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Buying a new computer for post production


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#1 David Edward Keen

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 09:27 AM

Hey wizards, happy March.

 

I'm not sure if there is a relevant place on this site for questions about acquiring SSDs and which mechanical drives etc when buying a new computer...

 

I know lots of people here must know about this. I'll be bringing in footage from a Canon T3i, 1080p...for now, but I'll move up to 4k raw footage, probably from a Black Magic camera in the next year.

 

Any opinions on amount of RAM and using one or two SSDs, type of mechanical HD etc?

 

Are you happy with what you use now? I'm going PC to run Premiere Pro and run everything nice and smoothly even when I up to RAW at some point.

 

Lemee know if there's a better place to post this, either in cinematography.com or another site!

 

 

Thanks!


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#2 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 10:37 AM

Easiest advice I could give is leave all your programs on SSD (At least 400gb if you plan on it lasting over a few years) and get some gigantic HDDs for your storage.


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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 11:23 AM

The real big things with UHD/4k is CPU and GPU power. Most decent computers can handle 1080p in various flavors no problem at all.

Now, I use Mac's because frankly, I absolutely despise windows and I need to work with all of the proper codec's since I do post work as a professional.

My machine is from 2010, eek!!! But it's a double processor 12 core, 3.46ghz tower with 12Tb internal raid zero, 10,000 RPM boot drive, GTX980 graphics card and Blackmagic 4k I/O card.

I can work with pretty much every 4k file in real time, outside of 4k MPEG files like .h264 and XAVC-I. They still don't decode properly in real time no matter how fast of a computer you use.

My machine cost me around $3k to build from the ground up, but add a decent color grading monitor and the thing is pretty powerful. I recently graded a narrative feature on it and the final result looks pretty decent.

So fast processor and fast graphics card. The GT1080 on windows is probably the way to go. I'm investing in a Titan-X Pascal this year, because DaVinci likes video memory and it does run out with complex tasks on my GTX980 every once in a while. So the 1080 8GB graphics card should do the trick. I'm not sure what i7 processor to get because there is a cut off where the performance vs price kinda makes no difference anymore.
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#4 David Edward Keen

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 01:27 PM

I'm listing here the computer components...I'm about to spend a lot of money and my friend who's very smart and computer savvy is still not a video/film guy, he's into high-end gaming, so I wanna check these details with you guys before buying.

 

I was figuring I'd be sending files online, for online viewing...even for entering a festival. Would I need a blu ray disk player?...i'm not a pro, but I'm making an investment for the best machine, smoothest processing i can get for the money. 

 

 

Processor: Intel® Core™ i7-7700K Processor (4x 4.20GHz/8MB L3 Cache)

 

Liquid Cooling: DEEPCOOL Captain 120EX 120mm Liquid CPU Cooling System - Black

 

Motherboard: ASUS ROG STRIX Z270H Gaming -- 3x PCIe x16, 2x USB 3.1, 4x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 [Intel Optane Ready]

 

Memory32 GB [16 GB x2] DDR4-2800 Memory Module

 

                 ADATA XPG Z1

 

Power Supply: 480GB Toshiba OCZ TL100 SSD + 4TB 7200RPM Hard Drive

 

Video Card:  GeForce GTX 1080 - 8GB (GDDR5X) (VR-Ready) single card

 

SSD + Hard Drive (Dual Drives)480GB Toshiba OCZ TL100 SSD + 4TB 7200RPM Hard Drive

 

xtrnl sound cards: need?

 

Media Card Reader: 12-In-1 Internal Media Card Reader/WriterBlack

 

network card: Onboard LAN Network (Gb or 10/100)

 

Thanks!!!


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#5 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 01:49 PM

I would say drop down from a 1080 to a 1070 which'll save a chunk of cash. Use that chunk for another 2-4TB HDD.

Another card to look into (if you work with RED footage) is a RED Rocket PCI card. Makes those files play super silky.

 

As for external sound cards, definitely look into a USB audio interface that's about $100-$300 to start out. A great starter one that's super cheap is the Steinberg UR12. Has all the necessary ins and outs. Motherboards were not designed to record or play back sound at a specialized level. They also don't usually have the proper outs for studio monitors either.


