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Old December 23rd, 2008, 09:09 AM   #1
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Building a computer for hd

I'm looking to build a computer that I can use to edit HD footage in. I'm used to a basic Mac for all of my SD stuff, but this is a big step. What would you suggest that I look into?

Also, I'm used to editing on a mac, but I've been reading that Macs can't burn blu-rays due to DVDSP dropping the ball on that. Will I need to pick up a PC as well just for burning those DVD's? Should I make a complete platform switch? Is that worth it? I've been using FCP since 4.0 was new, and I'm very adjusted to that, but I also know that NLE's are basically the same with different cookies here and there.

I guess one of the things that I really question is what processor speed, how much RAM, and what kind of video card? I don't need a Bugatti, but I know that if I buy a used sub compact, I'll be repairing/replacing it in a year.

**EDIT** This is, of course, mainly to be used for weddings. I won't be making a Star Wars film on this, so I don't need to go that over the top.
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 10:50 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Alex Sprinkle View Post
I'm looking to build a computer that I can use to edit HD footage in. I'm used to a basic Mac for all of my SD stuff, but this is a big step. What would you suggest that I look into?

Also, I'm used to editing on a mac, but I've been reading that Macs can't burn blu-rays due to DVDSP dropping the ball on that. Will I need to pick up a PC as well just for burning those DVD's? Should I make a complete platform switch? Is that worth it? I've been using FCP since 4.0 was new, and I'm very adjusted to that, but I also know that NLE's are basically the same with different cookies here and there.

I guess one of the things that I really question is what processor speed, how much RAM, and what kind of video card? I don't need a Bugatti, but I know that if I buy a used sub compact, I'll be repairing/replacing it in a year.

**EDIT** This is, of course, mainly to be used for weddings. I won't be making a Star Wars film on this, so I don't need to go that over the top.
Hi Alex,

I think for HD, you should go for a PC and build your own. Do not buy PCs from Dell, HP, etc, it is very difficult to upgrade them and they come bundled with a bunch of pre-installed crappy proprietary software that drag your performance down. If something is wrong, you have to send back the whole PC for repair. If you build your own, and something is wrong, you can RMA just the malfunctioning item.

Processor: I would suggest to go with the new Intel Core i7. Its performance with Premiere Pro is absolutely fantastic. Moreover, this processor must be mounted on LGA1366 motherboards which holds anything up to 24GB DDR3 RAM which is colossal! I have an I7 920 with 12 GB RAM and I can say that rendering is ultra super fast, previewing is top quality (1920x1080 60i solid as rock). If you don't overclock, you can use the stock CPU Fan. If you want to overclock, you will need one of these two beasts: Thermalright Ultra 120 LGA1366 or CoolerMaster V8.

Motherboard: The 3 best LGA1366 motherboards are: The Asus P6T Deluxe (up to 12GB), the GIGABYTE GA EX58 UD5 (up to 24GB) and the EVGA 132 BL E758 A1 (up to 12GB). Any of these 3 will be great.

RAM: With a LGA1366 motherboard, you cannot have less than 3 x 1GB DDR3 RAM (3GB) because it works in Triple Channel. Which means you have to put 3 DIMMS or 6 DIMMS, not 2, 4 or 5. My recommandation is 6GB (3 x 2 GB or 6 x 1 GB). 12 GB is way too much... for now (I have 12GB). So buy 6 GB and then you can always add 6 more GB when you will need them. The price will probably be better. Corsair Dominator or OCZ Gold / Platinum series are among the best DIMMS on the market.

Disks: For HD editing, you will have to consider 2 HDDs stripped in Raid 0 for Vista 64-bit and the applications (don't store any data on those disks, only the OS and the apps). I recommend you buy two WD Velociraptor 150GB HLFS 10000RPM (Ultra fast, and silent).
For storage you can go for two WD Black Caviar 1TB.

Videocard: I have an Asus DK HD4870 1GB DDR5. It displays Bluray, AVCHD and any HD format extremely well! Plus it has two DVI outputs (you can transform them into HDMI outputs with an included adapter) so you can have 2 monitors. PLus, if you work on some 3D effects, it will help a lot.

Case: I would strongly recommend you the Lian Li A70B. It is the best case on the market when you consider Price, Craftmanship, Design, Functionalities, Real Estate, etc. Anyway, you should consider a 100% Aluminum case.

OS: Vista 64-bit

NLE Software: Premiere Pro (in my opinion, the best match for i7)
YouTube - Editing Many HD Formats with Adobe & Intel Core i7

If you need any advice for the other components (Power Supply, UPS, Bluray Burner, etc.) do not hesitate. If you have any problem assembling and installing, just post, I will try to assist you.

