Mac Pro (2010) for local HD cable and film festival.

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by olindacat, May 14, 2011.

  1. olindacat, May 14, 2011
    Last edited: May 14, 2011

    olindacat macrumors member

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Kula, HI
    #1
    I know I'll get killed here, but need help so here goes:

    Wanting to invest in a Mac Pro with ample cores, RAM, video card, and storage to handle 4:2:2 uncompressed Pro Res coming from the AJA Mini and an NEX-FS100. I will be using FCPX when it comes out, and currently use CS5 Premiere on an iMac 24" 2.4 with 6GB of RAM. My budget is $12K.

    Posts in this forum have varied. Some go as far as to say 'you can edit HD on a Mac Mini'. I think it depends on what one defines as 'editing'. I edit a golf show that has a news component with a robust L3 that includes ticker, 3D logo transitions, and a ton of titling done in both AE and in Premiere. My current show is in SD and when I get to 15 layers of titles, each with transitions or their own effects, the machine starts to stagger. So, I do intermediate renders which can take six hours (rendering as best quality .MOV). I'm running out of space too. I've got 2GB internal drive, several external FW800s, and it is a mess. I can't even imagine what it will be like as I start ingesting this HD footage. So far, I've been working with SONY HDV footage as a precursor and can tell you one extra layer and I'm staggering during playback. The golf show is training for me as I eventually want to tell stories on 'film.' I suppose I may be like every other 'Indy" in that I believe in me and no one else does :) I want to do the best quality I can so I'm hoping the FS100/AJA will get me enough quality to be able to project onto a screen. I'm assuming I'll be working with 2K files and am wondering if that will suffice for film festival type projectors.

    I consulted with Lloyd Chambers before posting here. I am more confused after doing so, not to say he wasn't very helpful. My configuration, so far, does not include a very well-thought-out overall storage strategy/solution because I am so confused after Lloyd and reading the extensive posts here. My hope is to have a system that I can do the job on well, and a back-up plan with gear that protects the assets, as well as gives me plenty of extra storage for archives. I have 5TB of data now, and expect to have 1TB of new data very two-three months. Then I need a back up for that, which I can take off site. Here's where I am at:

    MP 12-core 2.66 $4500 (max cores as I hope to buy Red Scarlet one day and do 4k)
    64GB Ram (OWC 8x8) $1500 (maxed to take advantage of FCPX)
    240GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD $580 (For system and apps, maybe too big?)
    4X3TB Hitachi 7K3000 (SW striped RAID 0) inside MP w/extra drive for emergency $800 (Lloyd wanted me to by Apple RAID card and do 5, but I don't like what I'm reading about that card, so I was thinking of just striping all four and forgetting the card (thoughts?)
    NEC MultiSync PA271W-BK-SV 27" $1500 (I am reading about color-correcting video as being a different business and am concerned that this may be the wrong monitor for the job)
    PNY Technologies nVIDIA Quadro 4000 $750 which I think I need?

    That's $9830 not including shipping to Hawaii, which I'll round off to an even $10K.

    12.0TB OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2 4 for $1250 in RAID 5 (I fall short of having much excess back-up space.)


    That's $11250...

    He recommends for archives and off-site:
    SeriTek/5PM-2ME4 bundle includes the SeriTek/5PM five-bay hot-swap enclosure, and one SeriTek/2ME4-E 4-Port Port Multiplier eSATA PCI-Express Host Adapter $750

    That's $12000

    5X3TB Hitachi 7K3000 (for off-site and archives) $1000

    That's $13000.

    I don't know how to organize the drives/RAIDS to really have a smart back-up/archive/working data set-up. This is just what I have gleaned so far from all the posts I've read, and Lloyd.

    I am also over budget by $1K. I know some here will say I am 'over-thinking' this, but the $12K is a lot of money to me. It will probably depreciate at the rate of $3K a year so I want it to work right. I need to get work done now or I'd wait for fall when maybe there are better solutions. Any help/thoughts are most-appreciated!
     
  2. LethalWolfe, May 14, 2011
    Last edited: May 14, 2011

    LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #2
    What specific types of projects do you want to do w/the new machine that you can't do w/the current machine and do you have one of those projects lined up in the near future?

