Avid certify HP’s Z1 workstation

Avid certify HP’s Z1 workstation

Proving it’s not just a pretty face, HP’s iMac equivalent, the Z1, has been qualified by Avid for use with their top creative applications.

The  certified config is the Intel Xeon E3-1245v2 model with 8GB DDR3 RAM, NVIDIA’s Quadro 1000M and a 256GB SATA SSD. The 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8 are supported. This means that the Z1 is now an affordable option for anyone who wants the slimmed down form factor of an iMac but wants to keep their facility hardware strictly PC, or for anyone who’s currently on Mac but is looking for a cheap yet powerful PC workstation to try out. Plus – just in case the incredibly dramatic product video didn’t hammer this home for you – you can fold it up, pop the back open and add more RAM or do your own maintenance. We like.

To find out more about HP’s Z1, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

What’s new in Media Composer 7?

What’s new in Media Composer 7?
Not content with saving us money by dropping the price, saving us time by upping the number of mind-numbing tasks that can be done in the background, improving our MAM and making it easier for us to work in hi-res, Avid have also tightened up Media Composer’s integration with Symphony, Interplay and Pro Tools. Here’s our round up of the key changes…

Automating the process of media management with Dynamic Media Folders
This new feature allows you to designate any folder on your machine as a Dynamic Media Folder and tell Media Composer to automatically copy, transcode or consolidate any files you drop into it. This accelerates and simplifies AMA tasks, as you can assign a profile to each folder to determine the format, resolution and destination of any files it works on. For example, you could drop 4K rushes into a folder, create HD DNx36 offline, transfer it to ISIS and start working with it immediately while the transcode happens in the background – you’ll receive a notification right on your timeline when the folder has finished its work. You can also automatically copy and relink to new media locations and check in to Interplay 3.0 without having to consolidate or transcode clips.

New codecs and improved AMA support
Avid’s quest to get you working with every format in Christendom continues in Media Composer 7, with AS-11 standard support and XAVC 2k/4k support both being added. The AMA workflow has been streamlined, too – linking media can now be taken care of in a single window, and you can drag and drop the clips you want to link to rather than generating new media. All your AMA media will now appear in the Media Tool panel so you can keep track of it, and you can relink, transcode or consolidate audio and video tracks separately. Any files with Alpha channels will retain them if they’re linked to (they appear as matte keys on your timeline).

Supporting AMWA standards for file-based delivery
Media Composer 7 sees Avid adding new tools to support project segmentation. They support the AS-11 delivery standard, and you can access your AS-11 file directly so that you can edit them without importing. Your segmentation will be displayed in the timeline, your metadata will show up in the right bin columns, and you’ll be able to export your AS-11 files in a single multi-essence OP1-A MXF file. There’s also AS-02 support for anyone looking to manage multi-version master files as a single bundle. You can create and manage the file essences of J2K, DNxHD, 1:1, AVC-I and IMX files, too.

Colour Space Conversion
1D and 3D LUT and CDL support is now built in throughout your Media Composer workflow, allowing you to manage, preserve, create and output colour metadata, convert colour spaces in real time, bulk modify clips, apply custom LUTs from other apps such as DaVinci Resolve and auto-convert clips to their proper colour space using their metadata. Your clips’ colour info will now appear right in the media bin, and taking a hint from the increasing popularity of node-based editing in other post apps, Avid are now letting you change the order in which multiple colour transforms are added to a clip.

Free edit stations from rendering with Avid’s new background transcode engine
As we mentioned earlier, you can now transcode, consolidate and copy clips in the background. Avid’s background transcode engine leverages not only your computer’s CPU but the power of any platforms you’re connected to (an Interplay Sphere environment for example) in order to process transcoding jobs with the least possible impact on your system performance. You can manage jobs simply using the new Process List, which allows you to cancel, pause and prioritise tasks, as well as monitor their progress.

Converting high res to HD with Frame Flex 
Frame Flex is a cunning new feature that enables easy pan and scanning of high res images so that you can cut an HD frame out of a 2K or 4K shot in order to deliver that media straight to HD. All you do is use a simple framing selection tool to choose the area of the clip you want to keep (you can check what it will look like in a source monitor UI). You shot is then cut down to size, and you can keyframe it, animate it using pans and zooms, use the same settings to bulk modify clips and then output them via Avid I/O or an Open I/O supported third party solution.

