Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Videomaker › Tips and Suggestions › Time to invest in new equipment?
June 24, 2010 at 7:52 AM #47968
For the last 5 years, I’ve been using Pinnacle Studio , and a Hi8 camcorder for making my video projects.
I’m currently in college, which as you know, that means money is tight for me. But, creativity with the video camera is my passion and what I’m pursuing a career in.
Obviously, my equipment is out of date, and my computer is no longer with the times.
I’m thinking it would be wise for me to invest in a new computer, editing software, and camera…especially since everyone is going to HD.
I’m just looking for some suggestions/advice on this. With what I want to do, is upgrading a smart decision?
June 24, 2010 at 11:33 AM #197326birdcatParticipant
Since you’re in college, you have the ability to get software with educational discounts.
For example –
Sony Vegas Pro 9 – $400 – http://www.academicsuperstore.com/products/Sony+Creative+Software/Vegas/1286005 (although Sony is offering a competitive upgrade for $300 right now).
Adobe Production Premium CS5 – $600 – http://www.academicsuperstore.com/products/Adobe/Creative+Suite+Production+Premium/1400299
There are others but in my experience these are the big three on the Windows platform.
I am partial to Vegas and found it an easy transition from Pinnacle Studio many years ago. I also know a young man (high school) who found it easy to learn Avid and loves it.
June 24, 2010 at 4:50 PM #197327
Been there done that, etc., etc.! I understand all too well the ‘in college broke but needin’ stuff’ situation. Fortunately when I went back for my Grad work I was much better funded. The lesson I learned from that experience is; “Get what you need as you can.” Granted, looking at the academic discounts from the pro side of things those prices are way cheap. Problem is, those licenses are only good while you’re a student. Odds are when you graduate it won’t be to a high paying gig that will allow you to instantly replace the software with the consumer/pro versions those companies will expect you to pay for. So you’ll end up facing the same dilemma I and many others faced in the same situation, pay now or pay later.
What software is your school using? Many schools use Apple based systems under the auspices that that’s what the industry is using. Forget the fact that many of their students (particularly in state run institutions) won’t be able to afford such a system after graduation. Think you’re broke now, wait ’til you graduate! So the alternative at the lower end of cost is a PC based system. Good news is, there are lots of choices on PC gear suitable for NLE work under a grand. Current CPU’s, GPU’s and RAM are faster and more robust than ever so even a scaled down unit will get you going.
Main thing is to not, I repeat not chase after the fastest, ‘bestest’ gear out there. It’s too expensive, more than likely beyond your current skill level and most important, any gear you purchase has to pay for itself via the jobs you bring in. If you’ve got a system that costs more than what many people earn in a year, you better be bringing in some serious paying clients to make the investment worth it! The current debate now is whether to get a desktop or laptop for serious editing. I’ve used both over the years and truthfully, I try to keep one of each. Overall, a desktop is hands down the standard for editing. Depending on the case size you can jam as much stuff that will fit as you need it and upgrade until the cows come home. Drawback is, if you need to do field or studio work where lugging your desktop around isn’t an option then you need a laptop.
Laptops I must say are a helluva lot better than they used to be! Even on the low end they are faster, lighter and more powerful than systems I’ve paid thousands of bucks for in the past. There are a number of outfits that make NLE capable laptops but the best I’ve seen that won’t break the bank are; HP, ASUS, Dell and Toshiba. One of the things you’re also buying whether a desk or laptop is tech support. These co’s have well established tech support systems and if anything goes wrong you’ll want to have your rig back up and running asap for little as possible.
Software wise if you’re really tapped, many of the software packages ‘Cat mentioned have a ‘consumer’ version that has most of the controls and features of the pro version, for hundreds of dollars less. Yeah, you do want the pro version but if you’ve shelled out just under $1200 for a ‘puter, computer protection software and word/document processing software another $600+ for NLE software will be like trying to swallow a handful of horse pills with no water. Sony Movie Studio Platinum (Vegas lite) runs less than $200 and Adobe Elements is around half of CS5 Premium. I believe Pinnacle Studio is Avid lite (or at least used to be) so don’t quote me.
The good thing about those programs is once you buy them, that’s it. None of that ‘using the software illegally after graduation’ crap. No they aren’t pro programs, but if you become skilled at editing it will be hard for anyone to tell you didn’t use higher-end software. When the time comes that you’ve got the cash coming in to upgrade you get to start the whole process all over again!
So in answer to your original question; “Is upgrading a smart decision?” yes but what will make it ‘smart’ is you rationally mapping out what you’re planning to do (work SD, HD or both), getting a fix on what the minimum practical requirements to do so are and researching the gear that will help you do so without putting you in ‘Debtor’s Prison’. Do those things to the best of your ability and it will be a very smart decision indeed!
