2012 Mac Pro in a 2015 World

Coming from a QUO computer Hackintosh it feels really nice to be back home in a legit Mac. For about a Year and a Half I ran my little G4 Mod Hack on just about any job you could think of….Alexa, Red Dragon, F55, BMCC, C300 etc.

QUO

It’s a robust little unit, has 4 USB 3.0 ports and 2 Thunderbolt 1.0, so you can handle almost all the drives out there.  On the occasion I’ve lost drives where it can no longer find the directory.

Z77-MX-QUO-AOS_io

The main reason I left my Hack was due to the PCI Bandwith. When running a Rocket-X and a GPU the board bumps down to 8x per Lane, I need the ability to run a Rocket with Resolve which requires 2 full 16x lanes. The case and board aren’t built for that kinda load. I’ve been looking at the Mac Pro through iPowerResale and found a good deal for a 2012 Hex-Core Mac Pro. I was on a Pampers Commercial doing an easy download job and my Hack would not boot, took until after lunch along with a disk error on one of the Master Drives.

No Mount

Reapir

At that moment I had realized I needed a legit system, my G4 Hack had given me problems through out all of February… I was unhappy. I did some tests running a 10.10 OSX Drive with H3C BIOS and then going back to 10.8 Drive with H2B, since then it’s been stable. They say a Flash will solve most issues but at the heat of the moment it didn’t occur to me until after the shoot. I still needed a 2nd system, I figured this is the best decision I can make given what we know today.

There’s been a lot of people who need a system right now and don’t know what to get. The main reason I went with a Hackintosh was the challenge and plain ignorance. I should have bought a 6-Core in 2012 but it would have cost me $2999 with base specs. My buddy CJ ran a Hackintosh which gave me the confidence to take a stab… “IT CAN BE DONE!” I think everyone should at least have one Hack, the basic computer knowledge you learn is priceless. Using one in a professional environment can lead to be troublesome, having a good back up system is key if not you’ll be in trouble when things go down. There’s been days when I had candles lit on my cart, you would find me on my knees praying for it to boot and load all drives lol. With my new system that won’t be a problem.

The best case scenario for a Hackintosh is a personal system or an at home/office set-up. On the field is a different story, like I said make sure you have a back up system that will finish the day. I have biddies who use their Hack at home for ColorGrading and love it does everything they need for about half the cost give or take.

Pros/Cons of the 2012 Mac Pro

Draw Backs

  • Slower PCIe 2.0 & SATA II ports
  • No Thunderbolt Support
  • Power Issues when running High End GPU
  • PC GPU must be Flashed to run PCIe 2.0 along with Boot Menu ($200 SetBack)

 

Benefits

  • Up to 48GB RAM on Single Chip or more on Dual Chip
  • Dual PCIe x16 Lanes (Run a Rocket and GPU at the same time)
  • USB 3.0 & eSATA PCIe Options
  • Run up to 3 GTX Cards through a Cubix Expander

 

Graphics Card

 

MacVid

Graphics Cards for the Tower Mac Pro can get a little confusing. It’s not so much about the drivers or proprietary cards like it use to be back in the day, but more so about power restrictions, boot up Icon, and enabling PCIe 2.0. Macvidcards has been around for some time now, they’re based out of LA and with a team of two they manage to Flash majority of the PC Graphics Cards to be compatible with the Mac Pro. You can send your own card or buy one from them. Flashing is around $200 if you provide a card, email them for compatibility and time frame.

What Are The Benefits of Buying a Flashed Card?

Some people may question why they should install a card flashed with a Mac BIOS as opposed to an official Apple released card or a stock PC graphics card (GPU). Here are a few of the benefits:

  1. Apple releases very few GPU options and they are often out of date compared to what is available for a PC.
  2. A Mac BIOS enables you to see the gray boot screen at startup (where you see the Apple logo and hear the iconic boot chime). This is very helpful for users who regularly need to switch boot drives and operating systems.
  3. When installed in a Mac Pro a stock PC GPU will only be able to utilize the outdated PCIe 1.0 format. A card flashed with a Mac BIOS will be able to work at PCIe 2.0 speeds, supporting twice the data rate.
  4. Cards with our Mac BIOS are able to run their full monitor arrangement (unless specifically noted) and make use of the most up to date technologies, including 4K monitor support and CUDA, OpenCL and OpenGL support.

