Looking to upgrade my editing system...

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by acearchie, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Hi guys,

    Any advice would be much appreciated!

    I have been a freelance filmmaker for about 6 months now and have made some progress shooting music videos.

    To save on costs and to get more ambitious with our budgets I have been editing them and I have started to get back into editing.

    My current setup is a stock 2009 2.66GHz quad Mac Pro with the only upgrades being an extra HDD and 12GBs of Ram.

    It’s looking like I will be editing RED and other similar cameras for the near future so I am wondering where best for my money to go in terms of upgrade.

    The obvious option would be a new Mac Pro but in order to facilitate that I would have to sell my current Mac Pro and work a bit harder! Delivery still being 1 or 2 months away would also be an issue.

    I would like to entertain the idea of getting a better graphics card than the stock 8800GT in order to get into grading in Resolve as at £600+ a day for a grader I can definitely see a saving to be made there! I have seen the ATI 5770 mentioned in the same sentences as Resolve but I am aware that this card is quite old now. Would there be any worthwhile performance gains?

    In terms of real time playback in Premiere I would be happy to get 1/2 resolution at 4k as my display is only 1080p. I believe the current bottleneck are my hard drives so suggestions of a 2 x Raid 0 configuration would be good too.

    I don’t have an exact budget in mind but if I can see that it will be a significant help to my current workflow then I can try and justify it as best I can.

    Any other tips and suggestions would be great! For instance, am I better off just sucking it up and waiting to upgrade to a new base Mac Pro rather than trying to make the best of my current system?

  2. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I would look at Nvidia cards as both Premiere and Resolve still do better with CUDA than with OpenGL. With regards to grading, yes you can download the Lite version of Resolve but you'll need a broadcast monitor (couple grand at least) and a way to send a signal to it (cheapest way is probably the Blackmagic Mini Monitor PCIe card that is $150). The day rate for a colorist covers a lot of specialized gear plus the experience & skill of the person using it.

    Whether or not to wait really rests on how much money will the upgrades to the machine generate for you? If they will pay for themselves many times over then it's probably an okay investment. For me though, I'd be loathe spending money on such an old machine unless there was a big, immediate pay off.

    With the RED footage you can edit it at really small resolutions (like 1/8th) and then just do your final exports/renders at full quality. Or you can just convert it all to 1080p ProRes at the beginning and treat those files as your new masters. As soon as someone starts to whine, "But 4k blah blah blah." just tell them that the highest grossing film of all time was shot 1080p so ****.:D
  3. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Thanks for the reply Lethal, was worried I wouldn’t get any input at all!

    I completely understand about investing in an aged machine and at the moment whilst most of my corporate work is paying well I am putting all of the budgets from the music videos back into the productions in order to try and get a really solid reel ready at some point in 2014.

    I suppose at the moment I am trying to figure out where my bottleneck is with the RED footage and maybe I can hold off on a graphics card until I hopefully take the plunge on a new Mac Pro.

    Do you have any recommendations on Raid enclosures and drives? My assumption is that drive speed is providing to be a bit of an issue during playback so I was thinking two sets of drive in RAID 0 might help solve this issue.
  4. Siderz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2012
    Have you got a budget? Best to mention roughly how much you can spend on these kinds of things.

    Check the Mac Pro section of the forums, I think there are some discussions about the base Mac Pro and how the D300s aren't that good, but I think a lot of speculation as well. I think just wait until the end of the year or so when we can see some proper feedback on the Mac Pro.

    [Next stuff is a bit irrelevant]

    Avatard was shot at 1080p? Interesting, I never knew that!

    Honestly don't understand what the hype is about 4K at the moment. Yes, it's definitely going to become the standard in the future, but right now people seem to be jumping on the boat as if they need all those pixels...there are YouTube unboxers who are buying 4K cameras, and uploading unboxing videos in 4K! That's right, watch the brand new iPhone get unboxed in 4K! As if anybody who can afford a 4K monitor is gonna be watching an unboxing video!

