Remote Edit with the MacBook Pro (The Edit)

This is a continuing story click here to see part one or two.

Well, I have completed 11 hours of editing with the remote MacBook Pro Final Cut setup. I would love to say that it was flawless, but unfortunately I just can’t say that. I was a little disappointed with how things went, but overall I was able to get the job done.

Setting up was quick and easy. It took me about 15 minutes to get ready to edit. Most of the time was finding the power outlets in the hotel room. But I was able to get everything up and running without a hitch. The first step was to digitize a tape. I was lucky because the tape had already been logged, so I just had to import the batch list, modify the audio channels and I was digitizing. I did run into a slight problem, and I realized that the footage was shot in anamorphic mode. But a quick change of the easy setup solved that problem. Anyway, I had about 45 minutes of footage to capture so I let the system go and I decided to find some coffee.

After I found some coffee I returned to the hotel room to find a rather alarming error message on the screen of the MacBook Pro. It was something like “unsafe removal of device”. I thought that was interesting. The drives were still mounted and seamed to be working. However FCP did stop capturing. This really concerned me, and I am still not exactly sure what caused the problem. But, the problem never came back and I was able to capture the rest of the footage flawlessly.

Once I got this first tape it, I had some editing to do. This project is rather simple, in that it is just a series of interviews, that are just about a minute each. When I finished the edit I had to make a presentation DVD. Our deadline are kind of tight so I did not have any room for error. I was not sure how well or how long it would take to make a DVD on the MacBook Pro. The encoding time was comparable to my G5, maybe just a hair slower. The burning, though was not nearly as robust. While it did not take forever, the finalization process seam to take forever. I have not scientific proof, but I think that it took about twice the amount of time as my G5. Both burners are 4x. So I was not blown away withe DVD capabilities, but I was definitely not disappointed.

While editing and authoring throughout the day I ran into a few glitches that I was very disappointed with. I am not sure where they emanate from. I don’t know if it is an Intel thing or if it is the drives, or may the system just being on the laptop. The first glitch was a very unresponsive system. I was always able to edit quickly. There was many time that I would have to wait for the system to catch up. For example I would hit play and about two seconds later the video would start to play. It was not unusable, but definitely annoying. And it did not always do this. The other glitch, I found very annoying and frankly it pissed me off. Occasionally I was not able to import files. This happened in both FCP, Compressor and DVDSP. When I would go to import a file (video, images and even text files) the system would hang and I would have to force quit the app. This would also happen with files on either the internal drive or the RAID. And like I said I am not sure what was causing this issue. I did find two workarounds. Restart the computer or drag and drop files into the app instead of importing. But the good news is those were the only real issues I had.

So overall I was happy, but not impressed. I am happy with the FirmTek RAID, however, I do think it has some bugs. I am not completely confident in them, but they sure are a great solution for this type of edit. And I would still recommend FirmTek, as long as you are aware that you might run into some bugs. But as I mentioned I am not sure where some of the glitches originated from. I still have two more days of editing with this system, so I will see if I find anything further. For a mobile edit with a quick turnaround this solution is rather reasonable. I missed the comforts of the edit suite, but I did feel at home working in Final Cut. 11 hours flew buy and I was extremely productive. You really have to love the MacBook Pro.

UPDATE:
One interesting note I found later in the edit. There was a process running whenever I had the drives connected. The process was called “mds” and it took about 100% of one of the cores on the MacBook Pro’s processor. This may account for some of the slowdowns that I was experiencing. Some research revealed that the process has to do with spotlight. I am not sure why it was running all of the time, and there was not all that much on the drives to begin with. This is rather disappointing, however, I am not sure that it actually impaired the overall efficiency of the machine. It would be nice if it did not take up so much CPU power though.

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~ by jpicune on September 18, 2006.

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