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Old Sep 1, 2010, 05:51 PM   #1
mariavittenson
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How RAM is important for photo/video editing?

I am going to buy a basic Mac Pro. I am a professional photographer, so photo editing is my main goal. My work horse application is Lightroom. Some CS5 (Photoshop, Illustrator), some graphics and some video. However, creating movies may become my passion pretty soon. For myself though - no commercial, no heavy duty work (I think... so far).

So, I wander how memory is important in these tasks. Will 6 or 8 GB be enough? Is spending huge money for 16GB RAM worth it? Will I see a significant difference?

Thanks for help,

Maria
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 05:56 PM   #2
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More RAM allows you to work with higher resolution photos (especially panoramas). It also allows to perform more import and export tasks.
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 06:12 PM   #3
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I have 16GB in my Mac Pro, using Production Suite CS3. Sometimes, it uses it all, and other times, only 8GB. I personally can't imagine using less than 16GB, and have been toying with the idea of upgrading to 8GB sticks, either 3 or 4, to get 24-32GB in there.

It's worth it for video, and certainly helps in Photoshop as well.

It's only ~$600 for 16GB from OWC. http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/apple/memory/
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 06:35 PM   #4
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I've got 6Gb in My Mac Pro, and with Lightroom I'm starting to think 12Gb would be the way forward, but not for 400!!

My next Mac Pro will have 12Gb... but if I was buying now i'd get 12Gb.
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 06:36 PM   #5
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Well, I know that for most of you $600 (for 16GB) is "only"
For me "only" would be $190 for 6GB :/

In what part of video editing does RAM count? Does it mostly apply to final processing/rendering/exporting (while I can do something else away form a comp)? Or does it influence my current work, when I copy, paste, trim, apply transitions, effects etc.?

How about lighroom?
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 06:39 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mariavittenson View Post
Well, I know that for most of you $600 (for 16GB) is "only"
For me "only" would be $190 for 6GB :/

In what part of video editing does RAM count? Does it mostly apply to final processing/rendering/exporting (while I can do something else away form a comp)? Or does it influence my current work, when I copy, paste, trim, apply transitions, effects etc.?

How about lighroom?
Using Premier Pro CS5 myself it doesn't use that much with the 1080p videos from my 7D, but I assume if you start adding up the effects the usage will grow.

6Gb, or 8Gb is enough for Lightroom IMO, however get the most you can afford would be my advise.

I opted for 6Gb to keep the memory performance up but may make it 8Gb in the near future...
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 06:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mariavittenson View Post
Well, I know that for most of you $600 (for 16GB) is "only"
For me "only" would be $190 for 6GB :/

In what part of video editing does RAM count? Does it mostly apply to final processing/rendering/exporting (while I can do something else away form a comp)? Or does it influence my current work, when I copy, paste, trim, apply transitions, effects etc.?

How about lighroom?
I think it's more important for using multiple app's. When I'm using two or three app's from Final Cut Suite at once, I can really feel sluggishness set in with the meager 8GB RAM I have at work right now.
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 06:51 PM   #8
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I use the same applications you use with probably the same importance. While 8GB is enough for most users, I think that 12GB should be the minimum for most standard users (which by definition to me is anyone that uses both LR, PS or other CPU/RAM intensive application on a regular basis).
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 06:55 PM   #9
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6GB is more than enough for Aperture and FCP in my experience. I rarely get page outs and even then they are minimal. Even under the most strenuous workloads I can muster, I still often have 1GB or more of free memory. These apps just fly even when managing my library of hundreds of RAW files from my 7D or HD video in Apple Pro Res.

I think you probably only need more than 6GB if you are doing extensive photo editing in PS (eg. dozens of layers).
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 07:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariavittenson View Post

In what part of video editing does RAM count? Does it mostly apply to final processing/rendering/exporting (while I can do something else away form a comp)? Or does it influence my current work, when I copy, paste, trim, apply transitions, effects etc.?
See this 23 minute HD timeline? It was done on a 2.4Ghz dual core machine with 4GB of RAM and it never once choked or slowed. You be the judge.

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Old Sep 1, 2010, 07:05 PM   #11
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Build a balanced system. I see people on here running 6-core CPU's with 3GB of RAM and a mechanical drive. Try to unleash some of the true potential of your Mac Pro by addressing real bottlenecks, not gold plating or over engineering any one area of your system.
I ordered the 6 core Mac Pro with 3GB and thought adding an SSD would be more beneficial as a first purchase (might be wrong about that) since I never really use several programs at the same time. I don't really want to waste money on 2GB or 4GB sticks only to have to sell them in the future, so I'll save up to buy a single 8GB stick from OWC in 2-3 months, then a second in 5-6 months, and a third.
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 07:07 PM   #12
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See this 23 minute HD timeline? It was done on a 2.4Ghz dual core machine with 4GB of RAM and it never once choked or slowed. You be the judge.

Yeah, FCP, despite it's archaic carbon code base, utilizes resources very efficiently. I know a few people that do HD editing on lesser Mac laptops without complaints. I've actually found RAW image editing of 18MP images to be much more demanding than HD video editing.

