How much iMac do I need and does the editing workflow seem right?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by HeyMoe, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. HeyMoe macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2011
    Hello, I'm a new member but have been reading the forums for a while now. I posted this in the iMac forum as well.

    And here we go...

    Present Day Hardware & Software
    -I have 2 Canon HV20 camcorders and a Nikon D5000 DSLR.
    -My editing workstation is a 15" Powerbook G4 1.67GHz w/ 1GB of RAM, ATI Mobility Radeon 9700(128MB). I had ordered an extra 1GB of RAM from OWC but it seems to crash my system, maybe I need to buy the same module so my memory matches. They told me that wasn't necessary when I bought the GB stick. Any thoughts?
    -My OS is 10.4.11 and I'm using FCS2 and Adobe CS3.

    Future Hardware & Software
    -I would like to get an iMac 27" 3.4 GHz Quad-Core i7(+ $200 upgrade over the 3.1 GHz Quad-Corei5). My software would be OS X Snow Leopard, FCS3, CS5 and possibly Avid MC 5.5
    -Is it worth upgrading the graphics card to the AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2GB GDDR5(+ $100) for editing in 1080p/1080i/HDV/ProRes? I know it's important for gaming and 3D(which I don't do) and I don't plan on doing uncompressed HD or 2K/4K anytime soon on this system(does the graphics card have a huge affect in this area?). I will be doing some compositing and have multiple video layers, as well as color correction, will the 2GB graphics card give me a boost here? A $100 isn't a huge add-on so I don't mind adding it if I'm going to see a bump in productivity.
    -Should I stick with the standard 1TB HDD now that Thunderbolt is here and I'll be able to add a RAID externally or is upgrading to the 256GB SSD and having a 1TB(+ $600) or 2TB(+ $750) drive worth the expense? Again, I'll be editing 1080p/1080i/HDV/ProRes as well as adding stills from my D5000.
    -I'll max out the RAM at 16GB. I won't buy this from Apple, but from OWC, Crucial or NewEgg. Any other suggestions?

    Editing Workflow
    -My Powerbook G4 would become my assist/capturing station and I'd do my editing on the new iMac. I'd run FCS2 on the Powerbook and FCS3 on the iMac.
    -I'm planning on shooting 1080/60i and 1080/24p in a 60i wrapper, depending on the project, with the HV20's and using the D5000 for photos(JPEG, possibly RAW in the future).
    -I would be capturing HDV 1080i60 Firewire Basic from the HV20 into FCP so I can keep timecode and recapture the tapes in the future if necessary. I would perform the reverse pulldown on the 1080/24p footage via Apple's workflow thru Compressor(I'll use the new iMac for this, as the Powerbook is excruciatingly slow for this process).
    -I was planning on making my sequence for the 1080/60i material HDV and have the Render set to ProRes 422. Is there a reason I should set the sequence to ProRes from the start? And if so, I'm assuming I set it to ProRes 422 1440x1080 60i not 1920x1080, since HDV is 1440x1080. Is that correct? Since the 1080/24p material is now ProRes after the reverse pulldown that will be my sequence settings for those projects.

    Side question... With the new Thunderbolt port, will the multi connection I/O boxes hooked up to them be able to capture HDV in ProRes and keep the timecode? Maybe this can't be answered until it comes out and people have had a chance to use them, just thought I'd ask.

    -I'll be editing in FCP, and bringing shots into Motion, Photoshop and After Effects for various reasons. I'll be doing basic color correction in FCP, possibly Color(I don't know it, but will probably play around with it).

    Final Source Material
    -Not really sure where my projects will end up right now but I want them to be able to be output to HDCam or HDCamSR if necessary, as well as bluray. In the beginning they'll probably just be uploaded to the internet(Vimeo, Youtube, etc..) and SD DVD's for family and friends. I want to keep it at the highest quality it can be for the whole process, which I know is only HDV/ProRes.

    I know about FCP X and Lion, but I don't feel like being a guinea pig for them. I'll upgrade to them after they've been out for a few months and the bugs have been worked out. Plus one of the screen grabs that was floating around showed the menu under "File" and I didn't see "Log and Capture" as a choice. Not good considering my source material is from my HV20's via Firewire. But don't worry I'm not making a judgement based off of one screen grab and I'll wait and see how FCP X is when it comes out. I'm actually excited to see how it is. And please don't turn this into an FCP X discussion, I was just letting you know I know about the upgrades coming very soon, thanks.

