The minimum system requirements to run Final Cut Pro (FCP) 4 and work with this book are as follows :
A Macintosh computer with a PowerPC G4 or faster processor and an Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) graphics card
A 350MHz or faster processor
384MB of random-access memory (RAM); 512MB is recommended for Soundtrack and for using RT Extreme or working on long projects in Final Cut Pro
A DVD drive
A 6GB audio/video-rated disk drive (20GB or greater is recommended)
A digital video (DV) source, such as a camcorder or deck, connected to your computer via a FireWire port (also known as i.LINK or IEEE 1394)
The correct FireWire or device control cable and any additional cables you might need to connect your deck or camcorder to your computer
The software requirements are as follows:
To use Soundtrack or RT Extreme in Final Cut Pro, you must have a Power Macintosh computer with a 450MHz or faster dual processor or a 500MHz or faster single processor.
These are the minimum system requirements; it is highly recommended that you exceed them. Final Cut Pro uses the additional resources and runs better and faster on a Dual G4 or G5 computer, because Final Cut Pro is dual processor-aware. Rendering times, which are CPU- intensive tasks , become shorter when the computer can process more quickly. Opening and running large projects also is easier and faster with additional RAM installed. In addition, it's possible to run third-party applications at the same time you are running Final Cut Pro if RAM is available to run them with.
Furthermore, real-time effects become more reliable and robust the faster the computer is. For example, you achieve no real-time playback of clips with effects applied to them with single-processor G4 computers that are slower than 500MHz. As you add more power to the system, you gain more and more real-time playback of these effects. Final Cut Pro 4's real-time rendering engine, called RT Extreme, opens more capabilities in this area as you add power to your system in the form of processor speed, media disk speed, and display card power. Even though you might be able to play back effects without rendering them, they might not play back smoothly or in full resolution until you render them. The idea here is to check the settings used for these effects to make sure they are what you intended without rendering them first.
A G4 PowerBook runs FCP 4 quite nicely . The G4 in the PowerBook allows for some real-time effects and also captures in the Photo-JPEG format for offline. A PowerBook, any eMac, or a G4 iMac will certainly run FCP 4, but they don't allow for robust real-time effects. The minimum requirement for any RT Extreme effects on a G4 PowerBook is 500MHz. An advantage of the PowerBook over the eMac is the availability of an additional external independent computer display. RT Extreme requires a G4 processor and 1MB of level 3 cache to work as well, so you don't get any real-time effects with the currently shipping eMacs or iMacs. This shouldn't stop you from running FCP 4 on them, though. Real-time effects are nice and increase workflow some, but they are not necessary to produce a fine program by any means. The workflow improvements in FCP 4 over FCP 3 are so valuable , I believe they outweigh any earlier loss of real-time effects. Furthermore, your editing workflow and overall experience are greatly enhanced by running Final Cut Pro 4 rather than Final Cut Pro 3. This upgrade is by far the largest and most compelling upgrade in the short history of the software.
At the present time, no iBook runs Final Cut Pro 4. (They won't until they are supplied with G4 processors.)
You need about 650MB of free space for the project and media files that are associated with this book. You also need a Mac that can run FCP.
A Word About Internet Access
I highly recommend that you have Internet access. In most circles of opinion, it is mandatory. The most compelling reason to have Internet access is to stay up to date with your software. In fact, when FCP 3 was introduced, you couldn't even install it without this access, because you needed to download OS updates for OS X! This situation is likely to continue. Internet access has become as common as the telephone, and software makers rely on it to keep their users up to date with their software upgrades. If you are running on an older computer than what is currently being shipped by Apple, you will most likely need Internet access to do this sort of download if you want to run OS X. Furthermore, future releases of OS X, QuickTime, and FCP updates will most likely require Internet access.
Having Internet access also enhances your learning process. Appendix E, "Other Resources," lists web sites that I highly recommend you visit. Some of these sites even give you software, music, picture files, and more for free. Learning software of this nature is difficult enough on your own. This is a great community of users supporting each other online. I'll point you to some sites that also have information on hardware, companion software, music, stock footage, and other resources. Don't forget to check them out!
With Internet access, you can also chat with me at http://www.creativecow.net in the Final Cut Pro forums there, as well as through Apple's Final Cut Pro discussion group . Sometimes you might have questions about the process we will go through together, and I really would like to help you directly in any way I can.