Portable Mac for a Theatre Major

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by gregio, Jun 13, 2006.

  1. gregio macrumors newbie


    Jun 13, 2006
    Hi guys,

    Next year, I'll be starting school as a theatre major, specifically lighting design. Aside from regular computing, I will eventually need my computer for CAD as well as some rendering and visualizations. I had a couple of questions.

    First of all, I was wondering if (for my needs) one would recommend a MB or a MBP and what particular upgrades would be recommended.

    Also, I won't be starting school until late August, and I am already familiar with OS X (even though I have a PC at home). Is it likely that major upgrades will be coming before then and I should wait before buying the computer?

    Thank you! Your advice is greatly appreciated!
  2. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    Welcome to Macs (even though you're already half here). What sort of CAD apps do you want to run? I think the MacBook Pro's GPU might be better for this sort of work. :)
  3. gregio thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jun 13, 2006
    Mainly Vectorworks. I'm not sure if they've released a universal for that yet, but I won't actually get into that my first year.

  4. X5-452 macrumors 6502


    Feb 16, 2006
    Calgary, Canada
    Vectorworks and other CADS? I would recommend getting a MacBook Pro then, simply for the dedicated graphics card that the MacBook lacks. Make sure to up the RAM though, 512MB won't be enough now, or in the long run. As for OS X, Leopard will come out sometime early next year, so you don't have to worry about your OS being outdated after 1 week.
  5. BiikeMike macrumors 65816


    Sep 17, 2005
    I am a fellow lighting designer who just graduated. I had a Powerbook G4, and upgraded to a MBP, and its way better........ in most aspects. VW is not a universal binary, but runs stable under Rosetta for the most part. Nemetschek has promised a Universal upgrade at no charge, but we haven't seen it yet.

    If you get the MBP, you will not be dissapointed, and by the time you are heavily using VW, it will be Universal. And by the way, if you haven't used Vectorworks 12 in OSX, its so much more amazing than in Windoze! (I have used 11 and 12 in both, and things just look and fit better in OSX)
  6. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    FWIW, I work at a theater and the stage manager and another guy who I believe does some lighting and set design, both use PowerBooks.
  7. dflick macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2006
    I'm a "on the fence" guy who is also a lighting design student. I have read the posts, good and bad, and its been very helpful. I also have worked in NYC with some designers and their assistants and noticed that most if not all of them, have apple computers. I can only assume that its because of the portability, the excellent screens, and the back lit keyboards. All are BTW wonderful selling points for me, who will be spending time in a dark theatre.

    So on to why I'm posting.

    I do web design using Dreamweaver by using the wysiwyg way of designing. I guess my first question is does mac support this? also how easy is it to upload etc.. with a mac.

    I think the machine that would work best for me is the Pro model with 1gig ram (other gig bought elsewhere) and the 256 graphics card. (i still enjoy the occasional mega graphics game)

    My current laptop is a Toshiba satellite with a P4 3.0mhz in it... and boooooy does that weigh a lot on the back (about 9lbs) and its hot and clunky. not good tech table material.

    I plan on using the educational discount to buy this with the applecare built in.

    I don't know where I stand on as far as waiting goes. I understand that there is new processors on the horizon and possible a new design. I also understand that if i play the waiting game, i could end up playing it for years always waiting for the right time. I have no idea what "rev A or B" we are on and as far as I'm concerned, IF they change everything for the new stuff say... august or in time for Christmas, whats the guarantee that there wont be new problems and we start this cycle all over again. Yes, i know that no notebook is perfect but perfect is only in the eye of the money holder.

    So thanks for listening and for offering any advice.

    PS- gregio where are you going to school? and the same to any other lighting people that might be reading
  8. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Dreamweaver comes in a Mac version (it's even on the same CD as the Windows version). Uploading from within Dreamweaver is the same as on a PC. There are tons of good Mac FTP clients. My favorite is Fetch, which is free for students. Transmit (not free) is also really good. Besides those two there are a bunch of others out there. There are also other WYSIWYG web-design apps available, including Adobe GoLive, Sandvox, Rapidweaver and iWeb (included with new Macs).
    I think you'll really enjoy having a MBP. As for waiting, if you need the computer now, buy it now, otherwise wait as long as you can. The MBPs were speedbumped when the MacBooks came out, and the top-end model is currently the fastest Intel Mac available. I don't think buying now is a bad decision, but if you really don't need the computer until August or whatever, then wait.
  9. gregio thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jun 13, 2006
    All of you, thanks for your help!

    dflick, you definitely touched on the main reasons I'm looking to go Mac. I'll be attending SUNY Purchase in the Fall.

