If I want to get serious with Isadora, do I need to be working on a Mac?

  • I have spent a very frustrating couple of days working on Isadora on my PC. Very fast machine, Win7x64, GTX980 graphics, 64GB RAM etc etc. Trying to make a captioned show. Real trouble entering and updating text using the text draw actor. Isadora frequently crashing. Goodness knows how many crash reports generated and sent. I come to college today and open the project on a 2012 MacPro running 10.7.5 and it works like a charm: rock solid, no problems with text, nor any of the OSC glitches I was seeing on the PC.

    So, serious question: if I want to get serious with Isadora, do I need to be working on a Mac?
  • Tech Staff

    I am pretty serious and work mostly on PC. That said, some things work differently between platforms, and rendering fonts is one of them. I have found that is some cases (large text being changed regularly) the old cpu based text draw is faster on pc. For animation purposes the new one is much better. So entering official bug report with clear details/reproduce steps it the number one way to help make the PC version better, AND to gain insight from support about any known differences/strengths/limitations. I am always happy to help where I can.

  • This can start a pretty long and drawn out debate. I will try and be a bit objective.

    PC- Much is much more flexible, you can get all the features and quality of a Mac (the price is not so different), but you have a lot of choices in between. You can also customise a lot of parts.
    MAC- Stable as hell, people get stable PC's I use both but my OSC install needs way less attention, but the machines are expensive.
    The biggest difference I would see apart from operation issues like with font rendering in Isadora is that Mac sucks for video cards. All of thier models even the mac pro are years behind in GPU technology and this is not being fixed. GPU heavy things (like Isadora is becoming), are way behind in mac, (Oculus rift that runs on the GPU has stopped official support for OSX until they can ship a model with halfway good video card.
    Getting serious with a PC means research into the most stable hardware and driver combinations and maintenance. Maybe you can go hackintosh and get the best of both worlds.

  • Dear @mark_m,

    I would add here only that it is important to target the platform. With the recent QuickTime announcement, we must assume at this point that I'm going to pull QuickTime support out of Isadora; there seems to be little choice.
    QuickTime, while convenient for cross platform playback, has been a source of performance problems (e.g. H264 playback on Windows is pretty poor) and other issues – though it should be noted QT works really well with the HAP codec.
    This means using Windows native movie formats like WMV or AVI. The benefit of using those systems is that the movie playback is done natively, and DirectShow does a good job of multithreading the playback so as to spread the load among all the CPUs. If we update Isadora to ensure that you can use HAP in a WMV or AVI container, that will be a big plus. (For sure this is on the road map.)
    I'm actually going to go test the HAP codec for Windows right now to see if I actually need to _do_ anything to support it. I will be back in a bit.
    Best Wishes,

  • Thanks, guys, for your views.

    I'm beginning to use Isadora heavily in my post-grad research, and bought a pc licence. At Wimbledon College of Art, where I'm doing my post-grad, they have Isadora on Macs.
    With my most recent project, my Interim show, I found several differences between platforms: (and I will file all these properly as bug reports).
    1\. OSC was much more reliable on Mac. Sending an OSC signal to Windows (from an iPhone using touchOSC) using OSC listener and jump++ to go to next scene was not reliable: sometimes it would not respond, other times skip a scene entirely.  On Mac no problems at all.
    2\. There was a problem with pixel shift between platforms. I used video in watcher to live capture part of my face from a webcam into Isadora, and my face was placed behind a 'hole' in a photoshop file. The positioning of the output video was different between Mac and PC. I had to  change the vertical and horizontal position of the projector in every scene going from PC to Mac. (Is there a global search and replace?). This was using the same Webcam in both platforms
    3\. The text thing… I was using the Text Draw actor to put text on a separate stage and output (like auto cue). Windows crashed constantly doing this. The Mac was totally solid. Thanks @DusX for that CPU/GPU tip. I'll go back to my Windows machine and try that out.
    @Fred, thank for your input. Apparently my Dell Laptop is not hard to Hackintosh. I'll think about that… means swapping to the USB dongle for Isadora to go cross platform, but that's not the end of the world.
    @mark, yes, the QT thing is a PITA. In my 'other' life I'm a professional video maker: an Adobe Community Professional, and Adobe Certified Expert in Premiere and After Effects, and Adobe're fielding lots of questions about that:
    I imagine they're having lots of fun at NAB dealing with questions about how they're going to fix **that**!!
    But if you're looking at alternative codecs, movie playback has to be done using GPU not CPU, don't you think? Or have I misunderstood what you're saying?
    Thanks all

  • Hello,

    Agree with Matk, it can be great if HAP codec can be integrate in AVI container....I'm an Isadora user on the both platforms and i'm just thinking that QT on windows is the problem.....
    best and thanks at all
  • Beta Platinum

    I have both PC and Mac, I prefer Mac

  • This is an endless debact..like canon or nikon, bmw or mercedes, beatles or rolling stones.

