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Old 12-07-08, 01:25 PM   #1
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PC or Mac for Video editing

Which is better for video editing.

Can an entry level Mac do much better than an entry level PC.

What Mac would you buy purely to be used for editing purposes and why?
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Old 12-07-08, 01:33 PM   #2
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Buy the most expensive, fastest multi processor mac you can afford, with a huge amount of memory. I have friends that do this sort of thing professionally. It all comes down to rendering time. One guy that I know switched from PC to a quad core mac (I don't know which PC he was using) and cut his rendering times in half.

I do pro audio, and most of us are using macs. Again, the big expensive ones are king, because signal processing takes powerful computers, especially with a lot of tracks. Since I am not running a studio anymore I just limit myself to mastering small projects at home, and therefore have no desire to get a new high-buck machine. Mine is a dual G4 from 2003. It was the bees knees back then. Nowadays it bogs down if I do more than about 10 tracks at 96kHz with signal processing.
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Old 12-07-08, 01:34 PM   #3
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Entry level Macs will run circles around any entry or intermediate level PC for video stuff.
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Old 12-07-08, 01:59 PM   #4
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I would avoid the new aluminum Macbook for video editing because it has no FireWire. The Macbook Pro has FireWire, so if you need portable video editing, you will need to pay the price difference.

Desktop iMacs, I am pretty sure, can handle your video editing needs, but I would recommend maxing their RAM out. A Mac Pro can easily handle any video jobs you can throw at it, for the most part.
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Old 12-07-08, 09:10 PM   #5
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The computer isn't as important as the software you're using. There's nothing on the PC that comes close to iMovie for ease of use for beginners. And FinalCutPro will do pro-level editing. Ultimately though, nothing beats Adobe Premiere for NLE. You can start with basic free stuff that comes with the camera, but over the years, you'll find yourself upgrading to more sophisticated software that will end at Premiere. It has extensible architecture that allows 3rd-party plug-ins for additional functionality that nothing else can touch. After Effects and BorisFX alone are worth it. Along with tonnes of other feature-packed free plug-ins: http://www.thepluginsite.com/resources/freepm.htm

As for equipment, while CPU-power is needed for rendering, but that's only a small portion of it. You'll want at least 16gb memory and a 64-bit OS to manage it. I've got 64gb on a dual quad-core machine and still need to double that memory and am installing a 2nd server for 4-CPU/16-core rendering.

Dealing with 100gb files requires some serious HP on the storage end. You'll want an array that can manage at least 200MB/s sustained throughput or else you'll spend most of your time twiddling your thumbs. I'm setting up an EVA5000 now with twin FC-HBAs to get at least 800-900MB/s. And even then, that's still not fast enough.

But really, it comes down to the kind of videos you want to edit and the final-products you want to create. Home-movie clips for YouTube can be done with anything. But if you want HD-DVD, broadcast-quality stuff, you'll want the requirements I outlined above.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 12-07-08 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 12-07-08, 09:14 PM   #6
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Home-movie clips for YouTube can be done with anything.
Troof. Did this with iMovie '08 and a Canon point-n-shoot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnJJCfQD6BY
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Old 12-07-08, 09:25 PM   #7
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I think the folks at Avid might give Adobe a run for their money, especially considering that they have dominated the market for so long.
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Old 12-07-08, 09:35 PM   #8
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But really, it comes down to the kind of videos you want to edit and the final-products you want to create.
Bingo. Figure out exactly what you want to do, and then the hardware and software requirements will be less nebulous.
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Old 12-07-08, 09:44 PM   #9
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Old 12-07-08, 09:47 PM   #10
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wow blast from the distant past. video toaster.
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Old 12-07-08, 09:49 PM   #11
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I found an Amiga 4000 with a Video Toaster card at Goodwill for $20 once. Didn't buy it, but found out later that they were selling for over a thousand bucks on eBay at the time. Apply swift kick to own ass, lather, repeat.
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Old 12-09-08, 02:00 PM   #12
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So it would appear on this I need a mac with more memory than I could really afford to do some editing.
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Old 12-09-08, 02:33 PM   #13
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I have a three year old PC (P4HT), $49 software, 1.5GB RAM, and I create, edit, and burn my movies perfectly fine... of course it takes 2 hours to render a 90-minute movie, but I have a life away from the computer so I just let it run and I don't even notice it...
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Old 12-09-08, 03:10 PM   #14
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What software do you use?
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Old 12-09-08, 04:15 PM   #15
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So it would appear on this I need a mac with more memory than I could really afford to do some editing.
How much do you think you need?
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Old 12-09-08, 06:03 PM   #16
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So it would appear on this I need a mac with more memory than I could really afford to do some editing.
Well... .what kind of final-product do you want to create?

There's a balance of sorts between cost, convenience and speed. Hands-down the easiest to use is iMovie on a Mac. The cheapest is an old P4 Windows machine using Avid's FreeDV or VirtualDub. These are more difficult to use, may take you 2-3x as long to edit and compose a movie. Finally, there's the last step of rendering the final-output and creating a DVD disk-image. Basic Mac will do it at 2x real-time speed, or about 30-minutes for a 1-hour movie. High-end Mac will do it 5-6x speed, or about 10-minutes for a 1-hour movie.

