iMac + Final Cut Pro for an independent movie.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by xylios, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. xylios macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2008
    Hi Folks,

    I'm wondering if anyone has had any experiences with using an iMac + Final Cut Pro combination for video editing. I'm a first time movie maker with a very modest budget (full details of the movie are being blogged at ) and I've recently switched to mac (macbook white) and had a good experience. I will be shooting 1920x1080 digital video. My question is will the iMac cope with this kind of work load and if anyone has had experience could you elaborate on that experience?

    Thanks in advance,

  2. iToaster macrumors 68000


    May 3, 2007
    In front of my MacBook Pro
    You wouldn't see much of an improvement over the MacBook with an iMac, a Mac Pro (even the quad) would be much better, especially with HD which takes a lot of processor power.
  3. BlakTornado Guest


    Apr 24, 2007
    Washington, OH
    Probably if you get the high end model.

    The iMacs are pretty powerful.

    But a Mac Pro may be better, if you can afford it. Plus some find the Glossy Screen a bother. Personally, I edit video and don't find the gloss to cause problems. But hey, each to their own.
  4. tdhurst macrumors 601


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ

    I've used the latest Final Cut on an iMac G5. It didn't run great, but with plenty of ram and a little patience, I can see any Intel iMac running just fine.
  5. Denali9 macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2007
    Imac or Mac pro

    Buy the mac pro with only 1 cpu, you'll save 400$ and you'll get a pro at same cost as top imac but will get a lot more power for your money or check for a refurb mac pro. If time is not the issue, the imac will do it but you may be waiting a lot.

    Regardless of your choice, consider upgrading to 4 gig of ram.
  6. xylios thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2008
    Thanks all for the replies! Some good information. Apparently Final Cut won't run on my macbook because it won't run on the intel intergrated graphics chip .

    I've looked at the Macbook Pro's and I struggle with the value for money. Their entry level Macbook Pro is $300 more expensive than the middle of the road iMac and the iMac from what I can gather seems to out perform the Macbook Pro.

    24-inch: 2.8GHz -iMac
    2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    2GB memory
    320GB hard drive1
    8x double-layer SuperDrive
    ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB

    Or the entry level Macbook Pro:

    15-inch: 2.4GHz - Macbook Pro
    2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    2GB memory
    200GB hard drive
    Double-layer SuperDrive
    NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256 MB

    2600-2700 is about all I can spend on a rig (plus the cost of Final Cut Studio 2) that's going to work out to be about half the flick's budget :)
  7. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    What camera/format are you shooting with?

    If you really want to save some money, just get the base model iMac. Upgrade to 4GB of ram from and you'll be all set.

    Regardless of what computer you buy (unless you get a Mac Pro), you're going to need an external hard drive to use as a scratch disk. Get something that has FW800 if you get an MBP or an iMac. The WD MyBook Studio is a good one.
  8. xylios thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2008
    I agree with the scratch disk comment, I'm looking at either a JVC Everio GZ HD7 shot at 1920x1080i exported to .TOD file and converted to MPEGII or possibly using a Sony HDV X1. The difference between the two is I can buy and own the JVC for the same price I will be able to hire the X1.

    With 10,000 bucks I'm going to be making 2 flicks, one is a documentary and the other a feature (all detailed at I need to be able to shoot, edit and export (to optical - SD and HD although I know I'm not going to be able to burn down to HD optical out of an iMac) all in house for the cheapest possible price, as external Post Production will cost too much.
  9. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    You should check out a refurb Mac Pro, you could get a decent rig and still have money left over.
  10. xylios thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2008
    That's great! I never even considered refurb units before, I didn't realize that Apple did refurbs... Has anyone had any experience or problems with any of these types of units before? Fantastic idea! I love this forum. Thanks NathanMuir!
  11. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    Hmm, I wouldn't recommend the JVC. Hard drive cameras are a pain in the ass. You're better off with tape, because you have an instant archive of your footage in case you accidently delete it off of your hard drive. Plus you could have some problems editing it in FCS, because it records in MPEG2. You'd have to transcode to an editing codec like Apple Intermediate or ProRes because MPEG2 isn't really an editing codec (it uses interframe compression).

