iMac G5 for Video Editing

David from Florida wrote to me:

    The one iMac G5 thread I am hoping to read — how will it be for digital video?
    Let’s say I add 1GB of RAM — will it be fine for Final Cut Express? And how about Final Cut Pro?
    It doesn’t have to be top of the line. I am on a budget and am more interested in documentary-style straight-cuts and so forth. (Though, I would want to have a sense of the limitations of the iMac.)

I haven’t had a chance to try Final Cut Express on the iMac G5, but I’d bet it would be great. FCE runs nice and fast on my PowerBook G4 Aluminum (1.25 GHz), so the extra processor power in the iMac would probably mean more on-the-fly rendering, etc. The same is probably true for FCP. Definitely add as much RAM as you can afford, but otherwise it seems like a good deal.

The only limitation that might stop me is that the iMac only supports mirrored video on a second display. Having another monitor set up to store other palettes, etc., is helpful. But it sounds like you’re not needing to set up a sprawling video editing system. Make sure you get the Apple Video Adapter so you can hook up a TV monitor (not a computer display) via S-Video so you can see what your footage looks like on video.

But, after testing the 20-inch iMac, I can say the widescreen screen is ideally suited for video editing.

  1. Does anyone know what kind of computer and video editing software documentaries like “The Fog of War” used?


  2. I’m sure it runs the gamut, though it wouldn’t surprise me if Final Cut Pro is making strong inroads. Documentaries rarely have big budgets, so buying a $6,000 FCP system is probably more cost-effective than renting Avid bays. But, there’s bound to be variations based on what the director and/or editor are comfortable with, have access to, etc.
    I did a quick Google search for “fog of war” “editing software” and came up with a couple interesting tidbits: they don’t specify what was used for editing, but it’s close:,aid,117344,00.asp


  3. I’ve heard it said that using your internal hard drive to store video you’re editing, whether for Final Cut Express or iMovie, could cause corruption. The person who told me this edits for a living, but uses the Power Macs. He uses external drives for his footage Any thoughts? I’d be using the iMac G5. Thanks for any advice!


  4. I don’t know of any reason why editing on an internal hard drive could cause corruption. I suppose in theory you’re upping the risk of corruption because you’re writing data to the drive that holds the operating system; but if the OS is getting confused about where it’s writing data, you have bigger problems than corrupted video files.
    Editing on an external drive makes sense from an organizational standpoint: you can keep a project separate from your other files, and it’s not tucked into subfolders within your Home directory (iMovie defaults to the Movies folder, whereas iDVD defaults to the Documents folder). Also, if you’re using FileVault to secure the data in your Home folder, you don’t want to be working with video data there anyway; that’s just too much data that needs to be encrypted and decrypted on the fly.
    So: if you can edit on an external drive, great. But editing on your iMac’s internal drive should be no problem.


  5. i’m an aspiring moviemaker (who isn’t these days). i have a wonderful cam (xl1s) and am deadset on using macs for my editing. i can’t afford the big boy powermac, but could get a tricked out imac g5. also, i want to use fcx to begin my editing career. is this a good choice for a beginner with a vision? is the imac powerful enough for fcx? or, should i continue to save, putting the dream on hold for even longer, and purchase the big dog mac? any assistance is greatly appreciated.


  6. Carl,
    Final Cut Express is ideal for a beginner with a vision. I currently run FCE on a PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz and the performance is fine, so you’ll probably have no troubles on an iMac G5.


  7. I am in need of a computer for video editing…I heard the IMAC is the way to to.. and if so which one?
    here is my case… I film whitetail and turkey hunts in the outdoors and want to start making a DVD using editing software…where should I start…I dont want to spend more that 2,000 if i dont have to…
    is a laptop the way to go?


  8. Hi Joe,
    An iMac would be a great video editing machine, especially if you’re on a budget. The advantage of having a laptop is the portability, so if you envision yourself editing in the field, then a PowerBook would be a better choice. But if you want to just take your video and get it done at home or office, an iMac will work great.


  9. Hi Jeff,
    Love your books…any idea when your book iMovie HD6 will be out?
    Thanks for your time.


  10. Mary,
    No timeline yet. I’m hammering out details with Peachpit, since we weren’t sure if Apple was updating iLife until we saw Steve Jobs announce it at the Macworld Expo keynote.


  11. how do i integrate a video from i movie to my web page


  12. Fola, I include complete instructions on incorporating movies onto Web pages in my book. The easiest method, if you have a .Mac account, is to share your movie from iMovie to HomePage (or to iWeb if you’re running iMovie HD 6).


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