Monitor Advice

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    • #40092

      I am buying a new PC and looking for a little monitor slection advice. The system will be a Dell Precision T3400. I want to edit content from a new Canon HF10 or HF100 in Adobe Premiere Elements. I already have a simalar system at my office, not for video editing, and it uses (2) Dell 19″ 1908FP LCD’s. I really like this configuration for my general use, much more than the 21″ widescreen HP monitor that they replaced. The question is whether or not I need a widescreen HD monitor? Can I get done what I need on the 19″ LCD or do I need the Dell 2408WFP? INterestingly enough, the 2 19’s cost $100 less than the 24″ widescreen. Thoughts. Suggestions.

    • #172442

      I’m not sure you know why video editors need two monitors. Now there is an issue with the landscape. NLE’s pack a lot of separate modules for all the assorted editing tasks onto the computer screen. There’s the timeline, media bins, trimming tools, color corrections, preview window; the list goes on & on. So it is nice to have two monitors on your computer so you can spread things out instead of stacking them. So I’d say that getting the two 19″ monitors would make it easier to keep track of everything. But computer monitors can’t do the one task an editor needs the most.

      Video editors need to view their programs on a video monitor. SD or HD televisions are the target screens for the majority of videos. And they operate differently than computer monitors. So you can’t accurately judge color or sharpness (and bleeding) from a computer monitor. You need to be viewing the video “program out” signal using something designed for that signal. But first you have to investigate how your NLE generates your “program out” video signal.

      It seems the majority of NLE’s with a “program out” use the Firewire (or IEEE1394) port to send that “program out” to a video monitor. I found that to purchase a video monitor with a Firewire in connection was prohibitively expensive. So I run the IEEE 1394 cable to my camcorder, then I can connect the camcorder’s video outputs to an NTSC video monitor. Now I can tell when my text is too small or the text color & outline colors clash (or blend into soft edges.) I can make color corrections to improve the look or to match color shifts between scenes (and especially between shots.)

      Now you have an extra factor to consider in selecting your program monitor. You are planning on editing HD video. First, let’s clear up a bit of confusion around HD monitors and widescreen computer monitors. They are two different things. What makes them different is what kind of signal they expect (and can actually take.) To the computer, 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios are the only difference between SD and HD video. Widescreen computer monitors are ordinary monitors but with the wider aspect ratio of HD video. However with video monitors, there are worlds of difference between SD and HD televisions. In the modern lingo, an SD video signal would be called 720×480 30i. While the digital broadcast HD signal is 1080×720 30i. They are so different, you can’t even use the SD video cable to send the HD signal to a TV. But my Digital TV tuner can convert the digital HD signal into something my analogue TV can accept. So while I have an analogue TV set, I’ve been watching the Olympics in HD, sorta. I get a letterboxed, 16:9 image on my 4:3 television (plus really great surround sound.) It is just like when I watch 16:9 SD video (like from a DVD.)

      So let’s take a moment & review. We can watch widescreen (or 16:9) or normal (4:3) video on any monitor. This includes computer monitors as well as TV sets. But to see an HD video, we have to have an HD monitor. And feed it an HD signal. So without a BlueRay DVD player, we can have an HD TV but we’ll see only SD signals from the DVD player. Although on the HD set we can see the whole image without letterboxing. But there are upconvert DVD players that add a bit so the SD video looks more like HD video. So we can summarize the functional difference between SD & HD by the connection each requires. SD video can travel through a simple two strand (signal & ground) wire into an RCA connector. But the HD signal requires a multi-strand wire & multi-pin connectors.

      And finally, I can respond to your question about monitors. If you intend to produce videos for anything other than the web, two monitors are required (for professional results.) Of course, one monitor has to be a computer monitor. The other monitor needs to have inputs for the kind of video you expect to be making. If you’re making HD video for BlueRay DVD’s or to watch from an HD device, typically your camcorder, you’ll want the second monitor to accept the HD signal. Now if you are making videos you’ll watch from a standard DVD, you’ll really want to have your monitor set for SD viewing, even though the 16:9 signal will be letterboxed on that monitor. Now I know some widescreen monitors can take a variety of input signals. So if your computer monitors have inputs your camcorder can use, then you can dedicate one of them to be your program out monitor from the NLE and the second monitor will be for the computer. But don’t be fooled by any extra connections from your computer. (I have both an S-video & monitor out on my laptop, but both displays are actually part of my computer desktop.) The program out signal is generated by the NLE (not by the computer OS) and needs to be connected to a display that takes some sort of NTSC signal.

      So now, if you’re confused about the issue, ask me about it again. I’m not sure my posting is entirely logical. The facts are accurate but their organization isn’t so great. Hope it helps. And good luck with your new edit suite.

    • #172443

      Wow. Thanks for all of the information. I probably did not do a good enough job explaining my intentions and options. I am a total amateur. I do intend to buy a new HD camcorder (using AVCHD) but we are only talking home movies here. The 2 x 4:3 (Dell 1908FP) monitor set-up that I use in my office is something that I prefer for my daily computer use. I find it much more convenient than a larger single widescreen. The real question boils down to the fact that I will be shooting 16:9/widescreen video footage in HD and so that is why I am questioning whether or not it should be edited on something that is also widescreen and HD? If that is the case, I would go with the Dell 2408WFP. If I can work sufficiently with the widescreen HD video on a traditional monitor, I would go with the 2 x 4:3 monitor set-up which I prefer: it is cheaper and more efficient in my opinion.

