A pro video editor’s opinion
What the new iMac’s target market really thinks
Over the years, I’ve used a lot of different computers to do high-end video editing. And I ask a lot from them. These days, 4K video is the norm in my sector, but doing anything in real time with a timeline full of 4K clips brings a lot of computers to their knees. I was thrilled to get the chance to see how the iMac Pro copes with this.
During the time I had the iMac Pro, I was using Adobe Premiere Pro CC with RED Raw footage, Canon C200 CinemaRawLite, and some lower tier Sony FS7 XAVC clips. Watching 4K footage on the iMac Pro was a joy. The color space and contrast showcases footage beautifully, but I soon wished I had more than 27 inches of screen to monitor the clips and have space for scrubbing through the timeline or using other windows. There are Thunderbolt 3 ports for extra displays, though.
Ingesting footage was instantaneous, and after I added the 4K clips to a timeline, I was impressed there were no dropped frames in playback. Adding multiple live color grading adjustments during playback and making amends to their settings didn’t affect the experience either — even when playing them full screen. At one point, I had more than four layers of effects on a clip before playback started missing frames, and even warp stabilization — a resource-intensive tool — took moments and not the usual minutes to prepare.
The iMac did start to struggle with 8K RED footage, and when effects were added a preview render was needed — but this was to be expected.
Exporting was really impressive. I queued up a web-friendly, one-minute video made up of random 4K clips to export in H.264 format, using a resolution of 4096x2160 pixels, two passes, and a target bitrate of 25Mbps. This rendered within three minutes. That’s five times faster than my usual PC. The process was surprisingly quiet and, though cooling fans weren’t heard, the iMac Pro didn’t become noticeably warmer. Amazing.