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Old January 9th, 2004, 05:57 PM   #1
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Starter Thread - Help on Basic Requirements for editing

I have read through much of these forums. most of the discussions assume some basic to "more-than-basic" knowledge of video editing. This is fine and even appropriate - however, I am sure that others, like myself, high-end consumers making the leap directly into this world with very little experience or knowledge, will start joining this forum. Right now - posts from people like me - will likely try the patience of some of you with more experience. However, some of us will likely be solid contributors once we have made the next step into understanding.

With that said - I think that a "start here if you have no experince" thread would be a great addition to the top of this forum. It would help the newbies get started and it would eliminate some of the really stupid uneducated posts.

So - what do we need to know - assuming that we own computers and have read (or can read) the basic camera / software instruction booklets, but have never done any PC- based video editing before. What are our options if we don't want to spend $1000+, but just need something to do basic editing? Is the "included" software a waste of time? What are the software choices (from free to $1000+)? Do we need to combine softwares to make the HD editing possible? How powerful does our computer need to be? What do we need to know? Feel free to give opinions as well as facts (i.e. Vegas is the best because...; Premier Pro is worth the $$ over cheaper software, because it will save you time and frustration, because...).

Since I am writing this post - I may as well introduce my situation as a starting point.

I am a profesiional photographer who uses a computer for post-production of my photos, but i have no video experience at all. I have purchased the HD1 (it will arrive on Tuesday). I will use it primarily for personal use - capturing footage of my baby boy (due in March) and whatever other family events may occur. I don't envision doing a ton of editing - likely just cleaning up the hours of footage into a reasonable, viewable format. The sidenote being that I could see myself getting caught up in it and really wanting to do major stuff (i definitely have huge admiration for film-makers and have always had a small desire to take a stab at it). Right now, I would love to spend $0 on the editing software. If $100-200 would make the editing much more enjoyable and doable - I would spend that. Once we get much more expensive than that I will need some convincing. I could envision buying a more powerful computer - if it was neccesary, but again - only within reason. I have a Pentium 4 - 2.2 GHZ with 1 gig of RAM running Windows XP Professional. I have a 120 gb HD and am considering picking up an external HD (via firewire). I think that the video card has 64 mb of on-board memory. I'm not sure what all of the other relevent data is.

I hope that I have not asked too much or been to overwhelming in my request.

These forums have already been great help to me and so I want to thank everyone who contributes. Thanks.
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Old January 11th, 2004, 12:30 AM   #2
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Already have one here.

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Old January 11th, 2004, 01:28 AM   #3
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I'd seen that

Thanks Heath - I saw that thread - I guess that I am just too inexperienced at this point. I will try and figure out my questions elsewhere and come back when I am ready.

The thread you refer to - has links to software and specs - I knew that this software all existed, but with no real experience doing any editing - I am lost as to what I really need to get started and if there is a way to do it without spending big $. I really wanted a more "from the beginning" type explanation.

The camera will arrive on tuesday and I will see if I can figure out the JVC software and go from there.

Thanks again - and sorry to everyone for wasting your time with an "idiot-beginner" post.
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Old January 11th, 2004, 12:17 PM   #4
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Evan,

You are not wasting anyone's time. The skill levels of users here represent a wide range, and people use site like this to gain knowlegde; I learned great tricks from here.

You will find no issues with the performance of your PC; 2.2GHz with 1Gig is quite respectable. That exceeds the minimum requirements for the software that comes with the camera. Many here don't think too highly of the free software (disclaimer: it is my company that sells the $500 and $1000+ PC solutions), yet the software does work for the very basics. A professional editor would need to move beyond that software, to get the minimal features they typically need such as greater audio control and good color correction and other manipulation features. However, for getting started you will be maybe to trim out the boring bits and add dissolves to improve your storytelling, all with the free software. To do the basics, all you need is a Firewire card which it seems you already have.

For learning the skills of video editing, most of that comes for having an artistic eye for composition and timing (half of which you already have as a pro. photographer.) There are additional skills learned based on the editing styles of the different editing applications. Unfortunately the free software editing style is a little odd. Eventually you will need to adopt a tool like Premiere Pro or Vegas Video, which have far more excepted features and editing styles. I'm growing to really love editing under Premiere Pro, yet others at the office really enjoy Vegas, so there are some differences (other than price) that will make you prefer one over the other. Both Premiere Pro and Vegas have 30 day downloadable free trials for there web sites. On the statistics side Premiere has much larger market share than Vegas.