Improving your audio workflow
Last but not least, Avid have also given Media Composer’s audio workflow a boost. As the improved integration with Pro Tools and its new video engine suggests, the emphasis is on making audio for post workflows as seamless as possible and saving you valuable time. You can now cache audio waveforms and instantly redraw them on the timeline or at the source. The waveforms are stored at project data level and associated with a user, not a project, so you can have your own cache rather than working from a centrally stored one. You can also make gain adjustments on the timeline simply by clicking and dragging a clip’s gain, and there’s even an audio mixer UI that you can call up right on the timeline.

Symphony and Interplay
Media Composer will run on Mac OS X 10.7 and 10.8,  Windows 7  and Windows 8. If you have ongoing projects, don’t worry – you’ll now be able to roll back to the previous version of your software if you need to. If you opt for Media Composer 7 with Symphony option, you’ll get a 30 day free Symphony trial in-app, complete with Boris Continuum Complete, and if you decide to upgrade, all you need to do is enter the upgrade key Avid provide. Once you have your Symphony licence, you’re free to move it between systems, so your artists aren’t tied to one machine.

One thing you need to bear in mind is that Media Composer 7 comes in two versions – a standard version and an Interplay version. As the name suggests the Interplay edition is the only one that’s capable of integrating into a full Interplay environment, and as a result costs £380 extra (unless you’re an academic  – the standard price education version of MC7 is Interplay-capable. You also get some exclusive networked licensing options). However, you can upgrade from the standard to the Interplay edition for just £359 ex VAT, so if you’re thinking of moving to Interplay or are not sure how many of your users will require access to it, we’d recommend starting out with basic licences and then upgrading as many as you need when you’re ready to head over to Interplay.

You can buy Avid Media Composer 7 now on our site. If you’d like to know more, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Full frame sensors and external recorders: Our best buys for bypassing internal compression

Full frame sensors and external recorders: Our best buys for bypassing internal compression

There are some fantastic full frame sensor cameras out there that can give you crisp, clean images with a fantastic depth of field, and while we realise that sometimes it’s necessary for you to crush all that goodness down to 24Mbps 4:2:0 H.264 by shooting natively, it’s basically our mission to ensure that doesn’t happen any more than it absolutely has to.

To that end, we present our top three camera/external recorder combos, each designed to help you bypass your camera’s native limitations and shoot pristine images – in the C500’s case, you can even go all the way up to 4K RAW. If you don’t see something to suit you here, you can always drop us a line in the comments or at broadcast@Jigsaw24.com for info on what else is out there.

For weddings, low end music videos and anyone moving up from DSLR: Canon C100 and Atomos Ninja-2

The C100 is one of the best cameras around at its price point, largely due to the fact that it’s built around the same sensor as Canon’s next offering up, the C300. If you shoot natively it caps you at 24Mbps 4:2:0, but the sensor actually captures far more information than that, and pairing the C100 with an Atomos Ninja-2 is an affordable way to get yourself an uncompressed 10-bit feed and make this a workable shooting setup for low end ads and music videos, event videography or corporate work. (While we’re talking about money, it’s worth noting that we’re throwing in a drive, flight case and cable with the Ninja-2, which Atomos now make you buy separately, so you’ll want to pick this up soon in order to get the best possible deal.)

For ENG: JVC GY-HM650 and Atomos Samurai Blade

JVC’s GY-HM650 has been much talked about because its WiFi connectivity makes it a great fit for ENG – you can record footage in the field, then stream it back to base without having to ingest or transcode the footage first. Pairing it with a Samurai Blade makes this even easier, as you can record a hi-res version to the Blade for ingest, the final edit and archiving, while streaming a lower res proxy back to head office so that your team can start work on a rough cut.

The Samurai Blade is a great advantage in field setups like this, as it doubles up as an external recorder and hi-res viewfinder. The 325 dpi IPS display gives you deep, detailed blacks and great colour accuracy, and the touchscreen controls make it easy to move between vectorscopes, waveform monitors, luma overlays, your RGB parade and your actual image – all on one device.

For ad agencies, high end music videos and short films: Canon C500 and Ki Pro Quad

The C500 wasn’t originally billed as a 4K camera, but as each of its four HD-SDI outputs are capable of carrying an HD image, you can hook it up to the Ki Pro Quad and knit the four streams together to get a full resolution 12-bit 4:4:4 or 10-bit 4:2:2 4K RAW image. As well as being fantastic for video shoots, this pairing is great for anyone doing graphics-driven or multimedia work, as you can pull 4K or RAW stills from the Ki Pro Quad and edit them as you would a still image, so you can use footage captured during a single shoot across all elements of a campaign.

