27'' iMac VS 8-core Mac Pro for editing

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by joejoejoe, Nov 23, 2009.

  1. joejoejoe macrumors 65816

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    #1
    Hi Everyone,

    I'm considering buying a new mac for HD film editing (I currently have a Macbook Pro from 2007).

    I saw the article on this site about how the Corei7 iMac clocked in much faster than even the 8-core Mac Pro. That said, would it be a good move for me to get the 27'' iMac instead of the 8-core Mac Pro and worry about finding a display also?

    Would the iMac really edit HD video as well if not better than the Mac Pro?

    That's my main concern, any insight is really appreciated.

    Thanks.
     
  2. grooveattack macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    i think a lot of people are in the same situation.
    try to think of it like this. if you got an imac and in a year or so you run out of HDD space (possible as you are editing HD footage) you'll need externals. when you reach your limit of 8GB ram your a bit stuck. when you want a better screen (if one comes out that is, the imac ones are very nice)
    you are just stuck with what you have.

    Where as with a pro, 4 HDD bays, much more ram possibilities, screen options, much longer life.
    its not just about the speed of the machine.
     
  3. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #3
    Depends on what your using… if it's iMovie, sure it won't really matter, but if you are looking at say Final Cut Studio or Premiere Pro, the Mac Pro will rock the iMac in terms of multithreading. You should note that with HyperThreading, you have 16 logical cores on the Mac Pro.

    As well it also depends on what you are comparing the iMac with; for the 2.26GHz 8-core, single threaded applications on the iMac will be faster; many multithread applications will be comparable between the two. Again for Final Cut and Premiere, the Mac Pro may be the wiser choice. Once you move up to the 2.66GHz or 2.93GHz 8-core there is no contest.

    Don't underestimate the power of expandability, something you won't find on the iMac.
     
  4. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #4
    Until Apple decides to make FCP multicore aware, you're fine with an i7 iMac. I just ordered one and I edit a high def global network show on my MBP every week. The value of that 27"er can't be beat these days. I had an 8-core Mac Pro until a few weeks ago, just didn't need it anymore since the iMacs came out. Less power draw=lower power bill, less space taken up in the office=cleaner look/more room for other junk.
     
  5. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

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    #5
    I too am thinking of getting a new computer for editing. Now currently my choices are a mac pro or an iMac like above. But I work on the interactive side (on demand and web) When I shoot, I shoot in HD then when i'm done I downscale the video. On my imac (this takes hours, almost 7 hours to do a 2 hour game) I was thinking if i got a mac pro would something like this Would this really cut down my rendering time to almost real time? If so then for me a mac pro would be very useful for me over the imac. Now the question is do I pull the trigger now or play the waiting game. My thinking is after the holidays apple will update the mac pro that will put the iMac back compared to the mac pro.
    When I do get a new computer would I see an increase in speed for transcoding AVCHD?
     
  6. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #6
    I don't have any experience with that hardware accelerater, but I'd imagine Apple has 12-core machines in the works for next year. They won't let the Mac Pro get eaten by the iMac market for too long, then again I believe, even as a video professional, the video pro-market for the Mac Pro is getting smaller, the only reason guys are buying Mac Pros now are for expansion, or if they are running multithreaded apps where every minute of rendering saved counts.
     
  7. ipodftw macrumors member

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    #7
    Its a difficult decision i would go with the imac, cheaper, come with screen [​IMG]
     
  8. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

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    #8
    what accelerator cards have you used? Do they really speed up exporting?
     
  9. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #9
    I've only used old school Matrox cards back in the G5 days for Uncompressed SD 10-bit DigiBeta footage. I haven't been in an environment where I've needed hardware accelerators for ProRes or HDV or XDCAM HD files since I've always had the fastest Mac available for the past few years until things leveled off where having an 8 core Mac wasn't worth having around just for Final Cut. If I was a heavy After Effects use like I used to be, or Cinema4D or Compressor, then yeah, maybe I'd keep it around, If Compressor or another multi-core aware transcoding app is 90% of your workflow and you need to meet deadlines, then yeah, an 8 Core might be way to go. But if not, the iMac is more than enough. It's all subjective based on your own situation, but I'm able to upgrade any time I want, so need for upgrade isn't an issue, and I also have a DroboPro, so need for storage expansion isn't an issue, and I also cut XDCAM HD and HDV, no uncompressed, so need for super high bandwidth storage isn't necessary for me...so iMac it is. When the next one comes out, or if I hit the wall with the iMac, I'll just upgrade.
     
