Video editing with Mac Mini?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by jstan, Apr 16, 2005.

  1. jstan macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2005
    #1
    I'm a longtime PC user considering getting a Mac Mini to run alongside my main PC (a custom built Athlon 64 machine).

    I occasionally make DVDs out of Mini-DV home movies and I wanted to know if a Mini would be suitable. I've heard good things about the iLife suite, and from what little I've seen it looks far superior to comparably priced PC programs such as NeroVision or Roxio EMC. When I saw it in the store, though, it seemed a little sluggish, even though it was running on a dual-processor PowerMac, so I'm afraid using it on a Mini might require having a good book on hand--what do you think? I'm resigned to the fact that encoding will have to be done overnight (I do that anyway with my Athlon 64), but would capturing DV and making the menus and such be unbearably slow?

    Regarding storage--obviously an 80GB laptop drive won't cut it for storing DV from my digital camcorder, but I already have a secondary hard drive (200GB Western Digital PATA) in my main machine which I could put in a Firewire enclosure and use on the Mac. Any suggestions/recommendations there?

    Next up comes RAM. The default 256MB is clearly not enough. I'd like to go up to a full gigabyte--but Apple charges a ridiculous $325 to upgrade to 1GB from 256MB. I know there's only one DIMM slot in there, but you can find 1GB PC2700 DIMMs for about $100 online; could I pick one up from Newegg and plug it in? I've read conflicting reports about whether you have to use special "Mac" memory. Or whether opening the Mini will void its warranty.

    Note that I don't do a _lot_ of video editing, just the occasional home movies. I just thought it might be fun to have a Mac around the house (I'll admit, Windows is downright ugly next to OS X), and video editing is one potential thing it could do better than my PC.

    Thanks for any advice.
     
  2. atacinus macrumors 6502

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    Oct 25, 2003
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    New York City
    #2
    Thought I.d throw in my two cents as an film editing major. First off, a million people on this forum are going to tell you the mac mini is too slow to run the software...not true. It.s all about the RAM. Yes, iDVD and iMovie would be more responsive on a dual G5, but they will work just as well on a mini [and simply resign yourself to the fact that iDVD takes forever to load and encode - even on my lab.s specked out machines...the actual program however is snappy]. As far as installing RAM goes, you will certainly want to go to 1GB, you can buy a module from say crucial.com - it will work, HOWEVER the mini must have RAM installed by Apple so as to not void the warranty [this is different from other machines] AND Apple WILL NOT install 3rd party RAM...so you.re in sort of a catch-22....you either void the warranty or pay more ... your call. Oh, and as far as harddrive space goes...80gb is a lot! I just cut a twenty minute short and the whole thing fits on my iPod [20gb] - so I wouldn.t frett TOO much about space if this is just a casual hobby.
    The bottom line is you can get a faster machine...but not one that is going to be a $500 supplemental. If you want to invest in Mac for the long run, I.d probably tell you to get an iMac G5...but the mini should suit you fine as long as you upgrade the RAM.

    Peace,
    Christien.
     
  3. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    Jan 20, 2005
    #3
    Video editing is an expensive hobby. Better off getting the low-end PM or a refurbished and possibly used PM. Any tower will plenty of RAM will suffice.
     
  4. jemeinc macrumors 6502a

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    South Jersey
    #4

    I respectfully disagree. Not about the RAM, I love RAM-lots of it ;-) but about HD. 4200 RPM is just too slow for digital video. As far as the HD space goes, I don't think 80 is enough, with Panther (soon Tiger) that will probably end up as about 68 useable, then subtract your iTunes music library (which can get large) as well as any third party apps, and well it's doable- but potentially cumbersome. Also, it's always a good idea to have your video projects on a dedicated, external HD, and your OS on the internal drive. That's just me though. There's more than one way to skin a cat, so I'd let the budget decide the course of action.
     
  5. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    #5
    Really? Cuz I capture DV video onto my PB hard drive and it has never given me dropped frames.
     
  6. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

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    Jul 17, 2004
    #6
    Actually, with a RAM upgrade from NewEgg or Crucial or somewhere to 1 GB the only thing that you need is the larger, and more importantly, FASTER spinning hard drive.

    I edited in Final Cut Express on a 800 MHz iMac G4 with 768MB of RAM. No issues...

    Oh, for the hard drive enclosure-- get a FireWire one. USB 2.0 doesn't have a good sustained data transfer rate, whereas FireWire will sustain its 400 Mbps.
     
