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Non-Linear Editing on the PC
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 04:21 AM   #1
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Building a Video Editing Workstation - comments plz

I already have a case (Antec Sonata), boot drive (Seagate 80GB ATA100 7200RPM) and monitor (17" Planar LCD).
My OS will be Windows xp Pro. My proposed NLE will be Vegas 4.0. My camera is a Sony PD150.

I'm very new to digital video. The expected purchase date will be late February. Since I live in Hawaii and shipping is expensive here, I'll have everything shipped to CA to coincide with my brother's return trip from San Francisco.

http://secure.newegg.com/app/WishHis...VIEW&ID=591101

Other things I'd like to get at some point...
- Sennheiser ME66/K6 mic
- some sort of lighting kit
- a nice VTR deck, like the Sony DSR-25

But first things first... gotta build my base editing system.
Any comments/suggestions are appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 08:55 AM   #2
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get a gig of ram
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 11:21 AM   #3
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What sort of editing do you plan to do? Do you already have a movie in mind, or are you just getting started and not really pointed in any single direction?

If you are just getting started and not really headed in one single direction, this is my opinion (for what it's worth):

Unless you have the extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, you may be spending too much right now, and being the frugal guy that I am, I'm going to suggest saving some money...

1) Just one 160 GB hard drive will hold about 10 (ten) hours of DV video. While two 160 GB drives would be great, unless you already know that you're going to hit capacity on that first one, this may be something you can wait until later to add (especially since you already have a 80 GB system drive). Prices will continue to drop on SATA drives as time goes on.

2) Along the same lines, from what I've read, I have yet to see definitive proof that SATA drives give a real discernable boost in performance (should I shield myself from flaming?). Of course, you'll only save about $30 per drive if you go w/ ATA, and the mobo already supports SATA, so this is not a big deal anyway...

3) Personally, I think that the graphics card you chose is a little too much. I would say either go all out with a digial video editing graphics card such as a Matrox or scale back on the graphics card and use your camera (or the deck you may buy) as your analog/digital video I/O. My 3-yr-old computer uses a Nvidea card with only 64MB of memory (IIRC) and I think it works fine with DV. A high-end digital video editing card like a Matrox is good b/c it helps with real-time redering and such, but otherwise you're going to have a lot of unused processing power if you only use that Radeon for editing.

4) Definitely wait on the processor -- Pentium is suppossed to release their newest one this week, which usually brings down the price on the rest of them. If you do order at the end of the month, you'll probably save a few bucks.

I say all this, but you might know exactly what you want -- maybe you want a SATA RAID config, or the graphics card is the best one for your monitor (since it has DVI out). It certainly sounds like you know what you're doing. Maybe you are starting a production company, have the money and need the power -- in which case I'd say upsell and buy the P4 3.2 Ghtz -- it's a small increase in speed, but I hear for longer renders (such as in After Effects), it can shave hours off of a project.

But then again you might also be very new to this and think that you have to get the best equipment to edit video....

I edit my commercials on with a 1.9 GHtz P4 with 768 MB RAM and a 64MB Graphics card. I have a 60 GB system drive, a 120 GB internal editing drive, and an 80GB external drive -- each one purchased and installed months (if not years) apart. Like I said, I tend to be frugal -- I buy what I need now and figure that when I need more the cost will have gone down. I am considering putting together a faster system (with the same processor you chose), but that's mainly so I can really start taking advantage of After Effects (it's hard to get creative with AE when you have to wait for excessively long renders!)

Just my 2-cents...
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 11:51 AM   #4
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well you still haven't said what type of projects your doing but i just built yet another upgraded editing system so i'll give you my $ .02

i would go with the sata, they aren't a lot faster but if you go big later on you can get a nice raid card (adaptec 2410 is what i went with) and build a raid 5 later on.

i would go bigger, i have the wd 250 gig drives

having plenty of space makes things a lot easier when you don't have to stop and juggle where to save which project.

ram, get more, even if you think you have enough you probably don't.

anything in the pentium 4 3.# range should be fine.

i'm not familar with that video card but it didn't look like it supported dual monitors, i personally would never go back to a single monitor.

i wouldn't buy the fancy video deck, buy a cheap mini-dv camcorder and use that instead, that way you also have a toy camera for times when the big one is too big to drag along for a weekend trip etc.

matthew
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 12:50 PM   #5
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John G and John B, thank you for the feedback. John G, in my proposed system, I have 4 x 512MB = 2GB planned. Are you suggesting that I cut back to 1GB, or did you think that I had only 1 x 512MB and are suggesting that I up it to 1GB? With RAM, I've been led to believe that the more, the better, and with the increased demands of a video editing station, RAM is one area that I was prepared to go overboard.

