Advice needed - Video Editing Computer for student

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Gonk42, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

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    near Cambridge
    #1
    I know that there are lots of threads on related subjects but none of them seemed exactly right, so please forgive my starting a new thread.

    I'm a computer scientist and currently use a Mac Pro (purchased Jan 2011) and a Dell T5500 workstation but I don't really do video (except for a little using Sony Vegas on the Dell).

    My daughter is studying film and needs to do some fairly basic video editing now but will in future want to do more advanced stuff at university and beyond.
    She needs to replace her aged macbook.

    She wants to get an iMac but looking at future growth, in order to be able to expand RAM you need to get the 27inch model and in order to get an i7 processor (which I understand FCP can take advantage of) you need to get the top iMac model.

    This means the iMac seems to, even with HE prices, come to £2,100+ (256GB ssd).

    The nMP base model (HE prices) is £2,098 though she'd need a monitor but this needn't be 27 inch to start with so I was thinking of something like the Eizo Foris 2333 which is around £274 (it is IPS plus has lots of other inputs which is good for students - I have one I like it).

    Alternatively, something like a Dell T3610 precision workstation with a K2000 card is only about £1250. (She'd much prefer to go with Apple though.)

    So my questions are:

    i.) with iMac is a cheaper model viable or would it just need to be replaced in a year or two with a more powerful model?

    ii.) at the moment she uses iMovie but obviously would need to move on to either FCP or Premier - is FCPX used much by professionals or is learning to use Premier a more sensible option?

    iii.) Ignoring the fact that the Dell is noisier and uglier (and people on these forums presumably are slightly biased in favour of Apple:)) the Dell is much cheaper at a base level and can then be more easily expanded as time goes on - in some ways this seems a more sensible approach rather than the Apple one of buying and replacing every couple of years?

    To summarise, as I see it the options are:

    i) Dell T3610 with Eizo approx £1600
    ii) 27inch iMac approx £2,100
    iii) Base nMP with Eizo approx £2,400

    On the software side FCP is cheaper than Premier but the student prices for both are quite reasonable.

    Is there any way of getting a reasonable solution for a smaller budget (nearer £1000-£1500)?
     
  2. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Joined:
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    #2
    If budget is the issue, and if you have the tech skills to do it, I would build a hackintosh then. Put a good i7 in there and gobs of ram, and she'll be in a pretty good place. http://www.tonymacx86.com/ Benefit here is that you can build what you can afford, and upgrade it later.

    The other choice would be to find a 2010+ cMP for a good price.
     
  3. Mac Gus macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2013
    Location:
    New York City
    #3
    As stated above, I would consider a used 2009/2010/2012 model. Those are perfectly fine for editing HD video and should be relevant for several more years and are also quite upgradeable.

    For most basic HD video editing a new iMac or MBP should also be fine.

    If she's going to be working on big projects with lots of effects or wants to quickly get into 4K video than you might want to consider a nMP or an upgraded 4,1/5,1 MP.

    I've had my 2009 MP since shortly after it was released and have edited lots of HD video as well as a feature length film in HD. All this on the original specs. I'm now upgrading it so that I can get a quicker workflow and have the possibility for 4K editing. But for a student, something like my computer as I bought it nearly 5 years ago would be perfectly fine.
     
  4. echoout macrumors 6502a

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    Austin, Texas
    #4
    When I'm not a freelance motion graphics designer, I'm a college professor over a motion graphics program. I help a slew of students choose their computers based on their individual needs every semester. I work on an HP workstation, a Mac Pro and a MacBook Pro, so I like to think I'm pretty open-minded.

    It doesn't sound like she needs a whole lot and with things changing so quickly in the video arena, I'm not sure I would make much of an attempt to future-proof her computer.

    I personally have moved to Premiere from years in FCP due to its integration with other familiar tools. It's really the hub of Adobe's video family. That being said, I'm not wild about it on Windows. It seems way quirkier than After Effects and the other Adobe video apps. But Premiere on the Mac is really really solid.

