Need Advice on What Platform to Get

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by JoshRtek, Nov 17, 2004.

  1. JoshRtek macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2004
    Hello all,

    I am going to be graduating from film school this December and moving out to Los Angeles in February to pursue a career in film editing.

    As such, I'm going to invest in a new computer for video and film editing.

    I've been torn lately between choosing a PC or a Power Macintosh.

    I've been using PCs for quite a while, and I don't mind then. There are things about Windows, however, that drive me crazy (viruses, general stability, etc.). Many of my friends around here at the Florida State Film School have Macs, and I'm thinking of making the big switch (and using my student discount before I graduate in a month).

    However, I've seen some very recent benchmarks of video editing on both the latest technology from PCs and the Macs. It seems the PCs have the Mac beat, and all while being cheaper.

    I priced a top-of-line custom PC, which includes:

    Intel Pentium 4 3.4 GHz Hyperthreaded CPU
    2.0 GBs of DDR 3200 RAM
    ATI Radeon X800 256 MB GPU Video Card
    Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Audio Card
    Asus P5AD2 Motherboard (Intel 925x Chipset)
    DVD+-RW Drive
    CD-RW Drive
    2 X 250 GB S/ATA Hard Drives (RAID on motherboard)
    Floppy Drive
    Wireless Card
    Antec Case w/ 480 Watt Power Supply

    This configuration came to about $2500.00 dollars (US). Pretty tempting...and I'll still be able to play Half-Life 2 and run Avid Xpress Pro.

    I priced the Mac G5 Dual 2.0 GHz with an additional 2.0 GB of OCZ Ram for about $2800 after tax and shipping.

    I'm planning on using my two old CRT monitors (as they are better for color reproduction for video editing anyway).

    I need real-world advice. I'm going to be primarily editing video and film with this rig, as well as a lot of media content creation. Should I go PC or Mac? Thanks in advance!
  2. Jaz macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    A big question if you are going to start a business. I don't want to scare you or discourage you but you need to think about a a lot more than just the computer component.

    What primary application do you expect to use? We're in the desktop field so FCP, Premiere or Avid Express Pro. Premiere on the Mac is no longer in development due to Final Cut Pro. Your apps determine your choice. The computer speed differential matters little if the tool you need doesn't run on your system.

    Also what vendor are you choosing for your video and interface gear; capture card, video decks, cameras? There are suppliers on both sides and the necessary spec you need may not be handled by a PC or a Mac.

    If you are running a business, time is money. Are you doing HD/2K film or only SD Broadcast/SD DVD? If the former you will need to investigate a good quality RAID for performance and massive storage of online material as well as high end capture cards. The latter will only require additional 10K rpm hard drives such as Cheetahs or Raptors and low-mid level capture cards. Also ... tape backup, lots of it! Video will chew up space quickly and you'll need to move footage online and offline all the time.

    If you are getting in to film then you will also need to look for other local vendors for your video transfers, scanning etc. They will have their own workflow and generally support all the major apps but some may be more friendly to one platform. Check out the vendors first, you will depend on them one day for a deadline.

    A general editing rig will be geared more towards excellent capture cards, flexible and good quality video decks, and a mature NLE application. A solid rather than screaming computer (any G5, or P4 2.8+) as the foundation is the key.

    Put it this way, there are still old Avids out there running production work because they are very good at video work and not much else. If you want to play HL2 (I do too :)) then get a separate PC for $1500.

    Finally I didn't see a price for software. FCP, Premiere or Avid are not cheap for normal licenses. You can't use your Academic version to run a business (trust me, I've asked before). You can use the discount for hardware but not for software that is to be used commercially. Licensing is important, especially when you call for a tech support issue with 8 hours to deadline. Explaining why you are registered as a student with a student software key and yet working commercially is not fun. Don't pirate Pro software, it's asking for trouble.

    I'd recommend Apple. Professionally I use The Production Bundle, Shake, Adobe Suite, and lots of 3rd party plug-ins on a G5 2.5, 23" display, Blackmagic Decklink HD and JVC video gear. It's integrated and I'm very happy with it all, but the computer itself was less than half the total cost when you add software, storage, cards, decks, furniture (it's all got to sit on something) and general bits and pieces.

    I hope this was of some help, I went through this process a while back when I started my company. Whatever you budget for the machine, double it to include all the basic pieces in order to be able to turn work around within real world commercial deadlines. It is possible to work with less at first, but over time you will add items to expand capability, work quicker and handle more clients.

    Cheers, and let us all know what you went with! :)

    PM me if you'd like a chat or more detail. Good luck and congrats on graduating!
  3. Jaz macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Oh, final point. Whatever you decide, get in contact with the local PUG's when you get to LA. Professional User Groups. They are a godsend and valuable resource for the most part. You can find them in the phone book, web search, forums and by calling local companies and asking if they are a member or rep of any.

  4. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    The PC you spec'd out looks to be a home build? Go and spec up a PC at Alienware (what many consider to be the wintel equilivent of Mac hardware) and see how much it costs you.
  5. Jaz macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Excellent suggestion. Alienware are a good bet for a PC. They have specs for DCC builds.
  6. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

    Dec 21, 2002
    Yahooville S.C.
    I have a Alienware Aurora and though its a better game machine OSX just blows away windows in many many ways. Only reason to consider the PC is games, everything else is just better on Mac. Film,photo',net,mail,etc I have even thought of selling this rig but it sucks waiting a extra 6 months to a year on some titles and then some titles like Halflife never make it to Mac. Macs are just sweeter and less hassle.
  7. JoshRtek thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2004
    Future Plans

    Well, I guess I should be a lot more specific.

