Editing in DV (NTSC and/or PAL)
The most basic Final Cut Pro setup requires only a G4-based Mac with an AGP and built-in FireWire, a computer display, a mini DV or Digital 8 camera, and a FireWire cable to control the camera and capture its audio, video, and timecode information. I cannot stress this enough: Check with Apple's Internet site, www.apple.com/finalcutpro/qualification.html , for a list of compatible devices. It's updated from time to time. You access it through the Final Cut Pro area or from the FAQs in Apple's discussion group area. If you own a VHS camera or need to work in this format, solutions are available. If your camera or videotape recorder (VTR) is not on Apple's qualified device list, another way to check whether a proposed camera or deck will work well with Final Cut Pro is to ask in the various forums dedicated to Final Cut Pro users (see Appendix E). Someone is usually available who has already tried or is currently using any given deck or camera you might be interested in using. Sometimes, certain devices need a bit of a workaround to use, and it's best not to be the first one to try it.
As an alternative to this simple setup, you could add an analog-to-digital or DV converter and capture footage from an analog source such as a VHS machine or camera. This analog converter might not be necessary if your DV or Digital 8 camera can serve to accomplish digital-to-analog (D/A) and analog-to-digital (A/D) conversions for you. Most DV decks' and cameras ' analog inputs and outputs allow for A/D and D/A conversion, which would forego the use of a capture card or an external A/D-D/A converter. However, remember that you will be tying up your DV camera for this purpose, and you won't be able to capture or record to tape without it. I advise that you use either a deck or an A/D converter to capture DV footage from an analog source, especially if you need to keep that camera working while you are editing.
The only disk drive considerations you should have are either a FireWire drive or another internal ATA 7200rpm disk drive for media storage. FireWire drives work best when they are 7200rpm drives that contain the Oxford 911 ATA-to-FireWire bridge or later, such as the Oxford 922 chipsets used in FireWire 800 drive setups. Apple currently does not recommend FireWire drives for use with FCP, although many users have good luck with them, and they might be your only choice if you are using one of the laptops. Just look for the Oxford Bridge chipset and buy 7200rpm drives, or drives with a minimum of 8.5MBps sustained transfer rate. Building your own by buying an enclosure (which should have the specified bridge) and a fast ATA drive is a good solution, and you will be sure to get a fast-enough drive. Prepackaged drives don't always have the same exact disk drive in them from run to run of the manufacturer.
The only drives that Apple has recommended to date for use as disks for storage of media files are Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI) drives. That is not to say that ATA drives won't work, but the faster the drives you work with, the fewer the problems you will encounter, and the more reliable and powerful RT Extreme effects will operate .
FireWire 400 enclosed ATA disk drives (which is what "FireWire drives" are) take a bit of a performance hit when running externally (most likely the reason that Apple has never officially recommended them). The same ATA drive (which is what is supplied with "FireWire" drives) mounted internally is about 25% faster. So if you have a tower, you are better off mounting internal ATA drives (7200rpm with 8MB buffers) than running with the same drive mounted in a FireWire enclosure. It's best to populate your G4 tower with internals first if you can. It's not a tough thing to do. Apple has instructions on its support site for the procedure. And you'll do fine with these drives if you are working in DV or lower data rate resolutions .
As I write this, FireWire 800 drive enclosures are appearing. They will improve data throughput. The bottleneck with all FireWire enclosures has been the chipset used to turn the ATA data into data that can be transmitted via FireWire to your computer. The newest Macs all have FireWire 800 ports and can take advantage of the latest FireWire 800 drive enclosures utilizing the new Oxford 922 chipsets. They likely will "bridge" the ATA to FireWire data so quickly that these external drives will perform as well as they would if they were mounted internally. They will be ideally suited to work with a PowerBook that has a FireWire 800 port. On the other hand, unless you need to be portable with your project and its associated media files, you will save some expenditure if you can add ATA internal disk drives to your PowerMac, and you will not gain any performance using external FireWire drives. With the advent of FireWire 800 drives, though, the performance bottleneck might well be the ATA drives themselves . Faster drives will no doubt come along and improve this situation.