    I knocked out a year-long editing project last Spring that, while waiting on a nMP announcement (d'oh!!), I did entirely on my MacBook Pro. I used some Thunderbolt gear and a nice monitor setup and you know what, the project went REALLY smoothly.

    I'm inclined to think the iMac with an Adobe CC subscription would give her everything she needs for at least a few years. If she continues down that path, then maybe a workstation makes sense. There are LOTS of people in the professional video community that find the iMac to be more than enough.

    If you would really like to get the nMP though, it would work just fine too. But keep in mind it's like buying her a giant Ford work-truck to drive to the market. Sorry for another auto comparison.

    Good luck, sounds like she has a good dad!
     
  5. Gonk42 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 16, 2008
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    #5
    Thanks for all your replies.

    It looks like an iMac or a second hand conventional Mac Pro might offer the best options. Though I personally have the skills (I did an electronics degree before switching to computer science) I don't want to go the hackintosh route mainly because I don't want to spend my time fixing it (it is bad enough having to fix all the other computers in the family!)

    With the iMac, the 27inch at least allows RAM upgrading easily.

    Is the base unit with an i5 ok for video editing or does the i7 provide a big step up and how much difference does the more powerful graphics options make?
     
  6. ZnU macrumors regular

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    May 24, 2006
    #6
    I work in pro video. I'd strike any Windows-based options off that list pretty quickly. The pro video world is overwhelmingly Mac-based, and being on a different platform from almost everyone else in your field is a hassle for a lot of reasons.

    Frankly, pretty much all of the options you're considering here are probably higher end than is necessary just for routine video editing. Even in a professional environment, I see most creative editing happening on substantially less capable systems. Unless you daughter is going to be doing substantial VFX or 'finishing' work in apps like After Effects or DaVinci Resolve, her needs can probably be accommodated quite nicely by a MacBook Pro, and since pretty much any university student is going to want a laptop anyway, this plausibly saves you from having to buy a whole second computer at some point. The higher-end 15" Retina model with the GeForce GT 750M graphics is a big step up from the other models for video, but basically any current model would, in all honestly, probably be just fine here. It might make the most sense to just buy a 13" retina MBP (and perhaps an external 24" screen) with the expectation of replacing it in 2-3 years, rather than trying to buy something high-end enough that it will plausibly last for 4-5 years.

    As far as FCP X vs. Premiere, the odd reality is that neither has actually gained widespread support in the professional world at this time. At least in my neck of the woods, doing post production on indie films, what I see is that almost everything is still FCP 7 and Avid Media composer. Given that it's not really clear how all of this will shake out, I'd strongly recommend anyone starting out now learn multiple editing environments in order to remain flexible.
     
  7. Mac Gus macrumors regular

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    New York City
    #7
    I'm sure the i5 would be adequate, but if it were me I'd spend the extra $200 and get the i7 and I'd probably get the upgraded video card (a $150 option in the US). It isn't that she won't be able to edit on the lower specs it's just about time, workflow etc. She'll have more time to do her other homework or go on dates with boys :)
     
  8. wildmac macrumors 65816

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    #8
    Yeah, the i7 and best graphics chip will give whatever you get the best legs, and potentially add to the resale value later if needed.
     
  9. Gonk42, Jan 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014

    Gonk42 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Thanks again.

    It is very useful to hear real world experience - looking at technical reviews you get the impression that you need to spend a fortune on high end systems.

    I did think of the macbook pro option, but at present my daughter uses an ipad for portable stuff and an iMac is transportable enough to go between home and university accommodation by car at least (not very practical by train though!) My daughter seems keener on the iMac than the macbook pro but perhaps we'd better think it through a bit further.

    The main pros of the iMac over the Macbook pro seem to be more and upgradable RAM (i.e. up to 32GB), a bigger screen and probably better heat dissipation (on the grounds that you have a big slab of aluminium to act as a heat sink).

