iMac for HD Video Editing

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Swab, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. Swab macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2010

    I am about to purchase the current 27" Quad-Core 2.8GHz iMac to be used for HD video editing (the video's are 2-6 minutes in length) Below are the specs, and I'm going to do 1 upgrade option. Is this a good system for HD video editing?

    Also, should I upgrade the RAM or Processor speed? Being that Final Cut is 32-bit, I would assume I should upgrade the processor instead. Any help will be appreciated! Thanks.

    2.8GHz Intel Core i5
    2560-by-1440 resolution
    4GB (two 2GB) memory
    1TB hard drive
    8x double-layer SuperDrive
    ATI Radeon HD 5750 with 1GB
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yo will hardly notice a 10% faster processor. But you can double the RAM. The best plan is to buy the computer with the minimum RAM installed then max it out with all that will fit from a third party.

    You also are going to need a set of external disk drivers for holding you video data and more for a rotating backup system. A minimum of four 2TB FW800 drives. One for the video, one for Time machine and one for an off site backup. And one an on-site backup to rate with the off site.
  3. zblaxberg Guest


    Jan 22, 2007
    I bought the 2.8Ghz Intel Core i5 with 2x2GB of RAM but I upgraded to 4x2GB and I have never had a problem editing HD video. I edited an entire feature film on it.
  4. Swab thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2010
    Thanks for the reply. Our video's are typically 2-8 minutes in length. About what would you think the export time would be for an 8 minute video on this system? And from your response I assume you don't get the spinning pinwheel of death all the time? lol. How long would a render take (w/ minimal effects such as de-interlace, sharpen, cc, and some lower third titles) for an 8 minute video?
  5. zblaxberg Guest


    Jan 22, 2007
    Someone could probably estimate this better than I could but I couldn't imagine an export (assuming you just export a quicktime and have minimal effects, just cuts) taking longer than 10-15 minutes. If you're compressing it using quicktime conversion I really couldn't tell you because that would be dependent on a lot of factors. No spinning wheel really unless there is an unusual program quirk. Rendering really isn't that bad at all. I'm used to working with much longer videos than 8 minutes so I wouldn't be able to guess on that one. Either way iMac is definitely an ideal way to go.

    Basically it all comes down to the type of footage you are ingesting, codecs you edit with and effects you have used so you can't just ask for a time estimation.
  6. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    Get a second monitor. The Dell Ultrasharp series gets good reviews (same panels as the iMacs) and the 24" model is the same res as the iMac. It connects via Display Port and if you hook it up to a USB port on the iMac, you'll get multiple USB ports and card readers on the Dell.

    Some time comparisons for compressing from Barefeats. On my not-so-old ~3 GHz C2D iMac, a WMV takes 3:1 to compress, an MP4 about 2:1.

    Some more comparing i3, i5 and i7.

    If it was me, I'd be getting the i7 and upgrading RAM myself. It comes with 2 x 2GB and there's a total of four slots. These guys will sell you another 2 x 2GB for $50.
  7. smokescreen76 macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2010
    You could edit HD video on a G4 PowerMac using Final Cut Pro 3 back in 2001.

    My phone can edit HD video.

    I'm pretty sure a 2011 $2000 Mac will be able to cope with editing HD video.
  8. FroColin macrumors regular

    Jun 4, 2008
    These always bug me a little bit. If you need to ask then you don't need it. I used to edit video on a G4 iBook with one twelve inch screen and 30gbs of hard drive so I used an external drive. I know it wasn't HD but the point is that your iMac under any specs will be fine unless you have a reason it won't.

    On an actually helpful note, if your going to upgrade anything, upgrade hard drive always. A terabyte won't be enough very soon, also it's much much much harder to upgrade then the RAM. Also apple will over charge you on ram, you can get it (a little) cheaper on other sites when you find your self needing it.
    And another thing is that you don't NEED a minimum of 4x2tb. You can get by with anything, including an iBook G4 with a 100 gb firewire 400 external drive. Good luck :)
  9. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    I thought that was too many, but only by one.