    I am definately not planning on starting a business.

    Primarily, I have set my career goals to eventually one day, edit major motion pictures. This is usually accomplished through one working their way up the ladder, starting as an apprentice or assistant editor, logging, digitizing, syncing, and preparing the assistant editor's notebook.

    Anyhow, I just want to have a good system to do some independent film work on the side with. I already own a copy of Avid Xpress Pro, which I got at the student rate ($1400 off!!). Later on down the line, I'll probably get Mojo. I learned Final Cut Pro HD a few weeks ago for the first time. It seems like a very powerful editing program. I really like it, but, ultimately, I prefer Avid for its ease and speed with raw editing.

    I suppose if I'm not working with multiple formats (specifically HD) or other types of media, a PowerMac G5 should be fine, running Avid Xpress Pro with 2.5 gigs of RAM and two 250 gig external firewire drives.

    At the Florida State Film School, we shoot on Super-16mm (at the undergraduate level, at least. The grads get to shoot 35mm) and have them telecined to MiniDV and edit on some Pentium 4 PCs running Avid Xpress DV. The quality is pretty good, and since our films stay on video, there's really no complaining.

    The main concern, is that if I end up doing an independent film, and finishing it on video...I want to be able to make sure I can transfer the project to an Avid Media or Film Composer in the case that a distributor would take it back to film and have the negative cut.

    As an assistant editor, I'd no doubt be using the post-production facilities of whatever production company I was working for.

    So, at an end, this computer (while serving as my primary computer for all things) is mainly for my own filmmaking endeavors, and definately not business.

    But you all have pretty much convinced me to make the switch to Macintosh :D

    Any suggestion for PowerMac configurations?

    All this being said, would it be more cost effective to get a laptop instead of a desktop? Thanks!
  8. efoto macrumors 68030

    Nov 16, 2004
    Cloud 9 (-6)
    As far as getting a laptop, for the work your doing I don't know if the *Books could adequately handle your workflow, but if you think they could I guess you spec a fully loaded PBook.
    As far as gaming goes, you should look into a little shuttle system (fragbox as they are affectionately referred to :p). They somtimes cost a little bit more, but imagine only have this little cube play all your games and thats it, just games! Check them out, fun little toys and ultra-portable in comparison to a desktop system which you would otherwise get for PC gaming.
  9. blackfox macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2003
    Josh, without commenting further, the copy of AvidXpress you have is for the PC platform right? If so, that is a major consideration when thinking about costs.

    Personally, I prefer Macs and FCP to AvidXpress, but both are quality programs and have their staunch supporters.

    I do not know if you could sell your copy of Avid when buying a mac, if so, then not such a big deal. Another tangental reason for a Mac purchase is Motion, which seems an excellent program (I have not tried it yet). You may be able to get an excellent bundled deal from Apple with the purchase of a new machine. (of FCP and/or Motion)

    Good Luck.
  10. efoto macrumors 68030

    Nov 16, 2004
    Cloud 9 (-6)
    Adding to what blackfox said...based on the platform your current software is for being a deciding factor for a new purchase:
    I called Adobe up and asked them what I could do because I was getting a Mac and I had Photoshop 7.0 and I wanted to upgrade to CS, but for use on the Mac. Their response after a slight break (manager approval I assume) was to offer me CS at the upgrade price for the Mac platform for trading in the current software that I own for my PC. All in all, a very resonable request coming from such a large company to a single personal license. I was impressed.
    My point (if you didn't extract it already): Call up the company who produces the products you want to switch over, assuming they make them for both platforms, and explain your poor college situation to them. See what they propose and either go with that or counter with something like Adobe offered me, its worth a shot.
  11. JoshRtek thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2004
    Actually, the copy of Avid Xpress Pro that I have is for either Mac or PC. I'll probably stick with Avid and go Macintosh as well. I keep hearing great things about Apple's Motion, but can you only use it with Final Cut Pro? If so, that'd be a bummer.
  12. Jaz macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Hey Josh,

    Guess my advice was a little more focused on running/starting a business than just being an editor. :)

    That's cool and in that case what you are looking for will definitely be handled by the G5 spec you describe. Here I will depart from my fellow Mac brethren at my own risk. Consider an Alienware PC, seriously. If this machine will be for you to do some side projects of your own as well as learning, then a PC might not be bad choice. You mention an interest in gaming and the Mac is not a gaming platform (flame away, but it's a sad but simple fact).

    If the machine is not a business critical editing rig but a general machine that you ALSO want to edit on as well as play a game or two then I would go for an Alienware. Your Avid software will run on PC so that's not a problem.

    In answer to Motion only running with FCP. Not at all, Motion can be a standalone product. It's true that the two-way live integration is only with FCP and DSP, but you can render Motion footage to be added to any normal editing program. It's only if you wanted live interactivity where you run both programs, make a change in one and want that change reflected immediately in the open project in the other program that you would be bound to using FCP with Motion. Otherwise, render and import Motion footage as normal.

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