The edit suite is a place where video magic transpires. It’s a place where desirable footage is transformed into a cinematic masterpiece while unwanted scenes are left to gather dust on the proverbial cutting-room floor. For many of us who shoot and edit our own video, setting up the ideal place to "work our magic" is an ongoing process.
This pictorial takes you inside the home studio of Chris Johnson, owner of Horizon Video in Northern California. Johnson, who has been in the video production business for 10 years, focuses primarily on producing corporate videos. He also makes wedding and event videos as well as providing post production services for local video producers from time to time.
Johnson’s edit suite provides both functionality and practicality, two traits all want-to-be editors should consider when setting up their own editing suites.
The heart of Johnson’s studio is Play’s Trinity, which provides high quality titles, graphics and transitions, and serves as a switcher for live cameras or linear A/B edits. Play’s Time Machine adds full nonlinear editing capabilities. A Pentium II computer running Windows NT serves as a host for the Trinity/Time Machine system. An Amiga-based Video Toaster Flyer serves as a secondary switcher, titler and effects generator. He uses a Panasonic WJ-MX50 to link a standard VCR to the rest of his system for output to VHS. His camcorder-of-choice is the 3-chip Sony DSR DVCAM. He owns two. Johnson chose this model for the quality of image of the DVCAM format. For VCRs, he uses Sony’s DSR60 and DSR80. The DVCAM format, with SDI (Serial Digital Interface) input and output, provides a virtually loss-less digital image. He also has two consumer decks, a Panasonic AG-1980 S-VHS and a Sony EVC-200 Hi8. These machines allow him to convert a clients’ S-VHS or Hi8 tapes to DVCAM for editing.
Another interesting feature of Johnson’s set-up is the rack he uses to hold his equipment. The rack is composed of several shelving units purchased from a local wholesale hardware store.
"As my business grew, so did the demand for organized space. I started using these stands about six years ago. It expanded to its current form around two years ago. The stands are relatively inexpensive in comparison to furniture designed specifically for video. They’re easy to put together, and they’re really flexible in terms of room layout," Johnson adds. The best thing about the heavy duty stands is that by positioning them approximately three feet from the wall, he has easy access to the back of his equipment for cabling and repair work.
As you can see from our pro’s set-up, creating an effective edit suite doesn’t have to be overly complex. Again, functionality and practicality are key. Of course, your edit suite can be as simple or as high tech as you want to make it. It depends on your own creativity, needs and budget.
Setting up your own editing bay doesn’t necessarily require extravagant equipment or mandate that you go out and spend exorbitant amounts of money. And that’s true whether you’re interested in editing video for a living or simply want to take your hobby to the next level. In fact, with a little forethought you can turn that spare room (or a part of it) into an editing suite. A place where you can perform your own kind of video magic.