 

gtx980

The best card on the Market is the GTX 980 (Standard Version not Superclocked) until we see newer cards Summer 2015. The only downside to this card is the RAM size but everything else checks in.  Available for under $600, flashed will be at $780. This card will run with the Two 6-Pin Power Ports on your Motherboard without exceeding the power limit. The 980 GTX pulls a total of 165W which is perfect. Barefeats did some amazing tests which you can see the benchmarks below.

BF 980.1BF 980.2

They’ve also done tests with Dual 980 which is a great way to go if speed is what you need while still conserving on cost. A single Titan Black will run you about the same as two 980. If you decide to run Dual 980’s be sure to use external power.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 10.34.21 AM

 

Titan in a Mac Pro

The legend of the Titan has brought us here….To the point that we want to stuff it in a Mac Pro cause its such a fast card. My system has a Superclocked Titan which is awesome but there are some precautions that must be taken.

1. A separate PSU is needed to power the Titan. The 5.25 Bay PSU are hard to come by now a days since they’re all sold out; luckily I tracked some down through VisionTek for a nifty $50. If you run a separate PSU make sure to get a (M) SATA to (F) MOLEX Adapter to trigger the 2nd PSU. Otherwise you wont get an image on your monitor after the computer boots. The adapter will run from your Optical Bay SATA Power to the Adapter to the MOLEX on the PSU. Be sure to trim the sleeves on the SATA  Male part of the adapter to make fit as show on the pic below. To run Dual cards or a Titan you will have to leave the door open unless you plan on drilling and modding your case.

20150301_191511~2

2.Titan Cards needs to be flashed to run at PCIe 2.0 along with a Power Clamp to run internal power. It seems that people run the Titan off the two Mini 6-Pin after flashed, adding a Rocket-X would be risking it which is a $300 cost if your blow your circuits. So if you decide to go internal power get is Flashed and don’t run another power hungry cards or drives. I’m still paranoid so I’m sticking to my External PSU, rig at your own risk and tests. If you decide to go internal you will need a Mini 6-Pin to 8Pin Adapter. Our Friend over at MacRumors did some tests for us check his post for more details.

Titan MP

 

I hope this clears up some grey space for all the Mac Pro owners out there so they can make the best decision on their system. By the end of the year I will be building a new Xeon computer but this Mac Pro should hold me over until then. If you still own a Mac Pro I wanna say you can squeeze another year or so depending on what loads your handling. At some point you’ll have to consider getting a trash can or build a PC system.

Please ask questions in the comments if I left any details out.

Zacuto EVF Review

EVFflip

 

EVF History & Introduction

The HDSLR revolution changed the way we shoot video forever which lead to a huge demand for camera support. We’ve seen many inventions in the past two years but a decent EVF for the Canon 5D MkII and 7D cameras has yet to exist until now.  A few companies announced rumors claiming they have EVF’s in production but only a few have actually put out a product on the market. That’d be Cineroid EVF ($750), Zacuto EVF ($650-$1k), and SmallHD DP4 EVF ($750).

I’ve been fortunate enough to test out the Zacuto EVF Flip-Pro Prototype on a 25-Day feature (R1 MX) and a 3-Day PSA shoot (5D/7D). I really enjoyed testing it in two very different applications. The feature being very harsh and demanding on build quality and the PSA was quick-n-short relying on ease of use. I put this little bad boy through the ultimate test.

Hardware

The front face is the LCD screen which is very elegant and sharp. I much prefer this screen over some of Marshall’s monitors and Canon’s Camera LCD.

EVFchart2

There are two models a Snap-On ($640) and a Flip-Up ($740). Which one do I buy? Well depends, I like the Flip-Up it’s a very handy and worth the $100 in my opinion. If you’re on a budget crunch or don’t care for EVF mode then go the Snap-On route. Just be ready to have a place to put your Z finder when you don’t need it (Some people like the lanyard but I can’t stand them, if you have a belt then you can use the CineBag, again personal preference). On the back end we have the LP-E6 Battery Slot for quick access. I was very skeptical about all the new monitors supporting LP-E6 batteries, the more and more I used them, slowly I began to love it. Over the course of a 12hr period if I powered down the EVF in-between takes I could get through a days worth of shooting on one Canon Brand battery. Sometimes if I left it on all day then I would get 10hrs per battery, with 3rd party batteries I would get 4-8hrs depending on manufacture, I tried 3 brands.

