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Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor

COW Library : Apple FCPX or Not: The Debate : Walter Biscardi : Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor
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CreativeCOW presents Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor -- Apple FCPX or Not: The Debate Editorial


Biscardi Creative Media
Buford Georgia USA

©2012 CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.


With five edit suites currently running at Biscardi Creative Media, and four more on standby, Walter Biscardi and crew need the best possible performance our of their workflow and machines. Here, Walter describes the power (yes, power) of the iMac, the workhorse Adobe Premiere Pro, and some never say never insight on FCP X.



APPLE iMACS
AJA T-TAP
As I noted in my previous blog, the iMacs are fast becoming my machine of choice and the newest models are even more impressive than the two we have running. At this time, barring any major announcement from Apple that changes my mind, my plan is to replace the remaining 3 Mac Pros in Edits 1, 3 and 4 with 27" iMacs and AJA T-Taps. Once our original series hits, we'll need 8 of them for that series alone. I'm looking at the 3.4 Ghz model though I'm not totally sold on the Fusion drive since it's brand new. Kind of disappointed I can't do the SSD Drive + SATA drive like before. I may very well go with the 3TB SATA and wait on a Fusion drive until second generation. For RAM, I'll go back to Other World Computing where 32GB is only $195 vs. $600 via Apple upgrade. I'll definitely step up to the NVIDIA GeForce 680MX and I'll swap out the wireless keyboard for the full sized keyboard with the number pad. Only looking at $2717 from Apple (including AppleCare) +$200 from Other World computing. Absolutely incredible for all that power plus the beautiful 27" screen.

We've had at least one iMac in production for over 6 months now and they are fast machines. The only place you'll notice them to be a bit slower than the absolute fastest machine is when you go to render. Depending on what you're rendering out, it might take a bit or a lot longer than a 12 - 16 core machine. So we're keeping our two 12 core Mac Pros and simply using those to do heavy lifting renders. When a project is done on the iMac, we can simply open it up on the 12 core and render away. But for news stories and even our documentaries, those are being rendered directly on the iMacs.

I know some folks out there look down on the iMacs because they ARE less powerful than a desktop and they are less configurable. I've seen articles of late showing all you all the technical reasons why you really need to consider more than just processor speed and RAM for maximum performance and that's correct. If you need ONE machine, and you only work with ONE machine in your operation, you probably want a desktop. Something beefy with dual graphics cards, 12-16 cores and gobs of RAM so you can get your work done and rendered as quickly as possible.

In my case, our facility is set up for 9 edit suites (5 currently running) and the potential for some new series coming in the door. For that, I need the best performance vs. cost not only to upgrade all the suites, but also maintain competitive rates vs. other post facilities in the area. I need a bunch of machines that can cut fast and are reliable no matter how much data we throw at them. So far, the iMac is proving more than capable of that and most of all, the clients have not noticed any change in the day to day operation of our shop. Premiere Pro, After Effects and Photoshop all work efficiently on the iMacs and that's about 90% of our work right there.



ADOBE PREMIERE PRO WORKFLOW
Somebody asked me recently to update y'all on our workflow with Adobe Premiere Pro. As I have mentioned in the past, we started right off the bat with An Editor's Guide to Adobe Premiere Pro and the media management section of that book is THE most important section for any editor to read. That section really set the basis for how we manage the workflow of all the projects.

My biggest concern going into Premiere Pro was the fact that there was no primary codec to work with, it's sort of a free-for-all. Adobe's biggest selling point is "Just worry about creating, we'll handle anything you throw at us natively." And on that they are pretty much accurate. We've only run into one specific codec / computer combination that really threw Premiere Pro for a loop and that was XDCAM Quicktime files on Windows. There's no native XDCAM QT codec for playback on Windows so you need to purchase a plug-in from Calibrated Software to make that work. But even with the plug-in, our Windows machine just chugged when we had to use XDCAM QTs that were delivered to us from shooters in the field. Beyond that single codec / computer combination, it really IS anything goes with Adobe Premiere Pro.

After coming to terms with the fact that Adobe really can handle anything natively, we decided to roll with it. So we will bring all elements into a project natively unless there is a good reason not to. Keep in mind we are an independent Post Production Facility so that means we have zero control over the footage our clients bring us. Adobe Premiere Pro has greatly improved our efficiency in having to deal with whatever the shooters send us and allowing us to get right to work.


THE GENERAL WORKFLOW FOR A TYPICAL PROJECT FOR US, WHICH IS USUALLY A NEWS / DOCUMENTARY / EPISODIC IS AS FOLLOWS:


All media is first checked by our Media Management Specialist. Kelly manages our media database and organizes all the materials for and upcoming project, including pulling any archived materials we may have including tapes and digital media.

