Monthly Archives

January 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: I moved two edit suites to PC from 2013 MacPro systems in August, 2016.  I custom built my own workstations due to a perceived better power/cost ratio. This is the first in a series about the process.  This article details the chosen system components.

I made the move to a PC workstation from a Mac for video production.

I’ll skip the whole “Apple has abandoned us” mantra and jump right into it.

The lack of modern GPUs forced me to move from our 2013 MacPro trash cans and 2010 MacPro cheese-graters to Windows. We are primarily an Adobe shop that does 4k and a modern, fast GPU is essential to our workflow.

I looked at two routes to Windows.  I strongly considered buying a prebuilt configuration from HP or Dell.  The HP Z series are powerful machines geared toward content creation.  But I felt they were a bit overpriced versus a custom-rolled solution.

So I built a PC that we named DareDevil.

The purpose of this article is to document the hardware build and some of the gotcha’s I ran into as a long-time Mac guy heading to Windows 10.  It was smooth sailing for the most part, but I did have a few bumps.

First, I must thank Carey Dissmore and Eric Darling, fellow members of the IMUG List, for their help and guidance.  These guys had made the same switch months before and were able to provide some invaluable advice as I built my first machine.

My machine was built to handle in this order:

  1. 4K footage in Premiere Pro.
  2. Provide faster encodes to MP4 and MOV in Media Encoder.
  3. Speed up work and rendering in After Effects.

The prevailing wisdom was to get a large case with plenty of fans, a large power supply (1000+ watts) and a work station class motherboard that could handle the latest Intel CPU. So off I went.

The Case

I selected a Corsair Graphite Series 760T Full-Tower Case. This unit has plenty of room for extra hard drives, multiple fans, a liquid cooler and pretty much any expansion I might want.  It is a big unit though.  Luckily we have an established, cooled machine room that it can live in.


The Motherboard

Arguably the most important part of the system.  I chose the ASUS LGA2011-v3 X99-DELUXE II unit.  It can handle the latest Intel I7 processors, a lot of RAM with plenty of PCI slots.

The Processor

Intel seems to release a new processor family every 3 months. Frankly, I can’t keep them straight. Their latest (as of this writing) – the Broadwell-E family, is a pretty powerful i7 chipset. They range in power and price from the lower end i7-6700k 4 GHZ with 4 cores ($340 or so) to the high end i7-6900K 3.70 GHZ with 8 cores ($1040 or so).

The advice that I got from my friends who have travelled this road before was to chose a fast i7 over a Xeon.  They felt that the Xeon doesn’t offer much price/performance advntage.  I totally agree.

I settled on the mid range i7-6850K which has 6 cores and ships at 3.90 GHZ. It can be overclocked, supports 2 GPUs plus has native Thunderbolt.  It’s priced in the $550-$560 range.

Liquid Cooler

This was the component I was most concerned about to tell the truth.  I remember horror stories of early liquid coolers on the Mac and PC.  I didn’t fancy putting in a bucket of liquid in my new machine.  I went with a Corsair Hydro Series H100i GTX cooler.  It was easy to install and fit the case perfectly.  A good cooler allows overclocking and higher efficiency from the CPU.


We went with 64 gigs of RAM.  We stayed with Corsair and went with the Vengeance LPX DDR4 RAM.  The idea was to get as much RAM and as fast as we could fit in budget.  We installed 4×16 gig sticks. The package came with a nifty clip-on RAM fan.


The Boot Drive

SSD all the way for the boot drive.  I used a Samsung EVO Pro 850 512 gig SSD mounted on the right side of the case.  I tend to keep a very minimal boot drive- OS and aps.  All media is either on an additional drive or on a SAN.

The Cache Drive

The X99 has an M2 slot for a faster drive that interfaces directly into the motherboard. The idea was to use this ultrafast drive for the Adobe caches- Premiere Pro, After Effects, etc.  The faster the cache drive, the faster Creative Cloud seems to run.  I went with a Samsung 950 M2 256 Gb drive for the cache.

The Graphics Card

Nvidia continues to amaze.  The GTX1080 is a great CPU that is half the price of it’s predecessor.  It has 8Gbs of VRAM and 2560 CUDA cores.  At the time of the buld, the 1080 was brand new and in short supply.  I went with an EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition that was right at $700.

The Power Supply

Even though I was not running a lot of drives, I wanted a large enough power supply to give good, consistent power but also allow expansion- an additional GPU, more drives, RAID, etc.  Again, I went Corsair:  AXi series AX1200i 1200W.  I honestly could have gone with an 850w or 1000W just as easily, but I have extra capacity just in case.


This unit only needs video monitoring, not any sort of video input, so we went with a Blackmagic Design Mini-monitor card.  This PCI card provides HD-SDI and HDMI out and interfaces incredibly well with PP with little-to-no latency.  The BMD card feeds a Flanders 21” monitor via HD-SDI and a Philips consumer 42” LED for client monitoring via HDMI.




