does not hog the firewire bus Shane, you can connect and use a FW800 drive in series, so you would be able to use it on the laptops without the ExpressCard/34 slot.
Nonetheless, all that tech (and it packs in a lot) doesn't come cheap. I'm with the herd that if having a mobile edit setup is not a necessity then the extra money would be better spent on lower cost I/O device together with a MacPro tower as host.
Hope it helps
The MOTU does that? Nice.
GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
I think in the long run the mac pro will save your boss money. Laptops go in for repair a lot more often than towers. Extra storage with four internal sleds make adding hard drives much cheaper even if you also use an external raid. Backing up your system drive and backing up projects becomes a snap. And I think that mac pros remain current longer than a laptop. By adding more ram and internal cards they remain fast enough for FCP longer. Plus when something goes wrong on a tower you can usually get by with a little do it yourself. Firewire port gets fried--add another card. On a laptop, you're looking at a service call. Out of warranty, its no longer worth fixing. Pretty sure it requires a new mother board. With a limited number of ports on the new MacBook pros, not sure what makes them pro. Except the 17". I'm working now on a 15" with the Express34 slot and I do edit with it. But my desk is a mess of wires and external devices. And it's slower than a tower. I would tell your boss you need the tower. If he says no, then bring up the other option.
OSX 10.5.7; MAC Book PRO (EARLY 2008); Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30, Sony vx2000/PD170, Canon xl2; Pana, Sony, and Canon consumer cams; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.
just food for thought - if you get the tower, you can continue to use your MXO2 because you have both interfaces - the PCIe for the tower and the PCI/34 for the laptop. both are included in the box, so its a 2 for one deal almost.
yes a tower is a great machine for editing. I could not see using a laptop as my full time only editing machine. it just doesn't have enough speed or expandability options. however, a tower obviously isn't as mobile either when you need to do some on location work.
sell your 15" and get a 17" with PCIe slot. then you can use the MXO2 series on either machine whenever you need to. if you need to be mobile, you can be.
and if your boss thinks this stuff is expensive, let me show him a couple of $1M edit suites from ah... 1985 or so and he can think about if this stuff is really so expensive ( couple of 1 " machines wired in glorious composite with a couple channels of ADO, oh and a paint box henry and chyron. now worthless trash.... today's gear is INSANELY cheap for being all digital 10bit component uncompressed.
DP • Editor • VFX Artist
i disagree on laptops going in for servicing more than towers. i've owned laptops varying from the ibook, powerbook, macbook, and macbook pro since 2002 and only have brought in any of these laptops twice for repair(dvd drive and internal hard drive clicking.) the macbook pro is a very viable option as a production workhorse...if you have the right one that is...my honest opinion would be to find or purchase the last true macbook PRO which are the 2008 Penryn Macbook PROS. why? because macbook pros succeeding the Penryn's have been downgraded. The first unibody had one less firewire port(Penryn has one firewire 400 and one 800). then the latest macbook pros taking away the express slot over for an sd slot!? you can easily get a usb sd card reader, but where can you get a usb or even firewire express slot adaptor? i honestly think apple should take out the word, "pro" from macbook pro" because that is what it is.
the importance of 2 firewire ports was to set up a portable workhorse when a tower is not convenient. you can set up an aja ioHD buy plugging it into the Penryn's firewire 800. for portable and fast hard drive, you can get a sonnettech fusion f2 or a caldigit vr mini and connect it to the penryn macbook pro's express slot via a sonnettech tempo sata pro express card and connect the drive to the firewire 400 port(which is for power use only and does not slow down the other firewire 800 port).
i own an 8 core macpro but love the convenience of a macbook pro when a tower is not practical option in the field.
here are links to help get you an idea of this setup:
so if portability is a must, look out for the refurb or used penryn macbook pro's 2.4/2.5/2.6ghz which show up once in awhile on apple's online store and include apple's 1 yr warranty w/ the option to purchase applecare:
or ebay but make sure it still has extended applecare warranty.
Wealth of information in this post now. The Macbook Pro we currently own, with the lack of an Expresscard slot is horribly limiting, the money spent on a MOTU or an AJA could be better spent put towards a Tower, we do not need to be portable.
In short, a Tower in the long run will save us time and money. The expandability of the Tower makes it a no brainer really! and the difference in variety and cost of video I/O options compared to the Macbook Pro only is another reason to go for it.
Thanks for sharing all this information