Mac Pro system for cg animation and video editing

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by andrei.barbuta, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. andrei.barbuta macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2009
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    Romania
    #1
    Hi guys, I need some help.
    I want to start a cg animation studio and we will work only on in house projects.
    The software will be: Maya and Final Cut Studio
    I will want to buy a Mac Pro in January or February at the most and it will be either 2x2.26 or 2x2.66 Nehalem if Apple will make an update to the Mac Pro and the new price is around what the 2x2.26 is now.
    I will also get 6x2GB RAM and 4 1TB hdd's.
    My problem is that I can't figure out a viable solution for performance and redundancy. I want to have fast speed for importing sequence of files rendered in Maya and converting and editing them in Final Cut Studio with ProRes 4444.
    But also security so that my data will always be safe.
    Any ideas how I can achieve this? I thought maybe setting up one hdd for boot and 3 in Raid 5 mode. Is this a viable option for the workflow i described?
     
  2. Andrew Henry macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 4, 2008
    #2
    If you want data security buy a Drobo w/ FW800, that's what I did and I'll never go back to trusting singular drives with my precious data!
     
  3. andrei.barbuta thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    The Drobo.

    When I saw Drobo I thought it was awsome and it is...but i read several forums and apparently the performance isn't quite enough. i mean it's ok for backing up but editing 1080p/23.97 ProRes 4444 i just don't think it would cut it.
    I also thought of G-Tech Raid 3, with eSata offers 200+ read/write performance but it only has 3TB so i would only use it to copy the assets to it edit them them transfer them back to my back-up drives.
    I would really prefer one holy solution with performance yet still around 500 euros.
     
  4. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #4

    What about 4 fast disks in RAID10... It offers the benefits of a striped set as well as the redundancy of a mirror.

    http://support.apple.com/kb/TA24359
     
  5. andrei.barbuta thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    Raid 10

    I was under the impression that Raid 10 can only be made by buying Mac Pro Raid Card, was I mistaken? Can it be enabled without it?
    I thought the OS supported just Raid 0 and Raid 1.

    This will be a very good solution until I can afford a G-Tech G-Speed es.
     
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #6
    OS X can do RAID 10. :) If you wish to stick with software based RAID, and need redundancy, 10 is the only option. The downside of course, is you can only use half of the total rated capacity, which translates to 2x the cost/GB of a single drive.

    You can also use RAID 0, but make absolutely sure you've a proper backup system, and keep it updated (easy to set in a backup util).

    If you want say RAID 5 or 6, you will need a proper hardware RAID card. And stay away from the Apple RAID Pro. It's junk. Battery problems (still), slow, expensive, limited to 4 drives, x4 lane operation (stuck using slot 4, which is x4 lane operational), and won't work with any other OS (OSX only). :rolleyes: :(
     
  7. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

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    Feb 8, 2008
    #7
    I also have to say that a Drobo is great for backup, not for live data. I would recommend you get Drobos for long term storage that isn't as dependent on speed. There is even a 8 bay Drobo which can increase your storage capacity to ~14TB (8x 2TB).
    You would do best with 4x 10,000 RPM drives in RAID 0 for speed. Make sure to get a RAID card instead of relying on software RAID to reduce the load off your processors while rendering. Redundancy can be done with Time Machine back to your Drobo ;)
     
  8. giffut macrumors 6502

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    Apr 28, 2003
    Location:
    Germany
    #8
    No, ...

    ... can use adequate RAID cards from Highpoint or Areca, too. You just need to get adapters to fit the connectors in the Nehalem Mac Pros: http://barefeats.com/hard120.html

    Don´t buy the Apple RAID card, it´s no good in any aspect compared to the competition. Third party RAID cards can give you RAID 6 for fast and huge, but reliable work storage - doesn´t relief you from a well thought backup strategy, though.

    For the start putting the RAID on your animation machine is fine, but think of separating storage from rendering. You also sooner or later will need to start planning a render cluster, depending on your workload, of course.
     
  9. Shake 'n' Bake macrumors 68020

    Shake 'n' Bake

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    #9
    Get a RAID card and four HDDs. Put the HDDs in RAID 10.
     
  10. hyram macrumors regular

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    Jun 15, 2009
    #10
    You really need a RAID controller. Check out amug.org for reviews on just about all that are available for Mac's.

    For something like ProRes4444 you're going to need need ~55MB/s (~440Mb/s w/alpha). And for composting/rendering multiple streams, say 3 to 4 at a time, you're going to need on the order of 200MB/s. This should be do-able with a 4 drive RAID5. But faster is always better.

    You can roll-your-own 8 drive RAID5/6 these days for <$2k depending on the controller and drives you chose.

    hyram
     
  11. andrei.barbuta thread starter macrumors regular

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    Romania
    #11
    Thanks for all the input. Really helped.

    I am writing all the specs of my set-up for the studio and with all your input i decided to go with a Raid Card (not Apple :) ) + 4x1TB HDD's in Raid 10 and also an external storage solution for backup.
    The options for the external storage are Drobo of course (i like it's flexibility) and also found Promise NS4600 as an other option.

    Someone mentioned earlier about separating the rendering from the storage. That was my idea I just didn't mentioned it. Thanks for it though.

    Also on a different subject. I can't find any mention of rates for animation. Let's say i create an animation series for kids with 20 episodes. How can I determine the value per episode so I know when to negotiate? What are the standard rates nowadays?
     
  12. Shake 'n' Bake macrumors 68020

    Shake 'n' Bake

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    #12
    Why an external backup solution? That is why you've got RAID 10. Striping+Mirroring=Speed and redundancy.
     