    • #172444

      Perhaps I was unclear. The only difference a computer sees between 4:3 and 16:9 computer monitors is the dimensions of the desktop. So no matter how you want to edit, you cannot see an HD image on computer monitors. Just like you can’t use a TV set to view your desktop. Computer monitors use a 15 pin input that expects a particular type of signal. When you play video on a computer monitor, it is converted from the video format into one the monitor understands. That is done by the video player you have installed. So it doesn’t matter which monitor set-up you select. Both systems are unable to display HD video from your computer. If you are concerned about exactly how the HD video looks, you will fail without a monitor built to take an HD video signal, which no computer I’ve seen will output. The computer displays an approximation of the video signal. The approximation will look the same on either monitor, because they both get the same signal. Since you state you have no interest in actually seeing your HD video during post-production, it doesn’t matter how many or what aspect ratio your monitors are. The small image you see on your NLE remains unchanged. It is generated by the NLE interacting with the computer desktop standards. I can’t stress this enough, the monitor output of the computer sends the same signal to every monitor. And while a monitor may be capable of an HD display, you have to feed it an HD signal. And the computer feed has nothing to do with an HD signal.

      So clearly, it doesn’t matter what monitor you choose to display your computer’s desktop. You state you have no intention of actually trying to view your HD video while you edit. So any sort of computer display will do the job, hell I do 80% of my editing using my laptop’s built-in screen. But I personally wouldn’t consider trying to edit without a separate video monitor. As a professional, I can’t tell the client, “the colors looked great on my computer screen” when the program doesn’t look great on the video screen. But with home movies, family members will accept your excuse on why the video playback has problems.

      And one last point to consider, how will you be playing the home movies back? If you don’t burn them to tape & play them back from your camcorder OR burn the videos to a BlueRay disc for your BlueRay DVD player, you aren’t watching HD video anyway. You are watching SD video in a 16:9 format. So I’m assuming you’re planning to upgrade your DVD burner or you’re just going to use the camcorder to see the HD signal. If you’re not planning on this, you’re wasting money on an HD camcorder. A lot of standard definition camcorders have the option to shoot video in either 4:3 or 16:9. If you edit using a 16:9 aspect ratio, your SD video on a regular DVD will fill the screen.

      So think about what you’re hoping to do. To see HD on an HD display requires an HD video signal, just shooting on an HD camcorder isn’t going to do that. And it doesn’t matter how many or what kind of computer monitors you use, you’re not viewing an HD signal on any of them. So your original question is completely irrelevant. Especially considering you’re not planning on a monitor dedicated to the video you are actually editing. And besides, if you’re not going to be using the HD signal, say because you’re burning the video to an ordinary DVD, you really wouldn’t need any sort of HD monitor.

      Hope you get the point here. I know I get carried away with details and can frequently be confusing to beginners. I try not to tell people what equipment they should use because the equipment isn’t what makes good video. So I can’t say whether you’d be better off with one 16:9 computer monitor or two 4:3 monitors because the computer monitor has nothing to do with video editing. The image on them is just for locating edit points using visual cues.

      Good luck with your home movie projects, I’ll just bet everyone will love them.

    • #172445

      on the macs, one thing finalcut express does is to pass through the camera and use the cameras output as a monitor.

      that means I can view the video with my hdrhc1 plugged into a hdtv via component video outs and get a good idea on how it’ll look on *my* hdtv. (I have a good one, so while I cannot guarentee it’ll look exactly the same on somebody else’s tv, it should be good).

      I also deliver my product on either a Appletv or iPod Classic as a quicktime file (as well as dvd). That allows the clients to play/share the movies, at very high quality, with no other problems.

      I don’t care what platform computer you have, for streaming and viewing your high def video content, photos, and music, the Appletv is astounding. (and easy).

    • #172446

      There seems to be a LOT of confusion and misinformation here. A computer WILL output a high-def, 1080P signal–it just depends on the video circuitry. I currently have a Geforce 7300GT video card outputting an internal HD-DVD ROM drive’s signal, via a regular monitor cable, to a normal (non-widescreen) 19″ LCD. I canNOT fit the entire image on the monitor (and I think it almost broke my monitor, as it offset the picture, and I had to connect the monitor to my laptop and play with the display resolutions to get the monitor to get re-centered again). I have to get a widescreen monitor just so I can watch the entire, 1080P, picture. That’s using Power DVD-HD, and AnYDVD-HD (withOUT an HDCP-compliant monitor). I can’t even shrink the video to fit in the space–my monitor just can’t handle the signal.

      I was attracted to this forum to see whether a 1080P signal would fit on any widescreen monitor (but non-1080P). My thinking is “yes,” but I’m unsure. I’m probably going to get the Full HD Dell 22″ monitor, that goes for $238 at

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