MAC vs PC for Indie Filmmaking (Dec 2012)

Hi everybody, I know, OS debates are plenty on the internet, but there are fewer with an emphasis on filmmaking, and even fewer ones that are up to date.
I'm an aspiring filmmaker who would like to use audio editing tools like Pro Tools and Propellerhead Reason, then Photoshop and a program for 2D animation, Adobe After Effects and EITHER Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, or Adobe Premiere Pro, in that order. FCP was a leading software in film editing for a long time, but now that FCP X is said to be much worse, I'll have to see if I'll use one of the others, or maybe FCP's previous version. Even though that'd be another topic, I wanted to mention it because the choice also depends on the OS I'll be using.

Many say that one should use the system one is most comfortable with, and I've been using Windows for a long time, but I think I'd be quick to adapt to Apple. My priority is technical aspects, as I want to know which one would be better and faster at handling the above mentioned programs, as well as large files, in order to make films. And of course budget is of concern, which is why I made this thread in the first place, as Apple seems to be much more expensive and I wondered if a cheaper PC would be good enough for my needs.
Now I know there are many different choices in MACs and especially PCs, and as it'd naturally be too much to go into every one for others with the same problem I'm having, I'll just list the ones I am interested in for you to compare.

The Apple product of my choice would be the 15-inch MacBook Pro 500GB for $1799.
More details here (in english).

And my Windows machine of choice would be the LENOVO ThinkPad T530 i5-3210M 500GB for ca. 1250$.
For more details you can google the model for reviews.

Add. note: The most significant difference between the two I found was in their processors, Apple having an Intel Core i7 and the Lenovo an Intel Core i5. I think the i5 would be sufficient for my needs considering the big price difference, but if you disagree, please tell me. I also dont know if 4GB RAM (both of my choices have that) would be enough for those sort of programs. All in all I think the PC would be almost just as good as the MAC, but I'm not a great expert, so tell me if I missed any other big differences.

(PS: The prices listed in the links are in Euro, which is much more than in Dollars, so you can either convert the currency and compare, or just compare the $-prices I listed above, as that is the original pricing in the USA.)
 
I'm an aspiring filmmaker who would like to use audio editing tools like Pro Tools ...

Remember that you're going to need an external audio interface, a second (external or preferably internal) hard drive just for audio and 3 drives in total if you are going to run video in sync, plus 8GB of RAM. It really doesn't matter whether you go for PC or Mac, although my preference is for MAC. For audio, faster processors are generally better than more cores but more and faster cores are better still!

When FCPX was first released it lacked some essential features which professional FCP7 users relied upon and that's why there was a huge backlash against Apple. Successive updates have re-introduced some of those features and third parties have stepped in to fill some of the other holes. You'll need to look into this carefully if you are considering FCPX because you might run into problems when transferring material from FCPX to say ProTools. Obviously Media Composer is going to interface the best with ProTools.

I'm not quite sure why you are looking at Propellerhead's Reason?

G
 
Remember that you're going to need an external audio interface, a second (external or preferably internal) hard drive just for audio and 3 drives in total if you are going to run video in sync, plus 8GB of RAM. It really doesn't matter whether you go for PC or Mac, although my preference is for MAC. For audio, faster processors are generally better than more cores but more and faster cores are better still!

When FCPX was first released it lacked some essential features which professional FCP7 users relied upon and that's why there was a huge backlash against Apple. Successive updates have re-introduced some of those features and third parties have stepped in to fill some of the other holes. You'll need to look into this carefully if you are considering FCPX because you might run into problems when transferring material from FCPX to say ProTools. Obviously Media Composer is going to interface the best with ProTools.

I'm not quite sure why you are looking at Propellerhead's Reason?