Features

All the first generation Monitors that were designed for DSLR use only one HDMI port, this caused all sorts of problems! Dealing with converter boxes, HDMI Splitters, having to power the darn things, a true headache for producers and camera department. So now that we learned the hard way, everything coming out this year has HDMI Loop thank god. For all the cameras that aren’t DSLR they still offer an HDMI port so you end up keeping your HD-SDI free for more important things. Recently Zacuto put out an update that allows the option to monitor sound, this is great if you’re a one man army. Checking audio levels and operating at the same time couldn’t be any easier.

Pros

  • Available NOW
  • Made in USA
  • HDMI-Loop
  • LP-E6 Battery Compatible (10Hrs w/Canon Brand Battery)
  • False Colors & 1:1 Ratio
  • Custom Settings for any Camera

Cons

  • Z-Finder tends to fall off (Solution: I get 1/4” Strip of Gaffer tape and run it along the border of the Frame and Z-Finder)
  • No lock for EVF when in Flip Mode (Pic Above)
  • Only 1 Mounting Point
  • No Red One MX Camera Setting
  • Takes about 15-30 Min to Color Calibrate the Monitor

Wrap-Up

Being one of the first and few EVF out there, Zacuto seems to meet every demand.  Being smaller than the DP4 it’s more logical for use in EVF mode when attaching it to a shoulder rig, the screen is still big enough to fit the needs when using no eye loop (which reminds me of the LCD I grew up with on my Canon GL1). The HDMI-Loop is key and the fact that I can use one battery for a full 12hr shoot makes all the difference. It’s unfortunate that you have to either own a Z-Finder or buy one (You should own one if you don’t already). The Menu and UI is very respectable, it’s good to go straight outta the box and if you want to dig deep for functions there’s plenty of depth to work with. Typically I use Flip-Mode 60% of the time and 40% in EVF; everyone has their preference not to mention every shoot will determine how it’s used. I consider it more of a hybrid since you can decide between two modes and its more flexible when it comes to run-n-gun shooting style. This is a great product and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who needs an EVF/Monitor. You can wait for other brands to release their version but I wouldn’t hold my breathe for too long, you might end up choking.

Pimp Your Element Technica Mantis Shoulder Rig

Over the years with much use and time your Hand Grips begin to lose their density. The acids in palm sweat brake down the rubber and causes the grips to slip. The look of the rig turns sloppy and under maintained. Since the grips become softer it’s harder to keep a firm grip over long takes so your hands have to constantly re-adjust which effects movement in camera.

A great way to facelift your Element Technica Mantis is by ordering a set of ODI Lock-On HandGrips which are available in fun colours to best suit your personality. The bottom caps protect the Mantis Handle from getting scratches.

 photo IMG_20140129_174439_zpsuwhw1dkt.jpg

To remove the old grips I’d recommend a compressor with a point tip for the easiest removal if not canned air will do with a few twist and turns.

 photo IMG_20140129_174854_zpshs81qulm.jpg

Keep in mind if you have an older style rig like mine with the Shorter Grip Post w/Remote Stop  you’ll have to order a smaller 90mm handgrip to compensate. The newer models use a pair of traditional 130mm length Grips.

 photo IMG_20140129_180028_zps0kt613yy.jpg

You can see the olds grips do no justice to the Lock-Ons!

 photo IMG_20140129_173731_zpsls6lt4t2.jpg

SOURCE: Element Technica MantisElement Technica Grips – ODI Lock Rings – ODI Grips 130mm/90mm

“I Got What Ya Need” Scarlet-X > < Behind the scene

Intro:

Scarlet-X couldn’t have come at a better time, even though Canon and Arri will convince you 1080p will do, it’s a lie; rumors have it that both companies are working hard on a 4K camera. 4K represents a true Cinema grade image and it is the future of Digital Cinema. Red has done an amazing job of whipping the “industry” into shape by providing a cost effective solution for operators to own their personal gear. Having been a R1 DIT on a handful of Indi Features I can say that the Scarlet is the new MkII that does 4K and can handle abuse in a production enviroment. The amount of content that’s gonna be produced from these cameras will be revolutionary and set the new standard for tomorrow.