The question of HDV does effect the evaluation choice. Neither Premiere or Vegas support HDV out of the box or from the downloaded evaluation versions. You may need to evaluate these tools in DV mode (which both support DV well, yet I believe PPro has the speed edge.) Vegas however can be manipulated into editing HDV natively, but the performance is low (many on this forum use Vegas via small tweeks.) Editing HD in these existing tools will really stress the PC. Congratulations, you are an early adaptor. HDV is not a mass market format yet. As a result, the commercial products that solve many of the HDV issues (like speed) seem expensive (i.e. the CineForm accelerators of Premiere and Vegas), but are targeted to pro users of which the market is still limited. CineForm and I'm sure others will be providing lower cost solutions as the market grows.
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Old January 11th, 2004, 12:52 PM   #5
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David, Thanks a lot for your response.

I guess I will initially try and get away with the JVC-supplied software and then when I start getting more into it and have some more cash to throw around - I'll make the bigger jump. Here are some follow up questions:

If I am just doing basic stuff, will the JVC-supplied software be frustrating to use or just limiting?

Are there any pros and cons of a solution like Womble.com - would it be a good interim solution before I spend the big $.

Now here is the part that I am still not 100% clear on - to edit HD - I need to buy one of the basic softwares like Premier Pro or Vegas and then buy Cineform that somehow "upgrades the ability" of those programs - is that right? Will Adobe - eventually just make premeir Pro able to handle HD (if so, is there going to be an advantage to having cineform?) Are some programs out now that are just hd-capable editting software that work on their own? Maybe everyone is udes to using the big ones and so changing now would be stupid, but for me - with no experience anyway - should I just get one that is HD-capable (is womble a stand-alone?)? You can see how confused I am here - probably really simple - I just haven't gotten a grasp on it yet.

Finally - when I do make the plunge - and I want to do professional quality stuff, but at a lower price (like the decision to buy the HD1 over the HD10 or even a more professional camera than that) - what do I need to buy:
software:
Premier Pro
Cineform
hardware:
what should I strive for to make it so that the speed of the computer is not frustratingly slow?

OK thats it for now - back to watching beautiful HD football - The red colors of the Chiefs fans look incredible.

Evan
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Old January 11th, 2004, 01:38 PM   #6
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Evan,

The bundled software will be both frustrating and limiting, but less so than a tool like Womble (which is a powerful tool but even further removed for a traditional editing package.)

You can edit HD in Premiere and Vegas without CineForm plugins. The first problem is HDV and HD are not the same. Both Adobe and Sony (Vegas) claim correctly that you can edit HD, but neither claim HDV; Adobe pretty much pushes CineForm when customers ask for HDV (Sony is getting there to.) So this is where the confusion begins. If are really into DIY computer stuff, you can convert HDV to *.AVI formats like HUFFYUV to edit in Premiere or Vegas. The problems are the hoop jumping is both technical, and time consuming, and the end result is still poor editing performance (no real-time dissolves, everything must be rendered for smooth motion.) But you can do all this for no cost (other than the editing application itself.)

HDV is far too new for there to be a bunch of native HDV on the market, the KDDI software (the free bundled stuff) is all there is.

The CineForm is very different for the other solutions. Aspect HD, the accelerator for Premiere, replaces a large proportion of the Premiere "Engine". Capture, video playback, video mixing, effects, and a entirely new compression technology are implemented to accellerate HD (not just HDV) editing. It is all integrated so Premiere users get the performance benefits without learning something new. This is similar to the way some of the plug-in DV accelerator cards work, although CineForm does it without hardware. Connect HD is a similar tool for Vegas, although it uses the existing Vegas playback and mixing "engine", so it isn't as fast as Aspect HD, also reflected in its lower price ($499.) AspectHD accelerates Premiere about 4-6 times, Connect HD accelerates Vegas about 3 times.

We expect Abode and Sony directly support HDV in the future, however they will not have the performance advantages of the CineForm products that has patent pending technology for manipulating HD.

