Video editing on a MacBook Air 2013

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by headvaerk, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2013

    I am planning to buy my first Mac ever :)

    It will probably be the MacBook Air 2013. I will basically use it for surfing the web, develop iPhone/iPad apps and HD video editing.

    Will the MacBook Air 2013 with 4 GB RAM be enough for HD video editing? Or is the 8 GB RAM version recommended? Anyone that has personal experience of HD video editing on a MacBook Air 2013 and can tell me something about the perceived performance?

    Which are the programs I need for basic HD video editing? I know there is iMovie... is that enough? Or, maybe it sucks? :D

    Thanks in advance!

    (... and if YOU are going to tell me that the answer to my questions already are in the forum... then pleease give me the ********** links to those posts! ;) )
  2. macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    I do some editing on a macbook air. Personally I'd recommend getting the larger hard drive if you can afford it instead of the extra ram. You can always get extra ram later though. I do most of my work via a USB 3.0 external drive anyway, but it's still nice to have a bigger HD.

    As for editing imovie and FCP Express work fine for basic work. I lean more to FCP Express though.
  3. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Is iMovie enough? That depends. What kind of videos are you making? How long are they and how much footage are you editing with. Is this serious work or just family vacation footage and you need tocull out the worse parts.

    The "Air" would not be many people's first choice for serious video editing. First off the screen is tiny, the internal storage is tiny and the RAM only expands to 8GB. It will work OK for simple projects

    You are going to need a large and fast external disk drive to hold the video files Then you will need a few more external drives for a redundant backup system that rotates data off site. You will likely also need a 24 to 27 inch monitor.

    I've gotten to like Apple's Final Cut Pro X. it has a faster to use interface and not many limits. iMovie works for simpler projects.

    It all depends on what you are editing.

    Of course the "air" works well for web surfing, work processing and email


    Apple no longer sells "Express". It's FCP X now.
  4. macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    Lol.I didnt know that. I still have my copy of express in the original box.
  5. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2013
    Thanks for your replies! :)

    I think I go for the MacBook Air with 8 GB (I thought it was impossible to upgrade RAM later on the Air but maybe I am wrong?)... and yes it would be nice with the 256GB SSD but I think I will be satisifed with the 128GB since external harddrives are needed in any case...

    No it is not "serious work"... just family footage editing and some "green screen" editing for fun...

    If FCP X has faster to use interface I will definitely go for that!!

    And yes, I know the screen is tiny... but when I really need a bigger screen I can connect to my 46 inch TV instead :D
  6. macrumors 6502


    Aug 9, 2012
    Ask the NSA
    I have a 8GB/128GB combo, and I use FCPX on it daily. So far it is fine, so I think you will be too. And yes, the RAM is non-removable, so get 8 GB.
  7. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 11, 2009
    New Brunswick, Canada
    I wouldn't worry about the hard drive space. If this is HD video you're much better off with an external drive anyway (as you mentioned); as fast and as large as you can afford. 8GB of RAM will work for HD work as long as it's not too effect intensive. Don't expect blazing render times though. The GPU in the MBA isn't exactly top of the line.

    If it's just for family and "fun" personally I wouldn't spend the money on FCP X. It's a fine program (assuming you haven't done any serious editing before and can get used to the layout) but dropping $300 on something for cutting family movies seems like a waste.

    Personally I never use iMovie and have a license for FCP7, FCP X, Premiere and Avid but I edit for a living so it's worth it for me to have the tools. I would never suggest someone spend the money on a pro NLE that they don't need. They are wonderful but offer features that the average person won't understand and come with hefty price tags. At the very least try cutting a few things in iMovie first. It's certainly not as limited as Windows Movie Maker and, in the past, I've actually managed to cut some decent stuff in iMovie. It's about the person, not the tools. If after trying out iMovie you feel like you're being held back by what the application can do then consider something like FCP X.

