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15" PowerBook G4


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I'm seriously considering a PowerBook G4 for video editing and writing purposes. I say a PowerBook over a G5 as right now as right now as far as a desktop unit is concerned I am quite content with my recently built PC.

I've been longing for a portable device for a while for my writing, and if it could kill two birds with one stone in it being suitable for video editing and DVD burning purposes, it would be a worthy investment.

 

So let me explain the extent of the video work I?m looking at here. I shoot Super 16mm film whenever possible with my film work, and I am curious just how capable the PowerBook would be in being able to store and edit roughly thirty to forty minutes of footage that would be whittled down for editing of a 5 minute short film. Final Cut Pro offers a wealth of options for the film loving nerd like me including its 24fps reverse telecine and EDL offerings so it is software I am really drawn to as I can shoot film, telecine to tape and load that into the computer, work in 24fps, create an EDL should I ever come to conform the short on film itself, and also run off DVD versions.

 

So essentially I?d be looking to load Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro onto the machine then. As someone with no experience of Macs I really just want to know if a PowerBook G4 is at all capable of working with slightly less than an hour of captured video footage for editing, and then mastering to DVD with that kind of software. I?d obviously be all too happy to push the RAM budget to 1gb (though there seem to be multiple configurations), and I'd opt for the faster speed 80gb hdd on offer from Apple.

I?m not sure if taking the 128mb ATI option over the 64mb would offer a difference so I need some pointers there too. This is my first foray into digital editing having spent all my time with trusty old steenbecks in the past cutting and splicing my negatives by hand. If a top spec G4 PowerBook could serve as a portable editing station for short film work it would be an absolutely wonderful purchase.

 

Is what I am looking at doable?

 

Daniel

 

PS: I'd be looking to edit at standard definition resolutions (PAL maximum). I'm not expecting to ever telecine to HD and work in HD on a PowerBook.

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Is what I am looking at doable?

 

Definitely. Consider that CNN runs it's off-site news operations on PowerBooks running FCP. They edit stories together on the road.

 

I have a fair amount of experience with Adobe Premier and FCP, and I can tell you without a doubt that FCP blows the doors off Premier in every way, it's not even funny. I don't have a lot of experience working in 24fps, but I know that Apple has aggressively aimed FCP at filmmakers moving to digital, and by all accounts has done a great job.

 

The only real impediment you might run into is drive space. I don't recall the exact size of DV...is it 3MB per second?...but if they are offering an 80GB drive that sounds like more than enough for your current needs. And it's best to get more than you need since video can very quickly consume a HD.

 

I don't think the video card memory is an issue, unless you plan to connect an external monitor, in which case you'll want more video RAM. But since video RAM is only used to display the current on-screen image, and is not used in any way to store DV itself, the 64 should be fine.

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I think I missed some things. More RAM=good. OSX loves RAM, FCP loves RAM, nuff said. (but don't buy RAM from Apple! Standard PC RAM is fine)

 

DVD Studio Pro is a pro DVD authoring app, it will let you do a completely professional DVD. But you may (or may not) be perfectly happy with iDVD which comes with all Macs. It doesn't have the flexibility and power of DVDSP, but what it does, it does extremely well. Probably the most important difference is that DVDSP will let you fully tweak the MPEG compression, whereas iDVD has basically 3 settings for compression (60 minute, 90 minute and 2 hours, IIRC).

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Brilliant!

 

This is very exciting stuff.

 

The only real impediment you might run into is drive space. I don't recall the exact size of DV...is it 3MB per second?...but if they are offering an 80GB drive that sounds like more than enough for your current needs. And it's best to get more than you need since video can very quickly consume a HD.

 

A good friend of mine did of course alert me to the fact that I could also run an external firewire HDD to hold the video content if the internal 80gb did not prove to be enough, and I see the old Monkey agrees. :) I THINK DV capturing is around 3.5/3.6mb a second, though I will not say so for certain. I'd certainly be looking at DV on the capturing side of things either way as I'd telecine from 16mm to DVCam.

 

 

I have a fair amount of experience with Adobe Premier and FCP, and I can tell you without a doubt that FCP blows the doors off Premier in every way, it's not even funny. I don't have a lot of experience working in 24fps, but I know that Apple has aggressively aimed FCP at filmmakers moving to digital, and by all accounts has done a great job.