Your options today (in order of price and performance)

1. Bundle software. (free)
2. DIY, learning all the technical stuff, plus Vegas or Premiere 6.5, use your current PC (about $300.)
3. DIY, learning all the technical stuff, plus Premiere Pro. (about $600)
4. Vegas + Connect HD (on your current PC.) (about $800)
4. Premiere Pro + Aspect HD + a upgraded PC. (about $2000+)

If you where to upgrade your PC. Today's best performance (for all software configurations), is a Dual-DDR memory system at 400MHz each (effective 800MHz memory) running of a hyperthreaded P4 (2.8GHz+), plus two SATA drives running of the motherboard RAID controller (striped as RAID 0) that comes free with all Intel 875 based motherboards. The total cost of this upgrade is about $800 DIY (drives+motherboard+CPU+memory) or about $1500+ for a new system.
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Old January 11th, 2004, 02:47 PM   #7
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David - your responses are incredibly thorough and helpful - when I'm ready - I will definitely be supporting your company.

Can we just review option #4 (Vegas plus Connect HD on my current PC). As someone who will play around and try and make some cool stuff (but doesn't really need to sell anything) - would I be missing much going with this option over the next level? I have plenty of Adobe experience with photoshop - would that make going with Premier better - or irrelelevent?

It seems like that would be my most likely option (Vegas plus Connect HD with current PC). What else would I need to know? Are there other things that you buy as add ons? Where do people get sound effects, etc from?


Now for the "further understading" questions:
the HDV - HD thing is still a little confusing. I think I get it - and the way you describe it (and its drawbacks) it appears to be well worth it to spend the extra $500. If I dealt with all of teh frustrations of the DYI solution - when you convert to .AVI - is their compression that makes the image worse? In all of these editing solutions - does the quality decrease every time you edit - or is it possible to achieve some sort of lossless editing on a regular PC like mine?

Again - assuming that I go with the Vegas+Connect HD solution - what are some of the pros and cons -

What can I and what can't I do?

How slow is the process (you say it accelerates vegas 3x - that doesn't mean anything to me) - Can someone give an example of actual time for certain things (again having never done any editing - I don't even know what to ask specifically, but maybe something like "it takes 3 minutes for the computer to process such and such")?

If I bought this now - in 6 months will there be a much better solution?

OK - thats it - I will stop bothering you with these questions. Again - you have been very helpful and I appreciate everything. I hope our discussion is helpful to others as well.

Evan
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Old January 11th, 2004, 04:55 PM   #8
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No sweat, too, Evan! Just post away! I wanted to help you out.

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Old January 11th, 2004, 05:32 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Evan Malter :
Can we just review option #4 (Vegas plus Connect HD on my current PC). As someone who will play around and try and make some cool stuff (but doesn't really need to sell anything) - would I be missing much going with this option over the next level? I have plenty of Adobe experience with photoshop - would that make going with Premier better - or irrelelevent?-->>>

Premiere Pro does integrate very well with Photoshop, handy if you want to create multi-layer titles in Photoshop then animate the layers in Premiere Pro. This is new to PPro. This is the main feature Vegas can't support. Generally Vegas can create projects just as intricate as Premiere.

The main deference is the Aspect HD tool is completely real-time, whereas Vegas is only accelerated. Real-time is a term that is misused a lot. To some venders it means you can preview without rendering, but you may see video at only 5 frames per second (fps). Aspect HD real-time is 30 frames per second for most operations, such as transitions, color correction, mult-layer fly-in titles, and flying PiP, etc. On a well configured PC Aspect HD can mix four streams of video in 30fps real-time (not even the most expensive Avid systems can't do that in HD.) It is real pleasure to work fully real-time. Aspect HD is our top-of-the-line product.

When I say we accelerate Vegas about 3 times, I means that if you where to transition between HUFFYUV or M2T video clips (the DIY methods) you might see frame rates between 5-10fps on a good PC. With Connect HD acceration you will see 15-30fps with the same PC. The smoother motion greatly helps the editing work flow.

<<<--It seems like that would be my most likely option (Vegas plus Connect HD with current PC). What else would I need to know? Are there other things that you buy as add ons? Where do people get sound effects, etc from?-->>>

Both Vegas and Premiere come with a wide range of audio and video filters. More third party tools for Premiere, Vegas probably has them as well.

<<<-- If I dealt with all of teh frustrations of the DYI solution - when you convert to .AVI - is their compression that makes the image worse? -->>>

Generally no. Done of the typically techniques has a significant impact on image quality. The HUFFYUV format is mathematically loss-less, an excellent format, just very slow.

<<<--- In all of these editing solutions - does the quality decrease every time you edit - or is it possible to achieve some sort of lossless editing on a regular PC like mine?-->>>

Quality doesn't decrease for each editing operation. Quality is not a concern if you use any of the professional editing tools. If you try using native MPEG you have to be careful if you are importing and exporting to other tools, but you won't need to worry about that.

