DV editing on Powerbook

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by AJ795, Sep 4, 2004.

  1. AJ795 macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Dear All,

    I am new to this forum and am here because I am looking to buy a new portable, and having used PCs all my life, I am now thinking of getting a powerbook.

    Specifically I am looking at the 15", combo drive (will be using exteranl DVD burner), 768MB/1GB RAM, 128MB ATI graphics card.

    What I mostly want my new computer to be (very) good at is digital video editing and I was hoping you guys could give me some advice on this. How good is the powerbook at this?

    What amount of RAM is ideal for doing this? Also I will be running off my LaCie external hard drive so the speed of the powerbook's internal HD is not a pressing issue.

    Also there are some PC specific programs that I use (specifically MS Access). How reliable is VPC and how much RAM do I need to safely put this whole show together?

    I'm sure I have plenty more questions but that'll do for now. I look forward to reading your replies.


  2. James L macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2004


    I run a web design business off of a 15", 1.5Ghz, 1GB RAM, 80GB 5400rpm HD, 128MB VRAM, Superdrive PB. It works great!

    When it comes to video editing you have 3 main areas to consider... processor speed, RAM, and hard drive access speed. You have a decent 1.5Ghz processor (not the best, but not bad), you can put up to 2 GB of ram in your machine (1GB is minimum now-a-days for things like editing IMHO), and you have an external HD so you can go 7200rpm or even faster! Combine that with a fast, external DVD burner and you have a great setup!

    The GPU doesn't really play much in editing, but I would get the extra video ram anyways... it is cheap to buy and you can't upgrade it later.

    A couple of things...first off, Final Cut Express 2 is your friend! It has the vast majority of the editing functionality of Final Cut Pro (the industry standard) at a fraction of the cost. Secondly, iMovie won't work with an external DVD burner, so you will need DVD Studio Pro or another DVD authoring package.

    VPC runs basic things ok, but for anything intensive you will need OSX native software. I think Access would be fine.

    Hope this helps!

  3. johnkrz macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2004
    i have a powerbook 1.25 1 gig ram its ok for video editing but i needed more so i am getting a g5 now. but my dad has the 17 inch 1.5 with 1.5 gigs of ram and the 80 gig 5200 rpm. i would defently upgrade the video card to 128 and not 64 and depends what u want to do at once but the same setup would work good for you. he runs virtual pc just fine. when setting it up u need to use 512 ram so it runs good. any less and it gets slow. well this is my two sense.

  4. JOD8FY macrumors 6502a


    Mar 22, 2004
    United States
    I have a 1Ghz 12" PB with 768 MB of RAM and it runs FCE with ease. No hold ups at all. It's great! Your specs should be more than enough.

    As for VPC, it should be able to run MS Access pretty well. Just make sure you have a lot of RAM (1GB should be enough).

    Best wishes,
  5. Mord macrumors G4


    Aug 24, 2003
  6. BakedBeans macrumors 68040


    May 6, 2004
    What's Your Favorite Posish
    hi ive got the 1.5 15 inch superdrive

    its screams with fcp and fce (have both) its very good with ps-cs
    it really is good for dv editing...

    i have jealous friends and family

    go for it you wont regret it..
  7. ChrisFromCanada macrumors 65816


    May 3, 2004
    Hamilton, Ontario (CANADA)
    I would also say go for the powerbook the G5 is amazing but the G4 is still great.

    Also, before buying the powerbook you should see this to determine which BTO options you want.
  8. Champale macrumors member

    Jul 23, 2004
    Chicago, USA

    I have the nearly the same PB set up as JamesL and it's been awesome.

    I speak from experience after having spent 13 years in the advertising business. I've had the great fortune to work with some of the best names in Hollywood and it's amazing how many editors I know use Mac PBs for professional editing.

    Go to any edit house in LA and all they use are Mac desktops or PBs.

    Often, they use it to complement a desktop system but from my own experiences editing video with Final Cut Express on my PB, I've had no problems in terms of speed.

    I put my reel together with Final Cut Express and burned it with iDVD. Frankly, it's amazing to me just how far the field has come. Professional video editing has truly become something ordinary people can do.

