Consider the Mac


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Feb 4, 2002
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If you’re thinking about non-linear digital video editing, you may want to consider a Macintosh.  This is one area where there really is no comparison to the PC.  The solutions offered on the Mac currently outclass the PC in every way.

I suppose the main reason is that all of the pieces have been in place and have been working together far longer and are much better integrated.  The typical pieces in such a system are: The OS, Firewire, controllable cameras and video decks, real-time editing video cards, and the software.  If you’d rather concentrate on your video project rather than fiddling with trying to get the pieces to talk to one another, this can be a big deal.  

For those who are just thinking about playing around with digital video editing and aren’t likely to do more than home movies, there’s the iMac.  The new ones start at about $1300, but I’d go for the $1800 model.  With that, in addition to more memory, larger hard drive, etc., you also get the SuperDrive.  The SuperDrive lets you burn your own DVDs that can be played in a standard DVD player (as well as burn CD-R and CD-RW disks).  These machines also come with Firewire ports for controlling your camera.  And they all come with iMovie2 and iDVD2 for free.  iMovie is a pretty powerful digital video editing software.  iDVD lets you take your movies and burn them to DVD.  Or, you can always send the video back out to your camera.  Again, all of this is incredibly well integrated.  If you’d rather play the latest and greatest video games instead of making movies, a PC might be a better choice.  But if you’re semi-serious about making movies, this machine is hard to beat.

For those who think they might want to produce more professional-grade movies, who might be investing more money in cameras, video decks, etc., or for those who might be spending more time producing movies, the standard PowerMac G4 is probably a better choice.  The main reasons for this is that (1) you can get a faster machine than the iMac, (2) the PowerMac is more expandable, and (3) you can add real-time video editing cards.  Real-time editing cards simply add more processing power to the system so that if you’re creating a complex special effect, for example, it takes place in real-time.  You can still do the same work without these cards, but the machine will have to spend time rendering the results.  And again, all of this is very, very well integrated.

For both the iMacs and the PowerMacs, you can also add Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro.  Final Cut Pro is a digital editing program and DVD Studio Pro lets you output your movies to DVD.  Both of these are professional-grade applications ($$$).  They’ll let you create videos that rival anything you see on television or the movies.  And, once again, everything is integrated so that you spend time on your projects rather than messing with trying to get all the pieces talking to one another.

The PC is getting better, but it’s still no where near where it needs to be to get serious users to consider it as a digital video editing platform.  If you already have a decent PC with Firewire ports and maybe a SuperDrive and only want to play around and maybe produce a home movie or two, I’d probably stick with the PC.  If you need to upgrade your PC (digital editing requires a LOT of horsepower), need to add a lot of extras, or seriously think you may be doing a lot of digital editing, you absolutely need to check into the Mac.

Apple offers a lot of free training seminars on a range of topics, including Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro.  Go to to see if there are any in your area (click on US Events and then choose your state).

Here are some other links that might help:


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Dec 1, 2001
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Hello Kickaha
Very interesting report you gave here...Was wondering can I transfer the edited video out of my iMac to a VCR?
Thanks, Max

Nanny Whacker

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Sep 5, 2002
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If it has an analog/digital capture card you can connect directly to the VCR. If it just has a digital capture card, (firewire, IEEE1394, etc.) connection then you can run it back through your digital camcorder for conversion to analog.

Sounds like the Mac has a good offering. But for the budget conscious "do it yourselfer", I decided to go the PC route and build one myself. This was not nearly as difficult as you might think and it saved me a ton of money, plus it is fully expandable.

Here's the basics:
Gigabyte motherboard - DDR, USB 2.0, LAN, blah, blah, blah
P4 @ 1.6
512 MB RAM
CD burner, floppy drive, modem,
2 - IBM deskstar harddrives @80 gigs each.
Windows XP Home
Total investment less than $800 including everything except monitor. This was about a year ago and I bet you can get more computer for less money today.

The key here is to have a dedicated hard drive for video editing only - don't want those dropped frames. Get the biggest one you dare, or better yet, get another one. You do not need a RAID or SCSI drives, UDMA/IDE 100 or faster on a 7200 rpm drive will work fine.

For editing software I bought Adobe Premier 6.0 bundled with Pinacle DV200 for less than $200. This is because there are no drivers for this Pinacle card to work with Win XP. Here's the catch - it all works great except for the Pinacle software (ie copperfx and titledeko), Adobe and the card work fine with generic drivers.

Still under $1000 and lots of storage room, processing power, and expandability. I plan to get a DVD burner next - $250 and prices dropping daily.

For capture just plug the fireware into the DV camera and control from Adobe. If analog footage use the camera for pass-through conversion to DV. When I finish my video I make a couple of master archive copies on DV, then can make all the VHS copies you want with the camera. Then just clean out the video drive and start a new project.

Of coarse with the speed the computer hardware market moves this will be out of date by the time you read it.

Good luck with your projects.

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