<<<---Again - assuming that I go with the Vegas+Connect HD solution - what are some of the pros and cons - What can I and what can't I do? --->>>

Pros: It is faster, has direct support for the HDV camera for import and export. It work seemly with nearly all PC applications. Cons: It is commercial product, sorry it isn't free.

<<<--If I bought this now - in 6 months will there be a much better solution?-->>>

Prices might change. There won't be faster solutions (useless CineFOrm makes it.) There might be tools that can natively edit HDV (slowly) like Media Studio Pro from Ulead, but that is also a expensive product. I don't expect too much change in the next six months.
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Old January 11th, 2004, 08:14 PM   #10
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Vegas does HDV just fine for me

I'm not sure I understand what people mean by Vegas not doing HDV out of the box. I use Vegas without any extras and it works just fine. You can import the native JVC video and edit it. You can either drag the video files into the Vegas clip bin, or do an 'open as' from the Vegas import menu.

Vegas won't play back the HDV footage perfectly smooth on my machine, it will be slightly jumpy, but I have zero problem doing an edit with this, since I know the final result will be perfectly smooth. I can select edit points, and see my shots well enough. I don't need to see perfectly smooth video playback to see what frame I want to end a shot on.
I agree that someone doing video day in and day out would not like the Vegas playback, but for a casual user I think it is very acceptable. Also, since there is no video re compression happening, the final render to media 9 or whatever you choose to show the project in will have less chance for multi step codec artifacts.

My current machine is a 2.4ghz p4 without hyper threading. I wouldn't be too surprised that a 3.0 hyper threading machine would play back raw JVC HD clips pretty darned smooth, if not perfect.

To recap: For a lot of people Vegas alone does a wonderful job of editing HDV video from the JVC cam, with the same quality of end result video.

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Old January 11th, 2004, 10:37 PM   #11
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Les, is correct believe is using the DVD version Vegas, for a couple of hundred more. This has the MPEG tools included which help decode the camera data. Les, help us on these details, what version etc. I understand that Vegas will not directly reconize the *.m2t files that the capture tool presents, but if you use open as you can still import those files. Playback is poor, a killer for me, but maybe fine so less intensive uses. There is still some DIY work with Vegas with you wish to export back to the camera or DVHS. The KDDI exporter has troubles with the Main Concept MPEG2-TS encoder than both Vegas and Premiere uses. Short projects are OK, long projects have audio sync problems. This seems to be a fault in the KDDI exporter, not the *.m2t files, as our tools can export them without issue.

Evan, this would a fine starting point, as you can decide later if you need the greater performance and DVHS support.
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Old January 12th, 2004, 01:24 AM   #12
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Ok. So what version of Vegas am I supposed to buy and who can tell me more about the pros and cons of what has been discussed in this thread.
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Old January 12th, 2004, 01:31 AM   #13
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Evan, go to Vegas' site and look around and do some research. Anyone want to field this, though?

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Old January 12th, 2004, 03:49 PM   #14
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I have edited in Vegas (DVD) directly by renaming the m2t extension to mpg. Works for Premiere Pro as well. Don't know what codec is decoding the TS streams...

Outputing TS streams is another matter (but not technically editing).
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Old January 12th, 2004, 06:46 PM   #15
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I use Vegas Ver. 4.0d. A slightly earlier version did not support the 720P image size, but they have a downloadable update to fix that. There is a small change that can be done to the registry to allow the m2t files to show up pin the open file dialog box, or you can set the open file to 'view all files' to see them, or you can just drag them in the clips area from explorer.
I have the DVD version that gets you the mpeg2 codec.

I used to use Premiere, and I thought Vegas was 'cheesy' due to the tacky name, but it is actually a pretty serious program, pretty well thought out. I don't care about exporting the final video back to m2t or DVHS, I've never tried that. Vegas does Media 9 ( even dual pass ) from it's render options, which is what I do.

One thing to also consider: What will your PC hardware look like in a year? In 2 years? Who knows, maybe the new 64 bit procs will play the video at real time. At one time, years ago, I was looking into some DSP boards to do some film res work. What kept happening was the regular PC hardware kept getting faster and faster, over taking the DSP hardware in many ways, partially because the DSP boards evolved much slower. Only a few years ago PC hardware could only play video res at 30fps with special boards. It's all history now, as well as the companies that made the special boards.
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