    To wrap things up, with the setup you mentioned, you should have no problems. Enjoy!
  9. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    I do some fairly advanced stuff off my 12" PowerBook (1.33Ghz, 768MB RAM, and 80GB drive). It isn't exactly going to blow away a G5, but for the things that I've been able to do with this....its amazing! It also helps if you play around with the "renice" command in the Terminal, but because you are a little new to macs I'll leave that for another time.

    BTW, you can burn to a disc image in iDVD. Just google "iDVD easter egg"
  10. AJ795 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Thanks for all the replies.

    I am more or less convinced that going for the PB I originally said is the way to go for me. I have also read some comments about the new VAIO S series. Seeing this and hearing about it over the net has now made me think about that model as well.

    Does anyone have any experience of this?

    Thanks for all advice.

  11. dieselg4 macrumors regular


    Oct 20, 2003
    Rockin' Pittsburgh!
    Wow it gets expensive

    And people complain about the Apple Store's ram prices!
    I took a look at the SonyStyle website. Besides being currently sold out, here's what the "starting at $1499" Vaio S comes to:
    Upgrade from Celeron to Mid-Range P-M 735 +$350
    (the 745 1.8 was +$600! the 755 2ghz was +$1100!!!)
    Add wireless (unless you wouldn't want it) +$50
    1 GB ram (maxxed out?) +$600
    80 GB 5400 RPM drive (i think this is min. for DV) +$250
    DVD-RW upgrade +$200

    Comes to $2949, and its not in stock. That's also a 13.3" screen. If you got the 2ghz processor, it would be $3699.

    The 15" 1.5GHZ Powerbook, sim. config. with 128Meg Video, 1 GB Memory (only 1 DIMM, still another slot left) 80GB 5400 rpm, Superdrive, AE, comes to

    Not only will the powerbook's larger screen be easier to work with IMO, you could still put more ram in it later. Also, teh Sony has only 32MB of Vram. Upgrade to Xbrite screen & Radeon 9700 (+$240)and you still only get half the Video ram of the Apple. If you configure the video card similary you get this price:

    Sony Vaio S (P-M 735) Xbrite 64MB ATI 9700 = $3189
    Powerbook 15" 1.5Ghz G4 64 MB GeForce Go5200 = $3049
  12. CmdrLaForge macrumors 601


    Feb 26, 2003
    around the world
    Its important to know that iDVD is not working with a external superdrive. So instead of buying DVD Studio Pro I would recommend upgrading the internal drive.

    my 2 cents
  13. OziMac macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    A few notes for you...

    DV editing works extremely well on all of Apple's current products (and in fact, quite a ways back too). You will get awesome results on any of these. I do quite a bit of editing on my eMac (which was at 1GHz) and have done a bit on my Cube too. Having said that, I always prefer to do it on the Powerbook where possible, because it absolutely screams. I echo the comments above that the faster hard drive and more video RAM (as well as more RAM full stop) reaqlly do help speed it up quite a bit. The Powerbook is excellent for doing practically any DV manipulation on the go - and puts up a decent fight on your desk too (though obviously could not compete with a DP 2.5GHz G5 of course).

    The only ideal amount of RAM is as much as you can fit in. However, that's not essential and budgetary factors cannot be ignored. For the PB, it is probably bang-for-buck wisest to upgrade to one stick of 512MB and buy anohter 512MB or 1GB stick from a third party manufacturer.

    As for Access, I'm not entirely sure there is an OS X version - but if you can get your hands on File Maker Pro, you will be quite satisfied I think.

    I have not used the VAIO, but I must tell you that one of the major reasons I switched a couple of years ago was frustration at not being able to work with DV (let alone everything else) effectively (or at all) on my previous Wintel laptops and desktops. But even on the Macs I used back then, DV was a breeze. Now it comes as second nature - one you master (or at least familiarise yourself with) FCE or FCP, you can do so much with so little in a very short span of time. And again I echo the comments above that FCE really does provide the best value for money as it has all you could possibly want for editing DV at a very decent price. Though the new Production Suite looks pretty good if you are interested in professional burning and post-production power as well.
  14. drsuse macrumors member

