So it’s a new day, new year, and once again another blow to the post community. Apple has been making some interesting or scary moves for us post people. What do I mean by this?! Well for starters users like myself have been using Macs for years! I’ve been using the Apple pro apps for years! Then FCP X was announced…wow that software looks so amazing..! That is what I and many others were thinking at the Supermeet in Las Vegas. At the last minute the typical jam packed schedule with various talent, vendors to share post secrets, their methods it was changed and left wide open for Apple. We were wowed by the next evolution in post production. Well as we all know that didn’t quit play out the way we thought. From go the software was lacking many pro tools we all expected. I will agree now it’s much better and a viable tool but with 2 years to wait for features…who can wait?! Same goes for their hardware. Last year Apple discontinued the MacBook Pro 17″.
Many say oh it’s no big deal they have other better faster cooler models. No that’s not going to work for me! I love my 17″ MBP. Why cause I just do! I love the larger canvas. Higher Resolution is nice on a smaller one…but I still prefer a larger Mobile!
So for me a mac guy let’s think about a few options. You can now get smaller MBPs, you can get less powerful iMac(compared to MacPro all the additional slots, etc.)…or you can do something crazy..! You can actually look outside of Macs. Oh snap…here comes…wth would I ever consider that..?!
Ok so 2012 I was at Nab. I have been holding off like everyone else for the next amazing MacPro nearing two years of no refresh and sitting here in the dark with no answers. Well I happened to talk to someone who was like well go PC. I’m like hmm PC…oh no not that route! I mean no OS X, Windows sucks right?! Blue Screen of Death, too many hardware conflicts, blah blah blah. Hmm is it really true though. That’s a good question?!
So I got a mobile Elitebook 17″ to start messing around with. First off I noticed well it’s big, it’s heavy…after the initial look and feel out of the way I soon figured out that there’s a reason it’s not paper thin. It’s friggin jam packed with power under the hood and also had features my MacBook Pro didn’t even have. One thing I can say about PCs over Macs is that they refresh them more often! The parts can and will be faster in many cases sooner than Macs will. Why is that. Well it’s possibly by design! Apple has been focusing so much energy on iDevices that in truth it feels like us Video Pros and the like have just been left on the back burner! So after the initial um it’s not a Mac Dood! I realized wait this Elitebook 8760w has just as fast a cpu(quad core), it has just as fast of ram, but on top of the basics they offer i/o that exceeds Macs(minus thunderbolt-but that has also been a slow roll out do to it’s cost for manufacturers). My Elitebook has built in Displayport, E-Sata(which actually tested faster than on my MBP when connected to a Caldigit or Sonnet Express card-check out earlier post #AMacGuyRocksHP), ieee(nice if you still capture via firewire), usb 3.0 ports, even an SD-MMC slot. Huge plus for us Photo and Video Pros is the built in DreamColor Display(it’s a value added option). Yes you read that right..! You may have heard all the praise from users like Shane Hurlbut(Elitebook Video w/Shane)how he uses HP Dreamcolor Displays in his workflow both on and off location(Also check video with Shane Hurlbut, Jacob Rosenberg Dir. of Danny Way Doc ‘Waiting For Lightning’ & CTO of Bandito Brothers as well as Doug Cooper VFX Supervisor at Dreamwork Animation talking about how they use them in their workflow(HP Dreamcolor Video). If your not familiar with it’s benefits of wysiwyg then go to HP.com and do your own research. It’s a big welcome plus to the pro market! Another major plus is that the Elitebook has an Nvidia Quadro card(5000m). That works very well with the Adobe Creative Suite of Tools. I myself have nearly left Macs and FCP in the dust these days because I’ve nearly completely switched from using my Macs and FCP Suite or lack there of suite of tools and use the Adobe Production Premium nearly exclusively! If you haven’t noticed there’s been so much buzz not just from Mac users switching to PCs but also the software has taken a turn in my opinion to the worst on the Apple Pro Apps side! They dropped Shake their high end pro app. They eliminated the Suite and brought out Final Cut Pro X and sold Compressor and Motion separate but we’ve never seen a Shake Replacement leaving users to use other apps like Nuke. Again I feel apple let us down…and continues to surprise us like the announcement today that they are discontinuing the MacPro in Europe. Wow really…it’s not like they didn’t see the regulations coming right..?!
So now I am happy to say there is a true replacement to the MacPro..! I am also running an HP Z820. This machine is a beast..! It totally rocks..! Wow where do I start?! First off the most obvious at least to me. It has a ton of slots on the motherboard..! Behind their beautifully designed machine covers for airflow you see lanes and lanes of bandwidth dying to host all your cards! In fact I’ve got mine jammed packed from top to bottom..! There is no way that is ever going to happen with a MacPro(at least no time soon considering they are removing inventory for…well nothing from the sound of it…in Europe anyway-only time will tell if that will change…all I can say is look at how FCPX has progressed-it has taken quit some time…do you have time to wait/waste)?! Take a look at pic below!