    If you want to buy a camera in the consumer HD range, I'd recommend the Canon HV30.. it delivers the best image in that category, plus its only like $900 so you'll have extra money for all of the other equipment you need, such as tripods, audio (mics, boom poles, etc), lighting, etc. Also, if you really want to get the "film look" depth of field, you'd need a 35mm adapter+lenses if you're using one of these consumer cameras.

    If you decide to rent, also look at the Canon XH-A1 and the Panasonic HVX-200 (probably will cost more).

    This would be by far your best route. You would be able to use internal hard drives for scratch disks, which are cheaper and faster than externals.. plus you could have multiple monitors.

    Get that $1999 Mac Pro, 4 gigs of ram, a TB or 2 of internal storage for scratch disks, and a couple 20'' monitors.
  12. xylios thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2008
    That's great advise, thanks zioxide! The only problem with that is I'm in Australia and on the Australian apple store there are no mac pros leaving my options open to 24 inch 2.4 Intel Core 2 Duo for 1819.00, unfortunately there are no mac pro's on the store at the moment... DOH! Maybe I can order one off the US site...
  13. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    Well refurbs just appear randomly, so keep checking back every day or two. :)
  14. macrumorsMaster macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2008
    Not sure about Aussie, but in US yep.

    Also, on your previous comment. FCS will WORK on a Macbook. A classmate of mine installed and ran it just fine. You'll find threads on that here if you search and also google it.

    If you just need editing it will work just fine. Motion will run like a snail most likely.

    Or even better, if you don't really need to 'own it' you could Craiglist an Editor and just ask that he have FCS or FC on his computer. You really don't need FCS until AFTER you've shot your movie. You can storyboard or preview with other software(e.g. the older Imovie).
  15. cmcbridejr macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2007
    Alpharetta, GA
    I use Final Cut Studio on an iMac G5 with 2GB RAM and it runs just fine.

    The only major disadvantage of the single processor G5 is the time it takes to compress the finished project, but that process is towards the end of post production and is best done overnight.

    The only other problem with using the iMac for FCS is if you are making a movie with more effects than Transformers.

    Otherwise, I think that the iMac is a perfect computer for FCP, especially since the OP has never even done a project.
  16. zync macrumors 68000


    Sep 8, 2003
    Tampa, FL
    I agree. If you didn't set up with the Mac Pro—which sets it's internal drives up as a RAID—you're going to need a RAID for the iMac. I have an iMac and FCP, but I've never tried working with HD on it. At work, all of our editing is on Mac Pros, unless it's a quick job for web, where they use a MBP—or AVID of course.

    Also, I don't think you can stress enough how much MPEG-2 is NOT an option. As a matter of fact, some versions of MPEG-2 can't even be imported into Final Cut. In fact, if you export an MPEG-2 from Compressor for DVD, you can't reimport it into FCP—unless they've changed this in Final Cut Studio 2. I have barely touched FCS2 at work, as I'm normally a graphics guy—but I know my editing! :) Get the Mac Pro, you'll definitely need it.
  17. AnconaJONES macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2008

    "Hard drive cameras are a pain in the ass. You're better off with tape, because you have an instant archive of your footage in case you accidently delete it off of your hard drive."

    I find this statement a little alarming. Anyone who takes the quality and speed of footage ingestion seriously knows that in a Pro-sumer market, drive aquisition is the way. You only have to look at the latest PS'er equipment specs to see that, in this market, tape is a dying format. The P2 and its SSCard storage and RED and its CF cards and RED drives, both systems produce results far better than their tape baring counterparts. Its just logic to appreciatte the speed at which this is all done.

    As for 'accidentally' deleting your footage, that's more a matter of concentration and media management. (which is also made easier through the use of drive aquisition)

    The other point that has been discussed here is format conversion. I think if you're having difficulty working with any format in any editing application you're either uninformed, or trying to do things too cheap. In this day and age there is soft/hardware to convert anything to anything with little to no quality loss. In some cases, the result of the conversion is better than the source.

    The point that I'm trying to make is the answer to the initial question has been clouded by mis-informed comments and in-experience.

