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NLE system needed, Promax?

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barbara dalyNLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 14, 2008 at 8:11:17 pm

I need a new NLE system. I've used Promax in the past but am nervous 'cause of the latest close and reopening. Is there any reason I should not continue my confidence in them?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks


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Brendan CootsRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 2:14:23 am

I am probably completely alone here, but I don't fully understand why people don't just buy the components to their system separately via apple.com and B&H, for example. Sure you wouldn't have 90 days of support from a single source, but their baseline mac pro editing system ($5,995) comes with, by my calculation, an $800 or so markup. Is 90 days of third-party support worth $800?

Now, before anyone gets mad at me, I know a lot of people here have a special place in their hearts for Promax, and I'm not trying to single them out, just wondering if I'm missing a bigger point here.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Steve WargoRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 7:27:37 am

[Brendan Coots] "just wondering if I'm missing a bigger point here."

Not everyone wants to be a system builder. I think that when you buy from ProMax, you get a system with everything installed and ready to go, along with someone really nice on the other end of the phone who can tell you where the power switch is located, among other things . It arrives, you pull it out of the box and go to work. With a kit, you need to know a lot of technical things which might completely baffle an "Editor". Editors edit and technicians tech.

I used to build custom cars and often wondered why people would buy boring cars that came with the engine already installed. After all, all ya gotta do is plug it in and hook up a couple wires, slap some belts and hoses on there and drive it to church. I can rebuild any engine in the world but I have a hell of a time getting my e-mail to work.

I did a video a few years back on "Home Dentistry". I'm not even going to go there.

By the way, I have dealt with B&H and it was the worst experience of my professional career. I know that a lot of people won't go anywhere else but not me, ever again.






Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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walter biscardiRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 11:16:06 am

[Brendan Coots] "I'm not trying to single them out, just wondering if I'm missing a bigger point here."

The bigger point is you have a fully functional system that they will test for 24 hours prior to you receiving it. You also have complete phone tech support so if anything does not work, they have to figure it out, not you.

When putting together your first FCP system, I always recommend a VAR to ensure that you get all the correct components AND you get proper installation of all those components. I purchased my first complete FCP system from ProMax and also assist a local VAR here in Atlanta with training.

When you buy from a VAR you're getting a support team behind the purchase. When you purchase the components yourself, you ARE the support team. Invariably, each vendor will point to the other for any problem that arrises. If you're the system integrator, then you have to figure out who's right and who's wrong.

After you've used FCP for a few years and feel comfortable with it, then absolutely build systems yourself if you're comfortable. But even today, I purchase all my gear through WH Platts here in Atlanta as they are a solid VAR and if anything goes wrong with anything, they deal with the vendor, not me.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!
Read my Blog!
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barbara dalyRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 2:58:13 pm

You guys are great! I would love to be able to whip up a NLE myself but that is not my strong point. And I do really appreciate being able to call one source and have them answer to all the components in the system. So, I was really bummed when Promax went down. Does anyone have experience with them since they reorganized? Any reason not to have faith in them at this point?
Thanks so much for your experience,
b



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Mark SuszkoRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 3:43:53 pm

This is purely suppositional, but if I was in ProMax's position, knowing that people would be a little skittish early in the comeback period, I would go out of my way to be ridiculously helpful in customer support, seeing it as the best marketing investment you can make. Charles' old ProMax built it's business on such a sterling reputation and word of mouth. So to make the rebooted version of the company a long-term success, you HAVE to work your butt off to meet and exceed the previous reputation. Meaning the early pioneer customers should, in theory at least, get the absolute BEST service.


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barbara dalyRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 3:47:27 pm

Makes total sense. However, what about those old service contracts that weren't being honored? I wonder if that's been straightened out....
Thanks for your input, I hope you are right.
b





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Ron LindeboomRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 4:54:17 pm

[walter biscardi] "
The bigger point is you have a fully functional system that they will test for 24 hours prior to you receiving it."


