Editing & Grading 4K: Windows or Mac
I’ve been an Apple fan since I bought my first iMac back in 2005. I didn’t have the money for it but at that point I didn’t care because I’d had enough of Windows. About 5 weeks previous our latest short film was due to be shown privately in a local cinema and of course, my PC decided to stop working and wipe the hard drive in the process. Although I still hold a grudge, I’ll try and not let this influence my review too much.
Since 2005 I’ve purchased a further 5 Apple computers; a 24” Dual Core iMac, 2 x 27” i7’s iMacs, a 21” i3 iMac and a 15” i7 MacBook Pro. 4 of which are still purring away (quietly) as if they were brand new.
In October 2016, we were commissioned to make two explainer videos for a travel company. All was going well; script, storyboard & illustrations. This was, until we started animating. To put this into perspective, it normally takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours to render 2D animation via Adobe After Effects. But this new video was taking over 30 hours to render because of all the brush strokes. The video had to be rendered in vector due to the nature of the animation so we had no choice. I immediately knew that our existing computers didn’t have the power to handle this type of file.
Being an Apple fan. I went straight onto the Apple website to take a look at the Mac Pros. Without getting into too much detail. £10K? Really? For something that hasn’t been updated since 2013. I like Apple a lot, but not that much. If you saw all what I owned created by Apple you would label me as a brand loyal person. I am not, I am loyal to what works for me. Anyway, who in their right mind would buy 3 year old technology that is limited to 64GB ram?
Apple -1 vs -1 PC
So, I went back to the dark side. I found PC Specialist online and thought “Why not?”. Surely Windows can’t be that bad anymore? So £6K later I ended up with what I have today. If you’re interested in the spec…
10 Core Intel Xeon Asus 3.1Ghz
128 GB Ram 2133Mhz
12GB Nvidia Titax X Pascal
1TB Samsung SSD
6TB Sata HDD.
My new PC arrived in the world's biggest box. I couldn’t help but think that PC Specialist must be a very cautious company. However, this wasn’t the case, or in this case, it was the case. A HUGE case. I mean I knew it was a tower but this is mental. Why does it need to be this big?
It’s only when you see how small my iMac is compared to this behemoth that you truly appreciate the engineering from the people at Apple. Point to Apple.
Apple 0 vs -1 PC
It isn't just big either, this Corsair tower is disgusting. I don’t need to argue this point. Just look at the photo above. Yes I picked it, but there is no good choice. If you find one, let me know in the comments.
But why does this matter? Well, the look of a computer plays a role when it comes to what you produce. Why do you think artists hide themselves away in their own paradise to produce their best work and don't just jump on the first train to Kilmarnock. Your surroundings matter.
Apple 1 vs - 1 PC
Let’s turn it on. Oh, one second, I’ve left the oven on… oven isn't on. Ah, it’s the computer. Why is it so loud? It needs to stay cool, I agree. My iMac has this issue as well. But only when it’s actually working hard. It’s like listening to an overweight person breathing. It’s not really work but by God it sounds like it is. Let me present you with an actual recording of both starting up. Make sure to listen to all of the PC one as there is a little surprise for the Windows lover. For the geek out there, they are both running off an SSD.
Apple 2 vs -1 PC
Oooh. The 4K monitor is lovely. Hideous base but I’m going to wall mount it anyway. The fact that you can’t wall mount an iMac is frustrating. It’s not like they’re that heavy. This is something I would love to do with my iMacs.
Apple 2 vs 0 PC
My biggest gripe with the PC isn’t the OS, or the giant box that it comes with it, but it’s the crap mice and keyboards on offer. No matter where I look, I see nothing that comes close to the look and feel of the Apple keyboard. I only need one good keyboard and one good mouse. They’ve not evolved in 24 years. They’re just as clumsy as they were with my family's first Packard Bell back in 1993.
On the plus side, I’ve bought a USB bluetooth unit and have managed to pair my Apple keyboard and mouse with the PC. I’m still working on making this hassle free. At present, I have to plug in and disconnect any random USB device to prompt it every so often when it freezes. You gotta love Windows.
Apple 3 vs 0 PC
The PC, when it works, is amazing. It isn’t quiet, it isn’t pretty and it isn’t small but I still like it. I can edit and grade in 4K. Yeah, my iMac can do that as well to a degree. But it stalls, it grumbles, it can crash on occasion. I hate turning the quality down to ¼ or having to convert my footage into another format. I hate working around a problem when there shouldn’t be a problem. This is why the PC was worth every single penny. If you’re an animator and reading this, have you ever wanted to watch your animation live whilst you're animating it at full FPS? Then get a PC with the spec above.
I rendered that explainer video that took over 30 hours in less than 12 hours. Plus, I could still do whatever else I wanted on the computer because it was only using 42% of the power (you need to get this sorted Adobe!) I seriously doubt that I’ll need to buy anything else until I upgrade my camera kit to 8K in the next 3-4 years.
PC; you deserve 2 points.
Apple 3 vs 2 PC
Even though I have my PC sitting next to me ready and waiting with a nice keyboard and mouse, I’ve still opted to write this post on my iMac. It’s just a superior experience. I get both sides of the argument, I really do. Apple is crazy expensive and does the job; but you don't have to configure it or work out why the mouse and keyboard keep freezing. PC is cheaper and does the job; but you have to fiddle with it a lot to make it do the things you want but it can be much faster if you spec it right. As a power user I’d have to advise fellow 4K editor/animators to run with PC. It hurts to say that. As a business, we’ve invested a lot of money in Apple products over the years and I’m feeling let down due to the lack of support for the power user. C’mon Apple, get the finger out. Win us back. Create something that we don't mind overspending on.
I guess, for now, I'll have to settle for Stockholm syndrome.