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Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?

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Maria Bartholdi
Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?
on Jun 12, 2012 at 7:23:07 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm beginning on the exciting (and insane) journey of working as a freelance video editor/shooter. I edit on FCP 7 and would like to buy a Mac, but am curious as to what specs I should make sure that I have. I'd like to buy a tower unit and monitor -- I'm not interested in a laptop.

What's the good word?

Thank you! :)
Maria


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Shane Ross
Re: Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?
on Jun 12, 2012 at 7:57:57 pm

FCP 7 is End of Life. You will get some use out of it for a couple more years, but it won't be updated. FCX is the new Apple editing app.

The MacPro hasn't been updated in over 2 years. Correction, they just updated it...but BARELY. Sorta. They took the 8-core off the shelf, upped the processor speeds by a couple .points. But that's it. If you want one, get the best one you can afford. ANY MacPro will work with FCP. And it's safe to buy one, as you know it won't be updated for a LONG time. If ever.

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


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Shane Ross
Re: Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?
on Jun 12, 2012 at 8:12:41 pm

Ah...new ones coming out next year. But, if you need now, get now.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/connieguglielmo/2012/06/12/apple-says-new-model...

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


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Maria Bartholdi
Re: Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?
on Jun 12, 2012 at 8:50:09 pm

Dang, I can't wait until next year. Any advice on the specs of the MacPro tower?


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Shane Ross
Re: Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?
on Jun 12, 2012 at 8:56:28 pm

Get any that you can afford. The best one you can buy. 16GB of RAM is the minimum I'd go with. But if you can afford the 12-core, go for it. If not, get the Quad. I've used both with FCP and they both work.

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


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Maria Bartholdi
Re: Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?
on Jun 12, 2012 at 9:05:29 pm

Just priced things out...looks like a MacbookPro is about half the price of a souped-up MacPro. Do you think a MacbookPro could do just as good of a job as a MacPro for using FCP7 and Motion at the same time?

Thank you!


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Shane Ross
Re: Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?
on Jun 12, 2012 at 9:07:17 pm

Heck yeah. I use my MacBook Pro for that all the time. But it died...so I'm getting a new one. I plan to use it for FCP, Avid, Adobe CS6.

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


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Maria Bartholdi
Re: Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?
on Jun 12, 2012 at 9:50:36 pm

I wonder why the Macbook Pro is so much cheaper than the MacPro if it can run FCP/Motion just as fast and as well...?


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Shane Ross
Re: Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?
on Jun 12, 2012 at 11:34:36 pm

Well, my old one worked fine. And I'm getting a new one. While my MacPro is my main editing machine, I do enough editing on location or away from my office that I use it quite a bit. And it works great. I just ordered a new one today, as my old one...well...died.

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


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Phillip Todd
Re: Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?
on Jun 13, 2012 at 8:02:45 pm

I was working only on a laptop the last 10 years. It was fine in SD.
I can't really recommend it in HD, but, I am a DP, editing personal projects and my reel, not making a living as an editor, so maybe I am missing something. I just think the laptop as your sole edit platform has hidden costs and is a compromise, for the sake of portability.

I always keep my media files on an external FW800 drive (Lacie rugged drives) and in my office have an external FW800 RAID 0 with 7200 RPM drives for a fast scratch disk, then a bunch of 2 TB drives for real storage and backs up of that real storage to take off premisis. I defrag my boot drive once a year too. It's my primary computer, so there is a lot on it including a bootcamp partition. I always try to keep the last 100 GBs free (it a 500 GB drive).

My current mid 2009 2.8 Ghz intel Core 2 Duo MBP 17" (matte screen), Ram max'ed at 8GB, running OS 10.6 & FCP 7.0.3 can edit my 1080 Prores footage fine. Even multicam edit 3 streams off a FW800 drive. For ergonomics I use a device that raises the MBP ca. 8" up and use and external keyboard and mouse. I recently bought a Dell U2410 for good color and to stop having to strain my eyes to see what I was doing and use the laptop as a 2nd screen (Digital Cinema Preview screen or project/finder window). Like this I was able to get by for awhile. I just always felt the MBP 17" 1080x1920 screen was too far away (it's keyboard is too much in the way, even on the riser) compared to the 24" 1080x1920 screen. I also really do not like how the non native resolutions look on screen (nothing is crisp, so up-rezing the screen is out for me).
The onboard graphics card had a hard time keeping up displaying HD video, I discovered the MBP has a 2nd "high performance" graphics card, so I switched to it, only to have the fans turning on more than before (noise pollution).

It is just actually finishing a project on the MBP where it can get laborious. Color correction, I can get by with, but if I need to do any masking, or shading (vignette effect) it takes a long time to render, with the fans on at full speed (that can't be good for the laptop longterm -maybe Shane can chime in here)

Then the export and compression into different formats for "client" delivery and web delivery, take a long time using FCP 7 Quicktime conversion. I recently used compressor and was happy to see it was ca. twice as fast.

Each time I am stuck waiting on the MBP to render something, I ask myself, what can I do to speed this up?
-Upgrade to FCPX (64-bit app) that could use the Nvidia GPU acceleration my MBP can offer.
-SSD Boot drive (yet, I read they aren't always reliable? Experiences?), replace the optical drive with a 7200 RPM laptop drive for storage.
-Upgrade to an eSata Raid with an eSata expresscard (this MBP has expresscard)
Investing hundreds of dollars into a machine that is basically I feel has a screen that makes it hard on my 40 yr old eyes.

So, I bit the bullet and invested over $1000 into a used 2008 MacPro 3,1, 2.8 Ghz 8-core, put in 2x2TB 7200 rpm drives, beefed up the RAM to 10 GB (not ideal, but, it's what I could afford at this time). I am still looking for a graphics card that will tick all the boxes: Cuda, OpenCL, Open GL which means basically a GTX 285, 470 or 570 from MacVidCards on ebay (David Pirinelli on these forums). It'll cost me almost $2000 by the time I am done, so maybe it's not a deal since the machine is 4 years old, but, so far just with the stock video card FCP 7 is a joy to use, renders are still a bit slow (not a 64 bit app) but everything works well, I can make some upgrades, the internal drives are super fast (ca. 150 MB/sec), and a dual monitor set up with 2 Dell U2410s (used, off ebay) are really nice to look at after years of eye strain working on a laptop, feeling that the job is going to melt it. The biggest bonus is the MacPro frees up the MBP 17 for everything else.

Phillip Todd
Cinematographer
Philadelphia - NYC - Zurich

http://vimeo.com/philliptodd


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Brad Kopp
Re: Buying a new Mac for FCP editing...what should I get?
on Jun 13, 2012 at 3:52:03 pm

right now my favorite editing machine is a MBP that I have added a secong SSD drive for the applications.. it is super fast! can do anything that the Macpros at work can do and quicker.. second drive (the original 500gb) acts as external media drive but it's all inside and the connection is faster than firewire.

Moto Guzzi rider
dog lover w/wife, Ex & 3 kids


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