    I ask because buying new gear is always exciting and so many people are like "Man, once I have X, Y, and Z I'll be able to do all this new stuff" but the "new stuff" never materializes because lacking gear wasn't the person's problem. Or they buy something 'just in case' they need it for something they plan on doing in the future and then that plan falls through and they end up with ***** that they don't need. Been there, done that and it's kinda a crappy feeling. Buy what you need when you know you'll need it. Sure, leave some growing room but not too much. It's like buying shoes for a kid. If a size 5 fits perfect then buy a size 6 for growing room but don't buy a size
    13.

    Here's my 2 cents in no specific order.

    First off, I question the advice of anyone who recommends buying Apple's RAID card. ;)

    Storage: SSD for your boot drive. Is the performance boost really so much better that $580 for 240GB is better than $120 for 2TB? How are you going to fit 5 drives inside a MacPro? I'd recommend an external RAID 0 for active storage plus a larger RAID 1 external unit for archiving ( WiebeTech has a nice, tray-less 2 bay enclosure that I like a lot). If you have more money than time you could do a RAID 5 instead of RAID 0 so you'd get redundancy incase of a drive failure but really depends on your needs.

    RAM: Why buy 64GB right now? Like all tech, RAM will become more affordable as time goes on so unless you *need* 64GB right now it's a waste of money, IMO. And by 'need' I mean you have paying jobs that have such tight turn around times that $1500 worth of RAM will quickly pay for itself.

    Monitor(s): Get a couple of midrange Dells unless you need a color accurate monitor for graphic design/print work. You are correct that for accurate video color correction you need a specialized monitor (which start at about $2500 on the low end).

    Video card: Currently ATi cards work the best with Apple's ProApps and Nvidia cards are needed to get the best out of Adobe and Avid (as well as some others). This may or may not change once FCP X comes out.

    Software: No one knows anything about FCP X so, IMO, don't plan on using it. It may not have features FCP 7 has that you want/need. It may have show stopping bugs out of the gate. It may be an unofficial public beta for the first 6-8 months. Or it may be the greatest thing since sliced bread. I wouldn't by my $12,000 investment on it though.

    Computer: Unless you need a Mac Pro *now* don't buy one (are you losing paying clients because you don't have a top of the line Mac Pro). Wait until new ones come out that have ThunberBolt. I have a first gen Mac Pro that has started to kill me w/render and export times but I'm not going to buy a new Mac unless it has ThunderBolt. If I can't make my current machine last until the new MPs come out I might get a 27" i7 iMac (never thought I'd be saying that).

    If you want to make movies start making movies now. Waiting until you get the 'proper' gear is only going to keep you from making movies. It's like saying you want to be a professional cyclist but don't want to get on a bike until you can afford to drop $10,000 on a bike plus accessories. Just for some perspective, the Canon XL1 (a 4x3 MiniDV camera) was used to shoot "28 Days Later" and the Panasonic DVX100 (a 4x3 MiniDV camera) shot the film "November" which won the Best Cinematography Award at Sundance in '04. The ability to get professional quality results with very affordable gear has been with us for well over a decade now. I'm not advocating you limit yourself to 10 year old tech but just beware the siren's call of new toys. ;)

    Buying new gear isn't progress, making entertaining content is.


    Lethal
     
  3. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #3
    I bought a 2009 (Nehalem) 3.33GHz Quad Mac Pro in December of 2009 for the sole purpose of editing an HD feature film shot on DVCProHD (P2). It was my second Mac ever... the first being a 9600/300, way way back in time. I knew very little about current Macs and the Apple RAID card, but did know a fair amount about RAID and storage needs, and wanted to start editing quickly.

    I opted for 16GB (4x4GB) of RAM from OWC, one 640GB and three 1TB internal drives, plus two external LaCie drives for backups, 1TB and 2TB. I ordered the Mac with the RAID card, which I've heard is terrible, but had no problems with in about 1.5 years of daily use. I originally thought I'd set up as RAID5, but switched to RAID0 for more speed and performance, so I didn't need that RAID card, but I didn't know better. I set up the three 1TB drives in RAID 0 for my HD footage and other media, and use the 640GB drive in slot 1 for my OSX and all program files. (I started with CS3 Production Premium, since I already owned it, and since installed CS5. Both CS3 and CS5 are currently installed and work great.) I also had the 4870 card installed from Apple, but since upgraded it to the 5870.

