Until the arrival of the iMac Pro in late 2017, Apple’s professional moviemaking and photography customers had been questioning the company’s loyalty to them and dedication to meeting their ever-growing high-end graphics computing needs, without unnecessary monkey work.
Today’s release of the Coffee Lake sensor-equipped Mid-2018 MacBook Pro models in 13-inch and 15-inch versions along with the Apple/Blackmagic Design co-designed Blackmagic eGPU will further allay these concerns with a hardware combination approaching the iMac Pro in power and graphics processing speed.
Next year’s long-awaited release of the re-imagined Mac Pro after the Mac Pro range was left languishing since late 2013’s “ash can” Macs will be icing on the cake for creatives and a necessity for production studios needing the ultimate in multi-teraflop processing power.
Meanwhile, the long hiatus until last year’s iMac Pro saw saw many visual storytelling professionals looking to pre-Coffee Lake 15-inch MacBook Pros for portability and as a stopgap until Apple revised its desktop offerings.
The decision of when and which production computer in which to invest has always been a vexing one, given the need to choose a model as future-proofed as possible.
Apple MacBook Pro Mid 2018
The Apple computers I have used have always productively outlived all our Windows PCs, and our two current Macs have had long, productive lives though one is nearing its end having endured daily production use since early 2011.
Those lives are about to be challenged by coming software and hardware support demands as well as exciting new standard in video and ever-larger raw files from ever-bigger image sensor-equipped stills cameras such as Fujifilm’s GFX 50S and the coming GFX 100S and GFX 50R.
Internal upgrades of older machines using Other World Computing’s excellent SSDs and doubling the RAM have their limitations in the face of contemporary graphics software’s reliance on graphics processing units (GPUs) so a new 15-inch MacBook Pro has been overdue, preferably attached to a Blackmagic eGPU in the studio and on-location.
Accessories for Apple’s MacBook Pro Mid 2018
The really big investment maximisation lesson I learned kong ago is to max out your production computer with RAM, internal storage, CPU and GPU power to cope with the ever-increasing demands off constantly-updating editing software.
Apple has clearly heeded this relentless tendency with the 15-inch MacBook Pro Mid-2018’s up to 6-core processors and 32GB of RAM, and a great choice of SSDs up to 4TB, obviating the need to connect external media drives when working on ambitious video and longterm photography projects.
Invest in a minimum of 1TB internal storage, 32GB of RAM, choose the highest specifications processor, add Thunderbolt external storage for media and scratch disk space, and cast an eye at LG’s excellent UltraFine and UltraWide 5K monitors, two of which the Mid-2018 MacBook Pro can easily handle.
Consider a Wacom pen tablet for fine selection control and to guard against wrist damage, add the Blackmagic eGPU, look at Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Micro and Mini colour grading panels, and by doing so create a top-end editing workstation approaching the iMac Pro or coming Mac Pro in power and reliability.
Above all, do not aim low as it will only keep you down as your needs and ambitions change.
Those griping at the price of this versatility and power would do well to consider the past alternatives.
It is significant that Apple has begun collaborating with Blackmagic Design in the eGPU and hopefully other areas given Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty’s mission to “allowing the highest quality video to be affordable to everyone, so the post production and television industry can become a truly creative industry.”
When I first read that, I cast my mind back to the very first video editing workstation I clapped eyes on at a top London creative hotshop advertising agency costing, if my memory serves me right, some £100,000 for the hardware and software, barely affordable by the agency much less any creative of my acquaintance then.
The two photographers-turned-directors who had headhunted me for the agency relied on funky old but beautiful Super 16mm movie cameras, being something of an exception creatively, but the cost of the video cameras of the time was astronomical compared to the price of current small cinema, video and hybrid mirrorless cameras.
With personal computers being the centre of our creative lives, it makes sense to spend some of the money saved on free and affordable production software and hardware on the beating heart of your production kit, making it last for years to come.
Speaking of which with Apple now doing right by its professional users on the hardware front, it is past time for the company to do right in video editing software by improving Final Cut Pro X’s audio capabilities now that Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve’s Fairlight audio page is putting it to shame.
Likewise Apple’s still-smarting 2015 abandonment of photography organizing and editing essential Aperture, was an almost shameful act still with no fully-featured direct replacement anywhere near the horizon whether by dint of third-party software makers or Apple Photos, its erstwhile in-house successor.
- Apple Inc. – Apple updates MacBook Pro with faster performance and new features for pros
- Blackmagic Design – Blackmagic eGPU
- Other World Computing
- Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success – Get Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic eGPU for Graphics Processing Lightyears Ahead
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- Apple iMac Pro – B&H
- Apple Mac Pro – B&H
- Apple MacBook Pro Mid 2018 – B&H
- Blackmagic Design cameras – B&H
- Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 15 Studio (Activation Card) – B&H
- Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K – B&H
- Blackmagic eGPU – not currently on sale at B&H, but I will add the link when it is on sale there.
- Canon EF Cinema Prime Lens Kit (14, 24, 35, 50, 85, 135mm) – B&H
- Fujifilm GFX 50S – B&H
- G-Technology G-Speed Shuttle Thunderbolt RAID Arrays – B&H
- LG 27MD5KB-B UltraFine 27″ 16:9 5K IPS Monitor – B&H
- LG 34WK95U 34″ 21:9 UltraWide 5K Nano IPS Monitor – B&H
- Loupedeck + Photo Editing Console – B&H
- Other World Computing (OWC) – B&H – upgrade ageing Apple Macs with faster, larger internal drives and extra, faster memory.
- Wacom – B&H