    I've PM'd the creator of the initial post with my recommendations, given the budget available, the tasks to be performed, and the percieved workflow that he/she is is looking at in the future. Hopefully it will assist in the purchasing process, and lead to great results without too much heartache.
  18. zync macrumors 68000


    Sep 8, 2003
    Tampa, FL
    I hate tape, but hard drives crash and tapes don't. Now P2 is wonderful. Unfortunately it has to go on HDs to be useful. I'd rather shoot to HD and make a backup after transfer. But I also see the value in tape. Just because HD systems exist doesn't mean that tape is already on its way out though.

    Also to stop the misinformation, tape allows you to convert to just as many formats that HD acquisition does and usually more because some versions of HD acquisition save in their own proprietary format that the footage has to be converted from, into something else. Sometimes that entails a quality loss, sometimes it doesn't. Usually, the format is compressed, sometimes it is lossless compression, but not always. Tape is more versatile and lasts longer, which is why the industry still prefers tape.

    At my company, all of our stuff is still mastered to digibeta or dvcam—as dvcpro hd. I'd go with HDs personally, due to the ease of reworking the project (or getting rid of it). It's also cheaper over time. However, tape is still hugely popular in the industry, and I thought that it was important to mention that. There are a lot of people, especially those that have been in the industry longer, that would never move from tape unless forced and the market is not forcing them. I still see Beta SPs these days. In fact, I got one today for a commercial spot I'm coloring and doing the graphics for.
  19. Techguy172 macrumors 68000

    Feb 2, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    Now, you could get the iMac and it would be fine however it would be slower and more time consuming, Overall the Mac Pro would be a better choice it want to spend the extra. It will provide better overall speed and stability. It will also provide a greater storage.
  20. AnconaJONES macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2008
    I don't dispute any of the above. I also work nearly exclusively within a tape based workflow (SD/HD, digi-beta, Xcam, DVCam) so I fully understand the pro's and con's. I was mainly referring to the Pro-sumers out there, the people who want high quality, no nonsense, and want it at quickly, Guerilla style.
  21. xylios thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2008
    This is all good information to have. I've got a lot to think about, I'll post what I end up going with... At the moment, there's still no Mac Pro's on the Aussie refurb site and no way to order from US site, but considering I don't need the machine until post there's no rush there. I will however be looking into camera solutions over the next couple of days with a loan JVC Everio coming my way so I can test work flow + video performance.

    I'll let you know how it plays out... Thanks again all
  22. Cybix macrumors 6502a


    Feb 10, 2006
    Western Australia
    I shoot short clips at home (family stuff) on a Canon HV30, excellent consumer cam for the price. You can get pretty outstanding results with this cam, esp with a 35mm DOF adapter. I'm not sure if I'd use this camera for an actual film unless it was very tricked out, even then, I'd probably want something with a little better manual controls.

    I edit my HD footage on my 2Ghz Core Duo Macbook Pro (2Gig RAM) with NO issues at all in Final Cut Express 4.

    A new iMac will easily be able to cope with editing your HD footage, no problem at all, especially a top-end model. You will want 4Gig RAM ultimately.

    I highly recommend an external FW400/800 hard disk, or two mirrored drives, or whatever, but a fast external scratch disk for editing is certainly the way to go.

    As for cam's, renting the X1 is not a bad idea, despite the price, it's a really amazing cam. Have a look at Philip Bloom's work, he's addicted to this cam. I must say however he also uses a LETUS DOF adapter with his cam's. Of course, it's not just the camera that makes the footage look so great, this guy is pretty hardcore and knows his **** :)

    Good luck! I'll bookmark your blog now :)
  23. zync macrumors 68000


    Sep 8, 2003
    Tampa, FL
    True. I understand where you're coming from. If it were me, we'd be doing it all on HDs or film. Of course, if it were me, we wouldn't have the decks. :)
  24. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    His budget for the camera is like $1500, not $7000 for a HVX200 or $25000+ for a RED. At his price range, there are two options: HDV (tape) and AVCHD (hard drive). HDV is by far the better option as far as these two go. I wasn't talking about expensive types of solid state storage, just the things in his price range. Obviously RED, the HVX's P2, Sony's XDCAM EX are going to produce better results, but in his price range HDV is going to be better than AVCHD.
  25. kabunaru Guest

    Jan 28, 2008
    This issue can be solved:

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