DIY Standing Desk MacBook Pro Video Editing Setup

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I had to learn a lot to complete this project, much more than I had anticipated including:

  • Cable Specs – USB-3, 3.1, 3.2, Gen 1, Gen 2, USB-C, Thunderbolt, Display Cables (I wasn’t aware HDMI couldn’t carry QHD)
  • Data storage, management, back up & archive plans
  • Hard drive specs & formatting (Apple’s Containers, Volumes etc.)
  • Monitor & computer resolution output & capabilities (my MBP 2012 can’t output utlrawide)
  • Wood working & finishing (it had been a while)
  • And much more – will post issues and resolutions at the end.

I thought I had a good understanding of these things but
I didn’t know how much I didn’t know.

MacBook Pro Video Editing setup LED backlighting

Short List of the main components of this setup. Full list on the last page.

2019 MacBook Pro 16″ & Accessories

2012 MacBook Pro 13″ & Accessories

Standing Desk, Material & Accessories

Overview of setup

I am working with two separate MacBook Pros, each with its own 27″ monitor (4k & QHD). A new 2019 MacBook Pro 16″ I purchased after my 2012 froze in the middle of a YouTube video project, and my old 13″ mid 2012 that froze.

Wait I thought the 2012 was toast. After purchasing the new MBP, I upgraded the 2012 with a Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB Internal SSD & 16GB RAM – Crucial 16GB Kit (8GBx2) DDR3/DDR3L and now it works great again.

I use the 2012 13″ MacBook Pro for productivity (am I making this web post on it) including documents, file organization, Youtube uploads, research, shopping, etc.

I only use the new MacBook Pro 16” for video & photo editing. I don’t surf the internet with it or load it with productivity apps.

This isn’t a necessity and I wouldn’t go out of may way to purchase another machine for this purpose but it was inexpensive to upgrade the 2012 MBP and I find using both helpful and efficient.

For Data Storage I have a 12TB WD My Book Duo set to RAID 1 (Mirrored) for 6TB of media storage. It and my MBP 2012 are backed up with an 8TB Seagate using Time Machine.

Why Time Machine Back up the WD if its RAID 1? More on that later.

For Editing Media Storage (Project Storage) I have a Samsung T7 SSD which holds media files and editing program libraries for current projects. As a back up a Samsung T5 SSD mirrors the T7 using Carbon Copy Cloner. My MBP 2019 and T7 are backed up to an Airport Time Capsule with Time Machine. This is not absolutely necessary but the peace of mind is worth the expense to me. More on why an expensive SSD as a mirror and my Media Workflow later.

I modified two BoYata N19 Adjustable Aluminum Laptop Stands with ultra quiet speed controlled AC Infinity Fan & Blower to aid in cooling.
The MBP 16″ utilizes a CalDigit TS3+ Thunderbolt 3 Dock and the MBP 13″ has a 4-Port USB-3 Hub mounted to the N19 Laptop Stand.

I added onto and modified a Gladiator Hardwood Adjustable Work Bench into a Standing Desk Editing and Filming Setup.

How this Setup came to be

It is interesting to note that originally I was just replacing a laptop so I could continue my video projects. I then realized I could likely edit much faster if I had a larger monitor to work from. In the back of my mind I knew I needed to get a handle on my data management and invest in a large storage drive… and Down the Rabbit Hole I went!

I then decided I would allow myself to invest 1 years income from my most profitable YouTube video “How to Solve the Rubik’s Cube: So Easy a 3 Year Old Can Do It”. The video was on track to fund a really sweet setup until… Covid reduced advertiser payout and cut my views in half which I found odd. More people at home should equal more views but I think it equaled more people posting on YouTube and more competition. Bad time to be without an editing setup!
More on that later.

So did I come in above or below budget? I may answer that question at the end or I may make it a giveaway question with the winner being the person guessing the closest $ amount above or below.

Computer Desk

My original computer desk & filing cabinet purchased around 2004 which recently housed an old HP and a 2010 iMac 27″.

I had stopped using this desk and computers a while ago though because both computers had problems and sitting was painful for my back. Oddly enough this is not why, this is.

I got in the habit of using my laptop and I didn’t edit or post any videos from late 2008-2012 and only 6 videos from 2012-2014.

From 2014-2019, the videos were edited on my iPhone while hanging inclined on my Teeter Inversion Table.

My First YouTube video posted Jan 2007 of 2004 Footage.
Poor resolution!
These new Tubers with 4K & better don’t know the struggle!

When my oldest son left for college in 2017 he gave his 2012 MacBook Pro to his sister. I borrowed it in 2019 to start editing larger tutorial videos that I couldn’t on an iPhone.

I had gotten in the habit of using my bookshelf or kitchen island as a makeshift standing desk with the laptop on a shoe box and heat sink to bring the height up.

It had the double benefit of allowing me to prop a leg up to stretch as part of my physical therapy.

Seeing how much I liked this and not sitting down as that increases my back pain, I decided to get a Standing Desk.

Laptop Heat-Sink

Laptops in general (especially Apple products) are not well engineered for heat dissipation. So to extend the life I would put the laptops on scavenged heat sinks from elevator tear downs Playlist. This did a surprisingly good job of sucking the heat away from the laptop passively and even more so with a fan on it.

I also purchased two laptop coolers before building my own and now I also use software to control the laptop fan speeds.
Targus Portable Chill Mat
More on that later.

Time to tackle a lingering problem:
Data Management

Back in the early days of digital cameras when I was using Windows PC, I was very diligent at organizing and storing all my media. As I accumulated more computers and then with the advent of smart phones and increased number of photos and videos, my media was getting scattered and completely disorganized.

First I gathered up all my external hard drive back ups from my old computers (Dell desktop, Dell laptop, Compaq, HP,) then I made a new back up of all my current computers: iMac 27, iMac 22, MBP 2012.

It was at this point that I realized that I really don’t like the Apple Photos App for storing media. One of my Photos Libraries was nearly 1 TB and its not as convenient as folders to move, view or organize, especially for video editing large projects.

I am embarrassed to say that when I switched to Mac 10 years ago back in 2010, I never took the time to learn and fully understand, Finder, Photos App and file management on MacOS. For Windows PC I read stacks of books and watched tutorials.

I now use Image Capture and folder all media with an organizing and naming convention for Storage and Project use. More on that later.

Hard Drive
Backup Data w Hard Drives

Hard Drive

I am in the process of moving and organizing all the data (with slightly revised naming convention and folder structure) from these external hard drives to my Storage Drive, my new Western Digital My Book Duo 12TB RAID Drive.

This will take months but once complete I will store these drives offsite at another location as additional backups in a waterproof Seahorse Case. I choose this case for no other reason than I have a lot of these laying around because I use them for various projects including panel mount electronics as seen in this video: DIY Variable Power Supply

Out with the old, in with the new

Now that the data is backed up, it’s time to remove the old computers and disassemble the old computer work station and make room for the new Standing Desk Video Editing Work Station.

After extensive research shopping for a Standing Desk I decided I would convert a Gladiator Work Bench into one. It’s rock solid and I needed something sturdy enough to stretch my legs on.

While waiting for it to be delivered I used two Luxor Rolling Carts as a makeshift temporary Standing Desk. At the time I was considering repairing my old 2010 iMac fan issue but decided it was too old and just not worth my time and effort.

DIY Standing Desk

I purchased the LG 27UK850-W 27″ 4K UHD IPS HDR10 USB Type-C Monitor for my new MacBook Pro 16″.
Notice the fan blowing on the MBP 13″ and another blowing on the Time Capsule and Modem. More on that later.

Doy Standing Desk
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