As you can see I’m able to run an Nvidia Quadro 5000, Nvidia GeForce 680 4GB(both double wide cards), Red Rocket card(no expander in this setup), Atto R380, Matrox MXO2 pci-e card to MXO2 Mini, and also there’s a blank slot opening on top that has added E-Sata i/o. That is pretty amazing that I can fit it all in one machine! I was super stoked..! My only option on my MacPro would be to pull cards in and out for certain projects or just not be able to fully use my MacPro to it’s full potential in my opinion by design! Not to mention two of the slots are slower compared to multiple high speed pci-e slots(even a legacy pci slot for users who might be running an old Pro Tools card or the like-mine is covered up by the Nvidia Quadro 5000 on second to bottom slot-I don’t use any legacy pci cards so no loss for me). The cpus are fast…real fast up to 3.1 Ghz 8 cores each. Mine has two top of the line intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2687, 3.1 GHz, 20 MB cache, 1600 MHz memory Eight-core. The ram is nearly limitless(up to 512)mine currently has 32GB same as my MacPro. Yet everything is faster..! The machine is superfast. It’s basically the Red Edition minus a cool Red i/o for SSD offloads and a fancy paint job. The system is liquid cooled and very quite(my MacPro is not as quite).
Ok cool so the system has some fancy specs…what does that really mean. In short it means every single task you do is going to be done in less time. For many of you time is money! For me I’ve always had the idea that I’d get the best camera I can afford and also the best fastest computer! Why…well I can’t make a camera lol…and buiding a PC is doable but one big reason I was a Mac Guy is that I wanted to focus more on using my system than tinkering with it! When you go HP you get support, warranty, and you get a company that is there to help you succeed! That is Not going to be the case if you go to Frys and build something! I’ve been there…and let me tell you I’ve had a bad experience in 2007 where I bought $4k in parts, Vista X64 and figured this is going to kill anything out there and I’m saving a ton of $! In reality what happened is the mainboard manufacturer Tyan had support(kinda). Yes they would answer the phone and emails(they got to know me by name-but not in a good way lol)…but when the board seemed to have issues they kept blaming someone else! After 6 months and no usuable computer(they finally RMA’d my board having to go the the top level management to get issue resolved)I went back to the Mac Store and said wth I’m tired of this crap. I want easy..! That was a MacPro! At this point I owned so many macs I was never going to consider a PC, Windows, whatever I was fed up! At that point Apple was bad ass. They kept updating the Video Apps, they seemed very efficient at the time, they were super powerful…and frankly everyone used either Avid MC or Final Cut. So you really felt like you had the best software and hardware. Present day. As I said the landscape has changed! The industry has changed! Better faster hardware(not necessarily cheaper-but in a way it is because it’s so much more powerful)! Cameras are so much more affordable, software vendors have continued to lower prices, plug-in companies like Red Giant have brought out new tools(buying out it’s competition), lowered prices. So for us post people and filmmakers we are in an exciting time with so many options when we actually consider them all..!
I have high confidence now that the future is bright…you just have to adapt to it..! HP is that company to me. They invited me to attend a closed meeting discussing our needs Mac Users(and other users like myself were there). I can confidently tell you that they are serious about supporting and bringing the best tools to the Media and Entertainment Market! For years now big post houses like Bandito Brothers have been using HP Z Workstations and I have to say they are one of the best in the business! Others as I said like Shane Hurlbut have been seen with HP Dreamcolors displays, mobiles, and Z Towers out in the wild and they are able to do anything and everything with HPs!
I’m looking forward to sharing with you more of my experience in the weeks and months to come..!
I welcome feedback about the systems. I’m sure HP will follow my blog and they are really interested in what you like or don’t like about their systems! HP is a company that puts more of their effort into the R&D than just marketing….this means we get the most advanced machines available. They are going to be here in the future with bigger, better, faster machines and releasing them consistently. I think the key for many is to look past Windows. Frankly for me I spend most of my time in the apps I run. I am less concerned about just a slick OS and more concerned one a machine that can house all my hardware, two a company that actually interacts with it’s users like myself, and three a company that is not going to leave us in the dark hoping and praying we won’t be let down..!
I highly recommend you take a closer look at what HP has to offer…I’m confident you won’t be disappointed..!
Ryanb. Aka: Filmguy
ps: for more info on the experiment google #AMacGuyRocksHP or follow me on twitter:
Links to Resources: