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Thread: Video Newbie Needs Hardware

  1. #1
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    Default Video Newbie Needs Hardware

    I need a computer for making a video. Never done that before. Apple suggests $3,847 for a fully tricked out G5 Dual 1.8, but their prices for memory and hard drive upgrades easily add over $500 beyond what it would cost to buy a basic model and customize it with toys from MacGurus. What do I buy from Apple, or perhaps used, and what do I add from MacGurus? Apple says, for example, that over 2GB of RAM is wasted on video if you are not rendering elaborate effects, and I could buy two 1GB sticks from MacGurus for $400 less than Apple charges and keep the 256MB that Apple would remove with the upgrade. I know to have at least two hard drives, one for data and one for the OS; would I be better off with a third as a scratch disk? Hallowed Eternal Truth says Gurus could help me configure a better Mac at a lower price than I could buy from Apple. What would you recommend?

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    Lightbulb

    So first off, you need to buy a computer to get started.
    Take a look this thread "Apple Store Specials" for some ideas.

    Dual 1.8 G5 $1700. Then add 2GB RAM. 300GB SATA drive. Add external Serial ATA drives for RAID and archive. Dual 2.0 $2100. I'd skip new, personally.

    To help understand the differences in architecture PowerMac G5 family gets into some of the nuts and bolts.

    Wait and see? Apple is due to announce new models, but it could be months before they are available.

    www.barefeats.com has some benchmarks on 2D/3D comparing some Macs and PCs with various configurations.

    ThinkSecret: "highly reliable" sources to provide us with detailed specs about upcoming hardware releases.

    The new PowerMacs are said to top out at 2.7GHz in the following configurations:

    Dual 2.0GHz, Dual 2.3GHz and Dual 2.7GHz with 512MB RAM featuring SuperDrives with dual-layer DVD+R support. No reliable info if the new processors will offer the multi-core 970MP or not.
    Last edited by TZ; 04-14-2005 at 07:06 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: "I'd Skip New, Personally"

    Thanks, TZ! I always appreciate hearing from you.

    Older G5s do not have PCI-X. Do I need that?

    Do I put the scratch files on the RAID, and then store the saved video on the big internal SATA drive?

    Would a recent eMac be viable, with external FireWire drives? You link shows refurbs for $650, and I've read reviews that say they have good throughput. I'm not rendering for Pixar here, but just editing footage.

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    All 2.0 and 2.5s have PCI-X. The original 1.8 did also (the ones with 8 RAM slots, the new ones have 4). No, you don't need 133/100MHz PCI unless you have a couple cards that hog a bus, or don't get along. With 8-port SATA cards, like Sonnet Tempo-X, should be fine.

    There are no hard and fast "what do I do" except experience and testing. But the Photoshop Guide is a great help in thinking about what you want.

    The eMac will be G4/1.4GHz. If you can't afford a dual 1.8 for $1700... get a G4 PowerMac instead - used and you would still want/need to upgrade it to the gills, so you don't save.

    A G5 2.5+ would pay for itself over time, working faster and more efficient. Unless this is just home video... doing things on a shoe-string, eventually the string breaks. Same with SCSI on the cheap.

  5. #5
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    Default The Plan...

    Sounds like the best plan is to get a dual G5 of at least 1.8 GHz, used or refurbished. If buying from Apple or a dealer, add no upgrades. Then get 2GB RAM and a big internal SATA drive from MacGurus.

    Is the external RAID a desireable luxury, or something I'll clearly need to keep the processors fed? I've never used a RAID before, but it sounds as though video editing uses far more memory than RAM could possibly store, and so requires large, fast scratch disks. Is that right?

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    Lightbulb

    Did you read the Photoshop Guide with its associated links and FAQ? Also, the Storage Guide [/url] is helpful.

    I would say 2.5GB RAM is minimum. The 'sweat spot' on G5s is as high as 1.5 and more for video and graphics. 2GB is just enough for Photoshop alone. Give the system at least 512. And more to have multiple applications open. The more you have, the more the system can keep in memory, cache windows and reduce paging. Current price @ Crucial for 1GB is $145 so $300 will get you 2GB.

    RAID or scratch can be a fast Raptor boot drive for starters. then grow as your needs allow. Keeping 40GB free actually isn't wasteful at all, you'll find just having the OS/Apps on 73GB fine. then use a large fast 2nd internal for media.

    For optimum scratch/RAID, the Raptor 10K seems the most reliable fast way to go. Slightly cheaper but not by a whole lot anymore, to a 10K 73GB SCSI drive ($235).

    And it looks like video cards for G5 are going to only get better!

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    Default Partition or Not?

    Well, ol' pointy-head here got his mits on an old copy of iMovie 2.1.2 and will learn by doing before moving forward on his video project. While seeing how video editing works with consumer-level software, I expect to learn a lot about the limitations of my Pleiocene hardware. That will help me understand what I need to know and buy to do it right, so I can ask fewer questions and better understand the answers of those I ask.