The Ki Pro Quad records ProRes files to SSD drives and offloads via Thunderbolt, so it’s quick and easy to get even the largest files from your camera to your NLE of choice. You could even use it with something like the Blackmagic Design MultiDock to offload your footage to multiple drives at the same time, ensuring that you always have working, backup, archive and insurance copies of your shoot (read more on the MultiDock and Ki Pro Quad here).

Looking for some new lenses? 

Sadly a no-go for JVC users, but if you’re eyeing up either the C100 or C500 you’ll be pleased to hear that Canon are now offering a discount when you mix and match any three of five Cine-Prime lenses. As the offer suggests, you’re free to put together your own bundle based on whatever you think will suit your shooting style, but take a look at our sample bundles for a few ideas.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

CINEWARE, CINEMA 4D Lite and CINEMA 4D: What After Effects users need to know

CINEWARE, CINEMA 4D Lite and CINEMA 4D: What After Effects users need to know

When it was announced that the Creative Cloud iteration of After Effects would be capable of two-way collaboration with Maxon’s CINEMA 4D range, it fast became our favourite new feature. Now that we’re a little way down the road, the dust has settled, the workflow has been explained and the deals have been announced, we thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at CINEWARE, CINEMA 4D Lite and CINEMA 4D and  work out exactly which option is best for whom, and what it is you’ll get for your money. Here are your key facts…


Not actually a standalone application, CINEWARE is the name of the plug-in that’s been added to After Effects to let it communicate with CINEMA 4D. It’s what makes it possible for After Effects users to enjoy that two-way workflow, choose to render CINEMA 4D files in an After Effects-based renderer and see changes to cameras and lighting in both programs, regardless of which they were made in. It arrives as part of your After Effects CC download, and is not available to anyone still using After Effects CS6 or earlier.

Maxon CINEMA 4D Lite

This is the stripped back version of CINEMA 4D that comes as part of your After Effects CC download, and is the program you’ll actually do the C4D work in (although if you have a full version of C4D R14 or above already installed on your computer, After Effects CC can also harness that to deliver the same two-way workflow to a full version of C4D).

You can create basic 3D objects and animations in CINEMA 4D Lite, then export them to an After Effects layer as footage for further editing. Both programs can render C4D files, but if you choose to render directly in CINEMA 4D Lite you’ll be limited to low-res renders of 800×600 or less – this cap is removed if you render the footage within After Effects. However, being a Lite version, this doesn’t support advanced features like ambient occlusion, global illumination or polygon modelling.

That said, it gives you far more 3D capabilities than simply doing everything in After Effects would, and Maxon have worked hard to improve camera inoperability between the two programs, so it’s now far easier to make edits in either and have them instantly recognised by both.

If you’re working on motion graphics or only need very simple 3D assets, we reckon you can get away with sticking with CINEMA 4D Lite. If, however, you’re going to need to produce larger or more complex 3D elements or need to animate characters, we’d recommend levelling up to the full version of CINEMA 4D.

CINEMA 4D Broadcast and CINEMA 4D Studio

Let’s get the most pressing news out of the way first: if you’re using After Effects CC, you’re eligible for a 40% discount when you buy CINEMA 4D Broadcast or Studio with a Maxon Service Agreement. This is a pretty amazing deal, and if you think you’ll need a full version, it’s best to get clicking before Maxon come to their senses.

So what are Broadcast and Studio? Well, Maxon split CINEMA 4D into different versions based on what kind of 3D work you do. Studio is the full package, combining the features found in graphic-design orientated Prime and the more CAD-focused Visualize with advanced character creation and mapping tools, all the advanced rendering features that you won’t find in the Lite version, a physics engine and an unlimited client network for the fastest possible rendering. If you’re animating detailed (read: hairy and furry) characters, need to plan complex collisions or will be working with scenes that contain hundreds or thousands of objects, Studio is the CINEMA 4D package that will help you power through projects, all without losing that live link to After Effects.