This was supposed to the way it was but the truth is my last machine from tem did not have this done at all. In fact, when I got it, it didn't work and Abraham and I had to rebuild it ourselves.

I know we were one of the exceptions but still, it really was a bummer.

It was an internet server Xserve, so they may not do this to them.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Remember: Burt Bacharach lied. What the world really needs now is an undo button.



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walter biscardiRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 8:22:42 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "It was an internet server Xserve, so they may not do this to them."

Definitely not something i've ever ordered from them. We only ordered individual parts or entire NLE systems. Definitely not the way to treat a customer though if you have to completely rebuild that system.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!
Read my Blog!
View Walter Biscardi's profile on LinkedIn


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Brendan CootsRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 7:58:51 pm

These points all make sense on some level, but:

1. Editors edit, not build systems/can't find the on/off switch
I am of the opinion that any editor who doesn't know what components go into an editing system, or can't reliably turn on their own machine shouldn't be in the industry. I don't have half the experience that many here do, but from my observations half of an editor's job (or any digital artist) is managing the tools that go into their work. If the external monitor isn't getting a signal for some reason, does the editor poke around and get it going or do you halt production and wait for your VAR to come around and troubleshoot? Serious painters must know every detail about the brushes they pick, why they were selected and how to keep them in good shape.

2. VARs offer support and act as a middle man to the manufacturer.
Great, provided they can do a better job/have more access than AppleCare can offer. Let's remember these editing systems are Mac Pros with FCP pre-installed, speakers and monitors. The only things that COULD go wrong would be fully supported by Apple in those first 90 days even without AppleCare.

3. If you're comfortable customizing computers (like a custom car) then go ahead
Buying a mac with FCP preinstalled, two apple monitors and a pair of speakers isn't exactly a "custom build." All of these components can be ordered directly from Apple in one go, and an Apple business rep can give you all the info you need by phone before ordering if you aren't sure about compatibility, etc.


To each his own I say. I'm not trying to shoot down anyone else's point of view. I just think that learning how to set these systems up and troubleshoot issues internally could save the business a lot of money, and is therefore worth the minimal time investment. Any issues beyond basic troubleshooting would likely require sending the machine back to Apple for repair, regardless of where you bought it.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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walter biscardiRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 8:21:39 pm

[Brendan Coots] "I am of the opinion that any editor who doesn't know what components go into an editing system, or can't reliably turn on their own machine shouldn't be in the industry. "

Can't disagree with you more. Some of the best editors I work with don't know how to troubleshoot anything beyond FCP issues. They don't really care how the components work, they just know how to drive FCP.

A lot of editors don't want to be engineers, they just want to drive the systems. I prefer most of the editors don't know how the inner workings of my systems are set up because they generally cause more grief than they help.


[Brendan Coots] "The only things that COULD go wrong would be fully supported by Apple in those first 90 days even without AppleCare. "

With you making the phone calls and going back and forth with tech support. WH Platts here in Atlanta doesn't waste time. If my Mac Pro, AJA Kona, speakers or any other component doesn't work, we have another one in our shop in about 24 hours, they take back the defective part and deal with the vendor. I like this a lot more than dealing with it myself.

In fact we ran into two major issues with both Adobe and Apple in just the past year that took over 6 months to resolve. WH Platts took care of all the dealings with them and not me.


[Brendan Coots] "Buying a mac with FCP preinstalled, two apple monitors and a pair of speakers isn't exactly a "custom build.""

Buying a Mac with FCP installed, RAID card, RAID array set up property to RAID 5 with the correct HBA adapter, Video Capture Card, proper cabling and connections to external devices is more of an issue. If all you want is FCP with a Mac, then go ahead. But generally professional edit systems go far beyond a simple software install on to a Mac.





Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!
Read my Blog!
View Walter Biscardi's profile on LinkedIn


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barbara dalyRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 8:28:11 pm

In my case I run a one person video production company. I got into the business 25 years ago 'cause I'm a creative type. Now that all my work is computer based I am more than happy to have someone to defer all the tech. stuff to. Any time I can delegate it is more than worth it.




