In my work as a video editor and as an instructor, I try to focus on the importance of storytelling over the importance of the tools. But it's hard. Good storytelling elements never change, whereas video editing tools change like the weather.
For example, I often get asked by my small business clients, "What's the best editing software or hardware these days?" This question bugs the heck out of me.
I want to tell them, "Don't focus on the tools. Focus on storytelling, because that's what matters most." But I understand the question all too well. As small business owners, my clients want the same things that I want: an efficient, organized solution that gives them a better, more creative result.
But don't get me wrong here. It's not the "What tool is best?" question that bothers me. It's that I spend so much time and energy focusing on the tools myself!
In my 21 years as a visual storyteller, I've switched from tape-based AB roll editing to Premiere on the Mac, to the Media 100, then back to Premiere on the PC. I've tried Avid, I've been a faithful Final Cut Pro user, and I recently even tried to like FCP X.
I was super excited about FCP X before it came out, but after trying it, I knew it was time to switch. I simply did not like it for many reasons that I won't go into now. I knew that Apple was going in a different direction than I was. The MacPro needed a major update that has still not come as of September 2012. Apple seemed to put faith in their expensive and slow-to-grow Thunderbolt option, so that did not excite me either.
I dreaded a move to another editing solution, but I knew it had to happen. Switching takes time, energy and money but I knew I had to do something. My 4-year-old Mac Pro was bound to die and I'd be up the creek.
- Was the Dell/Nvidia Combo Worthy of the Switch?
That's when Dell threw me a curve ball out of nowhere. They were looking for Mac users who would consider trying a Dell Workstation. As you can see in my initial response and project history <http://wilderize.com/pcmacvideo/> , I told them yes but don't expect too much. I love my Macs and had no plans to switch back to a PC.
At first, I was skeptical. It was not because of Dell, though. I had used Dells for many years when I worked at Duke University and at UNC. My skepticism came from the difficulty of integrating two platforms: the Mac and Windows. I plan to keep using my 4-year-old Mac Pro, so the difficulty of throwing a Windows machine into my workflow did not excite me, even though I knew the Dell would be a faster editor.
By the end of my review process, I discovered many advantages to adding a Dell.
Check out my list and see why even a Mac user should consider a Dell solution.
1. Adobe's Premiere Pro Has Become a Top Choice
I switched back to Premiere Pro after being a Final Cut Pro user for four years. Premiere is better at handling DSLR footage than FCP, and it has better integration with PhotoShop, AfterEffects and Audition.
Adobe's Mercury Playback Engine does a great job with the color conversion. When used with Nvidia Quadro cards you get very fast, realtime edits and quick output renders. I'm using the Quadro 5010M and it screams.
Premiere's program files and media will work on both the Mac and the PC with few problems. This is a huge advantage, especially since Adobe has put Premiere on the cloud. I can now use two copies of all their cloud software: One set on the Mac and one on the PC. You had to buy two copies to do that before.
2. Cross-Platform File Sharing has Gotten Better
Like most of my small business clients, I edit everything myself, so file sharing between machines has not been a big issue. When I added the PC into my workflow, it became a problem. I use Gigabit ethernet for networking, but direct disk access is best.
Thankfully, the new XFAT file system that works with Windows 7 and OSX version 10.6.5 or above, allows me to swap ESATA or USB3 hard drives between platforms. (Never mind that my MacPro does not have a good USB3 solution.)
3. The Dell Workstations are Very Capable
Like I said earlier, Dell and Nvidia gave me an awesome machine to try out and to keep. The M6600 laptop has a fast processor, a built in ESATA port, two USB3 ports, Firewire 600, 3 internal drives (two 2.5 in. drive slots, one micro drive) and there is still room for a DVD burner. The 17 in. display is wonderful and the Quadro externally displays via SVGA, HDMI, or a Display Port.
One big recent surprise to me: Apple no longer sells a 17 inch laptop! The 15 in. Retina Display is certainly great, but I'm not sure it makes up for the smaller physical size.
Speaking of size, I must add that the larger size of the Dell comes with a tradeoff in thickness and weight over the Macbook Pro, but that's the tradeoff for more flexibility and power without having to add Thunderbolt peripherals.
4. Windows is Better than it Used to Be
Please excuse my Mac bias, but Windows annoys the heck out of me. My last experience was with Vista, so it could not have gotten much worse than that. All in all, working with Windows 7 on the Dell has not been too bad.
One thing that helps a lot: most of my daily productivity apps (Evernote, Gmail, and Dropbox ) are now on the cloud. I miss the beautiful simplicity of the Mac OS when I'm editing on the Dell, but in a way that is good. It keeps me focused on what I'm supposed to be doing: editing video!
5. Apple has Shifted Focus from Professional Video Editors
As a professional editor, I feel like like Apple has given us the proverbial finger. And we were their darlings for so many years! (Students of brand loyalty and emotional connections to products can learn a lot by looking at Apple's shift in this market.)
FCP X now caters to the middle, where there are more numbers of folks buying. This is not good for many video pros nor for small businesses who need more flexible solutions.
Dell, on the other hand, is going over backwards for the pro video market. They make it very clear that they want our business.
- What's the Answer to the Question Now?
Ask me today "What tool is best?" and I will recommend Premiere Pro with a Quadro card in a Dell workstation. Or if you already love OSX, buy a Mac and know that you will be super compatible with the majority of the world's PCs.
David Bourne is the Owner of Bourne Media.