CINEMA 4D Broadcast is a little more pared down, containing all the tools you’ll need for creating high-end 3D motion graphics and virtual environments rather than characters. It’s got all the rendering options that are missing from CINEMA 4D Lite, plus extra libraries of lighting and camera rigs so it’s easier to create 3D elements that’ll slot straight into any footage you’ve shot, not to mention CINEMA 4D’s infamously comprehensive cloning toolset.

A note on hardware…

If you are planning on using this discount as an excuse to move to CINEMA 4D Studio and take on more 3D-heavy projects, be aware that CGI rendering will take even longer than your usual After Effects jobs. To minimise the time difference, you’ll want to grab yourself a powerful GPU, and make sure your machine has as many core as you can cram into it. We’d recommend opting for a top spec iMac (you can repurpose this as a display and render node once the new Mac Pro hits) a Mac Pro or one of HP’s Z-series workstations.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Get free accessories with Sony’s PMW-150 and PMW-200!

Get free accessories with Sony’s PMW-150 and PMW-200!

Sony are bringing back their awesome Unlimited Flexibility deal, giving you the chance to pick up free accessories when you buy a PMW-150 or PMW-200 between July 1st and 30th September, 2013. 

Designed to show that the PMW range is what you make of it, Unlimited Flexibility gives you up to £347 off any accessories you buy at the same time as a PMW-150, or up to £433 off any accessories you buy with a PMW-200. The offer is open to any dealer’s accessories, not just Sony’s, so there’s no limit on what you can spend your free money on.

Popular choices include splurging on matte boxes and follow focus, pairing your new camera with a rig, or getting yourself a hefty discount on your external recorder of choice.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Sony release critical firmware update for F5 and F55

Sony release critical firmware update for F5 and F55

Sony have rushed out a v1.15 firmware update to combat a bug with the F5 and F55’s fan. The bug, which causes the fan or your AXS-R5 recorder to reset to its default ‘auto’ setting whenever you reset your camera, should be fixed once you download v1.15 for your camera, as this controls the fan on your recorder. 

Sony PMW-F5

Download firmware v1.15 for Sony’s F55 here

Download firmware v1.15 for Sony’s F5 here.

As always, we recommend that you have a read of the educational release notes.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Converting your existing kit to Thunderbolt

Converting your existing kit to Thunderbolt

If you’re currently using a Mac Pro and are worried about what to do with all your PCIe cards when you head to an iMac or the new Mac Pro, there are plenty of options out there. Whether you need room for a single half length card or three full ones, someone’s got you covered.

For half-length PCIe cards

If you’ve only got one half-length card to worry about, we recommend the mLogic mLink, which is excellent value for money and, well, a bit of a looker, which is always nice in a device that sits on your desktop. There’s also an mLink X for 3/4 length cards due to be released soon. If you have multiple half-length cards, the Echo Express II makes good on its name by supporting two single width cards or one double width one.

For full-length PCIe cards

For full length PCIe cards, such as AJA’s Kona range, your options are slightly more limited. However, there’s always Sonnet’s excellent (and rack mountable) Echo Express Pro, which allows you to connect two video capture, audio interface, 8Gb Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet or RAID controller cards to your PCIe-slot free Mac, whether it’s a Mac Pro or a Mac mini – anything with a Thunderbolt port will benefit.

And if you’ve never worked with Thunderbolt before…

If you’re using a Matrox MXO2 device. all you need to do to get up to a Thunderbolt workflow is pick up a Thunderbolt adaptor for £130, and you’re good to go with your existing device. However, there’s also a Thunderbolt Dock available, which combines Thunderbolt connectivity with a HDMI out for a more affordable display and the ability to daisy chain a keyboard, mouse, USB 3.0 storage and a wired network to your setup, all via one Thunderbolt cable. Avid have done something similar with their Mojo DX, releasing a reasonably-priced adapter that’ll get you on the Thunderbolt ladder with your existing Mojo I/O.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Do Pro Tools users need Mac Pro?

Do Pro Tools users need Mac Pro?