Kelly will then load up all the raw media organized as described in that Editor's Guide book I mentioned earlier. We use a modified version of the folder structure they show in that book but essentially we keep everything organized by how it came in. If a shooter shot three P2 cards, those cards are loaded into the project in their original folder structure since Adobe can read them natively. If we have tapes captured, they are put into their own folder and so on. As much as possible, we try to have Kelly put everything onto the SAN prior to the edit so the editors can start right off by setting up the Project instead of having to pull all the media as well.

The editor will then usually create a Bin for each element in the Project. So those three P2 Cards will come into three Bins with the same names as the P2 cards. Generally the Producers are going to come to us and tell us "Card 2, Shot 2X24Os" so it makes sense to keep the bins organized the same way the Producer logs them. We never re-name the clips, though we may put descriptive information in the metadata or at the very least the Description field. We often color code the clips too for easy timeline identification of what various elements are.

The Editor will also ensure to select "Put Media Cache Files in same location as Media Files" (or something like that) as we run on a SAN. These are the Peak Files that you will see Premiere Pro generate when you import your footage. By putting them with the media files, you can open the project on multiple machines and not have to re-generate the peak files each time. If you have a small project, it's no big deal to regenerate the peak files, but a documentary with 20 - 200 hours of material, well that can take hours.

For the offline editing, we will generally use either a 720p/59.94 or a 1080i/29.97 timeline using the AVC-Intra 100 preset in Premiere Pro. These are two great base timelines to use for high quality editing to output. We'll leave the Video Previews set to MPEG I-Frame for the offline as well. During this phase, the editor will literally edit with everything native, as is with no conversions made. 720, 1080i, 525, 625, 24, 30, 60, 25, 50, MPEG, H264,Internet downloads, etc..... whatever the raw material is, we just throw it into the timeline and edit. This is the biggest strength of Premiere Pro that we simply get the materials into the system and start editing. There's no sense in converting everything if you don't even know what will be in the final cut. BUT we do generally color code things in such a way so that we can identify things that we definitely will want to do conversion on before the final cut, makes it easy to pick those shots out later.

Once we have a "locked cut" (parenthesis because as we all know there never really seems to be a locked cut any more) then we will start cleaning up the materials that need it. We'll use our AJA Kona and IoXTs for example for most of our format conversions. Say we're editing in a 720p/59.94 timeline, we'll take all the 1080i / 29.97 material and run it through the AJA products to make them all 720p/59.94 via hardware. Generally we do this the easy route by just throwing all the 1080i / 29.97 material into a single timeline and just making a single pass rather than do each shot individually. We can always refer back to the original media via a previous cut of the project so it's no big deal to simply have a file called "1080i Converted" in the main timeline. Same goes for SD that has to be upconverted to HD. AJA hardware does a much better job that just Adobe software. Although we are awaiting delivery of a Blackmagic Teranex 2D unit which adds line doubling with SD to HD upconverts so those will be even cleaner. That will also give us PAL-NTSC or vice versa conversion as well.


Blackmagic Design Teranex 2D


We do these conversions one of two ways. Play out the timeline from one edit system to another or play out the timeline from one edit system to our AJA Ki Pro which is how we usually do it. Love, love, LOVE the Ki Pro since it automatically makes a ProRes file for us. If we want a DNxHD file, we can use the Ki Pro Mini.


AJA Ki Pro Mini
At the "locked cut" phase we also switch the Video Previews over to ProRes or DNxHD as these result in far superior renders than the MPEG I-Frame, particularly with fast moving video and graphics.

For sound mixing, we do one of two things currently. For most documentary and all broadcast projects, we'll output an OMF for our ProTools sound designer along with an H264 reference quicktime file. He'll then create a Stereo Mix or a Stereo Mix plus split tracks depending on the broadcast requirements.

Or the editor will simply mix in Adobe Premiere Pro if it's a project that doesn't require or have the budget for full sound design. Right now that's a bit clunky since we can't use the audio mixer for the mix. Well, we COULD if it truly WAS a locked cut. But the Audio Mixer in Premiere Pro is a TRACK based audio mixer, so all keyframes created by the audio mixer are created by track position. Not by clip. So when our client inevitably comes back to us with a "minor change" that results in changing out 5 clips, trimming another and adding a sound bite, well our mix would be completely screwed. All the keyframes would NOT move with the changes, they simply stay locked into place on the track. So it's a bit of a painstaking process at first, but you learn to pick up the speed as you do it more, but we mix the timelines per clip. Fortunately, you can make Gain and Volume adjustments across multiple clips so it's not as bad as it sounds.