    The macbook pro is also only Intel graphics until the top of the range model which is then quite expensive especially if an external monitor is added on and the RAM is maximized.

    The big con is that it is not a laptop, and a macbook pro would allow editing while traveling and perhaps between lectures without going back to her room.

    Security wise, an iMac being bigger and locked in a room might be less likely to disappear.
     
  10. echoout macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Yeah, definitely not what's happened in my world, but I think just sticking with a major editing package would help her build a solid foundation. I was just suggesting Premiere CC for its ease upkeep and familiarity that comes with a brand of software most of my kids come to school with some existing knowledge of. Probably can't go wrong at these early stages with Premiere, Avid, FCP, etc.

    ----------

    The rMBP is such a huge step back in my opinion. The one I work on and the one several of my students use is the 2012 unibody with maxed CPU, GPU and RAM, along with 2 internal SSDs. Incredibly powerful for its size. I'm so disappointed in the rMBP but don't really have any choices anymore. Bummer on the upgradability front, but a similar approach to the nMP.
     
  11. AndyUnderscoreR macrumors regular

    AndyUnderscoreR

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    #11
    I would strongly recommend finding out what software and equipment is used on her course and planning round that. This should tell you which way to jump on FCPX/Premiere. Prepare for some nasty shocks when you see the prices of some software, even with educational discounts, if she's going to be using the full CS6 suite, or a lot of other stuff (at my Uni, digital arts students get free 24h access to 24" iMacs with CS6, Office, Maya, FCP, ToonBoom... and dozens more). If the uni provides edit suites that are hireable for no extra fee (like mine does), then there definitely is a cheaper solution, just use that!

    The problem with buying video equipment at the moment is that we don't currently know if 4K is going to take off in the next few years. If it does, your daughter will need a machine that can do 4K, which pretty much means a new Mac Pro and a 4k screen. If it doesn't then the Mac Pro will be overkill.

    Having just finished a BA (hons) and being part way through an MA in Creative Digital Media, my main advice is do not get a portable. Plenty of third year students were struggling with cracked screens, dying hard drives or missing keys having bought pristine new machines in year 1.

    My advice is that any current iMac will be fine, will give her an edge over students that are using just the uni's kit, and will still be useful after 3 years. If she becomes a freelance filmmaker in 3 or 4 years, then that's the time to invest heavily in equipment and move the iMac over to admin duties.
     
  12. CH12671 macrumors 6502

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    Southern US
    #12
    My 2011 i5 iMac (quad core, not hyperthreaded) has done a ton of video work for me probably equivalent or beyond what she will do with it.....and it runs fcp like a champ. And I have the lowest end 27 inch model from that year. She doesn't have to have the latest greatest to start...
     
  13. Gonk42 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    near Cambridge
    #13
    Useful advice, especially regarding iMac vs macbook pro. As far as the university course is concerned she is still in the application process but needs something now for her A-level film work (her four year old mac book is really past it).


    That is good to know. It looks like a base iMac 27 inch is a good way to go. I don't like the fact that the 21.5 inch is sealed regarding RAM and 21.5 inch is a bit small.

    ----------

    So it looks like iMac is a better option.

    Personally I used to use laptops a lot but over recent years I have a workstation at work and one at home and when I'm traveling I'm quite pleased to get away from computers.
     
  14. handsome pete macrumors 68000

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    Aug 15, 2008
    #14
    I'm gonna disagree a bit on this as it's not really true anymore. I've noticed much more of a 50/50 like split and I don't think Apple is going to exactly gain much there with the new Mac Pro. Besides, unless you're working in FCPX, every other NLE runs on both OSs. I've not seen many issues jumping between platforms and, seeing as this is student work, don't really see that being an issue here.

    I don't think it's really a problem for the foreseeable future. 4K is certainly here and only going to become more prominent, but this is going to be a student's machine. There's really no reason to worry about 4K in this regard. And I wouldn't try to be thinking of "future proofing" this machine.

    There are reasons for not using laptops, but I don't really buy these as being any of them.


