fcp.co: An Overview of the Apple Hardware Ecosystem for Video Professionals

http://www.fcp.co/final-cut-pro/articles/2210-an-overview-of-the-apple-hardware-ecosystem-for-video-professionals

“In this article, Sam Mestman looks at each Apple product that can shoot or edit, indicates its place for filmmaking and also tells us which models he recommends. If you’re thinking of buying a new Mac, iPad or iPhone, this is for you!”

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Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: “Featuring a Stunning Pro Display, A13 Bionic, Cutting-Edge Pro Camera System and Longest Battery Life Ever in iPhone with iPhone 11 Pro Max”.

Commentary

Expatriate ex-Wollongong moviemaker Sam Mestman and longtime contributor to Final Cut Pro website fcp.co recently assumed an editorial role there with the aim of stepping up his articles for the site after giving up his coalface role at post-production workflow company LumaForge.

Mr Mestman has been instrumental as an ambassador, educator and advocate for moviemaking for the people throughout the United States and shares invaluable insights in his articles.

I highly recommend regular visits to fcp.co to all moviemakers whether you use Apple hardware and software or not.

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No Film School: Why I Switched to Final Cut Pro X After 25 Years of Working on Avid

https://nofilmschool.com/switched-final-cut-pro-x-after-25-years

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“I spent a quarter of a century editing on Avid and several years on Premiere Pro, so why did I decide to ditch them both and go with Final Cut Pro X? I’ll tell ya….

There’s a small but growing number of editors who have made the jump. The process is fairly predictable.  Surprise when we first hear a fellow editor rave about FCPX. Followed by a willingness to give it a shot.  And then two weeks of massive discouragement and frustration, because it’s unlike any other edit system we’ve used before. And finally, the lightbulb moment, the “NOW I get it” realization that comes with understanding the radically different workflow….”

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JDW: Using Rec.2020 HLG on a Rec.709 timeline in FCPX

“This video demystifies use of Rec.2020 HDR footage on a Rec.709 timeline in Final Cut Pro X 10.4.x, especially for Panasonic GH5 & GH5S users who shoot in HLG. I don’t own a SONY camera, but the same workflow shown in my video would apply to Sony Rec.2020 HLG as well. Leeming LUT offers a Sony HLG to Rec.709 LUT….”

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LumaForge: Is Final Cut Pro for Hollywood?

https://resources.lumaforge.com/blog/is-final-cut-pro-x-for-hollywood

“Josh Beal is a Hollywood editor who has work on such shows as Counterpart, Bloodline, and House of Cards. As a TV editor, Josh thinks it is time for Hollywood to reconsider Final Cut Pro X as a viable editing platform. In this presentation, Josh explains why Avid Media Composer is the King of the NLE in Hollywood and what needs to happen to convince current Media Composer editors to switch over to Final Cut Pro X….

… “I believe it’s the most forward-looking NLE on the market,” Beal says of FCPX….”

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Apple Final Cut Pro X on Apple 27″ iMac Pro with Retina 5K Display (Late 2017).

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Frame.io Insider: Speed Up Your Editing Using Final Cut Pro X’s Browser

https://blog.frame.io/2018/11/05/fcpx-browser-editing/

“At last year’s FCP X World in London, people were dazzled by watching London-based commercial editor Thomas Grove Carter of Trim Editing cut together an Audi commercial live. The speed with which he conducted the edit was mesmerizing….

… But FCP X, with its magnetic timeline and the powerful tools packed into its browser, is built for lightning-paced cutting—you just have to know how to use it!

As I see it, there are two standout techniques involved in Thomas Grove Carter’s process:

  • Mastery of three-point editing (and its keyboard shortcuts)
  • Mastery of FCP X’s browser-based system of organization and labeling…”
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Apple Final Cut Pro X on Apple 27″ iMac Pro with Retina 5K Display (Late 2017)

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Blackmagic Design Announces eGPU Pro, Professional Version of Its Blackmagic eGPU, 22x Faster Performance Than Previous Model

Blackmagic Design has announced the Blackmagic eGPU Pro, a GPU power-boosted pro-level version of its recently released Blackmagic eGPU, with a Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics processor instead of the earlier model’s Radeon Pro 580 graphics card. 

As a result Blackmagic Design is claiming an up-to 22 times speed boost for graphics-intensive tasks such as photography and video editing with non-linear editing suites such as Blackmagic Design’s own DaVinci Resolve in both versions and Apple’s Final Cut Pro X. 

The Blackmagic eGPU Pro requires either a Thunderbolt 3-equipped MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, new Mac mini or an iMac or, presumably, an iMac Pro, all running macOS 10.14 Mojave for its updated support for external graphics processing units. 

The Blackmagic eGPU Pro provides two Thunderbolt 3 ports, four USB 3 ports, 85 watt power delivery and an HDMI 2.0 port as well as a DisplayPort 1.4 port to support up to two 5K monitors.