The biggest pain in general is that for whatever reason when using a Wacom Tablet, Premiere Pro does not accurately read the input from the tablet so the keyframes and any other paramaters you try to set in the timeline will jump up/down/left/right as if snapping is always enabled. This doesn't happen with a mouse thankfully so we'll use a mouse when we have to do a long mix.

For color grading we still export a self contained QT from Premiere Pro, either ProRes or DNxHD, to Resolve. I'm going to finally use Resolve 9 this coming week on a short project to test it out. In Resolve I simply use Scene Detect to cut up the file and grade away. From Resolve it's a rendered QT, either ProRes or DNxHD again, to send back into Premiere Pro.

For file output we'll use Adobe Media Endoder as it works really well and can output multiple files easily.

For tape output, we use our one system that has a Blackmagic Extreme 3D card in it that can lay to tape frame accurately each time. MUST ensure that the Premiere Pro interface is on a single screen or there will be dropped frames. Simple go to the Windows > Workspace and choose "Editing." That brings the entire interface to a single screen.


PREMIERE PRO CAVEATS
Tape Capturing is still completely useless in the software so we still break out FCP 7 pretty much exclusively for that operation. We do a lot documentary and news style work so we're always pulling materials from tape. It's still an essential part of our workflow so instead of trying to force Premiere Pro to do something it really can't, we just switch to a tool that can. Works well as we usually have Kelly do the capturing on a dedicated system so the edit suites aren't tied up capturing.

The biggest issue we've run into are project that files that come up as corrupted or missing elements and cannot be opened. Seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why this happens. Projects from 9 months ago, 6 months ago, last week. They just suddenly won't open on any of our systems. With the work we do and the clients we work with, we're constantly opening projects from as far back as 5 years ago to revise, repurpose, and pull elements from. We can go back into our FCP projects from 10 years ago and open pretty much all of them without a problem. This is something I've been VERY vocal to Adobe about and I have every confidence they are addressing this very important issue. Fortunately there is a very easy workaround. Simply create New Project and import the "corrupted" project into that. Continue working.



PREMIERE PRO MOVING FORWARD
The tool has become the workhorse at our facility. It's a great storytelling tool and I'm finding that my rough cuts are going so much faster than with FCP. The hoverscrub in the bins is so fast for auditioning shots and while I'm still using the FCP keyboard presets, one of my editors has switched completely over to the Adobe presets because once you get used to them, you can fly even faster. I definitely need to get up to speed on all the keyboard editing / trimming. That's what folks love Avid so much for, but PPro has made major gains with these controls in 6.0 and I'm sure it's just going to get better moving forward.

So right now, I'm very happy with where Premiere Pro is today and where it's poised to move going forward. It's not perfect, but it's a solid tool and a great storytelling device. The tight integration of the entire Adobe Suite also makes life really easy when we get to the finishing process of any project.



FINAL CUT PRO X
I've had a lot of folks asking me if I'm considering re-introducing FCP based on the most recent updates from Apple. Here's the way I look at X today.

If you're using FCPX right now, you should be really happy with what Apple's doing. You're getting more features back into the tool and they should be making your day to day work more efficient.

For me, I see no reason to switch back to FCP. It's amusing to see Apple touting the "new features" such as Drop Shadow and the Dual display. In my mind, those are simply corrections and an admission from Apple that X was released before it was ready for prime time. In the interim, we've switched off to other NLE platforms and in my mind, both Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid are superior to what FCP X is today and certainly superior to what FCP 7 was back in the day. There are certainly some good concepts in X but as a whole package, it falls short of my needs today.

I never say never, and if a client were to come in tomorrow and demand we use X for a project, we'll use it, we have it in the shop. But as far as the tool of choice, there's nothing in X today that makes me remotely consider swapping out Premiere Pro for X as our primary or even secondary tool. There's also something to be said for looking at companies whose main source of profit comes from really good professional software vs. consumer hardware. When software is a loss leader or a minor portion of your profit margin, you can do more what you want to do vs. what the market is asking for.

Adobe, Avid and Autodesk are all actively reaching out to the professional editing community to make their products better and more accessible. I appreciate that.

And with that, the end of this installment. Hope it's helpful and thanks for all your support through the years!








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Re: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor
by Pieter Viljoen
I'm considering a new iMac as well, but I'm wondering about the lack of the CUDA technology to take advantage of Adobe's acceleration?
Re: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor
by Saied Marham
Very interesting, thank you very much. One day, I'd be fascinated to hear what you think of the Teranex unit when it arrives.

