Who's doing post production work on an MBA - How disappointed will I be?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Boe11, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. Boe11 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2010
    Here's my situation. I work as a video producer and use a mac pro at the office. At home, I have a 17" MBP that I love. I don't really game much anymore, and the videos I produce at home have become few and far between.

    This has led to my lusting over switching to an 11" MBA and a thunderbolt display for my primary PC at home. I love the idea of having things centralized to one machine, that is transformable to accomodate a pleasing desktop experience and top notch mobility.

    My biggest concern is, if a video project comes up at home, or I feel like spending a rainy Sunday in After Effects, will I be pulling my hair out in frustration, or will it be "fine"? I completely realize that the MBA isn't designed for heavy post-production lifting, but I'd like to get some opinions from those of you who actually use yours for editing or graphics on a regular or semi-regular basis.

    What are your thoughts?

  2. iRCL macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2011
    Realize that the major limitation is you're stuck at 4GB of RAM maximum. However, the processor on those new MBAs is seriously fast. Depending on how old your MBP is (you don't say) it is actually likely that the MBA will outperform it. The biggest hurdle I imagine you would encounter is disk space since on 11" MBA you're limited to 128GB. However, a thunderbolt RAID array could solve all those problems and stay connected to the external display too I imagine. (Or you could just keep your footage external harddrive, and put the relevant clips on your MBA's SSD.. I don't know your workflow or details)

    I seriously doubt you would be disappointed. Those chips are very powerful
  3. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    spot on. I have the 17" MBP too, and bought the 13" MBA a while back. It's fast, very fast, but even with the 256 sad you tend to be looking at space a lot.

    I couldn't cope with the 11", it's just too small, and my 27" iMac is where the heavy lifting goes on.....Still love my Pro, even though it's a beast to cart around.

    So I guess to sum up, you won't be disappointed at the speed....But you may well run out of space.
  4. mwayne85, Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012

    mwayne85 macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2009
    Well, as someone who uses After Effects on a daily basis, I've tried the 2011 i5 Macbook Air and to be honest I was surprised by how good it runs in general. The main drawbacks to using the Air is that your limited to 2 cores and 4GBs of RAM. Anyone that uses AE, knows that AE loves to eat as much RAM and cores as possible. So, RAM previewing and rendering is going to be dog slow compared to MBP, iMac, or Mac Pro (of course). It's not going to freeze up or act funny in any way (at least not in my experience), it's just going to be much slower. So it's a matter of how much patience you have.

    It also kind of depends on how large your projects are as well. If you're building very complex animations, with 100s of comps and effects, it's probably not an ideal choice considering it can take several minutes for something to RAM preview. Since I'm in the complex animations group, I don't rely on the Air to do that kind of heavy lifting.

    Here's a pretty good video on YouTube of someone using AE on the i7 Air. You can see how well it runs, but you can also see the drawbacks I mentioned:

    So overall, for a rainy sunday, I'd say sure. Rendering/previewing is slow, but it does run surprisingly well otherwise. But if a video project comes up and it so happens to be something that needs to be rushed out, it's not ideal to rely on the MBA (but again, that depends on the complexity of the project).
  5. Boe11 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2010
    Perfect responses.

    Sorry, my mbp is the latest rendition. 2.4/16gb ram/256 ssd. It's a screamin' demon. It just seems like overkill for what I end up doing with it.

    Thanks for the information. That's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. I don't expect to get into very complex AE projects at home, but it's nice to know that I can poke around with it if I'm bored or get some ideas for work. If I need to do something taxing, I can just work on it at the office.

    I'll probably look into an external storage solution to accompany it. It won't take long to fill even the 256 up with DSLR files, but that's the same capacity I'm currently working around so it shouldn't be much of an issue.

    I just wanted to do a little research so I didn't fall into the "oo that would be cool" trap only to find out that it won't do what I need it to do. It sounds like this might be a direction I'd like to go in.

    If you've got anymore thoughts, I'd love to hear them.
  6. Arni99, Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012

    Arni99 macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2011
    Vienna, Austria
    Here you can find a benchmark for FCPX etc.:

    The MBA i7 is about 2-3 times slower than the Mac Pro or the iMac.
    I'd go for the 13" MBA with 1440x900 + SD card slot and not the 11" with 1366x768.
  7. Boe11 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2010
    Thanks for the benchmarks.

    The biggest appeal of the 11" to me, is that I'll have it connected to the TBD most of the time, and when I detach it for travel or lounging on the couch, I think I'd appreciate its smaller form factor.
  8. Beanoir, Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012

    Beanoir macrumors 6502a


    Dec 9, 2010
    51 degrees North
    I think screen size is the biggest issue I find for PP work to be honest....to the extent I have given up trying to use my 11" for that kind of thing.

    EDIT: oops, didn't read properly, noticed you are using TBD!! Sorry!
  9. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Since you will be using the TBD, screen size won't be an issue. The 11" i7 and the 13" i7 benchmark nearly the same. If I were in your shoes, then I would just buy from Apple. You have 14 days to return it if you find it does not meet your needs. Bear in mind that the MBA does not have firewire or Gigabit Ethernet. These may not be issues for you, but I am becoming frustrated with USB 2.
  10. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    You might be better off waiting a few months to see if the 2012s add an 8GB option.
  11. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I do compositing and I did several shots for a major Playstation spot a couple months ago on my MBA without a hitch. I did roto, track, and 3D tracking on my MBA since the studio I was working at didn't have the software I needed. I plugged in to a monitor and it was very fast. I was working on 2K plates with MANY layers and it never crashed or even slowed.
  12. Boe11 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2010
    Sold! Thanks, man.
  13. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    The only small caveat was of course the lack of decent drive speed support, so I had to load my shots to the local flash drive in order to work on them and just delete them as I went. If you have access to a Thunderbolt drive tho you would be fine. Or if you have a 256GB MBA you will be fine since its hard to fill a 64GB with just system data and apps.

Share This Page