John B, I appreciate your honest evaluation of my proposed system.

Quote:
you might also be very new to this and think that you have to get the best equipment to edit video...
You hit the nail on the head... this's exactly where I'm coming from. I'm trying to follow the footsteps of others here, and have borrowed tidbits from others' listed rigs to build my own system. Perhaps I should detail my situation a bit more.

I was going to replace my current computer (not used for video) anyway. And I want to get started with video editing... I've had my PD150 for around 1 year and haven't used it once(?!). Unfortunately, I'm a chronic procrastinator.

The original idea was to get 2 computers... one for my day-to-day websurfing, emailing, programming in VB.NET (something I'm trying to learn on my own), etc and another dedicated to video editing. Then I thought that perhaps I could load up on one system and have it do double-duty.
There's a pretty cheap base system from Dell at http://configure.us.dell.com/dellsto...8M1D3&m_8=40GB that I've been thinking about for my day-to-day system... just need to add RAM and maybe upgrade the processor to a P4 2.4 with 800FSB and HT. I already have a KVM that I'd use to share the keyboard, monitor, mouse with my video system.

I'm actually still trying to decide between 2 systems or 1. Any suggestions on which way I should go? A dedicated video editing station, or one shared with my day-to-day tasks?

I have a couple of video projects in mind but no solid plans to implement them yet. They are:
- an instructional video series of 10-12 30-minute lessons on how to play chess, covering how to move the pieces to basic strategy, for broadcast on public access TV (Hawaii has one of the best public access facilities in the nation... see http://www.olelo.org/)
- a personal history of my dad's life, who's now 76 years old and has Lou Gehrig's disease

Regarding my proposed system configuration...

1) The mobo supports SATA, so I thought it'd be a shame not to use it. As far as getting 1 or 2 160GB drives, I was thinking about RAID0 for the two SATA drives for faster access. But I've also read where others use one drive for raw video and another for rendering, so I don't know what's best. Suggestions? Perhaps RAID0 for the first 2 and a 3rd one for rendering? Hmm... a total of 4 drives... as you can tell, it's pretty easy to convince me to spend too much money.

2) I'd like to get a dual head graphics card so that I can use a monitor for previewing, even if only a 13" TV. I started out looking at the Matrox Parhelia (http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduc...106-145&depa=1) but the price scared me away. I then read about others having good experiences with ATI. The 9800 is probably overkill for me (again, I'm not a gamer). Even the chosen 9700pro is probably too much for me. Should I save $50 and settle for the 9600pro at http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduc...131-219&depa=1?

3) I think the Intel Prescott is being announced today, and already I see there's a 1-day sale on the P4 3.0C at newegg. Like I said, I'll wait till late-Feb to finalize my configuration. Hopefully, more price cuts will follow.

Thanks again. Any other suggestions/comments are welcome.
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 01:16 PM   #6
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Matthew, thanks for the 2 cents. A couple of comments...

1) I've heard good things about Seagate so that's why I chose them. In particular, I've been reading about how quiet they are. Currently, 160GB is as big as their SATA drives come. But I'll consider the WD 250GB drives... if they're reasonably priced, that might be enough to convince me. Are they SATA?

2) I've never toyed with any RAID setups, so moving to RAID0 is a big step for me. The only reason I'm considering that is because the mobo already supports it, so not much additional effort on my part.

3) good suggestion re: using a cheap camera as a deck. Since my camera is a Sony PD150, I'd kinda like to stick with Sony... any suggestions on particular model?

4) the more RAM, the better... so stick with 2 GB?

5) specs on the ATI 9700pro...
Quote:
1 x VGA out(15 Pin D-Sub)
1 x TV-Out(S-Video)
1 x DVI connector
So does that mean I can run dual monitors? Actually, I don't really need that capability yet, but want DVI-out for my primary(only) monitor and TV-Out to preview on TV... am I ontrack here? BTW, the 9600pro has the same connectors, so perhaps a non-gamer can save $50 and downgrade.