    Finally, I installed an LG Blu-ray burner in the second optical bay, so I could burn Blu-ray copies for festivals. (So far, it's been accepted to two!) That works perfectly.

    With my 3TB of internal data being backed up by 3TB externals, I had plenty of room to edit a feature film, 104 finished minutes in length. That included all the crazy intermediate files I made in After Effects, and every export known to mankind. With a cheap Dell 22" and a 30" Apple Cinema Display, the total came to something just below $6000, I think.

    Now the movie is finished, and I've dumped all the data off the drives and begun a new project for a major company. I quickly found I needed more drive space, so I swapped the three 1TB drives for 2TB WD Caviar Black RE4 drives, and set up as RAID5 again. (Apple RAID card came in handy after all, I guess!) That leaves 3.92TB of space with the RAID parity accounted for, and it will be fine for what I need on this project. I'm using the three old 1TB drives as backups now, via the NewerTech Voyager Q from OWC. I also picked up an nVidia GTX285 card to use CS5's hardware acceleration, but I wasn't impressed much, and switched back to the 5870. Maybe the GTX285 will come in handy later, but for now, it's in a box.

    I agree with Lethal about not needing that SSD. I think they aren't worth the money just yet. I had up to three HD streams with effects going just fine with little to no chugging using my standard 640GB OS drive, 3-drive RAID and 16GB of RAM. Depending on what I was doing, and how long I was working without a break, it would start to struggle on the really heavy stuff now and then, but a quick render or restart got it back to smooth every time. I generally never render any previews at all in Premiere... only in After Effects. Premiere was able to play real-time 98% of the time without rendering.

    If I had a $12,000 budget today, I'd opt for an 8-bay external SAS enclosure with an Areca RAID card, stuff it with enterprise WD Caviar black drives, and get the 3.33GHz hex core. I've been really impressed with my quad core, which shows up as 8 processors (due to hyperthreading) on my Adobe tools. If you're currently doing six hour intermediate renders, you can probably afford to "only" run 12 processes with a hex instead of 24 with a dual hex, and be way faster than whatever you currently use.

    I also would like to start editing RED, but I need more cash for a RED camera, first. I have a friend with two RED cameras, and he built a Hackintosh OSX / PC into a pelican case (which he edits with in real-time in the field!) for about as much as I spent on my system. It makes me question the need to buy a real Mac sometimes!

    Anyway, I posted this novel to share my experiences, and I hope it helps in some way. Good luck with your build!

    PS. Here's a link to the trailer for the movie I just finished...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fhiz_EBemIs
    /Shameless Plug
     
  4. smokescreen76 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    #4
    I work in a Film and Television post facility and this is the spec of our standard "offline" FCP suite which is capable of editing ProRes and Red 2K Proxies.

    Octo-core Nehalem MacPro with 8GB RAM
    Nvidia GT120 Graphics Card
    AJA Lhi Video Card
    2x 24" Apple Cinema Displays
    Samsung 24" HDTV
    M-Audio Speakers
    Samson C-Control Audio Controller
    SE Electronics USB Mic

    We connect over fibre to a an Xsan so you'd need to think of a different storage solution. Maybe it'd be worth holding out for the MacPro Thunderbolt?

    In the higher spec "online" suites we use the same computer but with ATI graphics cards, Kona 3 Video cards, Genelec speakers and Vutrix HDSDI Monitors.
     
  5. olindacat thread starter macrumors member

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Kula, HI
    #5
    Thanks LethalWolfe

     
  6. olindacat thread starter macrumors member

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Kula, HI
    #6


    It was kind of you to take the time, and I was really impressed with our trailer. Thank you.
     
  7. olindacat thread starter macrumors member

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Kula, HI
    #7


    Thanks smokescreen. Do you have a lot of titling and tracks on your editing on those machines with 8GB of Ram? Is the Ram sufficient, or is the spec that way to keep costs low?
     
