FCS 2 - The Right Tools For The Job? - Newbie Needing Help

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Wheetman, Aug 11, 2007.

  1. Wheetman macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2007
    #1
    Hiya all,

    I'm about to make the jump across the big divide. Never having used an Apple Mac before I need to ask for some help.

    I am an enthusiastic photographer/videographer who has finally got fed up with MS. I am moving over to Mac come the release of OSX 10.5 in October. I want to run FCS 2 Suite on both Pro and MBP, but have no idea about what will be the best hardware setup for my needs.

    Re: MBP, I am thinking 17", 4 Gig, High Def, Matte. I guess I need the 7200rpm hard drive, but would have preferred more capacity. I am interested to know how FCS 2 will run on such a unit. Especially given that is such a high capacity installation. Do I need to install all the apps or can I just install say the FCP for editing and then do the rest on my mac pro, or does the suite require that all the apps be loaded at the same time.

    Re: The Mac Pro... The logical answer to my next question is 'as much as you can afford.' But what I really need to know is just how much processing and RAM power is needed to make FCS 2 run really well? I don't want to skimp from the start. I'm not going to be producing Blockbuster movies, but want to be able to get the best out of all the apps so that I can play around with FX, transitions, PIP, Chromakey and cool titles. I already have access to FCS 2 so it's not a question of making do with iMovie 08 or even the 'Express' version. My need is to know from you folks that already use this application what the hardware requirements are, not just to get by, but to work at a comfortable and manageable speed. Do I really need 3 Ghz of Quad Core with 16Gig Ram and a graphics card costing over £1000.00 GBP? I suspect that the answer is no. Not unless I want to edit the next Star Wars movie. But as to just how much I do need, I am asking for your help on that one . Basically, my hobby is underwater video. I have, quite literally, miles of mini DV tape that I want to turn into a decent movie. to produce on DVD or upload to the web. At the moment it's not even HD, but that may change in the future. Would it be better to concentrate my finances on more Ram in favour of a higher grade graphics card or the other way round?

    It would really be of great assistance if someone could give me some pointers before I make what might turn out to be an expensive mistake.

    Kind regards,

    Wheetman
     
  2. -DH macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    Nashville Tennessee
    #2
    In either configuration, FCP itself is much more dependent on processor power and speed than on RAM, but over the past few versions, some of the rendering requirements of various plugins has been moved to the graphics card. RAM is still important, but even the current version of FCP won't address more than 2.5gb. Extra RAM really comes in handy when you have more than one app running at a time; a minimum of 4gb is generally recommended.

    Motion and Color both have specific graphic card requirements since both rely heavily on the card's power for proper operation. And since FCP is moving some of the load to the graphics processors (and predicted to continue in that vain), having a good graphics card is essential as well.

    The other essentials for video editing really depend on the video formats you'll be working with; some will require very fast storage solutions and specialized capture cards. But for DV25, HDV and DVCPro HD, Firewire will suffice for data transfer (capturing).

    For the MBP, you don't HAVE to have the 7200rpm boot drive ... but you will need a 7200rpm drive (Firewire or eSATA) for media. If you choose a Firewire drive, a FW cardbus will create a second Firewire bus inside the Mac virtually eliminating throughput errors such as dropped frames. If you choose an eSATA solution, an eSATA cardbus is a necessity.

    The FCS apps only take up about 4gb of space; the remaining 46gb of material are "extras"; LiveType Data, SoundTrack Loops, Tutorials, Templates, etc. During the install process, you'll have the option of installing (or not installing) any extra content on another drive. As long as the apps themselves are installed on the boot drive you shouldn't have a problem.

    All in all, you're correct in your assumption that you'll need "as much as you can afford" but you don't have to purchase the high end of everything for normal editing ... however, more/faster is generally better and will save you time in the long run.

    -DH
     
  3. Wheetman thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2007
    #3
    Hi -DH,

    Thank you for your input, which is helpful. You have lost me though when talking about connecting an external firewire drive <<If you choose a Firewire drive, a FW cardbus will create a second Firewire bus inside the Mac virtually eliminating throughput errors such as dropped frames.>> Would you mind expanding on this please - I don't understand about the second cardbus inside the MBP? As this is likely to be my chosen method - I have a FW 500GB LaCie external, which I currently use with my PC.

    Kind regards and thanks.

