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Building Your Own Computer for Editing Video

 


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If you have a serious interest in editing video with a PC, you may have discovered that just any run of the mill computer won’t do. Degraded image quality is often the result, with a loss of resolution, and even dropped frames. Professional quality results require a professional quality machine, but the price for one of these can be outrageous.

Don’t be discouraged. If you’re smart enough to make a movie, then you’re smart enough to build your own computer to edit it on, and save as much as $700 to $1000 by doing so.

Usually when you build a computer, you design it around the CPU. This one time, I’ll ask you to take a different path. Since what you are going to do is edit video on a machine dedicated to that purpose alone, I want you to first select the editing software package you want to use and work from there.

Let’s say the program you prefer is Premiere Pro. Essentially what you’ll be aiming to create is a computer that will run Premiere better than any other machine out there. The first step to insure this is to get a capture card dedicated to this software.

By “dedicated", I mean a card whose manufacturer designed it to work specifically with Premiere Pro, one example being the Matrox cards. Often these items will be bundled together, software and card, at a great savings in price. Sometimes, other programs will be thrown in with the bundle, virtually for nothing. They often include a basic 3-D animation program, sound effects, and similar items.

With your software/capture card selection made, you’re now ready to return to a more traditional method of parts selection. Which CPU is right for you is your next decision.

Of course, the software you picked will have a minimum recommended processor, but I rather doubt when buying a top quality editing program that you’d want to hamstring it with a slow CPU. Things like rendering effects require your computer to do some heavy duty number crunching. The faster your chip, the quicker the job gets done.

This is one situation where I can recommend a dual core processor, and here’s why: let’s say you’re using a program like Cinelook to make a video clip look like film. Depending on the size of the clip, that can tie up your computer for a long time. But what if you have a 3-D animation, or some other item you need to get done?

With a single core processor, I’d say you’d just have to wait. But with a dual core, it’s almost as if you have two computers in one case. You can go ahead with your 3-D project, while your video-to-Cinelook clip gets done at the same time.

To really take advantage of this, you’ll need a motherboard with a fast bus. Its processor socket will have to match the CPU you’ve selected, such as a 775, a 939, or whatever chip type you picked. You’ll also have to accommodate the slot your capture card requires. Most of them still use PCI, but some are coming out in the new PCI Express type.

When buying a motherboard, you’ll find the very newest and latest models on the market are usually expensive. Boards with many of the same features that came out only a few months before can be found that sell for a fraction of the price. Higher price doesn’t equate to better quality. There are bargains to be found if you shop around.

Something special I’d like you to consider is using a pair of hard drives. Have one drive for doing captures and editing, and use the other for storage of clips, stills, and all the other things you’ll put in your movie.

In the past, we’d have more than one hard drive because drives were limited in size. Now, one disk can hold what ten did only a few years ago. It would seem that one drive would be plenty.

Yet, there is a good reason for having two drives. The more stuff you crowd onto one drive the slower it gets. If you use your main drive for only captures and editing it stays lean and fast. Your storage drive not only holds the clips you captured, but each day’s finished work as well.

If all of this is beginning to sound complex, it really isn’t. You can build one of these in an afternoon, if you plan your machine carefully, and have a good how-to book guiding you. As I have told many people “There are only eleven major parts in a computer. All of them either snap together, or plug in. If you can connect just eleven items, then you can build a computer. "

Michael Quarles is the author of the book “Building a PC for Beginners". His website is http://www.monkeyseemonkeydobooks.com

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