I keep reading conflicting views that Teranex and Snell & Wilcox are both "the best" at scaling and cross conversion. I understand that Teranex once conspired with Silicon Optix to come up with the Realta chip, used in elite video scalers such as the Lumagen Radiance. I wonder if the Teranex unit features a descendant of that chip.

I know Kona cards are widely used, but has anyone seen Snell & Wilcox "motion compensation" in action ?
@Saied Marham
by walter biscardi
Between Teranex and Snell & Wilcox you're splitting hairs in my opinion. Both excellent hardware devices. I've only actually seen Snell & Wilcox at trade shows but I know they're widely used in broadcast situations.

Don't think you can go wrong with either unit. I'm going with Teranex simply for the price point now.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
Re: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor
by Cameron Clendaniel
Walter - thanks for the article. Immensely helpful as I'm essentially moving in the same direction as your studio in this changing post landscape. Been very happy with PrP 6 after coming from FCP 7. Interface feels snappier and of course more updated. Playback (AJA Kona LHi) not quite as responsive as FCP 7, but it's close and I trust will improve with time. And I'm not even utilizing the Mercury Playback Engine yet.

A couple questions after reading your article:

1) One project I'm currently cutting on PrP 6 is almost exclusively Canon DSLR footage (1080p24). I've been cutting in both a DSLR sequence that PrP created for me, as well as an AVC-Intra 100 sequence based on your suggestion. Haven't been able to discern much performance difference between the two, but that may change as the edit gets more advanced. Would you recommend the AVC-Intra 100 sequence for all offline edits, even if footage is predominantly Canon DSLR?

2) The other project I have upcoming was shot on the EX1. I imagine this one will eventually include a great range of codec and framerate flavors. But again, if it's predominantly XDCAM footage, would you still recommend cutting in an AVC-Intra 100 sequence? Curious how you landed on that as your go-to sequence - lots of trial and error I imagine?

3) I know you guys are using a lot of iMacs, but regarding the Mac Pro - I still have the ATI Radeon 5870. I can swap it out for an NVIDIA Quadro 4000. But NVIDIA is also soon releasing the K5000 for Mac (January I believe, according to Safe Harbor). I imagine it'll be over $2,000 - worth waiting and paying for or go with the Quadro 4000? I don't know much about GPU technology and how it relates to editing performance.

Many thanks for your thoughts on any of this if you get a chance.

Cameron Clendaniel
Film Editor, NYC
o (718)254-8027
f (718)254-8028
m (617)416-6004
cam@camclendaniel.com
http://www.camclendaniel.com

Mac Pro: 5,1 2.93 12-core
Memory: 32GB RAM
GPU: ATI Radeon 5870
System Drive: 512GB SSD
Media Drives: CalDigit HDOne 8TB, Internal RAID-0 8TB, Miscellaneous eSATA
I/O: AJA Kona LHi
NLEs: Avid Symphony, PrP 6, FCP 7

@Cameron Clendaniel
by walter biscardi
Would you recommend the AVC-Intra 100 sequence for all offline edits, even if footage is predominantly Canon DSLR?

That's what we do in our shop. Gets everything into Square Pixels right off the bat.


But again, if it's predominantly XDCAM footage, would you still recommend cutting in an AVC-Intra 100 sequence?

Yep, that's precisely what we do. Again, still gets us into a square pixel format. Remember, this really has nothing to do with codecs, it's just a standard square pixel format preset. You can go into the preset and change the codec over to XDCAM if you wanted to. This is just a nice base preset to edit sequences in.


I can swap it out for an NVIDIA Quadro 4000. But NVIDIA is also soon releasing the K5000 for Mac (January I believe, according to Safe Harbor). I imagine it'll be over $2,000 - worth waiting and paying for or go with the Quadro 4000? I don't know much about GPU technology and how it relates to editing performance.

Really can't advise you on the new nVidia cards. We still have ATIs in all our Mac Pros. I have one nVidia Quadro 4000 in our Resolve system. Good card, don't know how it compares to the new one.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
@Cameron Clendaniel
by John Young
I upgraded my Mac Pro to an Nvidia GTX-580 for about $300. It's super fast with PP6. I see that it's now listed as discontinued at NewEgg but you might be able to find it elsewhere.
Re: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor
by Buck Kahler
Great article, Walter! We've recently upgraded to CS6 and we're loving it! Wondering about the new iMac's though. They don't have Firewire 800 connnectors and we're heavily invested in Firwire 800 raids. Do you know if the Thunderbolt adapters will handle the throughput?
Thanks,
Buck

Buck Kahler
Oak Ridge, TN
@Buck Kahler
by walter biscardi
I use a T-Bolt to FW800 adapter all the time with one of our iMacs. No issues that I can find.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...

MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
Re: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor
by Arthur Bell
Thanks Walter, We feel about exactly the same.

Adode worked hard in 6 to make the switchover from FC PRO much less painful that i worried about for myself and our shop.

We moved i thought cautiously about a 6 weeks before the election. Then a bunch of last minute spots rolled in. I forgot we were even doing a 'stupid' thing switching in what was about to be crunch time. But after 4 jobs that i never transcoded, tossing in another 24 GIGs of RAM ( Premiere seems to LOVE RAM) - we never looked back, and went to air every few days. On the plus side i really feel the power of Premiere, the hoverscrub is wildly smart,and all of our plug-in partners are already on the platform or will be by January. (Thank you Red Giant, Noise & FxFactory to name a few)

On the not so plus side I have tried to understand the rationale for a track based audio timeline - Adobe seems to infer - 'it' the standard, look at Pro Tools,' but we are telling stories with picture AND sound - so i don't think the parallel holds up.

We also live with Mackie surface controls and once i understood that their meters we driving tracks i saw why until this changes we can't be two handed editors any longer as we want to effect clips, NOT tracks.

And they have their own Media Manager! We lived on that tool that FCX also killed - its the best archiving and disaster recovery tool. I was delighted when i stumbled upon it.
There is a lot more power in the trim area that is just worth getting used to. Its better than anything FCP had or X has.

There are also a few gotchas and bugs. It seems clear they have not lived enough in production environments, otherwise auto-render would be in. I would also like to Visually adjust a frame, as opposed to having to numerically keyboard every position change. We aslo see no rhyme or reason to why rendered clips sometimes show up rendered and sometimes do not. As Adobe does not break out their storage its hard to troubleshoot.

All in all, we worried for months where to go, tried FCX 3 times, it was not up to snuff, over and over again, saw a post that called Premiere CS 6 'Final Cut Pro 8', downloaded the trial and have LOVED the power of 64 bits in a storyteling tool that works the way we think, with the tools we need.

It takes a village, keep the good posts coming,



Art Bell


In the studio today...music videos.
https://vimeo.com/53503130
+1
Re: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor
by walter biscardi
[Arthur Bell] "There are also a few gotchas and bugs. It seems clear they have not lived enough in production environments, otherwise auto-render would be in. I would also like to Visually adjust a frame, as opposed to having to numerically keyboard every position change. We aslo see no rhyme or reason to why rendered clips sometimes show up rendered and sometimes do not. As Adobe does not break out their storage its hard to troubleshoot."

There's still a little too much "engineer over-thinking" going on in terms of the UI and overall operation, but the change to making a simpler and more powerful tool for the editor has definitely been taking shape since CS5.5. In my discussions with Adobe over the past year, I'm very happy to see they are continuing to talk to and actually listen to creatives in the field. Actually I'm surprised they still take my calls sometimes, I figured they would have me on call-block by now.... :)

That rendered clip thing is very interesting. I keep seeing posts about this, but we are not running into this issue. I guess I shouldn't keep saying that because I'm sure now it will start happening....

Thanks for you input on the thread!

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...

MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
Re: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor
by Jeremy Smith
Great read Walter, thanks! We've been looking at alternatives for FCP for the last 8 months or so. I have to admit the most daunting part of Premiere is the Media Management side of things. We're fortunate that we really only have to deal with P2 and ProRes files coming off a AJA Ki. The P2 workflow in Premiere makes sense, but yet also doesn't. I guess I've been spoiled with FCP setting up my capture scratch per project and making that side pretty easy.

Do you have any other recommendations on good reads for asset management? We will be moving to a centralized storage hub and I really want to do some research.

Thanks again!

@Jeremy Smith
by walter biscardi
Honestly that Editor's Guide to Adobe Premiere Pro I mentioned in the article is all we used to get our heads around the Media Management in PPro. Once we looked at the chapter on how to properly set up a project, it all made sense.

At this point, when a project is completed, we simply have to move one Master Folder over to our archive and the entire project is backed up.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

Blog Twitter Facebook
@walter biscardi
by Jeremy Smith
That sounds great. I'll have to pick up the book and do some reading. Thanks!

Re: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor
by Mark Suszko
What do you think about using FCPx just for capturing assets off tape, instead of FCP7? Have they gotten it together enough that you'd entertain that idea?

I too saw the fusion drive and was scratching my head as to how well that would work with video.

Luckily, it's actually not as hard as people think to pull the screen off the imac and swap in different drives. You can check ifixit for an illustrated tear-down. Found this out the hard way when one of our imacs turned out to have the problem with the Seagate 1 TB drive that's a documented issue. We had a local PC shop pop in a 3TB replacement Seagate for $150 complete.

