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What interface I use for editing and graphic work...

Post ProductionPosted by Benedict Mart Wed, April 27, 2016 16:05:24

When it comes to editing and graphic work, the above tools work nicely that gives me precision and efficiency while working. The programs I use with these include Adobe products, Davinci Resolve and Blender. I use a wireless mouse and keyboard so I can move them out of the way, as and when required (I also have a bigger keyboard with a num pad, which rarely comes out).

Logitech G13 (Click here for website)

Although it's designed for gamers this is one of the most useful interfaces I've worked with. I choose the G13 over X keys due to size, on board memory profiles and mini joystick that is used as a mouse. It states that it has 75 programmable hot keys though 3 switcher buttons, but I have found that the basic hotkey set up of Save project, undo, redo etc etc for me needs to be on the same keys so I'm not switching between them, so in fact this only gives me around 55 hot keys to play with which is plenty especially with N.L.E.'s like premiere or Da vinci. Also I've set up my G13 switcher buttons so each works with for a function. The hand sits nicely on the interface and is a pleasure to use. The G13 also can read the CPU and Ram power percentage useful when building complex layers in A.E.

-I'll post my G13 profiles for the various programs to download soon.


ShutlleXpress (Click here for website)

This little pendent is a gem...the small brother to the shuttle pro(more hotkeys) but just as handy with the G13 canceling the need for the extra hotkeys. If you have never used a jog shuttle before (it was on old video decks before computers took over) they are a joy to work with especially scrubbing though the timelines and getting to that prefect cut. The Shuttle Xpress has 5 programmable hot keys, with a spring loaded outer ring for continued scrubbing and a inner plate for finer frame by frame movement.



Wacom Bamboo (Click here for website)

I had a pen tablet a while back but lost it when we moved house:-( but a friend , Jay, gave me his old one as he upgraded to an Intous model. The Bamboo is a old consumer model but still very useful and I'm glad Jay did, as I forgot how useful it is esp with Photoshop and Blender. While this isn't one of the interfaces I use regularly- it always has a place on my desk and will no doubt upgrade to a bigger model at some point.



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New Computer Build Part 2

Post ProductionPosted by Benedict Mart Mon, March 21, 2016 12:51:09
Since my last post I've built the computer and like buses, a couple of projects came in at once. So I've had to finish them first and now have time to return to update my blog...

In part 1 I researched into the programs that I will be mostly using, After Effects(RAM), Davinci Resolve(GPU) and some 3d programs including Blender and Cinema 4d(GPU). Also which motherboard and CPU along with the case, these will be housed in.

I decided to go for the Gigabyte -GA-Z170X-UD5 TH motherboard, that is ideal to satisfy those who want workstation features at an affordable price, half that of Asus motherboard of roughly the same spec. It has 2 thunderbolt 3 ports, loads of other USB ports and is branded ULTRA DURABLE! The CPU I paid that little bit more and went for the Intel Core™ i7-6700K with it's hyper threading with a an effective 8 cores.

With the case I went for a rack mounted ATX version - bought a second hand one from eBay that had all features I needed.

Having a set budget for the rest of the components I decided to spread them out for the middle of the road spec rather than having one high spec (high cost) component and the rest low spec, as I can slowly upgrade these over time.

I'll break the next section into computer components...

CPU Cooler



As this computer is meant for transport I decided to go for a liquid system due to not wanting a heavy weight on the CPU. With a major air vent in front of the case, internally this housed the HDD's, so I striped out the brackets and put the fan/ radiator in it's place, over the front vents. There are two more fans at the top back which suck the air out of the computer, so we have a suitable air current though it.

Power



Went for a silent Fan 750w semi modular PSU, which will give me enough power to add later cards further on down the line.

Memory



32gb Ram (upgradable to 64 with the motherboard).

Hard Drives



4x 1tb Samsung SSD (2 in Raid 0) - This is broken down into...
Raid 0 is footage
1 SSD for cache
1 SSD for render output and everything else I dump in there.

I also have a dockable bay (please see below) for extra hard drives.

The Gigabyte board has 1 M.2 slot so went for Samsung 250gb, which is ultra fast load times but I don't really need super fast boot up times, so sometime in the future I plan to test the M.2 SSD vs normal Sata SSD (in Raid 0) for speed, in regard to the cache storage to see which is faster. If so the new SanDisk M.2 1tb would be worth looking into.

PCI Cards



Got a cheap WiFi card - for when I need to connect to the internet (this is mostly offline as I don't use this computer for general internet access, just key updates).

Another cheap card from eBay was a Firewire pci as they are still a lot of devices around with this connection.

Nvidia Quadro K2200 4gb GPU Graphics Card - A interim graphics card that for cost (second hand £140) to output in 10bit colour is worth its weight in gold come colour grading. Although it will just scrape by 4k footage and has only 640 Cuda cores. I'm saving up for a Nvidia Titan X and a Blackmagic 10bit output card which is about half (second hand) of what my budget is for this computer!!!

Also Plan to add a sound card in the future.

Computer Bays



Top - Icy Box multi port card reader along with Esata and USB 2 & 3 ports.

Middle - Icy Dock Hot swappable drive caddie so i can back up files easily on either 3.5" HDD or a SDD, as and when required without taking the computer out or having another device on my table.