  7. jemeinc macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    I guess you have a lot more patience than me..lol...;-) Like I said, more than one way to skin a cat. Personally, I find it too slow to be acceptable. Now, please don't think I'm coming from a high end G-5- I'm not. I use an eMac, and an iMac- both with 7200 RPM- and I tried it on an iBook (4200) and while it was doable, it was too slow to be considered a viable option, IMHO.
     
  8. atacinus macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Can.t agree with the guys saying the HD will be too slow, i.ve been using Final Cut since the early days on much earlier machines and never had a problem with slower HDs...4200 is plenty fast enough to capture DV [even DVCAM] footage...
     
  9. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    Jan 20, 2005
    #9
    I edited video on a 400Mhz PowerMac G4 with 256MB of RAM. No dropped frames or did it feel slow, but this was on OS 8.6 and FCP 1.0.

    Today of course, with a Dual G5, you could render an entire piece with Magic Bullet Editor and not blink an eye.
     
  10. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

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    Jul 17, 2004
    #10
    See, times change, and although my PowerTower Pro 225 had video software, it couldn't edit raw DV footage. Hell, the hard drive space required would have bankrupted most people if you wanted to store raw dv.

    While 4200 rpm may be fine, 5200 rpm hard drives make a huge difference... and 7200 rpm drives are great! :D
     
  11. jemeinc macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    Yeah, "fine" is being kind, but since it IS technically possible ;-), I guess I would have to agree.
     
  12. Erendiox macrumors 6502a

    Erendiox

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    Oct 15, 2004
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    Brooklyn NY
    #12
    Actually, I do believe that you can install the ram yourself without voiding the warranty. Of course, this is provided that you dont break anything in the process :eek: :D
     
  13. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

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    #13
    Well, considering I worked with iMovie, then Final Cut Express, on a 17" 800 MHz G4 iMac... with 256 MB of RAM. Yes, you read that right, 256 MB of RAM. And guess what? It worked just fine. A bit slow, but nothing to phone home about.

    Now, a 1.42 GHz Mac mini with 1 GB of RAM... blows that iMac away. And anyone who tells you it can't do iMovie/FCE is flat-out lying.
     
  14. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    Jan 11, 2002
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    Los Angeles
    #14
    I don't think anyone has said it can't literally be done. But everyone does have different ideas about what is acceptable performance and what is not. A Mini for the occasional movie will most likely be perfectly fine. But if it turns into a regular hobby the Mini will hit it's ceiling pretty quickly. Not meant to be a knock against the machine, but just the reality of the situation.

    And, in regards to the 4200RPM HDD, that should be fine for basic stuff, but like the Mini as a whole, you'll hit the ceiling of a 4200RPM drive's reliable performance relatively quickly if you start getting fancy. It's better to keep the media on a separate drive anyway (as the OP intends to do).

    Thankfully the Mini is cheap enough that if you feel you have out grown it in a year or 2 it's not like it was a major investment or anything.


    Lethal
     
  15. roland.g macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #15
    Well you have heard a lot already. I too am considering either a Mini or a G5 iMac and video editing is a big part of my decision. As far as the warranty goes, someone else was correct, changing the RAM does not void the warranty. You can even buy a Pioneer 8x Dual Write Layer DVD drive for the Mini for around $150 and change that out at the same time. A little more than the build to order option, but the Mini comes with a 4x that does not support dual layer. The warranty will not cover the RAM and optical drive since they are not OEM but the rest of the machine will be as long as you do not break anything in the process. So do your searches and get the instructions if you do it, not to mention it is a good idea to video or take pics along the way so you get it back together right. You can even put a 60gB toshiba 5400 drive in there, but as mentioned earlier you probably want all your dv and audio on a separate drive, FireWire, 7200 RPM. You can do all this for under $1000, i think i had bluetooth and airport added to my config with the RAM and optical drive and it was still under $1000. As far as a 4200 drive, yes it can capture, but saving files and opening files you have been working on will be slower of course. And who would put a 4200 in a FW case anyway. Lastly, if you are taking a .mov quicktime file and importing into iMovie, the conversion to DV will be much faster on an iMac than a Mini with the G5 iMac set to max. performance in the energy settings, an option not available on the Mini. But as far as rendering effects, transitions, titles, etc. the Mini should be about the same speed, at that point it is the application that you are waiting on. Rendering is rendering to some degree. You may see a few secs difference here or there depending on machine, but nothing you really have to wait for.
     