    The logic would go something like this:
    • internal drive for apps, docs, assets and OS
    • external drive (USB) for time machine #1
    • external drive (USB) for time machine #2 (if a TM drive dies, you are back to square 1) - swap them over weekly and store offsite
    • external drive (FW800) for capture scratch, render files, etc. anything in the FCP folder normally found in Documents
    • a backup for that (so it could be RAID 1, or a regular clone)
    You'll also need more HDs as you fill the project ones up. Then you'll start thinking about an archiving policy :D

    Somewhere should be direct copies of each card's contents as you pull them out of the camera. And backed up

    Cheap? No. Excessive? ... how much is your footage worth? Take one of your important hard drives and unplug it now. Put it in a drawer unseen. How much trouble are you in? That's how much it's worth.

    I've used iMovie since it was version 1. Every transition or text overlay had to be rendered. Transition too long? Shorten it ... and render. Text wrong colour? Change it ... and render. It got a bit tedious after a while.

    I can't blame the OP for wanting best bang for his buck. He's climbing iMac mountain and he wants to know how high he needs to go. When a Mac mini can do chromakey, four HD video streams and a lower third without rendering, and compressing is like a "Save As...", then we'll stop worrying about specs and be truly artistically free. Ahh, who am I kidding. I'm a spec geek. :cool:
  10. zblaxberg Guest


    Jan 22, 2007
    Ideally, if I had the money, I'd get a solid state drive for the operating system and a 2 terabyte drive for my media in the imac. Then a 4x2TB RAID Firewire 800 drive or since they came out with Thunderbolt just wait for the new iMacs to come out because that's going to be fast as *******. I miss having the e-sata port of the mac pro but the iMac is a beast. Macs have always been very good for editing video.
  11. bluap84 macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2011
    Im getting into Video Editting. As well as photography down the line...this has shed some light on what i need to do with my external drive space. So thank you. I got rhe i7 iMac and will eventually bump it up to 16gb.

    What size do you think would be best for the FW800 drive? The biggest your wallet will allow?
  12. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    No-one has suggested HDD for startup and apps and SSD for media. Surely it would be more sensible to have the hugest files that you're always accessing (sometimes multi streams synchronously) on the fastest drive? I keep waiting for the Barefeats dude to do it...
  13. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    2TB seems to be a good price point ATM.

    Step 1: organisation. Figure out what will be going where, how long you'll keep all original footage and where it will be kept. Also, where and how to archive the final final final version of your movies.

    If you do this - and remove old projects according to plan - your FW drive needn't be as big as it can possibly be.
  14. bluap84, Mar 9, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011

    bluap84 macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2011
  15. ErosPower, Mar 10, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011

    ErosPower macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2011
    What kind of HD do you talk about ?

    I bought an imac i7 with 8 Go Ram last november after editing (as a pro) on my MBP 2,33 with 3 Go Ram (with e-sata external disks)...
    The HD I edit is XDCAM 1920x1080...
    The problem, big problem with imac is the lack of e-sata... No way to edit native XDCAM... It's a pity that FW800 is too slow... It is easy mith my old MBP because e-sata...
    You must know that friends of mine are editing 4K (red) on old G4 Pro with fiber optic connections to external drive ! They just edit it no effects but for 52' doc it works fast and easy...
    The video pro has been rubbish on mac since my MBP generation...
    We have good processor with imac i7 but no way to use it as pro because of the slow connection... This machine is rubbish except the screen...
    So what's more : FCP still on 32 bits, rubbish on big tower macpro...

    Now, we all have seen thunderbolt arriving, that will make a TRUE différence and I am very happy not to have bought a MacPro last december... We are angry against apple because they kept secret these thunderbolt performances...

    And we just hope a lot with the next version of FCS 4 : we all need FCP on 64bit and true HD in Motion and a better compressor that it's been too long ******** (I use episod and turbo.264 HD)

    Many of friends I know as pro have left FCP last year to go to premiere pro : works faster and with AE and PS true 3D they have learned the workflow we need..