I began looking into eGPUs some time before the previous version of macOS supported it due to the demands on my late 2014 iMac Retina 5K 27-inch being made by increasingly larger stills and video files produced by ever-larger sensors and ever-growing quality capabilities of video files in particular.

Later today I will be attending a preview of Fujifilm’s GFX 50R rangefinder-style medium format camera and the 100 megapixel version of Fujifilm’s GFX 50S DSLR-style camera will be released in 2019.

A reasonable rule of thumb is that an average raw file from a 50 megapixel camera will weigh in at 100 megabytes before processing and an average raw file from a 100 megapixel camera will weigh in at 200 megabytes before raw conversion and image editing involving extra layers.

Blackmagic eGPU Pro

Such files not only add to demands on storage space; they also increase the draw on your computer’s internal graphics processing unit compared to, say, the 16 megapixel and 20 megapixel image files of my Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras and the 24 megapixel image files of my Fujifilm APS-C camera.

Medium format is attractive due to its larger sensors producing image quality that enlarges well to gallery exhibition print dimensions.

Then there is the question of the superb video footage produced by cameras like the Fujifilm X-T3, using settings like DCI 4K, 10-bit-4:2:2, All-Intra, 400 megabits per second and HEVC H.265.

Our iMac does not have native Thunderbolt 3 output but it may be able to make use of eGPUs with some sort of software hack and a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt adapter.

The ‘Untitled’ home studio is well overdue for an upgrade to its portable computer capabilities, though, and a maxed-out version of the coming internal GPU-boosted MacBook Pro 15-inch series may be just the ticket.

If ever-bigger video and stills files continue to make serious demands on such machines’ internal GPUs, then eGPUs like the Blackmagic eGPU Pro are worth serious consideration.

I have yet to try out any eGPU, given none of our local Apple stores have one out of the box and set up in a working configuration, but the numbers in Blackmagic Design’s product page look encouraging.

Highlights, Blackmagic eGPU Pro

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Blackmagic Design Blackmagic eGPU Pro, I/O connectivity and power.
  • Compatible with any Thunderbolt 3–enabled Mac
  • Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics processor with 8GB of HBM2 memory
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Four USB 3 ports
  • HDMI 2.0 port
  • DisplayPort 1.4 port
  • 85W power delivery

Press Release

BLACKMAGIC DESIGNANNOUNCES BLACKMAGIC EGPU PRO

New model features blazingly fast AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 for up to 22x faster performance!

Fremont, CA – October 30, 2018 – Blackmagic Design today announced the Blackmagic eGPU Pro, an external graphics processor featuring the blazingly fast AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics processor. Designed to accelerate pro creative software such as DaVinci Resolve, 3D games and VR, the Blackmagic eGPU Pro delivers nearly twice the performance of the original Blackmagic eGPU model and up to 22x faster performance than the built-in graphics on a 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The Blackmagic eGPU Pro features a built-in AMD Radeon RX Vega 56, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a new DisplayPort for connecting 5K displays, HDMI 2.0, 85W of charging power and four USB 3.1 connections. Designed in collaboration with Apple, the integrated design brings cutting-edge workstation-class graphics processing and computational acceleration to customers working in professional video, playing 3D games or using the latest virtual reality software.

The Blackmagic eGPU Pro will be available in November for only US$1,199 from apple.com.

The Blackmagic eGPU Pro features 8GB of HBM2 RAM, a massive 2048-bit memory interface with 410 gigabyte per second bandwidth, and 56 discreet compute units for up to 10.5 teraflops of processing power. The AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 can fill 94 billion textured pixels per second. In addition, the Blackmagic eGPU Pro supports Metal graphics technology from Apple, which provides near-direct access to the GPU for maximizing graphics and compute performance with games and applications.

With nearly 2x faster performance than the previous eGPU model, customers running DaVinci Resolve will get more realtime effects and color correction than ever before. That means they can spend more time exploring creative options and less time waiting. Customers running DaVinci Resolve on a 13-inch MacBook Pro will find that GPU-intensive operations, such as noise reduction, are up to 22x faster with the Blackmagic eGPU Pro. DaVinci Resolve 15 also supports multiple GPUs as well as Metal, so it’s the best way to get the full benefit of the Blackmagic eGPU Pro. Customers can download DaVinci Resolve 15 now free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website for the best editing, color correction, audio post and visual effects solution available.

For gamers and customers using VR software and headsets, the Blackmagic eGPU Pro delivers higher resolution images, higher frame rate gameplay, better lighting and more detailed textures for truly immersive experiences, even on a laptop computer. Plus, the Blackmagic eGPU Pro features a DisplayPort connection that can drive a 5K display.

The elegant, textured finish of the Blackmagic eGPU Pro is extruded from a single piece of aluminum and features a unique thermal cooling system that’s been designed to perfectly balance the airflow and dissipate heat more efficiently. The cooling system also enables extremely quiet operation, which is vital for those working in video production and audio engineering environments.

