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Re: Is this why the new Mac Pro has been taking so long?

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Joe Marler
Re: Is this why the new Mac Pro has been taking so long?
on Apr 1, 2017 at 2:26:38 pm

[Andrew Kimery] "For a lot (I dare say most) of the people that need to edit on a somewhat regular basis a 'normal' desktop or laptop is adequate."

This was true before widespread use of 4k cameras. The nMP was released in 2013, and probably some design work done in 2012. In 2012 few people envisioned that by 2017, 4k acquisition would be this widespread. Back then people thought the limited 4k distribution and playback infrastructure would diminish the need for 4k acquisition and editing, leading to slow adoption.

What happened is 4k has become the "new color". Content producers with no immediate plans for 4k distribution still shoot 4k to improve shelf life, plus editors like the compositional flexibility. Today, inexpensive drones, GoPros, even cell phones are shooting H264 4k. This happened much faster than most people anticipated.

This has greatly impacted editing. Adobe's Mercury Playback Engine that was like quicksilver on 1080p is sluggish on 4k. Even FCPX on the highest-end iMac can struggle. Compute-intensive effects on 4k material are maddeningly slow, and they can be laggy even on a nMP.

The near term answer is use proxy. That's fine but it knocks us back to the pre-Mercury era when everything must be transcoded before editing. Editing camera-native content with no transcoding was pretty nice. As shooting ratios skyrocket, we need camera native editing more than ever. Yet we are increasingly knocked back to transcoding due to 4k performance issues.

I've seen countless cases where recreational editors are mystified at why their computer became so slow at video editing -- "it's only a GoPro/iPhone/DJI clip", they say.

If we want similar editing performance (without transcoding) on H264 4k as we had on 1080p, this takes a lot more hardware muscle on both CPU and GPU sides.

If Apple knew this was going to happen back in 2012, and if they weren't going to release an updated nMP until 2017, they might have designed the nMP differently with more upgrade options. If people can't get the performance they need on a Mac platform, they'll just use Windows. Whenever the updated nMP and iMac are released, a lot of people will buy them because this time the video editing workload as truly changed and the additional performance is needed. This assumes they haven't already given up and moved to Windows.

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