FCPX and new iMacs - longer term commitment?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by OldCorpse, Dec 24, 2016.

  1. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
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    compost heap
    #1
    I'm gearing up to make some short films and maybe even a cheap feature in the coming year. As part of that I need the ability to edit. My computer gear has been Apple for close to 20 years now. I started editing on FCP 4.0 back in the day. Currently, FCP has been discontinued and replaced with FCPX. I have a late 2009 27" top of the line (at the time) iMac, but it's starting to feel its age.

    Therefore I am looking to get a 27" SSD-centered iMac for editing on FCPX. While there's a rough consensus that FCPX is ready for prime time (unlike a few years ago), it seems the hardware side of editing on Apple gear has been lagging. I don't want to buy a laptop, I like the more powerful desktop solutions. But at this point both MacPro and the iMac are long in the tooth.

    I know that Tim C. assured everyone that the iMac is not dead, but it's hard to maintain optimism when there is no longer even a dedicated team working on MacOS and desktop hardware is not getting updated in an eternity and a day. It feels like for Apple it's all about iOS and mobile.

    I'm starting to think that maybe it's time to get off the Apple train. I like the idea of FCPX a great deal, but I don't like the idea that it may fall by the wayside suddenly and without warning like so many Apple pro apps (Aperture, FCP etc.) and maybe even the hardware will get abandoned.

    So does anyone have any feeling as to when the iMac might get updated? Intel's Kaby Lake is supposed to come out early 2017, but then the real game changer is supposed to be Cannonlake just a bit later in 2017. It seems that if Apple is going to do a major re-design of the iMac, they'd wait for Cannonlake - or is that wrong? In any case, I can't wait forever and I don't want to pay top $ for really old hardware as Apple has been in the habit of offering.

    Therefore the timing might push me out of the Apple ecosystem after all these years, which would be a shame, as I invested so much in it (not just $, but crucially time and whatever knowledge I managed to gather).

    That's why I'm asking for what your honest opinion is about the chances Apple is going to get serious about their hardware (and the iMac specifically) soon? If it's going to be in a reasonable time frame, I can hold out, but at some point, I gotta jump ship.

    Thoughts? TIA!
     
  2. Jaho101 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    #2
    I think that the FCP X + Mac combo will be good for a number of years, that ecosystem is safe for the near future, but the bigger issue is for people looking to use apps like Resolve and After Effects as well, apps that aren't as efficient as FCP X. That's the main thing that bothers me, because Apple has no equivalent color grading apps and the 4-8k era is starting soon, and the GPUs are lagging behind.
     
  3. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    Sep 3, 2013
    #3
    The 2015 iMac 27 was updated just last year and has a 4Ghz Skylake i7 CPU. The internal SSD can do 1,800 megabytes/sec. I have an 8TB Thunderbolt 2 SSD array that does about 1,100 megabytes/sec. As a documentary editor working on large projects (we shot 2.4TB of 4K last week) it works pretty well.

    Five years ago Apple committed to a 10-year roadmap for FCPX. Since then there have been over 20 updates, all free: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201237

    The largest FCPX update happened only recently which greatly expanded its audio editing capability. It is under active development by a committed team and there is no sign whatsoever Apple is wavering on its commitment.

    For 4k, the built-in proxy feature of FCPX works very well, but I'd prefer more CPU and GPU horsepower. The iMac will probably be updated 1H17 with a 4.2Ghz Kaby Lake CPU (i7-7700K), and an AMD Polaris GPU which is significantly faster than the current one.
     
  4. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #4
  5. Unami macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    the rumors point to a minor redesign early 2017 (i'd guess march). usb-c ports and kaby-lake processors. probably no major redesign and cannon lake processors until 2018. besides, desktop cannon-lake processors won't be here until 2018, so i'd guess for a late 2018 (if ever) redesign for apple's desktops.

    as for commiting to fcpx and apple as a desktop-plattform: fcpx just got a major update, it doesn't feel as abandoned as the mac. and while the mac feels a bit neglected, it's not that bad. imacs already have skylake-processors. the top-tier kaby lake processors have not been released yet - so the imacs are still current - besides that, the speed advantage of kaby lake processors will be neglectable. the gpu in the imac is not that current (and wasn't very fast from the beginning), and ssd and ram (still user upgradeable, maybe for the last time) are still outragously expensive, but that's nothing new for apple products.

    the situation is really bad for the mac pro, which has not been upgraded in three years - but you seem to want to buy an imac anyways.

    imacs have been fast enough for editing 4k-video for some time - especially with fcpx. don't need proxy files for that unless you have multiple videos play simultaneously in a heavily compressed codec like h.264. as the standard is still 2k, i wouldn't worry about speed too much. unless you want to extensively color-grade 4k or higherresolution footage - then i'd recommend a gpu with 4gb or more ram - so you'd either have to get a pc or an external gpu - or wait for new imacs with tb3-support, for more bandwith to that external gpu. still, a few 4k nodes in davinci will work with even 2gb of gpu-ram.
     