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Andrew KimeryRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 8:48:56 pm

Brendan,

I think this is just another example of a horses for courses thing as not everyone has the same needs, job responsibilities, etc.,.

[Brendan Coots] "I am of the opinion that any editor who doesn't know what components go into an editing system, or can't reliably turn on their own machine shouldn't be in the industry. I don't have half the experience that many here do, but from my observations half of an editor's job (or any digital artist) is managing the tools that go into their work"
I know a number of editors who aren't the most tech savvy individuals around, but they have no problems getting work because they have solid storytelling skills and the market they work in budgets for editors *and* support staff, not editors *as* support staff. There are market needs for specialists and there are market needs for generalists.

"Great, provided they can do a better job/have more access than AppleCare can offer. Let's remember these editing systems are Mac Pros with FCP pre-installed, speakers and monitors. The only things that COULD go wrong would be fully supported by Apple in those first 90 days even without AppleCare. "
If you are ordering a bare-bones box then I agree there's not really a reason to go w/a VAR. But if you will be needing a more advanced system then Apple's helpfulness will quickly come to a halt when you start asking about the non-Apple gear in your setup. For example, my current employer is putting together a finishing bay that will have an 8-core Mac Pro, 2x23" ACD, 46" client monitor, 24" b'cast LCD, waveform rasterizer + 20" LCD, Blackmagic Multibridge Eclipse, Tascam audio control surface, JL Cooper colorist panels, Wacom tablet, Genelec speakers, a third party ethernet card, and a fibre card to connect it to the xSan. This system is being built by our in house Production Technology guys, but if it wasn't we'd sure as heck buy from a VAR cause that's 7 or 8 different vender who are all going to point the finger at each other if it doesn't all play right together.


-A



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walter biscardiRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 9:19:32 pm

[Andrew Kimery] "But if you will be needing a more advanced system then Apple's helpfulness will quickly come to a halt when you start asking about the non-Apple gear in your setup."

Absolutely. Apple will not answer any questions regarding any non-Apple equipment or software and one of their first lines of defense is to request that you contact those other vendors to ensure all your drivers / connections / setups are correct.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!
Read my Blog!
View Walter Biscardi's profile on LinkedIn


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Mark SuszkoRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 9:43:02 pm

Myself, I'm generally more of a tell-me-the-time,-not-how-to-build-the-watch kind of guy. I know a little about a lot of things, and baby, I can guess the rest...

The artist is not his tools: he KNOWS his tools, but he doesn't necessarily always need to BUILD his tools.

In the Renaissance days, painters had to grind their own pigments and mix up their own paints, but once the technology to pre-mix a consistent pigment and binder and package it in a tube came along, most painters made better use of their time actually, you know, *painting*.

To take the analogy into other disciplines, Dale Jr. is a great driver, and knows more about race cars than you or I, but I bet his chief mechanic and pit crew know even more. Junior needs to know enough to drive, and to understand the limits of his machine, how to interpret and communicate it's behavior to his crew, so they can tweak and adjust to his standards.

Jimmy Hendrix didn't need to be a luthier, and I'm skeptical such knowledge would have added that much more to his artistic genius.

Orville and Wilber knew how to build their plane, but the guy in the cockpit of your United 777 likely doesn't know how to buck rivets and apply clecos, but he knows how to take the built machine and fly it halfway around the world thru storms and dark and land it where you want to be, on time.

Yes, mastering the tools to the point you can build and maintain them can lead to your art and skills as an artist being even greater. But it is more of an option than a requirement for greatness, IMO, a choice the individual makes.

