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Looking into a Mac Pro

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Stef Allan
Looking into a Mac Pro
on Jul 21, 2011 at 4:09:14 pm


I am a camera operator by trade but in the past few years I have been picking up more and more offline editing jobs, as well as projects that I produce and then edit myself. I've previously been able to get away with the glory of using my Macbook Pro. It's been great since I'm on the road a lot but as I'm working with more and more formats I'm starting to feel a little hindered by render/export/transcode time.

It might be time to get a tower dedicated for work and let the laptop live as a personal/travel computer. I've always believed that you get the best computer you can, but the range in Mac Pros is astonishing, as one can go crazy with cores and RAM and hard drives. I just priced the most expensive tower I could and it came to almost $20K.

I'm interested in any advice that editors might be able to give me about where to go from here. I would think that I don't need anything that will be doing crazy effects, but I would like to get something that has room to grow. For example, I don't need to to color timing at the moment but I can see a situation where it might be worthwhile to get a Kona or Blackmagic Card. I'd also like it to be something that will deal well with the looming potential move to Avid or Premiere.

Finally, I'm interested in advice on real monitors. Plugging into my TV is fine in some ways but the resolution is inferior to my laptop screen. Not cool.

Sorry to ramble, I guess here's what I'm asking about:

• A Mac Pro configuration for an offline editor interested in cutting down on render/transcode time, with room to grow as needed (to accommodate AJA/Blackmagic cards or an Avid system)
• A good computer monitor (with a price tag that might let me buy two of them) that I can use to interface with the computer but doesn't need to be color-critical (I'll address that if needed in the future)

Or even simpler: A good offline editor setup with room to grow.

Any thoughts will be much appreciated.

Thank you,

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Warren Eig
Re: Looking into a Mac Pro
on Jul 21, 2011 at 4:45:26 pm

Don't get the RAM or Hard Drives from Apple and that will bring the price down significantly. I've had very good luck with RAM from Other World Computing-- The sell HD's as does Fry's at very competitive prices.

My 2¢

Warren Eig
O 310-470-0905



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Mark Palmos
Re: Looking into a Mac Pro
on Jul 21, 2011 at 5:28:45 pm

buy mine cheap ;)

but I see you are in the USA :(

Definitely buy a post early 2008 MacPro (not mine!) if you buy used. That way you can upgrade to premiere pro and use a graphics card which can run on a fully 64 bit system. The mercury engine is incredible on Adobe CS 5.5.

good luck

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Jeff Meyer
Re: Looking into a Mac Pro
on Jul 21, 2011 at 6:56:27 pm

If you're looking to get into a box that will grow with you as a Final Cut editor I would say get a 8 core and the ATi 5870. You can skimp on RAM for now with the intention of buying more as money allows, but if the real world says it's unlikely for you to upgrade later I would say get at least 16gb.

For storage I suggest an external RAID enclosure. I've been happy with G-Speeds, but depending on the codecs you're editing something else might be more appropriate. You could get an OS drive and a media drive to start with and expand to a RAID later, but the speed of your drive will make a substantial difference on render times.

For displays, it's hard to beat the value of the Apple products. Since the MacPros lack the lightpeak port that Apple is still rolling out I don't know if the usb ports, firewire port, camera, or speakers on the newly released display will work. I always forget the proprietary name Apple has given this port, lightpeak is the Intel term for it.

Looking to a possible future with Premiere there's certainly benefit in getting a 12 core model - and that is an upgrade you can't make later. Adobe's CS5 is multi-core aware, unlike Final Cut Pro, and can take advantage of everything you can throw at it. In addition going with an nVidia video card might be a better option. There are specific cards that can make the Mercury engine sing. You'd have to check with the Premiere editors.

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