We run a 10Gig ethernet over copper SAN system, so we needed a 10Gig network card.  The Intel Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X540T2 was highly regarded and very affordable at $230.

I added a BluRay drive for DVD-R burns and legacy media.

We loaded Windows 10 Pro OEM on the computer.  I haven’t had extensive Windows experience since XP Pro on my old Media 100 844/X systems in the late 90’s.  The Pro version is the only way to go.

Next post: A video of how we built the unit from case to finished build.

Here is an Amazon store with the components above.  This is an affiliate link. Purchase may generate a commission to the author.



January 7, 2017 2 comments
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Panasonic announced the Lumix GH5 yesterday.  Great looking camera and as you could expect, there is a lot of discussion.  It has almost become an echo chamber of specs, excitement and “how cool is that” talk.

Technical Specifications

•20.3MP Digital Live MOS Sensor

•Venus Engine Image Processor

•UHD 4K 60p Video with No Crop

•Internal 4:2:2 10-Bit 4K Video at 24/30p

•5-Axis Sensor Stabilization; Dual I.S. 2

•0.76x 3.68m-Dot OLED Viewfinder

•3.2″ 1.62m-Dot Free-Angle Touchscreen

•Advanced DFD AF System; 6K & 4K PHOTO

•ISO 25600 and 12 fps Continuous Shooting

•Dual UHS-II SD Slots; Wi-Fi & Bluetooth

•Price: $1998

My questions:

What is the low light sensitivity like?  I owned a GH3 and a GH4 and loved the look, but they really suffered in low light.  I couldn’t push the GH4 past 800 ISO music without noise becoming prevalent.  I seriously doubt Panasonic can rial the Sony A7S2, which I love for a lot of reasons include sensitivity, but is it improved? I would suspect so.

What is the crop factor? I’ve seen that the 4K is full frame, but what is the native crop factor like?  You can do some amazing things with Speedboosters, but I would love to see closer to a full frame GH5- or at least a APS-C crop- rather than the 2x-ish crop factor of the GH4.

What is autofocus like with adapted lens? I should my GH4 and my M43 lens last year and have an extensive line of Canon and Sony glass.  Will the new autofocus on the GH5 work well with adapted Canon glass?

How effective will the 5-axis stabilization be with non-native/adapted lens? We have been really pleased with the stabilization with our Sony A7S2 with adapted Canon glass.  Will the GH5 provide a similar level of quality?

What will audio quality be like? I love the newly announced XLR adaptor for the hotshoe. But the GH4 suffered from some audio quality issues.  Will the internally recorded audio on the GH5 be better?

Some great articles on the GH5:

Cinema 5D: The Hardware of the Panasonic GH5 – An Interview with Panasonic’s M. Uematsu

Newshooter: Panasonic GH5 at CES 2017: Internal 10-bit 422 4K recording at 400 Mbps, and HD up to 180fps

DPReview: Movie Maven: Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 First Impressions Review

January 5, 2017 0 comment
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A product demo video is helpful to your current and future customers.

Youtube could actually be renamed Demo-tube. There are millions of product demo videos, tear-downs and tutorials all over the video sharing site. But what makes a good product demo video?

At its heart, a product demo video shows a few aspects and benefits of a product and how to operate it for maximum effectiveness. Basically it says, this is widget X, this is how you turn it on and this is how you make it do this or that.

There’s a few things to keep in mind when you produce a product video.

Don’t spend all your time introducing yourself as an expert and giving your credentials. Your viewers probably are watching because they have a level of frustration with the product you are demo-ing. They are eager to learn, so get the demo going.

Clearly state what the product is and what you are going to do with it. Limit your demo to one or two specific areas. Don’t try to demonstrate every feature and potential problem with the product. It’s better to produce multiple videos, each concentrating on one specific feature than to try to jumble them into a single video.

Aim for high production values. Make sure the camera is in focus and zoomed in to the specific area of the product where the demo is happening. Lighting must good and audio needs to be clear.

Consider using a second camera. The most effective product demo videos use a wide angle shot and a close-up to maximize usefulness. It is very helpful to give a context of the specific area you are working in by showing a wide shot and then zooming in with a second camera to show any small buttons, dials, switches or screws.

Record a recap at end and tease any other demos for the same product. Chances are, if the viewer has gotten to the end of this demo, they might want to learn from you about other aspects of the product.

Product demo videos are an easy way for companies to help with after sales-training and make the lives of their customers easier. They provide a valuable after-market value for your products in a cost-effective way.

A product demo video we did is linked above.  It’s a short effective video that concentrates on a single aspect of a product. It’s a good example of how you can combine high production values with a simple message to create an effective demo video that can enhance your product offerings.

January 2, 2017 0 comment
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