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HDV editing & computer speed

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Anyone with an HD camcorder: have you done any editing and if so, do the large files slow down your computer?

I'm looking to get an HD camcorder, but have read some things about computers not being able to keep up with the HDV. My software will handle the HDV (Sony Vegas), but not sure if my computer can.
post #2 of 13
What kind of computer do you have access to? Newer Macs and Windows machines do pretty good at handling the large files. On older hardware, editing gets slowed down and frames skip due to poor graphics capability (integrated graphics tend to have less speed and memory). When the edited video is rendered to its final format, this is processor intensive, and can be very slow on older machines. In Windows the minimum should be a 3.2 Ghz HT single core or any of the newer Core 2 dual and quad core chips with 2+ GB RAM and at least one hard drive with 500 GB capacity. I'd recommend a dedicated drive for video editing, but its not essential. I'm not sure what specs I'd call out in the Mac.

Do you plan to use the full version of Vegas Video/ DVD Architect, or the Studio version?
post #3 of 13
I agree regarding the external hard drive. Keep plenty of free space on your computer and store all your media on external drives and you should be ok. If Vegas works like Avid and FCP the actual project files are pretty small while the capture files can be huge and will eat up a lot of space very quickly. I use 300gig external drives and just buy a new one when I've gotten close to filling one up. Just started some editing on a terrabite drive so that should last quite a while.

Regarding Vegas - I don't know many pros who use it but it does have some advantages over FCP in that it is not nearly as fussy about the types of files it will handle.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I'm running Windows, have designated external hard drives, and I'm not on a pro level, so Vegas works well for my purposes. My computer is a couple years old and doesn't have the 2+GB RAM, which I'm worried about. I guess it would work, but would just process very slow.

The HDV just looks so damn good.
post #5 of 13
Just FYI: RAM is not really that important for video editing. The software is generally working on only a tiny fraction of the file at any given point in time, so you don't need huge amounts of memory.

For actually encoding/recoding (especially to HD formats), you need a really fast CPU, and fast hard drives don't hurt either. In a lot of cases you can set everything up in a batch mode, then let it do the processing overnight.

Unless you're trying to do things in real time, it should work on almost any computer made in the last 10 years. It might just be painfully slow. And as mentioned, you'll need a lot of hard disk space for HD video material.
post #6 of 13
^^ Yes, the editing may WORK, but as said it will be extremely slow, potentially even too slow to be useful. I've generally heard that it's good to have 2+ GB of RAM to do HD editing. I've used Vegas with 2GB RAM and been absolutely fine - the program seems to be a lot quicker than others, such as Adobe. Also, RAM is pretty cheap these days, so it may not be such a bad idea to upgrade.
post #7 of 13
General Question: Is modern Video Processing Software smart enough to use a second processor while leaving the main processor available for system tasks? Is it possible to 'assign' a processor for it to use?

In the past I've always used SCSI disk subsystems as these were able to operate at high speeds while also being able to handle disk-to-disk and controller-to-disk operations on their own (little processor involvement). Are any of the new technologies able to do that these days? (I haven't kept up with hardware in many years)

.ma
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelA View Post
General Question: Is modern Video Processing Software smart enough to use a second processor while leaving the main processor available for system tasks? Is it possible to 'assign' a processor for it to use?
Assuming the software is actually multithreaded, "leaving the main processor available" would be bad for performance, as it would run half as fast as it could otherwise. It would be more effective for the program to run its threads at a lower-than-normal priority, so it still uses both cores if they are idle but will not interferere (much) with foreground processes.

(sidenote: in modern systems there is not a "main" processor; all the CPU cores are equally fast, and the OS will generally try to spread the load over all of them.)

You can constrain an individual process to run on only certain CPU cores if you have a multicore/multiprocessor system. In my experience this is normally not necessary for video editing software, as it is generally written with the expectation it will be running in the background for a long time. The details of doing this vary from OS to OS, but in Windows XP/2000 you do it through Task Manager by selecting the application and then drilling down into a submenu.

(edit: if your editing program is NOT multithreaded, and you have a system with multiple CPU cores, you might actually see a performance increase by forcing it to always run on one CPU.)

Quote:
In the past I've always used SCSI disk subsystems as these were able to operate at high speeds while also being able to handle disk-to-disk and controller-to-disk operations on their own (little processor involvement). Are any of the new technologies able to do that these days? (I haven't kept up with hardware in many years)

.ma
Any remotely modern computer/disk controller will offer hardware DMA support for any type of hard disk you have attached to it, except possibly some types of external drives (eSATA/SAS > FireWire > USB, generally, in terms of performance.)

Quote:
I've generally heard that it's good to have 2+ GB of RAM to do HD editing. I've used Vegas with 2GB RAM and been absolutely fine
It's never a bad idea to have more RAM, and it is quite cheap these days. Generally well under $100/GB unless you need something exotic. It can help in some cases (especially with smaller files when most of it can be in memory), but if you're dealing with a 50GB HD file -- it doesn't matter that much if you have 512MB or 1GB or 2GB of RAM, as most of the file can't fit in memory anyway.

If you're running on a Windows system, you can bring up Task Manager, do some editing/encoding, then look at the 'peak commit charge' figure to see how much RAM was actually in use at any one time (for all programs, not just the editing program).
post #9 of 13
RAM isn't all that important for editing video, but it does make a difference in playing the video.
post #10 of 13
HD Camera + MacBook Pro + extra hard drives =
post #11 of 13
One thing to keep in mind with RAM is that if you are running a 32bit OS, do not bother going over 4gigs. that is the theoretical limit, the actual limit depends on the OS and other devices being used, specifically video cards. the actual limit will fall between 3-4 gigs, so going with a full 4 will let you use as much as possible. Your mobo will also have a limit, so it's worth looking those stats up as well. that being said, RAM is cheap, buy some more, but don't bother going over 4gig.

Once 64 bit has it's driver issues straightened out, I'd recommend going that route as you can have butt tons of RAM.
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by dumpy View Post
One thing to keep in mind with RAM is that if you are running a 32bit OS, do not bother going over 4gigs. that is the theoretical limit, the actual limit depends on the OS and other devices being used, specifically video cards. the actual limit will fall between 3-4 gigs, so going with a full 4 will let you use as much as possible. Your mobo will also have a limit, so it's worth looking those stats up as well. that being said, RAM is cheap, buy some more, but don't bother going over 4gig.

Once 64 bit has it's driver issues straightened out, I'd recommend going that route as you can have butt tons of RAM.

Absolutely. I'd even go so far as to say wait for a few+ months to get new editing software, as I have first-hand knowledge that "company which shall remain nameless" is working on, and will be releasing this year, an online editor which specifically supports 64-bit systems. There will be multi-threading, support for the butt tons of RAM, etc.

As soon as I can, I'll let you know who I'm talking about.
post #13 of 13
Shouldn't have a problem editing on any somewhat newer computers. I used to edit skate videos on an old e-machines like 4 years back with Adobe Premier Pro and it wasn't too slow. See if you can fnd a cheap copy of CS3 on ebay or something.
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