Many of you wanted a follow up on my post about converting from Mac to PC. I’ve had my PC for about two weeks now, and I think the “transition” is nearly complete so I’m ready to share my thoughts. Hopefully if you are switching soon, these notes will ease your transition pain!
This is a true story: I turned on my computer and I used it for about 3 minutes before this happened:
I had a bit of a panic attack and thought to myself:
After that scare thought, things smoothed out. A bit. Configuring my PC was a bit of a headache. There were the usual annoyances of switching computers, of course, like installing software/plugins. Thankfully the transition from Mac to PC versions of software was very easy because of the subscription based model most apps use these days. In the past it would have been a nightmare but most apps, like the Adobe suite, allow you to download PC versions under the same monthly subscription so it wasn’t a big deal. Same with plugins for the most part. One annoying thing I discovered was that I couldn’t install my fonts. Not sure if it’s a Mac vs PC font thing or what, but my font collection just wouldn’t install properly. Thankfully I have a co-worker on a PC who supplied them for me.
The biggest issue I ran into was hard drive related. When using a Mac I worked off of “internal” hard drives that sat in a USB dock. Mac formats hard drives as HFS+ and PC formats hard drives with NTFS. That means I couldn’t read my hard drives on the PC. Obviously a massive issue. The solution I found was MacDrive by Mediafour. It’s $49 and if you install it your PC will recognize Mac drives. This worked great, until it didn’t work great anymore. After using my working hard drives with MacDrive for 2 days they started acting very strange. The computer froze up and MacDrive crashed etc.
I ordered two hard drives from Amazon and when they came I formatted them for PC (NTFS) and transferred all my data from the “Mac” hard drives onto them. Then I disable my mac drives and my computer has worked much better. The moral of the story is: get new hard drives to be your working drives but you can use MacDrive to boot up your old Mac formatted drives to get stuff off of them any time you want. This is perfect for me since I have so many projects backed up on externals. Hard drive issues are good to go.
One thing I loved about Mac was Time Machine. It was super easy and worked great for me. PC doesn’t really have a great system for that. So I ended up purchasing Genie Timeline Pro by Genie9. This acts almost identically as Time Machine. I set it to back up a drive overnight and by the morning it was done. I set daily back ups and it updates quickly and reliably. Having Genie Timeline, plus a lot of my stuff synced to Dropbox, gives me a great backup system.
When using the Mac formatted drives I had a fair amount of issues and crashes/freezes. Since getting rid of them, and only having NTFS formatted drives, the issues have gone down substantially. There is still the occasional “After Effects is not responding” etc. which didn’t happen much with my Mac. It’s really annoying but I’m thankful for SSDs and fast boot times, meaning I only lose a few minutes. Back in the day a re-boot and opening up all your apps sometimes took like 10-15 minutes, remember that?! Needless to say, however, I have learned to save a bit more frequently. But it’s not that bad.
Another big PC fail I have found so far is that ProRes isn’t supported which sucks a lot. I am looking at some third party options though, I’ll let you know if I find anything! Also, I really miss Quick Look where you could preview images/videos by just hitting space bar. It was great not having to open up say, Photoshop, to preview a .psd. The thumbnails and “quick viewing” in Windows kind of suck but I have found some workarounds. One great tool I have been using is “Seer” which mimics Quick Look. You have to run it every time you re-start Windows, but after you run it you can just click on any thumbnail and hit space bar to get a preview. It doesn’t include all formats, but for most things it’s quite handy.
One tool that has been incredibly useful was recommended by Chad Ashley at GSG. It’s called “XnView.” It’s free, and has become my go to folder browser. It basically takes the functionality of something like Adobe Bridge, and mixes it with a standard file browser. You can quickly navigate your files and thumbnails and if you click on one you get a super fast preview image or playing video. Unlike the Windows default file browser it allows previews of nearly every format imaginable and it’s blazing fast and responsive. It has taken all the things I miss about Mac and basically given them back to me! 🙂
The beauty of PC is that once I open either Chrome or After Effects or C4D I forget I’m in a different OS. Performance in the apps is excellent and I have nothing to complain about! PC has come a long ways since I used it last, 10 years ago!
About 90% of the reason I upgraded was for GPU based rendering, so I thought I would touch on it briefly. Octane has been an absolute blast and game changer! It took about a day of playing around with to understand the basics and the results have been awesome. Here are a couple renders from the first time I used Octane:
The crazy thing is that these are raw out of C4D. The glows and post effects are all in Octane, which is crazy to me. It’s pretty epic to work with hdri’s, lighting and texturing in near real time. It was pretty liberating to just move stuff around and get almost instant feedback! I will hopefully be putting out some quick tips on Octane shortly so keep your eyes open for those. Here’s another render I did for our NAB sale, again this is raw out of Octane, which would be near impossible with Physical:
My parting remarks: change sucks, but it’s also good. I miss some things about Mac but with exception to a few hiccups the transition has been pretty easy. I’m still getting used to the new keyboard commands and I regularly use the wrong combinations. That’s to be expected after 10 years of training I have to undo. But overall, the excitement I have over Octane, GPU and a computer that will grow with my needs far outweighs any negatives. I would say if you need to make the jump, don’t be scared. The grass isn’t perfect over here, but it’s definitely greener.