What computer system to purchase

  • Hello,
    I am a newbie to Isadora. I am needing some advise on what computer system to purchase for a project coming up. If someone could point me in the right direction I would appreciate it. Here is what we are trying to do. I am using a live camera to feed Isadora. Probably composite or SDI. The live camera feed is being effected by 3-4 effects. A delay effect, possibly a motion blur or two and possibly gaussian blur. At that point I am sending the signal out to a single projector or possibly edge blending two projectors with Map Mapper and Blendy.

    Here is the system I was going to buy:
    Mac Pro 3.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor
    12 gig of ram
    1TB 7200 rpm Serial ATA hard drive
    1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphic card
    I am going to purchase a Blackmagic Decklink Studio 2 for video capture.

    Do you think this is overkill. I can see us using the effects and I don't want to run out of computer power. I would love to wait for the new Mac Pro to come out but my project is in October and I doubt it will be out by then.
    Does Isadora need this much processing power? Does it do some computer magic behind the scenes that I am not aware of, like use the graphics card ram more than the computers ram? Is there a better graphics card out there if this is the case. Is the Decklink Studio 2 capture card a good card to go with? Should I add more ram? Should I just go with a powerful iMac?
    Sorry for all the questions, I just know that there is someone out there that has these questions. I have been reading the forum and there are a lot of helpful intelligent people on it.

  • Tech Staff

    Blur effects are heavy on the processor, so I would get the highest GHz processor you can (thread count not as critical)
    If you plan on playing back HD video at some point you would be better off with a SSD to stream the video from, but that could be a secondary drive.

  • Izzy Guru

    I echo DusX points. a SSD really helps!

    I don't think you can 'overkill' a computer. Making it as future proof as possible is always wise. If you have the money than an SSD and increased processor you will be well on your way. 
    I'd also consider getting a matrox tripple head or datapath x4 for multiple outputs (if you need it) - they are always handy!

  • Thank you for the replies.  I really appreciate it. So if I want to do edge blending with this computer I would still need the Matrox Tripple head. I was wondering since the ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphic card has multiple outputs could I possibly use that instead of using a tripple head? Does the triple head act differently than a graphics card with multiple outputs?

  • Tech Staff

    If the ATI supports X number of monitors, you should be able to use it for X number of projectors. Just remember you need to keep one output for your interface.
    The Matrox dual/triple head is seen as one large (double or triple wide) outputs by your system.. Isadora knows to tile multiple stages into the wide output. Its a great way to get additional outputs on a machine that has limited physical outs.. like a laptop with a single secondary video output.

  • Great thanks. So I could still use Blendy and MadMapper to do my edge blending with just the graphics card? The card has three outputs. Two mini display and one dual link dvi. Also is there better edge blending software out there. Something that has been tested?
    Would I be better off going with a PC with Isadora?

  • Beta Tester

    You could look at the SEB quartz composer patch instead of Blendy. I've used it on several projects and its free. You would need the Core Video upgrade. Keep in mind with the 5770s that they are somewhat picky about adapters if you want to use all three outputs at the same time

  • Matthew,
    Thanks for the advice. I will try that. What kind of adapters do they like? Do they need active adapters instead of passive?
    On another note what do you think is the better platform for Isadora? PC or Mac? I use Dataton's Watchout also and would like to buy a powerful PC to use both Watchout and Isadora.

  • Beta Tester

    They like active adapters but you should go to the ATI website and find the list of specifically approved compatible adapters and use those. I almost exclusively run Isadora on Macs so I don't know that I have enough information to give a good comparison. I find that I usually want to use QC or core actors and/or Syphon on nearly every show and PCs don't have any of those. I also use watchout extensively and I would highly recomend that whatever computers you buy for WO are dedicated exclusively to that task. Watchout on a multipurpose machine is a recipe for reliability issues.

  • Am I better off just purchasing a triple or double head2go than mess with the additional outputs. Not that I want to spend the money but if it makes my life easier it might be worth it.

  • Beta Tester

    Messing with a TripleHead is no easier than messing with the proper adapter for the 5770. Either one will work fine as long as you follow their respective manufacture's guidelines. I've used both many times and neither is the right or wrong choice for all shows but I will say that I find myself increasingly specing Mac Minis and TripleHeads since I find that the price/performance balance for Isadora is very good with that setup especially compared to a Mac Pro. I generally spec the 2.3 GHz Quad Core i7 Mini and then upgrade them myself to 16GB of RAM with a 120GB SSD boot drive and a 240-480GB SSD for media. That is a very affordable and extremely high performance system compared to a Quad Core Mac Pro.

  • The mac mini might be the way to go since they are coming out with a new model of the Mac Pro anyway. Also I need this system to be mobile. Do you see any cons to using a mac mini? Do the mac minis come with two hard drive inside or do you purchase an external SSD beside the boot drive?

  • Beta Tester

    I purchase two SSDs from OWC and a Data Doubler kit and install both drives internally and then use the hard drive the mini comes with as a spare.

  • Beta Tester

    The only big con with the Minis is that all your outputs have to be the same resolution and refresh rate because that's how TripleHeads work. You also don't have the option of adding a second graphics card for three more outputs although a 4-Core Mac Pro would struggle mightily with 6 outputs anyways

  • Do you think the lack of processor speed compared to the Mac Pro is significant? Or do you think with the ssd and an upgrade in ram you wouldn't know the difference?

  • Beta Tester

    I think with with dual SSDs and an upgrade in RAM you will not see significant performance differences. That being said, I just went back and reread your original post and I'm not clear on how you are planning to hand video capture with the Mini.

  • I started wondering that myself. I would need two thunderbolt ports and it looks like the mini only has one. One port would be the doublehead2go and one would be a Blackmagic intensity extreme for capture. I think I am back to either an iMac or a Mac Pro. Now my question is if I go with the iMac should I go with the 27" since I can get the 1 gig graphic card? The 21.5" only comes with 512 mb of ram on the graphic card. With the IMac I do get the two thunderbolt ports I need. If I go with the Mac Pro I will just install a Blackmagic Decklink Studio card for capture and use the 5770 to output to the two projectors. Any thoughts on that? Thanks.

  • Beta Tester

    Once you're at the point of spending iMac money I think you might as well just get a Mac Pro and have the additional expansion options. Plus PCI capture cards are cheaper than thunderbolt ones and the iMac only supports a single internal drive.

  • Thanks Matthew!

  • So what is the best pci e video capture card on the market? I am planning on purchasing the Blackmagic Decklink Studio. I like that it has both analog inputs and sdi inputs. We purchased one for our Coolux system but I have heard the the Blackmagic drivers aren't that great. They can be a little touchy. But they are priced pretty well.