G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series DDR4 3600MHz 32GB(16GBx2) Memory Kit

I am going to save you some time, and get straight to the point.

If you are on a Budget – get 16 GB DDR4 RAM
If you are building a home PC for compositing – get 32 GB DDR 4 RaM
If you want to build large 3D scenes, browse the web with 50 tabs open, have nuke open – get 64 GB DDR4 RAM.

There was a time when Ram was obscenly expensive and everyone I knew got the most they could afford. These days, thanks to all the competition, RAM has become fairly affordable. Always buy the newest RAM since they are more likely to be compatible with your new motherboard.

Frankly speaking, the more the better but you don’t want to spend all that money if you don’t need it.

Memory Requirement for Compositing
1080p Composites – 16 GB Minimum
4K Composites – 32 GB Minimum
6K-8K Composites – 64 GB Minimum

Of course, the more plates and elements you read in, the resolution of your plates and elements, the number of layers in your Exr sequences, the bit depth of your plates, elements and renders, and the presence of deep data will dramatically increase the amount of RAM required to process all these data.

And that is why is some studios, comper get like 300 GB of ram.

I got 64 GB of Ram and never looked back. Also my motherboard only supports up to 64GB.

Price – $783.98 (4 x 16 GB) 08 Feb 2017

MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium Motherboard

MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium Motherboard

Keep in mind, I built my main workstation in 2017. Don’t go out and buy the same components I purchased. This is just a guide as to what you need to be looking for when you are building your own PC.

I have always told everyone, if you are not into computer hardware, buy pre-made high-end gaming pc.

You also don’t need to buy those expensive workstation-grade PCs, which use the same parts you can buy off the shelf for a much lower price. Companies like BOXX, buy those parts, put them into their own cases, customize the hardware, and charge you a premium. These services are for people who don’t want to deal with the internal machinations of a computer. Also, companies like BOXX have a smaller customer base, and if you have a question about your computer and even why software is sluggish on your BOXX workstation, they will answer and help you out. Good Luck getting dell to respond to you.

If you are building your own computer, although you are saving money, unfortunately, you will not be saving time. A few of my friends built their own pcs only to realize that their computer did not boot up and kept crashing every 15mins. If you don’t have a tech bench and spare parts, it is troublesome to figure out what is wrong with your machine. If you brought a pre-made computer, it has a warranty; you bring it in; they fix it up for you. Or you can bring it to a decent computer shop, where they have all the tools to diagnose your computer.

Personally I have fixed all the computer issues I faced at the studio and at home by myself or by getting some help from Mark (owner of Lost Boys). Between the two of us, there is very little we can’t fix. Hence why Lost Boys has never had an IT guy!

On to today’s topic, then. Motherboards. I got the MSI X370 XPOWER Gaming Titanium Motherboard.

I got this one for 4 Reasons.

1. It was an AMD arm Motherboard that supported the Ryzen 7 series from AMD (there is a new firmware update that lets you use Ryzen 9 chips)

2. One of the few motherboards that let you have an Nvidia SLI setup. (you can have two Nvidia graphics cards for GPU Rendering!)

3. Supported 64GB Max Ram

4. Had 2 NVM Express M.2 PCI-E slots

5. Looks super cool.

One thing you might not know about MSI’s premium lineup is that they have the double ESD protection around the motherboard mounting holes. These prevent electrostatic discharge surges (ESD) from damaging the motherboard.

Personally, MSI has always been my go-to brand for motherboards. All the components they use on their boards are of premium quality and have had very little issues with their boards.

Price – $446.88 (21 July 2017)

Be Quiet! Dark Base Pro 900

Dark Base Pro 900 rev.2

It’s time to talk about all the parts I got for my main workstation. This workstation wasn’t necessarily built for compositing. Even though most people know me as a compositing instructor, I do lots of 3D on the side.

Before teaching compositing, I used to teach the Visual Effects program at Lost Boys. This was a generalist program covering every area of Visual Effects. Unfortunately, once we specialized in compositing, we lost the ability to generate high-quality 3D assets from our student population.

And so, that burden fell on me. I had to generate all the necessary 3D assets for my students and also well as for our lighting students.

Let’s start with the case. I got the be Quiet! Dark Base Pro 900.

I have had and used my cases before, and the number one thing I hate about cases is sharp corners. I hate getting scratched in the arms whenever I am assembling my computers. The general rule of thumb is, the cheaper the case, the more you will hate it. This case has rounded corners all around. A case made for humans!

