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Is a Mac too much to ask for?

Discussion in 'Multimedia, Projection, and Show Control' started by jerekb, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. jerekb

    jerekb Member

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    Here at my school we have some of the most amazing equipment I have ever seen at a high school, but the computer we have is pretty sad and it's locked down be the network which means no software installations and no sound effects as media site are blocked. They seem to feel the need to have a million cd's but I'd rather buy a nice computer and put all sound effects on it and then we could also install software in it like EOS client software. Since we have the money and top of the line equipment the logical thing to do would be to buy something like a Mac Pro though I would be happy with a simple iMac. The problem: my tech director says that decision is up to IT and the head IT (jerk) guy hates anything apple. They keep telling me what we have now works fine... This drives me crazy cause they don't have to use it and I do. Anyone have any ideas, opinions, or have the same sort of issue? Do you have a nice computer?
     
  2. Pip

    Pip Active Member

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    Well macs certainly are widely used for stuff like this. We have a Mac Pro for our recording rig and for our FOH mix.

    However, we have 2 Yamaha M7CL48s which are networked with our Crown I-Techs, so all the control is Windoze ;) based. We're switching out our Mac Pro for a powerful Windows PC, and it should work just as well... There are alternative either way.

    QLab works alright for mac, but on our FOH PC we have software that I really like, called SFX. Either way, if you can convince him to upgrade the machine, but not to switch to a mac, you still have some great options out there.

    (What is it with HS IT guys being either retarded or mean?!)
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2008
  3. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Why not just have your director ask for a limited Admin account so you can access SFX on the internet and download?
     
  4. jerekb

    jerekb Member

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    Yeah we just did that as a temporary fix they would be giving us teacher privileges which wouldn't be solving our software issues. Plus the computer we are using now isn't very reliable.
     
  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    First rule, if you are using a computer for production, it should be used only for that production, it should not be connected to the internet, it should not have iPods hooked up to it, it should be used strictly to do what you need it to do. I don't let my kids touch my hog computer or my recording/playback computer unless I am arround. Too many of them carry around iPods and jump drives filled with junk. Also, both those computers have a clean install (non-district) copy of XP installed on them. So, when and if you do get a new computer, don't fill it with junk. Its because of all the other stuff on it that you are having stability issues.
     
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  6. bdkdesigns

    bdkdesigns Active Member Fight Leukemia

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    The nice thing about QLab is it's expense. The basic file is free and the purchase of the full version, I believe it was only between $100-200. In this scenario however, you have to consider budgeting for the actual Mac.

    However SFX is the most popular program you will find out there, and is PC based. If you can get them to install the software, the basic SFX academic version is around $350. Also, as footer said, use this computer for the productions and nothing else.

    I also prefer to have Adobe Audition installed on that computer so that I can make quick, on the spot edits to a track. However, there are plenty of free programs out there that will allow you to do the same thing, with my favorite being Audacity.
     
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  7. jerekb

    jerekb Member

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    Yeah most defenaitley. We try to keep things a professional as possible. I have been thinking about just getting my own harddrive and putting it in the machine myself and I have most of the software we will be needing. It would really suck though if the district found out. Having that one computer unlocked woundn't be any worse then bringing my laptop in and pluging in the Ethernet. GRR! These IT guys drive me insaine.
     
  8. Pip

    Pip Active Member

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    Good points about the keeping it off the tubes. None of our FOH machines have ever been nor will ever see the internets.

    As far as good editing software, here is a quick eval of mentioned ones plus a couple more, as I've experienced them:

    Pro Tools:
    Pros: Most widely used, industry standard. Very powerful. Cross platform (Mac or PC)
    Cons: Requires hardware, very expensive

    Adobe Audition:
    Pros: Love it. Great to use, IMO easier to get used to than Pro Tools
    Cons: Fairly expensive, 3 is PC-only

    Audacity:
    Pros: FREE. For a free editing piece, it works very well and is WELL worth the amount you'll pay ;) Omni platform (mac, linux, pc, +)
    Cons: A bit less powerful than the top dogs. No multitrack (I don't think)

    WavePad:
    Pros: A bit of a step up from Audacity, still really cheap (like 30 bucks) Cross platform (Mac, PC, Linux)
    Cons: No multitrack (I don't think)
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2008
  9. bdkdesigns

    bdkdesigns Active Member Fight Leukemia

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    The other draw back to Pro Tools is real time bouncing to disk. We have Pro Tools in our studio and Audacity on our SFX machines. A quick little edit on a 30 minute track on Audacity is much easier because it bounces to disk much faster. I can make the quick edit that either myself or the director wants and play it back within a few minutes. On Pro Tools it would take the editing time plus the 30 minutes.
     
  10. Pip

    Pip Active Member

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    Good point, I forgot about that. higher sound quality this way, but yeah boucing is real time. I.e. your file is 20 minutes, it takes 20 minutes to create a WAV file of the multitrack.
     