    The beige's original hard drive is beign retired after nearly eight years of slow if faithful service. The Mac crashes when lots of apps and windows are open, apparently from running out of memory for lack of free space for the swap file.

    The new boot drive will have 120MB instead of 6. Data will be on other drives, except that some of the new drive may be used for backup.

    Is there any advantage to partitioning it, and if so, what is the best scheme?

    Is there a way to give the swap file its own partition? I've heard this can reduce fragmentation of the system, but I don't know how large a partition to make.

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    forget swap file. using a pci ata controller?

    for what you could spend... a mac-mini g4/1.25ghz which comes with ilife5? wait for tiger... $499 would give you a better idea. G4/533 ($199 from store) upgrade then, and ilife '05. $150 for 768MB RAM.

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    Hi BC,

    Looks like you are in good hands here. Just to clarify, you can do consumer grade (imovie) editing fine on any reasonably new Mac just fine. What you need is plenty of drive space to render to.

    Once you have that covered, the next consideration is performance. When you render - apply an edit or effect - the CPU has to crunch through it. The faster the Mac, the faster the render. Back in the day, a 10 second edit might take several minutes to render...on a high end G5, a 10 second edit only take 10 seconds....the actually time it take the video to play.

    So if you are only doing light home editing, and can afford the time, no need for a high end box.

    My brother teaches Jr. High kids, and part of the artsy stuff they do is make videos in imovie. They are using old G3 DV imacs and doing just fine...just slow render speeds.

    Now as TZ mentioned, if this is paying the bills (and time is money), or if you have a huge project, you need to get into a G5 not to be pulling your hair out. I like TZ's idea about the mini; the only down side is you would probably need an external FW drive for storage and backups, so factor that into the cost.

    And yes, forget about partitioning for editing. Would probably hurt performacne. The current version of imovie may allow you move swap space...older verisons did not. If you can, you could render to the external FW drive with a mini, which should work nicely I would think.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  10. #10
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    Default Replacing the old drive

    Replacing the old drive isn't an upgrade per se, just maintainance on an old Mac using a cheap new drive.

    Couldn't find the answer to this on Apple's Web site, though you'd think it would be there: Maxtor's installation instructions say Mac OS X must be installed on a partition within the first 8GB of the drive. That was true with OS X 10.0. Is it still true with OS X 10.2.8?

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    One reason for a controller... 8GB (7.8) is true. Only way around is SCSI or ACard etc. A controller would offer 3x the 16MB/sec on native ATA/16 as well.

    Xpostfacto 3.1 was posted today.

    put the OS/Apps on Drive A on the controller. setup Drive B to be "/Users" helps too.

    Even SATA - which works nicely and could move upward - is "ATA" interface and has the 7.8GB rule.

    I have links on installing OS X on Beige in Troubleshooting, or Apple Forum FAQs, as well as Ryan's at www.macsales.com OS X support.

  12. #12
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    Default Unclemac's Render Speeds

    Hey, Unclemac! Good to hear from you. Thanks.

    "When you render - apply an edit or effect - the CPU has to crunch through it. The faster the Mac, the faster the render."

    Are you saying that if I'm just making simple edits, it still takes a lot of time? I'd expect fancy effects take a while. This should become clearer as I play with iMovie on my old hardware. In a way, old hardware is a great teacher, because you see firsthand the bottlenecks that the new machines clear away.

    "...about the mini... need an external FW drive for storage and backups."

    Already got 'em.

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    Firewire can be handy at times, for sure. I even managed to boot from one, using the native IDE bus on Beige as "helper." And I think that got around the 8GB limitations.

    Do iApps (iMovie etc) make use of Altivec? I'd hope so. The Sonnet G4/1.0 runs great on Beige, but costs almost what the little Mini now sells for, and the Mini uses 167MHz bus which helps (uses PC3200 DDR too). A G4 MDD in there. If I was going to get a mini, I'd want the 1.42GHz w/ Superdrive, better internal drive. If I was designing the Mini, I'd be using SATA drives next time they get upgraded now that Seagate has 2.5" Momentus. And FW800 along with an SATA port. Call it Mac-Mini Pro model. Then wait for 2GB PC3200 memory chips, which I am sure would work in there if low profile. (They don't even require SODIMMs.)

  14. #14
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by TZ
    If I was designing the Mini, I'd be using SATA drives next time they get upgraded now that Seagate has 2.5" Momentus. And FW800 along with an SATA port. Call it [i]Mac-Mini Pro model.
    And don't forget a 9600 or better GPU for full Core video support, and dual video out, plus a soon-to-be released higher clock 7448 w/L3...maybe about 1.6 - 2Ghz. Now *that* would be a real Cube repalcement.



    BC: no video expert, but yes.

    Much like Photoshop when you flatten a layer or apply an effect, and you have to wait for the CPU to crunch through it. PS uses lots of memory + CPU + swap space, whereas it is my understanding is that video is almost completely dependant on CPU with regard to render times. Better CPU = shorter render times.