Bottom - Presently empty but thinking of getting another Icy Dock so I can do Raid 1 or Raid 10 (with internal HDD's) more for duplication - the D.I.T. side of things.

Conclusion

I didn't have any trouble building the machine basically apart from the CPU and Cooler it's plug an play style. It just took a little time for cable management and to organise the case for the cooler...apart from that everything went smoothly.

The OS is currently Windows 10 but I'm edging towards going back to Windows 7 as I'm don't like the new privacy and update issues currently with Windows 10(another reason not be connected to the internet).

Over the next few weeks I'll write up how the computer has coped with the projects I've just done.

Also this computer is ever evolving machine to will update as and when.

And here it is (the most exciting picture in the world, lol)...



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New Computer Build Part 1

Post ProductionPosted by Benedict Mart Wed, January 20, 2016 15:07:57
It's been afew years since my last computer purchase, a Sony vaio laptop, which has done me for basic HD work on the fly and has been a really solid machine over the years. With the progression from HD to 4k over the last a couple of years and a whole load of new components, alongside the advancement in programs, it's time for me to build my next little workstation.

So here's an outline of what I require from the workstation...

Be able to mange 4k and VR workflow with Adobe After Effects, Davinci Resolve 3d model programs.
Semi portable from edit suite to studio(DIT CART) to events.
To be able to connect to old and new AV devices
Very fast connection speed for transferring 4k data - thunderbolt 3

To start with I began researching into what programs run best on which specs and types of CPU, Ram and Graphic cards.

After abit of research into Abode After Effects (cc 2015) and time using it over 10 years both After Effects and Premiere love the RAM...more the better - it's recommended to have minimal 8gb but know some editors to have 64gb for these applications. I was especially interested in how it works with the CPU, I came across this really interesting article testing CPU's with After Effects by Matt Bach of Puget Sound Systems...

https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Adobe-After-Effects-CC-2015-Multi-Core-Performance-714/


The tests conclude '....if you need to use AE 2015 (13.5), it is clear that dual CPU systems are a bad choice After Effects 2015. However, a single CPU with a relatively high core count should show decent performance gains. To summarize the results of our testing, here is the parallel efficiency we saw with only a single CPU for each project (since you would never actually want a dual CPU...'

So basically for A.E. it suggests a single CPU with a high core count...with this being the best in class Intel Xeon E5-1680 V3 3.2GHz Eight Core 20MB 140W .


Later this year Intel are releasing the Broadwell-E chip with the range of cores from 6,8,10 that includes hyperthreading to a possible 20 cores, in effect! The article below discusses the new processor....

http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/broadwell-e-roadmap-leak/

Blackmagic Davinci Resolve software is the premium colour grading software out there used by high end post houses have recently started to give give this away free in the form of a "Lite" version which also has new editing capabilities. The timeline reminds me more of Imovie X than Premiere. I think the free version is a kick in the teeth to all the subscription based programs out there presently. Good call Blackmagic! Anyway before I rant on about that, back to Davinci Resolve spec requirements...basically its a GPU monster so need a decent Graphics card with alot of users stating 4gb(scraping the barrel)-12gb(top of the barrel) GPU to run 4k smoothly with alot of nodes. The Lite version only supports 1 graphics card, so to have multiple cards you need to purchase the Studio version. Along with that if you have a smaller GPU on one card it will base it on that GPU so you'll waste the Bigger Graphic Card GPU as it splits the workload between them. The end game will be to purchase a Nvidia Titan X 12gb GPU with a blackmagic 10bit output card.

For 3d modeling programs such as Blender and Cinema4d both are the graphics card hungry that take advantage of Nvidia's Cuda cores (more the better) and other specific API's such as ShaderModel, OpenCL, Open GL and Direct X. So higher GPU and alot of Cuda Cores will help out alot esp render times. Also the programs aren't tied down to one Graphics card and will happily use as many as you have PCI slots.

The mother board is a major consideration as I need usb type c for the VR camera, including thunderbolt 3 as I want my next wave of external devices to be compatible. Currently the only motherboards I've found with these are Intel's Z170 range by Gigabyte and Asus that use the 1151 size processor - 6th generation Intel® Core™ i7-6700K and i5-6600K, both of which have 4 cores with the i7 enabled for hyper threading extending it to a 8 core chip.

So it's either getting a motherboard with more cores and no thunderbolt 3 connection or a motherboard with less cores and thunderbolt 3 connection. Well from the article above the data sheets reflect that After Effects seems to flatline around 10 cores. Blackmagic Davinci Resolve also uses the GUI rather than the CPU so I don't need a multi core monster by any means. To date there isn't many thunderbolt 3 devices but there will be an avalanche of products coming this year and I want to have that compatibility. I need to have ATX size motherboard for my requirements.

As your aware computers come in all sizes from the mirco(uber portable) to the workstations(tower blocks:-). Here are some of form factors of cases...
The cases above are a basic sample and show that they are not intended to be transported there are models that have handles but are only for the mini and micro motherboards. Alongside the cases above there are the rack mounted cases to be considered...
So stick one of these in a flight case and we'll have a portable computer, that's easy to carry and above all safe.

Housed in a shockproof flight case, these can be stacked with other cases to build a modular edit system for example a monitor flight case that includes waveform and a preview monitors ideal for the DIT Cart.



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