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Hardware Question for Using Final Cut Pro

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Joe Martino
Hardware Question for Using Final Cut Pro
on Sep 3, 2012 at 11:55:26 pm

Bit of background: Our production company has been making short films and documentary's for a couple years and we have reached a point where we have a substantial budget to start getting more equipment to make this work a lot easier and open some doors of possibility. We were using an iMac to do editing work but now it is at the point where it is incredibly slow, lags, freezes etc. All in all, we are in the market for a new system and after all my research I have have some questions.

Budget: $7000 Note: If we don't need to spend that much we don't want to. We just figure we would go that far if necessary.

Our needs: We use Final Cut Pro or X. We use Motion and After Effects. We use an FS100 so the footage isn't 4K but we at times might need to dump 4K footage. We are expanding into this as our source of income as well so speed of logging footage, working and rendering should be taken into consideration.

Questions: We have been looking at getting a Mac Pro as the best option but upon further research have become a bit confused. The lack of thunderbolt raised some questions but does that really matter? Can the 27" iMac do the job just as well depending on configurations? What would be recommended as a set up for the Mac Pro.. ram, video cards, hard drives etc.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Steve Eisen
Re: Hardware Question for Using Final Cut Pro
on Sep 4, 2012 at 1:07:27 am

The latest iMac is incredible. Look to add Adobe Production Premium CS6 to your toolkit. AVID MC6 can't hurt either. With Thunderbolt, look at the AJA IOxt for I/O device.
You can add an eSata port to your iMac.

You have a lot of expandability with the Mac Pro. I would recommend the Nvidia Quadro 4000 graphics card. Get as much RAM as you can afford. Dell Ultrasharps for Computer monitor.
With PCIe you have different options for I/O devices. AJA Kona 3, LHi or LHe. External IO Express. Matrox External MXO2 or MXO2LE. The MAX version is a must if you do a lot of h.264 encoding for web or Blu-ray.

Steve Eisen
Eisen Video Productions
Vice President
Chicago Creative Pro Users Group

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Jeff Meyer
Re: Hardware Question for Using Final Cut Pro
on Sep 4, 2012 at 1:39:51 am

I think one thing you need to do is decide on an single editing suite. You've got FCX (you're in the FCP forum btw), and Adobe CS in there. Apple products play well with ATI video cards, and Adobe products like high end NVIDIA cards - namely the Quadro 4000 on the Apple side, and about 15 boards on the Windows side. You can build a fast box for either system, but no matter what you spec you're selecting performance for one platform or the other. I would suggest committing to one platform and designing a system towards that end.

If FCX is where you want to go, an iMac (with all the high-performance options) and a Lightpeak/Thunderbolt storage solution should keep things moving along at a good clip. Don't forget an I/O box, like AJA's T-TAP for accuracte colour correction. Here's some benchmarks on last generation's 6 core MP against a loaded iMac. Couldn't find anything about a 12 core. Just remember, with an iMac you're stuck to what's there. You're stuck at 16GB of RAM, and you're stuck with one (two?) Thunderbolt lifeline(s) to add a 2nd display, storage, I/O, etc. Invest the money you save by going iMac into something that will offer a return on investment (Apple stock?) as you'll be replacing it sooner than you'll be replacing a tower. (updates are likely to come soon)

If you want to go Adobe your solution is a lot more scalable, and you can add hardware to improve performance a year or two down the road. Start with a 12 core MacPro, 16GB of RAM then as your budget allows add these items:
Up to 48GB of RAM (when speccing it initially opt for fewer, larger RAM sticks - it 16GB is best for upgradings as 2 8GB sticks, better as 4 4GB sticks, and less optimal as 8 2GB sticks)
A Quadro 4000 video board (take note of the not-mini-DisplayPort and DVI connections when considering displays)
Black Magic Intensity or other I/O card
A RAID array (G-Tech is a Creative Cow sponsor, they make the G-Speed)

The RAID and I/O cards are pretty mandatory, but the others will simply boost performance as your budget allows. When it's time for a new system you can - assumably - move your cards over. Apple is said to be giving its pro solution a major facelift next year, and I'd be willing to bet they're going to try to push Thunderbolt over PCI-X.

Of course you can go MacPro for FCX, but the benefits aren't as pronounced as they are from the Adobe side.

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Rafael Amador
Re: Hardware Question for Using Final Cut Pro
on Sep 4, 2012 at 2:27:07 am

[Joe Martino] "We were using an iMac to do editing work but now it is at the point where it is incredibly slow, lags, freezes etc. "
Computer do not get tired, do not slow with the time.
They can do the same task the first day than 20 years later.
Is all about maintenance.

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Jim Press
Re: Hardware Question for Using Final Cut Pro
on Sep 4, 2012 at 4:08:09 am

Walter Biscardi posted this last week, which I think you'll find very helpful:

MacPro 2009 6core 3.33GHz 16GB RAM OS 10.6.8 connected to fibre channel XSAN. Red rocket card

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Joe Martino
Re: Hardware Question for Using Final Cut Pro
on Sep 4, 2012 at 2:15:20 pm

Thanks for all of the comments guys.

I guess if I had to choose a platform I would say we are 99% going to stick with FInal Cut Pro as our main editing suite as we are most used to it. Is Premiere Pro just as good though? I have heard it isn't quite there.. but could have all been opinion.

We will still use After Effects from time to time but not a ton.

I continue to research beyond this thread and it seems the more and more I look the new iMac is the more popular/better solution. Not to say better as in its best for everyone, but more so just that it appears that you can do A LOT for the price and you aren't missing a whole lot. It may not be as easy to switch out all the internals but seems you can get what you need either way. Plus the more and more I look it appears Apple will not be doing much to the Pro's in years to come. lol in the end I still feel more confused because naturally you would think the ability to switch in and out hardware at your fingertips would be the better bet.. but I can't say that I know enough about the audio/video IO's and graphics cards etc to truly know what I need. Same with harddrive or raid encasings. What are the best options other than thunderbolt to maintain speed? eSata? fibre?

Don't mean to sound redundant or anything just spitting out my thoughts to see if it triggers different thoughts on my situation.

Thanks again!

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