  13. fluidedge macrumors 65816

    fluidedge

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    Nov 1, 2007
    #13
    :confused:

    I couldn't think of a less appropriate use of PR4444.

    render in 32bit Targa/Tiff/OpenEXR to take into a compositing package and then assemble the comp in final cut without ProRes. No need for it.
     
  14. andrei.barbuta thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    So the comp will be uncompressed HD or still an image sequence? ...and then just edit it Final Cut?

    I am new to this so if you could explain a proven workflow will help me tremendously.
    I was thinking something like this:
    1. Rendering from Maya an image sequence (every frame in several render passes)
    2. Compositing in Shake and exporting to an image sequence (10 or 8 bit, i was thinking 10 bits for Color right?)
    3. Final Cut Studio Post production to final output.

    Is this ok?
     
  15. fluidedge macrumors 65816

    fluidedge

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    Nov 1, 2007
    #15
    I would render to a 32bit (4x32bit RGBA) IFF or TIFF from Maya.

    Shake will accept these then you can make all your adjustments. From here either render back out as an image sequence (same format as you came in as) or probably better as HQ quicktime movies and then piece them together in Final Cut with Music and sound effects etc. to be exported as MPEG for DVD or a web video format for the web (h.264 etc)
     
  16. andrei.barbuta thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    I like the idea of rendering HQ QuickTime movies from Shake vis-a-vis to another image sequence.
    One last question. The HQ Quicktime movie rendered from Shake. Should it be uncompressed or compressed with a certain codec. If the last case is relevant what codec should it be?
     
  17. hyram macrumors regular

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    Jun 15, 2009
    #17
    The down side of this is the disk throughput required for compositing/rendering. If you're considering 1080p type frame in TIFF RGBA format you're going to need about 250 MB/s per stream to get anywhere near usable. Should really consider 3 to 4 times this to be the minimum. Yes it will render if you don't have a disk capable of substaining this throughput (and who does?) but it'll significantly increase your render times. This is also not to say you should not do it, I render often in an uncompressed format, but only when I'm willing to take the hit on time. I'll second the coming out of shake into QT movies into FCP.

    hyram
     
  18. Sonicjay macrumors 6502a

    Sonicjay

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    Jan 1, 2008
    #18
    RAID is NOT backup, it only prevents you from the loss of data due to the physical loss of a drive or two depending on config; if you delete a file, or a project gets corrupted, guess what happens to the mirrored drive? The exact same thing.
     
  19. Shake 'n' Bake macrumors 68020

    Shake 'n' Bake

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    #19
    For got about that. In that case, the OP is going to need a massive external HDD for TM.
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #20
    Which card?

    Areca is good, as is Atto Technologies, and Highpoint has a couple of good cards. I'd stay away from CalDigit.

    With a proper card, is there a specific reason to stay with 10?

    Given a need for throughput, setting the drives in RAID 5, and quantity of n = 4, it would give better throuput. If you're willing to add drives, you can get additional throughput, even enough to keep 10 realistic performance wise. Particularly useful when you get into the inner tracks on mechanical drives (they slow down), thinking in terms of minimum throughput. So if the array can do 250MB/s as an average, it won't as you exceed 50% of the array's capacity.

    Some reviews can demonstrate this (IIRC, AMUG does have a breakdown of the throughputs @ capacity %).

    I'd also recommend going for enterprise drives (UBE = 1E15), rather than consumer models (UBE = 1E14). There's a few reasons for this. They're designed for RAID (better specs in relation to Unrecoverable Bit Errors, MTBF,...), and the recovery timings set in the firmware are different than the consumer models. This allows the array to remain stable. Consumer drives may not, especially on SAS cards, as they're very picky about SATA drives.
    Rather nice for this. :D

    You can even build your own, if you're willing. ;)
     
  21. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816

    Dr.Pants

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    Jan 8, 2009
    #21
    Yep! Reliable older hardware compatible with Solaris for a nice, dandy, speedy RAID Z.:D Tasty.:)
     
  22. hehejames macrumors member

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    NYC
    #22
    Why not ask the question in 6 months from now?
     
  23. Igantius macrumors 65816

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    Apr 29, 2007
    #23
    It's a forum... people can't help asking such questions now.
     
  24. andrei.barbuta thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 26, 2009
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    Romania
    #24
    Why am I asking.

    Because:
    1. It offers me relief to ask such questions. It takes my mind away to the fact that I have to wait 5-6 months until I get it which is so painful.
    2. Although the hardware may change what I am doing now is creating a production pipeline. If any major changes occur in hardware in the next 6 months then I can just easily replace that point of the pipeline.
    3. I like to be organized, I like to know what i am going to have and how it's gonna work. This is a complex project and waiting until the last moment to get advice is risky. Why? Because having money in your pocket makes you anxious to spend it and you cannot wait until you find the best solution. Plus it wastes time.
    This way when i will have the money i can go get the things i want and be sure that they will work great because of the help of people that responded within the forum.
    ...and it's also logical to assume that a month before purchasing i will open a similar thread with all the hardware that i considered and ask people about their opinions making thus a final polish to my pipeline.

    Does that answer you question?
     
  25. fluidedge macrumors 65816

    fluidedge

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    #25
    from shake either:

    1. render uncompressed frame sequence (TIFF/TGA/PNG for example) and then bring this into Final Cut

    2. render as a compressed quicktime movie (ProRes is probably ok tbh)

    but it really depends what you're doing and how it needs to be delivered.
     

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