Once upon a time, when all your audio add-ons needed FireWire and Pro Tools took up all your available slots, the only real option for doing high-end audio work was a Mac Pro. But with the arrival of Pro Tools HDX, the Magma 3T and Thunderbolt interfaces, you now have much more flexibility…

For all your PCIe needs, the Magma ExpressBox 3T 

A Jigsaw24 favourite since its release, the Magma ExpressBox 3T is a Thunderbolt-driven expansion chassis that will accept up to three PCIe cards, and is a huge bonus for anyone looking to get their pro audio or video setup to work on an iMac or notebook computer. Avid have qualified it as an acceptable chassis to house HDX cards if you want to work off a MacBook Pro, though early adopters should be aware that models that shipped before January 21st 2013 may need an upgrade to their fan to avoid melting your HDX cards (here’s how to check whether your ExpressBox 3T needs the upgrade.) Universal Audio’s UAD2 processor cards are also qualified for use in a chassis, so you can enjoy the fuller Tools HD feature set, including  256 channels of audio up to 7.1 surround sound support and more, on the go.

If you’re using HD Native…

…Avid have already put out a Thunderbolt interface for you, so there’s really no need to be sitting round waiting for your old FireWire gear and your decrepit Mac Pro to get the job done. You’d get better performance by grabbing yourself a top-spec iMac and Thunderbolt interface to create a faster workstation with a smaller space and energy footprint.You could also get away with using this as part of a portable system based around a MacBook Pro, and enjoy 256 channels of audio, 7.1 surround sound support, Copy to Send, complete multitrack Beat Detective and more on the go.

If you’re looking for a Thunderbolt interface…

Universal Audio’s Apollo Duo interface was the first general purpose audio interface to come with Thunderbolt, and with 18 inputs, 24 outputs and all the power of a UAD-2 DUO processor, it’s not to be sniffed at. Slotting in the Thunderbolt option card gives you the same streamlined workflow, processing power and preamp technology as simply using it over FireWire counterpart, but also gives you far faster performance and lower latency.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Pro Tools 11 is here!

Pro Tools 11 is here!

It’s official: Pro Tools 11 is here.

In case you’ve missed Avid’s email or our overexcited ramblings so far, the key features can be seen in action over on Avid’s newly-updated site, and include Avid Audio Engine, with its low latency input buffer; faster than realtime offline bounce; expanded metering options, so you can be sure you’re meeting loudness limits (or requirements) and a HD video engine that makes it far easier to work on sound for picture.

We’ve been talking about these new features since NAB, and already have a handy guide to making sure that your hardware’s all 64-bit, as Pro Tools 11 won’t run on anything less. We’ve even got a handle on what the new Mac Pro means for Pro Tools users. And, most importantly of all, you can buy Pro Tools 11 from our site.

If you have any questions, teething troubles or last minute hardware requirements, get in touch with our audio team on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.  

What does the new Mac Pro mean for you?

What does the new Mac Pro mean for you?

If you’re not sure whether to stick with your existing machine, move down to a top-spec iMac or start saving for when the first crop of new Mac Pros reach our shores, this is the article for you. Read on to find out what you need to change, what can stay the same and whether it’s time for you to make the move to PC.

A look under the hood

Let’s start with some key specs. The new Mac Pro’s CPU is a single socket Intel Xeon E5 chip that’s capable of supporting up to 12 cores. It’s got four DDR3 memory slots and the Flash storage has a top read speed of 1.25GBps, meaning it’s similar to Steve Wozniack’s latest, the iOFX.

GPU-wise, you get dual AMD FirePro cards that can deliver up to 7 TFLOPS of power, and which will be able to drive three 4K screens (we’re hoping the 4K wallpapers that came with the OS X Mavericks beta meant that Apple are planning to release a 4K Cinema Display soon). The massive six Thunderbolt 2 ports mean you can daisy chain up to 36 devices to your Mac Pro, and that’s before you even go near the four USB 3 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, HDMI and Line out connections.

That circular core not only means that the Mac Pro will look great on your desk, but allows Apple to use the same cooling system they’ve been developing in MacBook Pros, resulting in effective cooling that’s also near-silent.

The big questions: Thunderbolt 2 and NVIDIA GPUs

There are two questions we’re hearing a lot lately: will Thunderbolt 1 machines be able to upgrade to Thunderbolt 2, and can I get my Mac Pro with NVIDIA GPUs? The answer to the first is probably a no – Thunderbolt 2 is based on a different chip set and combines signals differently to Thunderbolt 1, to the extent that we don’t think old machines will be forwards-compatible. However, the fact that you’re getting 20Gbps of throughput on each channel means that Thunderbolt 2 is a must-have investment for anyone looking to work in 4K, and in a way solves the grachics debate as it’s fast enough for you to work of GPUs stored in an external chassis.