    As far as the screen is concerned. A television will work find for full screen viewing of cut films but is a pain to actually work on IMO. TV's are not made to display the same things as computer monitors and you'll find text / menus to be rather choppy and annoying to look at. I wouldn't bother with a thunderbolt display (more than you need for way too much money) but any 1080p monitor in the 20-27" range would likely work well and can be had for under $250 if you shop around.
  8. macrumors 601


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    That's bad advice. You cannot update the RAM later. It's soldered in. The SSD, on the other hand, can technically be updated later, just have to wait for someone to come out with a compatible SSD blade.
  9. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2013
    Thank you all! Your answers have been really helpful!
  10. macrumors 68030

    Oct 9, 2007
    And there's nothing stopping you from getting an external drive. No one's going to be sitting in Starbucks editing video.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2008
    Is todays ram different than it was five years ago?

    I tried editing HD video on my Macbook from 2008 for the first time yesterday. And even though I have upgraded it to 8gb ram, it was slow and painfull. Rendering 50 seconds took 30 minutes.

    Will a Macbook air with 8gb ram be faster for some reason?
  12. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 17, 2006
    The GPU and CPU of today is much much faster!
  13. macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2008
    But thats not what matters the most here.

    Editing a certain ammount of video footage realtime in High Definition, requires this to be stored in the active memory, right?
  14. macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2014
    Well, the video can't be rendered with RAM. :3 And if I'm not mistaken, FCP still has to render your video in the background while you're editing it also, if you don't have an SSD, it will take a while to read off the HDD. So the excessive render time is due to old processors.

    However, I will say that I use a baseline early 2009 iMac for FCPX editing (720p), and it is still very usable. It's only a dual core, and there's 4GB RAM with a 320GB HDD. It's starting to slow down because the HDD is nearly full, so I think I'll do a hard drive upgrade and fresh Mavericks install. It should be pretty fast! Maybe your problem is a small HDD??

    So considering that 4 year old BASEline computer, I'd think that a MacBook Air should be decent at editing. Many reviews say it performs as well as the baseline MacBook Pro for most things. Obviously, a lower clock speed will mean slow(er) renders, but really, the biggest difference you'd see would be getting a quad core processor. More cores=much faster renders. More cores are better than faster clock speeds for rendering video :3 But obviously, those are only in the 15" MBPr, which runs at >$2000. So probably not an option. :3 For normal use, with a bit of home editing, the air should be fine. I would upgrade the RAM to 8GB just to be even more cautious if you're going to keep it for a while. You can find those in the education store for about $1149! But the baseline can be found refurbished for about $949. So, if that $200 is a big problem, go for the 4GB, but don't expect it to last very long. 4GB was standard 4 years ago. You can upgrade the SSD later if you know what you're doing. :) But definitely get a cheap external hard drive!

    Oh, and iMovie is great! But FCPX is definitely a lot more powerful if you need it. It runs about $300, which is LOADS cheaper than any other pro video software.

    (PS, I'm actually planning on getting this same 8GB RAM 128SSD Air ^ :3)


    I should say that the iMac is getting VERY slow. I believe it's due completely to the small HDD with not much left. It was plenty fast a while ago, so I'm definitely thinking that a fresh install with a new hard drive should help a LOT.
  15. macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    NY State
    8gigs of RAM is the minimum id go especially for the Air....For apps for editing it depends on your needs but iMovie is pretty good for a beginner. If your serious FCP X and Premiere Pro are amazing. I use FCP X and just got back into using Premiere Pro CS6 and I love it.
  16. macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2008
    Im a beginner but Im also a professional photojournalist. In the need of producing more video. IMovie so far seems to satisfy my needs. Its easy to clip together short pieces of film. But a bit more annoying do precision editing and splitting audio and video.

    Even though they have made a way. It just doesnt really seem natural in the software to do it...

    Like I said, I use a Macbook unibody from 2008. The very first, upgraded to 8gb ram. I plan to buy the new Macbook Air/iPad Pro coming this year at 12 inches. Good size, good mobility. I just hope it provides me with faster rendering and preview times than my now five year old Macbook.
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2012
    This is not true at all with the MacBook Airs, and if you're planning to use it for video editing then you should go for the highest RAM possible.

    You can't upgrade the RAM nor the SSD, but you can plug in an external drive which can be an SSD via Thunderbolt, so definitely do not go cheap on the RAM.

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