Thanks for terminology correction hatter. Yes, I have 3 Power Mac G5s (non-Intel) and we would like to move at least to the Intel side. We are already being left behind in Adobe Flash playback browser plug-ins, and using newer versions of Sorenson Squeeze as well as several other services. I'm not sure I need to network the new machines via a central san-like server. What are the distance limitations with Thunderbolt? My edit stations are in offices more than a hundred feet apart. In addition, I am aware that we will have issues with certain applications in Lion.
*** Fibre Channel
Probably the most important thing that you'll be losing on an iMac is the Fibre Channel connection; however, Promise Technologies has their SANLink - Fibre Channel adapter using Thunderbolt Technology (I don't know if it's actually shipping yet),
Here's the product link:
The upside here is that if this adapter works as expected, you could use any Mac with Thunderbolt (all the current models have it). Even though the Mac mini is the least powerful of the Apple line, it's a huge performace leap over a PowerMac G5 and the Mac mini supports both a computer display via its Thunderbolt/Display PortMini and a HDMI TV via its HDMI out. This takes perfect advantage of FCP Digital Cinema Desktop modes.
*** Which version of FCP do you own?
Another issue is going to be your FCP software installers (which I'm sure you're already aware of). Your PowerMac G5s must be running Final Cut Pro 6 or older as 6 was the last version to run on a PowerPC. And Final Cut Pro 5 was the first version that could be installed on an Intel based Mac.
In theory, FCP5, 6 or 7 will run on an intel Mac, however, the current Mac OS and support for it is probably going to be your biggest issue for everything that curently works as expected on your G5s.
The upgrade from FCP 5 to 6 or 7 is as easy as it gets other than having to order Final Cut Pro Studio 3 directly from Apple (last I read, they're still selling it if you call them with the part number and you say you need it for exisiting projects).
*** Do you use 3rd party capture cards like the Blackmagic-Designs Decklink? Blackmagic makes a Thunderbolt replacement which should work fine on its own, but will need to be carefully tested with the Fibre Channel adapter.
Be ready to be on the phone with tech support, checking user forums, and make sure you can take anything that you're purchased back.
Wow! Warren, thank you very much for the information. This was very helpful. We use FCP 5.1.4 on our towers in the office and occasionally FCP 7 on MBP Intel laptops in the field. We do not currently run with 3rd party capture cards as we still deal in a world of DV/DVCAM and some HD tape. We flow from deck via Firewire to FCP, from FCP to Squeeze360 for online distribution. Part of the plan is to upgrade the acquisition to P2 or similar. I will certainly take a closer look at Thunderbolt and Promise Technologies. Even though I'm partial to the iMac the Mac Mini maybe an answer. This is a pretty good primer: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2380870,00.asp
Since you are using now G5s, you have all the needed monitors available - no point in going to the iMac
Both, the iMac and the Mini are far too restricted for video work. Working with HD video on either is just silly; you really should go to PowerMacs. Even if now you are not using HD, at some stage you will.
For new machines, you will have to install Rosetta in order to run the FCS installer, for this you will need a 10.6 disk but no real problem
The PC Mag primer is a great reference. Thank you for linking it. As somoone who works with visual media, I fell in love with Thunderbolt the second I saw Apple's product image gallery showing a Macbook Pro connected to two 27" Cinama Displays (though, I must admint, I've never come to like glossy displays and hope to see more anti-glare offerings from Apple).
If you're mostly doing DV/DVCAM and P2, try to get an iMac w/ as much processing power and RAM as fits in your budget (the 21/5" or 27"). The Mac mini will do the work, but not nearly as quickly. One thing of note: both the new iMac and new Mac mini have only one FireWire800 port. Fortunately, FireWire hubs are pretty easy to come by and tend to work well.
Of course, the current Intel towers have an amazing amount of internal storage that is extremely easy to access along with support for a lot of RAM; however, something tells me that if Apple does indeed discontinue the towers (all still rumors at this point as far as I've read) that even used towers will be very, very challenging to come by.
"you could use any Mac with Thunderbolt (all the current models have it)"
The Mac Pro does not have Thunderbolt
" the Mac mini is the least powerful of the Apple line, it's a huge performace leap over a PowerMac G5"
it is indead a nice machine but complete folly to think it will run FC Studio properly for professional use.
The Mac Pro does not have Thunderbolt - very true. The discussion was following the line of the tower not being an option. I hope that that was clear.
And, frankly, the latest Mac mini can run Final Cut Pro Studio 2 and 3 just fine as well as Photoshop, Illutrator, Flash and After Effects. Compared to the current towers, it's no processing powerhouse (a genuine turtle by comparison), but it'll finish the race. Running Motion side by side on a new mini and a new tower will most likely show the diffference as soon as you get a few layers deep, but projects based on DV-NTSC, DV-PAL, DVCPro, XDCAM, HDV, HDV-AIC, AVCHD, DVCProHC, AVC-Intra, and XDCAM HD will look just the same from a Mac mini as a Mac Pro. If your work requires a specific display card upgrade (perhaps you're doing DaVinchi level color correction or high end 3D work or multi-channel audio mixees) then the Mac Pro tower may still be your only choice.
If your budget allows fo it, definately get a Mac Pro. If not, take a look at the Mac mini. It just might be the indie filmmaker's or DSLR shooter's best friend.