    You do need a minimum drive throughput to render error free, but Fire Wire 400 is adequate... as I recall you need something like a minimum of 20 -25 megs per second. Faster throughput does nothing to reduce render times.

    As long as memory is adequate for both the app and OS ro be happy, I don't think it effects performance either.

    Somebody will correct me if I am wrong. Most of my knowledge here is second hand; we have an in-house video guy that is very good with Final Cut Pro on his DP G5.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  15. #15
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    Default Mac mini = MDD

    Thanks, folks! This is starting to make sense, and the Mac mini Pro is a cool topic in itself. Makes me wonder how and why Apple released a promising box that was so obviously shy of what it could have been in performance. I'd rather it stood a few inches taller and had a fast desktop hard drive instead of that laptop drive, and better FireWire, too. Still, TZ's insight that there is "an MDD in there" makes it awfully compelling at $500.

    I looked at Sonnett's Web site. The Trio is in stock for $150, a good part of the price of a Mac mini. It was not clear to me, but apparently its hardware overcomes the 8GB rule -- is that correct? Does it even matter, so long as there is room for the OS, apps, and swap file in the 8GB partition? Swap files couldn't be that big or TZ wouldn't have told me not to worry about them. It ought to be possible to have 3 or 4GB of free space in the partition, so really one buys PCI ATA hosts for speed, not to avoid the 8GB rule, and for speed one buys a Mac mini or a shiny, refurbished G5. Of course, a sentimentalist could buy a PCI ATA host for the fun of pushing his vintage Mac to the limits, but that leaves the realm of computing and becomes more of a hobby.

    Overall, it sounds as though if you enjoy waiting for your Mac to render, almost any computer will do for editing video, even mine, so long as I save to FireWire 400 rather than the slow, built-in ATA. This also answers the question about RAIDs and hard drives and PCI hosts in general. You don't *have* to have them, and video files are big, so if you enjoy waiting for your Mac, you avoid RAIDs, the fast Atlases TZ is running, and anything from the SCSI or SATA Pages of Doom. If you've got other things to do than watch the beach ball, nothing compares with a dual G5 and a small army of hard drives configured by your friendly neighborhood Gurus to haul ass. Somewhere in between, a Mac mini is a low-cost way into a previous-generation Mac, which is still many generations ahead of what I have now. Basically, you decide which you love more: your time or keeping a few more bills in your wallet, bearing in mind that at some point, the money saved actually costs.

    "Firewire... I even managed to boot from one, using the native IDE bus on Beige as 'helper.'"

    Cool trick! How'd you do that?! Is it practical for accelerating a vintage Mac (because FireWire is faster than the built-in ATA), or just something to do for sport?

    Did you see the post a while ago of some hobbiest who swore he got OS X to boot on a Centris?

    http://www.appletalk.com.au/articles...p?article=2003

    Hobbyism is noble indeed. The world is a better place for it, but that doesn't get video edited.

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    The Trio is in stock for $150, a good part of the price of a Mac mini. It was not clear to me, but apparently its hardware overcomes the 8GB rule -- is that correct?
    Yes, I think it does. A really nice card and people like it - a 3 in 1. BUT also I think it has created some other problems/conflicts for some people just not sure with which other computers or specifically the 3rd party hardware that was involved.

    Someone will see this and know or remember a thread or two. - Randy

  17. #17
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    Default Setup Drive B to be "/Users"

    "put the OS/Apps on Drive A on the controller. setup Drive B to be "/Users" helps too."

    How do you do that? I know you can ignore the /Users that the OS's installer creates on the boot drive, but are you saying there is a way to redirect the OS so that there are no /Users on the boot drive, but all are instead on another drive or at least another volume? Can I make the directory that appears when I click the Home icon on a Finder window's tool bar be on another volume? That would be a great trick for keeping my boot volume from filling up -- very important if it can only be 8GB.

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    Moving the Users directory is a great way to leverage two fast internal drives, and- makes it easier to isolate a System installation for easier maintenance.

    (Thank you Jazzbo!)

    I've run with this configuration (/Volumes/Users_drive/Users/user_home folder) many times on a range of different drives, and it almost always gives a speed boost over single drive performance and the default /Users.

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    When you launch NetInfo Manager and tell it where you want a home directory to be, it will create a default setup the next time you log in.

    Then just copy your files to the new location, test it out, leave some or all of the old account in place (I use it as backup).

    That is ALL there is (takes half a page in "Missing Manual for Panther."

  20. #20
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    Default Any risk of losing data?

    If I mess this up, will it wipe out my exisiting data, or would I just have to go back into NetInfo Manager and correct the path?

    The current home directory is:

    /Users/MyName

    The System assumes that to be on the boot drive.

    So now I'll type:

    /MyOtherHardDrive/Users/MyName

    and at the next log in, the System will find MyOtherHardDrive and create on it a Users folder with a new MyName directory, not a copy of the old one, but a new one empty of data. I then copy the old data over with good old Drag and Drop.

    If that's all there is to it, why does anyone use Windows?

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