    I don't know if it's ignorance within the YouTuber community or they just think it's gonna rake in a few more viewers or what...I know that if I was a vlogger or unboxer or whatever on YouTube, I'd probably do it all at SD to save data and bandwidth. Couldn't care less about watching someone talk to a camera in 1080p, they might as well just upload audio if all they're doing is talking to a camera...doubt anybody is going to be kicking themselves in 10 years time for not uploading that video of them moving their head and speaking in anything above 480p.

    Sorry for the rant, I'm just talking about generic vloggers/unboxers on YouTube, not filmmakers.
  5. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Storage (both in terms of speed and size) is certainly a bottle neck when handling high bit rate footage. External storage is also one of the few upgrades that you can take with you when you get a new machine so it's something worth spending a little more on. Off the top of my head I don't have any recommendations, but I would suggest getting one that has USB 3.0 and picking up a USB 3.0 PCIe card for your Mac. I purchased a card from CalDigit that had two USB 3.0 ports and two eSATA ports for my '09 Mac Pro and it's been working great. I think it was about $150. I would also suggest getting an enclosure that allows you to swap the bare drives in/out. They will be more expensive up front but you'll save a lot of money in the long run since you can swap out the original drives for bigger, faster ones in the future.
  6. chirpie macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2010
    Actually, if for no other reasons, think of the composition flexibility you'd have on a 2k edit if you shot in 4k. :D
  7. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    It's new and it's 'what the pro's are using' so people are jumping all over it as if it's a badge of honor. I see so many no-budget short films proclaiming "shot on RED" like that is in any way, shape or form indicative to the quality of their project. On a related (and self-promotional) note, the doc in my sig was shot in SD, got a distributor and was released on streaming and cable VOD in 2012. I don't recommend shooting in SD but the better the story the less the technical specs matter.
  8. ZnU macrumors regular

    May 24, 2006
    For the record, 4K is mostly not what the pros are using (I suspect the scare quotes indicate the previous poster is aware of this). Trade show announcements, etc. run about two years ahead of common industry practice, so it's easy to get that impression. But, well, I run a post house that mostly finishes indie feature films. 70% of them are shot on Arri Alexa at 1080p or 2K. Perhaps 20% are shot on Red Epic at 4K/5K... and then finished at 1080p or 2K.

    This is starting to change — we're actually doing the first 4K finish anyone has ever asked us to do on a project that should be coming through next month, although we'll still be working in 2K and just moving to 4K for final rendering — but it's barely starting to change. It could easily be at least another couple of years before 4K actually becomes routine for feature filmmaking, and it'll be longer for everything else.
  9. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    For reference, I have a 2009 Mac Pro updated to 5,1 firmware, 32GB 1333MHz RAM, 6-core 3.33GHz CPU, 5870 GPU, and an Areca 1880ix-12 RAID card.

    When I had a single 8-bay RAID box, using external mini-SAS RAID 6 that gave 715MB/sec read and 816MB/sec writes, and internal RAID 0 getting 330MB/sec read/writes, and splitting the scratch volumes** in Adobe Premiere CS5 or 5.5 (I forget which it was now), I could play and scrub 4K smooth as ever in ½ resolution. In full resolution, it would skip and stutter somewhat, but not nearly as bad as I expected.

    I'm on CS6 currently, and get some OpenCL GPU acceleration now with the 5870, but haven't had anyone ask me to use 4K or higher footage since then, so I don't know where my system stands currently in that respect... but I imagine it's even better, given even better RAID volumes and the GPU acceleration improvements.

    ** Adobe has two scratch media settings. I put the smaller scratch files into the internal RAID 0 and the larger scratch files into the external RAID 6 volume, where my main footage also resides, so that data throughput is spread across as many paths as possible, preventing bottlenecks.
  10. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Thanks for your input.

    I think a Drobo casing is one of the next purchases on my list. I’m thinking about getting a thunderbolt version to future proof myself or maybe I should wait until I have a device that can actually make use of that and hope that the prices have dropped by then.

    But surely this takes into account that the bayered sensors are only going to be best for 1080p and 2k exports?

    Do you have any fancy gizmos to get this to work or is it just a software Raid?

    If so in the mean time this might be the best option for me with two 4TB drive and then a separate backup.

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