    BTW here are my thoughts:
    • Mac cost more, but not so much more if you configure your PC with same specs.
    • Mac hold more value afterr 2 years, so if you mind to change hardware frequently is a best option.
    • Repair a mac is much more expensive and some time other vendors (like DELL) have imho a better support (i.e. in my city samsung got a repair centre in city, apple 50 km far).
    • Mac is less flexible than PC if you got a desktop (you can decide and upgrade GPU, CPU and so on) but if you are on a laptop the possibility of upgrade are more or less the same.
    • Mac often use connections out of standards (like airplay) that is usually a pain in the a**
    • Stability of Mac is a myth...or otherwise instability of PC is false, if you set up it well and with wisdom, Both can crash and they can do it in the worst moment: during the show!!
    IMHO what can push you to one or the other one sides of the force are initial amount of money and preferred software that some time are platform exclusive like millumin or qLab.
    P.S: of course if you are also a gamer mac is NOT an option!  :-)
  • Tech Staff

    I have only every seriously used Isadora on Macs, but here are my thoughts on them:
    • Pros

    • Most of the Isadora users I know and work with use Mac so collaborating, sharing, and getting help is easy because we "speak the same language."

    • With Apple Care, repairs to your computer are covered. There was a fluke with my Mac Pro tower's video cards, they replaced them for free. (It was really nice looking at a bill that said "Hardware and Labor: $700+, Total Cost: $0.00)

    • While I am sure that similar software exists for PC, I find it fairly easy to find and use Mac software applications with Isadora.

    • Cons

    • I hate Mac's proprietary EVERYTHING. (My computer bag is stuffed full of adaptors.)

    • Apple know that it has a near-monopoly in certain areas, and exploits this mercilessly in various ways. Evil.

    • Their so called "intuitive" controls sometimes drive me insane. (To do "x" do I use two fingers, three fingers, my nose, or draw a map of Spain on the touchpad?)

    As for instability, while I "feel" that Mac is more stable, I will concede that I have had issues with both OSX and Windows in the past, (though not necessarily related to Isadora.)
    It is true however, that with Windows you have a lot more flexibility in a great many ways, and that Izzy is perfectly viable on either operating system.

    @Maximortal You can game if you use Bootcamp :D

  • Izzy Guru

    "_ draw a map of Spain on the touchpad"_ LOLZ - Spat my coffee out right there....

  • Tech Staff

    Glad you enjoyed that :)

  • Hi Guys,

    Thanks for your input.
    I already know most of the arguments of Mac Vs PC etc and they've been done to death :-)

    Specifically I am asking about using Isadora on these two platforms and asking simply "does Isadora work better on the Mac than the PC?". This question is not about Mac vs PC on any other level :-)

  • The answer is... it depends. Short answer is, yes, it does play better on Mac... IF you happen to be using (for instance)...

    - Kinect and/or
    - Processing and/or
    - OSC and/or
    - handling of MultiChannel Audio i/o (due to flexibility of CoreAudio standard vs independent manufacturer ASIO drivers on Windows and wide variance of implementation)
    ...simply because these protocols etc are all more mature and solid on OSX than on Windows. But again, this is essentially Mac vs PC, with a _coincidental side-effect_ on Isadora use. So, _it depends...!_
    Personally, after being a PC hardware engineer for best part of 20 years under [O-CuK] & ThermoChill, I switched to Mac solely because of the extent of my Isadora use and the necessity to interface Isadora with other apps and hardware that are handled more appropriately and reliably by OSX. I haven’t used a PC for any of this stuff since.
    As for the gaming argument / graphics hardware argument - both my Macbook Pros can handle running rFactor2 via Bootcamp with triple-head FullHD output & IR head tracking - & whilever they continue to do so, I won’t ever have a problem as far as gaming is concerned! So even from the gamers perspective, the answer is still... _it depends!_

  • @Marci, Thanks!

