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Hey everyone,

I currently have an iBook (G3 700MHz) and need to look at a G4 based system for editing DV from our new camera. I am considering a G4 450MHz cube that is posted here on ehMac. Is this a decent system for DV editing or am I better served going with a faster G4 tower system? I do understand that faster is better but how much faster do I need to go before I start seeing real differences. I love the cube but want to see a real difference in export time from iMovie. My iBook is just too darn slow at this.

Thanks in advance...
 

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I would guess that in the difference between AltiVec optimization and the double clockspeed on the iBook the difference would be moot.

Although, purchasing a processor upgrade to the Cube would result in performance gains. Not sure what they go for these days though.
 

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Don't know about the cube's speed but I would say that memory is a more likely barrier. I do amateur DV editing with a PB12/867MHz/384Mb RAM and it is touch and go for large projects. It looks like the pros out there with a full FCP4 setup run machines of various speeds but with loads of RAM (one post a couple of days aog mentioned all pro machines standardised on 1.5Gig).
 

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i personally would go for a G4 tower - anywhere from dual 500 up. they are easily expandable for video cards, audio cards and ram especially. what does the ibook have for audio ins and outs? also, aren't all the ports on the cube on the bottom? if so, inconvenient ( i would get a firewire hub if that's the case ) I edit on my g4 500 pismo with 768 ram and love it - as far as speed is concerned....imho
 

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Ask macdoc for a dual 450mhz tower. You will be able to put a lot of ram in it and the dual proc really make a dif.

The cube is very nice look wise but wont cut it unless you put major $ on it to upgrade the card and a new HD.
 

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Many points to look at when considering FCP on a mac:

Are you amateur user or semi-pro user? If you are an amateur user that wants to occasionally edit home movies, any G3 above 500 mHz with a 100 mHz system bus and 500 megs of ram will technically run FCP. It will be veerrryy slow, I used to use this very type of set up 3 years ago. For any sort of semi-pro editing and above you are better off with a G4 dual processor. The dual 450 was one of the first 2 processor mac's I used FCP to edit with and it handled most tasks adequately. Today at the office I edit on a dual G4 1.25 gHz with 1.5 gigs of ram on OS X and lots of firewire drives for digitizing footage.

I think it's important to first look at the amount of time you will spend using FCP to make a decision on the amount of money you will invest in a computer. The G4 Cube with 1 gig of ram installed will be faster than your iBook, but only marginally. The 700 mHz iBook only lacks in the altivec chip when it comes to over all horse power. So the iBook makes up for this by being more powerful in mHz. The system bus is the same on both machines.

After 4 years of editing on FCP on many, many different models of powermacs, I highly recomend any dual quicksilver mac above 800 mHz to the latest dual 1.42 gHz model of late summer 2003. The dual 800 is starting to drop in resale value and if you wait until late January or early February on next year, you should be able to save even more money as newer G5's are announced and released, making the older G4's more of a deal.

Ram is always a plus in FCP if you are editing large projects. A large documentary project that I am working on at the office right now is almost 100 megs in project size. This is not usual for a 1 hour documentary in my experience. If you are cutting your home movies with 10 to 20 minutes of footage you will most likely never go above 5 to 10 megs in project size. This means that you will will have much less demand for ram and over all system resources. Meaning that a less powerful mac with say 512 - 768 megs of ram will be just fine for light editing at home.

I personally feel that sometimes consumers are led to think that they have to have the latest and greatest most up-to-date powerful mac that money can buy. I believe that this is only true for pro users like myself. Where time is money and the faster a computer can work, the more I can accomplish in a shorter amount of time. Therefore I can do more projects in a shorter period of time. Buying expensive dual G5's is worth it for me and my business, but is it a necessity that you need?

Think about it for a while before you buy. Take a look at what is for sale new or used. Don't buy something that you will regret within a short period of time.
 

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Hey Timothy: Great detailed feedback!

Regarding this:

Ram is always a plus in FCP if you are editing large projects. A large documentary project that I am working on at the office right now is almost 100 megs in project size. This is not usual for a 1 hour documentary in my experience. If you are cutting your home movies with 10 to 20 minutes of footage you will most likely never go above 5 to 10 megs in project size. This means that you will will have much less demand for ram and over all system resources. Meaning that a less powerful mac with say 512 - 768 megs of ram will be just fine for light editing at home.

I assume you mean GIGs

Macified: Rule of thumb is 12Gigs/hour for raw DV footage in iMovie, 15-17Gigs/hour for a finished project before final cleanup. So you need at least one good FW HD with 100Gigs to spare.
 

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I'm actually referring to the FCP project file that you open and save every time you launch or quit FCP. The larger the project file the more ram that FCP will require.

The more clips, sequences and data you have in a single FCP project file affects the over all performance of FCP. If you have a huge project file (say 50 megs) and FCP is starting to behave irregulary and take to long to open...etc. What you can do to improve performance is open a new project and copy and paste only the data you are currently using ie...current clips and timelines or just the timeline, and you will notice improved performance in FCP.

For example in a large project file (say 50 megs) if the length of your timeline is one hour than FCP utilizes more physical ram to be able to playback lengthy sequences. If you have a small project file FCP will use less ram because usually a small project file means that you are not working with a sequence/timeline that is large.

Every morning when I open the documentary I'm working on it takes 10 minutes for the project to open. That is how large the file is. I have digitized 500 gigs of footage to edit with and when I make any large changes to my timeline every now and then FCP chokes and will not allow me to execute any type of command. To get around this I simply press the space bar for playback to start and wait...sometimes 10 minutes. But it will eventually playback. I figure FCP is changing what clips it had stored in ram and whenever I make a drastic change in the timeline it needs to refresh or update the ram. If I don't do this, and I try to save or select a tool or click the mouse a few too many times, FCP just gives me the spinning wheel and it can take hours to get back my mouse pointer. This only happens with very large projects. I have never seen it happen on a project under 30 megs or so on any of our powermacs.

