Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Makes a Mac?

A client of ours asked me for software recommendations for the new Mac they've gotten. They're in the financial education and consulting business and reach out to their clients using web, print and video. They're PC all the way, since they usually outsource their video & audio work.

Not able to find out what kind of Mac they've gotten [Mac Pro? iMac? MacBook Pro?], I emailed them a generic list based on what have worked for me over the years. They don't have an in-house production/media department, so I'd reckoned something not too fancy, since the Mac would probably me a multi-purpose media machine.


Congrats on moving to the Mac world! What did your company get? Is it a MacPro/iMac or a MacBook Pro?

Not sure what you have in mind for it, but I assume you would want something to handle graphics and some video editing? Here are some software I'd recommend:

1) Final Cut Studio 2 [http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/] - around $2588. You can do video editing, motion graphics, DVD authoring, soundtrack, encoding to various file formats

Motion graphics & Graphics:
*Adobe has a whole range of products and bundles [http://www.adobe.com/products/] - depending on your needs*
2) Adobe AfterEffects is very good for motion graphics but you do need to be well-trained to use it fully
3) Adobe Photoshop should be more familiar and very useful for a lot of things - including video work
4) Adobe Premiere is also a video-editing software - can't comment since I haven't used it personally
5) Adobe Dreamweaver does web-building
6) Adobe InDesign does page layout for publishing
7) Adobe Flash for, well, creating and encoding Flash videos/files/sites
8) Adobe Encore for DVD authoring

1) Toast Titanium - for CD/VCD/DVD burning
2) Diskwarrior - for checking and repairing of hard disks when things get buggy
3) iShowU - if you need to record videos of things happening on your screen [eg. simulation, tutorials]
4) Microsoft Office - Mac version produces documents that work well with Windows
5) iWork - similar to Office - but more stylish [http://www.apple.com/iwork/]

Useful freeware
1) MPEG Streamclip - for converting non-protected DVDs into file formats you can use
2) Cyberduck - easy to use FTP
3) Flip4Mac - allows you to view .WMV files / pay a small fee to allow you to convert videos into .WMV files
4) SuperDuper / Carbon Copy Cloner - allows you to clone your startup disk into an external hard drive so you can easily reboot when the Mac crashes
5) Tomato Torrent - if you need to access the Bitorrent network for file transfer

And some hardware add-ons:

1) Upgrade to at least 4GB RAM [that's the max for the MacBook Pro - but the MacPro can go higher]. 2 x 2GB RAM for MacBook Pro costs about $120 at Sim Lim.
2) An external Hard Disk to back up your files regularly. Highly recommended. A 7200rpm 1TB drive costs about $198 now and a casing with at least 2 x Firewire ports [very important for speed if you want to do video editing; USB 2.0 is not stable enough] is about $60-$80.

1) Not sure if you've bought the extended warranty - but it's quite handy when certain crucial parts malfunction. The original warranty only lasts for a year but for a few hundred dollars more, it's extended to 3 years in total. You can find a lot of offers off eBay at much better prices than Singapore retail prices.

Hope that helps!


Not exactly 'consultancy-level' advice, but hopefully it's good enough for new Mac converts!