FCP on a Plane... or, rather, a PowerBook
July 17, 2006 10:09 AM   Subscribe

How are your experiences with Final Cut Pro on a PowerBook G4?

Right now I'm working on a few projects using FCP on a G5, but the G5 belongs to a college (I used to work there and still have a good relationship with the DV tech guys), and all I've got is a 1.67 GHz Powerbook G4 running 512 MB of RAM. I've got plenty of storage space for the media files, so that's not a problem, but I've heard (in various places) that FCP just doesn't mate with PowerBooks that well, even when the system requirements are met. I'd rather buy a copy of FCP5 and move away (the town I'm in is pretty dead) than remain tethered where I am. Can I count on my PowerBook to deal with FCP?
posted by hifiparasol to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My sister was very unhappy using FCP on her PowerBook G4. She got one of the new MacBooks and now she is very very happy.
posted by alms at 10:17 AM on July 17, 2006

I've got a 1.25 GHz powerbook G4 with the same amount of RAM. I run FCE and I don't know how much less *stuff* this version uses in comparison to Pro, but the program runs fairly smoothly on what I've got. Except when i'm trying to compress and I've got too many other programs open.
posted by hopeless romantique at 10:17 AM on July 17, 2006

Response by poster: Yeah, hopeless, I've got FCE as well, but there's some added functionality in FCP, plus the fact that the project already exists in FCP and would be a royal PITA to convert. I like FCE though.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:30 AM on July 17, 2006

I just bought a MacBook Pro, but my previous laptop was a Powerbook G4. I maxed out the RAM (to 2 GB, methinks) and never thought it was particularly slow or unwieldy running FCP.

You do know to keep all your media on an external drive, right?
posted by catesbie at 10:30 AM on July 17, 2006

It's not just the amount of RAM, it's how quickly you can push data across the system bus. Final Cut can be okay on G4s, but it's pretty easy to choke it due to the anemic memory bandwidth. That's why it sings on G5s and Intel-based Macs: faster system bus.

You may find that Final Cut isn't painful for you to use on a G4, but it's going ot depend on the project, really. It flies on G5s and Intel-based Macs, but it doesn't always perform as admirably on the less powerful hardware.
posted by Mikey-San at 10:40 AM on July 17, 2006

I've found FCP to be very usable on my 1.67ghz powerbook with 1gb of ram. It ain't zippy, but it's not painful at all. If you upgrade your ram, you should be fine.
posted by ulotrichous at 11:22 AM on July 17, 2006

Not bad. Not wonderful, but not bad. Based on personal experience, I think you'll be a lot happier if you get another 512MB of RAM. I have a 1.5Ghz G4 and use an external FW800 drive for my media, which eliminates one of the big laptop bottlenecks.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 11:41 AM on July 17, 2006

I've edited a full 30 minute film on a powerbook G4. The big thing is turning off a lot of the real time rendering and audio mixing, so you can place and lay your shots, render, preview, and then do it again.

Buy more ram for you machine, I did the film on a g4 1.25, just be patient for the rendering. If it really is a killer, go for a MacBook Pro, it is 2-3 times faster than the G4 running Final Cut Pro universal Binary.

(Also apple has a $199 crossgrade to final cut studio 5.1 for anyone who has final cut pro, motion, soundtrack, etc. cheapest way to get the full version out there, buy a stand along copy of motion and then upgrade it).
posted by mrzarquon at 1:24 PM on July 17, 2006

Response by poster: Great answers, everyone, thanks.

It looks like the most economical solution will be to upgrade my RAM, though I'll investigate Mikey-San's comments further.
posted by hifiparasol at 2:00 PM on July 17, 2006

Add ram - get 2 gb. But honestly, it feels pokish for me - and I work on different FCP systems all the time.

And HDV it's worse. It plays, but forget more than an RT effect or two.

I'm totally getting a MacBook Pro soon for this reason..
posted by filmgeek at 2:17 PM on July 17, 2006

Up until 2 weeks ago (when I purchased a Macbook Pro), I had been cutting 2 seperate 30 minute TV shows a week on my little 1.5 GHz, 12" Powerbook, running FCP 5.x. Granted, it aint a speed demon, but with DV/DVCAM footage, I had no problems cranking out these shows, and still getting realtime performance with colorcorrection, titling, audio mixing (using the realtime faders) and transitions. I even used Motion 2.1 on it as well for setting up realtime pan-and-scans on photo stills.

The render time is definitely a bitch though, but still tolerable, and unless you're doing super complex projects with multiple layers of composites and effects, it's FAR from being "unusable", as some may claim. The key, as been already mentioned, is to max out the RAM, and also make sure you have at least a 5400 RPM harddrive.
posted by melorama at 3:13 PM on July 17, 2006

(You gave me a flashback to riding with my old boss to meet a client. Me: in the passenger seat with the PowerBook, scrambling to output the DVD while the car bounces around at 90MPH on the freeway.)

I ditto the rendering comments above.

I also recommend getting a proper mouse.
posted by evil holiday magic at 6:49 PM on July 17, 2006

I once edited an entire half-hour MiniDV documentary, that was subsequently broadcast on mainstream UK TV, on a G3(?) Wallstreet using Adobe Premiere. What I mean is, "viable" is in the eye of the beholder.
posted by londongeezer at 1:54 PM on July 18, 2006

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