  16. revenuee macrumors 68020

    revenuee

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    #16
    i edit on a 400 mhz G4 with 832 megs of ram in Final cut pro 4

    i started back in the days of final cut pro 1

    this system still works just fine ... mind you a capture to a 10,000 rpm SCSI drive.

    the only thing i really wish it had was the ability to do everything RT ...cause waiting for renders is the biggest pain.

    if you don't plan to do HiDef content the mac mini will be just fine, although i do question the abilities of the 4200 rpm drive -- probably getting a nice external firewire drive is the best bet.
     
  17. roland.g macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #17
    1.42 ghz Mac Mini with standard ram, combo drive, bluetooth and airport built in, no keyboard or mouse
    $698
    8x DVD with dual layer write with iDVD, iTunes, Toast 6 & NTI dragon burn compatability https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/item/7472/PIODVRK04L/
    $150
    1gb RAM
    $100
    total cost
    $948
     
  18. kgarner macrumors 68000

    kgarner

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    Jan 28, 2004
    Location:
    Utah
    #18
    just thought i would chime in here since I actually own a Mini and I do video editing on it. The Mini is fine for occasional editing. I use it all the time for school and home projects. I have run both iMovie and Final Cut Pro on it depending ont he project and have been very satisfied with the performance.

    If you do this day in and day out it is not the best machine, but then you would already know that. I find the performance to very nice with 1 GB of RAM and the iLife Apps are great. You must upgrade the RAM from the base, I recommend 1 GB but 512 should be fine. I have not had any problems with the HD speed.

    It is all a matter of how you define what is acceptable. There will always be those that will find a Dual 2.5 GHz G5 with 8 GB of RAM to be too slow. Personally, I think that most people will be fine with the Mini and get a lot of utility out of it.
     
  19. za9ra22 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    #19
    I own a mini AND an G5 dual 2.0 - I do DV editing on both.

    The difference between the two is actually surprisingly small. The G5 tends to render effects/titles/transisitions rather more rapidily but other than that, the difference between the two systems is not so much a noticable jump in performance as it is a matter of slickness of workflow. The G5 lets me work at the speed I think and it doesn't get in the way, while the mini tends to lag fractionally behind what I'm thinking of, so I have to focus more attention on workflow and less on the actual project. I've characterized moving from editing on the mini to the G5 as rather akin to putting on a silk shirt - it's just smoother!

    But that said, the fact is that moving back the other way, from the G5 to mini isn't painful and a hard reminder about pauses, spinning beachballs and frustration shows that in reality the mini is a very workable platform for dv work.

    Those who suggest the hard drive can't cope with video are mistaken. Which is not surprising since iBooks and Powerbooks have been used for dv editing work in the past with no real complaints. I've run hours of video through the mini and have had not one single dropped frame - and of course as someone remarked in this thread already, users are generally wise to capture to an external drive in any event, where space and speed limitations are less likely to be a problem. Incidentally, I have not had problems capturing from a DV camcorder daisychained to an external FW drive with no problems either.

    I think one has to be careful not to confuse the mini's size with it's power. Plenty of production houses have used old G4s (and even G3s) of considerably less power to produce broadcast quality output - even entire indie films, so the notion that for some reason a mini can't do the same is a rather curious proposition. Experience tells me that a mini would make a good, though not earth-shattering, video production platform. My only caveat is memory. 256 will, surprisingly, be enough to make the system work, but it will slow significantly when trying to render or when opening the various import panes for iTunes etc. 512Mb would make it more responsive. Above that, 1Gb would improve performance of background tasks somewhat - though not by as much as the 256-512Mb would tend to suggest it might.
     
  20. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    Los Angeles
    #20
    And those 9600's, G3's, and old G4's are, 9 times outta 10, augmented by 10's of thousands of dollars of video hardware and external SCSI arrays. ;)


    Lethal
     
  21. kaltsasa macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 9, 2002
    Location:
    Kellogg IA
    #21
    I've edited plenty of video on a stock g4 350(gig ram) w/FCP 3. I'll be upgrading to a mini this summer finally, and it will be a world of difference. The idea that you can't edit video on a mac mini is crazy. Now I'm not going to tell you to go render broadcast material but for home videos, even indie stuff you'll be fine. Get a firewire hard drive. The 4200 rpm drive in the mini isn't going to cut the mustard. Those Mini Mates are reasonably priced for external drives and have built in firewire and USB hub's to boot.
     
  22. sammyman macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 21, 2005
    #22
    If you are going to spend $948, might as well get Rev. A iMac at $999 and spend $50 to get some RAM.
     

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