G

may i ask why 3 drives in total? surely for someone starting out they will just use the shipped HDD?

i use AE, Photoshop, Logic with the plugin DIVA (kills cpu), all at the same time with a tc konnect live audio interface with 2 avantone speakers and i dont see the need for another drive apart from additional storage.

again not trolling just curious, i would agree on the extra RAM, although just make sure your laptop that your getting is actually 64bit, otherwise you will be limited to 3gb i think.
 
may i ask why 3 drives in total? surely for someone starting out they will just use the shipped HDD?
i use AE, Photoshop, Logic with the plugin DIVA (kills cpu), all at the same time with a tc konnect live audio interface with 2 avantone speakers and i dont see the need for another drive apart from additional storage.

Not seeing the "need for another drive" is different to whether or not you actually need another drive. The high track counts, large numbers of files and high file edit density of audio post puts a strain on hard disks. As ProTools is aimed at the professional audio post market it is a requirement that audio be run off a separate hard drive from the system drive and video run off a separate drive again and that the audio drive be at least 7200rpm. Some people do run ProTools off their system drive but if/when you run into problems the first thing you will be told is to run the audio off a separate drive. Logic is mainly used by the MIDI music crowd and is virtually never used professionally for audio post, MIDI manipulation makes very little demands on hard disks.

G
 
Not seeing the "need for another drive" is different to whether or not you actually need another drive. The high track counts, large numbers of files and high file edit density of audio post puts a strain on hard disks. As ProTools is aimed at the professional audio post market it is a requirement that audio be run off a separate hard drive from the system drive and video run off a separate drive again and that the audio drive be at least 7200rpm. Some people do run ProTools off their system drive but if/when you run into problems the first thing you will be told is to run the audio off a separate drive. Logic is mainly used by the MIDI music crowd and is virtually never used professionally for audio post, MIDI manipulation makes very little demands on hard disks.

G

ah ok thanks for the explanation was just wondering.
 
Remember that you're going to need an external audio interface, a second (external or preferably internal) hard drive just for audio and 3 drives in total if you are going to run video in sync, plus 8GB of RAM. It really doesn't matter whether you go for PC or Mac, although my preference is for MAC. For audio, faster processors are generally better than more cores but more and faster cores are better still!

When FCPX was first released it lacked some essential features which professional FCP7 users relied upon and that's why there was a huge backlash against Apple. Successive updates have re-introduced some of those features and third parties have stepped in to fill some of the other holes. You'll need to look into this carefully if you are considering FCPX because you might run into problems when transferring material from FCPX to say ProTools. Obviously Media Composer is going to interface the best with ProTools.
Yeah, I figured the 8GB RAM, and I'm probably not going with FCP after all. I want to go with Avid, but I don't know how well I'd do the switch from Adobe Premiere Pro to it. Also thanks for the heads up with the hard drives. I won't have three, but I've got one additional, external hard drive with 900GB space, which will be enough.

I'm not quite sure why you are looking at Propellerhead's Reason?

G
Music/Maybe film scoring.
 

Alcove Audio

Business Member
indieBIZ
Just as a quick dumbed down explanation on APEs three drive scenario.

Pro Tools and most other real-time softwares (DAWs especially) only achieve optimal performance on a dedicated OS/software drive.

So when working with audio, which is very CPU intensive, a second drive for the audio session(s) is highly recommended.

Audio post especially, even at the low/no/mini/micro budget level, involves huge track counts and large numbers of CPU hogging plug-ins, slowing the responsiveness of the drive with the audio session on it, so putting the video on a third drive also contributes to a more optimal experience by reducing the strain on the audio and OS/software drives.
 
Yeah, I figured the 8GB RAM, and I'm probably not going with FCP after all. I want to go with Avid, but I don't know how well I'd do the switch from Adobe Premiere Pro to it. Also thanks for the heads up with the hard drives. I won't have three, but I've got one additional, external hard drive with 900GB space, which will be enough.

I haven't used Avid so this is purely hypothetical, but I've used FCP and Premiere Pro. When I started learning FCP (after using Premiere for a number of years) it was a really smooth transition, now looking at pictures of Avid, it appears reasonably similar, layout wise, to both FCP and Premiere, so I predict that it would not be too hard to adapt.
 
I'm probably not going with FCP after all. I want to go with Avid, but I don't know how well I'd do the switch from Adobe Premiere Pro to it

FCP will run fine for a little while if you were dead set on it.

