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Apple FCP and Compressor vs. Adobe CC, Timeline-to-Transcode Workflows, Part 2: Test Results--UPDATED WITH LINK TO TEST FILES

The results are in! See link to project files, encoder presets, and output files from our test set added at the beginning and end of the article.
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You can now view our project files, encoder presets, and output files to compare the quality and specs for yourself at this link.

“Better late than never” is often a good excuse, but in our case, it was a necessity. Two areas we didn’t anticipate—distance and a newer R3D workflow—conspired to delay our testing an extra two weeks.

Tim Siglin, who co-wrote the initial article about the testing methodology, ended up in India on a very limited data connection, meaning it was difficult to move test and project files back and forth to our office. In addition, this meant he couldn’t get to key Adobe and Apple software updates to Final Cut, Compressor, Premiere Pro, and Adobe Adobe Media Encoder.

Once we solved the distance problem, we waited a bit more to see if Apple would respond to a few key questions about the Compressor application, and subsequently found an issue with using R3D files within the Apple ecosystem.

About Our Gear

As a quick recap from the last article, we used two machines to test: an Apple MacBook Air (11”, 2013) and an Apple MacBook Pro (15”, 2013).

The MacBook Pro we chose (ME249LL/A) is a 2013-era laptop with a 2.3 GHz Intel Core-i7 (quad-core) processor and 512 GB of PCIe-based flash storage drive. In addition, this MacBook Pro has 16GB of 1.35V (low-voltage or DDR3L) RAM running at 1600MHz and an NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. It’s priced at approximately $2540 at Amazon.

This flash-based storage, connected directly to the PCIe bus rather than via M-SATA or the slower SATA, means that we’ll eliminate any bottlenecks in disk I/O for our testing. The only other two Macs to have the PCIe-based flash storage drive are the new Mac Pro, which we will talk about below, and the 2013-era MacBook Air laptops.

So to make it a fair comparison, we chose the MacBook Air 11” laptop (MD712LL/A) with a 1.3 Ghz Intel Core-i5 (dual-core) processor and 256 GB of PCIe-based flash storage drive. This MacBook Air has 4 GB of 1.5v (DDR3) RAM running at 1600MHz and an integrated GPU called the Intel HD Graphics, which uses 1 GB of built-in memory. It’s priced at approximately $1140 at Amazon.

About Our Test Files

Our test files were provided by Digital Cinema South (RED raw files), Viewfinders TV, and Greg Howlett Productions (multi-camera concert footage). The specs on the seven clips we used are as follows:

TitleResolutionLengthFrame RateFormatAudio
Brethren1280x72012:02 (3 clips)29.97 fpsApple ProRes 422

Linear PCM

16-bit, 2-channel

48000 Hz

I Will Arise1280x72012:18 (3 clips)29.97 fpsApple ProRes 422

Linear PCM

16-bit, 2-channel

48000 Hz

Snow Roof2048x11520:3823.976RED R3D Raw FileN/A

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