7 may have been the final cut.
July 25, 2011 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I buy macs, despite the premium, but my macbook pro just died and fcpx may signal the end of needing a mac to edit video. Should I not buy a mac?

I edit a lot of video (on final cut pro). When FCPx got announced, I joined the chorus of disappointed editors, thinking I was stuck in fcp7 until something came around.

But last night my Macbook pro just died, and I'm wondering: should I not automatically replace it with a new mac? Have windows computers gotten any better (I haven't really used one for almost a decade)? Should I assume that Apple released a beta and that full functionality will return to fcpx in the near future? Mac and fcp7 installed? Mac and avid?

24 hours ago, I was much less interested in these questions, but now I need the help.
posted by historyisaweapon to Computers & Internet (31 answers total)
If you like Macs, get another Mac. FCP7 is still perfectly functional, is it not? So even if you don't like FCPx, you have time to wait until they change it to be where the market wants it to be.

I mean, it's not like, with the release of x, 7 becomes useless, you know?
posted by inturnaround at 10:41 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't do any video editing but I'm finally at the point that I buy Macs exclusively for the following reasons:

(1) I'm used to the OS now (after using Windows for umpteen years) and like it much better than Windows, especially the newer version of Windows
(2) They're solidly designed and built and have fewer mechanical issues than any PC laptop I've had
(3) My experiences with AppleCare have been pretty great, on par with or better than PC warranty repair experiences
(4) Battery life, heat, and noise all seem better than the comparable PC laptops I've used recently

If those reasons are important to you, I think it's worth sticking with a Mac.
posted by olinerd at 10:42 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

When you say your MBP died, what happened?
posted by humboldt32 at 10:44 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a windows user.

Windows has come a long way in the last ten years. I'm sure you've experienced or heard of the BSoD (blue screen of death). This is largely a thing of the past. It happened to me perhaps once or twice in Windows XP and not ever since I switched to Windows 7.

It's the quality of the hardware that counts more then the OS. You could take the money you would put towards a new Mac and apply it to a laptop of equal value that has windows on it and still end up with a great machine.
posted by royalsong at 10:45 AM on July 25, 2011

I've always been a Windows user, so I can't offer a thorough comparison to Mac OS. In my opinion, Windows 7 is a tremendous improvement over any other version of Windows I've used.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 10:50 AM on July 25, 2011

I'm at the point of going back to Windows (my three year old Macbook is now out of warranty). The reasons:

- Windows 7 is apparently not awful
- price
- Windows software options that are relevant to my concerns are cheaper/better/more plentiful
- though they were all covered by warranty, I've had more problems with this Macbook than the two Windows laptops I had previously (combined)
- iMovie is such an awful program that it colors my entire perception of the company (what the f*** is the thinking behind a vid-editing program that doesn't allow insert edits?)
- I'm beginning to have my doubts about all those blue-shirted "true believers"
posted by philip-random at 10:53 AM on July 25, 2011

There really isn't a hardware price premium if you compare apples to apples, especially if you choose laptops with similar build quality. For example, compare a MacBook to a ThinkPad, not the junk that's for sale at Best Buy.

philip-random: Drag the clip you want to insert over to where you want it to go, then select "cutaway." This preserves the audio track from the original clip, while showing video from the inserted one. Is that what you mean by "insert edit"?
posted by zsazsa at 11:01 AM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Pretty much seconding inturnaround and olinerd.

Windows has come a long way. I think Windows 7 is a nice OS to use, though not a patch on OSX IMO.

However, I haven't seen hardware of the calibre of Apple's from any manufacturer, Lenovo included. As this Quora answer suggests, Apple lock away various technologies to ensure their advantage. The reason that they're perceived to be expensive is that they don't play in the budget market.

But I don't think that's really your issue. You're concerned about the video editing software you'll use in the future, and it's a valid concern. Apple have posted an FAQ trying to answer some questions. The thing is, Final Cut X is undoubtedly a different program. I've used it somewhat, and it's great for my modest needs. I can see how it could grow into an excellent package in the future. The main mistake that Apple made was to stop selling Final Cut Studio.

I'd say buy a Mac (or get yours repaired), and continue using FCP7. That way you don't have to relearn anything just yet. Time will tell how Apple will change FCPX, and whether it becomes a fully viable product or not. If it comes to the point where FCP7 is no longer fulfilling your needs, and you need to switch - both Premiere and Avid run perfectly well on OSX.
posted by Magnakai at 11:01 AM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

FWIW...I've heard a bunch of the hoopla about FCPx, and from what I can gather, It's a complete ground-up rebuild based around a 64-bit archetecture, the first of it's kind...therefore, a BUNCH of features were left out (mostly, I assume, because of cost/time issues)...what i'm guessing is that FCPx.2 or .3 will absolutely smoke anything else on the market...i'd get another mac, live with the FCP7 that you've been using, and keep an eye on the FCP dev community...it's quite possible that a third party will develop the features that FCPx lacks, possibly as a plug-in, and due to it's 64-bit core, be ridiculously faster than anything on the market.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:02 AM on July 25, 2011

You could take the money you would put towards a new Mac and apply it to a laptop of equal value that has windows on it and still end up with a great machine.