  6. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #6
    My 2015 iMac 27 GPU has 4GB of video ram and has no problem color grading 4k using proxy mode in FCPX. It's true with 4k you can never have too much CPU or GPU horsepower -- even given the efficiency of FCPX. So the upcoming iMac upgrade will be useful.

    We capture in 4k even though we only distribute in 1080p because 4k gives a lot more compositional latitude to crop/zoom in post, also 4k 8-bit 4:2:0 can be transcoded to 1080p 10-bit 4:4:4, trading resolution for increased chroma depth and sampling rate.
     
  7. Starfia macrumors 6502

    Starfia

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    #7
    OldCorpse – I'm using (and loving) my last-2013 iMac, but it's pre-Retina and I'm also ready to look at an upgrade as soon as they do something more dramatic.

    I'm not worried about the talk of a non-dedicated Mac software team. I think macOS was mature when iOS showed up, and ever since then, iOS innovations have fuelled its recent advances. There's more parity between the platforms than ever, so I'd even guess it's better there aren't teams working in isolation.

    I use FCP casually (and I've pushed Motion pretty far for some projects too), and even my current hardware hasn't left me craving performance yet. Apple's core technologies famously work well with Final Cut Pro – which itself is super-optimized for managing lots of video. Surely you'd at least get many satisfying years of editing even if you went for a current iMac, and with refurbished models and stuff, you'd only have to pay almost top dollar.

    I'd be surprised if we didn't see new desktop Macs this year – either iMacs or something else (like new Mac minis or standalone Macs to work with those LG displays).
     
  8. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    compost heap
    #8
    Thanks everybody - seems like there is high confindence that a longer term committment to the software/hardware platform is a safe bet wrt. Apple's roadmap.

    I'm happy to stay with it, and looking forward to what they do with the iMac come 2017 :)
     
  9. 4God macrumors 68020

    4God

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    #9
    I've heard of this but how? What's your workflow?
     
  10. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    Sep 3, 2013
    #10
    It only applies if you don't crop the 4k image and edit on a 4k 10-bit 4:4:4 timeline. I haven't tested it because it's more important in my documentary group to recompose 4k in post for 1080p distribution, and that eliminates the potential to convert to 1080p 10-bit 4:4:4.

    OTOH if you really needed 1080p 10-bit 4:4:4, and did not need to crop in post, it's logistically easier to record internally 4k then convert, than to strap an HDMI recorder on cameras which support 10-bit 4:4:4 output.

    From a FCPX standpoint I think you'd create a new project (ie "sequence" or timeline), override the defaults and select 4k with ProRes 444 rendering. Then the output would probably have to be ProRes because normal H264 is only 8-bits per color channel. Then if the playback device or software did not support it, the benefit might be lost.

    It could also probably be transcoded prior to import using MPEG Streamclip or other tools.

    Here is an article and discussion:

    http://www.hdwarrior.co.uk/2015/10/08/when-420-8bit-becomes-444-10bit-from-barry-green/
     
  11. 4God macrumors 68020

    4God

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    #11
    So basically 4K on a 1080 timeline with Spatial Conform set to none and scale at 50%, right?
     
  12. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #12
    No, I meant 4k on a 4k timeline with the editor configured to use 10-bit 4:4:4 intermediate render files, then the final export (in FCPX) would probably be to ProRes 4:4:4. Otherwise editing changes might be calculated at a lower bit depth or resolution. That said I think FCPX by default uses 10-bit ProRes 422 for intermediate render files, so maybe even that would deliver some of the benefit. But I tend to doubt a final export to 8-bit H264 4:2:0 would deliver any benefits.

    In Premiere maybe use DNxHD. I think there are sequence settings for editing mode, preview file format, maximum bit depth and maximum render quality. All that would have to be investigated and tested to ensure it delivers the desired result.

    The problem is a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. At any stage of the pipeline the extra content could get wiped out, and the tools and methods for examining this are unclear. I don't recollect seeing an exact workflow with corroboration by a specific test procedure that validates it works.
     

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