  11. wadeace

    wadeace Member

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    now lets not hate on the poor it guy who dose not know about the needs of a theatrical program. as an av guy with experience in i.t. at a large school district, i can tell you that a lot of the anti apple is based on support. many districts will have contracts with one computer manufacture often windows based. supporting both platforms raises interoperability issues. we had a tvpro teacher that wanted to teach fcp but we are windows based. the solution, mac laptops with fcp and they couldn't touch the network at all. things that were needed, such as audio files and pictures were downloaded from other machines and moved over to the macs via usb flash drives. its support for when it touches the internet that becomes an issue.

    when talking to the tech guy try to put yourself in his shoes. he has to make discussions the effect the whole school and try to maintain the computers so that they still remain educational devises. some of these multimedia sites open your computer to attack.
     
  12. erosing

    erosing The Royal Renaissance Man

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    I'm sorry, but an IT Admin who cannot figure out how to intertwine a network (See Note.) that employs multiple computers running different operating systems should find a new job. I may sound harsh but that is really unacceptable, students need to be given the resources to learn. It's not difficult now, and it wasn't difficult before. The only reasonable exception to this is if they are bound in contract with a sole distribution company by which they may only purchase computers with one operating system because that is all the distributor sells, and in that case they can run a Linux distribution instead.

    However, one of the best things you can do is show your IT Department that you know what you're doing with a computer and not just asking for a new one because it looks cool, and that you want a piece of software so that you can learn. See Below.

    My IT Admin was also my Computer Programming teacher for two years, he knew quickly what I could and couldn't do and taught me more about System Administration then programming. My senior year he tried a little experiment, off the record, in which he allowed me to administrate the Journalism Lab, which held about 6 Imacs (3 intel, 3 ppc), 4 g3s, and 3 or 4 windows boxes. Long story short, I'm still administrating them when I go back home for the day. Generally, that's the only reason I go home. But when they need new software or hardware for education I let him know and present him the options and which of those I recommend and he lets me know what he thinks and generally they get what they need, even if it is Adobe CS3 when they just bought CS2. Sorry for the long example.


    **NOTE: While a wired networking is cake, I do know that some wireless networking companies, Proxim, for example, have serious inter-operating system issues. So I can understand that to some degree but there are workarounds.
     
  13. wadeace

    wadeace Member

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    I’m sorry I never said that it was impossible; I said it was a support issue. I don’t know about where you go to school, but at my old high school we had close to 1000 workstations all being serviced by one guy, who doesn’t have the time to have to research problems with Macs and compatibility with the system, when he doesn’t even have time to manage all the windows machines he has. Like I said (and should have been more specific about eelier) it’s a mater of scale. arez, you were only adminig a small lab that had under 20 workstations. not only that, but it is still a mater of network compatibility. The school uses logon systems and file server systems that are windows based, allowing every student to and teacher and administrator to have a unique username and password that they can use at any workstation in the county, and access all the dater that they store on the network drives. This is a school district that prides itself on technology. While other districts are tying to give each teacher a workstation, this district has already replaced their old workstations with tablet pcs. The district uses a computer based grade book system, most districts have a overhead projector in the rooms, this district has digital projectors mounted in each room. These people know what there doing, it’s not a mater of stupidity it’s a mater of support.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2008
  14. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    We got an ancient bright pink iMac to run our sound from. If you can't get it through IT, try to get a used one for cheap, or solicit "taxable donations".

    Anyway, put it to the IT this way: you can do your own service on it

    and go into it with the idea that maybe it doesn't have to be on the network =/

    I know that's a drag, but it may be a concession you're going to have to make.
     
  15. erosing

    erosing The Royal Renaissance Man

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    Don't get me wrong and I may have been a little harsh, I think you should push for a Mac if you can prove that's the better teaching instrument out there. My example was meant to show you that if you push your IT Admin that he might be more inclined to see things in a new light.

    By the way, the school I went to has the same thing yours does, they just went through a digital revamp 4 years ago, except ours computers are mixed to be about half macs and half running windows, all running with a windows front end to administer network shares, and the macs do it to, Directory Services are a beauty.

    I meant no offense by my previous post and I apologize to anyone who saw it that way, it just irks me when schools limit education.
     
  16. jerekb

    jerekb Member

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    And what mamma don't know won't hurt her. haha
     
  17. jerekb

    jerekb Member

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    Well I have been really bugging them like everyday and I got my I.T. guys to talk to the district guy and he basically said if the money is there for a mac we can get a mac. I am selling our old 520i!! Oh hey look a couple grand for a new mac just showed up :) I of course had to send a freakin 4 page E-mail explaining how Macs are pretty much the industry standard. But techies: 1 point, I.T. 0 points haha!
     
  18. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    You can get an awesome 24 inch iMac for $2199.
     
  19. jerekb

    jerekb Member

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    So... Do you think an iMac would be sufficient with some type of usb audio card?
     
  20. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    The 24-inch 3.06GHz iMac would be more than enough.
     

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