My experience with this is while its true in theory, there are basically no Windows laptop companies who want to take your money at that level any more. It used to be IBM/Lenovo and the thinkpad was the gold standard in Windows laptoppery. I've had several. They have definitely gotten shittier in the last few years. In laptops, the "premium" for Apple gear is not really that high, if you try to option out a decent laptop from one of the other guys, you pretty much get into Apple territory, and you still can't get a machine as nice as an Macbook Pro or an Air from anyone else.

I really don't get this. Surely there are people who run Windows who would be happy to spend ~$3,000 to get a really nice laptop. On top of that, that's where all the margin is, and the way you make money from intellectual property. But it doesn't seem like anyone is really competing in this space.

Have windows computers gotten any better (I haven't really used one for almost a decade)?

Windows itself has gotten tremendously better. Computers that are marketed as being intended to run Windows have mostly gotten worse as far as I can tell. I use Windows a lot. And while I still have a T series Thinkpad somewhere, mostly I just run it in a VM on my Macbook Pro. Note: my comments apply strictly to high-end laptops. If you want to get a cheapass computer the world of Windows laptops has experience a mindblowing revolution in the last ten years. You can buy a Windows laptop for less than the 256G SSD upgrade costs in a new Macbook Pro (but it will be a piece of shit).
posted by jeb at 11:03 AM on July 25, 2011 [6 favorites]

Design is an important aspect of usability to me, both aesthetic and functional. In that respect OSX and Mac are vastly superior. A Windows desktop and the machines that run them (even stuff like Alienware that's supposed to look good) look hopelessly antiquated and clunky. So that might be a consideration for you.

I'd also like to point out that almost all of the praise for Windows 7 is that it's "not as bad as it used to be." I mean, even proponents of Win7 damn it with faint praise.
posted by cmoj at 11:20 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I do not edit video, but do use Photoshop CS 4 on a MAC Book Pro and other Adobe products on a Windows 7 computer. I have been a Windows user since the almost the beginning and found XP and Win 7 to be excellent OS's. I bought my first MBP 2 years ago when I needed a new laptop.

If you really like FCP, stick with the Mac. Or, if you want to try Adobe Premiere, you can still stick with Mac. Most Mac users will be troubled by going to Windows.

The issue for most MBP users will be ease of use of the OS and, if you use the trackpad, they all suck in Windows when compared to Macs. If you use a mouse or stylus, no problem...then it's just the OS.

However, there's lots of powerful, affordable equipment out there for Windows, I have used desktops by Dell and HP and laptops by IBM/Lenovo. You can get some great hardware for decent prices. Case in point - just bought a Lenovo Thinkpad W520. It has an i7 quad processor, 15.6 1600 x 900 screen (could go to 1920x1080), 8 GB RAM, 2 GB video memory, 500 GB 7200 rpm drive, camera, bluetooth and built in color calibration. The whole thing was less than $1400.

But really, stick with the MBP.
posted by johnn at 11:32 AM on July 25, 2011

i recently purchased a mbp and regret doing so. i purchased it because the hardware receives frequent praise. unfortunately that has not been my experience. i have found the machine to be slower at most tasks than my old lenovo, the battery life is nowhere near advertised and it gets incredibly hot.

when i have asked people about the excessive heat the response has primarily been, "oh yeah they do that, buy this lap guard".
posted by phil at 11:35 AM on July 25, 2011

If I were in a similar situation, I would buy a Mac but invest in Adobe Premiere instead.
posted by perhapses at 11:36 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I use a Mac for work, but sometimes use Windows as well. I won't say Windows 7 is great, but it sucks a lot less than XP did. However, the hardware design on the Windows side of hardware is not very great, and where it does manage to rival the MBP, the price turns out to be close to the same.

It's also the case that you can dual boot your Mac and run what you like. My MBP dual boots XP Pro (for legacy apps and some games) and OS X. I like it like that, and I have yet to see a PC with superior hardware at the same price/performance points. I'd go with the Mac. At least there, you're not really locked into the platform unless you want to be.
posted by Hylas at 11:46 AM on July 25, 2011

I use Windows, Macs, and Linux, and agree with Jeb: If you require a very good laptop, Mac is the way to go.