  10. McBob macrumors member

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    #10
    Just wanted to say im a young doc film student, really interesting stuff. Will be taking this into account when I get a machine next year when I graduate.
     
  11. joejoejoe thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #11
    Thanks for all the insight everyone.

    I'm still a little torn. Don't know much about multithreading so if someone could go into more detail about that, i'd really appreciate it.

    I'd be using the machine mainly for Final Cut Studio and Avid, if that makes any difference.

    There's no doubt that i'd save way more money with the iMac, but I want to make sure it's a good investment. It'll be something I'm planning on keeping for years. The iMac can do about 16GB of ram, and I could always get externals instead of internal HD's, so in terms of expandability I guess the only argument left is that with the Mac Pro I'd get more FW 800 and 400 ports, where on the iMac i'm limited to one 800 and 4 USB 2.0s.

    If rendering and editing in Final Cut and Avid will be much, much, faster on the Mac Pro then it makes the decision more difficult for me. If the difference is marginal then I think I'm going to go with the iMac.
     
  12. knewsom macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Rendering and editing in Final Cut won't be any faster on an OctoProc mac pro, because as previously mentioned, FCP doesn't even use multiple-processors, and I don't think it's going to any time soon. Dunno about Avid, but I really REALLY doubt it. Please note that some Avid solutions REQUIRE an integrated hardware solution, so an iMac might not work for that if you want that type of Avid config.

    Exporting using Compressor would be faster on a Mac Pro, but remember that you WILL be exporting much faster than previously, and you could always setup the other computers in the house as render nodes, and that will substantially increase your encoding speed.

    Don't listen to the "not enough RAM" argument - 16 gigs is PLENTY. I only have 4 on my home machine, compared with the 16 at the Henson Company machines I was working on, and I honestly seldom noticed much difference. The only real flaw (IMHO) with the iMac for editing (and I'm an Editor and Colorist, with national TV shows and a feature under my belt) is I/O, which is limited to ethernet and FW800. Now, these days, nobody really even edits uncompressed anymore - I only really use it as an intermediate format for Color Correction. It could be argued that since you can't output an uncompressed SDI image from the iMac, it's not useful, but you could feasibly output through the miniDVI port to HDMI and from that to a calibratable display, and I've NEVER had an issue trusting the internal monitors in Color.

    Bottom line is, in my professional opinion, you probably won't need the expansion, FW800 is enough for ProRes, even the highest bitrate ProRes at the highest resolution. You MAY need a new computer slightly sooner than you would if you bought the pro, but the lower price tag and lack of integrated peripherals that you will have added will make it much easier to do so. Let's also recall that said integrated peripherals will cost you more than the computer itself - AJA card, realtime encoder, RAID card, etc...

    I'm probably going to be bailing on my Hackintosh and getting an i7 iMac and a DROBO for storage/scratch disk.
     
  13. tri3limited macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Pro Response

    ANSWER
    ----------------------
    Mac Pro without a doubt.

    REASONING
    ----------------------
    The expansion is crucial. Ideally you should be monitoring your edits on a broadcast monitor over SDI (yes, even for offline cuts). For this to happen the minimum you'd need would be a capture card or box, and while the AJA IOHD is great over firewire for something more reliable* you'd be looking at, ideally, an AJA Kona card, Blackmagic Decklink or a Matrox MXO2 all of which require a PCI Express slot.

    On top of that something like a CompressHD card (inbuilt with MXO2 MAX) from Matrox for ultra-speedy H.264 conversion (faster than real-time). eSATA cards are also useful, as is a fast RAID setup. If you fancy going the way of RED cam then a RedRocket is a real tempter as well.

