The iMac: Transformation Into Editing Bliss

I do a fair bit of video editing and I have upgraded my arsenal of tools throughout the years. Each time I go for something that can pack a little bit more punch in terms of video editing. However there is a problem with this, a problem many freelance videographers run into…money. But this issue is not the lack of money but rather the large price point of a professional editing suite. However it is possible to get professional results, for much less. Here are some tips for how I’ve been able to get better editing tools for my Mac without spending an arm and a leg.

I first started editing using a Powerbook G4 and used it for years, eventually getting a MacBook to use for more personal work. But eventually it hit me, that I needed a faster and more powerful machine for editing video. I would love nothing more than to own a Mac Pro tower, but it was simply out of my price range. So I went straight for the Macbook Pro. However it wasn’t a matter of affordability, I wanted the fastest computer I could get for the least amount of money. So I went with a 20″ iMac, and honestly I have never been happier.

Why the iMac?

I decided on the 20″ iMac over the MacBook Pro simply over cost. I decided I could get more raw power for my money if I were to get the iMac. I discovered that the low end MacBook Pro runs for $1,999, which was what I had initially put in my shopping cart. But then I noticed something, I could get the second tier iMac and get a faster machine, more hard drive space, and more power overall for $1,499. The portability over power decision was initially hard for me, but then I thought about how much editing I do away from my desk, away from my external monitors, away from a keyboard and mouse…and the answer was none. So a few days later I had an iMac at my front door.

Now you have a fast computer, but that is not all you need. You’re going to need your editing software, lots of storage, and speed.

Upgrade your RAM

So to begin your new iMac’s transformation into a video editing powerhouse, start by upgrading your RAM. Your iMac can hold up to 4GB, so why not have that? You can get RAM just about anywhere but my personal favorite would be Newegg. Newegg has some of the greatest deals on computer hardware you could ask for and great selection of Mac memory as well.

So you have some new RAM, a fast computer, what more could you need? Well, you’re going to need lots of hard disk space. The iMac already comes with a good amount of space, but eventually this will run out working with video, and it will run out even faster if editing high definition content. So look into some portable solutions.

Get some storage (you will need it)

Western Digital makes one of the best hard drives for this purpose. The My Book Studio Edition II offers 1 and 2 Terabyte capacities in a sleek affordable package. However, if you are still looking for something a bit more portable you could try the My Passport Studio. This edition of the super portable Passport line of hard drives offers Firewire as a connection option which is a big plus for video editing. But aside from the Firewire it also offers a large capacity drive in a small package. I know I would have a hard time getting around without mine, its as easy to use as plugging in and letting it go, so its essentially a really large thumb drive.

Display your assets

The 20″ iMac already has a gorgeous display, but you can add to that by adding a second of your choice. My choice would be one of Apple’s new cinema displays, but again those could be hard to come across without breaking the bank. So try to find a second monitor from another manufacturer, just double check that it is at the resolution, and size that you need.

From here all you need to do is install Final Cut Pro or Express; aside from the computer itself, this will probably be the largest purchase. But it is the engine that will drive this powerful editing machine.

From here you should be able to start editing on your new powerhorse. So what more could you possibly need? This is an optional and fairly aesthetic choice, but Photojojo sells a very nice keyboard cover to help you out in memorizing all those nice Final Cut shortcuts.

With a few up front costs, this package still isn’t cheap. But for those looking for a nice machine to edit digital video with, the iMac would be a fantastic choice, and it certainly beats the price point of the larger more powerful Mac Pro towers. Once these up front costs are addressed and it is all said and done, you should be ready to start making some films that have a more professional look and feel to them.