Is my G4 aluminum powerbook enough for video?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by JCTeacher00LL, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. JCTeacher00LL macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2008
    I am new to this forum, (new to post anyway) and I have searched through some of the posts but did not find exactly what I was looking for. I hope some of the members of this forum might be able to offer their advice.

    I am doing video editing using short video clips and stills from my canon digital camera. I am adding lots of narration, subtitles, transitions, and background music. I am using IMovie (great program) and my videos are getting to be 30 to 40 minutes long.

    I am finding that the response time is getting very slow, and using imovie very difficult, as my video project become more complex. It is getting so bad that editing my projects is almost impossible.

    I have tried to follow some suggestions in order to speed up my system, with little success.

    I would like to ask: Is my system powerful enough to do what I want?

    My system:

    Powerbook G4 aluminum (1.8Ghz powerPC)
    2Gb of ram
    80Gb hdd (standard)
    100gb external Hdd.

    I know this is an older system, but on videos just a little shorter everything was running great.

    Have I just gotten better using IMovie, and thus started adding so many "enhancments" that I have asked too much of my Powerbook?

    Do I really need to pry $3000 loose from my wallet and get the full tower mac?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. cawesjmu macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2004
    Richmond, VA

    I'll ask you some question so it'll be easier for people to answer appropriately. Where is the project? Is it on your external drive? If so how's that connected? If it's on your internal, how much space do you have left on it? I did plenty of home movies on my old G4 800 Mhz iMac so the processor probably isn't the problem. If you find out speed IS your problem, you could always just get an MacBook for a little over 1,000, and not shell out 3,000 for the full tower (Mac Pro).
  3. QuarterSwede macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I agree. I use my wife's MacBook (MB) and use iMovie 08 (which I prefer over older versions) to edit camcorder and camera video clips. It can easily handle HD so you'll be fine with a MB if you need to upgrade. I know my 1.5GHz 12" PowerBook struggles with video editing now.
  4. daleremote macrumors member

    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I used to run Final Cut and After Effects on a 550 MHz PowerBook G4, but that was on OS 9 and editing Mini DV.

    If you're editing Mini DV and/or standard-def, an entry-level Mac mini or MacBook can handle it. If you're editing hi-def, I'd say they could probably handle it, but would want to test it first and expect it to be slow.

    Storage-wise, if you're looking at editing tons of footage, especially hi-def, you'll want to use at least FireWire 800 connections for external hard drives. Mac minis and MacBooks don't come with FireWire 800 connections, so you're automatically looking at the MacBook Pro or tower. I don't know if the iMacs have FireWire 800.
  5. amusiccale macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2007
    Your most efficient use of money might be in the Mac Mini--you can get some pretty fast (laptop) processors, though at the expense of portability and connectivity (FW800 as pointed out). If you're on the fence of whether a Powerbook can do it, however, I think FW800 might not be your highest priority. You can get away with it as long as you are willing to be extra (super) patient or if it's a smaller project. If it's a big project, your budget will have to match it appropriately. If smaller, don't bother; it might still be passable.
  6. Wotan31 macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2008
    My Powerbook G4 is a little slow on editing large videos too. Unfortunately, the G4 systems have a slooooooow memory interface and FSB. They just can't keep the CPU fed.

    You really really want a FW800 port for external disks. Really, you do.

    The newest MBP will be plenty powerful for your tasks without having to go the big-tower route.

    Just for a comparison, the PB G4 has a 166 Mhz FSB while the current MBP has 800Mhz and next-gen MBP (maybe due in a month or so) will have a 1066 Mhz FSB.
  7. cawesjmu macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2004
    Richmond, VA
    The new iMac does indeed have 1 FW800 port if the OP decides to go the upgrade route.
  8. JCTeacher00LL thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2008
    Some more information

    To cawesjmu:
    Usually I keep my projects in the notebook drive, in the default folder that Imovie saves to. I have been moving data to my external drive (USB connection) so my internal drive does not get too full. Right now, my internal drive is about half full (40gb used, 40gb free). When you mentioned that you had done movies on your G4 800 Mhz, I think that perhaps my problem is not what computer I am using, but how I am using the Imovie program. I am talking about a 20 to 30minute IMovie project with 8 to 12 video clips at 1 or 2 minutes each, interspaced with dozens of photos, all connedted with transitions. I am also including narration, subtitles, and background music.

    to QuarterSwede:
    I am not currently using HD video in my Imovie projects, but I have to consider that HD is the future.