Though aftermarket drives don't have the thermal management firmware of proprietary Apple-supplied drives, you can get the fans running correctly again using freeware apps that interface with the SMART drive circuitry. Bottom line: hot-roded imac for a small outlay. You could go all-SSD if you wanted to, I guess.
@Mark Suszko
by walter biscardi
What do you think about using FCPx just for capturing assets off tape, instead of FCP7? Have they gotten it together enough that you'd entertain that idea?

I honestly don't know and haven't tested this. We know that FCP 7 still works just fine for ingest, so we use that. For Ingest, there's not much one NLE is going to do better than another in terms of making things faster. Tape is still realtime / shuttling / mark In Out / etc.... Everyone here knows FCP 7 so we keep going.

We're also hopeful that Adobe and AJA will get things figured out soon to make tape capture finally happen there.

Luckily, it's actually not as hard as people think to pull the screen off the imac and swap in different drives. You can check ifixit for an illustrated tear-down. Found this out the hard way when one of our imacs turned out to have the problem with the Seagate 1 TB drive that's a documented issue. We had a local PC shop pop in a 3TB replacement Seagate for $150 complete.

I'm not going to open up the new ones. Adding RAM is easy, but I'm not opening up the machine for an after market hard drive. I'm sure that will void the AppleCare.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

Blog Twitter Facebook
Re: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe & the X Factor
by Mike Cohen
As a long time Premiere Pro user I had a bit of culture shock when we started posting some of our projects in Symphony and Avid DS but the editor made those systems work very efficiently. A recent edit in Premiere CS6 on the Avid machine (HP Z workstation with Kona for real time HD monitoring) using mostly XDCAM EX native and some HDV was a breeze. Only a few major crashes after Premiere did not agree with a large PSD file, and a few flv comps from istockphoto would not play on the timeline. Aside from that smooth sailing. And with the Kona we rendered what needed to render and played out via SDI into a Blackmagic h.264 encoder for the review copy. A full hd h.264 file for the 55 min program rendered in Media Encoder would have taken hours upon hours.

We have not tried Premiere on the Mac yet though in-house Windows remains the workhorse (i7 with CalDigit RAID).

Great article Walter and a great reference for lots of new and returning users.

Mike Cohen
+1
@Mike Cohen
by walter biscardi
Yeah, those realtime encoders are a sweet thing. Not a bad idea, would certainly cut down on the render time for our documentary reviews. Might have to call BMD in the morning......

Thanks for the kind words, we'll need to hook up one of these days and shake hands! :)

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

Blog Twitter Facebook
Re: @Mike Cohen
by Erik Lindahl
Nice write-up Walter!

It's a bit scary however you like us have encountered the dreaded corrupt project bug. It really makes me want to avoid Premier all together. I had to re-edit a piece in FCP7 just to make a deadline. Quite embaracing to be honest. I'm not sold on the "native media" solution either given I understand it's a good option for certain workflows.

Never the less interesting with some competion on the NLE market again. I do hope Adobe and Apple are in it for the long run. I tried AVID once again and it gives me the creeps like it did 10 years ago.
Re: Blog: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe and the "X" Factor
by Herb Sevush
Walter -

Thank you for the post. Illuminating and informative as always.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf
@Herb Sevush
by walter biscardi
My pleasure, glad it's useful.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

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Re: Blog: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe and the "X" Factor
by Franz Bieberkopf
Walter,

Thanks for detailing your experiences and reflections. Great info.

Franz.
Re: Blog: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe and the "X" Factor
by Chris Harlan
Great post! Thanks. And thanks for the media management tip.
@Chris Harlan
by walter biscardi
Media management is all on the editor with PPro. You MUST learn good media management processes first before you can become proficient in PPro.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

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Re: @Chris Harlan
by Tim Kolb
I guess those of us who have been using PPro for some time have always assumed that professional editors knew how to manage media no matter what platform they were using... :-)

TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

Adobe Certified Instructor
@Tim Kolb
by walter biscardi
I guess those of us who have been using PPro for some time have always assumed that professional editors knew how to manage media no matter what platform they were using... :-)

Well except that Adobe works completely differently than FCP and Avid which is what most of us were using prior. When you import or ingest media into those applications, they automatically put the media into the location you have set up for the project. Adobe doesn't do that. We have to know to put all the media into the proper location and THEN import to the project.