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Originally Posted by 2contagious View Post
I ordered the 6 core Mac Pro with 3GB and thought adding an SSD would be more beneficial as a first purchase (might be wrong about that) since I never really use several programs at the same time. I don't really want to waste money on 2GB or 4GB sticks only to have to sell them in the future, so I'll save up to buy a single 8GB stick from OWC in 2-3 months, then a second in 5-6 months, and a third.
Yeah, my appologies... I had hoped to edit that comment of mine out before someone quoted it, but it appears I was too late. It was an unfair comment as everyone operates with different budgets and priorities... and just because it doesn't make sense to me, is no reason to take exception with it. Again, my appologies.
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 07:10 PM   #13
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Ok, so $600 is a lot, but I meant "only" in the sense that Apple charges more than double for that.

When I say my system uses 8GB of RAM to edit video, I mean it uses that while I'm editing in Adobe. Sometimes, I'll open Photoshop to make a background, title, or something else while running Premiere, and I think Snow Leopard does a good job handling the memory when using multiple apps. I'll also open AfterEffects quite often, and create an entire effect file without closing any other apps, and it doesn't choke. I like that, but realize others are willing to sacrifice to save money. I've had 12GB in pageouts, despite my 16GB RAM, but didn't realize it at the time because the system kept on flying. I only saw this once when I opened Activity Monitor after a moderately heavy day of editing.

Ultimately, you have to decide what is best for you, but my intention is to share my experiences in order to provide insight on what could be very similar usage. (Mac Pro+photo/video editing+Adobe CS products)
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 07:11 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by VirtualRain View Post
Yeah, FCP, despite it's archaic carbon code base, utilizes resources very efficiently. I know a few people that do HD editing on lesser Mac laptops without complaints. I've actually found RAW image editing of 18MP images to be much more demanding than HD video editing.
Ditto, I only have Final Cut Express, but HD editing on my Macbook Pro (3GHz, 8GB ram), is flawless, whereas, Lightroom is a dog going through 21MP RAW photos (canon 1ds3)... Though I don't think 128GB of memory will help Lightroom render any faster..
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 09:13 PM   #15
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See this 23 minute HD timeline? It was done on a 2.4Ghz dual core machine with 4GB of RAM and it never once choked or slowed. You be the judge.

The timeline isn't an indication. It's the amount of fx and types of plugins you're using and how many sequences you have open and how bloated your projects are.

Being organized helps and to me it looks like your timeline is pretty organized.

The stuff I work on day to day is pretty fx intense and I'm usually running Color and FCP at the same time, along with all the other apps that might be open at any given time.

8GB is feeling pretty limiting for me. And I can tell when it's starting to lag. I don't need to look at page outs. Everything gets sluggish until I reboot.
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 09:16 PM   #16
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Yeah, FCP, despite it's archaic carbon code base, utilizes resources very efficiently. I know a few people that do HD editing on lesser Mac laptops without complaints. I've actually found RAW image editing of 18MP images to be much more demanding than HD video editing.
Seriously, it depends what you're doing. I'm pushing my 8GB to the max right now and can do it with FCP alone. Try using Keylight and Magic Bullet and having a show with more than 1000 clips.

Also, FCP project bloat can be a major problem and you probably don't know it unless you've got a huge project with multiple timelines. The FCP database is its weakest point, IMO.

Performance also depends on how you configure your quality settings in your sequences.
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 09:23 PM   #17
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The timeline isn't an indication. It's the amount of fx and types of plugins you're using and how many sequences you have open and how bloated your projects are.

Being organized helps and to me it looks like your timeline is pretty organized.

The stuff I work on day to day is pretty fx intense and I'm usually running Color and FCP at the same time, along with all the other apps that might be open at any given time.

8GB is feeling pretty limiting for me. And I can tell when it's starting to lag. I don't need to look at page outs. Everything gets sluggish until I reboot.
Everything V4 and above are animated graphics with alpha rendered out from After Effect using the animation codec. I have AE open 100% of the time and am usually rendering while I'm editing.

I'm not saying it was ideal to do this on this machine but I did it on my intern mini to see if It could handle it and it did. This cat mentioned extremely minimal editing so I assumed he wasn't cutting 9 layered half hour HD tv shows with 5 animated lower 3rds with alpha. So that is why I gave this as an example.

Sure, I can even choke my real edit system but for what he was asking his machine with that amount of ram will work fine. That being said, you can never have too much RAM
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 09:40 PM   #18
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Everything V4 and above are animated graphics with alpha rendered out from After Effect using the animation codec. I have AE open 100% of the time and am usually rendering while I'm editing.

I'm not saying it was ideal to do this on this machine but I did it on my intern mini to see if It could handle it and it did. This cat mentioned extremely minimal editing so I assumed he wasn't cutting 9 layered half hour HD tv shows with 5 animated lower 3rds with alpha. So that is why I gave this as an example.

