1 Reply Latest reply on Mar 12, 2010 4:14 AM by nealeh

    Got a problem? Here's how best to ask for help.

    nealeh Level 5

      Working with video editing on an NLE (Non Linear Editor) program can tax the most robust computers. Depending on many factors, this can be a daunting task, at best. Many of the components of one’s computer can be stressed, more than with almost any other operation, that it will ever perform.


      Getting help on the forum can seem almost as daunting, as the first thing that a poster is likely to encounter is a list of questions, before any answers. This is the natural flow, because people are trying to help remotely. They cannot come to your office and sit behind you to determine your computer system’s capabilities, and observe just what you are doing, when and how you are doing it. Do not be put off by these questions, as they are very necessary and will very likely give the respondents some clues on where to look for your problem.


      Problems can normally be broken down into these categories:

      1.) System

      2.) Assets (the Audio, Video and still images)

      3.) Project (how it is setup and with which Preset)

      4.) Workflow (what you are doing, and how you are doing it)


      If you prepare a checklist, before you post your problem, it will save everyone a great deal of time, and will likely yield your answer much more quickly. The more detail that you furnish, the fewer questions will remain, that have to be asked. Remember, you have to be the "eyes" for the others on the forum, if they are expected to help you. They could be thousands of mile away, in other time zones, and will not know about your system, your Assets, your Project or your workflow, until you tell them. Help them get started quickly, by telling them in your first post. Do your "homework," so they do not have to ask questions for the first five responses, and can start giving you answers much more quickly.


      Forum regular Bill Hunt offers these recommendations:



      Be very specific about your computer. Just saying that "I have a Dell" doesn’t tell them much of anything. List your CPU type and speed, i.e. Core2 Quad Q6700 2.3GHz. Same for your RAM, i.e. 4GB of DDS. Also, list your Video Card, type, connection and driver number and date. Same for your Audio System. Note: most of this data can be found in Control Panel>System>Hardware>Device Manager. Pointing people to a URL on your computer company’s Web site isn’t a bad idea, but giving the exact details of your system is far, far better. It is likely that that Web site will have the general configuration, and who knows if that is exactly what you bought. List it for them, so they do not have to go and guess, and write down the specs. of your system.


      One of the most important aspects of your system will be the I/O sub-system. What is that, you might ask? Well, it’s your HDD’s (Hard Disk Drives). The important info is how many physical HDD’s do you have. List their size, their speed, their connection, the amount of free, defragmented space and how they are allocated. This would look something like this: "3x 200GB SATA II. Drive C:\ OS, programs and Windows Virtual Memory with 185GB free, D:\ media with 120GB free, E:\ Project files, output and Scratch Disks with 150GB free." If you have any drive partitioned (not a good thing nowadays), let everyone know and give details. If you have a RAID, give full details on how it is managed, the type and how it is used in your system. [As an aside, most RAID’s should not really be considered for a system drive, unless one has built in redundancy in the RAID, i.e. 3, or more, physical disks. Remember, this info can be critical. If you have CD/DVD burners, list them and their connections. If you have external HDD’s, list them with the same details as for your internal HDD’s.


      Next, tell about your Windows Virtual Memory (Page File). How large is it, where is it located on your system and how is it managed, i.e. dynamically by Windows, or static? Again, this can be critical. For info, you will need to go to Control Panel>System>Advanced>Performance and look. In the Settings>Advanced, you should see things like Process Scheduling, Memory Usage and Virtual Memory. This is where you will find the answers. Note: depending on which OS one has, the exact location and syntax may differ.


      While we’re on the OS, list the exact OS that you have, i.e. Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP-2 with all updates and hot-fixes.


      What version of the NLE are you using and has it been updated, i.e. PE3.0.2.


      Finally, list any other programs, that might be in use, while you are editing, such as MSN Messaging, etc. These can be critical, even though you are basically editing video.



      Give full details on your Assets. Just saying "a bunch of .AVI’s" tells people nothing. Be very specific with the details. Same for your Audio and for your still images. Size in pixels, file type, etc., are very important for the stills, and file type. Sample-rate and sample size are important for the Audio.



      How is your Project setup? Which Preset did you use? What is the Duration of your Timeline. This gives someone the "lay of the land," so to speak and is very important. Note: your Project Preset should match your Video Assets. You can always Export/Share to some other frame size, or format, but your Project should match your Video Assets.



      How have you arranged your Assets on the Timeline allows someone to "see" your Project in their mind. Information such as one 00;10;00;00 AVI (remember, you will have furnished complete details on those AVI’s, or MPEG’s when you listed your Assets above) on Video Track 1 (VT1) with its Audio on Audio Track 1 (AT1). One AVI used as a PiP (Picture in Picture) on VT2 with its Audio on AT2. One MP3 soundtrack for the full Duration on Soundtrack and my Narration on the Narration Track. List any Transitions, or Effects used. If you have Titles, list them. If you have any Keyframing used, list where and what they control.

      List exactly what you are doing and to which Asset you are doing it, when your problem occurs. If you are doing something like Export/Share, list the full settings (Presets) used, and be sure to mention any other tasks being performed by your computer, while you are doing the Export/Share.


      If you have already done some trouble shooting, list what you have done and the complete results. Were there any error messages? If so, give the full description. To say, "I had error messages," tells people nothing. What exactly did they say?


      This information will help people get right to your problem and will get you up and running much more quickly.


      As an aside, think about the title of your post. Saying "Problem" is not good enough. Instead, something like "PE7 Fails on Share to MPEG-2" would be better. First, you are trying to let everyone know something about your Problem, so they will see it, and be interested in helping you. If you are having an Audio issue, mention "Audio" in the title, so the right people will find your post. Not everyone knows everything about all aspects of Video. You want the right people to see your post and to be working with you, to fix your problem. Also, later on, it is good to have a title that will be easily found by others, who may have the same exact problem. If you get an answer that works, please post back that success, so others, finding your post, will know what worked, and what did not. Note: do not put your entire post into the title. That is just tough to read and understand. Use a few words, but make them the right words.