    Yes, I can absolutely see myself using OSC and Multichannel audio: my current project involves both.
    Already have hit a wall with the multichannel audio stuff in Windows, though had excellent support and suggestions from @DusX.
    I want to use Kinect, but have had reliability issues with it - on both platforms - that don't make me 100% happy about using it in performance situations. But that's with Skeleton tracking. Maybe I should be a bit less ambitious.

    I look into my crystal ball and the future is suggesting a second-hand Mac for running shows on....

  • Indeed - dodge skeletons, use blobs, Kinect becomes infinitely more reliable, but less convenient to implement for the end-user... majority of stability issues stem from plugging it into USB3 when it really needs USB2, but walk before you can run etc.... A Mac-Mini can be had for a few hundred that's good enough for most things that work better on the Mac platform - I picked up my current i7 MacMini Server secondhand for £250. You can then trigger from the Mac Izzy to Windows Izzy on a separate machine via Midi-over-TCP / whatever (and vice-versa). I take 2x MB Pros, a Mac Mini, and a Dell QuadCore XPS Studio laptop running Win7 for intense shows, with the Izzy work distributed across them as appropriate. Eg: cheap USB 4x channel composite capture stick - ONLY works in Windows... and one of the PTZ setups I use also only runs from Windows, so the Dell tends to handle SD video capture and control. The USB3 MBPro is dedicated to GPU intensive / syphon / HD Video capture & control, the older USB2 MBPro handles Kinect (x2), Z-vector and Processing2. The MacMini tends to handle overall Izzy scene control & navigation across all the machines along with MOTU828MkII & 8PRE for 20ch audio IO... (EVERYTHING FireWire based works better on OSX when it comes to audio io) and operates various hardware matrix switchers via USB to RS232 to shift display output from one machine to capture input of another etc. Then I have 3x Raspberry Pis that are all OSC-over-WiFi receivers that turn rf-controlled sockets and relays on and off, control anything that uses IR etc. Possibilities are endless... no point limiting yourself to a single platform! Just treat each system as another module for your Izzy arsenal :D

  • @marci That's brilliant useful information, thank you.

    _Just treat each system as another module for your Izzy arsenal :D
    _I knew there was a reason I was hanging on to that 2008 MBP!

    Also a really excellent insight into how you work and how you set-up your work.
    Do you have a website or something which shows your work?
    Do we ever have UK Isadora meetups?!
    Should we?!

  • Nope, no site. I only work via word of mouth on projects with a few local guys really, hardly a pro... if you’ve ever caught Off the Wall Pink Floyd Tribute in theatres in UK, turning up with full stage show, then I’m usually there and everything you’re seeing is coming from me sat in the wings (or the stalls with my iPad). A lot of what I’m doing now is for a show yet-to-be; when there’s enough money to tour it, along with concepts for some installation pieces that I hope to plonk into the local artwalk at somepoint, when I can afford to buy a few more projectors.

    From what I’ve seen, UK meets are few n’ far between, with only a handful of UK users spread across the country... altho more do seem to be appearing as time goes by. *nudges @skulpture*
  • Tech Staff

    Its true, that it depends.

    I would argue that Kinect is more stable on Windows.. but it depends on how you are running it.
    I am currently using Kinect V2 on windows.. and loving it.
    OSC has never been an issue for me on Windows, but audio is definitely more convenient on Mac. However, I have a rock-solid method of using Isadora with Renoise (great OSC integration).
    Personally I stay away from Processing, so I can't comment on that much. 
    My current work is largely done interfacing Isadora with Python and 'externals' (openframeworks executables etc..)
  • Izzy Guru

    @marci is very much a pro!

    Great overview Marci thank you. I agree; both mac and PC can be bought fairly cheap or second hand for the best of both worlds. Unless you are building a very big show computer for an install or huge projection mapping project then really having both is the answer; which I know isn't ideal but realistically thats the only way you can have the benefits of both. 
    _Note: For future readers/newbies or people thinking of buying Isadora and reading this post: _
    _I would like to state on Marks behalf (owner and creator) that its not always that he wont make Isadora work the same on windows as it does on mac - sometimes it just physically cant be done. I can say that we talk very often behind the scenes about the windows and mac version and we/Mark try very hard to keep them equal. _