…because of one simple concept: cost factor.
The only studios I know of that (for certain) use Macs in production are the crews working on low-budget cartoons, such as South Park or Adult Swim cartoons from Cartoon Network. The quality of animation in South Park is intentionally low-budget, obviously, although this does’t affect South Park’s status as the Greatest Cartoon on Earth, of course.
But big studios would be foolhardy to aquire or use Macs in their pipelines. The reason schools have Macs is the same as it was in the early 80’s: Apple gives them special financing in the hopes that teaching Apples to youngsters will make them “Mac 4 Life” people.
The same math holds true now as it does then. In 1984:
Nothing has really changed for Apple. They use inferior hardware and have a preposterous markup involved. Today, you can equal a Mac Pro’s power for a similar fraction of the cost using other hardware, and most big studios know this because they know how to do basic math, or if they don’t then they hire accountants who know basic math.
So any studio purchasing 100 Macs would be at an instant eight-fold disadvantage to any other studio using non-proprietary computers. AMD or Intel, Nvidia or ATI, it doesn’t matter really. When it comes to financing, a studio could use non-Apple computers and pay for their workers salaries based on this difference alone. In turn, Apple-using studios would have to either cut wages for their employees to make up the difference or somehow be more productive or effective, which a non-Apple company could also do anyway. Anyone actually researching the issue scientifically would come to the same conclusion : Macs aren’t worth the ridiculous and fabled Apple markup. There is no quality gain, no production benefit for spending more money for no reason other than to have an Apple logo on your system.
When it comes to software, Final Cut Pro gained it’s popularity for one simple reason : they put “pro” in the title. Adobe doesn’t care about such marketing gimmicks, they just make excellent cross-platform titles which rock. Premiere and After-Effects have powered teleivision and movies for years behind the scenes, and almost every show, movie, or commercial you’ve ever seen went through one of these. Final Cut Pro brings nothing new to the table except the ease-of-use which is common ground for Mac users, which can be interpreted as being a wonderful thing, but which in reality means that they have to dumb things down considerable to cater to the non-technical average Mac user.
I’d have to agree with your girlfriend on this one. She should have no problem building a powerful workstation for a fraction of the cost of one single Mac. AMD and Intel both make solutions to do so from the processor end, and the GPU war between ATI and Nvidia only helps prices drop in the long run.