Making home videos – the need for speed
Retailers will often try to sell you the most expensive type of any gadget, and perhaps this is especially true of computers. Most of the time, however, the average user won’t need the most expensive model (in the case of computers, the fastest model). Still, when it comes to editing video footage, it’s generally a case of ‘the faster, the better’. So how fast does your computer need to be to edit videos? Are computers of different speeds and power needed for varying levels of video editing? Is the necessary speed of Internet for uploading videos affected by whether a user is amateur or professional? Money Buddy finds out.
Video editing and fast computers
If there’s one thing you need a quick computer for, it’s the data-heavy loading of video. There are two main components of a computer to consider when making a purchase with video editing in mind: processor and random access memory (RAM). The processor (or “central processing unit”, or “CPU”) is the main component used to launch programs on a computer, it is vital to the computer’s overall performance. RAM is temporary memory storage space (on small circuit boards), and basically represents the amount of information that your computer can easily, quickly, and at random, gain access to without having to enlist more complex physical movement. Naturally, the more RAM your computer has, the more programs or tasks (and information) it will be able to handle at once.
It’s best to have as much RAM as possible to run (and experience uninterrupted use of) video editing software. If you’re in the market for a new computer, two gigabytes (GB) is a very respectable starting point for handling intensive tasks, with one GB being acceptable for lower level video editing. Although many computer enthusiasts will tell you that you need extremely high levels of RAM (such as two to three GB), simply because it has the impressive quality of being powerful, it isn’t necessary (just useful) for simpler video editing programs. Professional editing, though, with software such as industry-standard Final Cut Pro, is best tackled with as much RAM as possible.
The first thing most salespeople will mention is the type of processor inside your machine. In the last few years, dual-core processors have become much more affordable. With two processors, your computer can process more data at the same time, resulting in an altogether smoother experience. It also means that if you are running more than one application/programme at the same time (which is more than likely these days), your computer will be more likely to handle it without stuttering. Essentially these processors perform multi-processing within a single processor.
With a war going on between manufacturers Intel and AMD, their new quad-core processors (“quad” referring to four different sub-processors to spread tasks between) are the latest components to go head to head. Intel’s Core 2 Quad and AMD’s Quad-Core Opteron are two of the most powerful processors available currently. Dual-core processors are still very powerful processors and are commonly found in computers performing complex and professional tasks.
Another good tip for video editing is to get a computer with a firewire port (in addition to standard USB ports). Most camcorders and video editing programs are compatible with this connection. It is generally accepted that using firewire is much quicker than USB. USB is the better known connection (with USB 2.0 replacing the much slower – 40 times slower than firewire – USB 1.1), but firewire is the connection of choice for uploading video from your digital video camera (preferably “firewire 800”, capable, in theory, of transferring roughly 800 megabits per second, rather than “firewire 400”, capable of up to roughly 400 megabits per second).
Broadband speed for video editing
Finally, although it’s more important to have a powerful computer where video editing is concerned, it’s also handy to have fast broadband if you are considering posting videos online. One important thing to consider, if you plan to post things online frequently, is the upload speed. Most home broadband deals have far greater download speeds than upload speeds, as this is what people usually use their connection for. However, some ISPs offer connectivity with increased upload speed as well, which is more suitable for regular posting on the Net. In a basic sense, it could be argued that a fast connection is vital for professional video editing and simply highly-desirable for amateur editors.
The key factor of video-editing is evidently speed. Uploading content from your digital video camera to your computer can be time-consuming and processor-heavy, so it’s best to ensure that you have a connection that can minimise this time. Once editing, your computer must be capable of handling the necessary processing tasks of your video editing program, otherwise you’ll find yourself doing more waiting than editing. If your video is to be posted online, a fast Internet connection can save yet further time waiting for upload to be completed. Whilst computers change constantly, with newer software programs eating up more of your computer’s precious resources, you may be daunted by the cost and affordability of a computer suitable for the task of video-editing. However, it may be worth bearing in mind the cost of that other valuable commodity: time, and considering if you can afford to wait for a slow computer to catch up with your video-editing inspiration.
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