The second thing is cable management. The more expensive the case, the better options you will have for cable management. This matters a lot when you have a tempered glass side panel letting everyone see the guts of your pc.

The third was the size. I needed to put an ATX motherboard in there, two 120mm CPU cooler fans, and it to be big enough to fit two full-sized GPUs.

The fourth thing is raised legs. The entire case is raised off the ground, which makes it easier to move it as you can reach under the case, without needing to lift the case and squashing your hands.

The fifth thing is, there is a charging bay right on top of the case. I love this feature as I don’t want my phone distracting me when it is on my table. So I leave my phone on the charging bay while I work.

The last thing is, well, it is quiet. It lives up to its namesake.

You probably won’t be able to get this case anymore as be Quiet! has a newer revised model. I recommend getting that. It is superior in every way!

Price – $347.19 (July 21, 2017)

Ergodriven – Topo Comfort Mat

A few years ago, I had developed a heel spur. My left heel grew a tiny bone that hurt when I put pressure on it. Whenever I woke up, I couldn’t put any pressure on that heel. The bone was poking into my plantar fasciitis. Once my feet warmed up, I felt better. Running was fine, but as soon as I stood on a spot for maybe 5 mins, the pain returned.

After seeing an orthopedic, I was told to get special insoles to correct my feet posture. I have been wearing these insoles for 3 years now, and the pain slowly but surely went away.

It was then that I decided that I did not want to go through this kind of pain and ordeal again and would invest in getting proper footwear.

If I was going to stand and work, I might as well get the best standing desk mat. My criteria for a standing desk mat was simple, I wanted to move my feet, stretch out my calves and feet arches. After doing some research, I discovered the Ergodriven Topo mat.

As soon as I got this mat, I tried standing on it. It was odd at first but in 5 mins, I found myself moving side to side and stretching my feet arches. My feet were having fun standing on the raised edges of the mat.

The only thing that many people will find bothersome is its size. It is big ( Ergodriven also has a smaller size now). I had to get the big one because of my height. I am about 6ft tall and the site recommended to get this size. Now because of its size, I usually have to move it to the side, if I wanted to use my office chair (which I will replace later this week)

I have only used two desk mat. One from Antrodesk (I got one free for all the inconvenience they caused) and Ergodriven Topo Mat I purchased from Amazon.

There is no doubt that when you look at the two and compare them, the Topo mat is in a league of its own.

I don’t think there is another mat on the market with Topo’s durability, supportive firmness, and sensible design.

This product comes with my highest recommendation.

Price – $149

IKEA – Karlby Countertop

The moment I saw the IKEA Karlby Countertop four years ago, I fell in love with it.

Here are some things I like about this desk
1. The dark walnut colour is beautiful especially since it complements all the dark computer peripherals on my desk.
2. The mosaic design that adds to its character. Just looking at this desk makes you want to use it.
3. The length, I got the largest one, 249 cm (The length of my room)
4. The depth, it is only 65 cm deep
5. The price!

Now, this desk is built from a 1/8″ Walnut Veneer on top of a particleboard so it will not be as strong as a more expensive desk. But it is plenty strong; I once had 6 monitors on this Desk.

Over the years, I found that having a narrower desk was a much better use of space. Most of the time, the space behind monitors is underutilized and also not very accessible. By having a narrower desk, it makes your room seem bigger as the footprint of the desk is small.

When I bought this desk, IKEA made an error on their invoice and sold it to me at $98. Almost a third of its original price! At this price, the value I was getting for my money was incredible.

It’s a heavy desk and I recommend ordering it online and have it delivered. Invite a friend over to help you set it up too. Before I converted my desk into a standing desk, I recycled 4 Gerton standing legs I got from my wife’s old standing desk. While my old desk setup could be converted to a standing desk, you can’t switch from standing to sitting position. Once the legs were set to the height you want, that was it.

Too much of anything is bad for you. Too much sitting, too much standing, so the solution you should be looking at is to build a desk that would do both.

One thing I quite enjoy about my new desk setup is to be able to walk away from the computer. As a visual effects artist, we tend to sit in one place for long periods of time. This affects our posture, thus the slouching I mentioned in an earlier post. Giving yourself the option to stand while you work is definitely the way to go.

Also, since the lockdown and the whole work from home thing, I set up a pull-up bar in the stairwell. Whenever I give my students a break from my demos, I just walk away from my desk to the stairwell, do a set of pull-ups, return to my desk and continue with my demos.