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#6 David Edward Keen

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 06:09 PM

Thanks guys. Tyler, you said

Now, I use Mac's because frankly, I absolutely despise windows and I need to work with all of the proper codec's since I do post work as a professional.

Can you explain this? What issue is there with Windowa and codecs?
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#7 David Edward Keen

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:39 PM

Macks,

 

Could you explain more your comment

 

"Motherboards were not designed to record or play back sound at a specialized level."

 

 I would be recording sound onto my digital recorder and then bringing it onto the computer into Premier Pro. 

 

Thanks for the input!


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#8 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:46 PM

Prores (probably the most popular professional video codec there is), can't be exported on Windows machines. It's the reason I just spent a small fortune on a 7-year old refurbished Mac Pro :/
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#9 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:50 PM

Analog to digital conversion (which is what "high quality digital" hangs its hat on) is not a "one chip solves all" concept. The task of turning sound waves into 1s and 0s on the hard drive (and vice versa) is something that cannot be done at a high level if it's just a throw-in chip on a motherboard.

 

I did a video with a guy last week explaining this with a tad more detail (go to 4:15):

https://youtu.be/uO8p-SLGTKI?t=255

 

A high quality digital recording device (both pres and converters) will always have cheaper variants when it's a stationary USB device as opposed to a portable one. So unless you have a portable recorder on the level of a Zoom F4 or Tascam DR-680, you'll be running into circumstances where you won't be satisfied with your recording results.


Edited by Macks Fiiod, 16 March 2017 - 07:51 PM.

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#10 David Edward Keen

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 08:50 PM

Macks,

 

got it, thanks. I use a little Zoom H1. Using a NTG2 boom mic for sound....is that gonna be sufficient? 


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#11 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 09:15 PM

Can you explain this? What issue is there with Windowa and codecs?


Pro Res and DNX for windows are limited and only 32 bit. There are aftermarket plugins that will do 64 bit, but they're hacks and don't work right with quicktime, which messes shit up.
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#12 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 10:15 PM

Macks,

 

got it, thanks. I use a little Zoom H1. Using a NTG2 boom mic for sound....is that gonna be sufficient? 

Depends on who you ask. If you're talking to a youtube vlogger or media student they'll be like "yeah that gets the job done".

 

In the grand scheme of gear, those 2 items are relatively consumer products. The H1 is more for reference audio or journalism than anything. I use a Zoom H6 and that doesn't even sound fantastic to me. In the field though; I have to get what the budget will give.

 

If you're doing ADR/foley/narration for a client, you'll definitely want some kind of stationary recording set up where you have access to mics with heavy magnets and preamps with rich tones.

 

Regardless of how you feel about this advice, please do not categorize this as the views of an "audiophile". A recording engineer will punch you in the mouth if you call them that (75% joking).


Edited by Macks Fiiod, 16 March 2017 - 10:17 PM.

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#13 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 12:42 AM

I also do post work as well, and my PC specs are as follows:

 

AMD FX-9590 Processor

2 x GTX 1080 GPU's

Blackmagic Mini Monitor card

64 GB RAM

960GB internal SSD that runs programs, 2TB internal scratch drive, and 12TB external storage in RAID 5 array for projects in and out.

Bluray player/burner

 

That is my basic setup, with the additions of two monitors (a Dell ultra-wide 29" and a Dell 4:3). My Blackmagic card drives an external projector that projects a 128" image for color and sound mixing work. The projector was rather expensive though, and the cost to have an IFS tech come and calibrate it and certify it for Rec 709 was expensive. I also run a sound mixer and such things, which will add to the cost.

 

The total cost of my PC setup was probably in the $3,500 range in 2012, but I have added probably $3,000 more worth of upgrades. The total cost to build the editing suite at Incendio Films office (where the PC now resides) was roughly $10,000 in addition to the computer cost.

 

Today, You can probably build a setup like mine (computer + monitors only) for around $3,000 or less, plus you got the cost of the software as well. 

 

It really depends on what you want from it, and how professional you need to go. Being able to grade in Rec 709 is important though, so I'd make that your first upgrade choice after you get the editing PC. Projector, screen, and IFS-tech costs for me came to around $5,000.