June 25, 2010 at 9:09 PM #197328
Thanks for the advice! For a computer, I’m trying to stay below $1300 for a good future proof editing system. I’m considering a Dell, but I feel like the “customize” option can be a bit limited. Any suggestions on editing systems?
June 26, 2010 at 2:46 AM #197329
“Any suggestions on editing systems?”
Do you mean computers, or NLE Software? Now there are ‘turnkey’ solutions where you can buy a desktop/laptop already outfitted with a specific NLE setup, but those get pricey. So since you most likely can’t afford both, you’ll have to decide between a laptop or a desktop. In my experience, for editing with a pre-built desktop or a laptop your choices are: HP, Mac, Dell, and Toshiba. ASUS does make laptops capable of editing with but I have no experience with them so I can’t say anything for certain. I do know they make some ‘poop-hot’ motherboards so they can’t be too bad. I haven’t seen much from people complaining about them, but I don’t know anyone who edits with one.
You can find a good PC desk or laptop and I do believe a low-end Mac laptop for under $1300. Don’t forget though, if you’re not going the consumer NLE route, that’s going to be up to another $1300 if you go all the way up to Creative Suite Premium. Remember, for basic NLE editing you will need a photo/graphics editor and if you want to create your own motion graphics a Mographics editor as well. Not to mention a word processing program (MS Office 10 goes for around $200 at the academic price.)
Since DV is nearly phased out, any computer you get will need to have the minimum requirements to run the basic HD formats (HDV, AVCHD, etc.) without you growing a beard waiting for them to render anything. When you’re researching your software, check what the minimum requirements are to run the software and HD video. Whatever computer you look at has to have at least the minimum requirements or it will be an interesting paperweight that you can’t edit HD on.
Off hand you’ll need a dual-core Intel or AMD chip or faster, with at least 4GB of RAM (so your system can function while you’re editing) or more. You’ll need a Graphics Card (video card) with 512MB of RAM or better so playback will be smooth and a hard drive of at least 250 GB or more so you’ll have space to work with and put programs on. Don’t forget you’re going to need an extra drive (internal or external) 300 GB or larger to store your video and audio clips on. You do not want to do everything on your main drive!
If you get a desktop you’ll need a monitor. For editing and graphics work unfortunately, ‘bigger is better’. However, your wallet/purse is probably not hearing that so a flat panel LCD monitor 19″ – 22″ inches aught to be enough to get you started. I guarantee though you’ll be wanting a second similar or all together larger monitor before long! A good keyboard particularly something ergonomic or at least ‘editor friendly’ will save your hands and wrists during long editing sessions.
With a laptop you won’t need as much extra gear, but the external drive is non-negotiable. For editing on a laptop, again bigger is better. However, you can get by with a 15″ screen don’t get anything smaller, you won’t be able to see what you’re doing! Make sure on either type of system you have a firewire and or eSATA connections (USB 2.0 comes with most systems but they suck for editing!) You’ll need a firewire plug to connect most cameras if you aren’t using Flash Media Cards to download footage and images. You’ll also need them to connect your external drive via firewire or eSATA. USB 3.0 is coming out, but right now the other two types of plugs are everywhere and if you need a quick hook-up to a piece of gear, more folks will have a firewire cable in their kit than not.
Anyway, there’s some stuff for you to think about. Whether you decide on a PC or a Mac, there’s plenty of members around who can point you in the right direction. Primarily, do your gear and software research thoroughly! Research is free. Don’t go gettin’ all emotional about ‘how cool’ a piece of software or gear is and blow your budget. Right now, you’re just trying to get started with enough gear to cover the basics.
June 26, 2010 at 7:06 AM #197330
composite, I really appreciate the thorough feedback. It’s helped clarify A LOT of things for me. Thanks a bunch! I’ll definitely get to my researching now that I have a much better idea of what to look for.
June 26, 2010 at 4:40 PM #197331
No worries mate. Here’s some links to help you get started;
Of particular interest for you I recommend an HP All-in-one Touchsmart. (look in New Egg) or an iMac. The HP in my opinion is a much better value concerning power, RAM and GPU. However, the iMac is a proven system but is a bit more pricey than the HP. The iMac also has a Firewire 800 port, but unfortunately for some reason FW800 hasn’t caught on and only a few external drive setups and no cameras have that connection. Neither model has an eSATA port to connect a fast external drive to. An alternative is the MSI ‘Wind Top’ All-in-one (new egg) as it is less expensive than the other two and has an eSATA port (but no firewire).
Otherwise, you’re looking at a standard desktop or laptop and you’ll have to shop around for those. Don’t forget to compare the model you’re researching against the minimum requirements for your NLE software. Good luck.
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