I never had a standing desk setup before, and now I can’t imagine working without one.

Antrodesk – Standing Desk

My wife noticed that I had started to slouch. She said I wasn’t using my core enough. True enough, since the quarantine, I have been sitting in my chair all day doing live demos, reviewing students’ shots, organizing data, and uploading those recorded demos to our online learning portal.

Even though I started to train for my pull-ups, I wasn’t doing enough for my posture. She suggested I get a standing desk. So after a day of research, I settled on the “L-Desk Standing Desk with Programmable Adjustable Height Controls”.

There are a lot of standing desks out there, I went with Antrodesk because they are in Canada. That means no extra shipping cost and duties. Also, warranty is major concern for me.

And so I ordered one, eagerly waiting for it to show until Antrodesk informed me that it got damaged when they were packing it for shipment. It was also the only one of that size they had in their warehouse.

Now the only reason I went with this frame was I thought and verified this with their service rep that I needed to get this frame to support my massive 248cm by 65cm (98″ x 25.5″) kitchen countertop.

Turns out I didn’t. After some back and forth with the customer service reps, whom I will say were great, I bought the “Programmable Dual Motor Electric Standing Desk” for $699.

They also threw in a free anti-fatigue mat for all my troubles. I also ended up picking up their Triple Monitor Mount.

If you are getting this frame get a friend to help. Even the postman had to use a heavy-duty dolly to deliver the frame to my doorstep.

Mounting a 38 kg kitchen countertop on a 35 kg desk frame by yourself is not recommended. I wanted to impress my wife; she was impressed. But it was also foolhardy esp when I had not cleared enough space for this new desk setup.

If you want a more in-depth review of my standing desk frame, I recommend watching these videos below.

Velcro Brand One Wrap Thin Lines

Buy Here
(Amazon Canada)

Vimeo Link

Cable Ties, I hate them. We all hate them.

You know the ones I am talking about, those cheap multi-colored/black/white/transparent ties that once you fasten them, the only way to unfasten them is to cut them open. Those single-use, sharp cable ties that are a pain to work with.

Get this : VELCRO Brand ONE WRAP Thin Ties | Strong & Reusable | Perfect for Fastening Wires & Organizing Cords | Black, 8 x 1/2-Inch | 100 Count

Yes, get a hundred! That way you won’t run out of cable ties and you will enjoy cable managing your entire home.

I own 400 hundred of them. I bought 4 packs in the last 3 years and have used them at the studio, in my office, on my home theater system, on all my spare cables, given it to my friends to cable manage their home computer setups and I still have over 200 ties left.

Not having to cut to open these ties means you can keep reusing them indefinitely as they don’t seem to lose their gripyness.

When I add or remove monitors, USB hubs, tablets, charging stations, keyboards, mice, from my home PC setup, all I have to do is unfasten, add or remove cables and wrap the tie around my cables and onto itself again for a secure hold.

I have been using computers since the late 1980s and let me tell you, this is one of the best things to have ever happened to cables.

Powers Bars

Buy Here
(Amazon Canada)

Today is Monday. Mondays are for sharing my home office setup.

If you are planning to learn to composite or even do a little freelance compositing, you need a proper space to do so. By creating a space somewhere in your home for a computer, you are telling yourself that you will sit there and figure things out.

This is a remarkable first step; announcing to the world that you are serious about this career. To help you, I will share with you how I set my space, starting with power bars.

Yes, a crucial office equipment that most people do not give a second thought about and use the ones they find lying around their house or buy the cheapest one at their local grocery store and to top it all off, string them together like some kind of unnatural centipede.

Buy This – 12 Outlet Surge Protector, Power Bar, Power Strip with 3ft Cord 125V/15A, Certified UL cULus by ZapTex

Why do you ask? The power strip has 12 power outlets that are space further apart than most regular power bars. Enough space for you to plug in those awful external hard drive power plugs. I have 3 of them in my office, yes that is 36 power outlets! (I have 58 power outlets, more on that later) and also another power strip in my living room which powers my home theater.

The thing I like most about this power bar, in particular, is, well, it’s rectangular and because of its shape, its seats flushed to the wall. Looks neat under the desk, too. I am not one for having one of those sexy YouTube dream desk setups. I suspect anyone who has a clean desk devoid of any work-related material! My setup is entirely functional.


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