Here’s what the best computer for video editing would look like. A professional setup will help you to be more productive, and also complement your creativity. Here’s how a Video Editing computer should be built and what configurations should it have, so that you can make optimum use of it in the editing process.
I had the opportunity to see a professional video editor at work for the first time, when I once visited my friends studio, who is a professional photographer. The editing guy there, who was working on FCP / Mac told me how important it was to get a very powerful computer. A video editing computer needs to have lots of computing power, compared to your average home computer. The CPU needs to be faster, it should have lots of RAM and disk space to handle processing of large video files.
- 1 Why Basic is Not Enough?
- 2 Editing is a Creative Work?
- 3 You’ll Face Technical Problems all the Time
- 4 Get the Right Video Gear / Equipment
- 5 The Basic Video Editing PC Has Limitations
- 6 Main Computer
- 7 CPU & Motherboard
- 8 Cards & Software
- 9 Additional Outputs & Tools
- 10 Memory & Data Storage
- 11 Sharing / Archiving Options
- 12 Here’s Why You Need More High-Speed Memory For Your Video Editing Work
- 13 Final Thoughts
- 14 You Might Also Like:
Why Basic is Not Enough?
The reason a basic computer is not enough for video editing work is because it interrupts the creative process. And above all, it can be really annoying to the video editor.
And why is it so?
It is because video is the most demanding of most applications that you will deal with on a computer. In fact, it can be even more demanding than some of the latest video games that are available out there.
On a basic computer, you may apply a transition or an effect or any other command, and it could actually make you wait for 20 to 30 minutes to see what the results look like, if the computer’s configuration is really bad.
Editing is a Creative Work?
Video editing is indeed a creative work, and once you are into the groove you just want your creativity to flow without it getting interrupted for technical reasons.
If you don’t have the right computer, video editing can be very restrictive, very tiresome, and above all, it will be something that you’ll not enjoy at all.
It means a really basic video editing system is not really a video editing system at all. This is what most beginners fail to realize. They use a general purpose PC for the editing work and really struggle to get the job done.
You’ll Face Technical Problems all the Time
Professional video editors always use a dedicated computer for their work. It means you really don’t have to worry that someone will install a game or any other software on your PC and disrupt all your settings.
It also means you have to deal with minimum issues pertaining to incompatibilities and other installation related problems.
As far as using the editing software is concerned, irrespective of what feature you’re using, the amount of computing power used is comparatively higher.
So for example, if you’ve to apply even a one-word title to appear over a one minute clip, the computer has to “write” that title to 1440 individual frames (60 seconds at 24 frames per second).
Did I not say that the video is the most demanding of most applications? I guess you will appreciate that now.
Get the Right Video Gear / Equipment
Most video enthusiasts try looking for a “basic” video editing PC, because they usually want to “edit the odd home video”.
But then, what they don’t realize is that technology changes rapidly, and the hobby they have can turn serious, so in case you’re buying, you might as well go for the right gear.
Doesn’t matter if you want to edit the occasionally home movies or want to seriously take up a
video editing a job, a good video editing card, fast processor and plenty of RAM is something that the computer must have.
The Basic Video Editing PC Has Limitations
The general purpose that you want to use as a basic home video system will not have the following important options needed for editing work.
I can’t stress more, the importance of speed of your computer when editing a video/movie.
Did you know that most PC magazines use video editing applications on a PC to test and benchmark PCs?
You know the reason now, right?
It’s because video editing pushes the resources of a computer so hard!
You might argue that your computer is fast and plays the most complex video games, and easily runs several programs together.
The fact however is that even the latest and the fastest computers fail to impress when handling videos.
If you’re not convinced, just try this out. Take one of your home video clips and see how it performs when you apply a few transitions and ask it to render the clip.
No Analogue Plugs/Sockets
Maybe as a beginner, you may not see the importance of this, but if you’re seriously into video production, you want the flexibility to deal with various sources.
You should be able to connect various equipment, use different music sources, radio, TVs, VCRs and older analog camcorders to your PC. And you want two-way communication so that you can take input from and send output to these devices.
Though many would argue that analog is dead, the fact is that most videographers still use VCRs as short-term backup devices, to store all that footage that you haven’t had the time to go through and edit.
Most professionals have multiple camcorders, some of which may not have DV inputs, so you’ll need analogue output to transfer clips to those camcorders. And how about using the audio from various music systems? You want your computer to handle different audio sources which you can use in your film. There are various other good reasons to have a full range of analogue inputs and outputs on your computer.
You may feel like compromising on this aspect to save some cost, but it is advised that you don’t do so, especially if you are serious about video editing / production.
Limited control over audio
- Cannot Record over the Audio Track of a Video Clip: Again, one of those important features to have, especially if you want more control over the video editing. On so many occasions you might have recorded a great video clip, and wish you could remove that piece of audio which is distasteful, or replace the audio track with some other audio track. Not being able to record over the audio track of a video clip is really restricting.
- Remove Hiss: You cannot remove the hiss and crackle on your audio on a computer with free editing software. Wind hiss on outdoor footage can be particularly annoying
Limited Video Sharing Features
Here are some more features that you would love to have when dealing with videos.
Limited Video Related Features
A basic video editing system comes without several features / tools needed to improve the final video.
- No Correction of Color or Lighting: A budget computer will not let you do correction of the color or lighting. Even if it exists, the control and choices are limited. For example if the clip looked OK in the viewfinder but when played on the PC it appears too dark that you can hardly make out the people in it. The only choices that you have now is to make the clip brighter by adjusting/enhancing the lighting (gamma correction), or scrap the clip.