  8. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #8
    Blu-Ray - - I can play them in OSX direct from the actual disc by opening up MakeMKV, letting it decode for 30 seconds, click a link that opens Opera, copy & paste an address into VLC, and hitting play. It plays great in VLC that way, and I think it's actually faster than surfing through all the menus and junk that comes on commercial discs.

    GTX285 - - The 3 layer thing, I think that was unlocked in one of Adobe's updates, and I'm on 5.0.3.

    3.92TB - - Yes, three drives in one volume. The RAID5 parity takes 1.08TB of space. If the performance becomes an issue, I'll switch back to RAID0 and do nightly backups to externals like I did before, thus negating the need for that Apple RAID card again, heh. I use the old 1TB drives as backups, such as one for raw stills, one for video intermediate exports, and one for other original footage. (I shot a three month time lapse of a building being built with my Nikon from the exact same location every day, and ended up with about 80,000 stills which I then converted to gorgeous HD video.) It leaves me with plenty of room to grow.

    Time Machine - - I did that for a while, then decided to use CCC (Carbon Copy Cloner?) to clone my OS drive with OSX and all programs. That way, mo matter what happens to my internals (RAID card, drives) I can replace them and clone to new drives. It gives me peace of mind. I clone after major changes and ensured stability.

    SSDs - - As I understand it, they make boot-up faster, but the program isn't constantly read from disc once loaded, so why bother spending more for almost no benefit? Maybe when they're cheaper, I'll build a RAID with SSDs.
     
  9. loungecorps macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    #9
    sometimes you just need to edit with proxy's & then link to the original full res material for final output

    problem solved
     
  10. smokescreen76 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    #10
    8GB of RAM is more than enough for a current Final Cut Pro system running on a Mac Pro. Final Cut Pro is a 32bit application which means it can only access a maximum of approximately 3.5 GB of RAM.

    Adobe CS5 can access larger amounts of RAM... as will FCP X coming soon.
     
  11. olindacat thread starter macrumors member

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Kula, HI
    #11
    I'm using CS5 now with 6Gb in my iMac. I suppose the 8 is enough but all I hear is RAM, RAM, RAM..... Lloyd says 64 is actually slower than 48 so I'm going that route. He suggested 12 cores, forget the raid card and do 2 internals as TM raid 1, two as fast data raid 0, and connect storage via eSATA to a Seritek 2-bay enclosure for off-site back-ups, and an OWC QX2 in raid 5 for data/archives.... Said not to blow money on the nVidia card unless what Apple ships isn't good enough.
     
  12. wonderspark, May 16, 2011
    Last edited: May 16, 2011

    wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #12
    Seems like a good plan.
    I tested my three-drive internal RAID5, and I'm getting 230MB/sec read and 220MB/sec write speeds. I wish I could remember how fast the speeds were in RAID0. I want to say it was much higher. I guess I'll have to wait until I'm done with this project, and rebuild as RAID0 to find out.

    By the way, thanks for the comment on the YouTube site! The director responded, not me. :)

    So, you're still going to put the OS on an SSD, then? I'm not sure I'd put the OS and the data on the same drives, if you were thinking of installing OSX and programs on that RAID0. I'm sure it works, but I believe in physically separating OS and program files from video and working files.

    Also, the 48GB faster than 64GB thing is that theoretically, the RAM will be faster in 3-channel mode, whereas when all RAM slots are full, it's only dual channel. Last I heard, it wasn't really any faster in real world performance, and most agree you get more benefit from the extra RAM, but then again, 48GB is a whole lot. Much more than I have!
    Good luck!
     
  13. olindacat thread starter macrumors member

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Kula, HI
    #13
    Change of plan.

    Bought the iMac yesterday. Gonna use that as an interim machine until the new Mac pro arrives. Like this all my machines will have TB. So, this'll give the summer months to skip by as we see what unfolds in that dept., as I gather from one OWC source that they'll more than likely come up with an TB>eSATA adapter, which I pray for, as I also picked up a Qx2 12TB which I'll run as Raid 5. We had the credit card ready and the whole 12-core ready to go and I just had a gut feeling after reading about the possibility of internals becoming more and more obsolete with TB that I balked....
     