    I do agree with everyone who suggested an iMac or laptop. They will really be more than enough for this kind of situation. With that being said, I can't stress enough the importance of taking advantage of the university's facilities and equipment. I teach digital media classes at a university and far too often I see kids neglect the editing suites and labs that their tuition is already paying for. It's not only about the software and hardware, but the collaboration, camaraderie, and relationships you build with other students is also important.
     
  15. echoout macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Well said.
     
  16. td2243 macrumors 6502

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    #16
    FWIW, I know ZERO professionals who use FCPX, but several who love Premiere. The school I go to is abandoning FCP and beginning Premiere this semester. I still use FCP7, but only because I'm still editing on an old machine. As soon as I get a new MP, I'll be switching to Premiere Pro. I hear Avid is great, but I haven't given it a shot yet. I gave FCPX a shot and immediately was amazed at how cluttered everything became. The fact that I couldn't open FCP7 files was an immediate dealkiller. For me, Premiere Pro feels very similar to FCP7, so that helps with the learning curve.
     
  17. Anim macrumors 6502a

    Anim

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    #17
    I would be worried of having a nMP in student halls, same as a Macbook Pro laptop, they are just to easy to walk off with and there are tons of thefts at uni from the drop outs.

    I would not recommend a Hackintosh for anything other than a fun learning project, my mate has just built one and is constantly tinkering with it to fix one thing or another.

    An iMac for student work would be good as you get the monitor, built in sound and HD camera too. It is big enough to make stealing it unlikely too. I did video work on my old 2007 4GB iMac after university and still use it today for a number of tasks, most students had dual core's back then and they worked fine.

    My advice, 27" iMac. You can always bootcamp it if you have windows only software you need to learn/use (e.g. 3D Studio Max)

    Anim
     
  18. simsaladimbamba

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    located
    #18
    While I would not recommend a Hackintosh for professional situations (where time means money and that trite), a Hackintosh can be a stable system, if one adheres to recommended part suggestions.
    I use a Hackintosh for my daily routine and did even use it last summer for a hefty video editing and compositing job to get 130 minutes of animated and keyed video and also 150 minutes of multi cam material out to that wonderful www. While it gave me some problems, software wise, a restart fixed all of that. I never had to tinker with the underlying system in order to get it to work, and the problem was solely related to AE and its affinity to not use all available cores when rendering. After a restart, AE would, and all was well.

    I spend 1,500 € on a 3770K 3.5 GHz CPU, 32 GB RAM, a GTX670 GPU and a SAMSUNG 840 SSD and the Gigabyte UD3H mother board (as no other was available and the one I wanted is nowhere to be found since the beginning of 2013) and a case and a proper PSU.
    I just post that, in order to say, that a Hackintosh might be a bit rough in the beginning (research and buying and putting together and installing the OS), it is mostly a smooth ride from there, compared to OS X 10.9 Mavericks on my 2009 MBP, which gave me hourly kernel panics and no clue as to where to look.

    But if I had the money and need for a proper workstation, I would get a Mac Pro.
     
  19. CH12671 macrumors 6502

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    #19
    And you can lock the iMac down to a desk...making at least the honest people remain honest. There is no way to lock a nMP to anything.....
    That is my one complaint, no Kensington lock. IMO, that would have been essential.
     
  20. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #20
    I got through college on a first gen Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro, with 3gb of RAM and an ATI x1600. If anything, I would get her an older Macbook Pro (non-retina and spinning HDD) so that she can have more than 512gb of internal drive space. The best super-computer will be useless if she doesn't have the storage to work on her projects.

    Or course, if you want your daughter to be able to make critical decisions and think for herself I wouldn't pick anything for her, and instead let her decide what to get.
     
  21. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

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    #21
    I 2nd the iMac. Great screen, plenty of power (just load up the RAM), when she needs more she will be able to buy her own stuff and write it off:D
     
  22. CH12671 macrumors 6502

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    #22
    I got through college on a x286
     

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