I have to thank everyone at Red for their support and hard efforts in designing cameras that we thought could never exist. It takes a great vision to picture a world where Ultra-Resolution is common in the entertainment industry and RED has helped us get there. Scarlets and Epics are assembled here in the Irvine CA with under 500 employees, cutting edge both in technology and manufacture techniques.

It’s been years of desire to own a Scarlet, at last that day has come…

 

Once my brain arrived I went on the hunt for a 5.0 Touch.  My buddy Paul was at Widespread Creative Studio in Downtown Austin, Kelly happened to have a Touch Screen but no brain. Together we merged powers like an 80’s saturday morning cartoon and had a working Scarlet-X for the weekend. The weather was much like LA and the light was soft through most the shoot giving us the prime conditions with a slight frosty breeze. While prepping the camera by the curb a car stops in the middle of the road to see what we where doing. A voice pokes out of the tinty windows, “Hey is that a Red camera?” We couldn’t believe ourselves, we haven’t even started shooting!

The Shoot:

Having the same build as it’s bigger brother Epic, it allows for a “DSLR” feel but can pack a 4K Cinematic image along with high fram-rates cropped at 3K 48fps and 2k 60fps. I wanted to experiment with the Variable Speed mode to see it’s limitations since there aren’t many videos that do so. 1/3 of our video is slo-mo, majority of the clips are at 60fps; very appropriate for when your subject is moving 50mph.

To match my mental storyboard to reality I needed to suspend the camera 6-inches above the ground safely. Using a wide Prime lens (ZE 21mm)  the riders needed to be 5-feet or less from the camera, as James would describe it “scary close” in order to feel like we’re riding next to Evan and Holt. Reminded me of WakeSurfing only on pavent at 40-50mph down a hill, on some runs they where so close we could carry a conversation with pointers to help improve the shot.

To keep the rig feather light we used the DC Power Adapter that was converted through the Cigarette Lighter. A GoboHead w/MafferClamp allowed us to strap the camera for ultimate protection.

UI is pretty straight forward, a whole bunch of tapping and swiping much like an iPhone. Fast and effective, the touchscreen can be locked/unlocked by leaving your finger in the top right corner until the “Lock” Icon is enabled to prevent accidental changes. I was amazed at how I could set Look presets in camera then further dial down the image in Cine-X; having RAW allows for the utmost creativity.

We finished the 2-Hour Shoot with one 64GB SSD, exposed 24 clips that summed up to 43GB of sweet sweet Scarlet footage. Chasing the light is never fun but the crew knew what we where up against so we shot non-stop. Everything happened so fast we where amazed at how many set-ups we where able to squeeze in. Feel free to click bellow at the screen shots to see them in full-res. The wide shot on the bottom is on the ZE 21mm wide open at 4K.

Lens where provided by On-Airstreaming.com and we used a set of ZE Primes, 21mm f2.8_35mm f1.4_50mm f1.4_85mm f1.4. As for filters HOYA ND 8 & CIR POLA except for 21mm (no mattebox or hood).

While Exposing I stayed between 320ASA and 640ASA. The high speed is done at F2.8_640ASA_225 Deg Shutter (60fps) & 180 Deg Shutter (48fps). All the 4K shots where at f3.2_90 Deg Shutter_320ASA. When shooting I enabled 2.39:1 Aspect Ratio frame guide which was then cropped in Cine-X along with first pass color then converted to ProRes 422. Final Color and Edit where cut on FCP 6 . I did it with a four year old laptop in two days of editing/transcoding. By only converting selective portions of a the clips it shaved loads of time rather than converting all the files.

More Pictures Here

Wrap-Up:

I couldn’t be more thankful, happy, privileged to be apart of a new movement.

Thank You Red Team!

Red 2012 Price Changes

Jarred just announced the price changes that are being made for the new year. Scarlet/Epic will go up January 1st while all the DSMC Modules are pushed to March 1st.