    Aug 13, 2004
    i do serious video editing on a 600mhz imac with 256mb of ram, os 9, and fcp 3.

    no problems, it just takes a long time to render.

    you will have no issues with that powerbook setup. i will likely be looking at something similar next spring or so.
  15. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    Sep 21, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    you can use an external dvd burner with iDVD. as Mechcosmo pointed out, the answer is out there for how to do it. you can also search these forums for the answer.

    get the combo drive model, a firewire enclosure (about $46 shipped for a new one from an eBay merchant), and a Pioneer 108 16x burner (about $95 shipped from newegg.com). $50 more gets you the internal superdrive, but you can decide whether you'd like to burn dual layer discs in the future, or burn single layer discs at 16x instead of 4x.
  16. CmdrLaForge macrumors 601


    Feb 26, 2003
    around the world
    True, a workaround is available. But I don't consider this the Mac experience. It remembers me working with my Windows machine where I do workarounds all the time. If I were new to Macs, and ordered a brand new Powerbook I would be happy if iLife just does whats promised.

    But yes, a workaround is available and you can search the internet to come around this limitation.

    I still suggest to upgrade to the superdrive.
  17. JFreak macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    buy the powerbook now and wait for the tiger - then go for final cut pro and be amazed. many renders will become real-time...

    (as far as performance goes, my friend does very advanced video editing with a 867MHz 12" powerbook with 640MB memory and external firewire hard drive. current models should suit you more than fine...)
  18. AJ795 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Thanks for all the advice!

    Another question...how hot is the PB likely to get after a few hours of using FCE in one go?

    Will the fact that I'll be running off an external hard drive affect how hot it gets?

    Also, can someone please explain what relelvance the FSB of 133MHz has on performance (how is this different to PCs?) and what the whole idea of level 2 and 3 cache is all about and whether the amount on the PB (whatever that is) is sufficient?

    Also, what difference does it make (apart from the price) if I chose between the 1.33 or 1.5 GHz speed processors?

    Many thanks,

  19. kirk26 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 21, 2003
    West Virginia
    You have a decent 1.5Ghz processor (not the best, but not bad).

    LOL, he has best processor that Apple has to offer for PowerBooks!
  20. James L macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2004

    The current powerbook lineup has a 167MHZ FSB, not 133.

    With regards to the L2 and L3 cache and whether or not the current machines have enough for DV editing, you have already heard many people say that they enjoy editing on their PB's, and that the PB handles the process just fine.

    You will notice a SLIGHT increase in speed going from 1.33 to 1.5Ghz, and that will only be in CPU intensive apps. You won't notice a difference at all in more mundane, daily tasks (word processing, email, etc).
  21. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    On the 12" I can attest that it gets a little bit toasty. But you can do it in shorts. The 15" is actually cooler on the bottom because the heat spreads out over a larger area.
  22. AJ795 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Again, thanks for all the replies.

    So far, on my PC, I've used Pinnacle software and am starting to use Adobe Premier...how do FCP/FCE compare to these programs...are they easy to use?

    Also is heat an issue with doing a lot on the 15" PB?


  23. James L macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2004
    FCP is one of the industry standards. IMHO Adobe stopped making Premier for the Mac because it couldn't compete with Final Cut.

    Are they easy to use.... not at first. But, nothing worth having is ever easy IMHO. There is a learning curve for sure, but these programs are amazing... there is just no other way of putting it.

    I tend to use FCE2 for 99% of my work, and I love it. FCP HD though, is outstanding. I figure if major movie production companies, and TV shows such as Scrubs (amongs others) use it, then it must be pretty good!

    Stop thinking... go buy and enjoy!

  24. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    Sep 21, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    FCE and FCP are easy to use. I've taught people how to use FCP in less than 30 minutes. Of course it was just the basics (logging / capturing, setting in & outpoints, building a timeline), but the point is it's not very difficult to get started.

    It should be very easy for you since you have some experience with other NLEs.
  25. AJ795 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2004

    Thanks again!

    A couple more questions...if I am writing to an external hard drive and editing from it, would that mean the PB wouldn't get so hot because I wasn't running off the internal hard drive?

    Also, how does the 12" PB compare in terms of performance in terms of FCE/FCP?



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