    Sure there are some work-arounds but, if you plan on charging clients at some point over then next few years you'll definitely want something with lots of expansion.

    SUMMARY
    ----------------------
    Forget i7 versus Octo... The real difference, especially when it comes to Avid and Final Cut, is the ability to properly monitor and have the option to playout from your system for broadcast. This can ONLY be achieved in full on a Mac Pro or expandable Windows system (Linux not so much, software dependent).

    Ultimately though, it depends how pro you want to go.


    EDIT: *I lie, AJA Io HD is an awesome piece of kit. Personally, however, I would recommend other bits of hardware above it, such as the kit listed.
     
  14. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #14
    I completely disagree UNLESS you are doing video on a high end level for BROADCAST. If you aren't making a living editing video for BROADCAST, then the iMac is fine. THat being said...I AM editing video for BROADCAST, in HD, and I use a MacBook Pro.

    EDIT: Oh, and I have the AJA IO HD...works fine.
     
  15. tri3limited macrumors 6502

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    #15
    See my correction about the Io HD. Of course it's more than suitable for a HDCAM playout above all else. I'd recommend it as more of an on-set tool over the other, sometimes cheaper, solutions.

    Of course editing for broadcast is fine on a MBP etc. but I think if the money is available you'd be fairly crazy to avoid the Pro. I'm sure you'd agree if you didn't need the portability the Mac Pro would be your weapon of choice over the iMac??

    I'm making the assumtion you're offlining the footage, and having it onlined elsewhere. QC'ing for broadcast without some form monitor would be a little risky to say the least! :p

    Keeping on topic though. A Mac Pro would certainly be better suited to post, especially if you're serious about speed (MAX/CompressHD).
     
  16. joejoejoe thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #16
    Eveyone is giving really good arguments for both machines. Which again leaves me a little stumped.

    Does it make any difference in all of this that I already have a MacBook Pro? Could I use the iMac for the speed of all the editing, port it over to the MBP and test the color for Broadcast there (assuming its hooked up to the right equipment)?

    I could be completely wrong, don't truly understand half of the discussion on this board but they're all points that I'm going to have to consider before this purchase. I really appreciate the input and education!
     
  17. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #17

    Fair points, but I think the fact that the OP is confused by our conversation is evidence enough that a Mac Pro is overkill. I also simply don't think the Mac Pro is a valuable purchase right now compared to the iMac, at least not until they update to 12-core machines. Best bang for you buck right now is the i7 iMac hands down.

    I owned a Mac Pro 8-core until a month ago...it was wasted power especially since FCP doesn't see all that potential in the first place and I don't use compressor that much at all. All my productions are posted online on my MBP (my footage comes in as HDV or XDCAM HD for the news network I work for) and are QC'd by the network. Never heard a complaint since my levels are always legal and the video scopes provided by FCP are "good enough". So yeah, you're right, if you're doing a lot of online editing with high bandwidth uncompressed footage (like if you're editing Planet Earth or Avatar...) then by all means, get the Pro.

    But again, RIGHT NOW, you're getting more for your money buying an i7 iMac. joejoejoe...what EXACTLY are you going to be editing, what is your source format? What is your delivery format? What kind of deadlines are you looking at if you have any? Basically, what kind of work are you looking to use a machine for. That'll allow tri3limited and I to fight it out more productively in your favor :D:cool:
     
  18. joejoejoe thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #18
    I'm currently in film school and will be using the comp to edit shorts. I know that for that, all I need is the iMac, however, I want to invest in a computer that will stay with me and provide what I need for when I graduate and start working in the industry. I'm going to be editing a lot of footage from Canon 5D's and 7D's, possibly RED footage, and am going to start dabbling in after effects and whatnot. As of now, I'm only editing shorts. Will I be editing longer projects within the next couple of years? Likely. Deadlines? We've been chucking out one short every three weeks, giving me only a week for post if I'm lucky.
     
