Archive for July, 2011

This article is intended for serious creative professionals and not just an iPhone or iPad user. It’s meant for people whose livelihood depend on how their professional systems perform.

As a working creative professional I count myself as educated enough in the matters of “HOW THINGS GET DONE” to be able to ignore the idiotic “big-d*ckery” mud-slinging that goes on between Mac vs PC vs Adobe vs whatever. Very few FULL TIME PROFESSIONALS that I know have the time or money to be fanboys of any one electronic clique. We have to go with what works and allows us to do what we need to do. That being said, a number of my friends have found Macs to work for them and are dedicated Mac fanatics.


On a personal level, I’ve always thought that Mac’s take on things and their mud-slinging on PCs simply made them come across as elitist snobs, but it wasn’t really any skin off my back other than having to listen to hours of useless conversation between friends about which one was better.

Some quick background: I learned to use computers back on an old VIC-20, then I stepped up to Commodore 64, then to an Amiga and then onto a Mac from 1986 until 2003 when I switched over to PC simply because of the bang for buck scenario. The simplicity of it was that I was able to do everything I needed to do for a much lower hardware budget at a much higher performance level on a PC. I was one of the first to jump on board the 64 bit Windows systems and other than a few driver issues, never had a stability problem.

I happily produced content using Avid on the PC but I did miss the simplicity of editing and DVD Authoring from the FInal Cut Suite that I had used since version 1. I discovered Adobe Premiere Pro and Encore and it fulfilled all my content creation needs especially when they began to get packaged as Creative Suites. By the time CS 5 hit the market, there simply was no comparable toolset in the market. And no, not even Final Cut Studio could rival the features that were offered in an integrated Adobe suite.

So when Steve Jobs suddenly decided to ban Flash from iOS devices my ears perked up. Then once the bickering started I relaxed figuring it was just more of the same, but with a different company.

It didn’t really bother me that much because I was on a PC and honestly mainly regard iPhones and iPads as gadgets and not “MAGICAL LIFE CHANGING DEVICES.” I mean let’s face it, they are fricking cool and fun and anyone who says otherwise is looking at them through prejudice tainted glasses. However, the only way they’ve really changed my life is to give me a fun toy and suck up time I otherwise would’ve spent pondering a project on a train ride or talking with my wife about life instead of playing Big Fish puzzle games (we own all of them).

But really I could care less about corporate bickering. Until two months ago.

I got the heads up that to do a particular project I was going to have to go Mac based to fit into an already existing Mac based pipeline. I was instantly wary. This was going to be a significant investment and change a very reliable workflow of almost 9 years.

I had a friend who works in one of the top post production facilities in Hollywood and supervises hundreds of Avid Media Composer stations. He warned me not to go to Mac. He said that they were using PC on all but a few stations because of their stability and cost being able to provide a better package.

Plus the bickering with Adobe and Apple suddenly gave me reason to be cautious. 6 out of 10 of my creative friends were Mac based and so I did the rounds and heard the usual MAC IS THE GREATEST THING SINCE MICROWAVE POPCORN, SLICED BREAD AND INSTANT COFFEE!!!! I simply could not get a subjective comparison without the hype. So I took it with a grain of salt and decided that I was going to have to learn the hard way because frankly, I needed the work. And also if I was wrong, I could help others from making the exact same mistake. Self-sacrifice is awesome when you can afford it! Or your employer can!

Making it easier was that I had heard these rumours about the next Final Cut series coming out and how amazing it was going to be, so I thought maybe it was worth looking over it again.

I then put down $10,000 in hardware and software to make the switch from Mac to PC.

Due to production demand, I had to be up and running on the Mac in hours. At first I was impressed with the ease of program installations and of course the gorgeous design of the Mac Pro box itself. Not one single cable? How awesome of an engineering feat is that? But honestly other than a one minute ‘That’s cool” and then sticking the box out of sight, it was simply just a neat box.

I began using the system and running into the differences. Sure there are a lot of things are in different places but that’s not a big deal, just sort of a retraining of your eyes.

Finally as I moved into full post production on a two hour film and found myself on the computer 20 hours a day I began to understand what is wrong with Steve Jobs take on Adobe and the Mac philosophy in general. 

It comes down to one word: CONFORMITY. 

You buy into Mac at the creative price of conformity to a set of pre-regulated Mac rules.

As any creative professional knows. Conformity is not necessarily a bad thing for creativity. Some of the greatest artists of the previous millennium pointed out that creativity without control is the habitat of the amateur.

Example: Buying a certain size canvas enforces the painter to conform his creative vision to that canvas size. Michelangelo had one stone with a defect to carve David from. Writing a poem using a certain meter style forces the poet into a set of existing rules of that style, but there can certainly still be an amazing amount of room for creativity within those constraints.

