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Minimum System Requirements to Edit 4K on a Mac?

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Cindy Mindez
Minimum System Requirements to Edit 4K on a Mac?
on Oct 15, 2013 at 1:26:59 am

Hey Everyone,

I've got about $3000 to spend on a new mac. I'm currently editing 1080p but new 4K cameras are right around the corner so I want to future proof myself. I'm trying to hold out and buy a low level new-type Mac Pro when they come out. But I don't know if 3 grand will be enough so I'm looking at the current iMacs as well. Can anyone give me advice on what will effectively edit 4K (like processor wise and memory wise and graphics card wise., etc?) Maybe the current iMac will do it. I'm not sure. Maybe a low level version of the new Mac Pro will do it, I'm not sure. I'm an artist, not a technician.

Thanks!

Cindy Mindez

P.S.

I'm new to the forum so please bare with me if I'm a goofball...thanks!


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Minimum System Requirements to Edit 4K on a Mac?
on Oct 15, 2013 at 3:41:14 am

Hi Cindy,

First, welcome to the Cow. Now, on to answering your question.

There are many, many flavors of 4K files, and more to come. RED camera for example can be setup to shoot uncompressed RAW 4K, 3X compression, 5X compression, 8X compression, and 10X compression. So, right off the bat, you haven't really got, or given, enough information for anyone to really give an educated answer.

However, since I personally sell more workstations for 4K workflows than just about any person on the planet, let me cut to the chase and simply state that, in all honesty, with a budget of only 3K, you are underfunded, and there is unfortunately no way you will be able to edit native 4K files at any of the higher quality, lower compression rates.

With an iMac, or even with the new Mac Pros that are soon to be released, to handle 4K workflows effectively, you would have to add-on a Thunderbolt expansion chassis ($3850 minimum) with a RED Rocket card ($5000) or RED Rocket X card ($6750), at least one or two powerful graphics cards such a the GTX 680 Mac Edition ($550 each), and a beefy Thunderbolt RAID like a Promise Pegasus 6-drive model ($2100 minimum).

The only alternative on a Mac would be to transcode to a lighter codec, such as Pro Res, edit that offline, and take your final project to a professional facility for an online and color grading.

Windows Workstations purpose-built for 4K workflows, such as those we manufacture and sell at ProMAX, like our ONE Plus Hero, have the fastest dual Xeons available, loads of PCIe slots for multiple graphics cards and accelerator cards like the RED Rockets, and even include an onboard 8-drive SAS connected RAID array. These workstations average between $12 and $30K depending of how they're equipped.

I hope this information is helpful, and will at least encourage you to either, 1) save up for a workstation that will do the job; or 2) save your money and go with an effective offline/online workflow, partnering with a professional facility that can handle the heavy lifting for you and help you to achieve your goals.

If you or anyone else needs help with Windows or Mac workstations, storage, or shared storage, feel free to contact me at the email address below.

David Roth Weiss
ProMax Systems
Burbank
DRW@ProMax.com

Sales | Integration | Support

David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Cindy Mindez
Re: Minimum System Requirements to Edit 4K on a Mac?
on Oct 15, 2013 at 5:09:19 am

Thanks so much for responding!

Actually I was going to save up for either the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 2K or 4K version. And then I was going to edit ProRes 422 HQ or Compressed CinemaDNG files. These would be meant for feature films that are going straight to home video as opposed to theaters (most likely). If I got lucky and got theatrical distribution I could take it to a post house, but really this is for large home screens. I would think I wouldn't need much more than the ProRes 422 HQ or CinemaDNG files?

Of course I may be wrong about that. But just for kicks, let's say I'm sticking with Pro Res or CinemaDNG. for whatever reason...let's say a great looking offline. Then should the current iMac or low level new Mac Pro be enough? If so, what would the processor / memory etc. need to be?

Thanks!


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Shane Ross
Re: Minimum System Requirements to Edit 4K on a Mac?
on Oct 15, 2013 at 5:35:49 pm

How are you going to view this 4K footage when you edit, or online? Going to need a capture care capable of 4K. And then a 4K display...and those are pretty darn rare and expensive.

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


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Minimum System Requirements to Edit 4K on a Mac?
on Oct 15, 2013 at 6:09:26 pm

[Shane Ross] "Going to need a capture care capable of 4K. And then a 4K display...and those are pretty darn rare and expensive."

A Blackmagic Decklink 4K Extreme card is actually just $945.25, so that's not a huge expense - but, on an iMac it would have to go inside an expansion chassis ($3800 and up), significantly upping the expense.

4K Ultra HD TVs are a bit pricy now, averaging $3500 and up...

David Roth Weiss
ProMax Systems
Burbank
DRW@ProMax.com

Sales | Integration | Support

David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Minimum System Requirements to Edit 4K on a Mac?
on Oct 15, 2013 at 6:04:33 pm

On an iMac you can certainly playback Pro Res 422 and Pro Res HQ, especially with a 6 or 8-drive SAS or Thunderbolt RAID.

Transcoding and down-converting to Pro Res 2K for FCP 7 is your best bet - keeping in mind that FCP legacy cannot handle files over 2000 pixels wide (that's 2K).

With FCPX you could transcode to Pro Res or pro Res HQ 4K.

David Roth Weiss
ProMax Systems
Burbank
DRW@ProMax.com

Sales | Integration | Support

David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Shane Ross
Re: Minimum System Requirements to Edit 4K on a Mac?
on Oct 15, 2013 at 6:14:48 pm

Yes...compressing to 1080 or 2K for offline editing is pretty easy for any Mac to handle. It's when you conform the master using Resolve or Scratch that things get tricky.

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


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Cindy Mindez
Re: Minimum System Requirements to Edit 4K on a Mac?
on Oct 16, 2013 at 2:10:37 am

Thanks all so much!


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