Latest post Sun, Oct 11 2015 5:25 PM by pretzelcuatl. 5 replies.
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  • Fri, Oct 9 2015 8:57 PM

    Looking for advice for setting up home Avid Media Composer system

    Hi. I’m directing and editing a low budget narrative feature, and somewhat at the last minute it has fallen on me to provide the editing system as well.  While I own a current Avid license and can run Media Composer 8 on my computer, my setup is sorely lacking for the job at hand, and I will need to upgrade my hardware so my assistant (whoever that may be) can be comfortable working on it, here in my exciting garage.

    The hope is to shoot Alexa, though it may be Red.  Unknown how much footage.  No lab will be involved, so I assume the assistant will have to manage transcoding on my system as well.  Too early in the process to know for sure, but am assuming the worst.

    Here’s what I already own:  

    Current Media Composer license

    Mid 2010 Mac Pro running Yosemite 10.10.5

    2 x 2.4 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon

    14 GB 1066 RAM

    ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024 MB

    Three USB, two FW 800, SATA port card


    Apple Cinema Display, 23” (1920x1200)


    An old 32” 720p TV with HDMI input


    MBox Mini audio interface


    Blue Sky 2.1 Speakers


    So my first question is, should I even bother with such an old computer?  No Thunderbolt ports, and while there are three monitor outputs, the two minis are “passive”, and it would require expensive adapters to run three monitors at once.

    If this computer just isn’t going to cut it, I guess I should buy a new one, I just hate to buy something that I’m not going to use after this gig (I have a new MacBook pro, but am not considering it part of the editing system because I use it on the set, so I don’t otherwise have a need for a new computer).

    I see that the Mac Mini packs a fair amount of wallop, and includes an HDMI port.  They range from $500 to $1000.  Seems like the computer itself would be enough for the system, but would the cheapest one be fine?  I could also get the smaller iMac for $1100, and buy one less monitor.

    The Apple display is old, but fine.  I’m prepared to buy two more monitors if needed, and there may be some use for the TV, though it’s pretty crappy.  Recommendations for video monitors?

    Would I need a hardware interface?  It has been a long time since I’ve had to do anything technical in the editing room, so I’m pretty unfamiliar with modern workflow.  Something like the BM UltraStudio Mini Monitor?  Or just use the computer monitors for all viewing?

    At the end of the day, I’d prefer to spend as little as possible.  The film is a labor of love, not something I’m going to make money on.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

  • Sat, Oct 10 2015 11:41 PM In reply to

    • hbrock
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
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    • Moderator: Avid Xpress Pro Mac
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    Re: Looking for advice for setting up home Avid Media Composer system

    At the end of the day, I’d prefer to spend as little as possible. 

    Don't spend anything.  There's nothing wrong with what you have, you'll just have to live with some limitations.

    You could edit with one 23" monitor and a 720p TV connected to the HDMI port.  

    What you won't have is:

    1. 2 computer screens for Avid.

    2. True video output via a i/o device.

    Either of those needs can be met for minimal cost compared to buying a new CPU.

    Regardless of what your source material is, you're likely to cut at at DNxHD 36 and go back to the original media for color correction.  Your Mac Pro is probably sufficient for processing dailies in Media Composer or by using Resolve as long as you're reasonably patient.  If you need faster, just add a recent nVidea CUDA graphics card to speed up Resolve.


    MacPro, MacBook Pro and a Cube (masquerading as a kleenex dispenser). [view my complete system specs]

    Must think of something clever to go here...

  • Sun, Oct 11 2015 12:41 AM In reply to

    Re: Looking for advice for setting up home Avid Media Composer system

    Thanks for this.  I've been testing it, and it's not as slick as what I'm used to, but it will at least get me through production.  I will be able to use two screens for the Avid if I install a Black Magic Decklink card, but I'm bummed that it takes over my audio output, which is currently through the USB Mbox.  And yes, DNX36 with finishing elsewhere.

  • Sun, Oct 11 2015 2:02 AM In reply to

    • gumbaedit
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • Richmond, VA
    • Posts 527
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    Re: Looking for advice for setting up home Avid Media Composer system

    If you are dealing with RED footage, you are going to need a beefier graphics card.  To do RED properly is to transcode it in Davinci Resolve, then send it to avid.  Resolve works fastest when there is one gpu for the interface and one for the transcoding.  you can pickup a gt 120 card (ebay, $100) ,which pulls power off of the pci bus, and run your monitors off of that.  This will allow resolve to use your ATI card for transcoding.  Depending on the resolution of the RED footage you are using, it could mean twice as many frames per second when transcoding.  If you have to share a system with your assistant, every minute they're transcoding is a minute you are not editing.

    6 core Late 2013 MacPro 3.0 gHz, 16 gigs RAM, MC 8.8.5 on OSX 10.12.4, DNxIO, Flanders CM250, BMD Desktop Video version 10.9.1 [view my complete system specs]
  • Sun, Oct 11 2015 10:06 AM In reply to

    • pierreh
    • Top 75 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • Paris, London
    • Posts 1,285
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    Re: Looking for advice for setting up home Avid Media Composer system

    You're lucky to have a 2010, the most upgradable Mac Pro.

    You can pretty easily upgrade the processors in that machine. There are reliable guys out there (on eBay mostly) that will sell you a pair of matched de-lidded processors to install in your machine. I did that to mine (a 2009 Mac Pro) and went from 2x2.26Ghz (4 cores each) to a pair of 3.46gHz (6 cores each) for about $500. There's a cheaper option with the model just below - 2x3.16 6 cores if my memory is right. It's a straignt forward operation, can be done by anyone with a brain and patience - isn't that the description of an editor? - and with a long hex wrench.

    What I then did was upgrade the graphics card. I chose a Radeon R9 280X because it runs out of the box (tough with no boot screen but with a bit of work it can be flashed to behave exactly as a Mac card). The other choice would have been a Nvidia 680 GTX for the same reason. Avid doesn't do much with the GPU (doesn't do anything to be honest) but that gives me three screens on output, though I only run 2 at the moment.

    Added a SSD drive for the system (in the DVD bay there's a spare plug ready for that). Then used the 4 internal 3.5" drives to make 2 raids for storage.

    Same as you, I added a eSata card - though I went for the one from Caldigit which offers USB3 and eSata on the same card.

    I tested it with Geekbench (I know, real life is different), and the raw power outdoes the most expensive "Trashcan" Mac Pro. My Mac nearly tripled its power.

    So for way less than a $1000, I have a new computer.

    In your case, I would also bump up the memory as MC likes to have lots. A blackmagic or AJA card could be neat to drive your video monitor.

    Those machines were work-horses and still are. So don't just take it to the slaughterhouse, breath in some more life and it'll do you good.

    - Work: MacPro 2010 3.46Ghz 12 Cores 48Gig RAM, Mojo DX, 10.14.6 - Home: MacBookPro 2.5Ghz quad-i7, 16Gig Mem and SSD OSX 10.11.6 [view my complete system specs]
  • Sun, Oct 11 2015 5:25 PM In reply to

    Re: Looking for advice for setting up home Avid Media Composer system

    Thank you, I'll look into all this!

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