    Thanks. :)
  10. mirmir macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2008
    Hi! I'm reviving this thread because my questions are basically of the same premise. Hope it's ok.
    It's my first post, but I've been a fan of the forums/website for quite a while.

    I'm a senior in a conservatory high school. I plan on majoring in Lighting Design and naturally pursuing it as a career. Currently, I run VectorWorks (amongst less RAM-sapping applications like Lightwright) and would like to get a notebook which will later, if it isn't entirely difficult, be able to support WYSIWYG (when I'm in college). I also run Adobe CS casually, and iLife consumer applications.
    Currently I do my drafting on a family iMac, which is really inconvenient for classes and shows, and my laptop really needs replacing.

    My questions are:
    I would like to get a laptop that will last me as much of college as I can make it. How long would you expect each of the notebooks to last?
    I would like a MacBook Pro, because of the dedicated graphic card, but I'm wondering if a top of the line MacBook with 4GB RAM would be able to hold up sufficiently in comparison to a bottom of the line MBP with 4GB.
    Price is a decent concern for me, so is basically the extra screen room and card worth the cost? They both have the same processor and my MB would have 50GB more HD space (but not multi-touch or awesome backlit keyboard).

    Let me know if you have any suggestions.
    Thank you! :apple:
  11. ktbubster macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2007
    MB should do you fine, although it's rumored that some programs (like later versions of CS) will start taking GPU into account which could be something you'd need down the line.

    If you are concerned about price though, perhaps go for a refurb 2.2 macbook pro? No multitouch, but dedicated gpu (which i may be wrong, but could probably help out on rendering programs you will be using) and bigger screen. It will come with 2gig of ram, which should be a fine for a bit, but i'd recommend upping the ram to 4 gig through a 3rd party since it's so cheap.

    That one is only 1449 in the refurb store, so about 1550 with tax, which bring you to about the top of the line macbook now. The .2 processor speed isn't that huge of a deal, and it really is a great computer. That would give you the nicer screen realestate too without breaking the bank so to speak.

    Ofcourse if you are going for the ipod deal, then refurb is out, but with the money you save vs a new macbook pro, it may be worth it. I have a feeling even the last gen macbook pros will be a bit more future proof, but i may be wrong.

    I LOVED my macbook pro when i had it (needed gpu for rendering programs myself - downgraded when i didn't anymore for the money savings, but... LOVED it)

    Edit: PS, get a nice external drive for backup and extra storage. Essential in college anyway, and storage is pretty cheap now a days.
  12. dflick macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2006
    The big thing for me was screen size. I wanted to have as much space as I could with out getting the largest model. I have a friend with the 17" MBP and when he uses it, hes always takes up too much space. Another plus to the MBP is the backlit keyboard is perfect for Tech.

    Last time I checked, WYSIWYG is not a mac program so you would have to run windows. That might influence weather or not you really need a mac, or the software. I just graduated with a degree in lighting and I can tell you that there are about 4 people using WYSIWYG. VW2008 is what is now the industry standard.

    Final thought- MPB would be smart to have incase you get into projections. Its the next best thing for lighting people. Start looking into it now.

    Hope this helps!

    Best luck in your endeavors.
  13. mirmir macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2008
    Thanks. Yes, I thought the 17" was perfect because of the screen size for about two minutes, then realized that it was way too big and difficult to carry, plus my iBook already is space-mongering at tech. Besides, I'd rather get a 15" and if I had extra money to get it a better external, or make it faster, etc.

    I've been looking at projection, but no one at my school uses it (seriously. there was a failed attempt last year...), so I've been mainly dabbling online.

    About how big should I get my external drive? I don't think I'll need any more than 300-500GB, but then again, when I got my iBook I was going "25GB?! What do they expect me to do with this? Wow!"

    Thank you for your help!

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