By Lance Holte Figuring out what the workstation you need for a project or your specific needs can seem simple. Depending on what you want your computer for may dictate your decision. For professional editors and anyone looking into producing video projects of any kind, there are some questions and concerns you might need to know initially. Part of getting into this field may require a prospective editor to be able to work on any type of computer or editing software so that's something to know as well. Different types of productions may have limitations or budget requirements that can also be a factor. This article is a great insight to what professional editors should know going into new projects.
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In my experience, no two projects have identical workflows. Even if two projects are very similar, there are usually some slight differences — a different editor, a new camera, a shorter schedule, bigger storage requirements… the list goes on and on. The first step for choosing the optimal workstation(s) for a project is to ask a handful of broad questions that are good starters for workflow design. I generally start by requesting the delivery requirements, since they are a good indicator of the size and scope of the project.
Then I move on to questions like:
What are the camera/footage formats? How long is the post production schedule? Who is the editorial staff?
Often there aren’t concrete answers to these questions at the beginning of a project, but even rough answers point the way to follow-up questions. For instance, Q: What are the video delivery requirements? A: It’s a commercial campaign — HD and SD ProRes 4444 QTs.
Simple enough. Next question.
Q: What is the camera format? A: Red Weapon 6K, because the director wants to be able to do optical effects and stabilize most of the shots. This answer makes it very clear that we’re going to be editing offline, since the commercial budget doesn’t allow for the purchase of a blazing system with a huge, fast storage array.
Q: What is the post schedule? A: Eight weeks. Great. This should allow enough time to transcode ProRes proxies for all the media, followed by offline and online editorial.
I’ve had excellent success with the HP Z line — using z840s for serious finishing machines and z440s and z640s for offline editorial workstations. There are almost unlimited options for desktop PCs, but only certain workstations and components are certified for various post applications, so it pays to do certification research when building a workstation from the ground up.