Da Vinci System

Hey everyone,

I have been working in 3D animation and effects for companies for about 9 years now. Most of the work I have done has involved 3D work in Maya and simple(ish) compositing in After Effects. Recently I began working on VFX gigs on my own and have quickly realized that what works really well for 3D alone, doesn’t necessarily work for the best for Compositing, Editing etc.

At the moment I am a one man shop and would like to purchase a system that (While not fully optimized for any one task) works pretty well for the main hit points of a VFX pipeline. I have read quite a few posts on this site (Awesome!) and have a decent idea of what works well, but couldn’t really find anything that describes my Da Vinci needs. Mainly that I am doing a bit of everything and need a system to do it pretty well across the board.

Here is my understanding of what I should be looking at.


1. Best Processor I can afford and a mobo that supports it.
2. Good Graphics card (Quadro FX?) Any other recommendations?
3. at least 16 of RAM?
4. Enough fast storage to handle HD mult-channel EXR render passes.


1. I would imagine the Proc from the 3D side will work here as well, though probably not as required as is for 3D rendering.
2. Obviously the more RAM the better?
3. What part does GFX play in something like AE, Nuke?
4. Fast eSATA drives with hardware raid 5?

Capture / Editing:

For Editing I imagine that having fast hard drives is the way to go for real-time playback. What in the way of cards do I need to get those kinds of data rates. I will likely be using Premiere for editing or (if I go Mac Pro) Final Cut.

I don’t do much in the way of capture at the moment, but will be doing more soon. What is the best setup for capturing from something like RED, Cannon DSLR’s, Cannon HD DV tape? For tapes I will need a deck of some kind but how does Processor, Hard drives, GFX, RAM play into this.

I will likely be building my own 64bit Windows 7 Box as the cost of doing so will be much cheaper than a Mac Pro. However, I do really like OS X and wouldn’t mind going that route if the cost point/ return actually makes sense.

I have also read about using SSD drives for the OS drive and cache drive. Would I use this for all (live) projects copied from other fast storrage drives? Or simply use this for doing complex nuke/AE/Maya cacheing?

I hope what I am looking for makes sense to everyone. Overall I am not looking for the best 3D, best Compositing, best Editing system out there. Just a system that will do all three as well as I can for a decent price.

Thanks everyone!

I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say.


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