It's easier and less expensive than you think!! (Sept 2011)
When we began publishing this article over 8 years ago, the world of video was much more limited. DV Camcorders were over a thousand bucks (analog VHS and Hi8/8mm cams had just hit the under $500 level) and although you could shoot in several formats, the end result was almost always the same - producing a VHS tape that you could watch. Affordable DVD burners had just hit the market and we were in the middle of a format war. Web video was limited to postage stamp sized clips with choppy play back. HD video was something that only the networks could afford!
My oh my, how things have changed. Today we watch video on so many different screens - Big Beautiful flat screen HDTVs, Smart Phones, iPads, and our laptops and computers. HD footage is everywhere, and we can shoot and record HD video with camcorders, phones, webcams, DSLR cameras and personal HD recorders.
Every website can now stream video, it's not just the major sites like CNN and ESPN. Everyday we can share and view streaming video with eachother on websites like Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo. Digital video is everywhere.
Anyone and everyone can make video that they can share, but not all video is equal. If you want your videos to look better and be more enjoyable to watch, you need to edit them. Many folks getting started in video editing want to learn more about the various options they have to produce videos that look great and more. This article has been updated to provide you or your friends, family members, children or business associates the information they'll need to get started and do the job right. If you are already an experienced digital videographer, pass this along to the folks you know who are looking for a starting point.
This article is broken into several parts, each one loaded with useful information to help you on your way. At the end of the article you'll have a list of the products we recommend most for getting started on a budget, as well as a wide range of training DVDs to teach you how to get the most out of your new video editing and production gear. Before we get into our products, lets talk about the two things we assume you already have, a camcorder and a computer.
About 10 year ago the Digital Video (DV) format emerged as the best choice for videographers. This format was dramatically better than the older analog standards. When you combined the quality of DV with the special FireWire (or IEEE1394 or iLink) and a fast computer, you got a digital video editing system that was simply incredible for its time. All you needed was a FireWire port, a computer and software do the rest. Best of all, DV video editing solutions deliver video that is identical to the original footage. DV in = DV out. The video quality is the same regardless of what card or software you purchased.
About 5 years ago a new format came on the scene – DVD camcorders. These hot selling camcorders allowed you to record directly onto a DVD disk that you can then play on your home DVD player. These were excellent choices for the casual point and shooter, but they do have a draw back for more serious videographers. These cams record to the DVD in MPEG2 format. MPEG2 is great for storing and playing back, but it was difficult for editing. Today all of our editing software supports these DVD camcorders and give you the ability to rip the video straight from the DVD to your computers hard drive and edit the MPEG2 files.
If you have an older camcorder that is not DV or DVD, or you want to capture old footage from VHS/ S-VHS then you will need a video capture card/device along with NLE software. VHS & 8mm cams use composite video jacks (they look just like the RCA jacks used to connect a stereo). S-VHS & Hi8 cams use a special connector called an S-Video (or YC or SVHS) jack. This special connection breaks the video signal into chrominance (color) & luminance (brightness). If your camcorder or VCR has these jacks, you definitely want to use them when you edit. We call the composite & S-Video jacks analog video. All our analog capture devices have both composite and S-Video jacks.
The first pro-sumer HD camcorders used the HDV format. This recorded HD footage to MiniDV tapes and just like DV, you catured the video via FireWire. With todays fast computers and powerful video editing software, editing HDV footage is a breeze. You can bring it into your computer and edit it just as easily as DV footage. All our video editing software works with HDV footage.
Over the past year prices on HD camcorders and mini- HD camcorders are now available for under $500! That's right, for under $500 you can now record your family's history in stunning HD quality. These low cost HD cams record your footaeg directly to disc, using the AVCHD compression. These files are really small and the video quality is amazing. Since the data is already compressed and saved as a file, you don't need to capture your footage. You simply copy it from the media to your editing hard drive. The downside is that the AVCHD compression is very strong, so you need apowerful computer to edit them. We recommend a minimum of ani5 dula core processor, but an i7 Quad core will give you much better results!
Todays DSLR cameras not only shoot spectacular photographic images, they can record HD video that looks just as awesome! With superior optics and glass, many event videographers have started using DSLR cameras as standard equipment on their video shoots. For hobbiests the ability to use the same camera for both stills and HD video means less gear to travel with and even more fun with your hobby. We published Videoguys' DSLR workflow guide a couple of years ago that offers you great advice on working with DSLR footage.