So if you've got time to learn and time to wait for the final-output, you can create something just as nice on a basic PC or Mac compared to top-end machines. It just takes longer that's all. Heck, I remember the first DVD I made 9-years ago on a Powermac G3, it took about 3-days to render. Now that I've got fast-array with rendering spread out between 6 machines, it takes less than 5-minutes.
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Old 12-10-08, 08:06 AM   #17
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So from my reading of everything a basic mac would work much better than a pc, totally fine with 2x real-time speed.
So was wondering an Mac with Imovie costs what? anybody know how much it would cost, I no nothing about Macs.
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Old 12-10-08, 09:27 AM   #18
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What software do you use?
I am using Vegas Movie Studio 9 and I love it! It can be as super simple or as super complicated as you want to make it.
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Old 12-10-08, 03:19 PM   #19
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So from my reading of everything a basic mac would work much better than a pc, totally fine with 2x real-time speed.
So was wondering an Mac with Imovie costs what? anybody know how much it would cost, I no nothing about Macs.
Personally, I prefer to pick up 1-2 year-old previous-generation stuff used to save 40-60% on the purchase price. About $600-750 will get you an 20" iMac with Core2duo CPU along with a bunch of bundled software, including the iMovie. Comes with firewire-port and DL DVD-burner. Add $50 to max out the memory @ 4gb and you're set to go.

However, you may want to get your feet wet right away if you've got a PC. Here's a workflow that's pretty typical:

1. download footage from camera to PC. Best to download raw DV video through firewire port with no codec-conversions or compression to get highest-quality source material. WinDV is a good package to download from the camera. It also lets you upload raw DV video back up to the camera. Before external hard-drives were cheap and large enough, I would upload the finished video back to the camera to send a miniDV tape to the DVD-mastering shop (about 25gb per tape).

2. edit video. MS Movie Maker is a basic free package built into WinXP.

3. transcode video into final format. MPEG2 for DVDs, FLV for compact online-videos. Divx-AVI/WMV/MP4 for playing on computer/iPods. VirtualDub or SUPER are great packages for high-quality transcoding. While there are all-in-one packages that let you convert video and author a DVD, the quality is nowhere as good as these two converters.

4. author/master DVD to create menus and chapter options. Music & animated icons, etc. DVD Author Pro lets you create a very professional DVD. Makes a master ISO image at the end that you can preview.

5. finally, burn the ISO image to a DVD using ImgBurn and that's it!

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 12-10-08 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 12-10-08, 03:41 PM   #20
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Personally, I prefer to pick up 1-2 year-old previous-generation stuff used to save 40-60% on the purchase price. About $600-750 will get you an 20" iMac with Core2duo CPU along with a bunch of bundled software, including the iMovie. Comes with firewire-port and DL DVD-burner. Add $50 to max out the memory @ 4gb and you're set to go.

So other than Ebay which can be a bit hooky on computers, where would you recommend looking for a
2nd hand Imac?

I would assume that a 2 year old Imac would be a lot better quality than a 2 year old pc.
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Old 12-10-08, 10:40 PM   #21
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Or, with a Mac:

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1. download footage from camera to PC.

2. edit video and transcode into final format with iMovie.

3. Author and burn DVD in iDVD.

Or,

3. Upload video to Youtube or your me.com gallery straight from iMovie, along with adding it to iTunes to be playable on an iPod -- still from iMovie.
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Old 12-10-08, 10:43 PM   #22
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OP, what is the end goal for your project? that might help us understand what level of system and program you need.
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Old 12-10-08, 11:05 PM   #23
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So other than Ebay which can be a bit hooky on computers, where would you recommend looking for a
2nd hand Imac?

I would assume that a 2 year old Imac would be a lot better quality than a 2 year old pc.
you can get them as refurbs from apple.com's special deals section of their online store. The iMac isn't necessarily better than a PC, it would completely depend on the PC's starting quality since it could be more easily upgraded. The iMac not so much.

I use a MacBook Pro; it was a refurb, but it came with the same warranty the new ones came with. It has been perfect for me and FC Pro runs just fine on the 2.16 Ghz Core 2 Duo with 2 GB RAM. The iMac, if I remember correctly, of the same era would have similar components and should work fine for most situations.

If you just want to make home movies and whatnot, iMovie would come with the computer and would carry you for quite a while before you outgrow it. You can get similar products for the PC world as well, so really, unless you need a lot of horsepower to do large, hi-res files and intend to run a big 'ol RAID to store video on (in which case you likely wouldn't be asking these questions in the first place), it would really come down to your preference for an OS.
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Old 12-11-08, 10:45 AM   #24
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OP, what is the end goal for your project? that might help us understand what level of system and program you need.
If I knew what the wife actually wanted it may help

She has approx 500 video tapes from over the years most only have 45 mins of footage that she actually wants on them, she wants to edit them and put them on dvd.

Also she wants to make family video's with photographs to music, picture change on the beat count etc.

Last time she made one of those was when she was in college and she was using analog and using a professional avid system.

I managed with our getting olderby the minute pc to edit some dvd's (Super 8 conversions), to make a 60 minute dvd to give to family members took me weeks to get it right and about 24 hours to render. All I did was basically input in the clips I wanted and string them together, editing was nigh on impossible.

I have heard over the years that macs are great for video, graphics etc, which is why I asked the question, does that help or I have I just muddied the waters.
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Old 12-11-08, 10:57 AM   #25
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A mac with typical OS-X software can do a good job of basic video editing, and iMovie HD, iDvd can make some good DVD's. iphoto can do a nice slideshow to-fit-to-music length, depending on how many pictures. A new MAC (Leopard) will come with bootcamp allowing for the installation of Windows, thus allowing you the best of both worlds.


The iWhatever applications all blend nicely with one another.
Any transitional effect does need to be rendered frame by frame, so there is no easy/fast DVD solution.
When the software is controlling it it's easy but when it's time to render to DVD ....no matter how you slice it it's going to take a while.

A multi-processor G5 max'd out in RAM, and HD with external drives, with a superDrive is your best bet, not taking budget into consideration. Video workstations need as much RAM as you can put in it.

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