The dual GPUs in the new Mac Pro are going to give fantastic OpenCL performance, but being FirePro cards they’re not going to deliver the CUDA processing that so many professional post apps have come to rely on (Smoke, Resolve and After Effects, we’re looking at you). Now, ATI have been creeping up on NVIDIA recently, and this has led to a lot of vendors increasing their OpenCL support. Blackmagic Design’s Grant Petty has been pretty vocal about his support for this new model and the way it’ll work with Resolve v10, and Adobe’s Premiere Pro CC is also better with AMD cards than any of the previous versions. If you’re ray-tracing in After Effects and will really miss the CUDA support that speeds that up, you could try keeping your GPUs in an external chassis and working off them over Thunderbolt 2 – we’ve not qualified this workaround, but we’re keen to get testing and will let you know more as soon as we do.

Your Mac options: iMac 

If your current Mac Pro just isn’t cutting it but you can’t wait until October to upgrade, one option is to go for an interim iMac. The 1TB and 3TB Fusion drives offer a good mix of capacity and speed, you can upgrade the RAM to a more-than-repectable 32GB and if you choose the top spec 3.4GHz i7 option, you’ll have a perfectly usable workstation solution that has beaten 2010-era Mac Pros in a series of benchmarking tests over at Barefeats.com.

If this sounds like an expensive interim plan, it’s worth bearing in mind that once your Mac Pros come in, any iMacs can serve a dual purpose as extra nodes on your rendering farm (or even just picking up rendering tasks while your artist work on their Mac Pro) and a second display for your new workstations.

Your Mac options: Upgrading your current Mac Pro

If you don’t want to abandon your existing machine, there are a few things you can do to help it stay current. The first thing we’d recommend is adding more RAM, as this will give you an immediate and relatively affordable boost in performance. And while there’s no way to add Thunderbolt capabilities to your current Mac Pro, you can add USB 3.0 via a PCIe card, which should give you a significant increase transfer speeds over FireWire or USB 2.0.

After that, add an SSD. The SATA ports in a Mac Pro will top out at about 350MBps because they use SATA II, but some of the faster SATA III SSDs we’ve tested will get you up to about 550MBps, and a PCIe-based Flash memory unit can reach speeds double that. OWC’s Mercury Accelsior, which clocked raw read/write speeds of 693 and 567MBps in our recent benchmarking tests, is our current favourite.  As you can see from the graphic above, the Mercury reaches top speed quickly, breaking the 500MBps mark with relatively small files, which means it’s perfect for working with video.

If money’s no object, there’s always the Fusion iOFX (made by ex-Apple stalwart Steve Wozniack, no less), which is the fastest Flash memory we’ve ever tested and which can up your GPU usage from around 30% to 90%.

The third thing to try is replacing your existing GPU with a more powerful one. If you’re working to a budget, we’d recommend NVIDIA’s GTX 680 for Mac, a recently released card that’s technically for gamers but actually delivers fantastic value. Another excellent option is the NVIDIA Titan which, although slightly pricier, offers greater durability and is a better choice if your machine will be in constant, heavy use and you don’t want to risk your GPU melting. However, to run it you will need to be on OS X 10.8.4 or later.

If you’re working with H.264, don’t forget to try adding a CompressHD card. These cards have their own dedicated CPU that is used solely to compress your footage to H.264 faster than realtime without taxing your computer’s own CPU – we’ve seen it cut export times from nine hours to forty five minutes, so it’s definitely worth a look if this is a format you handle regularly.

Moving to PC

If you don’t want to stay with Apple, your options are basically Windows and Linux, both of which are supported by the likes of Avid and Autodesk, and the Linux versions are often more powerful and scalable. Current HP and Dell machines also have the advantage of letting you pack in more cores (up to 16, with 24 promised in the upcoming Haswell-based Xeons, compared to the Mac Pro’s 12). The current industry standard is HP’s 16-core Z820, which packs up to 512GB of RAM and has been qualified for more or less every high-end piece of PC-friendly software out there. You can also scale back slightly to a lower-spec Z820, Z620 or Z420 while still maintaining decent performance as long as you have a powerful enough GPU, or try the Avid-qualified Dell T7600 for your Media Composing and Pro Tooling needs. If you’re a hardcore NVIDIA supporter (or just want the fastest graphics performance possible), take a look at Dell’s Maximus 2 equipped machines, which split graphics tasks between a Quadro and Tesla card to improve the efficiency of each.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.