 

For reference, here is images of the setup at the Incendio Films offices 'studio' room:

 

P1030719.jpg

P1030723.jpg


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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 04:55 AM

Prores (probably the most popular professional video codec there is), can't be exported on Windows machines.

 

Actually it can; there's several approaches, at least one of which is free, and most of which are cheaper than a Mac.

 

Actual performance of the graphics card is possibly not that crucial unless you're doing very complex stuff; RAM on the graphics card may be a bigger deal. If in doubt, get something last generation, and thus cheap, which has a lot of memory on it.

 

Otherwise things are relatively simple - more money equals more performance. Usually this would preclude using Macs because they're more or less exactly the wrong way to get the most powerful machine for the money. You would need to be a big fan of OSX to pay the Apple tax, especially given that the actual software (Adobe stuff, Resolve) is identical in each case.

 

P


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#15 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 07:19 AM

Pro Res and DNX for windows are limited and only 32 bit. There are aftermarket plugins that will do 64 bit, but they're hacks and don't work right with quicktime, which messes poop up.

 

MFX-wrapped DNxHD/HR files on a PC are not 32-bit limited. The only 32-bit limitation that applies on the PC is the Quicktime server, which Apple in all it's greatness has limited to 32-bits on the PC. MFX does not use Quicktime, and as such does not suffer from the limitation. The only limitation is in PC programs that don't nativly support MFX-wrapped DNx files, which means you'll need to use the .MOV wrapped files which ARE 32-bit limited do to the Quicktime server.

 

So basically, DNx being 32 or 64 bit is determined by the program, not Windows itself. 

Can't speak for ProRes on the PC - since I don't use ProRes. 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 17 March 2017 - 07:31 AM.

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#16 David Edward Keen

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 07:31 AM

Macks,

Haha definately wouldnt call u an audiophile for that. Im a professional musician so i definately dig. It's a matter of budget...im making videos non-professionally but they are striving for quality..i have an AKG P420 condenser mic for singing and vioiin recording, perhaps that would help at least for ADR.
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#17 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 11:13 AM

So basically, DNx being 32 or 64 bit is determined by the program, not Windows itself.


Well, sure... but you can't use windows codec's on mac and visa versa. So it technically is a "windows" issue, that doesn't exist on Mac.

If you compare the task manager on windows to that on mac, you'd see that the windows OS is mostly 32 bit and the Mac OS is mostly 64 bit. Sure, there are some tasks that don't need to be 64 bit, as they aren't memory hogs. But still, it's amazing in 2017 that even Windows 10, isn't really a 64 bit software through and through.

Ohh and the whole MXF wrapped DNX files? Yea, that's a big problem. Quicktime wrapped DNX files are kinda worthless, the whole point of DNX is the MXF wrapper which is what people need/want for metadata storage.
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#18 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 11:24 AM

Macks,

Haha definately wouldnt call u an audiophile for that. Im a professional musician so i definately dig. It's a matter of budget...im making videos non-professionally but they are striving for quality..i have an AKG P420 condenser mic for singing and vioiin recording, perhaps that would help at least for ADR.

 

I don't hear kind things about AKG's perception mics. I'd sell it and look into AudioTechnica's 20XX series, AT2020, AT2035, or AT2050.


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#19 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 11:55 AM

These days the GPU card is a very important factor, with 4GB almost the minimum requirements for worklng with 4K, and even DaVinci Resolve since it's GPU dependent. A decent i7 processor with 32gb ram will be fine with a fast disc array and decent GPU card. I Built my Windows machine in 2010 and still using it to capture uncompressed 1080P frames of film at 10-15fps. It has an i5 650 3.2Ghrz with a  500GB system drive and 1 TB RAID drive, 4GB MSI 1070, still running Windows 7.  It still runs like a tank, but will need to build a new one if I ever go up to 2K or 4K work. But due to compatibility issues, I can't upgrade past Resolve 12.0 and if i update any hardware at this point, i'll have to replace everything. 


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#20 David Edward Keen

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 09:42 PM

Thanx for the tip Macks, I'll look into that
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