So the two can co-habitate. Up to a point.

My first real clue came when I began comparing Office for Mac with Office for PC. Not really a creative program right? But still a vital program set to most working professionals. In a nutshell: Office for Mac sucks in comparison. I find the PC version much more intuitive and contextually fluent. I couldn’t put my finger on why and then I realized what was going on. Office for Mac has to put the buttons and dropdowns WHERE MAC HAS SPECIFIED TO CONFORM to the Mac system. It’s exactly the same on EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM ON THE MAC. Does that have certain benefits? Of course it does. But I’m certain that almost anyone who has used Office for PC will agree that it is a far better user experience because menus are grouped and colorized by importance of function.

And that brings me to


It’s simple. There are a lot of arguments on the internet on it being about Apple being able to continue as sole provider of content, etc… Steve Jobs says its about having the best user experience possible on Apple devices.

Frankly I could care less why, I just don’t like the decision.

Mr. Jobs’s statement falls apart when one includes in the user experience being able to browse Flash based websites.

Let me put it this way. If I was talking to a person who finally got me so frustrated about Mac fanaticism that I simply had to beat him over the head with my iPad until he was unconscious; well that’s my choice and a decision I would have to be responsible for.

Mr. Jobs could put out a press release stating “WE SHOULD TELL YOU THAT IT IS NOT NICE TO BEAT PEOPLE OVER THE HEAD WITH THE IPAD.” and I could weigh my decision to beat this person over the head against his advice and reach my own conclusion. In the end, it’s my damn iPad and if I want to beat someone over the head with it and go to jail because of it: SO BE IT.

If Mr. Jobs put out a press release stating: “WE HAVE ENABLED ALL IPADS TO DISINTEGRATE INSTANTANEOUSLY SHOULD YOU DECIDE TO BEAT SOMEONE OVER THE HEAD WITH THEM.” Suddenly it’s no longer really my device or I have to buy it with a caveat that someone else has the say-so about what I can or cannot do on it. I have to reach for an Android Tablet instead to beat them over the head with.

And let’s say I’m getting mugged and all I have is my iPad to defend myself with, now I’m really screwed.

In other words: You don’t have the option of whether or not to conform to Apple’s thoughts if you want the iOS device. It’s been pre-decided and pre-packaged to prevent your decision on the matter. 

For 95% of the people who just use the iPad for games and itunes content: WHO CARES.

But the other 5% are rightfully rankled.


And give us the option to decide and be responsible for it.


The same goes for the Mac Pro. Sure it’s a high-powered system. For 10,000 freaking dollars it goddamn well better be, mind you I could’ve gotten the same specs on a PC for less than half.

Sure it’s stable, but I notice ZERO REAL WORLD DIFFERENCE between Mac OS X and Windows 7 ultimate other than better connectivity to the App Store and buying stuff from it.

Sure it has a lot of cool integrated “iApplications like iMovie, iChat, iEtc…” but these don’t mean diddly squat to my professional performance. Seriously nothing. Skype works just fine for me.

Sure it’s sexy. But there are many equally sexy monitors.

Sure it’s APPLE. But do you know when the last time was that a client asked me “Wow you produced this on an Apple didn’t you?” or “Wow you produced this on a PC didn’t you?” I’ll tell you when: NEVER.

So why am I not jumping out of my mind thrilled about my Mac purchase?

First off because I spent $10K on an otherwise $5K system with no noticeable difference in stability, performance or feature sets that actually matter to me.

But mainly because I locked myself into a “Electronic Bio-System” with far fewer choices than most of the other computing world. 

And the little things. Like that every single program appears exactly the same as every other single program. Because you know what? Every program is not the same as every other program, and on the PC the developers can put the shit HOWEVER THE HELL THEY WANT IT, and sometimes it just makes more damn sense. Different functions have different importances and can be treated differently on the PC.

On the Mac, all is the same. Some people may like this. I don’t. I like it when developers have the freedom to blow me away with an intuitive interface design.

And there are little lags here and there that simply didn’t exist in Windows 7. Things like how long it takes to load a font-list which was instant on the PC and has a microsecond delay on the Mac I am using and all the other ones in the Mac store that I tried out.

But you know what? There’s really no damn difference from my last PC beyond two factors: Higher Price and Fewer Options.

The fewer options of course comes down to Apple certifying what works and doesn’t work well with the system you have. IT PREVENTS INSTABILITY. But at the cost of not being able to have the latest and greatest at a far more affordable price.

Had I gotten my Mac fully configured as I did (500 gb solid state drive, 3 internal 2tb drives, 32 GB RAM, Intel Xeon 12 core 2.66) for far less a price, I would be very, very, very happy. Because I could’ve also gotten the Zeiss CP.2 100mm lens that I’d been hoping to be able to afford.