Editing AVCHD and DSLR footage requires a very fast computer and pretty powerful software. While the getting started video editing products we carry will all edit DSLR & AVCHD footage to some degree, you will find that they are just not that efficient.
If you are looking to edit AVCHD or DSLR footage on a budget, we just published a new article on our website that is loaded with great advice and recommendations.
Over the past two years we have seen dramatic improvements in the quality, stability and usability of low cost video editing software.
Today's consumer NLE solutions are more powerful than ever, but this power and performance requires a faster computer. We recommend a minimum of an Intel i5 processor, but a Quad core i7 is MUCH better. Windows 7 is the first OS that does not require any special tweaking or optimizing to edit video. We strongly recommend running it in 64 bit mode, with plenty of RAM, at least 6GB. We recommend a dual head graphics card. Once you start using dual monitors for your video and other computer tasks, you’ll never want to go back!
Note: If you have a machine that is older, but has a dual core processor, you may be able to get it to edit video, but you are going to want to take the time to make sure it is optimized for video work. This doesn't mean you have to go out and get a new computer, it just means you'll need to do a little more research into your machines resources and probably give it a little tune up. We have a very useful page in our tech support section "Top 10 Tech Tips" that will help you understand and troubleshoot your computer.
We have a page on our website that not only gives you recommended system configurations, but a list of potential hardware conflicts and problems. Reading this page BEFORE you buy a new computer will definitely save you time and money.
If your computer has 2GB or less of RAM, the first thing you should consider is buying more RAM for it. Having a at least 4GB of RAM is very important for video editing. If your system supports dual channel memory, make sure you add your RAM in matched pairs. So 4GB of RAM is actually 2 x 2GB sticks. For best results you want to have 6, 8 or even 12GB of RAM!
We also recommend a dedicated hard drive for your video. This is very important for getting the best possible results. This means you have 2 hard drives in your computer. The first is for your operating system and all your software. The second drive is used only for your video files and projects. Adding a second drive is very simple, and any off the shelf 7200RPM drive (EIDE or SATA) will do the job. You can also use an external FireWire drive for your video.
If your computer just does not meet the minimum spec, then we do suggest you invest in a new computer with an Intel i5 or i7 processor. Today's NLE software is written to take advantage of faster processors. If you want to put your video on the web you will need to encode and compress it. This is a very CPU intensive operation, so you will want to use the fastest computer you can. In our DIY8 we spec out a computer that is affordable and can run any and all of the NLE solutions we sell from begginer consumer video editors up to our advance NLEs!! If you use these machines as your guidebook you'll be able to start editing in no time!
If you plan on getting a new computer on a budget, we recommend getting a system with a Quad core i7 processor. The more CPU speed/performance you give it, the faster your video editing software will work - especially when it comes time to encode your video for DVD or the web. You want a minimum of 8 GB of RAM, but with memory prices so cheap, we recommend you go with 8 GB (4 x 2GB sticks) for better performance. Get a 500+GB system drive and a second larger dedicated 7200RPM drive for your video.
|Quad Core CPU||RAM||OS||Graphics Card||System Drive||Video Drive||Monitors|
|Intel Sandy Bridge i7 2600k||8.0GB
(4 x 2GB)
|Win7||nVidia GTX470/570 or Quadro||500GB SATA||1TBSATA||Dual 20"+ LCDs|
What about Macs?
We LOVE Macs! In fact our top recommendation for laptops is a Mac Book Pro and we absolutely love editing on an iMac. Especially one of the new iMacs or MBPros that have an i5 or i7 processor and Thunderbolt I/O port. These Macs work great. You can download and run the new FCPX application, or put Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 on it. Both FCPX and Premeire Pro CS5.5 will edit DSLR and AVCHD footage with no problem on a current iMac or MBP with an i7 processor. The i5 versions will edit this footage, but it will be more sluggish and not as good of a workflow.
The MOST important decision you are going to make when you get started in digital video editing is picking the right software for you. We've picked our top solutions for folks who want to give video editing a try without having to invest a whole bunch of money or time into it. While inexpensive and easy to use, these video editing software titles allow you to edit the video, add soundtracks, titles, transitions and effects, then send it back to tape, burn it onto a DVD or export it as a file for sharing on the internet. All of these products include easy to use video editing software plus hardware that will allow you to import your footage from DV or older analog sources. If you do not require analog I/O, then you can save some money by just buying the software alone.
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