    My biggest concern is the new iMac. Should I go all out and get it fully loaded or only do certain add-ons like the graphics card and Ram from other vendors now that Thunderbolt has arrived?

    Thanks in advance for the feedback, these forums are fantastic.
  2. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    Can't really begin to answer most of those questions without knowing what you are planning to shoot. Some of those question would get a different answer depending on if you were shooting weddings vs motion graphics vs narratives/documentaries.
  3. HeyMoe, Jun 18, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2011

    HeyMoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2011
    In 1080 60i I'd be shooting nature/outdoor documentary style shows, as well as home improvement/cooking/do-it-yourself style shows in a controlled environment.

    In 1080 24p I'd be shooting scripted material, but nothing that involves effects or CGI.

    I'll be adding titles/lower thirds and effecting the stills I have, again nothing fancy.

    Let me know if you need more details.

    Thanks for the reply, I appreciate your time.
  4. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    Looks like a plan.
    Allow me to comment on what I know, and what I think I know.

    It won't make a difference there, but Motion loves RAM on the video card. More RAM = faster Motion.
    My opinions differ somewhat with others here. Others will say "put all your media on a separate drive to your OS and apps". My feeling is that it may be a good idea, depending on what you are editing and what interfaces you have. Doing that with, for example, an external FW drive is crazy. Lots of video tracks means the IO of the HDD will be saturated quickly. You are expecting only a few tracks so I would expect that it could all go on one drive happily. If I had money to burn, I would get the SSD option. As of yet, no-one has tested (AFAIK) the scenario of OS and apps on HDD and footage on internal SSD. Everyone seems obsessed with fast bootups and fast app launching, forgetting that once it's booted/launched, that's about it for intensive IO.

    To save money, I'd get the 1 or 2 TB internal drive for now, and get an external SSD with TB later. I'd probably find I didn't need/couldn't justify the external SSD later and so have saved some dosh.

    Sounds like the best idea.
    Stick with Firewire. It's what the camera has, it's what your Mac has. It won't go any faster or better with TB.
    Apple recommends either. ProRes reads more smoothly (less CPU), HDV has smaller file sizes. With today's CPUs and enormous storage, neither is an issue. The best reason for an all-ProRes workflow is for consistency.
  5. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    I see nothing in your shooting plans that would require high end equipment needs. Other than adding titles or doing basic color correction, your editing could be done on an average laptop using FC. Unless you are doing something along the style of say, the documentary "Super-size Me" or some other fairly complex motion graphics animation, then you have no need for After Effects... and very little need for Motion. You certainly don't seem to have the need for extensive I/O unless you are trying to do extremely fast turn around like for a television show or music video that require multiple formats. If you are in the rare situation that you need to run through a bunch of high end compositing, you could always work in low rez proxy and then swap out for the high rez before output.

    Just trying to save you some money... but if having a super fast graphics card, or using Thunderbolt (with expensive non-existent peripherals) makes you feel better, then go for it. But, I think you are over-thinking your needs.

    For example, I just finished a 2 minute title sequence that was done in After Effects and FC. It had a bunch of composited effects, filters, and color grading. In After Effects alone, I had 3 precomps with dozens of layers that included effects, resizing (Magic Bullet) and time remapping. Granted, it was "only" 720P (rezzed up from SD footage), but the point is... I did everything on a Macbook Pro core duo hooked up to a measly FW800 external drive.

    Here's the sequence in case your interested.

    Good luck!
  6. HeyMoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2011
    Thanks for the input guys. I guess I definitely don't need the fully loaded iMac at this time. I'll probably still get the i7 model(future proofing and I tend to keep my computers for a while, I still have my 17" iMac powerPC G4 1 GHz from 2003) but pass on upgrading to an SSD. I don't plan on doing a ton of Motion/After Effects stuff and whatever I do will be pretty basic, so the 2GB video card might not be necessary either. But another question...Does the higher end video card affect Compressor in anyway? Or is it just better to have more RAM for Compressor? Just curious:)
    I'll also use an external drive via Firewire as my capture scratch and wait for those TB peripherals to exist and come down in price.

    Thanks for the link THX1139, very cool. That is way more than I'll be doing at this point.

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