Sure, I can even choke my real edit system but for what he was asking his machine with that amount of ram will work fine. That being said, you can never have too much RAM
I understand all that, but don't see any harm in pointing out how more RAM can definitely help depending on what you're doing. Actually, as VirtualRain pointed out, for its age, FCP performs much better than it should.

I have great respect for your neat timeline. Here's a 22 minute show I onlined today...




The biggest stacks you see are in-studio keys over GFX inserts and background. We render GFX straight to ProRes, which is our finishing format. If it needs an alpha channel we use Animation or (preferably) ProRes 4x4.

V1 got cut off in my screen shot, oops. That's why you see audio there with no video.

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Old Sep 1, 2010, 09:45 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by mariavittenson View Post
I am going to buy a basic Mac Pro. I am a professional photographer, so photo editing is my main goal. My work horse application is Lightroom. Some CS5 (Photoshop, Illustrator), some graphics and some video. However, creating movies may become my passion pretty soon. For myself though - no commercial, no heavy duty work (I think... so far).

So, I wander how memory is important in these tasks. Will 6 or 8 GB be enough? Is spending huge money for 16GB RAM worth it? Will I see a significant difference?

Thanks for help,

Maria
I wont comment on FCP since I have only played with it ? but I make a living using LR and PS used to be a big commercial guy and did some weddings but do more post production for other pros these days

16 gigs start and watch your PS efficiency if it hits in teh %90 - %95 or less you want to get more memory ! and in LR watch your pages ! this will tell you if you need more
I am always in the 12+ area when working ! so I think 16 is the new minimum !

put LR cache on a SSD and you will cut down your times for the sliders in develop mode to come into play ! by about %50 !
meaning you got from about .78 to .52 seconds ! this was on my machine ?
might not seem like much but when dealing with thousands of images its a savings in the end
but a few configurations notice the cache is the most important ! so you can keep your catalogs where ever ?


PS check out www.macperformanceguide.com and read what he says also !
but putting your scratch on its own SSD will help make up for less memory !
and the fact when you open PS it allocates scratch ! a fast scratch is a big help
their is unknown things about SSD on scratch ? like how long will a SSD last ? who knows at this poing but the OWC ones that were $99 for 40 gigs would be a good one to dedicate ?

otherwise you can short stroke a HDD and use the outer part for scratch ? but the inner part you only want to use for BU then !
meaning dont put two partitions on a HDD then access both at the same time !
you would be better off just pointing your scratch at your main data drive then if you cant dedicate one !
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 09:51 PM   #20
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I once undertook some seriously heavy image and video processing in a uni project. With only 4GB ram in my weasel of a MacBook, I struggled and ran out of memory plenty of times, the blame of which rested on the program's (Matlab, a technical language/environment) memory management I felt. After I finally pulled through I was informed that the computer vision dept. that I was working under were using Linux machines with 8 core processors and 24GB of RAM!

While the sort of video and image processing I was performing is probably far more intense than the average photographers needs, I would suggest you go for a fair amount of RAM, at least 8GB? 16GB is a lot of RAM and a lot of money, but the difference will be more than significant.

Regarding video processing... Well I can't remember how it is with Premiere or FCP as I haven't used them in years, but going back to my project, my machine would fail when I tried to convert a database of video clips to another readable format lol. Again, maybe this was just the code/program.

Sorry, I think because of the scenario I've described, the conclusions I've made might not be entirely relevant to you. But as far as I've noticed, image and video processing at any professional/scientific level is going to take some serious power, especially when you need run multiple programs... We all know that it's hardly productive to sit there and wait while some clip is processing, yet if you haven't enough memory (like me ), you're going to be doing just that! In the end, my project's experiments took me some 7hrs of which I had to sit through and monitor at regular intervals...
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 09:56 PM   #21
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I have no idea if you'll read down this far, but please for the love of god DO NOT buy the ram from APPLE.

Buy the least amount you can in the Mac Pro, and then buy the ram SEPERATE at OWC.

16 gigs (8x2gb) of ram from apple: +$1775

16 gigs of ram (4x4gb) from OWC: $579

Almost a 70% reduction in price, AND you get 4gb chips. And there's no difference in quality or performance.
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Old Sep 2, 2010, 01:14 AM   #22
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I have 12 GB in my home machine and can definitely tell the difference between the 2 GB in my machine at work!

When I bought it I paid the small upgrade (like $98) to go from 6 x 1 GB sticks to 4 x 2 GB sticks. I always planned to add an additional 2 x 2 GB to hit that triple channel alignment but prices shot up pretty quick (from $42 to $79 per stick) so I put it off for a year. Honestly for my photojournalism editing (Photo Mechanic and Photoshop) I never felt like I needed more.

I did however make the upgrade this past summer (and prices dropped $10 the next week ) mostly just because more is better and of course the triple channel...however much that matters. For me 2 GB sticks were the sweet spot. I can still go up to 16 GB if I feel the need but didn't have to drop the money for 4 GB sticks and have no leftover 1 GB sticks to deal with. 32 GB total just doesn't seem like anything I'd need anytime soon.

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