    Wheetman
     
  4. -DH macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    Nashville Tennessee
    #4
    ALL Macs have just one Firewire bus internally, regardless of the number of Firewire ports included from the factory. Since video contains such huge amounts of data, using one bus for capturing from a DV device (camcorder, VTR or converter) and then using that same bus to write the files to a FW hard drive can often cause problems; primarily dropped frames or frames captured out of order. This is what's known as "throughput errors." Large amounts of data flowing back and forth on the same bus can typically create this problem.

    The solution is to add a Firewire cardbus in the slot of your MacBook Pro (or a Firewire PCI card on a desktop tower Mac). The addition of the card forces a second Firewire bus inside your Mac, thereby alleviating the data flow problems that can often occur.

    It may help to think of a "bus" as a lane on a highway; instead of having one lane for both directions of traffic, a second lane will allow traffic to flow much more smoothly. Just connect your DV device to a port on one bus (either a cardbus port or one of the built-in ports) and connect your Firewire drive in the other bus. If you add additional FW drives, you can daisy-chain them from one to another.

    That said, many people edit without the use of a second bus and some won't have any problems. But if you're editing for a living, even the simplest problems can cost you time and money. Considering the fact that most FW cardbus cards or FW PCI cards cost less than $100.00, it's a cheap way to help ensure fewer problems.

    -DH
     
  5. deux-ex-mak macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    #5
    yep

    That's true. I have my rushes in an external disk via FW800 and it plays back just fine via the Fw400 to an A/D converter and from there to the video monitor. (Powerbook G4 1.6 mhz 1.5 gb RAM)
     
  6. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #6
    I would only worry about getting an extra FW card for the laptop as it only has one FW400 port and daisy chaining a camera and a FW HDD into a single port can sometimes cause problems if one (or both) of the devices doesn't strictly adhere to the FW specs.

    As for as desktop configurations go I think a Mac Pro 2.66 w/2gigs of RAM and the X1900 gfx card would be a solid machine that wouldn't break the bank. You probably don't need the X1900, but it will have a much longer life than any of the other cards currently offered and finding GFX cards to buy "off the shelf" for Macs can be difficult and expensive.

    Other things to consider are audio and video monitors as well as any other software you might need/want. You don't want to drop you entire budget on just the computer. To use a photography analogy, that would be like spending your whole budget on the camera body and having little left over to buy lenses, filters, flashes/lights, etc.,.


    Lethal
     
  7. Wheetman thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2007
    #7
    Thank you all.

    -DH I now understand what you were saying in your first reply. I hadn't considered the throughput problem, but can see now how it might easily occur.
    Insofar as the Mac Pro is concerned. I am surprised that you suggest 2 Gig as being sufficient. I currently run with 4Gig on a PC using Adobe Premiere and it can be terribly slow. I am told, however, that the Mac experience generally is one of faster speed so I look to be impressed. Is there a firewire cardbus that any of you can recommend for reliability and performance?

    Kind regards.

    Wheetman
     
  8. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #8
    I recommend 2gig because that is the recommended amount from Apple. If you get 2gig and it seems sluggish to you then you can always add more RAM, but if 2gigs runs just fine, why spend the extra money on 3 or 4 gigs? Same line of thought w/the FW card. I'd get the machine first, see how it goes and if you need the card get it. If not, spend that money on something else. We have an assistant at work that captures DVCPro HD (much higher data rate than DV) onto a FW400 connected to a laptop and for years I plugged multiple FW400 drives and my camera/deck into my G4 w/o a problem. If you do decide to get a card I've always had good luck with Sonnet Tech products.

    Contrary to popular belief very rarely do professionals use cutting edge machines loaded to the gills w/RAM and blazing fast video cards. I'd say most of the programming out there is cut on older, rather than newer hardware. I know a guy currently cutting a show for the Discovery Channel and they are using machines that are probably 5 years old running OS 9. At my current gig I edit on a mid-generation G5 tower and that's one of the newest machines I've used in the past 5 years or so.


    Lethal
     
  9. Mr B macrumors member

    Mr B

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #9
    Amen, I often pull out my MBP (2.33, 2gbRAM) at work because it is faster than the machines I sometimes find where I am working.
     
  10. Wheetman thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2007
    #10
    You know guys, I think I am really going to enjoy working on a Mac.

    Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply to my post. Your advice is not only very reassuring it is very much appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    Wheetman
     

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