- No Separation of your Video Clips: Most computers will have the video clips on the same hard disk as your operating system. Even with a fast PC, you could experience dropped frames, freezing and crashing, which could result in losing the last several hours worth of work.
- No Real-Time Rendering: I am sure you would like to see how a title or a transition would look across the clip. But then most computers do not have the ability to immediately show the results (you need to wait for each simple effect to “render”, which can take pretty long).
- NTSC to PAL: You’ll also not be able to do any conversions from NTSC to PAL or vice-versa.
- Limited Audio Features: Video editing is not only about videos, it is also about audio. You want various options on how to handle the audio part.
There are many such things that a video editing pc should have, but then most basic ones do not have these.
So the basic video editing setup doesn’t make sense, and its important to have good video gear in your video production setup.
Here’s how a professional video editing computer would differ from an entry level video editing PC. Usually you will find most of these on a video editing desktop:
Most pros actually use a server grade computer, perhaps with two or more processors, ECC memory, and/or other server type features.
You also need lot more storage, RAM, RAID configured hard disks (fault tolerance and performance), SCSI hard disks.
Most editors use two or more monitors/screens to have a clearer view of the work-space.
Desktop is still preferred (compared to a laptop) because its cheaper to get huge amount of computer power, disk space and a large monitor to view and process your videos. If you were to go for a computer with similar configurations, it will be more expensive. HP, Dell and Apple are the more popular & trusted brands when it comes to desktop computer for video editing.
CPU & Motherboard
Irrespective of whether its desktop or laptop, you need a powerful CPU. The latest CPUs from Intel (the Intel Core i7 processors) are powerful enough to easily process video files, without putting any brakes on your creativity.
And what about AMD? There was a time when AMD was matching (and even surpassing) Intel, but Intel is again leading the CPU game now.
Cards & Software
When using professional editing software like Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas, a good graphics card (along with a good CPU and lots of RAM) is a must for good performance. You need a top of the line video editing card, which if you decide to buy separately, can cost several thousand dollars on its own.
For professional use, consider graphics cards models like the GTX470/570+ or a Quadro 2000/4000.
For home video editing, using software like Pinnacle Studio or Corel VideoStudio, an ATI or nVidia graphics card with 768+ megs RAM or more will do.
For best results, make sure you have the latest graphics drivers for your card installed on your computer.
Also, you need additional special effects software, titling, sound editing and other specialist programs and plug-ins that work with the main video editing suite.
Additional Outputs & Tools
You will need video outputs for DV, SVGA, S-video, composite and DV-I
You’ll also need additional hardware tools like switches, toggles and bars
Dual or triple head video card
Memory & Data Storage
Minimum of 4GB RAM is required, and ideally, you should have at least 8GB to 12GB for seamless editing, when doing your post-processing. Injecting more RAM into your computer really makes a lot of difference.
A full length DVD quality movie can take up several gigabytes of storage space. So you’ll need a big, fast hard disk drive (e.g. 1TB or more) to store all that video. These days, video producers also use solid state drives; they are speedy but are usually more expensive.
Sharing / Archiving Options
Though a DVD writer is commonly used, in addition to that you’ll also need a clear archiving system, perhaps DAT/ IDE caddy/ other removable storage.
You’ll also need a good Blu-ray or DVD burner. Blu-ray are pretty affordable now, are compatible with DVDs, and can store 25GB of video per disc as opposed to 4GB in DVDs (makes Bluray great for backing up/archiving as well).
Here’s Why You Need More High-Speed Memory For Your Video Editing Work
Bought a seemingly high spec’d computer / laptop recently but are still unable to use it for proper video editing work? Slow speed memory on your computer could be the problem.
Question: I have a relatively new Toshiba Qosmio laptop that’s designed for high-performance computer gaming and has a video accelerator card to improve graphics. But I use the laptop to run two video editing programs that require a lot of computing power.
Despite all the PC’s power, I’m still getting stuttering playback on some of the videos I edit, even those with a limited number of special effects. I think this means I need more RAM (random access memory), so I’ve been trying to use the additional RAM on the PC’s video accelerator card, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M. But the video editing programs can’t access that RAM. What can I do?
Answer: You do need more high-speed memory for your video editing work. Typically that would mean more RAM, which can store and retrieve data much faster than a PC hard drive.
But you can’t make your video editing programs access the extra RAM on your PC’s video accelerator card, because that RAM is dedicated to gaming. And even if you could, it would add only 3 gigabytes to the 16 gigabytes of RAM that your PC already has.
A better way to get more high-speed memory is to use the Windows “ReadyBoost” feature that’s been available since Windows Vista debuted in 2006. ReadyBoost allows your PC to supplement its RAM with as much as 256 gigabytes of high-speed memory from attached flash memory devices, such as USB flash drives (those using USB versions 2.0 or 3.0) or camera storage cards (those using the Secure Digital or CompactFlash formats). For details, including how to turn on ReadyBoost, see winhelp.
The only situation in which ReadyBoost won’t help is if you have the Toshiba Qosmio model that comes with both a hard disk drive and a 256-gigabyte “solid state drive,” which is a flash memory device that fits inside the PC. The ReadyBoost feature is disabled if you’re already using the solid state drive.
There’s no doubt laptops are more mobile and more convenient when editing video on the go. But then they can turn out to be expensive. Video editing professionals require tons of computer power & disk space, and a large monitor to view and process your videos. Similar specs on a laptop can be expensive (for amateurs and home video). In general, for the same price, a desktop is generally more powerful than a laptop and are great value for money. Whatever laptop/computer you choose for video editing, make sure you give more importance to CPU, RAM, graphics card and data storage.