I made the transition from FCP to Avid and found that once you get used to the different style of editing it's easier and quicker to use than FCP.

I've never really used APP, but from what I've seen and what I've heard, it's practically a carbon copy of FCP with the stylings of the Adobe CS range and the potential benefit of cross-compatibility.
 
may i ask why 3 drives in total? surely for someone starting out they will just use the shipped HDD?

Ill throw my 2 cents in this, from a video standpoint. I have a Mac, and my main drive (SSD) holds only my program files. Then I have a project drive (does what is sounds like, it's where I save my FCP or PP or AE projects too). Then I have my Media drive (where I save all footage, sounds and photos too), then I have my scratch drive (this is where I tell all my programs to locate the render files and scratch files at). Then of course i have my back up drives. Some of those drives are in raid configurations, but that's a different topic. I've found using the separate drives, once you start adding things to the video, or running multi camera timelines, things can start to slow down. By having everything on their proper drive, it makes this more efficient.

I bought a Mac, because I wanted to learn FCP. Then I picked up the Adobe suite, mainly for After Effects, but figured for not much more I could get the Production Suite, and I'm slowly learning PP. but FCP is still my goto if I have something quick to do. I added an Nvidia card to my Mac, so nw I get the Cuda processing in PP and AE, and that has also been incentive to learn PP, since I can edit natively from both my cameras.

Now I'm getting into more 3D animation, and am thinking of building a windows based PC for a whole slew of reasons I won't get into here. But I still love my Mac. It's an intel Mac, a few years old, but still does a great job.

And I vote, get as much ram as you can afford. I'm running 26gigs in my Mac (although FCP I think only uses 4gig of that. I don't have FCX. PP and AE will use as much as you can throw at it.
 
I believe the Mac Pro can handle 64 gigs of RAM, correct? I hate how expensive they are, but I'm considering one for an equipment update this coming year. I've been a PC user all my life, but I want to give the Mac a quality try.
 
Personally, I do professional 4K editing in Final Cut Pro X and I'm blown away at how easy and fast I can use it and the results are perfectly stunning! It has all the features of any other professional movie editor! (FCP, Adobe, etc)

Hi, Reed. Is this with a company computer or one you mentioned earlier?
 
I believe the Mac Pro can handle 64 gigs of RAM, correct? I hate how expensive they are, but I'm considering one for an equipment update this coming year. I've been a PC user all my life, but I want to give the Mac a quality try.

The current Mac Pros can handle up to 96GB, I think, even though there's room for 128GB. (I run 64GB personally.)

Important note: Apple RAM is silly-expensive. Do NOT purchase from them. Other World Computing offers compatible RAM for whatever model you might get, and they're much, much cheaper.

As for the rest of the system, you definitely get what you pay for. If you pieced together a PC of comparable quality, you'd be looking at similar costs. You can build cheaper PCs, sure, but out of lower-quality parts.
 
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"I'm not quite sure why you are looking at Propellerhead's Reason?"
Music/Maybe film scoring.

OK. Reason provides a lot of tools and processors for a very low price. Excellent for the newbie to learn and practise the basics of synthesis, sampling, signal routing and processing. Getting so many tools for so little cost inevitably results in compromised quality. Like pretty much everything else in the film making and audio world, the lower the quality of equipment the more experience and talent you need to help compensate. Reason is a good starting point though.

G
 
As for the rest of the system, you definitely get what you pay for. If you pieced together a PC of comparable quality, you'd be looking at similar costs. You can build cheaper PCs, sure, but out of lower-quality parts.

I've found this to be very true. I've blueprinted a PC System. Been working a lot with 3D programs, and while my mac is handling things ok, I know I can get much better render times if I put together a system geared for it. Plus I'm interested in learning 3ds Max, and they don't offer that in a Mac version. Using quality parts, for what I'm doing the PC I've spec'd out, as it stands right now, is about $2800. And that's without hard drives. I already have an SSD drive that will be my system drive, and two 1tb 7200rpm drives to get me going for project drives.
 
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