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which mac for starting a video editing career?

by alancheek / October 28, 2008 6:23 AM PDT

Hi everyone. sorry if this thread has been done before, i couldnt find any similar ones. Basically ive just come out of uni and want to start a career in video editing. At the moment ive got a macbook, but its so slow using final cut pro with long footage. I was thinking of getting an iMac or Mac Pro, but i have a very limited budget. What do you reckon is the kind of specifications i should concentrate on?? Im tempted with the iMac purely because its cheaper but have no idea its editing capabilities?

thanks a lot

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Look at the iMacs or the MacBook Pro
by BeatleMegaFan / October 28, 2008 9:05 AM PDT

If you are going to be working with a lot of video, make sure you get something other than a new, consumer MacBook. They don't have FireWire at all, which I bet you'll need at some point in time. The new MacBook Pros have a sole FW800 port, and you can get backwards compatible adapters if needed too. Now for some comparisons.

The new MacBook Pro comes in two models: the base 2.4Ghz model and the higher-end 2.53Ghz model, which has a few more BTO options online. You could throw in a 2.8Ghz CPU if you wanted. If you are going to do video work, make sure you look at the graphics setups. Both have the new NVIDIA 9400M chip and the 9600M GT card inside. Technically, they can work in Hybrid SLI (having a graphics chip and a graphics card working together at the same time, pretty much), but NVIDIA says that Apple has yet to write in this feature in OS X. Know that you currently have to log out to switch between graphics processors. Starting at $1999, MBPs aren't cheap, but they're good quality and perform well. To save money, you could get the base model, but it has half the graphics memory as the $2499 model, which may or may not affect you. Your call. If you want a new notebook to use over your MacBook, this is the way to go. My older MBP runs Final Cut Express very well, so you wouldn't be disappointed.

If you want a desktop, you have to consider the iMac or the Mac Pro. The iMac comes in four flavors, while the Mac Pro comes in one (expensive) model. A Mac Pro guarantees you a longer life; you'll get the ability to upgrade many components, something other Macs can't do. But again: no matter how powerful and great they may be, they're very expensive. If you want a sub-$3000 computer, the high-end iMac should work fine for you. 3.06Ghz CPU, nice GPU, etc. The 2.8Ghz one is still good, and so is the 2.66Ghz 20-inch model. I wouldn't look at the base iMac; it's stripped down when you compare it its older siblings.

Bottom line: if you get a machine with 2.4Ghz or more of CPU power, 4GB of RAM, and a decent graphics card, you'll be good to go. That's what my older MBP runs on, and I've been satisfied with it. Depends on what you want. For the iMac, wait awhile because a line refresh is expected sometime soon. For a MBP, get one now, since they were just upgraded. The unibody MacBook Pro is truly an iMac-to-go, so that would be my first choice. Hope this helped.


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Which Mac to buy....
by cclephane02 / November 1, 2008 3:16 AM PDT

Battle has provided an EXCELLENT overview of the current product line and features....all very sound advice. I do NOT disagree with anything he stated.
Now to play devils a Mac User, business owner and (most important) TV producer...I am going to offer you a slightly different perspective.

As a new self-admitting entry into the world of pro video will take some time to develop your skills to the point that you are deriving significant income off of your projects. Your skills will take time to develop and it will take significant time to find people willing to hire you on a regular basis. (EST 1-3 years for most people seeking to derive significant income from the venture. Significant = Greater than $20k a year.)

TIME being the critical factor...and budget also seeming to be an issue....Remember that as you start out...having the latest/greatest does you no good if you don't have knowledge/skills/experience on the software to leverage the full power of the software/machine. Not an insult...just pointing out that you have a LOT of ground to cover as a newbie into this field. WIthout classes or intensive training/internship with practical application workflow every may take you a year or two to develop FCP skills to the point that you are an efficient editor/producer.

That your money now. Buy the least expensive dual processor (core duo) machine you can find....max it to 3 or 4 GB of RAM...and get a good external USB 2.0 drive for (video data.) Keep your firewire port open for hooking a DV camera to it...or a biDirectional DV Firewire converter box for Monitoring your edit on a TUBE Monitor/TV. Buy a decent Camera...some wireless mics and a few lights...depending on your intended subject matter.

