Build Your Own HD Workstation

DV By Mike Curtis FCP workstationEverything Final Cut Pro users--from starving artists to small shops--need to edit uncompressed HD content High-definition video has been all the rage for the past few years. At first, for postproduction professionals, it was exciting that HD could be edited at all on desktop computers. It then became more affordable as compressed HD formats could be ingested over FireWire and didn't require huge (and costly) RAID arrays to handle the capacity and throughput requirements. But if you're trying to make your project look its best, and you want the ability to see what you're doing on a high-quality monitor, more is required: a means to monitor that video signal and other input/output options. Also, some HD formats aren't ingestible over FireWire, especially the higher-end tape formats like HDCAM, D-5, and HDCAM SR. And if you're trying to do high-level work, these are the better formats to master on, regardless of what format you shoot on. What's involved in putting together a complete uncompressed HD workstation? I've spent the last few years researching solutions for independent filmmakers and have focused on maximum quality for the dollar. My main interest has been 24p-capable solutions, but the information presented here will also apply to broadcast projects. Because of my budget-sensitive, full-DIY post ethos, in this article I've chosen to center on Apple Final Cut Pro as a scalable, affordable, widely professionally accepted, high-quality solution. Although strong arguments can be made for Avid and Adobe Premiere Pro, as well as other NLE combinations, those are beyond the scope of this article. I'm going to stick to a Final Cut Pro-centric approach here, with some additional advice for the Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas edit station builder. read more...

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