It's completely backwards of what most of us are used to, so it takes some getting used to with media management when you've used the other professional NLEs for many years.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

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@walter biscardi
by Tim Kolb
:-) Yes, that is true...Avid/Media 100 always transcoded on the way in...and FCP transcoded or rewrapped for most acquisition formats for a long time...when you have to manufacture a new file anyway, putting all the new files in the same place just make sense.

I did have a few colleagues that found out the hard way over the years that FCP's ingest destination was tied to the sequence that had the focus instead of the project they had open...so FCP's ability to open sequences from multiple projects simultaneously ended up making a couple of my colleague's (and a few client's) archives so much swiss cheese.

One of the biggest challenges with Premiere Pro currently isn't even everyday video/audio media management (which can simply be remedied with different editor behavior), but finding a system to manage all the dynamic linked materials as they are not currently gathered during a project manager "trim" sweep...

TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

Adobe Certified Instructor
@Tim Kolb
by walter biscardi
I did have a few colleagues that found out the hard way over the years that FCP's ingest destination was tied to the sequence that had the focus instead of the project they had open.

No, that's completely incorrect. FCP's Capture Scratch had zero to do with the Sequence or even the Project that was open.

Capture Scratch for FCP 7 and earlier was a global setting for the application, not Project specific. So the Capture Scratch would remain set until the user changed it.

so FCP's ability to open sequences from multiple projects simultaneously ended up making a couple of my colleague's (and a few client's) archives so much swiss cheese.


This is one of the biggest things I miss from FCP still with Premiere Pro. Made it so much easier when managing a huge documentary project for example. 250 hours of raw media organized by tape in one project, edit the rough cuts in a second project, create the Master in a final third project. Why? Because if I didn't need to access all 250 hours of data, there was no reason to open that particular project. Just open the Rough Cut or the Master Project and FCP ONLY loaded up the data that was in the timeline.

With Premiere Pro I'm forced to create a single project with all 250 hours of raw media in it and from Rough Cut to Master it has to remain that way. Sure I could use Project Manager to create a new project based solely on the current timeline, but not nearly as efficient as FCP's method of doing this.

With NLE proper media management is always key, FCP and Avid just made it much easier to maintain if you know what you're doing. Once you figure out Premiere Pro's method and wants, it's actually easier to archive the final project from PPro than FCP ever was.

One of the biggest challenges with Premiere Pro currently isn't even everyday video/audio media management (which can simply be remedied with different editor behavior), but finding a system to manage all the dynamic linked materials as they are not currently gathered during a project manager "trim" sweep...


At the moment I don't do a whole lot of dynamic linking as it seems to hinder performance much more so than going old school and just sending a project into AE and bringing the finished renders in Premiere Pro. PPro will update anytime I re-render over the original file so I don't see much difference and performance of the system is so much more snappier if everything works independently.

But dynamic linking is a powerful tool for those who embrace and really get it going.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

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@walter biscardi
by Tim Kolb
"No, that's completely incorrect. FCP's Capture Scratch had zero to do with the Sequence or even the Project that was open. Capture Scratch for FCP 7 and earlier was a global setting for the application, not Project specific. So the Capture Scratch would remain set until the user changed it."

Well...when it comes to FCP, I have to go with your knowledge over mine certainly, but it is peculiar that I had a colleague and a client (unrelated) who both had media that wasn't missing in their archives (as if the capture scratch was in a particular location and the media just wasn't gathered up)...the media was just all over the various archives, sprinkled across all the project folders they had on their system simultaneously...and therefore sprinkled across their archives as well. It was all there, it was just a matter of reloading all the project archives and manually sorting the media and re-archiving.

Anyway...on the 250 hour scenario you pose, you could certainly do the section rough cuts and then open a new project and import only the rough cut edit sequences from the rough cut projects...that would only load the media necessary to construct the timeline you imported, leaving the rest on the "cutting room floor" of the rough cut projects... Would that accomplish what you want to do? ...or are you looking for the media to be "trimmed" as well in the later projects?

TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

Adobe Certified Instructor
@Tim Kolb
by walter biscardi
Anyway...on the 250 hour scenario you pose, you could certainly do the section rough cuts and then open a new project and import only the rough cut edit sequences from the rough cut projects...that would only load the media necessary to construct the timeline you imported, leaving the rest on the "cutting room floor" of the rough cut projects... Would that accomplish what you want to do? ...or are you looking for the media to be "trimmed" as well in the later projects?

Doing "Section Cuts" would still require me to load up everything in the case of a documentary. We are always pulling from all over the place in the case of a documentary. Your idea would work well after picture lock, but not really in the rough cut editing phase.

Here's how it worked in FCP and it worked brilliantly.

Capture Project. A single project organized by tape or subject that had every piece of raw material in it except Music. Video, Graphics, and Voice Tracks.