This is why I say ram is a factor in FCP performance. Especially if your doing long form doc or feature length movies. The projects become massive and FCP slooowwwsss down. I have never had this kind of problem when editing on Avid or Media100. It is FCP quirk and my belief is that because FCP is having to work with dv resolution. That adds up to a considerable amount of data for a system to handle in large quantities. When I edit on Avid or Media100 usually I digitize my footage at 30:1 or 50:1 compression. That's a far cry from 4.5:1 in FCP. If FCP offered different resolutions to edit with it would most likely improve the performance but the FCP quicktime codec looks like crap at anything below dv resolution. Avid and Media100 have suberb 50:1 low res codecs. That's partially what you are paying so much money for in those systmes. FCP is only 1500.00. Not 50 000.00 to 100 000.00. There is no comparing them.

[ December 11, 2003, 06:59 AM: Message edited by: Timothy J ]
 

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More insight Timothy, thanks!


I just bought myself FCX, I hear that the memory probs are not as bad, but I will keep in mind what you have said. Obviously the solution is to create 15 minute long projects and reassemble them at the end. Would that be straightforward?

Also, one of things I like with iMovie is that it is very quick to work with once you have assembled your sequence of clips. It has drawbacks and limited choices, but at least you can apply these transitions and titles in seconds. The FCX interface looks quite intimidating (I will play with it at Xmas), but in terms of raw speed of use, is FCX a step backwards?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all of the input guys. I will be using iMovie and this is only for home movie stuff. Nothing too big. My iBook is okay at putting things together but is too slow on the export, not to mention the small HD (20GB) and limited RAM (640MB). I just need something that will export faster, can take more RAM and bigger or less cluttered HD.

Besides, with a second system I can let iMovie chug along and still be able to use my iBook for other stuff.

thanks again...
 

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Moscool, don't be afraid of either FCP or FCX. FCX is a slightly hand cuffed version of FCP and there are basically 3 aspects of using either piece of software.
1. The digitize stage/importing
2. Editing your footage
3. Output/expoting of project to media of your choice

It will take all of a few hours to learn where the various tools are kept, how to place and adjust your various transitions and how to use the title tool. When it comes to the basics of editing once you discover how to use the tools at your disposal, you will then use your own creativity and emotions to shape your project into your own visual and audio (too tired to think of better description) scapes. The one other piece of software that I use all the time to animate still photographs is Adobe After Effects. It is more complicated than FCP over all. But if you use it for creating moves on still photos, you can figure it out in a few hours and then leave the other tools alone, to learn another day. After Effects alows you to use bezier curved velocity on the key frames when creating moves. FCP does not yet allow this and therefore moves are jerky and and I don't like the results at all. All you do is render the After Effects moves as quick time dv codec movies and then import and place the rendered movies as if they are digitized clips in FCP or FCX.

I tend to personally keep things very simple. I'm not a special effects user but I'm not against using them when the footage calls for or allows for it. A couple of documentaries that I really enjoyed in the past year that you may want to check out are called :
1. The Kid Stays in The Picture
2. Dog Town Z Boys

Both are very different than the standard average documentary and are visually stimulating and full of inspiring ideas that I have incorporoated into some of the projects I have worked on.

If you want to create smaller 15 minute sequences and then assemble them together in the final output, yes it is very straight forward. The beauty of FCP or FCX is it's a virtual world of cut, copy and paste. Simply select all your clips (the 15 min sequence) and copy them (Apple-C key) and then place the time indicator in the other timeline where you want to paste the copied clips and (Apple-V) paste. That is it, very simple. I think once people realize how easy things are to do use in FCP, editors will all become unemployed. I don't really think this, there is always special knowledge accumulated from years of editing that can't be instantly learned or taught. Editing is an art that develops with the amount of time you put back into the work.
 

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Macified, I would buy a Cube if it had enough ram. Connect external firewire drives for digitizing and have one very quiet, cool looking edit suite. A nice flat panel lcd display (20 inch will do nicely/more expensive than the Cube though) of course then the Cube would require the 32 meg video card upgrade. But those are always available (125.00) on ebay, I see them all the time. You can even put a dual processor G4 inside the Cube but you will have to then install a fan kit which will spoil the dead silence of the original setup. If you spend a little more money on the fan there are Vantec Stealth models which are almost silent. The Cube can even be customised to the point of changing the whole exterior case with custom shells. Check it out. Powerlogix Enclosure

The Powerlogix enclosure is 9 x 9, instead of the original 8 x 8. This allows for almost any video card to now be installed in the Cube. ATI 64 meg vram anybody?!

Ah, if money was no object. I would go nuts with a custom cube. Maybe the new iMac in 2004 will look like a cube again and not a flat volleyball with a lawn sign stuck in the top. I like the iMac specs, but do not like the design. Having the screen permanently attached is not to my taste. If Apple did not have to spend all that money on the R and D for designing the special metal arm that attaches the screen to the iMac, maybe it would be hundreds of dollars cheaper. Steve bring back the ultra small powermac Cube with consumer choice of monitor. CRT or LCD, let us choose and make it 1000.00 dollars with a G5 chip and watch us snap them up.

I noticed on ebay the average Cube is selling for 400 to 500 American. Next year maybe I will save up a few extra hundred and buy a piece of good Apple engineering history. Very useful computer that looks like it came off the set of 24. Jack is that you!

I want it and I want it now.
:D

[ December 11, 2003, 11:20 AM: Message edited by: Timothy J ]
 
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