In terms of pure economy and practicality, I'm sure most producers and company bosses would prefer that you spend the bulk of your time actually editing, and not running around with the soldering iron or debugging code. Someone else has chosen to become a virtuoso at that skill set, and I say, let him do it, he's better than I as a generalist can ever be. There are editor/ effects specialists that write their own plug-ins, creating new efects we've never seen before; they are kind of elites in my book, and I applaud them. But I don't feel the need to learn C++ or whatever to get my work done, I'm not working on that rarefied level. I wait until I can buy their plug-ins and use them for my own needs as appropriate.

I want to know enough about the system to be like Dale Junior and his car: To wring the best performance out of it as-is, and to be able to communicate needs and ask questions of my crew chief/ chief engineer/ VAR when it's broken or when I want it to do something that it's never done before. But don't ask me the differences between BIOS settings or what card goes best with what do-dad, particularly when they change from month to month. I have enoguh problems getting the program finished by deadline!

I don't like making, labeling, and mailing out dubs, for instance, partly because I burned out a long time ago on them as a summer job in my youth, but also because once the system is set up, my MOM could make dubs... I have over twenty years of experience and training in doing higher-level production and editing functions, I am getting paid to execute higher-level functions, and I don't think it's exactly snobbery or acting over-entitled to disdain dub work; just bad economics to make me do it if a an idle, unskilled person is available to take that load, and let me get back to creative work that only I can do.

I'm not being egocentric about this or lazy; I mean, I'll take one for the team, pull my weight, and MAKE the $%#%$ dubs if I have to, there's nothing about the work that is lowly or shameful, but I feel the same way about it a surgeon might feel if asked to clean bedpans. I am not ashamed or insulted to do it, if it needs doing. But it's not the best match of talents to tasks, and in the greater interest of the organization, I should be doing something more complicated.

I get a lot of time to compose a speech like that while making the $%#^$% dubs:-)

Did I mention I hate dubs?


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barbara dalyRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 11:04:31 pm

You are all too funny! Love the dialogue--and to think I was only wondering if I should keep my faith in Promax! :)
b



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John DavidsonRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 15, 2008 at 11:12:42 pm

Just an FYI, Apple Business Sales has now begun to include 3rd party hardware like Kona 3 installations into their custom builds.

John Davidson____ writer | producer | director____http://www.magicfeather.tv


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walter biscardiRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 16, 2008 at 3:12:23 am

[John Davidson] "Just an FYI, Apple Business Sales has now begun to include 3rd party hardware like Kona 3 installations into their custom builds. "

Key word there is "now begun." Ok, two words, but Apple Business Sales knows diddly about professional video production and how to set up a video editing suite. At least the Business Sales folks at our Apple Store certainly don't.

Nothing beats a VAR with a lot of experience in setting up editing systems and better yet, complete broadcast solutions.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!
Read my Blog!
View Walter Biscardi's profile on LinkedIn


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John DavidsonRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 16, 2008 at 5:12:08 am

What? You don't trust a 23 yr old making 8 bucks an hour at Lennox Mall with your business future?

I don't use the physical store for that type of purchase - I wouldn't expect an apple store clerk (even a genius) to be particularly helpful regarding our line of work. There's actually a person I deal with out of Apple in Elk Grove, CA who is part of a post production oriented unit of the Apple Store. I use them for new system purchases as well as CS3, and my software stuff. They give the Apple business discount (which is around 5%) and will also knock off 5% of sales tax if the system will be used in a California post-production facility (I forget the name of the form you have to fill out). I do not use them for additional RAM (apple's RAM price is way too high). We built an octo mac for a client a few weeks back and got most of the software and hardware through these guys. They apparently have some engineers that configure the built-to-order systems. I have NOT purchased an installed Kona3 as part of a Mac Pro system through them, but will be after I see if there's an upgrade in Sept. I did try to test my contact's knowledge regarding the addition of a 5th internal drive in the 2nd superdrive slot. She had never heard of that and didn't think her engineer's had heard of that either. Depending on how you look at it, that's either a good thing or a bad thing.

It may not work for everyone, but it works for me.

John
President & Creative Director, Magic Feather Inc.


