Why We’re Switching From Macs

The Alternatives

So what software packages remain? A cursory look at the pro landscape reveals the following (remember – we’re talking about pro software here. Those of you who can’t necessarily afford pro apps should stay tuned – we’re going to be discussing the prosumer/budget level in a future article)

Adobe Creative Suite

Adobe has been quietly building up and improving their entire suite of products. After Effects is pretty much the undisputed king of 2D motion graphics, and it basically does everything you would need it to do as far as a compositing program goes. In addition, they’ve been building up Premiere, as well as working to integrate everything together into one cohesive software package.

Avid Media Composer

Avid was pretty much dead thanks to Final Cut, but people are starting to reexamine it in the light of Final Cut X’s shift in a more prosumer direction.

In my opinion, Media Composer is hampered by the fact that the foundation of the software was all about being as close as you can to traditional film editing so that film editors wouldn’t balk at using a new fangled computer to cut movies. Media Composer forces you to work a certain way – granted that way happens to be a very good way to work, but for those of you who are more used to computer program interfaces or flexibility, learning this program can be a bit annoying.

That being said, if you’re working on straight ahead dialogue/dramatic scenes, I prefer Media Composer. The Avid Trim Tool, which allows you to quickly dial in and fine tune cuts with just your keyboard, is a fantastic tool that in my experience hasn’t been matched by any other editing program.

Autodesk Smoke

Autodesk is a powerhouse of a company – they make 3dsMax, AutoCad, Maya, just to name a few. This last year they revealed the new version of Smoke at NAB, their super high end VFX tool, which was getting revamped to also be an editing program. Additionally, they were dropping the price of the program from a new car ($15,000) to a used car ($3,500).

They have a free trial up at their site, available for download until the full thing comes out later this year. I haven’t had a chance to play with it, but if it’s anything like the rest of their software, expect a steeper learning curve that is rewarded by a ridiculously capable and powerful software package.

So which one?

In the end, the fundamental decision of moving away from a Mac-based post-production environment was an easy one. Apple’s behavior over the last year suggests their focus has shifted, and the PC architecture allows us flexibility in regards to hardware and upgrades. We’re already on PCs for our 3D rendering, and shifting everything else brings our entire post production process onto one platform.

Software-wise, we’re still vetting out our options, but at the moment we’re leaning towards Premiere due to the heavy VFX component of our work. We’ve been messing around with Premiere and there are some bizarre bugs we’ve encountered but for the most part, it’s a fast editing system and it integrates with the rest of the Creative Suite in a very cool way.

Curious about building your own computer? Check out our video for LAN Party and scroll down for some good resources for learning how!

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