Yet I still took it all with a grain of salt, because it was a working system with small annoyances that I could live with until I could afford to switch back over to a PC if those annoyances had been resolved by that point. And after all when the new amazing Final Cut X got released I could re-expand my workflow to Avid, Premiere AND Final Cut projects. So really I was still happy.

But when the new version of Final Cut Pro X came out, I felt gut punched.

I suddenly realized that all the friends who I had listened to had been on Macs for so long that they had no real world objectivity of the PC side of things and thus nothing to compare their fanaticism against. I realized that Apple is now a company focused on the DELIVERY OF PROFESSIONALLY CREATED CONTENT WITH A PRICE as opposed to the creation of professional grade content. 

And before anyone gets up in arms about it, if I was Apple, I’d probably do the same. After all they have more than 100,000,000 customers consuming their content providing devices and what? A few hundred thousand who seriously invest in their content creation devices.

Apple is migrating to a new philosophy and approach to the world.

It isn’t the grey concrete walled dystopia of 1984 that Orwell envisioned and Apple/Macintosh positioned against. It’s the shiny, sleek, happy community of conformity of 2014 and beyond where everything is good enough that no one questions if something better exists. An era which they warned against and then eventually helped to create.

So what is the moral of the story at the end of this.

Go with what works for you and helps you produce amazing content whether it be Mac or PC. 

Ignore hype on what’s great and what’s not. 

I see no real reason to invest further in the Apple Electronic Eco-System beyond that of my own personal comfort devices such as iPads and iPods. 

And hey…you know: THINK DIFFERENT. Just because everyone else thinks its the best thing in the world is no reason for you to follow that party line without questioning it first.


For the vast majority of us, there is an almost undeniable urge to buy equipment that catches our eye.

After all we see stunning examples of its use across the internet and suddenly our creative imaginations run wild.

First a disclaimer: If you have money to burn, go for it. Really there is no need for you to read this article. And honestly, gear is not a bad investment. You can often resell it in foreign countries for the same amount as the original purchase or slightly less, even years later. Although as globalization marches on, this is not likely to be the case in the next 10 years.

For the rest of us, as painful as it is at times, we will look over three different brands of the same items until our eyeballs are bleeding simply because parting with that hard earned, non-inherited money is incredibly painful. Sometimes it’s the scraps of tips we’ve scraped together over two years and what’s left after buying diapers and baby anti-rash butt-creme and those few dollars can either be spent making life a little more comfortable that year, or pursuing a dream which most others tell us is just plain foolish.

A lot of times, we live out in the middle of nowhere and going to some huge gear expo to get our hands on stuff just isn’t possible. So we read and read and read online reviews until our brains our numb and finally click purchase and cross our fingers.

The truth is that only on the very rarest of occasions we will be able to buy all the equipment we need to do what we are planning on shooting, so what we buy must be planned carefully and against the very real reality of the funds we have to invest.

Now, if you are just planning on doing a one-off commercial or music video or projects every once in a while. Seriously dudes and dudettes: Just rent it or borrow it. The cost of rental will be fully justified vs. buying $20,000 plus of gear for every once in a while use. 

However if you are planning on having a career as a videographer or DP or Director who is hands on and shooting for months or weeks at a time, then buying your gear needs to take a serious consideration in your planning.

In sequence of priority you need to think about:

– Camera

– Lenses

– Sound

– Editing

– Viewing and Monitoring

– Stabilization (tripods, etc…)

– Mounting and gear for movement

Lets take these up in sequence:

Camera – This is your bread and butter moneymaker. Anyone who is serious about creating moving pictures needs to have a primary camera for shooting the day in and day out material. If you are just starting out, you don’t need a RED, Arri Allexa or anything of that level to say nothing of film. An HD-DSLR will suit you just fine and will prove to yourself and everyone else if you should continue pursuing the foolish dream of being a film-maker or perhaps find another calling. It will show if you have “the right stuff” at the lowest dollar amount possible. 


Amigos, if you can afford a RED (or similar) set-up AND the post gear needed to handle that level of footage, go for it.

But chances are you can’t. And the truth is that out of the hundreds of thousands of videos, webisodes and films being produced DAILY all over the world, only 5% or less use cameras at that level.

More importantly, if you are just starting out, people will be more impressed about what you can do with what you have and in all but a very few limited scenarios (such as slow-motion), Canon DSLRs and similar DSLRs will handle your daily creative needs beyond anything possible in the past. Even if you’ve got a handycam, with the vast amount of shallow depth of field camera junkies out there and with the eye of the new generation being trained into this “look”, you need shallow depth of field to even be allowed a place at the table.

As of today, nothing gives you the quality of that type of footage at the price-point that an HD-DSLR does.



Have a great day,