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Steve WargoSo, what have we decided here?
by on Aug 16, 2008 at 6:56:09 am

First of all, there is no "answer" that fits everyone. I open and work on anything. This scares the crap out of people around me. Many others have no desire to hold a screwdriver in their hand.

My own experience:

I have a fantastic editor who is brilliant at what he does, but, if we need to add more ram, I have to do it. He could probably do it but I hired him to edit, not fix or upgrade electronic devices. A former editor spent too much time tinkering and it cost me plenty.

I used to sell Discreet Edit and spent a lot of time building systems. My clients, however, were not at all interested in opening the box for any reason. If it stopped working, I did a service call.

You can buy a computer from Apple and they will send it with all of the software installed, ready to run but don't ask them how to digitize footage or how to put Jay Leno's head on a female body builder.

Some of us are techies an some are artists.




Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Mick HaenslerRe: So, what have we decided here?
by on Aug 16, 2008 at 1:25:39 pm

I read this thread with interest as buying a system from Promax was one of the best purchases I've ever made. I have a rock solid system designed to my exacting specs and completely tested before shipped. But I don't think that is the issue. I don't think anyone would argue Promax WAS a great company. The question is should we trust the new company. What do we know about the new owner. I know my sales guy is back on board which tells me the new operation is PROBABLY just like the old Promax. Bottom line is we won't know until we see how they conduct business over the next few months. If it were me, I would definitely give them a shot with a new system seeing as many of the old employees have come back. These guys know their stuff and were a great help to me when I migrated from PC to Mac.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media






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barbara dalyRe: So, what have we decided here?
by on Aug 16, 2008 at 2:56:25 pm

Thank you all, it has been an entertaining as well as educational ride.
I will likely go with Promax in the next month and will keep you posted.
stay tuned....
b



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Steve WargoThanks for asking...
by on Aug 17, 2008 at 7:27:06 pm

This is a topic that needed to be addressed and we appreciate your getting the ball rolling. And remember this: If you have any problems in the future, we're only a click away.

Computer and software support doesn't get and better than the COW!



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Brendan CootsRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 19, 2008 at 5:49:23 am

I think the general thrust here is that A: Apple biz sales knows little about custom video systems (I agree with this sentiment overall) and that editors should spend their time editing, not soldering and building systems. Again, totally agree on that point, who wants to pay editing rates to get a stick of RAM installed?

My point wasn't that editors MUST know how to build a computer from scratch to be good editors, But I do think good editors must know how a computer works, its components, and how they all come together for her benefit. I just don't TRUST anyone who relies on computers for their livelihood yet don't understand the basic components that make up their tool of trade. It shows an inherent laziness that perhaps reveals something beyond the issue at hand.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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John BaumchenRe: NLE system needed, Promax?
by on Aug 19, 2008 at 10:19:37 pm

I've always built my own systems. I do the research on the CPU, the MB, RAM, video cards....... I bought a couple of high end pre-configured workstations for present employer and was really disappointed to have to rely on poor tech support, lack of driver disks, "recovery" OS disks, etc.

I recently bought a name brand PC for my wife to use in her business. Thought I'd escape being the in-house tech support by her having it with the retailer's geek squad.

Discovered a problem where she couldn't view WMV files from websites. It was a Vista 64bit machine. Nice one with Quad core, 6GB RAM, 650GB HDD....

Called the retailer tech support who said it was an OS issue and they don't help with OS problems.

Took it IN to the retailer tech support who told me it was a Vista issue, "Vista can't read wmv's from older web sites".

Microsoft says it's the OEM's problem, the OEM said it was the retailer's problem.

Get my drift? I finally figured out the problem, (a setting in MSCONFIG), and it just made me more determined to build my own systems in the future. It really isn't hard. Plug in some wires and boards, and install the drivers.

Not for everyone I'm sure, but I pity those who have to rely on external tech support when their lively hood is at stake.

Just my $0.02


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