You can also take a look at this forum for additional information:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/high-defi...n-scratch.html

Last edited by Kadafi Marouf; December 23rd, 2008 at 11:29 AM.
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 11:39 AM   #3
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One more detail.

These 3 motherboards have HD sound integrated so don't waste your money and time purchasing a soundcard unless you really need Home Theater on your office.
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 11:43 AM   #4
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Another Option

Alex, another option is to look at what type of HD editing. If your doing HDV and simple graphics you could do an Intel iMac with a Firewire 800 drive. Blu-ray on a Mac you can use Toast. It offers simple menus and blu-ray burning on a Mac. I actually edit XDCam HD on my iMac at home with a Firewire 800 1TB Lacie. Author blu-ray using Toast. Clients are happy.

Reason why I like the iMac, small foot print. Simple updates on software, easy support if needed and its a pretty powerful computer. Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz, 320GB System Drive, Firewire 400 / 800 Ports and an ATI 2600 256MB Video Card.

On the other hand I do have a MacPro Quad 2.8Ghz to handle my DVCPro HD and Animation Codecs. Currently us Leopard with Final Cut Studio 2. Using the factory default configuration and added more storage and memory.

MacPro's very powerful and require very little maintenance and again easy software updates.

Overall PC to Mac is what software you want to use. Final Cut Studio 2 is pretty solid. On the PC Adobe Production Suite is coming along and very powerful. If it comes down to Blu-ray consider the Toast and external burner option. However more support on the Mac side for Blu-ray is coming. Personally look at the amount of time you do editing versus blu-ray burning. If Final Cut Studio is already familiar to you, stick with what you know.

Hopes this helps in your consideration.
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 11:45 AM   #5
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Jeff is right, you should take into consideration the learning curve when working with a new NLE software. FCP is rock solid. And I am sorry, I didn't read the **EDIT** part of your post. Of course the machine I recommended you was for editing highly compressed files such as AVCHD. For HDV, you don't need a Ferrari. If you shoot in AVCHD format, take into account that Final Cut Pro doesn't edit AVCHD natively, it will convert it into its own format. You will lose in quality. I am not saying that future versions of FCP won't do it but for now, you are limited if you want to edit AVCHD natively. On a Mac, you will be able to do it with Premiere Pro.
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 12:13 PM   #6
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Hardware only exists to run software. Deciding on editing tools and OS comes first. Data strategy second.

I do FCS and CS4 on mac. It's a tough time to buy a Mac Pro. The new models will have significant performance bottle necks removed. But will these come out winter or fall? We just don't know. I expect the new low end Mac Pro to easily beat the current high end model. It is true that there's always something faster down the line, but the new intel processors are a pretty big jump for video editing.

If PC I agree with Alexs Core i7 recommendation. Specifically the $300 quad processor. This setup moderately overclocked will perform well into the current Mac Pro line. If you build it yourself only use tested memory. I would fill all six slots with the same memory. Depending on software 6gb of high speed memory might outperform 12gb of standard memory. I would also suggest installing Vista 64 (yuck) if it's proven with your software choice.

I've built a lot of PC's. The thing I hate about mac is that they come finished. Where's the fun in that?
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 04:56 PM   #7
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RE:
Disks: For HD editing, you will have to consider 2 HDDs stripped in Raid 0 for Vista 64-bit and the applications (don't store any data on those disks, only the OS and the apps). I recommend you buy two WD Velociraptor 150GB HLFS 10000RPM (Ultra fast, and silent).
For storage you can go for two WD Black Caviar 1TB.

Some corrections to this ...

before we talk hardware, we need to talk concept

You need

* Opsys/apps disk - Single -c:
* Read Disk Set - RAID - d:
* Render Disk set - RAID - e:
* External Storage - eSATA or USB2 - f:

Specifics ...

* Your opsys disk should be a reliable single drive 250G or greater, to hold your apps, opsys, saved data. If you have $$$ but a 10K drive.
Once setup - Ghost regularly and save Ghost images on external drive set.

* The read disk set is for capture from your video unit, so needs to be fast for write. The obvious solution is RAID 0. (stripe)
So if you striped 4 x 250 GB disks you end up with roughly 1 TB total storage, but with the advantage of data being written using 4 seperate drive head sets
When you want to render, the RAID 0 arrangement offers very fast read speed, again we see the advantage of 4 read head sets.
The disadvantage is that if one disk fails, the whole raid array is lost, with any data. However you mitigate the risk of this by only using it for scratch space.
Of course you can create a RAID 0 set with just 2 disks .. up to you ....

* The render set is if possible a similar 4 x 250 GB RAID 0 set. The idea here is that for performance, you want to avoid drive head contention, (simultaneos READ/WRITE tasks) , so we design the architecture to use the read set as the source and the renders set as the fast write set.