If you don't need the portability (and you know anything at all about computer hardware) you can buy a no-name, pre-built desktop PC kit from Tiger Direct for next to nothing, throw in your own hard drive and memory, and have a top-of-the-line machine for half the cost of a new MBP.

Windows and Mac OSs are fairly interchangeable in terms of speed and usage. There might be some initial growing pains (new shortcuts and things like that), but Windows 7 is a big step up.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:51 AM on July 25, 2011

Having been a lifelong "omg why would you pay so much for a Mac, lol" Linux user, I finally broke down and got a Macbook Pro last year. And I'm hooked. The build quality alone is reason enough. My next desktop will be a Mac, as well.

I'm not a Final Cut Pro user, but I do know that Lion has abandoned support for PowerPC apps / Rosetta. It looks like FCP 7 is after that era, but if not, that could factor into your decision. As others have said, as long as FCP7 is doing what you need, why upgrade?
posted by xedrik at 12:11 PM on July 25, 2011

Are you editing on the MacBook? Is it fast enough? Running Windows in a VM may also be fast enough. Just saying that with a Mac you always have the option of VM or Dual booting.
posted by Gungho at 12:21 PM on July 25, 2011

I'm a pro editor as well, and just today took a significant step away from FCP by purchasing the Adobe Production suite at half price (They have a "switch" offer available until September). I bought FCP X the first day, because of the low price and wanted to see where it was headed. I've tried it on a couple of small projects; it isn't terrible, but it isn't for pro editing. I am one of the people who doesn't think editing should be held in the upper tiers of expensive setups (for better or worse - I've seen the results come through my office) - but it is fairly apparent to me that while FCP X may or may not develop into a usable workflow in the future, right now this isn't the one. Anyway, that's the background.

When I Twittered my move today, one of my Windows-crazy friends made the immediate joke that soon I'd be moving away from Apple machines altogether. But the reality is - I won't. These machines are things of beauty, durable, powerful, and just about perfect as computer hardware gets. And the amazing thing - run Windows on it if you want. Windows as a system is considerably better than it was, and if you want a desktop computer I can even understand the argument of going with a Windows machine over the price of a Mac Pro tower. But for laptop (or all-in-one), Mac is the way to go. If you really want to check on price, the new Macbook Airs with i5 or i7 processors are actually hitting great benchmarks - far beyond my Macbook Pro from a couple of years ago that I use regularly to edit HD commercials. The downside - lack of ports, until Thunderbolt catches on. The Air starts at $999, and decked out gets up to $1700.

One more aside - I looked seriously into the option of building a Hackintosh desktop recently, and while it looks to be a fun project, still too involved for me to consider it for any real work.
posted by shinynewnick at 12:25 PM on July 25, 2011

My gut (as someone who no longer does much editing) is that, within 6 months or a year, FCPX is going to be the coolest way to edit video. They've already done the crazy hard part of rewriting a massive codebase from scratch in a way that takes advantage of the huge changes in computer hardware and software since the old codebase was written. They've also done the *other* crazy hard part of coming up with new tools for editing that, by many accounts, are faster and more convenient.

By comparison, what's left -- adding XML export, multicam, audio tagging, etc. -- is practically nothing. It's like they've built an amazing new bridge 95% of the way across the river, or a flying car with no steering wheel bolted on. Once they attach the steering wheel, it's going to be what you want to drive.

So I would vote for the MBP. While you wait, you can try out Premier with a demo or monthly rental, and have a smoother transition to Windows if you do switch, without having to jump right into a new NLE and OS. And if you do, you'll be able to sell your Mac for most of its value -- I don't know if that's so true going the other way.
posted by jhc at 12:33 PM on July 25, 2011

Another 'why the heck would anyone spend money on an mac' convertee. Work got me a MBP, and then I actually bought myself an iMac, and well... I'm not going back. Mac's give the the build quality, ease of use and a terminal that allows me to flex my Linux roots. Windows 7 is much, much better than previous versions, but... meh. I'm just tired of fighting with it. If I need a windows app I'll use parallels.

I'm still not sure what I think of Lion though. It's gonna take some time to get used to.
posted by cgg at 12:40 PM on July 25, 2011

The old version of FCP didn't get widespread adoption until v.3 and The Rules of Attraction; what's different this time is that Apple's competing against itself with a 1.0, and not Avid or Premiere. If your career extends beyond the next couple of years, it's may be worth keeping at least an eye on FCP X's further development, because if there's a mass migration among pro editors who, with good reason, stick with FCS 7, it'll happen quickly. But that migration may be to Avid or Premiere, and be preceded by smaller migrations to all three.

