Moving into the digital age has made a life for the video editor infinitely easier. Footage can be shuffled, altered and converted on a computer, you no longer have to use the original footage to edit. The sheer speed and options available via computer editing open a world of possibilities to amateurs through to experienced editors.
Optimizing PCs for DV Editing
Making sure your video editor (or computer system) can cope with a digital video stream and edit it without problems is the first and most important step in the desktop video.
This guide will help all levels of video editors step-through the elements needed to ensure they can concentrate on the creative side of editing.
As the needs of video-makers vary so much it is difficult to recommend an optimum video editor for all users. Therefore, what you will learn here is a recommended ‘baseline’ editing system. One that can be built according to your personal needs and project requirements.
A video editor needs have to move and process an enormous amount of information so your editing system needs to be faster and more reliable than your usual home office computer system.
The CPU (Central Processing Unit or Processor Chip) is the ‘heart’ of your edit system and will affect every aspect of the editing process.
There is a direct relationship between the CPU and the processing of video in most systems. Processor speed is important when applying transitions, image filters or adjusting the image quality of the captured footage.
Any time a digital effect is placed over the whole video such as black and white or changing the brightness and contrast, this requires the computer’s CPU to recalculate each pixel in each frame of the movie. Therefore, the more powerful the CPU the quicker rendering will be completed.
The Intel Pentium chip is a market leader with an excellent choice for digital video editing.
One of the most critical components of the video editor is the graphics or overlay card. It is important to ensure that the graphics card supports your chosen capture card and the editing software.
It is best not to use a computer with a built-in graphics card for desktop video. Problems with graphics cards that cannot support video editing are one of the biggest desktop video support issues.
Make sure your system has at least a 16MB AGP graphics card (although, 32MB or 64MB is better). Recommended graphics cards with minimum requirements for video editing are ATI Macedon, Matrox G450/550, GeForce or Asus card utilizing the Nvidia chipset.
RAM affects everything about video editing. The more memory installed (up to a point) the faster the editing software, and all the utilities associated with it will perform.
RAM is found in two types, SDR and DDR. This stands for Single Data Ram and Double Data Ram. For the optimal running of your video editor, it is important to specify DDR type ram for your system
256MB of memory should be the base level of RAM you should consider, with 512MB providing optimal edit system performance as anything beyond that is ineffective. If working with Windows 7 or Windows 10 operating systems, 4Gb is the minimum recommended.
As a rule, the larger the hard drive the better when it comes to your video editor.
All the latest ATA EIDE drives with a speed of 7200 rpm will work with a DV video stream. However, since the data rate of DV is 3.6MB per second, it is important to ensure the specification for the drive state that this is a sustained data transfer rate. Any drops below 3.6MB will result in dropped video frames.
In an optimized system, it is necessary to have the video drive as a second drive, with the computer’s primary drive (or C: drive) responsible for holding the operating system and application software.
A video editor can also utilize an external FireWire drive from companies like ADS, Maxtor and LaCie. FireWire drives can be daisy-chained together via their FireWire connections if necessary and they are portable if required.
The motherboard is the road network that links all the components of your video editor together. So what you are looking for here is stable and reliable operation.
When editing video, a critical component is the operation of the IDE DMA settings. DMA or Direct Mastering Access is the process of ‘by-passing’ the CPU for certain operations. If stable DMA is not possible the video stream to the hard drive will be interrupted. Fortunately not a common problem with most newer motherboards produced today.
Some video editing software does a preliminary test of the hard drive for performance characteristics and may not even attempt to write video to the drive if the DMA is not enabled or has problems related to the motherboard’s performance.
Intel® Pentium® and Asus motherboards are two that have a good reputation for stable operation. If you are looking to convert your existing PC into a video editor, you need to check the DMA settings in your computer’s operating system software to ensure the hard drives are correctly set for video capture and editing.
The final consideration is output. Do you want to output back to tape? Many video makers are increasingly looking at CD or DVD burning as an option. If you’re planning to store your finished jobs in a compressed format such as MPEG-1 or MPEG-2, DivX, Real, Quicktime or as Windows Media, your DV footage must be compressed.
The best option for a video editor is to harness the enormous power of the latest Intel Pentium 4 processors with Hyper-Threading technology. This is recommended for the latest video editing software packages which have been optimized for Pentium processors.