With drive arrays , scale is better than just single 10k or 15k disks .... the more heads/platters the better ....
Use SATA II disks for best bang for buck ....
Super fast processors like the i7 are great, but if your disks are too slow to provide data to them, they are waiting around doing nothing until the next chunk is fetched. Best performance is acheived by having your processor and RAM contantly working without need to wait for a disk access to get the next workload.

* You external drive will hold your archived projects, critical file backup, etc ... best practice for critical file managment is (multiple copy, multiple media)
That means have several copies on different media sets .... that way you always have a fallback position that will be successful.
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 05:51 PM   #8
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Hi Justine,

" You need

* Opsys/apps disk - Single -c:
* Read Disk Set - RAID - d:
* Render Disk set - RAID - e: "

- Where would the project files/scratch be placed in this setup?
- What setup would you suggest, for a workflow that also includes using intermediate renders?
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 06:38 PM   #9
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Scratch files can always live on your RAID arrays ... Its important to understand that RAID arrays are sensitive to disk failure, but then again those drive may run for 10 years in the array with no issues. The key message with all drive setups, be that multi-disk or single disk is that you keep multiple copies of critical files on multiple media sets. With TAPE based video camera's you keep important shots on tape, and keep easy to access RAW copies on hard drive or DVD/BLUray disks

if you have two raid 0 array sets, then they are really interchangable, but if you want to keep it pure, you move intermediate renders back to the READ set overnight when you are not time critical. The purpose of all this performance scaling is to make Capture, arrangement and render phases as fast as possible ... especially for HDV/AVCHD video where so much more demand is being made of the equipment.
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 10:48 PM   #10
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Its important to understand that RAID arrays are sensitive to disk failure
True. A two drive RAID is twice a susceptible to a drive failure than a single drive. Four drives? Quadruple the risk.

One should be circumspect with advice that you gotta have something in your system. In this case, RAID can offer benefits but it comes with a price. Not only money but time spent managing it and others. RAID adds a level of complexity to your system. There are many who use RAID and are happy with it. There are others that don't and are just as happy. RAID is not a panacea. It's a tool that some need, and some do not. You have to decide which camp you fall into.

I edit native HDV with CS3 with lots of After Effects Dynamic Linking and color grading. I use a fair amount of QT files using the Animation codec. I do three camera HDV multi-cam edits and I don't need a RAID. Not yet anyway. I'm also running a Quad Core 6600, 4GB of RAM, three SATA internal disks and an nVidia 8800 card. It is a minimal system, I'll admit, but it works and I get product out the door without gnashing teeth and wringing hands.

It may be heresy, but let me recommend this. Get the best base box you can afford. Fast processor, big memory, good video card, big and fast internal storage (eSATA should do for starters. Buy quality bits and kit it all up. Use that for a while and see how it works for you. From there you can add and reconfigure as you see fit.

In my world, little bites are always best.
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Old December 24th, 2008, 05:10 AM   #11
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Stick with a mac buy toast and the upgrade to burn blu-ray. Raid 0 or 5 and you should have more then enough power to cut HDV
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Old December 24th, 2008, 09:14 AM   #12
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> especially for HDV/AVCHD video where so much more demand is being made of the equipment

Keep in mind the datarate for HDV is no higher than for DV - I agree with Tripp's comments on Raid being potentially more hassle than it's worth.
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Old December 24th, 2008, 09:55 AM   #13
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I keep seeing that toast is the only option for Mac. Is it possible to have DVD menus that don't look terrible? DVDSP makes it pretty easy, and I don't understand how toast works, I guess.

Also, I have no idea what you guys are talking about with RAID. I've heard OF it, but never understood it.
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Old December 24th, 2008, 11:07 AM   #14
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Also, I have no idea what you guys are talking about with RAID. I've heard OF it, but never understood it.
OK, let's say it's Friday afternoon and you and your colleagues are in a bar having a pint of beer before the weekend starts. You have only one throat to pour that pint into, so luckily it may take you some time. That is what happens without a Raid. Now think of a situation where you have multiple throats to pour the beer into, say two or more. That will make the beer to be finished much sooner. That is what happens with a raid. You will have multiple throats to pour that beer in, going much faster. For humans it would probably be called a RAIT, a redundant array of independent throats, instead of computer nerds calling it a redundant array of independent disks. but the effect is the same (without intoxication). It all works faster.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 03:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Alex Sprinkle View Post
I keep seeing that toast is the only option for Mac. Is it possible to have DVD menus that don't look terrible? DVDSP makes it pretty easy, and I don't understand how toast works, I guess.

Also, I have no idea what you guys are talking about with RAID. I've heard OF it, but never understood it.
Read up here Alex on Raid configurations

RAID - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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