Are you Mac or PC? That’s the question asked by the now infamous advertising campaign that pitched PC users as dull, data-obsessed automatons and Mac users as quirky, creative thrill-seekers. But fast forward a good decade (or so) and is there any truth left in the old cliché that “Macs are better for creatives?”
One man who has been asking himself that question recently is Norman Hayes, the founder and creative director of Waste Studio. Norm is “not a PC guy” by his own admission. But an ambitious recent project for Nike required more processing power than a Mac could provide.
Norman invested in a Novatech workstation that was able to take care of some of the “beefier” requirements of the project. Will Norm and his team be sticking with the PC ecosystem full-time now that they’ve shaken off their prejudices? Or is the magnetic pull of the Apple ecosystem simply too strong to ignore?
Norm has, by his own admission “been Mac” his entire working life. But last year, his Nottingham-based creative design agency Waste Studio was asked to deliver the in-store digital experience for Nike’s newly opened flagship Barcelona store. This involved designing and building a permanent “Sports Hub” installation that would bring together and display localised data from the Nike apps and local sports facilities.
This job required the heavy 3D rendering and data processing that only a bespoke Novatech machine could handle.
Norm realised that the humble iMacs and MacBooks were insufficient when they started using Cinema 4D to produce 3D renders for the Nike project. He explains: “We started getting into 3D work doing self-initiated stuff like character design and modelling. When it came to the modelling, the Mac was fine, but when it came to texture and lighting it was a case of moving a light and waiting 10 minutes for it to update before we could move on. It was such a painful process because Macs don’t have the graphics cards and the processors that are able to handle that kind of work.”
A friend of Norm’s promised him that one of our rigs would be able to process lighting changes almost instantly. Now they use it for most of their 3D rendering tasks.
The project that necessitated the shift from Mac to Novatech was an ambitious project for Nike. Norm says: “We just opened a store in Barcelona with them which involved a lot of 3D motion graphics and that work was made a hell of a lot quicker thanks to the workstation. But after time, we realised that even using something like After Effects was so much faster on the Novatech (machine). A render that would take 5 hours on the Mac took half an hour on the new system.”
As we speak, many of the same digital assets Norm and his team created for the Barcelona store are being rolled out worldwide, requiring continual alterations. Thanks to the processing power of his new PC, Norm has been able to alter a file and show the client within hours rather than days – a game-changer for Waste.
He elaborates on the project: “The Barcelona store job was pretty much done solely on Novatech PCs. It started out as just the entrance tunnel to the store itself, which was covered in screens showing moving graphics. But then it moved all the way back to the back wall, which takes up two floors and spans the full height of the store.”
They developed a 3D grid in Cinema 4D and composited it together with the typography and everything else in After Effects, all rendered out via the PC. And, of course, then there was the Sports Hub – a series of screens showing live localised data that needed to be completely updatable and had to work together with the graphics. This all needed to be turned around in just three months, which is something that never would have been possible in the “old days” of the Mac, particularly with COVID-related complications.