    After all, know your HD (XDCAM, P2, HDTV or true HD 4K) and always remember wether the processor or the ram the best tool is the fastest connections with the external drive you use...

    And for conclusion, I have to do the render of all PSD logo in the timeline I have on my MBP because the Imac cannot dot it without many pixellisation when used in small size... My MBP works all night long to do the correct quality render my Imac i7 cannot afford ! Crazy !

    Imac i7 8Go ram - 10 To external video disk (e-sata and 800 FW - raid etc..) - MBP 15", 2,33 Ghz 3Go - Ipod mini 8Go

    Cameras : pmw 350k sony xdcam - pd 170 dvcam (and all I need with, vinten, mike and so on) - canon 5D MarkII
  16. martinX, Mar 11, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011

    martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    With respect, a professional editor (someone who is doing this for a full-time paid job) would choose a Mac Pro for that very reason: expandability.

    FCP can edit XDCAM HD sort-of natively - it's re-wrapped in Quicktime instead of MXF but it's the same file and the same file quality.
    Is it too slow to edit XDCAM? A G-Tech FW800 drive gets around 50 MB/s, and XDCAM is either 35 mbps or 50 mbps so a good firewire drive should be able to handle a couple of concurrent streams. In addition, a new iMac should easily handle multiple streams running from the internal drive. I can run 4 or 5 streams of HD video (depending on how I hold my tongue:p) on my 2 year old iMac, and they are AIC at around 100 mbps. I know they say to use a separate drive for your video files, but they must be running multiple streams of uncompressed from a RAID 0.

    For my purposes, I am in no hurry to upgrade my gear at work because I shoot and deliver SD (I mean I am in no hurry to beg my boss to give me money to upgrade) until I can get the next FCS, an iMac with Thunderbolt (I was thinking I'd be waiting for USB3) and buckets of RAM, external TBolt drive, Dell Ultrasharp monitor (my work isn't broadcast so I'll be happy enough with a computer monitor) and a Sony NXCAM, but different people have different priorities and needs

    Here's a useful table of format and data rates.
  17. yoak macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2004
    Oslo, Norway
    I used to edit Xdcam HD on the first 24" iMac 2.16 C2D.
    With a fw 800 scratch disk you will be fine. But it depends on the kind of HD you will be working with
  18. ErosPower macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2011
    Hi thanks to all for your interest and answers..

    @ martinX

    I have not chosen the Mac-Pro because I have prefered wait FCP 64 bit version knowng that at this time the Mac Pro offer will be different... The surprising announcement of thunderbolt have conforted my last year decision... Of course in a general point of view you are right but I am glad to plan to buy one this year with thunderbolt expandability.

    Relating to XDCAM native.. I used the term native in two ways : native at its 35Mb/s and native with all of its MXF information that offers the crossplateforme of the clips that the quicktime's rewrapping prohib (except if you use the 99$ sony plug named cinemon)

    Concerning the disks I use for work not for just storage (Storeva AluICE Extreme Quattro 3 To eSATA, x 2 + Iomega - UltraMax Plus - eSATA/FW800/FW400 - USB2.0 - 4 To) they seems good when I read the specifications... I just notice that the G-Drive you mentionned seems a high value, but I have never heard about before...

    I have read the larry jordan's page you shared, thanks a lot... I have learned this :

    1 - All FireWire drives are hubbed. This means that when both fast and slow devices are connected to the built-in ports of your computer, the slower devices (cameras and decks) slow down faster devices (hard drives).

    In my case I work tried to work in this order : Imac > FW800>storeva 3To>FW800>Iomega 4To... No way !

    I tried to work only with the storeva and only with teh iomega, each on FW800... No way...

    The problem I have is that when I edit my films I work fast. And when I edit I used to expand and redimension my timeline very quickly (shift Z and Z)... It is ALWAYS when I do this that FCP quit !!!