  14. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #14
    Hey, cool! I'll be interested to hear how that works out! If TB does what so many hope for, your approach could turn out to be ideal. I'm also interested to hear how heat factors into that system. The Mac Pro is designed to move a LOT of air, and when I'm rendering big stuff, the fans definitely go to work, but it would be great to know that an iMac can handle heavy duty work! It would probably mean the end of Mac Pros.
     
  15. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #15
    Given that TB is a direct route into the PCI system, I reckon we'll see TB -> everything adapters: SATA, USB3 etc. Mind you, that's a Mac owner's lot. Has been for years. Adapters for this, adapters for that, adapters for the other thing...
     
  16. TheStrudel macrumors 65816

    TheStrudel

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    #16
    In the video world, adapters are accepted as a fact of life. Professionals don't care nearly as much about needing to add $30 to the cost of a multi-thousand dollar rig...which is why  didn't need to worry about pissing people off by adding mini display port.
     
  17. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #17
    Story of my life :D

    But for some of us, buying new gear is entertaining.

    New Gear: 7" Lilliput LCD screen (HDMI, CV, YUV) plus gizmos, gimbles and geegaws and a big Sony-ish battery for <$300
     
  18. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #18
    I am also the AV guy at work and I frequently hear "someone's bring a Mac laptop".

    "No worries, BYO adapter..." I say. Sometimes it's not the cost, but just the hassle of ending up with a drawerful of strangely-shaped metal objects. BNC, RCA, XLR, s-vid, DVI, VGA, got 'em all :D
     
  19. olindacat thread starter macrumors member

    olindacat

    Joined:
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    Kula, HI
    #19
    Basically, that's what my chum at OWC thinks. Look at Sony's new laptop with the USB3/TB connector. Gotta mean lots of money for the adapter people :eek:
     
  20. olindacat thread starter macrumors member

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Kula, HI
    #20
    My 2.4 24" 2007 7,1 rendered a 10 minute, 14 track, 1080p30 .MOV in about an hour and didn't roast too much. It is always hot and I'll bet when I start pumping through fatter material it's going to be an oven. Is there a test/freeware I'll give you some reads after it gets here....
     
  21. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #21
    I've been looking at the benchmarks on Barefeats and a top end i7 (and sometimes i5) can run with the big dogs, but it's never going to come anywhere except at the back of the pack.

    For many people, that's just fine. For some people, only a Mac Pro will do.
     
  22. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #22
    One thing I meant to add but kept forgetting is that HDV, like all GOP-based codecs, is very CPU intensive. Having tons of GFX in an HDV timeline is not going to be fun on any machine. For a FCP based workflow transcoding into a flavor of ProRes is common but I don't know what the equivalent would be for Premiere (CineForm, maybe).


    Lethal
     
  23. olindacat thread starter macrumors member

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Kula, HI
    #23
    I'm looking at a Kai Pro Mini to get ProRes direct, and will transcode to that anyway if FCPX works best that way. I know there are, what, pull-down issues with the 1440 on the HDV right?
     
  24. olindacat thread starter macrumors member

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
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    Kula, HI
    #24
    I agree.

    It isn't a matter of if, just when.
     
  25. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #25
    It's not being 1440x1080 that's the killer but the interframe compression scheme (and pull down has to do with frame rate not frame size). Basically with HDV there are only 2 frames per second that are whole images. All the other frames in that second are interpolated based on those 2 whole images. That is a lot of math to do on the fly which is why things like HDV, XDCAM, AVCHD, etc., are processor hogs and every time you make an edit you destroy that frame cadence which the computer then has to rebuild. An advantage though is very small file sizes. The fact that HDV runs at the same data rate as DV is pretty amazing if you think about it.

    In intraframe compression schemes (ex. DV, DVCPro HD, ProRes, AVC-Intra) each frame is stand alone and that is why, in part, they require less process power to work with. A downside is these codecs tend to have larger file sizes compared to Interframe codecs.


    Lethal
     

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