 

Indeed, it seems like a remarkable piece of software. The Coen Brothers used FCP to edit Intolerable Cruelty, and Cold Mountain was also edited with FCP. So, if it is good enough for Walter Murch, who is anyone to complain? :)

 

It is a fascinating part of post production I am really taking an interest in now. With studio pictures shooting film scanning their negative and doing everything thereafter entirely in the digital realm before outputting for a release print, one can effectively do the same on a budget in Final Cut Pro. So, if you were editing a feature shot on 16mm but didn't have the money to do a blow up to 35 for theatrical exhibition, you could create a rough edit in FCP and master it to DVD for distribution to potential investors who could give you the money to make a film print. Then, if you get to do a film print, FCP has left you with the Edit Decision List to cut one on film exactly as you cut it on the Mac.

 

If you gave the post production house the right hard disc space too, they could probably scan the negative for you allowing you to do a low budget intermediate avoiding the telecine stage which is another amazing prospect especially for 16mm since it is in the 2k region resolution wise, one could get way with a 1080p digital intermediate before output to 35mm. There seems to be very little, if anything, that the final cut team have ignored. Even with the grading options FCP is effectively one?s very own post production powerhouse.

 

This has to be something that will surely become part of any independent filmmaker's investments. Even if you invested in a G5 for editing a feature, you'd make remarkable savings over pro editing houses where you're charged on an hourly rate with access available only five days a week. At home with FCP you have it 24/7.

 

I'm going to do this soon I think, hopefully by October. I can see it leading one day to a desktop G5 set up for editing a feature film, but for now I think the PowerBook will be of use to me in so many ways that it would make for an absolutely fantastic entry into the Mac world.

 

 

Is the 15" the smallest size with the combo optical drive? That looks like a great laptop -- it hits the sweet spot of size and features for me.

 

It is yes.. I saw it in a tiny (and I do mean tiny) Apple store in London on Tuesday and the 17inch was too big. The 12inch was too small and wasn't as feature packed as is bigger brothers anyway, but the 15 as you say seems just right.

 

Dan

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I don't know much about the video editing side of things but I'd offer a few thoughts on the machine itself. Upgrade to the 128 mb of video ram. Its well worth it for the $60 difference. And if you ever play any games on it or run high res on an external monitor it will help out. Point being its such a small price compared to the overall that why not so you don't wish you had.

 

As for ram, as others have said get as much as you can but I'd add don't buy it from apple. They charge way too much money for their ram upgrades on the machines. They want $400 for 2 x 512 or $500 for 1 x 1024. You can get memory from http://www.crucial.com for much less. They are currently $107 for 512 mb modules. So just buy it with default buy 2 512's for $214 and sell the old 256's.

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Noted. Many thanks for all the help, fellas.

 

I mentioned I was in a tiny Apple store in London the other day... I just found out this evening Apple will be opening a ?1.5 million store on Regent Street in London in time for Christmas... this of course could be a very deadly happening for my wallet once I get myself a PowerBook. :D

 

Dan

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Originally posted by Daniel Brecher@Jul 11 2004, 04:46 PM

Noted. Many thanks for all the help, fellas.

 

I mentioned I was in a tiny Apple store in London the other day... I just found out this evening Apple will be opening a ?1.5 million store on Regent Street in London in time for Christmas... this of course could be a very deadly happening for my wallet once I get myself a PowerBook. :D

 

Dan

The Apple store here in SF hasn't made my wallet any heavier.

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Originally posted by FreakTornado+Jul 11 2004, 05:00 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (FreakTornado @ Jul 11 2004, 05:00 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Daniel Brecher@Jul 11 2004, 04:46 PM

Noted. Many thanks for all the help, fellas.

 

I mentioned I was in a tiny Apple store in London the other day... I just found out this evening Apple will be opening a ?1.5 million store on Regent Street in London in time for Christmas... this of course could be a very deadly happening for my wallet once I get myself a PowerBook. :D

 

Dan

The Apple store here in SF hasn't made my wallet any heavier. [/b]

The store in SF is nice. I stopped in to check it out when we were vacationing down in SF.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

It's like they know I'm a potential buyer! :? Apple has produced a 'Production Suite' software package comprising of Final Cut Pro HD, Motion and DVD Studio Pro for ?899. That's a saving of roughly ?350 over buying each program separately. Good deal.

 

I've still got my sights set on the 15inch Superdrive Powerbook. Funny thing is I still generally prefer the look of the ibooks, and even the 12 inch Powerbook, over the slightly slimmer and widescreen featured 15 and 17 inch models. Am I mad? I know for what I am looking to do, the 15inch is really my only entry-level choice.

 

Daniel

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Well I was editing a movie in Final Cut Pro tonight on my brother in law's 15" 1.25Ghz AlPowerBookG4 and it was smooth as silk with only 768MB of RAM in the thing, I was very happy with the performance and it definetely made me want one just that much more.

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