The issue isn't really Mac/Windows here, but the inherent inertia of "pro" apps: because they pay people's wages, they tend to go through slower release cycles, cling on to old code to avoid breaking legacy functionality, and so warp and snap, instead of bending and growing. You're at a snapping point now, and while there's still room to stick with the tools you know, you need to make a gamble on what comes next.
posted by holgate at 1:02 PM on July 25, 2011

For what it's worth — I work with a lot of video editors, both freelance and in agencies. With one exception (one who complained mightily about being so) all used Macs.
posted by Haruspex at 3:28 PM on July 25, 2011

Here's one more datapoint in the "mac's are more expensive" battle: in mid 2009 my company bought me a Macbook Pro and one of the other staffer's a Lenovo T500. They were roughly equivalent in price and capability, just shy of $2K. I just priced the two on Ebay, and the T500 is selling for ~$400, and the Macbook for ~$1100.
posted by Runes at 4:05 PM on July 25, 2011

Personally, I wouldn't want to get on a new NLE and a new operating system at the same time. I'm waiting to see what happens with FCPx, but looking at the alternatives.
posted by jade east at 5:18 PM on July 25, 2011

If you're a Mac user and like it you might as well stick with it. There is some nice Windows hardware out there though. Recently at work a laptop we were going to use for a demo died the morning the guys had to fly out, we went to a local shop and just grabbed the most powerful machine they had, a hp with a 17" screen and high specs everywhere. It cost us $1800AUD, and is very nicely made.

17" MacBook Pros start at $2900AUD and are similarly spec'ed apart from the dual video cards (the hp had a single card faster than the faster of the two in the mac). $1100 is a lot of cash if you aren't locked in to OSX.
posted by markr at 11:32 PM on July 25, 2011

philip-random: Drag the clip you want to insert over to where you want it to go, then select "cutaway." This preserves the audio track from the original clip, while showing video from the inserted one. Is that what you mean by "insert edit"?

Unfortunately, a little research reveals that the cutaway option was new for iMovie-09. I happen to have iMovie-08 on my box. Interestingly enough, iMovie-06 also had such an option, so Mac chose to remove it for some reason. Which causes my mind to boggle -- the ability to insert cut (or cutaway) being so intrinsic to any kind of motion picture editing. A sloppy analogy would be something like manufacturing a car that doesn't have a reverse gear. You could do it and drivers could even figure out how to get around without it ... but why would you do it?

Add this conundrum to my list of reasons for doubting the essential greatness of Mac.
posted by philip-random at 7:55 AM on July 26, 2011

Going from a Mac to Windows, even Win 7, is going to be a pain. I use both in my work because I have to (I work in end-user support for a school district) but I spend more than 90% of my time troubleshooting Windows machines and less than 10% fixing Macs.

And the instant I'm done with my Windows-based work, I shut down my virtual machine and go right back to my Mac OS where things make sense again.

Heck, just having to rebuild drivers on the PC side is enough to make me never consider the stupid OS.
posted by fenriq at 10:12 AM on July 28, 2011

Jumping in the conversation late here, but here's my 2 cents (as a Mac convert as of 4 years ago, long-time Windows user prior to that, and currently running OSX Lion, Windows 7 and Ubuntu computers): buy a Macbook Pro and install a Windows 7 boot camp partition. Apple hands down makes the best hardware I've seen, and if you're unsure about OSX you can still run Windows just fine. And if you start using Windows and hate it, you have OSX already installed and can switch back. Personally, I think OSX is a much better operating system, but to each their own.
posted by tundro at 4:21 PM on July 31, 2011

I have been a PC for a while (actually, I didn't hate vista, so maybe that removes my computer cred) and I recently received a new macbook pro as a gift. I like it fine, and I figured out quickly how to use it - I'd say I'm pretty savvy and really, not knowing how to do things is not the issue. But even though I'll use my MBP until it dies, I'm a PC.

I think the learning curve to *really* using your PC is slightly steeper, and the need for third party software (but the availability of good freeware) is greater, but PCs don't suck, at all. If you get a higher-end PC, paying in the same range that you would pay for a macbook (probably about 20% less tops, but no more), the build quality is also excellent - and even though I had a bottom of the line HP craptop, I never ran into a problem I couldn't fix. Both work fine, bottom line - but I actually find windows software like, say, windows media center to be much better designed than iTunes - when microsoft goes to copy certain software, they actually do a pretty good job of it, and often add useful improvements (see windows phone 7).

Also, bootcamp is no substitute for real PCs - the drivers and whatever just aren't up to par. So take that advice with a grain of salt.

I can't articulate very well why I'm a PC, but I am, very much so. Also, I feel very much like a conspicuous consumer when I pull out my 15" macbook pro and everyone knows how much it cost at minimum - I prefer the subtlety of a PC. But that's just me.
posted by R a c h e l at 12:45 PM on August 5, 2011

Also, replaceable batteries and things are really, really nice.
posted by R a c h e l at 12:48 PM on August 5, 2011

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