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Final Cut on an iMac

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Dan Weig
Final Cut on an iMac
on Feb 22, 2010 at 4:29:33 am

I am about to purchase a new computer for my home office, and I have a few questions concerning the system I should purchase and how I should set it up. I currently have a Power Mac G5 with the following hardware:

Model Name: Power Mac G5
Model Identifier: PowerMac7,2
Processor Name: PowerPC 970 (2.2)
Processor Speed: 2 GHz
Number Of CPUs: 2
L2 Cache (per CPU): 512 KB
Memory: 7 GB
Bus Speed: 1 GHz

I mainly use my computer to edit on Final Cut Pro and Motion. I’m running Final Cut 5.1.5 and Motion 2.1.2. I want to upgrade to Final Cut Studio 2/Funal Cut 7 and Motion 4, but as you know, Mac Final Cut software will not update on my Power Mac, forcing me to upgrade my whole system in order to move forward. I’ve spent a lot of money on my system and love Mac, but this is just rotten. Mac should support their long-term fans, not force them out.

I can’t afford a new Mac Pro, but from what I hear, iMac may be an alternative.

Question 1:
Would a Quad-Core i7 iMac out perform my current system?

Question 2:
I believe I should set up my system with all software on the computer drive and use an external Fire Wire 800 drive for my main media storage, rendering and video capture.
Is this true?

Question 3:
If I used a Fire Wire hub to connect to multiple Fire Wire sources, would the one Fire Wire port support video capture from a DV cam in, and digitizing to the Fire Wire 800 drive at the same time through the same Fire Wire hub?
I mostly capture video at work and export to a QuickTime file to work on projects at home. Will the speed of the external Fire Wire 800 drive be fast enough, or would I need to set up Ethernet raid somehow?

Question 4:
How would I set up an external 16 x 9 monitor for playback for my video projects in Final Cut?
Currently I have a digital to analog converter connected to a 4x3 NTSC monitor.
I now need to see DV NTSC 16 x 9 SD playback on a 16 x 9 monitor. Would this be connected through the Mini Display Port, or some other connectivity? I need this reference to check for interlacing issues, color and video quality.

Question 5:
Does Apple give long-term Mac users some kind of break on hardware or software now that we need to spend enormous amounts of money upgrading our hardware to keep our Mac software updated?

Question 6:
Even though I can’t afford a Mac Pro, will I kick myself for getting an iMac now and not wait and save up and purchasing a Mac Pro in the future?


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Richard Harrington
Re: Final Cut on an iMac
on Feb 22, 2010 at 6:58:18 am

Short answers

1. Yes
2. Yes
3. Not recommended, but doable for DV material
4. Need pro monitor with 16:9 button to handle anamorphic or nest sequence.
5. Only I get that discount... hah... not sure who's funnier... you or me. You already get a discount on upgrading FCS. Hardware, you get what you pay for
6. Depends what you need... if only editing DV.. you're fine. I have new iMac as home machine, perfectly happy and can edit prores and dvcprohd on it fine (but don't capture to machine).

Richard M. Harrington, PMP

Author: Video Made on a Mac, Photoshop for Video, Understanding Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Studio On the Spot and ATS:iWork


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walter biscardi
Re: Final Cut on an iMac
on Feb 22, 2010 at 1:34:27 pm

[Dan Weig] "Would a Quad-Core i7 iMac out perform my current system?"

Probably. I have the 27" i7 machine here and it just screams. Been a long time since I used a G5 though.


[Dan Weig] "Question 2:
I believe I should set up my system with all software on the computer drive and use an external Fire Wire 800 drive for my main media storage, rendering and video capture.
Is this true?"


If this is your only option, this will work. We have an Ethernet based SAN here so our iMacs are connected to 32TB of super fast shared storage.


[Dan Weig] "Question 3:
If I used a Fire Wire hub to connect to multiple Fire Wire sources, would the one Fire Wire port support video capture from a DV cam in, and digitizing to the Fire Wire 800 drive at the same time through the same Fire Wire hub?"


I've never used a Firewire hub for this nor have I seen it recommended. We always connected the FW drive to the computer and the FW camera to the drive when we needed to use multiple devices on one port.


[Dan Weig] "Question 4:
How would I set up an external 16 x 9 monitor for playback for my video projects in Final Cut?
Currently I have a digital to analog converter connected to a 4x3 NTSC monitor."


You can go straight through the Mini Display DVI though your signal will not look completely proper. The graphics card on the machine does a lot of dithering, de-interlacing and otherwise "cleans up" the signal so you're not seeing exactly what you shot.

We're borrowing an MXO next week to test with our FSI monitors to see just how well that unit bypasses all the signal cleanup from the ATI card. Supposedly it can completely bypass all the work that the card is doing and output a true, unprocessed, video signal from the iMac. I'll be reporting back next week.


[Dan Weig] "Question 5:
Does Apple give long-term Mac users some kind of break on hardware or software now that we need to spend enormous amounts of money upgrading our hardware to keep our Mac software updated?"


Never have, never will. I've been purchasing Macs since 1996, the only discounts I get are through my VAR. The price of a single iMac and a Final Cut Studio upgrade are not enormous by any stretch in this business.


[Dan Weig] "Question 6:
Even though I can’t afford a Mac Pro, will I kick myself for getting an iMac now and not wait and save up and purchasing a Mac Pro in the future?"


Depends on your future plans. Mac Pro is almost infinitely upgradeable with graphics cards, video cards, RAM, and additional card slots. iMac is pretty much what it is when you get it. You can add RAM, but that's about it. We have 4 Mac Pros and 5 iMacs in our shop all working together so we have the best of both worlds.

Our latest 27" iMac i7 has 8GB RAM to ensure it can handle the large form docmentary projects we're going to do with it. It's very fast and snappy, even running some of FX plug-ins.

But if you're worried about "future proofing" the Mac Pro is the only way to go. Or you just buy a less expensive iMac and replace that in a few years.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
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