In addition to graphics and computational acceleration, the Blackmagic eGPU Pro is also the perfect docking hub for connecting devices such as keyboards, mice, Thunderbolt monitors, big screen HDMI televisions, 5K displays, VR headsets, high speed storage and more. It features two 40Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 connections, a built-in 4 port USB hub, DisplayPort and HDMI. Plus, the connections are ergonomically spaced, making it easy to connect and disconnect peripherals.

When it comes to power, the Blackmagic eGPU Pro has a built-in power supply that powers the GPU while also providing 85W of downstream power via Thunderbolt 3 for charging laptop computers and powering peripherals. The power supply works from 100V to 240V and features a standard IEC power connector so it can be used anywhere in the world.

“The new Blackmagic eGPU Pro is exciting because it delivers nearly twice the performance of the original model of the Blackmagic eGPU,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “Whether you’re editing and color grading professional video with DaVinci Resolve, playing 3D games or working in VR, the Blackmagic eGPU Pro gives you the latest cutting edge graphics performance and computational acceleration available. It simply makes everything faster and makes everything look better!”

AVAILABILITY AND PRICE

The Blackmagic eGPU Pro will be available in Novemeber for only US$1,199 from apple.com.

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fcp.co: Version Control and Collaborative Final Cut Pro X Libraries Stored in the Cloud with PostLab

http://www.fcp.co/final-cut-pro/news/2106-version-control-and-collaborative-final-cut-pro-x-libraries-stored-in-the-cloud-with-postlab

“… Final Cut Pro X is very good at certain things. Unfortunately Apple hasn’t yet cracked collaborative workflow and sharing Libraries between editors can be clunky.

Jasper Siegers at broadcaster EO in the Netherlands has been working on a project that allows all of its FCPX editors to collaborate by enabling version control. The free app is called PostLab and is available for download from the PostLab website.…”

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Apple Final Cut Pro X on Apple 27″ iMac Pro with Retina 5K Display (Late 2017)

Links

fcp.co: Off the Tracks, the Film about Final Cut Pro X, Is Now Available to Download

http://www.fcp.co/final-cut-pro/news/2099-off-the-tracks-the-film-about-final-cut-pro-x-is-now-available-to-download

“… Ultimately this documentary is about how a tool has helped democratize movie making. It is also a product of what it preaches. Final Cut Pro X does empower storytellers and that message was what made me passionate enough to take all the time and energy to make this documentary. It’s a real meta sort of thing.…”

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Apple Final Cut Pro X on Apple 27″ iMac Pro with Retina 5K Display (Late 2017)

Commentary

A confession: when I first cracked open Final Cut Pro X in its first iteration, I felt at home with it and its magnetic timeline concept in a way I never had with more conventional NLE products including Final Cut Pro.

And yet…

In 2011 Apple ended Final Cut Pro as we knew it and started over with a brand new video editing application: Final Cut Pro X. The disruption from this change is still being felt by the film, television, and video industries to this day.

With misinformation running amok, Off The Tracks aims to clear the air once and for all.

This documentary features exclusive interviews with the creative professionals who use the software and the developers who created it. Why did Apple make Final Cut Pro X?

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  • Apple 15.4″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (Mid 2018, Space Gray)B&H
  • Apple 27″ iMac Pro with Retina 5K Display (Late 2017)B&H
  • BenQ PV270 27″ 16:9 Rec.709 / DCI-P3 Color Accurate IPS MonitorB&H
  • Datacolor CalibrationB&H
  • Eizo MonitorsB&H
  • Flanders Scientific Inc.B&H – although movie editors and color graders regard FSI monitors as the best there are, bizarrely B&H does not appear to stock the monitors themselves but only the accessories for them. I hope that this changes soon. Check out the FSI Solutions MediaLight 6500K Bias Light products for lighting your workstation area with light that will not throw your colour judgement seriously out of whack.
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  • GTI Standard Gray Neutral N8 Vinyl Latex Paint (1 Gallon)B&H – “Standard Neutral Gray Munsell N8,
    Made for the Photo and Graphic Industry, Used in Color Viewing Areas, Water-Reducible Vinyl Latex Paint, Eliminates Simultaneous Color Contrast, Reduces Color Pollution of Viewing Area”
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  • Promise Technology Drives – B&H
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Apple Releases Mid-2018 MacBook Pro Computers and Blasts Off Into the Future

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. 

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Apple MacBook Pro Mid-2018

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 many visual storytelling professionals looking to pre-Coffee Lake 15-inch MacBook Pros for portability and as a stopgap until Apple radically revised its desktop offerings, beginning with the iMac Pro.

Hard choices though when knowing that Coffee Lake processors would eventually arrive in Apple’s portable offerings, but 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 of “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 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.

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Image Credits

Header image by Carmel D. Morris. Have you seen the Red Forest?

Help support ‘Untitled’

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Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K with 8Sinn camera cage, Scorpio handle and Canon CN-E 24mm T1.5 L F Cinema Prime Lens with EF-to-M43 adapter.

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  • Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 15 Studio (Activation Card)B&H
  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • Blackmagic eGPU – not currently on sale at B&H, but I will add the link when it is on sale there.
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