POINT BEING: By the time you really need a machine with some should have developed your skills to the point that you actually DO need the horsepower....and at that SHOULD have the client base established to be able to afford a QUAD or 8 Processor MACPRO.

Our interns begin their work on a FCP equipped Core Duo Mac Mini. (Dual 1.8 with 3GB ram) FYI--That was a Sub-$750 purchase for us when we got it. The interns stay on that machine for roughly 3-6 months of intensive training...until they have mastered most of the basics of FCP editing. They then continue to use it for their introductory After Effects training. is slow(er)...but even these low end machines today run circles around the top end machines from just a few years ago.

Good Luck.

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Follow up....
by cclephane02 / November 1, 2008 3:22 AM PDT
In reply to: Which Mac to buy....


Are you editing LONG-FORM projects? (5-60 minutes?) or do you simply have a LOT of LONG TAKE footage that you are having to sort through/whittle down? Or are you trying to render/transcode LONG CLIPS into different codecs?

FYI - Hard-drive speed (RAID v.s Single Drive) and Processor speed will have the greatest impact on your LONG times.

Were you using the startup drive on you Macbook as the editing cache/video storage drive? (that would SERIOUSLY make thing slow.)

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Which Mac for Video Career?
by RBADigital / November 1, 2008 11:58 PM PDT

For what it's worth: Having started out on things like six plate flatbed and Moviola upright film editors (yes, using TAPE to fix pieces of film together,) in today's market, to BE marketable, as well as to pay your dues learning the craft, where $4,000 a week happens for many an editor, I'd suggest canceling the expense of youthful exuberance and save until you can afford a Mac Pro and Final Cut Studio, with AT LEAST one 23" monitor. All of this will cost less than a lens for an HD camera. By far.

With the Mac Pro, you get the nice video cards, and for editing, there is a new class of effects and transition technology which use the high speed capabilities of video cards for real time (live) capability. It's a brave new world, and very, very, cool.

As to video I/O hardware, consider for starters, Black Magic Design's Intensity product. It is cheap. With this, you can capture full 1080x1920 video to Apple's Pro Res via HDMI to an inexpensive Firewire 800 drive (do NOT bother with USB or Firewire 400 if you want to be thinking HD,) and suddenly, with consumer cameras, you have the ability to do a show, better than film students with 16mm film. The bit of it: you have to carry your Mac to each location to digitize. But you're young. Regular HDMI cables are okay to about 25 feet. HDMI extenders from Gefen would help with keeping you in a room or truck. The Intensity board will also let you attach a cheap 1080x1920 monitor (well, TV, as Sony's Pro 23 inch LCD is more than $20,000,) like the backlit DLP's from Samsung, where 50+ inches of 1080 are under $1,000. Use the CINEMA mode for editing, as it seems the most accurate.

Did I mention that with the Intensity card, you can LIVE SWITCH TWO HD CAMERAS and capture to Pro Res? You just hafta have TWO Intensity cards.

Finally, associate yourself with independent filmmakers as their post solution, and toil away until you get good.

The other way to do this is to try to get an assistant editor job somewhere, but the desktop has killed a lot of assistant jobs.

Best of Luck

Richard Brown

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What hardware to get for 1080p editing in fall 2010?
by JohnSimonBeverly / August 18, 2010 1:12 AM PDT


thanks for the great information.I hope you're still out there and reading this!

I've worked as a media producer for close to 20 years (mostly multi media work such as events, web work, DVD:s, exhibitions, magazines etc, was doing a lot of 3D stuff initially, strongly prefer Macs but am not a zealot) but have in recent years drifted more into a producer, concept development and strategy role. I've long wanted to make documentaries in HD (1080p) format, and do as much as possible of the work myself, especially the editing/post.

It seems difficult to find reliable information on the actual hardware requirements for capturing and editing 1080p video. That's a lot of data to be shuffled... From what I can gather, you actually need GigaBit Ethernet drives to smooth the work process.

Since the post I'm replying to is from 2008, in what respect would you update your recommendations for fall 2010? I'd be very grateful for your thoughts on this!

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the right Mac..
by anoop1d / February 26, 2012 1:09 AM PST

if you want to work at home / SOHO.... the iMac 27 with I7 processor is perfect, but looking to work all the day (and continuing at night Happy ) just go for the Mac Pro with at least 6 cores and 32 GB of ECC RAM, they are worth.

A serious MAC user from Mauritius

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