  19. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #19
    Well that's a little tricky. If you have ANY plans to edit RED footage in the next couple years, get a Mac Pro. The bitrate on that footage is insane and demands RAID. However, if you're looking at doing heavy lifting a few years down the road, buy an iMac now and upgrade to a Mac Pro if and when you need it. Technology will be so much beyond what we have now in the next 3-5 years you'll want a new machine anyway to keep up with potential 2K and 4K footage standards we may or may not be shooting by then. Look at your timeline and see what kind of heavy lifting you're looking at and when you'll be expecting to do that. If you're going to dabble in After Effects, get an iMac, if you're making a living as a motion graphics designer, get the Pro.

    I work for a major global news organization and I've cut packages on tight deadlines involving XDCAM HD on a 2Ghz MacBook...anything you buy will be FAST as hell. It's just a matter of how quickly you need it done and what additional hardware you're going to need to work with it.
     
  20. tri3limited macrumors 6502

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    #20
    I second MovieCutter's opinion here.

    You could buy the iMac now and sell in a years time for near enough the price you paid for it (I made profit on mine a whole year later!) upgrading if and when you need to.

    I do a fair bit of RED stuff (seems to be a buzz word of late) but as it all, with one exception, goes out at 1080psf25 I tend to negotiate the footage down to 1080 for grade - grading is what I'm about see. An iMac would be plenty good for 1080 ProRes 422 HQ material, and with the i7 encoding it would be prompt enough.

    The downside if you have clients, or simply projects, that require 2k/4k it can be a heavy load in which case the HDD becomes the bottleneck (in terms of speed and size). Also a RedRocket might interest you in the long-run.

    My advice knowing the ins and outs of your predicament - Go for an iMac now and see where you are in a years time. I remember the good old days when I wanted to do offline, then VFX, then production (quite randomly) before finally deciding to work towards becoming a Colourist.
     
  21. knewsom macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    One more thing...

    You'll probably only use your computer for what you're doing now, your own personal work, cutting reels, small side projects, and maybe some independent work, once you start working in the industry. In my experience, it's a very, VERY rare thing to be doing professional work from home. Usually, they want you in house, not in YOUR house. If you want to make a feature film or something like that, make sure you know exactly what your image acquisition is going to be ahead of time so you can design a good workflow. Post here if this is the case, and we'll help you. Or, post on the Cow.

    In terms of MoGraph, I'll point to one of my best friends who has worked as a compositor, AE, and Editor in LA for YEARS, and does the best MoGraph of anyone I've ever known. He does all his own work on last years' iMac, which has included some heavy things, and has never had trouble with it.

    Regarding the notion that only HD-SDI from an AJA device is sufficient for monitoring and grading, I'll remind everyone involved in this discussion that the quality of your monitoring output is only as good as the quality and calibratability of your monitor. If he's outputting through a Kona3 (or AJA IO, which IS a badass box) to a Vizio 720P monitor from Costco, there's no point, as the integrated display on the iMac is going to be FAR more accurate. In my own work as a colorist in LA, I've often relied on the Apple Cinema display as a secondary check, even though I was using a $50,000 calibrated 2k display through the Kona 3 card. Dunno why, that display always just looked a little rosy, to my eyes, Sonys tend to. The iMac has an excellent integrated display, so when you do color grading (make sure to find a second external monitor to use Color, because I don't think you can even use the app with one), turn out the lights, do it at night, and make sure you've got your built-in monitor as accurately calibrated as you can, check it with bars both in FCP and Color.

    Ok, that was more than one thing. But yeah. Get the iMac. If you need a Pro later, you can just get a Pro later. Hell, you could even keep the iMac and use it as a display/render node.
     
  22. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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  23. knewsom macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Too many old editors still in the Job Market, and too many young skilled AE's with better than perfect vision. ;)
     
  24. tri3limited macrumors 6502

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    #24
    There you have it then joejoejoe...

    Looks fairly conclusive, two colourists and an offliner tend to be agreeing on an iMac for now, selling up and expanding if you end up needing to.

    btw I second knewsom, that and I like popping grubby magenta-green combos way too much!
     
  25. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #25
    An offliner...hah. I can see the look of disdain you had on your face when you typed that. I shoot too!!!!
     

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