Finally, should I dedicate my machine to video editing or use it as my day-to-day machine too?
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 02:06 PM   #7
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well the hard drives are one of the last places where you shop based solely on price.

i would NEVER use raid 0, i did once and lost a drive and then you lose everything.

i have a raid 5 with of those 250 gig drives, i just got a fourth one in the fedex to day and will be adding that tonight.

i know it's overkill, but so is the whole system! i just upgraded to dual xeon 3.06 with hyperthreading.

i have a sony trv-19 and it is a decent little camera and it was like $400 +/-

i would go with 2 gig.

monitors keep dropping and having 2 is just so much easier to work with.

it would be a shame to buy that card now and then have to buy a new one to goto dual monitors. also you really do get much better quality with dual dvi vs. vga.

but its all a matter of priorities and budget, i fully admit that my current system is overkill but it sure is fast and its nice to not have to wait much.

matthew
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 04:25 PM   #8
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Edward --

For previewing/viewing your footage on a TV, you can just use a camera (your PD150 or some cheap one) -- for example, I'll have my cheap cam hooked up to my computer via firewire and to my TV via its analog outputs (cheap cams usually use those cables with a 1/8-inch plug on one end and RCA outputs on the other end). When I play the timeline in Premiere 6.5, the video appears on my TV. Your camera can act as both an input *and* output device -- this is the easiest way to preview. My graphics card also has S-Video but I've never even bothered with it...

If money were no object, then obviously two computers would be best -- that's what I'm planning to do when I upgrade: keep my current system but buy a new, faster one to do all my video editing on. I'm not really into gaming, but I just developed a huge addiction to Grand Theft Auto over the holidays, and I realized that I want to keep that separate from my video stuff...

Otherwise, lots of people here have suggested and/or use a dual-boot set-up. This is good for when you don't have the cash to have one computer deciated to video.

You've got the right idea in at least having a separate system drive. Even if Windows crashes and corrupts all the data on your C: drive, all the video files on the other drives will stay safe. And if you don't plan on having any tight deadlines and you don't mind reinstalling all your apps if anything goes wrong, this may be all you need.

I started out on a Pentium 3 laptop with 256 MB RAM, running Windows ME. Heck, I got paid for some of the work I did on that computer! So, you can edit on anything -- faster is always better, more RAM is *always* better, but ultimately it comes down to what you're comfortable with. Like I said, I play it frugal -- you can always add on more later, but you can't get back the money you spent on accessories you ended up not using. I have only one computer monitor, I don't use a RAID config, and the only things I really want are a faster processor and more memory. But that's me...

And on a final note, I am sorry about your father. My own father passed away from ALS a few years ago and I know that it is a diffucult affliction for everyone involved to deal with. I think your documentary is a great idea.

Good luck!
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 04:45 PM   #9
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my bad, I thought you only had 512 ram.

I have almost the same system as you described, but with 1GB and a 160+80+60 GB hard drives. I filled up my 160 with DV, the 80 is filez ;) and the 60 is the OS/program files. Its a great to be able to wipe your OS every so often and keep all your files. OR get a 300GB and partition it up.

you should like Vegas, you can D/l the demo to check it out
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Old February 3rd, 2004, 11:07 AM   #10
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well if you have had your pd-150 for a year and have never used it, i would take back pretty much everything i said...

get a bare bones computer that will just get you by until you have a clear project in mind.

just a basic motherboard with 1394 built in and premiere pro and a medium sized hard drive will be fine.

no sense in investing a lot of money.

matthew
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Old February 3rd, 2004, 10:25 PM   #11
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Processor- The 2.6"C" and the 2.8"C" seem to be the best bang for the buck. The 3.0"C" is also good if you want the slightly better performance. The Prescott is nothing to get excited about (actually slower I think) and future speed bumps are nothing major. It seems to me that Intel is lagging behind Moore's Law. Generally rendering speed is mostly dependent on processor speed, and increases in clock speed lead to linear increases in rendering speed.

With AE, you can use the 2nd computer as a render farm. Can't with Vegas.

RAM- Vegas doesn't really use all that much RAM. You could get by with 1GB (which is a lot).

Video card- any dual head video card will be good. If you want dual DVI then only certain cards will do that. Otherwise a $35 transcend ATI 7000 might work (DVI + VGA out, but no 2XVGA).

Hard drive- I'd get the largest one you can afford. You can always use the extra space, and larger hard drives are faster and more future-proof. PATA drives might be more future-proof since future drives will only be SATA. Of course in 2 years motherboards may not come with PATA connectors anymore? It depends when you'll upgrade I guess.

If you're not sure about the projects you are going to do, you could try to grab a very reasonable Dell computer for a great price. Sometimes they have some crazy deals on 2.66ghz Pentiums. You can't get deals on anything better than the low end though, and for a crazy deal you need to install your own parts (think of the Dell as a very, very cheap barebones systems). Their add-on options are all overpriced, which is how they make a profit. But they have some insane deals if you wait around.
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