Music Project. A single project with all of our selected music in it. For a documentary we generally select upwards of 200 - 300 cuts of music to have handy in the project and ready to go.

Rough Cut Project. A single project that contained all the rough cuts of the documentary. This would be organized by sections of the rough cut.

During initial editing, all three of these projects would be open. I would look at all the raw footage via the Capture Project and simply edit the footage directly into my Rough Cut timeline. No need to import the footage into the Rough Cut project. When I needed to finesse the rough cut, I would only open the Rough Cut Project thus requiring only the media in my timelines to be loaded. If I need more footage, I open the Capture project. If I need more Music, I open the Music Project.

I can continue this process all the way through picture lock and even for revisions after we've delivered the project. In your idea, you say I can open a rough cut in another project which would only bring the timeline media forward. So now I edit on that for a while and I need to go back and get more footage from the original capture project. That footage is spread across 15 tapes, 2 graphics bins and the voice over bin. How do I very simply access all of my raw media so I can find the shots I'm looking for?

As far as I can tell, I'd have to close the "trimmed Rough Cut project," open the original "Rough Cut" project and import the "trimmed Rough Cut" timeline into that original "Rough Cut" project. Make the changes I want to make, then send that new "Trimmed Rough Cut" into its own project and continue. Seems messy and could definitely lead to confusion on which rough cut is the right one and which goes where.

With FCP, all the Rough Cuts stayed in one place. Maybe you have a better solution, but so far I have not found a very simple method for translating that documentary workflow over from FCP to Premiere Pro. As far as I can see, I'd have to stay in a single project the entire way through to locked picture.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

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@Franz Bieberkopf
by walter biscardi
My pleasure, thank you!

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

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Re: Blog: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe and the "X" Factor
by Alex Udell
Nice update Walter! Thanks!

I'm always skeptical about the performance of the Mercury Playback Engine without the option an upgradeable GPU in a PCIe slot.

Cool that you're making it work.

Alex Udell
Editing, Motion Graphics, and Visual FX
@Alex Udell
by walter biscardi
As I said in the article, if you are only going to work with one computer all day, every day, you should consider a tower since you can really beef it up.

But if you are considering the iMac and are going to be primarily doing editorial and not heavy VFX heavy work, boy this thing just works so much better than we ever imagined it would.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

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Re: Blog: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe and the "X" Factor
by Victor Perez
Thanks for the update. Its been a great year for editing as the major apps fight for the top spot.

Victor
editvictor.com
http://www.hbhm.tv
http://www.itvisus.com
Re: Blog: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe and the "X" Factor
by Steve Connor
Great post Walter, I think a lot of people will be interested in your experiences.

Steve Connor
'It's just my opinion, with an occasional fact thrown in for good measure"
Re: Blog: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe and the "X" Factor
by Chris Tompkins
With CS5 & CS6 on an iMac we found the editing somewhat responsive and impressive for an iMac... at first. But! through a heavy project with grfx & fx and the iMac becomes slow and sluggish. The whole machine slows when AE is rendering or a Premiere sequence is referencing an AE link. It's a down-right painful and agonizing experience. We just finished a major project that I hope I never have to re-open that proj. again. We're running Promise TB Raids. I think it runs slower after the Latest Mac OS update 10.7.5

Random crashes, renders have a red frame or red flash, projects not opening, Adobe has NOT achieved the PRO yet; IMO.

I for one will hold out in hopes of a Powerful desktop from Apple, regardless of the cost.

I do see better performance on our WIN machine running CS5.5.

Here's hoping Apple and Adobe work it out under the hood.

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC
Re: Blog: Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe and the "X" Factor
by walter biscardi
[Chris Tompkins] "But! through a heavy project with grfx & fx and the iMac becomes slow and sluggish. The whole machine slows when AE is rendering or a Premiere sequence is referencing an AE link. It's a down-right painful and agonizing experience. We just finished a major project that I hope I never have to re-open that proj. again. We're running Promise TB Raids. I think it runs slower after the Latest Mac OS update 10.7.5"

So far we've pushed through a small documentary project with over 50 hours of raw materials with no issues whatsoever with our iMacs and the Small Tree NAS.

We never do the dynamic linking through AE because that's a much slower workflow than simply sending materials into AE and doing the work there. If we need to update something, we just make the change in AE and render on top of the original file automatically replacing it in the timeline.

For pure rendering speed, nothing beats a 12-16 core tower like I mentioned. That's why we are keeping two of those around. If you'er in a position of only working with ONE computer in your day to day workflow, definitely go for a beefy Windows 16 core tower like the ProMax One.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

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