    And the fact is that it does not happen when I convert all my edited timeline to Prores 422 HD 1920x1080 to work with color and come back to FCP to work with motion etc... Strange isn't it ?

    So I have also read on the larry jordan's useful page that :

    FireWire does not operate at its rated speed. While a FireWire 400 drive has the potential to transfer data at up to 50 MB/second, it doesn't. This is due to how the hard drive processes data internally using a FireWire bridge chip.

    So may be that is the reason I cannot work at the speed I used to work with the Imac i7... What do you think ?

    If you want to see few of my recent works :
  19. smetvid macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2009
    Even a Mac Mini can edit HD video with Final Cut Pro. I currently have a 21.5" C2D iMac 3.06Ghz with 4GB of ram. I use a couple of external FW800 drives to edit from and I can slice through HD video with no problem at all.

    XDCAM equals about 4.5MB/S compared to FW800's 50MB/s to 80MB/S. More then enough. I typically edit ProRes 422 and Prores 422 lite off of my external FW800 drive with no problems at all. I can easily edit two streams in realtime. Now this is with a single FW800 drive and not a raid-0 like a Graid. a 2 drive radi-0 will easily handle multiple RT streams of ProRes on my core 2 duo iMac.

    Keep in mind that for actually editing FCP only makes use of 2 cores. A quad core only really helps if you render with Compressor. This is why even Mac Book Pro's from 2008 could slice through HD video like it was butter.

    The whole Mac Pro tower thing is interesting as well. Yes it is true you can expand them much easier but in my experience I find people rarely do so other then to add FW800 drives or more Ram. About the only advantage of a Mac Pro is being able to go up to an 8 or 12 core machine, upgrading the video card if you find you really need it and adding a better internal 3 or 4 drive raid-0. Oh and being able to add uncompressed capture card devices. Although with Thunderbolt coming this last advantage may be a thing of the past.

    In fact if you can you may want to wait to get an iMac to see if they get the Thunderbolt port. Then you can add a very fast raid-0 and eventually HD capture cards without needing a Mac Pro tower. Plus the new Sandybridge iMacs should be a lot faster. Right now the quad core Mac Book Pros are just as fast as the quad core iMacs.
  20. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    I think you have a few different things going on here, so let's see if we can deal with them one by one.
    The current Mac Pro will run 64-bit applications. Macs have been 64-bit ready for a while, but you are right in saying that FCP is a 32-bit application. It is expected that it will be 64-bit RSN (real soon now:D). The Mac Pro for sale then will be different to what is available now, but computers are always changing.
    If I had a Mac Pro right now, I wouldn't care about Thunderbolt that much. With a Mac Pro you can get up 4 internal drives that connect via SATA. Make those drives SSD and run a RAID 0 and you'll have more than enough for full HD editing. It still has a display port and you can put in eSATA for $25. You can also get pro capture cards that just plug in. I think Thunderbolt will have a bigger impact with laptops and iMacs.
    FCP has handled XDCAM like this for years so it has either been a problem for you for years, or you have changed workflow which makes it a problem. Whether or not that $899 Sony software is worth it, I would say depends on the rest of the system you have. Sony has flows involving playout servers and all sorts of expensive hardware.
    Everything has good specifications, but not everything works equally well.
    Since ProRes is about three times the file size of XDCAM, are you still sure that it is a problem caused by slow drives? Does it still happen if you move the XDCAM files onto your internal hard drive? Try turning thumbnails off.
    Gigabit ethernet doesn't transfer data at 1000 mbps, USB2 doesn't move at 480 mbps, your 3TB hard drive isn't, and your internet girlfriend is 2 sizes larger than she says she is. Everybody is describing theoretical specifications, whose actual implementations may not be as good.
    I'd try working from the internal hard drive. With a 2 TB internal drive, there's enough space for hours and hours of footage. When a project is finished, it can be archived.
    Looks good. I think a company with a €1 billion turnover good afford some more equipment for you :D

Share This Page