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TOPIC: Where to begin

Where to begin 04 Nov 2014 22:40 #55524

  • fatboyhouston
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Hi all. I'm in the exciting position of preparing to buy my first ever Mac. Remember what that felt like for you? Sure you do, and I'm guessing by your membership of this forum that you still consider it to be a good decision. So you're the right people to advise me.

Now I know this is a noob question that gets asked all the time, but after what feels like weeks of Internet research, I still don't have the answer. You know what's coming don't you? I hardly need to say it - but, just for clarity, here it is.

Which Mac should I buy?

There we are. Such a simple little question, but with seemingly no simple answer. Now in the last month I have seen this question answered in many different ways, but never quite *answered*. It always seems to end up with "Get the most Mac you can afford." Let me tell you, that means nothing. I can feasibly afford anything from an iPod shuffle to one of those black cylinder Pro jobs, depending on how long I'm willing to save or go without food. What I want to know is, what's the right Mac for my personal needs?

Here's my needs.

1. Moderate video editing, using iMovie and (if necessary) Final Cut Pro. By moderate I mean probably not HD, or not super HD anyway. I make videos lasting up to 30 mins, using transitions and text, and some simple effects (a la Movie Maker). I'd like to do some green screen. My videos mostly get uploaded to YouTube or Facebook, or maybe burned onto a DVD. I'm not looking to edit a feature length movie, or get into serious professional animation/effects. My cam is a little handheld JVC which creates weird files that probably won't play nice with anything except Sony Vegas. But I'm not about to let that dictate my choice of hardware. I'll throw the damn thing in a river if necessary.

2. Music production, using GarageBand or Logic. No crazy synths or anything, I'll use VSS. I have a lovely Scarlett 2i4 which should work nicely with this. I'm told this doesn't require too much processing power.

3. IOS app development. Ditto on the power requirements.

4. Usual stuff. This will be my main desktop.

So based on the above, if you were me, what would you get? At the moment I'm torn between getting a used Mac Mini 2012, or splurging £1500-£2000 on an iMac. I'll do that if I have to, but I'd hate to waste money unnecessarily. I'm slightly worried the 21.5 iMac will be too cramped screen-wise. Although I will defo get an extra monitor. But I'm also concerned that a Mini would be an underpowered short term solution I will regret.

Presently I am going round in circles. I'd love to hear from you regarding what machine can do the job I need it to do. And also what spec and configuration I should aim for (SSD/HDD, internal/external drives, etc)

Many thanks in advance. Hopefully your answers will be useful to lots of other people stuck in the same positionas me.


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Where to begin 12 Nov 2014 15:38 #55870

  • VidGreg
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Dear Mr Houston,
Sorry that no one here has responded to your post. Such wonderful enthusiasm for your first Mac should not be ignored.
I remember using a "FatMac" for the 1st time in 1985 and purchasing my first Mac an SE20 in 87. Imagine a 20MB hdd? Who could ever fill up all 20MB?

Congratulations on joining the Apple world, I think you will not regret it one bit.

As to which Mac should you buy according to your needs, I'll refrain from what you state about "get the most…" and just state that for your current needs, just about any recent Mac will work for you. That said, get as much Ram as you can, I prefer at least 16GBs or more, get the fastest/best GPU you can.
Sounds like you are leaning towards a desktop Mac vs a laptop. Mini vs. iMac. Neither is very user upgradeable in a friendly manner except the 27" iMac has easily upgradable ram. I would consider the 27" over the 21" for this reason and it generally has better specs. iMac screens are also very nice, and of course the new retina iMac screen is fantastic.
Mac Mini's can be equipped with nice external monitors of about any size and resolution, and possibly save you some money. You can also use the monitor on other systems. Again for what you want to do, then a well specced Mini would be fine.
If you want to go on a starvation diet, then max out a new rMP with extras, just remember me in your Will :P

iMovie is a fine beginning NLE, and what you learn in it can be applied to FCPX when you decide you need more options for editing.
Exporting to YouTube is super easy(Share menu). Green screening is also easy to get good results.
As to SD vs HD, any recent Mac with decent amount of Ram will do fine. 4K/5K multi cams (Red Epics) maybe not.

Might be time to think about a new cam. HD 16X9 format, SD card is really the way to go. Tape drive (miniDV) is becoming problematic and SD is so much faster and reliable. Please don't chuck in river, find someone who would love having your old cam.

Music- The Focusrite is a nice unit. I just got the Scarlet 18i20. Garageband is like iMovie in that it uses LogicX underpinnings while being limited in options. Still if it serves your needs, a great free program. Nice that Apple now has free updates for all OS's and Apps.
If you find that Garageband is not enough, but LogicX too $$(Good value for what you get), there are other programs out there. Might want to check out Reaper ($60.00USD) and it has a 60 day free trial. Can't say I like the interface, but it is pretty powerful. Link… www.reaper.fm

Do get external drives. You need to make back-ups. Back up ever thing at least 2X. Put your media on an external drive, either USB3 with UASP enabled or ThunderBolt. The 2 bay USB3 docks are very practical. I use the StarTech Dual Bay. Link… www.startech.com/HDD/Docking/dual-sata-hdd-dock~SDOCK2U33

So Houston, I say welcome to Macs, welcome to this wonderful forum. Let us know what you get!
If any problems in video editing, this is a great place to come, even for iMovie.
Hope this helps, Greg

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