  • SCARLET-X (Brain only) Jan 1: $9700
  • SCARLET-X with Side SSD / Ti PL Mount is $11,250. Jan 1: $13,200
  • SCARLET-X with Side SSD / Ti Canon Mount is $11,250. Jan 1: $13,200
  • SCARLET-X with Side SSD / Al Canon Mount is $9750. Jan 1: $11,700
  • SCARLET-X with Side SSD / Ti PL Mount package is $15,515. Jan 1: $17,465
  • SCARLET-X with Side SSD / Ti Canon Mount package is $15,515. Jan 1: $17,465
  • SCARLET-X with Side SSD / Al Canon Mount package is $14,015. Jan 1: $15,965
  • EPIC-X (Brain only) is $27,500. Jan 1: $34,500
  • EPIC-X with Side SSD / Ti PL Mount is $31,000. Jan 1: $38,000

Accessories :

  • DSMC Side Handle is $950. March 1: $1200
  • RED Touch LCD 5″ is $1600. March 1: $1950
  • REDmote is $550. March 1: $750
  • Pro I/O Module is $2950. March 1: $3750
  • Pro Battery Module (Dual) is $1250. March 1: $1450

2011 has made a huge impact in the film world, 2012 will be the beginning of all the ripples. One thing we can say for sure, the Digital Revolution is still premature. The past four years have been amazing for us tech geeks and it only seems to get crazier (6K Dragon Sensor 2012?). I really don’t think people understand how fast Film will die. Just be sure to see Batman in IMAX 70mm ;)

Due to the C300 and Scarlet-X we aren’t anywhere near where we thought we’d be in 2008.  World issues have been the main factor so we have to consider the buffer.  The C300 came out rather late and at a high price point. Scarlet-X is a great deal but it really doesn’t do anything special frame rate wise. These moments are stepping stones for paths of newer possibilities. Just be sure to place your orders before it’s too late.

RedUser News Mid-Nov

Today many questions have finally been answered! A few have speculated that RED wasn’t gonna meet Scarlet-X ship dates  Nov. 17 (PL Mount) and Dec. 1st (Canon mount). Tonaci is the first person to receive a Scarlet-X PL and many more have already shipped…

Aside of the Scarlet news this is also a big day for Epic owners. A few hours later Alpha Firmware was released enabling PLAYBACK!

RED has done an amazing job with meeting their dates, wrangling all these orders while growing it’s infrastructure.

It’ll be interesting to see where it’ll take the industry. Almost everyone in the film scene here in Austin knows of someone who placed a deposit. Theres a rough guess of 1,000 or more orders already placed. Once again we don’t really know but from the community this is what we have gathered. I spoke with a film festival coordinator and was told that they received over 3000 feature film submissions and expect it to be even larger by next year. Not really sure what that means other than the competition is higher than ever. Tools do make the job easier but they can’t write you a good story. Let the digital film renaissance begin!

Letus Master Cinema Series

Letus Teams up with Legendary DSLR DP Shane Hurlbut to make the Ultimate Digital Cinema Rig which comes in four configurations.

Action Cam $1450

This is a great option if you’re looking for the basic powered cage features. Not really a whole lot in this package other than what you see, I owned a configuration similar to this one from ViewFactor w/Red Top Handle. The Cage is a great way to power a 5D/7D, Wireless Follow Focus, and monitors/converters. It can serve as protection not to mention multiple mounting points.

Man Cam $2,550

Shane is crazy about this rig since it’s really his invention. Personally I hate shooting in this configuration, I’ve worked with a few guys who assisted Shane on a couple shows and they seem to like it a whole bunch. I guess it depends on personal preference, I’m more of a Top Handle type of dude. If you don’t know which side you’re on, stop by a rental house and try it out on a few gigs.

Shoulder Rig $3,270

This is the ONE! Has everything you would need to get the job done. I really like this set up and you can strip it into action mode within seconds, both top and bottom have a quick release system. You can go from multiple rigs no problem while saving time. I was able to price a kit for around $2350 so don’t let the complete price scare you. There are many add on parts that can be modified.

Studio Cam $4,100

Everything here is designed to be used like a traditional Studio rig. The EVF mount is the coolest part, must be great for dolly configurations, I’d like to dork off with it. If you just happen to have money laying around or get into some intensive productions this kit can supply the need for any scenario that you’re thrown into. The price is very reasonable considering this rig can be used 5 years from now on whatever camera you’ll own then.

Luckily it seems like they’re giving you an option to get a Cage for a Sony FS100, Canon 1D X, C300, Epic, Scarlet. Really curious as to what those looks like and why they are Non-Powered 😦  From what I can tell it seems like they’ve been working on this series of rigs for sometime now. This is a great step for Letus, I really like what they’ve done compared to RedRock and Zacuto. I just hope I can order all these parts individually cause I don’t need a full kit at the moment. If not I’ll have to save my pennies for the Shoulder Rig, that thing is a beauty.