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Best iMac-based editing System?

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Berry Helfand
Best iMac-based editing System?
on Oct 29, 2013 at 5:51:49 pm

Trying to put together my next edit system… I"m thinking of iMac instead of Mac Pro this time… specially since i get a new display.

I plan to use it with FCP, AVID, AE, Davinci. and yes… i'm relunctantly learning Premiere now

Love to get some feedback from my fellow pros before I take the $4k hit.

advice… critique… different hardware choices….missing pieces?

Here is my shopping list… and how i plan to use it.

COMPUTER
iMac 27 3.5GHz Quad-core
Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
UPGRADED STORAGE: 3TB Fusion Drive
NViDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5

RAM
OWC (MacSales) 32GB Kit 8GB x 4

USB - DVI ADAPTER
Diamond USB 3.0 Dual Video Docking Station
w/ Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, DVI and Audio Ports"
Allows Monitor hookup with USB instead of Thunderbolt
Hook up Drobo to Ethernet Port


PCIE Expansion
Sonnet Echo Express III Desktop 3-Slot
Expands Thunderbolt slot to PCIe Cards
Slot 1 - Aja i/o Express
Slot 2 - eSata dual port hooked up to 2 12tb raids
Slot 3 - Firewire or Fibrechannel


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Best iMac-based editing System?
on Oct 29, 2013 at 6:01:43 pm

Are you planning on using Legacy FCP, i.e. a version that came before before FCPX? If not, you'd be better off asking on the FCPX forum.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Mark Suszko
Re: Best iMac-based editing System?
on Oct 29, 2013 at 7:06:32 pm

I'm not a fan of the Fusion Drive for editing purposes. I am open to being educated by someone else, but IMO Fusion Drive is a good idea for the *system* drive where your apps live, but not for a media drive because of the way files are used, I don't think you'd see much benefit from the way I understand Fusion drives work. Get an external Thunderbolt RAID 1 or RAID 5 with at least a couple of TB spread among 4 or more drives.

My own imac is one step back from the current ones, and I rejected the Fusion drive and instead went with a mix of SSD and HD drives, using the SSD for apps/OS and the internal HD for a media drive. Then again my home machine is also a personal computer with editing on the side, and isn't meant to do 4-cam multi-cam HD broadcast work, only more modest stuff. I did max out all RAM and graphics card RAM, right out of the box.

So far the Mavericks OS as released this week has, (to my amazement,) not fatally "broken" FCP7 or FCS3 suite, except to mess with expresscard firmware and some dual-monitor options, and those have some work-arounds already. All the other NLE's you plan to play with, seem to be okay with Mavericks and have support. FCPX should fly on your new system, esp. if you max out the RAM. Larry Jordan makes an interesting point that in his opinion, the number of cores is secondary to getting the most powerful GPU available. He suggests if you're cutting corners, get fewer cores, but splurge on the GPU.


FCP7 is living on borrowed time so you should be actively preparing to migrate to something else. If your heart is stronger than your head, I suggest when you first get your new system, make a dedicated bootable partition and put FCS3 and OS 10.6.8 in there in a dual-boot setup, living in it's own bubble. Then you can go work in that Nostalgia Dome when you need to, or boot in Mavericks with whatever you eventually replace 7 with, at will. This would be easier to do before you load up the new machine with everything else you might migrate from the old system. And if really paranoid, ghost an image of that system on an external drive and file that in a drawer as insurance, first.


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Berry Helfand
Re: Best iMac-based editing System?
on Oct 29, 2013 at 7:23:15 pm

Thanks for the detailed response Mark.

I'm actually not planning to put any media on the fusion drive. That's part of the reason for the PCI expansion chassis… so i can use my existing hardware and drives. I have a few RAID 5 drives… but mostly I edit on an OWC Mercury Elite QX-2 and a RocStor ARCTICROC 12Tb.

Actually… in regards to your iMac...wondering how you get 2 drives in an iMac... an SSD and a Hard Drive?

I got the biggest fusion drive cuz it just seemed like a decent price to add 2 more TB ($150).

I certainly plan on getting a thunderbolt or USB 3 raid when I need more storage… which is why I opted for the docking port, so i wouldn't waste one of the 2 thunderbolt ports on my monitor.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Best iMac-based editing System?
on Oct 29, 2013 at 8:00:07 pm

You could configure the Imac internal drives several ways on the Apple site at time or ordering, at least you could when I bought mine. Also, my model, not as thin as the latest, is relatively easy to open up and swap out drives. My wife's came to her used, that way, with a custom main drive that was double the original factory capacity, it had belonged to a college kid who did a lot of music composing work on it... About two years later her second drive crapped out but the local PC shop did a replacement in about fifteen minutes, the glass pops off, held by magnets.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Best iMac-based editing System?
on Oct 29, 2013 at 8:08:09 pm

Just checked the latest configurator and the newest 27 imac forces you to choose just one drive. That wasn't the case for my model. Sometimes, older machines are better:-)


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Berry Helfand
Re: Best iMac-based editing System?
on Oct 29, 2013 at 8:36:06 pm

Figures! But from what i've read on the fusion drive… it's insanely fast.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Best iMac-based editing System?
on Oct 29, 2013 at 9:41:37 pm

Well, maybe it is fast, for some things. The way it works is that it monitors which files are getting used the most, and it shunts those to Solid State memory for fast access. A file you consult once a year, like your aunt's recipe for cranberry relish or whatever... it shunts over to conventional hard disk space. Fine.

But how do we edit video? We are randomly changing parameters on an entire subset of video and audio files, broken up and scattered over the space in a drive such that most chunks are within the same "distance" or retrieval time of each other. I guess if you only worked on one two-minute section of a program at a time, Fusion Drive would put that section up in SSD and bank the rest of your video files in the hard disk... only, you're likely to need to play this whole timeline back and forth in random places all thru the day, so what does the Fusion Drive do then? Does it put the entire scratch drive into SSD? I guess that would be fast. But it also takes up a lot of space. I dunno, I remain skeptical. I suppose you can look at Fusion Drive as a sort of 2-drive RAID, but unlike a RAID 5, it doesn't seem to offer more data security, and by constantly moving those files back and forth from SSD to HD, it may even be less safe and secure.

Someone smarter than me, (and that could be a lot of people): please, give me a better explanation or justification for using Fusion Drive as your media drive/scratch drive for editing.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Best iMac-based editing System?
on Oct 29, 2013 at 9:49:06 pm

Can someone confirm to me that it is possible in software or firmware to "un-link" the SSD and HDD components of a Fusion Drive, and have each operate as separate, conventional entities?


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Berry Helfand
Re: Best iMac-based editing System?
on Oct 29, 2013 at 7:11:59 pm

Hi Dave: I am talking legacy FCP



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