6 Replies Latest reply on May 13, 2010 7:03 AM by Magic81587

    Hobbyist Editing Station: Looking for advice on hardware and workflow

    Magic81587 Level 1

      So I've been in the midst of preparing my computer to be a semi-dedicated editing station from now on and could use some advice from all you smart people.


      My computer consists of the following:



      My first question is in regards to the hard drives. I read Harm's informative post on hard drive setup, but was wondering what you guys thought I should do with just the two I have. Right now I was planning to have the OS and Programs on the 500GB and then the rest on the 1TB. Would buying a third hard drive to separate the media (I'm assuming this means the raw footage from the camera) from the pagefile/scratch/renders really net me a big leap in performance? What aspect of my workflow would speed up if I made this upgrade? (What do you guys mean by pagefiles, by the way?) Is having 500GB for the OS/Programs overkill?

      Also, my main use of CS5 is After Effects and not Premiere. (Sorry for posting in the premiere forum, but I couldn't find a hardware section in the After Effects forum). My workflow is going to be taking the camera footage (h.264, linear PCM) and bringing it into After Effects. I would then render the individual scenes out of AE and use another program for splicing together the entire movie and adding sound (right now I use Sony Vegas instead of Premiere).

      Thanks in advance for your help!

        • 1. Re: Hobbyist Editing Station: Looking for advice on hardware and workflow
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          There are three, maybe four weaknesses in your system, at least for top perfomance.


          Your current setup is around 6 - 7 times slower than top performing machines. The cause:


          1. CPU

          2. Memory

          3. Hard disk setup

          4. Video card


          Being a hobbyist (and possibly with a limited budget) it makes sense to:


          1. Invest in a new system based on the X58/i7 (relatively expensive), or


          2. Invest in additional hard disks that you can carry to a new system.


          Solution 2 will only help marginally but is very affordable.

          • 2. Re: Hobbyist Editing Station: Looking for advice on hardware and workflow
            Magic81587 Level 1

            Hi Harm,


            I can definitely understand that my machine will be no workhorse. Unfortunately at this time, I don't have the funds to upgrade to an i7 system and need to kind of just make do with what I have. I know these are far from optimal circumstances, but I'm moreso looking to squeeze all the juice I can out of the system I have.


            For reference, I've been using AE CS3 on this computer when it only had XP 32 bit, 2 GBs of RAM, and everything on the one 500GB hard drive and made do for around 2 years. I had to restart the computer every hour or so due to the RAM errors and rendered overnight, but it's something I lived with. Certainly CS5 on a 64bit OS and 6 more GBs of RAM and an extra hard drive will help some, right?


            At this point I have space for one more hard drive in my budget. But I'm trying to get an idea from you guys on how much of a performance boost I would see by jumping from 2 to 3 hard drives. I see that you say it would be a marginal difference ... are you referring to the jump from 2 to 3 hard drives in my situation? I'd only be working on one project at a time ... how much space would you think I should need for the pagefile/scratch/renders if I did purchase a third hard drive? (I'm still confused on what pagefiles are. And I'm assuming scratch is just the project files that get created or something?) Sorry, my knowledge on proper terminology is quite low since I am self taught on After Effects.


            I appreciate your time and help thus far!

            • 3. Re: Hobbyist Editing Station: Looking for advice on hardware and workflow
              Harm Millaard Level 7

              While I can't tell you that you will achieve 11.39% performance gain or whatever other figure from adding one disk, but you will notice it and it is cheap.


              To make bigger steps requires a lot more $$$. The advantage of adding another disk is that you can transfer your disks to a new machine in the future.


              A pagefile is the virtual memory (on disk) that Windows uses when it runs out of physical memory. Scratch files are the preview files and conformed audio files that PR uses for playing the time line.

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Hobbyist Editing Station: Looking for advice on hardware and workflow
                Magic81587 Level 1

                I see. Thanks for the info.


                Just to play devils advocate here: If I was to stick with two hard drives for now, would it be more beneficial to keep the OS and Programs on their own hard drive and mix everything else? Or is it best to keep the captured media on its own hard drive separated from the renders and other things.


                Also, back to the 3 hard drive scenario: Personally, I feel kinda wasteful having the OS and Programs taking up a 500GB drive ... how much space do I really need for the OS and Programs? Maybe I should buy a smaller hard drive (80-100GBs) for the OS/Programs and use the 500GB for the pagefile/scratch/renders? Would that make more sense?


                Thanks again.

                • 5. Re: Hobbyist Editing Station: Looking for advice on hardware and workflow
                  Harm Millaard Level 7

                  Ideally one would use (at least in terms of affordable setup) a 150+ G Velociraptor for OS & programs. SSD is another option is you are willing to pay 30 - 50 times the price per GB. So for argument sake, let's assume only Velociraptor.


                  150 G Velociraptor is around € 140. The alternative is to use a WD Caviar Black 500 GB or similar disk for around € 50. That is a lot more attractive from a price POV and will not be all that much slower, if the disk remains largely empty. So, the more space you waste, the smaller the performance difference to a Velociraptor.


                  Normally OS & programs is less than 50 G.


                  You get the best performance from your disks if accesses are spread among different disks as much as possible. For instance when encoding, you read the media, if use preview files is on, the rendered files are read, temp files are created and the result is written. So in this case, you could spread the accesses over 4 disks, media, render, temp and result.

                  • 6. Re: Hobbyist Editing Station: Looking for advice on hardware and workflow
                    Magic81587 Level 1

                    Hey Harm. Thanks for the info on the hard drives, it is greatly appreciated.


                    With that now out of the way, I figured I'd move into my second question regarding workflow. Let me first explain what my workflow has been in the past.


                    My video editing experience up until now has been essentially animation. There is a niche market known as Machinima that uses video game footage to create movies. This means that I first record the screen while in game or in the model editor programs and just use those as my source footage. Everything I've used so far has been uncompressed avi. I would first build up each "scene" in After Effects where I would do the keying, FX, and color correction. I would then export all of these and load them into Sony Vegas where I would splice it all together and add music/sound/credits.


                    However, I am seeing that both AVid and Premiere are NLE programs that could potentially replace Sony Vegas in my workflow. Let's say for arguments sake that I would like to start using Premiere to take advantage of the dynamic link ability. Would I now start by putting the clips into Premiere and begin building up the entire movie? Then I would export the scenes that need FX work done to AE, then back to Premiere? In my limited research, this seems like a pretty smooth workflow for AE and Pr, but that it may require some heavier processing power. I guess the only way to know for sure is to try it myself, but do you guys think my computer can handle dynamic link decently well? Also, I've read something about lack of bit depth in Premiere causing problems with color correction and that it's best done in AE. Do you guys suggest that I continue to do color correction in AE, and just use Premiere to splice/add sounds? Or has this bit issue been addressed in CS5?


                    I've also been reading about this mercury playback that is part of CS5, which I believe allows for native DSLR editing. This brings me to my next point. In regards to editing, I am making the jump into real life footage. I will be picking up a Canon t2i, which records its video files in h.264 wrapped in a .mov container. Does this mean that Premiere Pro can edit this footage natively now? (Assuming I have the computer power necessary, which I don't.) Does that also inherently mean that AE can edit the h.264 footage natively as well (since AE and Pr seem linked)? If I do try this and find out that my computer just isn't powerful enough to handle this native editing, what has been the previous workflow to get h.264 footage editable in AE and Pr? What have people been doing in CS4 and earlier in this regard? I'd of course want to keep the source footage as pristine as possible, but I'm assuming some batch encode would have to be done through VirtualDub or something similar?



                    Sorry for all of the questions. Thanks in advance for your time and help!