    To daleremote:
    If you could run programs like Final Cut on your older PowerBook and edit videos with no problem, I wonder why my newer PB is slow? My external drive is housed in a box that will accept USB or Firewire connections? Should I use the FireWire connection and edit my projects from my external drive? Is that going to help?

    to lupin..the3rd: (Interesting name, I have a lupin VHS movie from Japan, a lot more intense and adult oriented than the american version)
    Your comment on the FSB sounds like a real bottleneck. I did not realize that my PB had such a slow FSB.

    To all:

    I did check activity monitor, my memory looks good but my cpu activity is completely full (about 15% system and 85% user)

    I am going to try to use IMovie a little smarter, I will combine my clips and stills, transitions and all and create a quicktime movie. Then I will use that movie as a base for a new IMove project where I will then add my subtitles. Then, do it again and add the background music. Each time some of the rendering duties will be elimintated from the process. After everything is done, I will export to IDVD.

    I am going to activity monitor to check to see if there are any processes I can turn off.

    I will try to place my IMovie projects on my external drive and connect that drive using the FireWire interface instead of the USB interface.

    I can see that I would need a more powerfull system to create and edit 1 to 2 hour productions with HD video and multiple audio and subtitle tracks, but has my level of production reached the point where I need to purchase a new machine? And if I do, shouldn't I consider a system that will be future proof(if there is such a thing)?


    A great thanks to the forum members that offered their advice. I really appreciate the knowledge offered (and so fast!)
  9. daleremote macrumors member

    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Final Cut and AE ran well on 550 MHz PowerBook because I was running OS 9. I've got 10.4 on it now, but that's just for fun. My current setups are dual G5 tower (home) and a recent MacBook Pro (work). OS X is a little too demanding for my 550 MHz G4...
  10. cawesjmu macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2004
    Richmond, VA
    I'm sorry if I missed it, but did you mention which version of iMovie you're using? iMovie HD or iMovie '08? I know in iMovie HD when you add photos, it renders them with the Ken Burns effect by default. So each picture turns into video and takes a little bit to process, and has a little red progress bar. So if you add a dozen photos all at the same time, it's going to try and process all of them, and take 5-10 min or so. If you're trying to do anything else at the same time, you'll see a big slow down in responsiveness. I'm not as familiar with iMovie '08, so maybe someone can tell you differently about that one.

    I think connecting the external via FireWire will definitely help, but it might not solve all your slow down issues.

    This makes me think it's cranking away on those photos, or transitions between photos, since every time you add a transition, it has to re-process the whole clip before the transition, the transition itself, and the whole clip after. (in iMovie HD at least)

    the iMac with external drives should last you quite a few years. But if you've got money to blow, the Mac Pro will give you more power now, and is more expandable, and be better for HD for longer.
  11. nep61 macrumors 6502

    May 17, 2007
    Using the FireWire port is a smart place to start. Keeping Video files & Stills on external drive, also smart.

    Another thing to consider as well.. (I use a 15" G4 PB 1.25GHz with FCP) ...keep the video files you DIGITIZE short if at all possible. I like to capture 5-7 minute clips at a time, with a 1 second overlap. Haven't had any issues or problems. I know of people who will capture an entire 60 min tape as one clip.. Nothing but problems when using almost any G4... the older systems will choke.
  12. namethisfile macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2008
    video on PB

    i suggest buying a firewire external hd that is at least 7200rpm for editing video. anything lower will result in choppy playback. i own an imac now to do video editing (it's cheaper than a macbook pro with similar specs) but i used to edit standard-def video (and still do if i am on the road) with my 12" 1ghz powerbook for the 4 yrs that it was my only computer. i used FCE 2.0 to 3.5 with 1.25 gb of ram and an external lacie hd to store my footage and never had a problem with it. of course, rendering and all that takes time depending on the effects, but as far as working in the timeline goes - i never had to wait except renders and exporting the video to quicktime. i was always impressed how i could do this on a laptop as small as the 12" pb when there's people using gigantic towers to do the same work. my video projects though were never anything longer than 45 minutes and they don't rely much on the computer's horsepower to make them "good." unfortunately, the latest FCE which is version 4.0 don't run on powerpc, if i remember correctly. but, FCE 3.5 HD, if you can get your hands on it, should run well on your computer.

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