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Final Cut and Macintosh advice needed

Rep: 4
Douglas Imbrogno Nov. 29, 2010, 8:05 a.m. permalink

Greetings. I'm a video features producer for a newspaper in W.Va., where
after a long hard slog, we have convinced the powers-that-be to switch
from an archaic PC-video editing suite and camera to a Mac-based system.
Helpful buying advice needed ASAP! We have approval to buy two Mac
laptops, a couple copies of Final Cut Express and a modestly-priced
video camera (maybe $1000-1500). Here are my ideas and questions:

1/ Two MacBook Pros with 17-inch screens and with what internal
configuration of hard drives in order to edit video?

2/ Two copies of Final Cut Express

3/ What FCE-compatible video camera? I am looking for one with an
external microphone shoe.

Hurry with the advice before the beancounters change their mind! ;-)

Thanks, Doug

Rep: 141
Colin Mulvany Nov. 29, 2010, 10:02 a.m. permalink

It has been awhile since my newspaper bought lower end cameras, so I will comment on the computer configuration. The 17-inch MacBook Pro is great for video editing. The key here is to make sure you buy a fast external Firewire 800 hard drive to edit from. I highly recommended that you do not edit from your laptop drive. I just bought a LaCie  portable that works great. Just make sure it is a 7200 rpm drive and not the slower 5400. 

If you are going to buy a flash memory camera, the files, when converted to Apple Intermediate Codec, will be huge, so make sure you have enough storage on hand. 

The one thing you don't talk about is mics. You need make sure you get an external shotgun mic with whatever camera you buy. Otherwise you audio will be amateur and horrible. If you have the budget, get a wireless mic also. A Sennheiser g-3 wireless set works great. If budget is an issue, move down to the 15-inch laptop to afford the mics. Audio quality is so important with video. The 15-inch with the i5 processor kicks with Final Cut. 

For ram, 4 gigs is enough for FCE. It can read only four gigs anyway. That will probably change with the next version. 

Can other FtF members chime in with what camera would be best? We bought the Canon HF-10 a couple of years ago and they have performed great. They are a flash storage base camera, that shoots in HD 1920p video. The key to look for in the low-end camera is an external mic input. Read this post I wrote about the HF-10. I'm not sure what the Canon replacement for this camera is but I'm sure it works just as well, if not better. 

Rep: 4
Douglas Imbrogno Nov. 29, 2010, 10:10 a.m. permalink

Thanks for this advice, Colin . Yes, I forgot to mention I am hunting for a camera with an external mic shoe. The days of using bad on-camera mics are over for us. Appreciate this. Douglas

Rep: 91
Peter Huoppi Nov. 29, 2010, 2:31 p.m. permalink

+1 on Colin's suggestion to go with the 15 inch and apply the savings elsewhere. I have a 17 inch MacBook, and while it's great when I'm sitting at a desk or a table, a little less size would be nice when I'm editing in the front seat of my car on when the computer is crammed in my bag.
For lower-end cameras, we're still using the Canon HV-20, -30 and -40. I know people are moving away from tape, but having the permanent archive is pretty nice. I use a tapeless camera with FCE on my MacBook, and other than capture time, I'm usually happier working off a tape.
The biggest thing I miss using FCE instead of FCP on the MacBook is Compressor. You can use export with Quicktime Conversion or compres with Streamclip, but it's just nice to have software where you can save the compression settings.

Rep: 4
Douglas Imbrogno Nov. 30, 2010, 8:05 a.m. permalink

Helpful suggestions! Camera-wise, right now I am looking at either a Canon Vixia HF s21 Dual Flash Memory Camcorder or a Canon Vixia HFS 200 in conjunction with Final Cut Express 4.0.1 on Macs running Snow Leopard. Anyone have any feedback on the latest Canon Vixia series used with FCE?

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