Workflow Update: iMac, Adobe, and the “X” Factor

Biscardi Creative Blog by Walter Biscardi

Apple iMacs

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, well I’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. read more...

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